Jets Week 1 Report Card
And Jets nation breathes a collective sigh of relief. Sure, it's only one game, and we are grading on a curve with this one. But, considering that this was Smith's first start against a very good defense and he didn't get all of the starter's reps in preseason, he was excellent (24-38 for 256 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int). Interestingly, it was a very similar stat line to Mark Sanchez's debut in 2009 when he went 18 for 31 for 272 yards with a TD and a pick against the Texans in a win. Much has been made about Smith's paltry yards per carry at West Virginia (1.7 yards), but he looked elusive running the ball and picked his spots nicely, especially on his last scramble, which helped the Jets get into field goal range (with a big assist from Levonte David). Smith did appear flustered at times when the Bucs sent blitzes at him, so it's something he'll need to work on. However, the same could be said for just about every QB that has ever come into the league. It's a good bet Bill Belichick will notice that on tape and be sending blitz after blitz at Smith this week.
Running Backs: C-
As expected, the Jets' running game struggled. Both Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory had little space to work with from their O-line, but even when there was daylight, they didn't exactly explode into it.
There weren't a lot of big pass plays, but as a group they got the job done. Smith spread the wealth around and eight different receivers caught passes. Kellen Winslow led the way with 7 catches for 79 yards and seems to already have great chemistry with Smith. Stephen Hill caught 6 of his 9 targets, but for only 39 yards. He'll need to get down the field more, especially with Kerley now out with a concussion. Santonio Holmes was a non-factor. Look for him to step up his play Thursday in a rivalry game.
Offensive Line: C-
When you only average 3 yards per carry and surrender five sacks, it's tough to get a better grade than this. They did at least provide Smith with some time on key third downs. This unit will need to be much better on Thursday night.
Defensive Line and Linebackers: B+
Throughout the day they controlled the line of scrimmage and bottled up Doug Martin. Take away Martin's longest run of 17 yards and he had 23 carries for only 48 yards. Sheldon Richardson and David Harris led the way, combining for 15 tackles.
Antonio Cromartie got torched most of the day by Vincent Jackson and Dee Milliner got beat for a touchdown by Mike Williams. But, overall they held down the fort and held Freeman to below 50 percent and a 67.9 QB rating on the day. A much bigger test will come this Thursday against Brady.
Special teams: B-
The kicking game was spot on: Nick Folk was a perfect 3 for 3 on the day, including the game-winning field goal, and Jeff Malone averaged 48.5 yards per punt. However, the coverage teams gave up some long returns, which hurts the overall grade here.