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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 13 Titans 38

A disappointing game today in Tennessee.

Offense

Today was a step backwards for Geno Smith. I thought some of the bad plays the last few weeks came under some unfair criticism, but this was a disaster. Today was the first day since the Preseason that Smith did not look like he belonged starting in the NFL. Whether it was jitters from being on the road or actually playing with some expectations Smith was terrible. He started bad right out of the gate and then just lost composure. He was sailing passes all afternoon and took an ugly sack in the 3rd quarter that was nearly a safety. He probably should have been picked off on the subsequent play but Jeremy Kerley made a terrific effort to haul in a pass. He later made an awkward play where he attempted to switch hands with the ball behind his back while getting sacked which led to a fumble recovered in the end zone. It was just ugly and as bad as any Mark Sanchez game in his tenure here.

I tend to think the Jets offense was hurt by the injury to WR Stephen Hill (who would have ever though I would type that) who went out after a somewhat dirty hit by Michael Griffin. Not that Hill is Calvin Johnson, but Hill is the deep threat on the team and the guy who can be used to draw the Safety in coverage. Once he went down I think the Jets ended up getting different looks than they had planned for and Smith panicked. Kerley had the one nice grab but also missed another where I thought he should have dragged with the QB but instead he sat down which led to Smith throwing across his body and being high with the pass. In many ways both were probably to blame. Santonio Holmes had one really nice catch and the effort is much better this season from him as he is essentially in a contract season, though he probably could have done a little more to try to keep smith from being picked off.

RB Bilal Powell had another solid game. He ran the ball tough again and had one long reception out of the backfield. Last season my take on Powell is that he was good at doing the smart thing with the ball which was simply carrying out a play while Shonn Greene was always slow to the line, but that he didn't have the second gear to make him a really good player. I think part one of my thoughts is still legit, but number two was wrong. He can run really physical and pick up yards. I don't think the Jets really have much need for both Mike Goodson and Chris Ivory anymore.

The offensive line was poor. The Titans completely out efforted them on the day. Vlad Ducasse had multiple problems but the whole line was overwhelmed and its not fair to just single him out. They just gave such a limited effort as the game went on. It was as if they felt the game was over and had no desire to match the intensity of the Titans. Not that this was the reason for the bad play but you would have liked to have seen a better effort from this group.

Defense

These are the days where it becomes very difficult to evaluate the defense. Someone is going to look at the scoreboard and see all the points, but the Jets defense never had a chance. All day they were put in awful position by their offense and there is little that they can do to stop that kind of game from spiraling out of control.

I think what we can say is that the Jets defensive line is for real. They completely bottled up RB Chris Johnson and the Titans running game. The Titans have spent a lot of money on their offensive line and I thought the Jets clearly outplayed them. DE Muhammed Wilkerson probably should have been penalized for a late hit that seemed to lead to a Jake Locker injury, but he continues to be a positive force for the team. The middle of the line just seemed to collapse the interior on most plays.

There were some issues in the secondary. I'd be a little worried about CB Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie has not been as effective this season as he was last year and he was absolutely toasted by Nate Washington on a deep score late in the game. While the referee got in the way it had no bearing on the play and the only reason it wasn't an easy TD was because Ryan Fitzpatrick is awful and underthrew the ball allowing Cromartie to almost catch up. Cro also slipped on an earlier score allowing for an easy TD catch. CB Darrin Walls got the start and the Titans attacked him early. I thought Walls deserved the start but he became a target of Tennessee and had some problems. Hopefully he is better next week.

Special Teams

Other than the punt coverage, which was not good, there is nothing to even talk about here. The Jets return game is not explosive nor something to expect anything out of anymore.

Coaching

I know that there has to be a good deal of people asking why didn't the Jets run the ball when Smith was going down. I was one of them during the game, but that is something that you just need to accept with Marty Mornhinweg and his playcalling. His system just doesn't believe in that so I would not expect him to deviate from it. Secondly if you are trying to develop a QB sometimes you have to let them work through these disasters. When Sanchez fell apart over the last two years people often pointed to him never having those Matt Stafford experiences of throwing a bazillion times regardless of how many mistakes were made.

I disliked the pitch out 4th down call. At that point the game was likely over anyway but I don't see the benefit of the call. You put your best runner on the bench and assume that the defense will completely sell out for Tommy Bohanon who lets just say is not going to scare anybody. If you really want a big play there you need to throw the ball off play action not pitching it to your 4th string back with a FB as the decoy.

The penalties were also a problem again. Last week there were a number of penalties that I felt were easily fixable, but two weeks in a row of double digit penalties is pretty awful. Too many penalties were pre snap and that's a sign of poor preparation.

Overall

I didn't think the Jets would win this game but I did believe they would be competitive, which they were not. The game was pretty much over after just a few minutes passed by. It was a step backwards in that the Jets looked every bit the team most predicted at the start of the season not the one that competed the last three weeks. Offensively the effort was just not there.

I think a fair question to ask is how good do the Jets think their defense is internally this season. You have to wonder if the Jets had a game manager like Alex Smith if the defense is good enough to carry them to the playoffs or not. While I think the defensive line is very good I'm not sure I'm ready to make that statement. I think potentially they can be as good as the 2010 defense, but there are some warts in coverage. I don't think they are anywhere as good as 2009, but still the team needs to ask the question.

Back in 2009 I still believe that the Jets front office did not know what they had in that defense. I think they felt it was competent but never expected Rex to come in and change it from competent to one of the best of the decade. Had they known that they never would have started Sanchez that year as they would have begged Brett Favre to come back or found another veteran stopgap for a season. Once they realized how great they were they pulled Sanchez back to hope he did not screw up the season.

Smith could be at the same crossroads right now. I personally picture this more like the Giants 2004 season than the Jets in 2009, one in which you are sacrificing a playoff chance to get the QB experience in the trial by fire manner. Back in 2004 the Giants were a fringe playoff team with Kurt Warner at the helm, but they benched him for Eli Manning feeling that the future was more important than the present. The Jets defense is relatively young, unlike the 2009 version which had more veterans, so it's not like the team is wasting Wilkerson and Coples by letting Smith hang himself on the field. However if the organization thinks otherwise some type of change has to be made if this is the type of play that continues.

I have no idea what kind of team the Atlanta Falcons are but the Jets will likely be a big underdog unless Atlanta plays poorly this week against the Patriots. This same effort will lead to a rout against a high powered Falcon offense with multiple down the field options. On the bright side the Steelers look awful giving the Jets a good chance at 3-4 as they decide what they want to do with their game planning.

So let's see how the team bounces back. They already bounced back from a difficult Patriot loss so maybe they do the same this week. I think if they show better effort and take better care of the self inflicted wounds it's a very good sign, even if they lose.

Go Jets !

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