|David Nelson after one of his two touchdowns. (AP phot)|
It was a day that saw Geno Smith and the offense have their best game since Week 7 against the Patriots. It had the defense playing with emotion and fire, holding the Browns to 283 yards and creating two turnovers. It was also a day to make a statement the team wants Rex Ryan to be the Jets coach next season.
That decision will come after the Jets play the Dolphins in Miami next week. For us, the decision on Ryan is an easy one - general manager John Idzik must bring him back for another season.
While that decision is the biggest one of the moment for the Jets, there was plenty to like about the Jets' victory over the Browns Sunday afternoon. Here's a closer look at the coach and players that made the victory happen, and rewarded with Game Balls, plus those that are saddled with Game Falls.
Rex Ryan: He might indeed get fired after this season by general manager John Idzik, but there was no doubt this team and these players want Ryan to be their head coach based on their performance against the Browns Sunday. After a very slow start, which lasted well into the second quarter, the Jets caught fire, playing with emotion on defense and the offense finally came alive, scoring 24 points. The Jets came back from 10-0 down to beat the Browns. There was a report on FOX before the game that Ryan believes he will be fired after the year and told the team that in his pregame speech Saturday night. Obviously, it resonated with the players, as they played their best game since before the bye week. While the decision might already be made by Idzik and owner Woody Johnson, Ryan still had to win this game to make anything they do after the season difficult. Even though Ryan and the Jets have missed the postseason for three straight years, the best move for the organization is to stay the course. This game in Cleveland was a great example of how much these players want to play for Ryan. Read more about Ryan's job status here.
Geno Smith: This was the rookie quarterback's best game since beating the Falcons in Week 5 of the season. If Smith played like this the entire season there would be no question he would be the starting quarterback next year not to mention the Jets would be playing in the postseason. Smith was 20-of-36 for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He ran the ball another 10 times for 48 yards, including a game-clinching 17-yard touchdown run up the middle late in the fourth quarter. Smith was at his best on third down, as the Jets converted 12-of-18 in those situations. He hit David Nelson for two touchdowns and found Jeremy Kerley five times for 70 yards. The Jets will explore their options at quarterback this offseason, but at least Smith gave reason for hope if he's still the guy next season after this performance.
Chris Ivory: He was finally used as the feature back and had a big game, rushing 20 times for 109 yards. He battered the Browns up front all game long and also showed the ability to get out in space as well, breaking a 28-yard run. The Jets are at least set at running back going into next season, with Ivory and Bilal Powell, who had a 39-yard run before halftime that set up a field goal.
Jeremy Kerley: Smith is simply a better quarterback when he has Kerley to throw to. Kerley caught five passes for 70 yards, both team highs Sunday against the Browns. Three of his catches came on third down plays. Kerley could become a star in the slot if the Jets get two starting caliber receivers this offseason.
David Nelson: He caught two touchdown passes from Smith, his first two as a Jet. On the second, he and Smith hooked up on a beautiful play in the corner of the end zone that had Smith changing the play at the line of scrimmage. Nelson had four catches for 33 yards.
Calvin Pace and Muhammad Wilkerson: Pace got a sack and Wilkerson added a half sack, which brought their combined sack total to 20.5 this season. For Pace, this has been a career revival for a player that was released by the Jets in the offseason, only to be brought back for practically nothing. He's rewarded the Jets with a tremendous season nobody saw coming. For Wilkerson, it was the continuation of an excellent season that has him emerging as one of the best defensive players in the league. The pair are the first Jets teammates to have double-digit sacks since the 1981 Sack Exchange season.
Dee Milliner: It was far from perfect, but the Jets rookie cornerback played his best game of the season. He held Josh Gordon to just six receptions for 97 yards, which is a victory considering the Browns wide receiver has lit up seemingly everyone he has gone against this year. Milliner had a team-high nine tackles and had five pass defenses. Best yet, he finally got his first interception of the season. Ryan has said Milliner would become a solid player by the end of the season and this was a positive step in a long journey.
John Idzik: Make the right call, John, and keep Ryan as the team's head coach. Turn your attention to building a winner on the field through the draft and free agency and let Ryan continue to lead this franchise.
Santonio Holmes: He dropped two passes, including one that should have been a touchdown, in what should be the final home game of his career as a Jet. The home crowd actually booed Holmes throughout the game when he didn't come down with a pass, which was more often than he caught one. Holmes, who has an inflated opinion of his ability and acts like it, had just two grabs for 20 yards. He was targeted six times.
Josh Bush: The Jets called a fake punt on a fourth and nine play from their own 43 on their first possession of the game and Isaiah Trufant was wide open at the first down marker. The only problem was Bush, a safety, came up a few yards short on the throw and the Jets turned it over. It was one of the worst passes ever seen considering how open the receiver was. The Browns turned the short field into a field goal. Luckily, the Jets came back to win.