Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
The Jets put together their most complete performance of the season in an impressive 34-21 win over the Bills on Thursday night, rushing for almost 200 yards and racking up seven sacks and three fumble recoveries in the process.
Let's start this week by breaking down the performances on the offensive side of the ball:
With the running game working, Josh McCown didn't need to throw much this week, but he was efficient when he did. He threw just seven passes after halftime, completing five. In the first half, while the game was still in the balance, McCown gave the Jets the lead with a touchdown scramble, completing a drive he'd kept alive himself with another third-down run.
However, he got really lucky on a pass that should have been intercepted in Jets territory with the Jets up 7-0. That was a very similar play to the costly interception he threw in the Miami game, as Chad Hansen ran a whip route and was open at the marker underneath, but Hansen's man dropped off and into the passing lane. McCown didn't anticipate this and was very lucky when Bills defender Leonard Johnson dropped the easy pick.
Remember when everyone bashed the Jets for not giving McCown enough reps in preseason? That seems to have worked out pretty well, as McCown is healthy and has surpassed expectations. However, there are signs that he's starting to get more and more comfortable with the offensive system. This is good news in terms of the potential of the offense to sustain its performance and perhaps even improve upon that going forwards.
That said, maybe that approach in preseason has meant it has taken longer to get the offense fully in gear, although it was probably pragmatic at the time. As for Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, while they're not playing, they should at least be benefiting from seeing how the offense can work when operated efficiently.
The Jets had some constant success in the running game, ending up with 194 yards and three scores on the ground. After griping about only having four carries in the last game, Matt Forte had fresh legs for this one, perhaps by design. He ended up with 96 yards on 18 total touches and scored twice. Many are writing him off for next season, but his salary next year is only $3 million, so if he can still produce like this, perhaps the Jets should consider retaining him.
Bilal Powell broke the game open with a spectacular 51-yard run to set up Forte's first score, breaking several tackles after he was initially bottled up. Powell had 74 yards on just nine carries in total and would have had a 100-yard game if his 26-yard run wasn't called back due to a hold.
Elijah McGuire also had some success this week, with dynamic 15- and 10-yard runs and a 9-yard catch. However, his other 11 carries netted just five yards, underlining the boom-or-bust nature of the Jets' running game.
With Lawrence Thomas out, Eric Tomlinson played a lot of reps at fullback in addition to his tight end responsibilities. He wasn't perfect as a blocker, but definitely contributed some key blocks on some of the bigger runs. He had a bad drop in the flat though.
Robby Anderson led the Jets in receiving again, with another touchdown on an eerily similar play to the one he scored on last week. But his most impressive play was when he caught a pass in the flat and slipped two tackles for a first down. He's caught 10 passes on 11 targets in the last two games after his catch rate had dipped below 50 percent.
Interestingly, Jermaine Kearse was the only other receiver that was targeted, gaining 18 yards on a downfield throw and 20 more on a play where he was left open in the flat. He also drew a penalty.
Jeremy Kerley's early injury meant that there was more playing time for Hansen and ArDarius Stewart, though neither was targeted. Hansen was open a couple of times and each of them contributed at least one good block.
Tomlinson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught just three passes between them but got plenty of blocking assignments in the running game. Seferian-Jenkins had two more penalties, including a dubious offensive pass interference call that negated his first-half touchdown. He made a nice move to break a tackle for extra yards after a third-down catch at the marker earlier in the game.
The Jets were inconsistent up front despite the running game's success, but appeared to be less overmatched in the trenches this week, blocking well to break open a few plays in a more varied running attack than they had ran in recent weeks.
Wesley Johnson had a strong game this week, regularly sealing his man off at the point of attack to create holes up the middle. He was also the only starting lineman without a penalty.
On Sunday, the Jets hardly ever tried to run outside the tackles, but they did it a lot on Thursday. Kelvin Beachum, in particular, was required to make a lot more key blocks and had some important ones, although he also gave up a lot of penetration. Beachum also struggled a little in pass protection, as he was getting driven back off his spot a lot on the edge.
Guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters were inconsistent too, but sprung some big runs when they made their blocks effectively. The Jets faced less interior pressure on Thursday relative to Sunday's game against the Falcons, as they dealt with stunts a little better.
Brent Qvale also gave up some pressures off the edge and had inconsistent results in the running game, but he set the edge well on one run and made a good second level block on another.
Finally, Dakota Dozier did an effective job as a sixth lineman on some running plays.