200 Miles From the Citi

September 14, 2009 4:01 AM


Now that's defense.

In the recent past, you couldn't really blame the Jets' defense for their problems. But it was still frustrating to watch the bend, don't break style, where they'd give up huge chunks of yardage until they finally clamped down.

Sunday, in the Jets' 24-7 win over Houston, was everything you'd want to see out of a defense - it was the 'clamp-down' version of the defense over the entire game.

Instead of rare instances of pressure there was a player in Matt Schaub's face almost every play (by my calculation six of the seven plays on the Texans' first drive featured Schaub getting hit). The one bad stretch the defense had came in the second quarter, when Steve Slaton started to carve them up...but a timely hit on the ball resulted in a fumble and a turnover, and the Jets never looked back.

The game could have been a shutout, which would have been appropriate for the new attitude Rex Ryan has brought to the team, but the Texans managed a defensive touchdown for their points.

Which brings us to the offense. The interception returned for the TD wasn't Mark Sanchez's only was just the one that the Texans made him pay for. Sanchez threw some ill-advised passes that weren't picked off...some were also caught by the Jets' receievers. But the overwhelming impression Sanchez gave on Sunday was positive. Most importantly, he was very poised on third down - the Jets converted 10-of-18 on third down. Sanchez was 18-31 for 272 yards overall, throwing 1 TD and 1 INT. Not bad for an NFL debut.

There were not many negatives to take away from the game, but I'm looking in Thomas Jones' direction. Sure, he finished with 107 yards and 2 TD...but it was just about the cheapest 100-yard game I've ever seen.

His first touchdown was the equivalent of a major league baseball reliever blowing an 8th inning lead on a starter, then watching his team score in their half of the inning, giving him the win. The "vulture win". Jones' first touchdown was a "vulture touchdown". Leon Washington did all the work getting the ball inside the five, then Jones punched it in from the one. He then ran ragged over a tired Texans defense in the fourth quarter, which was nice as far as closing out a game, but he went nowhere in the early stages of the game, which I think may have been more telling.

So the Jets are 1-0, and they looked great doing it. But it came against the Texans, a team I have made quite clear so far that I haven't bought into. Next week, at home, the Jets play the Patriots, and that will be the real test - for Sanchez, for the defense, for the Jets' chances in the division. It was a good opening week - the Jets showed there's reason for optimism. Let's just hope it lasts longer than one week.

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