Post Game Thoughts: Jets 0 49'ers 34 Tweet
The good news is the Jets 2-2 in a division that looks wide open. The bad news is that nobody believes the Jets are one of the teams that has the ability to win it. Donít expect too much about this game here, as there is always once a year where Iíll just vent about the team and this is the game to do it.
I guess putrid is the best word to describe this output. Im not sure I can remember the last time the team looked this bad on offense. The 49íers have a fine defense, but there was nothing, outside of a beautiful DaShon Goldson pass breakup, that made me think the Jets had no chance to move the football. Were the Jets shorthanded with the loss of Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill? I guess so, but its no excuse. Hill was probably going to be benched anyway and Dustin Keller isnít the difference between 0 points and 24 points. The problems just run so deep on the team and now it looks like WR Santonio Holmes could be done for the season. Holmes has his issues with the team, but he is far and away the best talent the team has on offense and injury to him is a disaster of epic proportions, not just for 2012 but even moving forward.
I know the guy who everyone wants to pile onto, and we will get to him, but I want to start this week with the Jets offensive line and just talking in general about the unit. When the Jets had an identity in 2009 and 2010 it was because of the play of this line. It didnít matter that the QB behind them was suspect. They set the tone for the game from the first snap. Hit a guy in the mouth and let him know what the next 60 minutes was supposed to be about. The Jets invested so much in that line. At the time some of us wondered if it was too much, myself included. You had two first round draft picks, two solid high priced free agents, and a solid guard in his prime. Those two first round draft picks are there, but the high priced free agents have been replaced by nothing players, and the solid guard is no longer in his prime. In hindsight the loss of RT Damien Woody to retirement killed the team. In listening to Woody speak in the media and reading him on Twitter now that he has embarked on what seems to be a successful career change, you can feel the passion he has for the game and still has for his old teammates on the Jets. You need those type of players in the locker room. Those guys who keep everyone else in check and seem to have the ability to raise the play of everyone around them. I think we all assumed that Nick Mangold was going to be that guy but I donít know if that disposition is there. You canít question his play on the field, but I donít think he has been through the ups and downs enough to be that guy that raises the play of everyone.
In watching the 49íers line play today it just reminded me of the old Jets. Smack guys around, push them off the line, and beat them up. It is everything that the Jets want to be and everything that they are not. Is Shonn Greene a good running back? No, but he was the same lousy running back 4 years ago when people couldnít wait to get him on the field more. Look at Thomas Jones, the former back who split time with Greene. Mediocre in 2007, exceptional behind the improved 08-09 version of the line, and back to nothing when he went to Kansas City. Everything is based on the play of those 5 guys in the front and they arenít doing the job. They donít do it consistently. They donít do it all at the same time. And most importantly they donít make the other team think they can do it. You canít be a good football team when that is what you get from up front. The Jets donít have good skill players. Everyone knows that. But they havenít had good skill players since what 2004? This isnít anything new. When you have 5 guys that work as one and make the other team say ďhere we go againĒ every time they get on the field it makes up for almost every deficiency that is on that offense with them
Now we will get to Sanchez. He is a disaster at the position. There are things that are correctable in a QB and things that are not. I donít know if he is correctable. People like to compare Sanchez to Eli Manning. What made Eli Manning a poor QB early in his career was poor decision making prior to the snap and just some poor technique throwing it. While the poor looking throws still happen from time to time you can teach players how to make better reads and Manning has become one of those players. Sanchez is just all over the field. I donít know if there is a QB in the NFL that has more interceptions around the line of scrimmage than Sanchez. Maybe that can be corrected, but I tend to think thatís a physical problem that isnít going to go away, much like those wobbly balls Eli throws from time to time. But the passes after those bad plays are the signs of a player that doesnít have the mental makeup to succeed. That is something that clearly can not be coached up. Iíd imagine most Jets fans have watched most of Eli Manningís career since they are on TV every week in the NY market. There was never a time when you watched him do something bad, and there were plenty of times he did, and then get either gunshy or play like he was thinking about his last pass.
When you watch Sanchez get into pressing situations the ball sails on him. It is nowhere near any target. There is nothing physically wrong with what he does that needs to be fixed. He just cant pinpoint a target with his mind elsewhere. Itís been the most depressing thing watching him in his career. You want to see the icewater in his veins mentality. The guy that bounces back from a 3 pick first half and throws for 500 yards. That only two times I can recall where you can point to those type of games were as a rookie against the Dolphins in a game where he threw a late interception to kill a comeback and the game against the Steelers in the playoffs, which is probably going to go down as his most promising game despite the fact that it ended in defeat. But for the most part he doesnít seem to be capable of putting all the bad behind him and moving his team forward. The Jets, for better or for worse, built a team beginning in 2011 that was going to focus on defense with the anticipation that Sanchez would develop into a top tier QB that carried suspect talent around him with Holmes as his star fallback option. Two years later and its about time to give up. There isnít a third down he can pick up. There isnít a tough pass he can make. He doesnít have the cache that makes his teammates come into that huddle and think he is the guy that can do it.
