Post Game Thoughts: Jets 0 Packers 9
Well the stay as the consensus number 1 team in the NFL was certainly shortlived as the Jets offense essentially continued their bye for an extra week for the second year in a row.
A complete disaster. Going into this game we all knew the Jets were not as productive as their scoring indicated, but nobody could have predicted this. Against a team just completely devastated by injuries the Jets managed a grand total of 0 points. They did everything wrong. The dropped passes. They missed open receivers. They couldn't run the ball. They got penalties. It was the worst performance by the offense in at least 5 seasons if not longer. Can you pin all the blame on QB Mark Sanchez as everyone did in week 1? Not this time. Sanchez was bad on the day and his accuracy issues are catching up with him. Again he is throwing multiple balls to the other team, though his two interceptions were both kind of freak plays where the receiver is more to blame than Sanchez. Mark did move well in the pocket and had to step up to avoid pressure, but his desire to just look down the field allowing other defenders to come back into the short field hurts the team. His decision making at times was poor and he failed to see a wide open WR Braylon Edwards 40 yards down the field that would have been a guaranteed TD. His decision making of where to force passes is very questionable as he seems to just lock into certain players and over-rely on them. Sanchez is far too thrilled to rely on the big play as have that somehow vindicate 5 or 6 bad plays in a row, but when the offense cant score after those big plays they are worthless in the grand scheme of things. The wideouts inability to catch the ball killed the team. WR Santonio Holmes missed a critical 3rd down pass that was right in his hands. WR Jerricho Cotchery had two huge drops at the end of the game. RB LaDainian Tomlinson and RB Shonn Greene both dropped passes. The Jets allowed two interceptions when TE Dustin Keller and Cotchery allowed the defender to wrestle the ball away from them. Those are strange plays where normally the catch goes to the receiver, but the officials did not call it that way. Part of the reason was because the Jets receivers pretty much gave up the ball without a fight, whereas normally the wideouts show some struggle for the ball. The interception to Keller had a better chance of being challenged, but as a receiver you simply can not allow the defender to take the ball like that. That is bad play. Edwards was missing in action almost all day and Holmes, after a strong start , was virtually invisible. The announcers during the game made a very interesting point about both players not ever attempting to bail the QB out when the play breaks down and that may be something the Jets want to look at more in the future.
The running game stalled for the second week in a row. Tomlinson could never find that second gear as he was getting tripped up right as he made his first cut. He also fumbled a ball, that luckily he recovered, botched up a reverse, and missed a block that led to a sack. He did not look like the same guy who has carried the running game the first six games of the year. Greene did nothing as well and got a hold off a terrible attempt at a block. The offensive line was overwhelmed by the Packers front and that hurt the rushing attack. There were never the big holes available to spring the players into the second level and let them try to make guys miss. Green Bay was also able to get some pressure on Sanchez without much in the way of blitzes and RT Damien Woody, who played well most of the day, looked silly against LB Clay Matthews when Matthews got a critical sack on Sanchez late in the game. Just too many penalties and missed assignments on the day.
If there is a silver lining in this game it is that the defense looked more like last years team than the group that played the first six weeks of the season. Rex Ryan has insisted that by years end this would be the best defense in the NFL and they took a step in that direction against the Packers. Essentially they only gave up 3 points on the day, as the Jets gift wrapped the other 6 points the Packers put on the board. CB Darrelle Revis said he was 100% and he did play much better this week. Initially the Jets were playing him on a side and I guess once they realized he was healthy they started to primarily play matchup football with him which seemed to work better as the Packers were getting WR Greg Jennings in some favorable matchups on CB Drew Coleman before that. Revis is still not at the level of last season but this was a big positive step. CB Antonio Cromartie was rarely mentioned and had a good game. The one completion he game up to WR Jordy Nelson was a great play by Nelson that would have been hard to defend. CB Dwight Lowery made a play of two and Coleman played well enough. The defense thoroughly confused Aaron Rodgers, who had his worst game of the year. Even when players were open he was rushing throws to them for fear of a defender being able to get there. The front 7 had a strong game. LB Bart Scott was great against the run and LB David Harris was extremely active again and always seems to be in the vicinity of the tackle. Green Bay never got their run started and if not for a meaningless big run late in the first half would have held RB Brandon Jackson to under 2 YPC. The one negative for the Jets is they simply can not generate a pass rush. Green Bay has major weaknesses in the middle of their line and specifically at Right Tackle yet they could never get to Rodgers. They tried to constantly line up LB Jason Taylor over center but it did not work and DE Shaun Ellis seems to be in one of those invisible stages, something he has gone through every year since 2007. The teams lack of a natural pass rusher is pretty glaring at this point and with the poor play of all the draft picks this year, they may be questioning the decision to not take a few chances in the draft at a player with natural potential.
K Nick Folk missed a critical field goal, his first big miss of the year. He played the wind and the wind never took the football anywhere and he missed by a mile. P Steve Weatherford did not have a great day and was unable to use the wind to change field position for the team. He came close to making a first down on a fake punt and should get an A for effort on that play. He nearly made an insane play call look like a genius move. KR Brad Smith did his best to atone for a fumble on offense with a near 50 yard return, but Jim Leonhard did nothing on punts. The fact that the Packers punting game, not a strong point on the team, was so much better than the Jets is a big factor that nobody will mention. P Tim Masthay constantly pinned the Jets deep inside their own territory leaving the Jets offense with too much field to travel. Leonhard never could return his punts, an area that has usually been a problem for the Packers.
