Post Game Thoughts- Jets vs Jaguars
I canít remember watching a team have as many problems finishing a game as the New York Jet have had this year. This is the 4th loss of the season that has basically come down to the final possession of the game. One would think that at some point the Jets have to start winning these games but that does not seem to be the case this season. Of all the losses this might be the most devastating. You could have heard a pin drop when Maurice Jones Drew dropped down to a knee at the 1 yard line and that probably ended the fan support for the season. The way they lose is almost unexplainable, but the Jets have to find some ways to explain it and avoid it in the future.
You knew this could be a long day when the Jets inexplicably decided to go deep on the first play of the game and Mark Sanchez threw his first interception of the game. The play was not there, but Sanchez got anxious and threw it anyway. All told, though, I thought Sanchez had a decent game. Again he brought he team back in the fourth quarter and when he gets hot he does a great job of finding his guys. The stat line would have been much more impressive had Dustin Keller hauled in a long pass that he had a chance to catch, but overall Sanchez did what he had to do. One of the more alarming things with Sanchez is that when he throws the ball to the other team they are getting huge returns. That hurts the Jets more than the interceptions themselves. He also seems to have a very hard time dealing with crowd noise in his own stadium. The situation of the game never really let the Jets try to consistently establish the run. Both Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene had their moments, but there was not enough chances to let them establish any type of control of the game. The Jets receivers continued to look pretty good. They ran open often and Sanchez sometimes just could not find them. Braylon Edwards did have a key fumble but he also made an amazing catch in the 4th quarter. He did drop a crucial 2 point conversion, but Edwards was hurting at that point and the hit was too much for him. Jericho Cotchery caught everything that came his way and when Keller gets involved it really opens up the field for the team. Even David Clowney had a big 3rd down reception which showed big improvements for him. Early in the year he would have ended up a yard short, but he is running the routes much better now. The line was up and down again. Sanchez got pressured too often from a team that brings no pressure, but he also had tons of time in the second half. Ferguson had a killer holding call. Despite the mistakes they did enough on offense to win again.
The Jets defense apparently forgot that their bye week was over for the first half of the game. When the Jets staff yet again preaches talks about putting together a complete performance in all three phases of the game this week it will be with a finger pointed at the defense. This was easily their worst performance since the first Dolphins game. Maurice Jones Drew just ran the ball down their throats to start the game. The Jets players could not bring him down. He routinely carried Jets defenders for three and four yards and slipped other guys. They allowed David Garrard to look like Steve Young as he seemed to be able to make a play whenever the team needed one. The defense stiffened in the 3rd and 4th before a final drive meltdown that deserved to shut the Jets defense mouths up for the entire season. The Jets could not get any pass rush and allowed Garrard, a terrible 3rd and long QB, to carve the Jets defense up on third down. The team could not get anything right with the secondary. Kerry Rhodes had an awful game. Just awful. Everytime the Jags made a big play I swear I saw him in there. Lito Sheppard missed a tackle. Donald Strickland whiffed on a crucial 4th down screen call. Once again we saw the desperate need for a real pass rusher. Calvin Pace could not get going and they did not seem to try to bring Harris in to pressure often which left the Jets at a loss for personnel that could actually make plays in the backfield. The Jets offense usually gets a ton of criticism for things even when they go right. My guess is that there are as many people upset with Sanchez as there are with the Jets defense right now and the defense will again get a free pass. But, for as good as the Jets defense has been this year, do they ever come up with a crucial stop in a game? In Miamiís Monday night win they let the Dolphins offense retake that game twice--- once on a bomb to Ted Ginn and a second time when Miami won on the last play of the game. Against the Bills they gave up the big pass play to Lee Evans and did let them come down and get in field goal position, aided by a Jets penalty, to win that game in overtime. When the Jets tried to stop the bleeding against the Dolphins two weeks ago the defense gave up a crucial score when the offense had just made it a one score game. It happenend twice again today. The Jets took the momentum back going up 10-7 and almost immediately the defense gave it right back up. And then with a loud crowd desperate for a win they allowed the Jacksonville Jaguars to outplay them to win the game. Obviously they can not pitch a shutout every week, but this is a bad trend.
