For those of you who follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t why not?) you’ll remember I mentioned that I turned down analysis on the Broncos at Vikings game this week. I’d seen so much option the last few weeks I thought I’d somehow time-slipped a day and been watching games on Saturday by accident. Well after watching these two quarterbacks define a standard of ineptitude I thought neither of which was capable; I’m seeing Tim Tebow in a completely new light.
To be fair, the Jets won not just because Mark Sanchez was less awful than Rex Grossman (he would certainly have had to have gone some to be even on a par), but because their offensive line looked to be gelling for the first time this year and their defense yet again made up for their deficiencies rushing the passer with sound run defense and excellent coverage. Indeed, what looked like one of the Redskins’ major advantages in the encounter, their pass rush, floundered against the Jets’ offensive line, to the tune of only two hits and three hurries.
While the Redskins fans now realize that rumors of Grossman’s revival had been greatly exaggerated and look forward to next year, and the hope of a quarterback who can play more than a quarter without morphing into a different person, the Jets faithful have a different dilemma. A team good enough to go all the way having to molly-coddle their signal caller through each game in the hope he’ll find his feet before the wheels come off.
New York Jets – Three Performances of Note
You’ll probably remember Mark Sanchez’s (-2.4) one really good throw of the game because it’s the one that will get shown on the highlights a few times; the Santonio Holmes slant and go route for the touchdown. What they probably won’t show is the ridiculous over throw of Dustin Keller, the forced throw to Plaxico Burress that DeAngelo Hall could have intercepted or Sanchez looking completely clueless as he took a delay of game at his own 10-yard-line (to put them on the 5) early in the third quarter. Overall, I counted more bad throws (six) than good ones (five) before we even talk about penalties and it made me ask the question: Is Sanchez the only rookie quarterback playing his third year in the NFL?
Luckily for everyone concerned in the Jets’ organization, their main strength from last year – which had looked to be in terminal decline – their offensive line, played by some margin their best game of the year. Every single player graded green overall and between them they gave up only one hit and four hurries on their quarterback. This all came against a decent, if slightly overrated, defense. It’s not as if they were simply bullying the Colts; with Perry Riley now replacing Rocky McIntosh there’s not many better quartets about at linebacker so this was by no means a hollow victory. Contrary to the wisdom of Matt Slauson, the weakest link on the line by some margin has been Wayne Hunter (+1.9 in this game). In an interview no doubt meant to show solidarity with his teammate he simultaneously picked-up an award for best comedy line of 2011 with the still rib-tickling “Wayne is an upgrade over Damien Woodey” quip. However, while he’s still got a long way to go to achieve that, he did get the better of Adam Carriker (-3.3) and hold Ryan Kerrigan (-0.6 pass rush) to a single hit.
A real feature of the Jets’ play in this game was the coverage of their linebackers, and David Harris (+3.1 coverage grade) in particular. He gave up only 7 yards on two completed passes into his area but also got underneath a couple of deeper routes to tip or bat down passes. While he had a great day, perhaps the best individual play dropping against the pass was made by his colleague Bart Scott (+2.2 coverage grade) who, with 3:13 left in the third, saw a wide open Jabar Gaffney alone on the left sideline on a throwback, got across and then leapt high to save a likely touchdown with knock down.
Washington – Three Performances of Note
If Mark Sanchez played badly, then Rex Grossman (-6.9) redefined poor play for me this year. I’ve seen some terrible stuff from Blaine Gabbert, but at least he has the excuse of being a rookie. Grossman’s only excuse is his erratic style of play can lead to some respected coaches believing in him rather more than they should. If his Week 6 display against the Eagles that got him benched was a low, from the perspective of just the thrown ball, this was a more “all-around” performance as he also demonstrated a lack of pocket presence and game leadership, as well as throwing up a healthy serving of passes that come pre-packaged with the “just what was he thinking” logo. His interception that was nullified by the marginal illegal contact call on Donald Strickland fell bang in the middle of that category, as did his intentional grounding penalty. On another throw, not satisfied with simply putting the ball behind his man he put it high as well; he clearly felt a “belt and braces” approach was applicable. In all of this though, the worst for me was the delay of game penalty he picked-up for calling consecutive timeouts. Some feel it was not his fault, but if there is a leader on the field it’s him, and he has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring where his receivers line up.
Fighting the tide
If someone on offense tried to help Grossman overcome his issues it was Fred Davis (+1.4 receiving). After a while it became something of a curse too as knowing his tight end was doing everything in his power to help him out the quarterback went back to the well too many times (12 total) and towards the end ignoring how he was covered too. At the finish he had caught six of those passes for 99 yards including an excellent leaping first down grab over Brodney Pool with 12:49 left in the fourth. Unfortunately, his blocking was once again not up to par and on this occasion, playing against a noted high quality run defense linebacker in Calvin Pace (+3.1 overall), he struggled more than usual.
Square Pegs in Square Holes
I’ve been saying for some time now Reed Doughty is a very competent “in the box” safety. Unfortunately for him (and those of us who enjoy watching him play) the Redskins already have a pretty good one of those types of players in LaRon Landry. What he’s not is a single high type of player; he doesn’t have that type of range and when he’s used there he gets exploited. Cases in point are the first game of the year against the Giants and the Week 10 game at Miami. However, here with Landry out and O.J. Atogwe playing deep he was in his element. He reads the game well, makes solid tackles and isn’t afraid of contact with bigger guys; on one play (8:57 in the third) he stands up a pulling Slauson. I for one would like to see him starting for a team regularly in that role because he does a great job, but that’s not happening in Washington anytime soon.
- Bart Scott is becoming very much a situational player for the Jets these days. In this game he played just 56% of snaps. Down on even his low season average of 65%. Last year he played 84%
- After picking up a sack and five hurries (mostly on Jamal Brown) Scott has 20 pressures of all types second on the team to Calvin Pace who has 30 … on over 170 more pass rushes.
- If there’s one player who seems to benefit from a home team scorer its London Fletcher–Baker. He leads all inside linebackers in our analysis with assists with a total of 24 (so it’s not as if we don’t agree he hustles to the ball) however his “official” total of assists? A gob-smacking 55.
PFF Game Ball
Jets right guard Brandon Moore (+4.0) for a perfect game in pass protection, no penalties and some excellent run blocking.