Florham Park, NJ – I’m not a big fan of stats. Stats can be so misleading.
You know the phrase, ‘men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.’ Well yeah, numbers don’t lie but they also don’t always tell the full story and people love to use numbers to lie. So by extension numbers do in fact lie. But sometimes, not often, but sometimes the numbers tell the entire story and that’s exactly the case with the Jets 19-14 win over the Raiders. As long as you use enough numbers and let them balance each other out you can actually get a perfectly painted picture of how the only thing that stopped the Jets from complete and total domination was the Jets.
These are the stats of note:
Rushing: Jets – 221 yards on 34 carries, 6.2 yards per carry. Raiders – 25 yards on 15 attempts, 1.7 yards per carry.
Geno Smith: 23-28 (82 percent) for 221 yards and a touchdown for a QB rating of 96.6 (I hate stats but I deplore the QB ratings).
Total net yards: Jets – 402 yards, 6.2 yards per offensive play. Raiders – 158 yards, 3.2 yards per offensive play.
Time of possession: Jets – 34:50. Raiders – 25:10.
Red zone efficiency: Jets – 1-4 (25 percent). Raiders – 1-1 (100 percent).
Penalties: Jets – 11 for 105 yards. Raiders – four for 40 yards.
Turnovers: Jets two. Raiders – none.
“If you watch the tape we dominated that game. It’s almost three-to-one in yardage. (We) dominated upfront, I thought (that) was where it started.” Rex Ryan said, “Quarterback, there’s so many positive things when I look at Geno (Smith) and what he did. Obviously, (when) you throw 80 percent completion rate, we’ll take that. I don’t know how many times that’s happened with me being a head coach, anyway. Then we had a couple of throws that I think were there also for us. But taking care of the football is something that we talk about.”
Those first four stat lines show you just how dominating the Jets were, and below I’ll explain how some of them could have been even better, but the last three stat lines show why the score stayed so close and the Jets couldn’t completely bury the Raiders.
Ryan said this should have been “a rat kill” game, whatever that means but you can get a sense of what he meant if you just use context clues, and he was right. The Raiders had no business hanging around this game, and forget the part where they scored that late touchdown to close the gap to five the Jets should’ve been up at least 21-0 going into halftime. But between the penalties, the drops and the turnovers the Jets were only able to manage a measly 10-7 lead going into halftime. They continued dominating the Raiders in the second half to the tune of 19-7 before the Raiders scored a garbage time touchdown to cut the lead to five. 12 points, five points, it doesn’t matter because they won but it should have been around 30 points.
Go ahead look at those stats from Smith again, Jets fans aren’t used to seeing that type of efficiency. They’re used to seeing those types of turnovers sure, but 82 percent completion percentage? No way.
Now I’m going to simultaneously make you both more and less impressed with Smith’s completion percentage. I always prefer my bad news first so here you go, 15 of Smith’s 23 completions traveled anywhere from three yards behind the line of scrimmage to three yards past the line of scrimmage through the air. Many were by design, Marty Mornhinweg dialed up a lot of quick screens, others were smart decisions by Smith to take what the defense gave him and many of them turned into extra yards as the receivers racked up the YAC.
Now the good news, as gaudy as that 82 percent completion percentage looks it should look even better, like 10 percent better. That stat sheet says Smith missed on five passes, one was the interception (on which Smith stared down Eric Decker and trusted his arm to be able to sling it past the wily veteran Charles Woodson, but Woodson broke on that ball so damn fast and made a great play) and one was purposely thrown out of bounds to avoid being sacked, but there were also three drops in there (the dropped touchdown by Greg Salas, a dropped 20 plus yard pass to a wide open Jeff Cumberland down the seam and a three yard dump off dropped by Jace Amaro).
“I think it was great play calling.” Smith said when asked about his high completion percentage, “We had a really good game plan going in. I felt good about it and studied the tape. (I) pretty much knew all of their blitzes, and I think another thing is I am able to get my checks down quicker, and get the ball out of my hands quicker, just because I am seeing it fast, and then when I have the opportunity to get the ball out, I get it out.”
If those three passes are caught Smith ends the day with a 92 percent completion percentage an extra touchdown and many more yards (two of the drops were for 20 plus yards). If you remove the throwaway from the equation Smith could’ve finished 26-27 or 96 percent. Maybe they weren’t attacking deep down the field that much but over 90 percent is remarkably efficient.
Add the Jets efficiency running the ball, Chris Ivory with 102 yards on 10 carries (10.2 average of course 71 of those yards came on the long touchdown run), Chris Johnson with 68 yards on 13 carries, Smith with 10 carries for 38 yards and Powell with only one carry for four yards, to the mix and that’s about as potent an offense that you can ask for.
“I mean it’s huge. I think it’s (the running game) always a quarterback’s best friend to be able to run the ball with consistency. And it also helps the defense out, by allowing those guys to rest.” Smith said, “I think we had a few drives of ten plays or more, and I think that really made for our defense to be able to be fresh out there on the field. So, when we are able to go out there and run the ball, and be balanced, and pass the ball, and be accurate. I think that helps us out as much as anything because our offense is based on that, that dynamic ability, but it’s also based on some ball-control offense.”
But still they just couldn’t pull away on the scoreboard, even with the defense limiting the Raiders ability to do much of anything, and the turnovers (the interception deep in their own territory leading to a short field touchdown for the Raiders and the fumble that prevented the Jets for tacking on seven points or at minimum three points) were crucial to the Raiders ability to not get run out of the stadium.
Then there were the penalties and it’s not just that they had 11 of them, costing them 105 yards, but many of them were at terrible times causing drives to stall or pushing the offense out of field goal range. It’s because of all this that Ryan couldn’t fully enjoy the win yesterday and immediately started talking about getting better and cleaning up their mistakes.
Over the past few seasons we’ve seen the Jets in a number of close games that they should have ran away with but because of their mistakes they couldn’t finish their opponents off. Most of the time the Jets would let opponents hang around just enough to actually lose the game, this time they were able to hold off the Raiders and come away with the victory.
There are plenty of mistakes to clean up for the Jets but if the offensive line can continue protecting the pocket, opening up lanes for the backs and Smith can limit the turnovers while keeping up that high completion percentage the defense won’t be forced to hold teams to 158 total yards just to squeak out a win.
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