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Smith, Leonhard Quick to Snap Up Cincy Mistakes

Posted by Andrew LeRay on August 22, 2011 – 10:39 am

Take a rookie quarterback, add a steady rain, and have him try to solve one of the toughest defensive secondaries in the league. Chaos will ensue more often than not, as was the case in the Jets’ 27-7 drubbing of the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night.

“The whole night played out pretty well for us,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “We said overthrows and tipped balls, you have to intercept those passes, and that’s exactly what happened. Last year we struggled with getting interceptions, so hopefully this is a sign of things to come.”

On the first play of the Bengals’ second drive from their 33, Dalton dropped back and fired a pass to fellow rookie A.J. Green. The ball careened off the wide receiver’s hands, and into the outstretched arms of Jets S Eric Smith.

“It definitely swings the momentum to our side,” said Smith. “Whenever you can take the first or second possession, get a turnover and let the offense score, it definitely swings the momentum our way.”

The interception by Smith drew a reaction from fans, and what followed was perhaps even more exciting. Smith pitched the ball to CB Darrelle Revis, who brought the ball down to the Bengals’ 16.

“When I caught it, I was stumbling,” said Smith. “I saw him out there. I figured I’d let him run with it. He had a better angle to get into the end zone.”

The lateral is not a play often used by defenses, as it provides an opportunity to give possession right back to the offense. Although there is risk involved with the maneuver, Revis believes it’s worth the potential reward.

“This year the coaches — especially our defensive coaches — are telling us to try to score on defense a lot more,” said Revis. “We haven’t been really successful in the past in getting defensive touchdowns, so you might see more of that this year.”

The interception by Smith, and his joint return with Revis, set up the Jets’ offense for a one-play touchdown drive. On the first play from scrimmage, QB Mark Sanchez found WR Santonio Holmes for a 16-yard TD to put the Jets up 7-0.

After another exchange of downs, the Bengals took over at their 27. Two quick incompletions put them at third-and-15. Dalton dropped back, looking for WR Andre Caldwell. Instead, he found Jets S Jim Leonhard, who intercepted his first pass since last Thanksgiving against the same Cincinnati squad.

The Jets’ secondary was wreaking havoc on the young QB as Dalton was 0-for-5 with two interceptions.

“That’s what we try to do,” said Leonhard. “If you’re inexperienced, or you’re struggling at QB, you don’t really want to play our defense. We put them in some tough situations. We were able to catch the ones he threw to us.”

Leonhard’s athletic return put the Jets deep into Cincinnati territory. Although the offense failed to push the ball into the end zone from the 10, K Nick Novak tacked on a 30-yard field goal to increase the lead to 10-0.

Leonhard missed the late-season stretch last year after breaking his leg in practice on Dec. 3. Having a safety of his caliber back in the lineup is a welcome sight for his fellow defensive backs.

“It’s good to see Jim back out there making plays,” said Revis. “I think it’s probably going to build some more confidence in him, knowing that he can still play this game. He’s still one of the leaders on this team.”

The defensive backfield is shaping up to be one of the most feared groups in the league. At the corners, Revis and CB Antonio Cromartie are consistent threats to make a play on the football every time it’s in the air.

With Leonhard back healthy and Smith gaining a starting role, the two will be the last line of defense for the Green & White.

“The emphasis this year was on trying to make more turnovers, playing the ball better,” said Smith. “I feel like we did that tonight. We just have to keep doing it from there. Those guys on the outside are going to do a good job, so it’s going to be on Jim and me in the middle.”

They’re off to a good start.

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Posted in Andrew LeRay | 24 Comments »

24 Responses to “Smith, Leonhard Quick to Snap Up Cincy Mistakes”

  1. By Frank on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    E. Smith played great thank god they resigned him. Problem areas still exist and will be exposed playing the good teams this year. First team issues are third down conversions were awful, red zone still not good Holmes TD aside, running game atrocious the Bengals stacked the box although Sanchez ended up with good numbers his accuracy is still troubling. If Plax stays healthy he will be a big asset to Sanchez. On defense QB pressure was weak yet again something has to give there. All need improvement.
    Maybin looked great on that strip sack I never realized how fast he is…he is no Ghoulston and I think he may help this year and if he does….that will be a great addition. Mauga is the real deal he was all over the field again last night.

  2. By scjoe on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Well, not a whole lot to complain about although you really do have to consider the dysfunctional opponent. There were a lot of big plays and you can’t be sure if that was a function of the offense or again the dysfunction of the Bungles. The 3 INTs were nice, even though none came from the CB position. The 50 yarder by Folk shows he is capable of doing it, but the inconsistency is something that needs to be addressed.

  3. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Our DBs, especially Revis and Leonhard if I’m remembering right, drop too many potential interceptions, plain and simple. If they quit doing that and started holding onto the ball, everything would be fine.

  4. By IRA on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Smith has really got faster during the offseason. Even in camp you can see he covers more ground now because of his improved speed.
    Very happy Leonhard got a chance to run with the ball. Hope he gets Comeback Player of the Year Award. I have a feeling the D will maybe double their INT #’s from last year.

  5. By scjoe on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    One thing that I noticed once again is the Jets seem to have no answer how to cover backs coming out of the backfield. The biggest gain by Cin, just like last week in Houston on a few occasions came from a dump off to a back that goes for big yardage. Also 3rd down efficiency has to improve. Did anyone else think Plax pushed off on that TD catch? There was contact and I am really surprised it wasn’t called. Please don’t make a habit of that Plax.