We saw a lot of changes this week. Justin Miller was inactive and looks like he will be removed from the team with Dwight Lowery getting a chance to return kicks. In hopes of finding a spark the team also put Darrelle Revis in there for punt returns instead of Jim Leonhard. Neither guy got many chances, though Revis looked very rusty in that role on the one return he did try. Mike Westhoff got his guys back on specials and they did a much better job. Brad Smith made a big tackle, but the Jets special teams has to do a better job adjusting to the new wedge rules. Jay Feely is kicking his way into another contract.
The Jets really need to practice more situational gameplay. Itís like mass chaos on the sidelines way too often. Rex Ryan is almost completely removed from the offense. I donít recall ever seeing a coach that seems like he never talks to anyone on the offensive side of the ball during a game. Everyone goes through Brian Schottenheimer. It helped create a strange situation which ended up seeing the Jets blow a timeout with a 1st and goal from the 1 yard line. Half the team was excited about getting there while Schottenheimer was screaming for the offense to get back on the field and not allow Jacksonville to substitute. It was just disorganized. The substitutions are still a mess, especially on defense. I donít know if the defensive coordinator calls one package and Ryan audibles out or what, but the Jets always have guys coming off the field close to the snap. Guys run off, then back on, then off again. Itís crazy. Again it cost the Jets a crucial time out. Offensively the Jets constantly switch personnel having Sanchez run around like a chicken without a head to keep from getting a penalty for subs coming in and out of a huddle. I understand trying to show the other team different looks, but not when it hurts your team. This is something Rex has to work on next year. I also do not understand the need to attack this defense deep, which is what they cover best, but the Jets seemed to favor that gameplan. The Jets probably should have let the Jaguars score a TD once they made their big pass play, but there is no guarantee that Jones-Drew would have run it in a play earlier, so that may or may not be on the coach.
I donít know where you go from here as a team. The coach and the owner basically guaranteed the playoffs and challenged the team to come up big and they did not rise to the occasion. The team has fallen to third place in the AFC East and it really is kind of ridiculous to be even dreaming of ways to sneak into the playoffs when you are 1-5 in your last 6 games. At this point now maybe the best course of action for the Jets is to be considered a live spoiler for the remainder of the year and to start evaluating just what you have in Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Dwight Lowery, and some of the other young guys. For as bad as the season has turned after New Orleans the Jets show a lot of promise and if Sanchez doesnít get overwhelmed by the seasons end the Jets are going to at least be considered a good bet in 2010 to make a run at the playoffs.
One thing that is getting increasingly annoying about the games this season is that the Jets have become paranoid about showing anything bad about the team. The stadium no longer plays any replays where something bad happens to the Jets. It is terrible if you are in the stadium. Sanchez was actually wanting to see the replay of his second interception to understand what happened but the Jets never put it on the screen. This was also the first time this year they did not run the SNY postgame over the stadium loudspeaker. They murdered the Jets after the last two home games and I think that has played into the decision. I think it is a bad idea if this is the course that the Jets are going down. They arenít fooling anyone into thinking the team they follow is playing good football.
Maybe the Jets pull off a miracle next week and beat the Patriots. They have played well in Foxboro before and are a much better underdog than favorite so you never know. If they do maybe they can salvage the season and sell a few more PSLs for the team. This team isnít that far away, but they have to learn to win. We saw that problem last year and this is largely the same group of guys. They do not understand how to handle success or win the tough games. That hopefully comes with experience. The same thing is going on in Denver right now who is in danger of falling out of the playoff race after a 6-0 start. If they stop making excuses for their losses this will be a good learning season for the team, but that has to come from Ryan on downward. For the Jets to move forward they have to accept that they are no better than the Miami Dolphins of the world and do the work necessary to become a good football team in 2010.