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Despite being heavy underdogs, the Jets gave a solid account of themselves this week, exploiting some sloppy play from the Saints to make Sunday's game competitive deep into the fourth quarter. In the end, the Saints' offensive playmaking abilities were too much for the Jets to keep up with, but at least they quieted those critics who had been saying they'd get blown out again.
Let's start this week by breaking down the performances on the offensive side of the ball:
Bryce Petty didn't really make the most of his opportunity to start as he was erratic throughout much of the game. Eventually, he had some second half success, but his statline was still disappointing as he completed less than 50 percent of his passes, and was below four yards per attempt until late in the fourth quarter.
Aside from his inconsistent accuracy, the main difference from Josh McCown was just in terms of Petty's awareness. There were a number of pre-snap penalties, and a few plays where he anticipated late or had passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.
Petty's most impressive throw was a deep ball over the top, and he also displayed some elusiveness a couple of times in the pocket. While he was on the whole underwhelming, it will be interesting to see if Petty can build on his better second half numbers (133 yards and a touchdown) in next week's game.
While Bilal Powell and Matt Forté only averaged 3.4 yards per carry each, this was one of the best performances by the Jets' running game of the season. The backs deserve credit for this, as they all did a good job of creating yards after contact.
The most impressive sequence was at the start of the second quarter where the Jets had the ball at the 30, and then carried the ball several times in a row until Powell's touchdown run. On that particular play, the blocking was poor, but Powell slipped out of a tackle in the backfield to bounce to the edge.
Forté's best run was also blown up in the backfield, but he cut back and then ran over a defensive back to gain 11.
Rookie Elijah McGuire had one of his best games of the year as he racked up 72 yards on seven touches. He contributed an early first down run, and his three catches included a deep over-the-shoulder catch and a short touchdown out in the flat.
Fullback Lawrence Thomas saw action at fullback and carried the ball once, but continues to be mostly ineffective as a blocker.
With Petty at the helm, Robby Anderson was reduced to more of a possession receiver role, leading the Jets with five catches for just 40 yards. He had one first down on an underneath pass where he beat the cornerback to get to the marker.
Jermaine Kearse also had a quiet game, but picked up one first down with a tough low grab and made a good block on a running play.
The three rookies saw plenty of time again. Chad Hansen made one nice catch downfield, although his other two receptions netted minus-two yards. ArDarius Stewart showed visible frustration after getting good separation at the line on a third-and-six play only for Petty's throw to be batted down. Jojo Natson saw more action this week, contributing a 15-yard gain on an end around and a 19-yard catch downfield. But you'd have to question the wisdom of Petty throwing a jump ball to the smallest player on the team for his second interception.
Once again, the Jets didn't get much production from their tight ends this week. Austin Seferian-Jenkins had just 13 yards on two catches, although he had one first down and also drew two flags for pass interference. Eric Tomlinson and Neal Sterling were both in the starting line-up and were used mainly as blockers, although Petty's first interception was knocked away from Sterling.
To their credit, the Jets held the Saints to just one sack and two quarterback hits, with the pressure coming mostly up the middle. James Carpenter gave up the sack on a spin move, but Brian Winters gave up the most pressure, including on Petty's first interception.
The tackles, Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell, did a good job of limiting pressure off the edge, although Cameron Jordan moved Beachum off his spot a few times and Shell gave up a hit on a stunt.
In the running game, Carpenter had some good blocks, especially in the first half, but everyone else struggled to sustain blocks or hold up at the point of attack.
Center Wesley Johnson continued to struggle as a blocker but also had three bad shotgun snaps this week and was late reacting to pressure from Winters' man on Petty's first interception.
Finally, Brent Qvale saw more action this week as an extra lineman. He set the edge well on two first half runs.