ReFo: Jets @ Ravens, Week 12
Who would have thought that 5-6 would put you firmly in the playoff hunt 12 weeks into the NFL season, but that’s the situation that both of these teams (and four others) find themselves in thanks to a bizarre and weak AFC. The way the Jets and Ravens got to this point was little offense, and a lot of defense in a 19-3 field goal fest. Neither team managed much with the ball in cold weather, but Baltimore came out on top thanks to a +2 turnover differential in addition to its usually stout defense.
While the Ravens were just able to support their defense with a couple of big plays, the Jets wasted their opportunities with a pair of untimely interceptions and a really sloppy fumble. Who stood out in this AFC clunker? Let’s take a look.
New York – Three Performances of Note
Bright Spot at Guard
In what was an entirely forgettable day for the Jets’ offense, they did manage one impressive performance on the offensive line, that of RG Willie Colon. While Geno Smith faced heat on more than 45% of his drop backs, only one of those pressures came from Colon, who was otherwise perfect in his 32 pass blocks. He also did some nice work in the running game, especially early on. His block moved Arthur Jones far off of the line of scrimmage at 13:43 of the first quarter to open up a lane on 3rd-and-1 (with some late help from Nick Mangold), though the left side of the line was less successful resulting in a Baltimore stop on the play. Colon also had a number of solid blocks throughout the game, which more than made up for the few occasions where he didn’t fare quite as well (e.g. 1Q, 8:49 and 2Q, 8:38).
Defensive Line Does Its Part
Another bright spot for the Jets was the play of their defensive line, with the quartet of Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leger Douzable all coming in at +2.1 or better. Let’s start in the middle with NT ‘Snacks’ Harrison. He was certainly hungry in this game as he ate up Gino Gradkowski on his way to five defensive stops and was a general nuisance in the run game, squeezing running lanes and forcing cuts against the overmatched center. Richardson (+2.6) was an equally disruptive force, continuing his ridiculous rookie season, with five stops in the run game to go along with three pressures (one sack, two hurries). For an example of the kind of plays he made in this game (and has been making all season), take a look at 5:44 of the second quarter, when he knifed inside of Michael Oher for the tackle.
Wilkerson was the best of the bunch overall, aside from a pair of penalties, led by his work rushing the passer. He picked up two sacks, a hit, and two hurries in 30 rushes, the most impressive of which occurred at 12:34 of the second quarter, when he blew by the center for an immediate hit on Joe Flacco. Finally we have the reserve Douzable, who only played 17 snaps, including just nine in run defense, but turned that limited time into three stops and a +2.5 grade against the run.
The windy conditions weren’t ideal, nor was the play of his receiving targets, but the Jets are wasting a weak AFC and great defense with poor quarterbacking by Geno Smith. Though he completed just nine of 20 aimed passes, three were dropped, including two by his top target Santonio Holmes and another by David Nelson (2Q, 1:56) that nearly resulted in an interception. But even with the least imposing group of skill position players in the league, Smith has to do more when opportunities are there and limit his mistakes. Both of his interceptions came from a clean pocket with the Jets driving, two critical mistakes on a day when offense was extremely hard to come by. It was far from his worst game this season, especially on the road in tough weather against a good defense, but you’d like to see more progress from the rookie at this point in the year.
Baltimore – Three Performances of Note
Graham Takes Advantage
It’s difficult to single out any one player on the Baltimore defense after such a unit-wide domination (five players finished at +2.0 or better), but no one was more impactful than DB Corey Graham. Playing in a reserve role (24 coverage snaps, 36 total), he notched a +4.3 grade on the back of two late interceptions, both occurring with the Jets in Baltimore territory. On the first (3Q, 1:41) he did a nice job staying underneath David Nelson on a go-route and used that inside position to win a jump ball on the underthrown/wind-affected pass. And on the second interception (4Q, 4:23), Graham made another impressive play tracking the ball; he broke off of his initial position over the RWR against four verticals to jump the slot route and end any comeback hopes for the Jets.
Can’t Run the Ball
Despite winning by a comfortable 16 point margin, it wasn’t exactly a stellar offensive showing by the Ravens. The struggles started in the run game, and though the Jets provided a steep challenge in the trenches, the inability to run the ball has been a season-long theme for Baltimore. Up front they struggled to generate any movement with Eugene Monroe the lone bright spot on a line that combined to grade at -8.6 run blocking. The aforementioned Gradkowski (-5.4 overall) was the worst of the bunch, little more than a speed bump to the Jets at times. Likewise Oher struggled to handle the quickness of Richardson and the New York linebackers. It also didn’t help that Marshal Yanda couldn’t follow up his +6.2 showing a week ago with a similar performance; you didn’t see plays such as at 13:19 or 8:11 of the fourth quarter last week.
And while there weren’t a lot of running lanes, Ray Rice didn’t do a whole lot for his own cause, failing to break a single tackle and finishing with a putrid 1.9 YPC on 16 carries. Like with the line, that’s not dissimilar to what we’ve seen all season in what’s been an extremely disappointing season for the RB.
Big Day for Jones
In a game without a lot of offense, Jacoby Jones was one of the few playmakers. His 66 yard score was the only touchdown in the game; on the play (3Q, 0:14) he burned Dee Milliner and safety Ed Reed on a post with the help of Reed’s inability to find and track the ball. Jones also did his part on special teams, consistently putting his team in good field position (not that they did much with it) with his returns. He averaged 21.6 yards on five punt returns, four of which earned him a positive grade. The most impressive came at 7:52 of the third quarter, when he put his speed on display to turn the corner (aided by a spectacular blindside block by Courtney Upshaw) and probably would have scored if not for punter Ryan Quigley’s effort to barely push him out of bounds.
– Linebacker Daryl Smith continued his fine season in coverage. He allowed just two receptions in six targets with one pass defense.
– Tyrod Taylor saw his most extensive action of the season, playing 12 snaps in a pseudo- wildcat role. He totaled seven yards on 4 rushing attempts, with a long of 17, while his lone pass attempt was dropped.
– Chris Ivory forced three more missed tackles to bring his Elusive Rating to 51.1 on the season, good for fifth among running backs with at least 117 touches.
PFF Game Ball
This one goes to Jacoby Jones who excelled in two phases of the game.
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