This was an awful game on so many levels. I have no idea what Rex Ryan was thinking with his decisions early in the game. Was the call to fake a punt on your own 20 gutsy? Sure, but what is the reward there? You only call those plays when there is a high reward involved. All that would have done was give the Jets a 1st down on their own 38 yard line. That's not a gimmie field goal. That's not a major opportunity to put 6 on the board. Your offense just went 3 plays for -8 yards and had gained 26 yards in the 7 plays before that. Odds are you were going to just punt again. I understand looking for a spark, but they handed the Packers a FG attempt there. That play call reeked of the Jets being upset with the comments made by the Denver head coach about a flaw in the Jets special teams and simply looking to prove they are special teams wizards.
What the Jets were thinking on the challenges is something we may never know. Again this was just a coach chasing after something for no reason at all. Where were the Jets people upstairs on those plays to tell Ryan not to challenge? The Brad Smith fumble was a clear fumble. His knee was up and elbow was up when the ball was out. It only took one glance at the replay to see it and it is impossible to believe that he was told to challenge. The second one maybe had a chance, but once the officials explain the rules of the challenge you cant challenge that play. The referee ruled an interception by the defense. The Jets attempt to challenge by being “down by contact” was essentially a challenge that the play should have been ruled a fumble. That was never going to be reversed and with only one challenge left they never should have done that. Its something the Fox team immediately pointed out and you knew it was just a wasted challenge.
The clock management at the end wasn't good, but at that stage of the game the odds were against them winning anyway if they needed two possessions to do so. The announcers made a bigger deal out of it than they needed to in this type of game. The bigger story was how the Jets again came out playing sloppy uninspired football off a bye week specifically on offense.
I don't even know what to make of what the Jets were attempting to do offensively. Once again they just seemed to have no identity mainly because they could not establish anything positive. It is like they get too smart for their own good when they have time to plan for these games. Three gadget type plays that went nowhere. A decision to constantly look deep against a team that doesn't really give those kind of plays up at a great rate. The worst possession came after the huge reception by Keller where the Jets were most likely playing for a TD making it 4 down territory. They called a hurry up QB sneak on first down that made no sense. Sanchez was behind the line on his previous pass and it was a clear catch. They then called big pig pass plays on 3rd down when you have to manly be trying to pick up 6 yards to be in a good position on 4th down. It was a horribly called drive that gave the Jets no chance. It was the same type of play selection on their final drive as well. It was as if they felt the clock was at 30 seconds rather than only being a factor if they failed to convert. Its poor situational planning by the staff. You would have hoped the bye week would have been used to see these problems in the offense but they learned nothing from that Denver game. They got lucky on the Holmes interference there as it was the total wrong decision in that situation, but the defense bailed them out. Those are once in a season moments but they played as if those were the right situational decisions.
All season long people have said that it is a weird NFL season in that there is no dominant team and this game was simply proof of that. The Jets were reveling in the fact all week that they were the best team in the NFL and they pulled up lame. Now if the Patriots win the game against the Vikings the Jets are going to become considered underdogs in the AFC East as they will sit a full game behind New England.
Is the sky falling? Absolutely not. These flaws in the offense have been there all season. They just haven't had it cost them since the first game of the year. Now that it costs them a game maybe it forces the coach to make notice of it. Ryan talks a lot about getting better and how there is always room for improvement and I happened to believe it when he said it, but based on the results this week he didn't get it to sink into the head of his offensive players or his coordinator. Sometimes it takes a a game like this, where the results are so glaring and embarrassing, for the coach to really put his foot down. That happened last year when Sanchez was throwing the teams season away and Ryan basically put his foot down with Brian Schottenheimer. Maybe that happens here as this is definitely the lowest of lows for an offense.
The Jets showed improvement on defense and the fact that the Packers could do nothing offensively is a real plus. Since the beginning of that Vikings game the Jets offense has done nothing and maybe they are in a stretch where they need the defense to carry them. Early in the year the offense was carrying and covering for the defense. Now it's the defenses turn and if they play like this the next few weeks they will do just that.
Maybe the Jets are just a team that does not handle success well. The 2008 squad crumbled once they got anointed the best in the NFL. The 2009 squad crumbled after the 3-0 start and only rebounded after everyone wrote them off. The 2010 squad has come up short both in their opener and now off the bye week, both times when the team and coach were really reading heavy into the press clippings about how good this team is. What is good to know is that Ryan has done a good job coming off these failures. The Jets ran to the AFC Championship game after the write off loss to the Falcons. These Jets won 5 in a row after the Raven debacle. There is no reason they can not win another 5 in a row right now and use this loss as fuel for it.
The Jets will have a tough game against the Detroit Lions next week. They are a good team at home and score a ton of points. Nobody notices them because the Lions has been so bad for so many years, but they are a very dangerous team. The Jets will need a another strong defensive effort to win that game. The Jets have to avoid two game losing streaks to keep their safety margin for the playoffs making this Lions game very important. A convincing win will go a long way to putting this game in the distant memory of the Jets and their fans. We know they have the talent to do it, now lets see if they have the resolve to get it donw.