It’s hard to determine who deserves the most praise for the Jets’ 30-28 win in Atlanta on Monday.
Geno Smith, who was brilliant with three touchdowns and no interceptions against the Falcons, has gotten a majority, if not all, of the headlines this week. But we need to point out a group that continues to get it done.
The Jets’ front three of Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison have been tough on opposing offensive lines and quarterbacks.
It’s been a long time since the Jets had a defensive line that could handle their opponents’ running game and get after the quarterback the way this unit has.
Since when? Try the early 1980s, when the Jets sack exchange (Abdul Salaam, Mark Gastineau, Joe Klecko) was in effect. That group combined for 66 sacks in 1981 and led the Jets to the AFC Championship Game.
The current group is second in the NFL in fewest rushing yards (76.2) per game allowed and has 6.5 sacks through the first five games.
Jets General Manager John Idzik was criticized for not doing more to address the offense in the draft. It turns out, at least through five games, that the selection of Richardson with the 13th pick of the first round was the right move.
The Falcons ran for just 64 yards on Monday. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan led his team for two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but the Jets defense did enough through the first three quarters to keep the team in contention for the win.
Jets coach Rex Ryan, who praised his defense for a tremendous goal line stand toward the end of the first half and his quarterback for a great performance, was happy to see the Jets win they way they did.
Ryan said, “It took every one of us.”
The Jets (3-2) will get another chance to move forward on Sunday as they host a struggling Steelers team.