If the Jets had any faith in Tim Tebow he would be the starting QB right now. The problem is they traded for him because of what they saw firsthand last season and then again against the Steelers, and now that they got an up close look they realized all the criticism he got from John Fox and John Elway before pressure seemed to force them to start him was warranted. They know he isnít an upgrade and he is going to be just as much of a problem with this team. But the offense needs a solution. They need an answer. They can not keep going with what they have on the field right now. Signing Chad Johnson or Plaxico Burress is not the answer, even though I am sure you will hear their names mentioned and maybe there are some in the front office that believe that is the issue. The Jets need a heart transplant. A teams heart on offense is either 5 guys in the front or 1 guy standing behind the center. Its too late to probably fix either spot, but the priority for this team needs to be finding a starting QB and/or a high quality veteran lineman to set a tone and bring the best out of the team.
I think we can all agree that it is over for this group. What we witnessed today had nothing to do with the loss of Darrelle Revis. It had everything to do with a defense that is too slow, too old, and too untalented to compete. Everyone put their head in the sand when it came to the defense last season. They never could make a critical stop last season. You could never count on them to win a game when the offense didnít have it. Their drive efficiency was average. Last year the Jets transitioned into a bend but donít break defense, but when that happens it usually means the issue is in the 11 guys on the field and as a coach you are working around them. The Jets and most of the fanbase wanted to look at the blatant problems. Fix the offensive turnovers and get rid of Eric Smith and things will be fine. Its one thing for fans to believe that and another for the guys in the front office to only see the overt picture.
The fact is Calvin Pace is awful. The fact is Bryan Thomas is awful. The fact is Bart Scott is awful. Not one of them would start on another NFL team. On top of that David Harris is not good. When your front 7 donít compete your defense does not compete. Watch the way the 49íer defense hit the Jets today. Shoulders to the gut. Shoulders to the thigh. Every hit coming through the TV speakers like a hit from a boxing movie. Now watch the Jets. One hand around a shoulder pad. Flailing arms grabbing for an ankle. Overrunning of plays. Everyone stands upright. The best fundamental tacklers on the team come in the secondary. Itís a joke. If the 49íers played that game today straight they would have run for 400 yards. It is an embarrassment.
The Jets miss the Bart Scott of 2009 and 2010. I have always been a harsh critic of Scott because of the amount of money he makes, but he brought a quality to the defense that isnít measured in statistics. His fire in the defensive huddle and in practice had this team playing at 110%. His effort within the games and his willingness to put his body on the line to allow others to make plays had such an impact on this defense. Everyone wonders what happened to Harris these last two years and the reality is Scott is what happened. Scott made Harris so much more effective that he really was. Scott gave Harris a clear shot at ball carriers. Now that Harris is left to his own merits it is apparent how not great he really is. His inability to bring down ball carriers, when you carry a price like he does, is insane.
The Jets, just like on offense, miss those veterans on the defensive line. Its not that Shaun Ellis, Marques Douglas, and Trevor Pryce were necessarily good. It is that they were smart and disciplined. They had been through wars in the league and knew what it took to shut down running lanes and make things easier on everyone else playing more glamorous roles. Sometimes you need guys who are teachers out there to teach these younger guys how to prepare and how to react to different situations. Players will always rely on other players for advice much more than coaches, who they open tip toe around for fear of losing playing time or losing a job. Coaches can only teach so much. Veterans help youngsters apply those teachings to real games. The teachers are gone for those players. They might be there for the linebackers, except the Jets have no young guys to teach, other than DeMario Davis who doesnít seem to ever get on the field.
The 49íers picked on Kyle Wilson all day long. If Alex Smith was an acceptable QB Wilson would have been pulled. He canít play at this level. I couldnít believe I saw him wagging his finger at Mario Manningham after Manningham toasted him for about the 5th time on the day only to see Smith overthrow him for probably the 5th time that day. The technique is terrible and he has no feel for covering. Any receiver that gives him a little move is going to be wide open on the outside. I wouldnít be surprised if the Jets bring in a veteran corner next week. Laron Landry is all over the field in coverage, and by that I mean lost. Its just terrible to watch.
As you watch this defense falter you have to wonder if the Jets coaching staff is simply not doing itís job. The job of a staff is to develop young talent and as the pieces have changed the defense has gotten worse. There are guys in the league who simply canít play, ala Vernon Gholston, but when you swing and miss every time you have to wonder if the problems come from elsewhere. They havenít been able to develop Wilson into a viable player. Kenrick Ellis is nowhere. Quinton Coples is nowhere, though at least its very early in his career. Muhammad Wilkerson has not been impressive. Their greatest success has been Mike DeVito who is a capable two down player for the team. That is not to say that players havenít improved (Cromartie and Pouha are both far superior to the pre-Ryan days), but those are veterans doing better not first and second year players bumbling around and trying to learn about the NFL. Right now it just looks like it needs to be blown up.
The team got a punt blocked which was pretty impressive since nobody was really even rushing for San Francisco. At least they got it out of their way in a meaningless game. The kick and punt return game is no longer a strength of the team. The new kickoff rules have killed the Jets special teams.