  6. By uncle joe on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    I know it was against 3rd stringers but Maybin looked awesome on that sack. I have to say,Keller does look very good this year,but I would love to see Cumberland with the ones.

  7. By Anthony on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    ScJoe, I …The Jets are a blitzing team and a screen pass is one of the primary ways to beat a blitz. I think we need to play the Flats on some pressure schemes that will mess with qbs like Brady who love to Screen Pass. I also think the Run Game does need a jump start but its preseason. I want to give that kid who we used last a bigger shot at making the team he runs hard and has good vision. Powell and McKnight are soft …Special team calibur at best.

  8. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve watched the Plax TD a few times, scjoe, and while it’s hard to tell from the camera angle, I don’t think he pushed off excessively. I wish the NFL would chill with that kind of stuff to begin with on both O and D, the 1st-qtr pass int against Cro last yr in the PIT championship game was the most ridiculous call I’ve seen in a long time, especially in a big game.

  9. By IRA on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    uncle joe, You will see Cumberland with the 1’s once the season starts with some 2 TE sets. They can’t show a lot of looks in the preseason.
    As for Maybin man he looks real fast coming off the edge for sure. I have no idea what happened in Buffalo with him. Either he is a bust or he needed a change. Just maybe the Jets have something with him. can’t get too carried away yet but i want to see more of him especially vs the Eagles where he should get a lot of playing time. I can also see him maybe being a very good ST player because he could cover so fast. Lets wait and see.
    GO JETS!!!!

  10. By Tom Spicer on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    I was at the game last night & considering it was pouring raining & we did not have Derrick Mason, Brandon Moore & Shonne Greene I think the O did well I would love to see what we will look like when we are all together.

  11. By Tom Spicer on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Also on D we did not have Pace, Pouha & Scott so even thou the Bengals are not the best team we were far from full strength.

  12. By Tom Spicer on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Plax played really well & I think he is finally getting what its all about. He threw his TD catch into the stands for a fan & he gave the kid standing right next to me his gloves it made the kids day. I just wanted to say way to go Plax & not with your play on the field but doing the right thing off the field.

  13. By BillsJets on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    I agree with Frank with everything he said above, we definitely need to work on our blitzing scheme and trying not to get burnt in return. Also Cromartie needs to pay attention to where the ball is, he could have picked off a pass in the Bengal game. Still a lot of great talent with the back up players, the Jets need to make offers to Mauga, Satele, Cumberland, Kroul, Felix. Can’t Wait – for Bart Scott to get back in the line-up. D-Line still needs improvement.

  14. By 10and6jets on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    I really think Big Vlad will improve his game as the season progresses and become a reasonable backup. By next season, I think he will be a very good backup and he’ll probably take Hunter’s spot in two years. When he isn’t thinking so much about what he’s doing he will dominate. With that said, what is up with the pass rush? I didn’t get to watch the game, but when I here fans say the pass rush was non-existent it’s confusing. If our D-line is much improved across the board with Pouha and Devito another year in the system and Ellis and Dixon playing better than our backups last year, as well as a 1st round pick who already won the starting job, Pace and Thomas, Westerman, McIntyre (who’s played great), now Maybin, how is it so?

  15. By jack on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    i didnt think revis looked like he was at his best, if Green hadnt dropped all those passes he coudve had a good game. i didnt see him blanked out by revis

  16. By 38 year fan on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    I think the key to a more successful year on “D” this year will be the fresh legs coming off the ends ,…Nothing worse for an opposing QB to see than some penetration off the ends . We got younger , and faster ….I can’t wait to see Brady running for his life ….

  17. By Randy Lange on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Fourth year, 38 year fan.

  18. By 38 year fan on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Randy , was it Broadway Joes’ 3rd season that we took the Championship ? I think the pieces are coming together …

  19. By matt on Aug 22, 2011 | Reply

    Agree the Jets should at least double their INTs from 12-24. If they get any pass rush, maybe more than double that number. That’s what has been missing now entering Rex’s 3rd year. A healthy Pace would help.

  20. By Clarke W. Griswald on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    I wouldn’t look too deeply into fans complaining about pass rush yet. It’s pre season, we have starters resting and Rex isn’t throwing out complex schemes. I can see the Jets having the best defense since Rex arrived.

  21. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    Thanks again for the sanity regarding pre-season, Clarke.

  22. By GaryC on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    yes, jet fan tom, sanity regarding pre-season,heed those words especially when it comes to Burress and Kerley.

  23. By Jimmer on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    Our OL depth is pretty sad. DL and secondary depth are really deep though. And we’re gonna have to cut a rb that would be most teams #2. The kid wr’s may be good in camp, but in games not so good. Speed at LB is concerning as it was B4 the draft. But TE looks good. I think Brunell might as well be a coach, cause the kid McElroy might have a pop-gun like Pennington, he can also make defenders move away from where he really wants to throw. And Buttel needs to learn that Westhoff if a coach, and Westerman is a player.

  24. By 10and6jets on Aug 23, 2011 | Reply

    I like our speed at LB compared to last year: from JT to Westerman, Maybin, Mauga, McIntyre. It’s just that these guys are mostly speed guys and not every down players, which makes us stuck with BT and Pace, who can play every down but look like old men out there. They CANT beat a tackle with a speed rush if their life depended on it.

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