Crisis? What crisis? You’d hardly believe that just days before the New York Jets were the laughingstock of the NFL with anonymous players criticizing the backup quarterback after watching them dismantle the Rams.
Truth be told that owed a lot to simply not making mistakes. The Jets allowed the Rams’ poor play to put them in position to show that they’re not as talentless as some would suggest. But before people race ahead and start thinking playoffs, let’s take a look at some of the performances on both sides of the ball and what it means for the future.
New York – Three Performances of Note
You know J.J. Watt isn’t the only 3-4 defensive end from the 2011 draft class who can make a play here or there. Lost to most of the watching world is just how fine a player Muhammad Wilkerson (+6.4) is developing into. I don’t think he’s ever going to get headlines galore because he’s, on his best day, a marginally above-average pass rusher. Yet, his work in the run game is some of the best you’re likely to see. He gets off blocks and moves down the line exceptionally well to make plays on the ball and redirect the ballcarrier.
Take how Wilkerson slaps away the block of Robert Turner with 12:23 to go in the third quarter. That’s what he’s been doing all year and it’s why he only marginally trails Watt in terms of his run block grade. His forced fumble will get him attention today, but stats will rarely do him the justice he deserves.
Not Sold On Sanchez
Early this week I was happy to let the whole world know what I thought of Mark Sanchez. Surely after a performance like that I’d have to change my tune? Not quite.
Let me give credit where’s it due. He made the plays the defense gave him, and he looked exceptionally well prepared to take advantage of some over-aggressive cornerbacks. He completed 15-of-20 attempts with two dropped passes and even managed to complete 3-of-5 balls thrown more than 10 yards in the air. He earned his +3.8 grade here.
However, he wasn’t impressive in a way that would surprise me. His line gave him all the time he needed to the point where he was only pressured on four plays. That’s four out of 24 dropbacks. On those four plays he completed zero passes and took three sacks. That’s the issue. Sanchez is a player who can do well when he’s not challenged, but there isn’t a line out there that will keep you snug and safe at all times. Before I change my stance on ‘The Sanchize’ I really need to see how he handles some adversity. The Rams represented a quarterback’s dream in this one and were just the tonic after a couple of tough weeks for the Jets.
Not the Best From Cromartie
It was somewhat surprising to see the Jets try to shadow Danny Amendola with Antonio Cromartie (-2.6) yet they did and got burnt early on it. They moved away from that plan after the shifty Amendola made a fool out of Cromartie for a first down, but his day didn’t get much better from there. The stats aren’t too unkind to him, giving up 4-of-6 for 23 yards and a touchdown. Don’t forget to throw in a couple of missed tackles and we’ve seen the former Charger look much better.
St. Louis – Three Performances of Note
For those people tuning into this game expecting a poor quarterback performance, they weren’t disappointed. Only it was Sam Bradford (-6.0) who stole the show with a truly horrid display.
The box score numbers flattered the former first overall pick, who should have had an additional interception and was guilty of some poor accuracy (and decision making) as he tried to beat the Jets deep. After some early success, he went after Kyle Wilson in particular despite the Jet being in close coverage, resulting in a number of overthrows where the defensive back was in a better position to make a play on the ball. For the day he completed just 2-of-12 on passes aimed over 10 yards in the air.
Taking the Mikell
There weren’t too many performances to get excited about from St. Louis, but Quintin Mikell (+2.1) had a decent enough day. His forced fumble represented the high point, but he did also contribute three defensive stops in the run game. He won’t be happy with his role on a big completion to Jeremy Kerley with 2:24 to go in the second quarter, biting badly on a pump fake. But on a day like this the Rams will need to take away every positive they can.
There was a point at mid-season when Robert Quinn (-1.5) looked ready to deliver on his first-round talent. Unfortunately for those who were intrigued, we didn’t account for just how consistently bad D’Anthony Batiste was, with a third of his sacks and 30.6 percent of his total pressure coming in one game. This was another not-so-impressive outing from Quinn, who managed just one tackle and no pressure. His backup, Eugene Sims, was far more noticeable in the run game, ending the day with four defensive stops.
– The Rams managed just four pressures between them.
– 40 of the 81 yards Steven Jackson managed came after contact.
– The Jets missed seven tackles, with LaRon Landry joining Antonio Cromartie in missing two.
PFF Game Ball
There wasn’t a better player on the field than Muhammad Wilkerson.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled