Wasn’t this ‘Tebow Phase’ meant to have passed by now? Instead, the Denver Broncos and their divisive quarterback are making an improbable playoff charge thanks to some clutch play and excellent work on defense. It may leave John Elway with a bitter taste in his mouth as the unconventional QB keeps winning, but for now the Broncos have stumbled on a formula that works, so credit to John Fox for making the necessary adjustments to make his team win now.
As for the Jets, what can you really say? With their offensive line not performing this was the kind of game they needed Mark Sanchez to step up and make plays. He didn’t though and it’s a regular season trend that has turned into a way of life now as the third-year man continues to fail to capitalize on a talented roster. You only need to look at the frustration of his receivers (particularly Santonio Holmes) after another inaccurate pass leaves his hand to know it simply isn’t good enough. Still, you can’t place the blame solely at the ‘Sanchize’, as we break down our performances of note.
New York Jets – Three Performances of Note
The Immovable Object and Unstoppable Force
It wasn’t a great day for the Jets but there was one performance on defense that really stood out. I’m looking at you, Sione Pouha (+4.3). The mammoth NT has taken a little time to warm up this year but has put in three excellent performances on the trot, with this being his most impressive. He tied with David Harris for the lead in defensive stops (five) and was a nuisance all game, giving J.D. Walton in particular a hard time as he beat the Broncos center for two tackles for no gain, and another three for less than 3 yards. A fine example of his work comes with 10:53 to go in the third. He stands Walton up at the point of attack, before freeing himself from the block to bring the ball carrier down for a one yard gain. It’s what he has done for the past two-and-a-half years and it’s about time more people started realizing it.
An off day for the O-line
You could see Wayne Hunter (-4.4) having a bad day considering he was up against Von Miller, but Nick Mangold (-3.2)? That I did not see coming as this generation’s best center simply couldn’t handle Brodrick Bunkley. In addition to firing a direct snap to Joe McKnight with too much velocity, Mangold had absolutely no joy against Bunkley unless he was getting double team help (such as 5:19 to go in the third). It’s something of a surprise because the Jets center looked back to his best against the Patriots last week, but he just couldn’t follow it up. The challenge now will be to see how he responds.
What to make of Mark Sanchez (-0.8)? He can do some pretty special things. Go back to his fourth-down conversion with 34 seconds left in the game. That’s a great throw at any time, let alone to keep your team in it after you’ve just taken a big sack. But then go further back to his pick-six at the 4:32 mark in the third. A bad throw, but it’s the decision making process that is the most alarming thing. He may win the playoffs when he avoids making critical errors, but over the past two-and-a-half years he is the biggest reason the Jets haven’t mounted – and don’t appear to be mounting now – a serious challenge to the Patriots. Until he can perform in the regular season, does anyone see that changing?
Denver – Three Performances of Note
In Brod they trust
Coming out of this game there are plenty of stories to talk about, but one that is likely to get overlooked is the simply fantastic performance of Brodrick Bunkley (+6.5). It’s nothing new, as he has made life tough for plenty of centers, but after previously doing a lot of good work against rookies Mike Pouncey and Stefan Wisniewski, this time he did it against one of the greats, Mangold. The Bronco DT was too much to handle, as he went to work on Mangold and Matt Slauson on his way to five tackles (all of which were defensive stops). A lot of teams should be on notice about Bunkley after this game given his contract is up at the end of the year, and if they need an example of what he is capable of, look at 9:38 in the second. The former Eagle explodes off the snap and off the right shoulder of Mangold who can’t even slow him down as he meets Joe McKnight in the backfield. He was huge in shutting the run down.
How long can it continue – Part 1?
So Tim Tebow (+1.1) rallied and his team and scored the game winning touchdown. However, he was in that position because he was frankly terrible, once again, when it came to throwing the ball. He may have started the game off with a quite superb throw to Demaryius Thomas, but from there it was pretty brutal to watch, as he managed to continually over- and under-throw receivers. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know already as Tebow completed just 50% of passes when he wasn’t pressured, and just 25% when he was – the kind of numbers that will catch up with you eventually. On the positive side, he did win again, and his rushing is always a danger. Even if it took some horrible play from Eric Smith to make his TD run possible.
How long can it continue – Part 2?
Someone should tell Von Miller (+8.7) about a little thing called the rookie wall. Instead of slumping, the Bronco linebacker is getting stronger and stronger as the season wears on, with his latest victim being Hunter. The Jets attempted to slow down Miller by keeping Matthew Mulligan into block 11 times while lined up next to Hunter, but whenever they didn’t, Miller wasn’t far from making them pay. Remembering we count half sacks as full sacks, Miller end up with two in addition to a pair of hits and three pressures on the day as his tormenting of Sanchez culminated in that clutch fourth-quarter sack. It wasn’t just his pass rushing that earned him his grade though, as he made a number of big plays in the run game. The only blemish was being sealed inside by Mulligan with 14:48 left in the fourth. Aside this was a near-perfect game for the man who should be Rookie of the Year.
- Darrelle Revis stats on the day? No receptions allowed on the two balls throw at him, though he can thank an errant throw from Tebow preventing one completion.
- The Broncos’ defense missed only three tackles. By contrast, the Jets missed eight (three of them from Jim Leonhard).
- Denver had nine players pick up at least one bit of pressure (sack, hit or hurry) on Sanchez (19 overall). The Jets picked up nine pressures between them).
PFF Game Ball
It’s a tough one and I couldn’t argue with anyone going for Miller after that clutch sack. But the Jets lost this game because they couldn’t run the ball effectively, and they couldn’t run the ball effectively because of Brodrick Bunkley.