Geno Smith played a near-perfect game in Monday night’s stunning 30-28 victory over the Falcons. The rookie strung together a few flawless touchdown drives in the first half, but no series was more impressive than the final one to put Nick Folk in position to drill a game-winning 43-yard field goal as time expired. Smith completed four straight passes before breaking off an eight-yard scamper around the left edge on that final drive. He showed tremendous poise and composure all night long. We didn’t see a whole lot of that in Smith’s first four games when he turned the ball over 11 times. Smith accounted for three touchdowns and didn’t commit a single turnover in this one. He only threw four incomplete passes as he was picking apart a battered Atlanta defense.
In the pre-draft process there were a number of people who questioned Smith’s leadership. Former teammates and coaches at West Virginia criticized Smith, NFL executives said he was “tuned out,” and Kurt Warner called his leadership into question. Those were just a few of them. If we’ve learned anything about Smith through his first five games, it’s that he isn’t easily rattled. He believes in his abilities and his teammates’ abilities. It’s hard to rattle this guy. As long as Smith can stay away from the three- and four-turnover games, the Jets are going to be in a lot of football games due to their stud defensive line and inside linebackers. Antonio Cromartie also came to play for much of Monday night. There will undoubtedly be more bumps along the way for Smith and the Jets this season, but this team is better than most of us thought they would be this summer.
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Jets at Falcons Quick Slants
Mike Goodson returned from his four-game suspension and immediately took over as the Jets’ third-down back. He, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory will form a three-headed committee for the foreseeable future as long as they all stay healthy. Powell’s heavy workload days are likely over. … The Atlanta offensive line is possibly the worst in the league. Matt Ryan is getting no time to throw, which isn’t letting him take any deep shots. Ryan had attempted just one pass more than 15 yards downfield before the fourth quarter. … Stephen Hill was mostly a decoy Monday night. He barely practiced during the week as he was working his way back from a concussion. … Tony Gonzalez is the second player in NFL history to register a catch in 200 consecutive games. Jerry Rice is the other. He did it in 274 straight contests. … Roddy White exited the game early in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury. He remained on the sideline. White needs the Week 6 bye more than any other Falcon. … Julio Jones was seen leaving the X-ray room following the loss. He hurt his lower right leg or foot. … Jets DL Muhammad Wilkerson is a beast. He dominated any Atlanta offensive line he lined up across. … Jason Snelling suffered a concussion. Steven Jackson (hamstring) should be back for Week 7 against the Bucs. They need him, especially in the red zone. Jacquizz Rodgers was stuffed on a first-and-goal from the one-yard line on the final play of the first half. Rodgers can’t run between the tackles.
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News Nugget #1
Michael Vick injured his hamstring in Sunday’s win over the Giants. Nick Foles came on in relief to complete 16-of-25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Foles looked darn good in the process. He tossed a beautiful touchdown to Brent Celek in the back of the end zone on a rollout play. Foles also found DeSean Jackson for a score over Prince Amukamara.
Vick underwent an MRI on his hamstring Monday and is fully expected to sit out Week 6 against the Bucs. Vick’s status for Week 7 is also uncertain, suggesting he’s more week-to-week than day-to-day. Coach Chip Kelly didn’t rule out the possibility that Vick could lose his job to Foles if the second-year quarterback plays well in Vick’s absence. We highly doubt that happens. Foles would have to be lights out. Vick is undoubtedly the best fit for Kelly’s fast-paced attack. He’s also played extremely well.
Foles started against the Bucs in Week 14 last season, completing 32-of-51 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Of course, that Bucs defense didn’t have Darrelle Revis and this new Philadelphia offense is a much different breed than Andy Reid’s. Look for Kelly to lean heavily on LeSean McCoy in Vick’s absence. Foles will still be worth some QB2 consideration.
News Nugget #2
Following Sunday night’s miserable loss to the 49ers, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said he remained committed to Matt Schaub as his starting quarterback. Schaub set an NFL record by throwing a pick-six in four consecutive games. His one on Sunday night was on his first pass. Schaub threw another two interceptions against San Francisco and was benched in favor of T.J. Yates at the start of the fourth quarter. Schaub has tossed an interception in each game this season.
Speaking on Monday, Kubiak changed his tune a bit and said he’s “evaluating everything to see what gives us best chance to win." Yates is nothing special. Schaub still likely gives the Texans their best chance to win, in all honesty. But something needs to change. Kubiak could indeed hand the reins over to Yates and rely heavily on Arian Foster and Ben Tate moving forward. Longtime beat writer John McClain believes Kubiak will start Yates this week against the Rams. McClain wasn’t reporting, however. He was simply just talking on NFL Network’s “Around the League” when he made the remarks. No matter who lines up under center for Houston, both Foster and Tate should be in fantasy lineups versus St. Louis.
News Nugget #3
The Raiders released overmatched QB Matt Flynn on Monday. He was downright pitiful in his Week 4 spot start in place of Terrelle Pryor and was demoted to No. 3 duties behind undrafted rookie Matt McGloin last week. GM Reggie McKenzie guaranteed Flynn $6.5 million this season. He lasted all of five weeks on the active roster. The Seahawks and Raiders paid Flynn a combined $14.5 million to make one start over the past two seasons. Parents, make your kids learn how to play quarterback.
McKenzie has whiffed on every quarterback move he’s made in his one-plus seasons at the helm. He threw a fifth-round pick away to acquire Flynn from Seattle, and then wasted a fourth-rounder on Tyler Wilson. Wilson is currently toiling away on the practice squad after an unimpressive – to be kind – summer and preseason. McKenzie has showed that he has one of the worst pairs of eyes for quarterback talent. He’s just lucky Pryor was already in the house when he got the gig.
Quarterback/Running Back Quick Slants
Josh Freeman will not start for the Vikings in Week 6. Look for Matt Cassel to get the nod. Coach Leslie Frazier continues to insist that Christian Ponder has a “bright future” in Minnesota. We’re not buying it. … Blaine Gabbert won’t play this week due to his “popped” hamstring. Coach Gus Bradley was noncommittal when asked if Gabbert would regain his job when healthy. … Thaddeus Lewis will be promoted from the practice squad to start at quarterback for the Bills this week. E.J. Manuel is out with a knee injury, and Jeff Tuel doesn’t stand a chance. … The Giants re-signed RB Da’Rel Scott. David Wilson (neck) is unlikely to play Thursday night against the Bears. He reportedly has some “tingling” in the area, which is no small matter. … Coach Jeff Fisher confirmed Zac Stacy will remain the Rams’ starting running back this week against Houston. … Coach Bruce Arians doesn’t believe Andre Ellington can carry a full load in the backfield. He’d rather have Ellington stick to playing 30-32 snaps per game in a timeshare role.
Wide Receiver/Tight End Quick Slants
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the 49ers and Browns have discussed a Josh Gordon trade. Schefter calls a deal unlikely, however. … Coach Jim Harbaugh says there’s a “good chance” Mario Manningham (knee, PUP) will begin practicing when he’s eligible to in Week 7. Harbaugh also said Michael Crabtree (Achilles’, PUP) is “on track” to be ready by mid-to-late November. … The Titans will continue to reduce Kenny Britt’s role. … Percy Harvin (hip) resumed running last week. If he’s available in your league, then scoop him up immediately. … The Texans are “worried” Owen Daniels (fibula) may miss a “few weeks.” Garrett Graham will likely get the start in Week 6 against the Rams in a juicy matchup. … Martellus Bennett (knee) did not practice Monday. Brandon Myers (ankle) also missed practice. Both play on Thursday night. … Greg Olsen was wearing a protective boot on his left foot Monday.
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