I donít think I have ever seen Rex Ryan so upset with his team than he was today. I donít usually watch the post game press conference but I did today and he was just disappointed. There was no sugar coating anything. This wasnít like ďI thought we had a good week of practiceĒ and then throwing out some positive stats in a loss. It was just a coach that had never seen his players get beat the way they did venting on a podium. Reading between the lines I think Ryan has finally come to the realization that the new practice rules hurt his team, which is a point I made last season. At the time Ryan blamed the sluggish play on lack of a real training camp, but its not that. When you have a team with average and below average talent they need to play perfect football. You only get that way in live practices. Without the contact you see the end result on the field which is no different than the Herman Edwards teams that could never tackle. The new rules turn everyone into that type of coach and Rex needs to learn how to work around it.
Ryan was extremely frustrated with the Tebow questions and more or less walked off after being prodded about a QB switch. There were times when he sounded as if he knew he needs to make a QB change, even using the ďIm not considering a change at this timeĒ line, but he also stood by the fact that he felt Sanchez was the guy. The poor play from the QB has put Ryan in a terrible position because it is now a media QB controversy, if not one in his locker room. Again it comes down to belief. I donít believe anyone in the Jets locker room believes Sanchez is the guy. The way he carries himself does not seem like someone you lean on when the chips are down. For as bad as Tebow was in Denver those guys all believed he could do it in crunch time.
You heard it during the game when the announcers questioned why Tebow was not put in the game in the 4th quarter. I think that would have been a crazy move because Tebow canít play and it creates an even bigger media firestorm once that kind of switch is made, even in junk time in a blowout loss. But people have taken notice that after an entire preseason of ďhiding TebowĒ there is no effective use of Tebow. The 49íers brutalized the Jets with the Wildcat today while the Jets struggle to use the same plays they sold the world on back in August via their secrecy policy. The real story is that the Jets brass knows Tebow cant play and donít want to feed into it. But this is what happened in Denver and eventually the switch was made. Tebow is far more effective getting a lot of snaps than he will be in limited showings.
Its not something the Jets can hide from anymore. Sanchez is playing terrible and you have Tebow standing there with his helmet on and every play just hoping to get it. The TV footage of one guy with his helmet on late and the other with it off standing next to him just shows one guy hungry and one guy who cant wait to escape a terrible game. The questions came fast and furious about him in the post game. People are starting to wonder if the salary of Sanchez is what is keeping him in the games. Rex cat let it get to him the way he seemed to today, but sometime soon he has to make a choice and either start Tebow or stop this nonsense of Tebow coming in as TE, FB, WR, whatever else to justify the presence of him on the team.
Ryan gave the guys the day off tomorrow to search within themselves for answers. The problem is I donít think that can work. Again it goes back to the makeup of the team. When you watch the type of game they played today how can you even think they care. How can you even think that they are embarrassed by what went on today?
Teams get beat all the time in the NFL. Teams get blown out all the time by better teams. But very rarely do you see a team just give no effort on the field. You may be able to point to one or two plays that just turned into massive point swings that deflated the team. There are teams who may try to make the score respectable even knowing they have no chance to win. When the Jets got wiped out by the Patriots a few years ago you saw a team that played mistake prone football that was clearly overcome by the situation. It was just bad play and the Patriots rubbed the Jets nose in it. But there was no such situation here. This was a day where 46 guys showed up to collect a paycheck and go home. No heart. No desire. Just give up. Itís the same attitude this team had in week 17 last year when they no showed the game against the Miami Dolphins.
The type of play the Jets gave was unacceptable for an NFL franchise. If this was 2005 or 2008 we would be saying that the coach has lost the team. We wont say that today because Ryan is far more popular than Edwards and Eric Mangini, but that was the type of play that occurred today. What was the worst thing about it is that the 49íers seemed to believe the Jets had no heart. The 49íers tried for big play after big play because they felt the Jets had a glass jaw and they couldnít recover from a big momentum score. This was long before the game turned into a rout. It was their gameplan going into the game. It wasnít a Revis thing either. They targeted his replacement, but it was a statement about what they thought about the Jets offense not what they thought about Wilson.
The Jets have been trying to tip toe around the fact that their drafts have been terrible since 2008 and free agent track record mediocre by bringing in Tebow and hanging onto those two title games in 2009 and 2010. Their moves have reeked of a team trying to hold things together until they can get the financial flexibility to really overhaul the team. But today is the worst case of all scenarios. Its still early in the year and there is always hope, but when you have 10 straight quarters of bad football you have to begin to think it may be time to just blow things up. Get back into the high end of the draft and hope you do better than you have done the last few years. Get rid of the bloated contracts to build up the cap room to actually bring talent into the locker room. The Jets probably have 11 or 12 starters that would not start on other teams which is far too many especially when some of them are making big dollars. Hopefully Rex is right and they can find something within themselves to fix this because it is going to be a long season if this is the product the Jets put on the field for the remainder of the season.