Post Game Thoughts: Ravens 10 Jets 9
A horribly sloppy game marred by penalties, penalties, and more penalties on the New York Jets.
There were signs in the preseason of how bad the first unit looked and many fans and players seemed to write it off because they were not game planning or really trying that hard. Well, for one week the preseason carried over into the regular season. The Jets offense was terrible, starting with QB Mark Sanchez. It really looked like nerves had gotten the best of Sanchez who was so afraid of making a mistake that he did almost nothing well. It was clear that he was overly worried about a mistake when he had a chance to hit WR Braylon Edwards for a score early and instead threw it out of bounds rather than try to get it to Edwards. His best play of the day, a spectacular down the field catch by Tight End Dustin Keller, was called back due to an illegal shift call on Edwards prior to the snap. The sure handed Jerricho Cotchery had a rare drop on third down that killed a drive. I cant even explain what Keller was trying to do on the final play of the game, not even attempting to get a first down. The defense handed the offense golden opportunity after golden opportunity to score and they could not convert. If the Jets had even an average offense they would have been up 17-0 and the game would have been over. Instead they produced 6 points and a turnover. The running game never got on track outside of one 20 yard run by LaDainian Tomlinson, the only offensive player to show up and play. RB Shonn Greene fumbled the ball twice and looked like the player who could not hold the ball in early 2009 than the horse who ran the ball down the throat of the opposition. It seemed as if he got benched because of his poor performance. The offensive line did nothing special and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, after a sluggish preseason, had two penalties that wont do anything to quiet the critics. RT Damien Woody gave up a crucial sack in the 4th quarter that knocked the Jets out of any chance to get a field goal or make a 4th down attempt and picked up an offsides on the last drive. LG Matt Slauson got brutalized by NT Haloti Ngata that caused Sanchez to get up limping.
There was just nothing positive to take from this effort and one more week like this and it will be back to the drawing board when it comes to determining what to do offensively. The Jets used more motion in their offense than they probably have since early 2007 and I tend to think that worked against them in the game, leading to some penalties and rushed plays. When you do not work on these things in the preseason it is hard to just use it all game long in a regular season game. It is just one week and you can not over react to it, but this did not look like a unit that was prepared for the regular season to begin playing.
Another few weeks of this and there will be a defense vs. offense feud that is talked about in the media. The defense was on fire early in the game, specifically the front seven of the team. DE Shaun Ellis played as if he was 24 years old, just destroying the Ravens offensive line and creating a fumble on the first play of the game. OLB Bryan Thomas had his best game in 4 years getting into the backfield as if he the pass rusher the Jets expected when they drafted him all those years ago. DT Sione Pouha recovered two fumbles and was very aggressive all night long. He's going to be needed to do that all season as unfortunately it looks like the team may have lost NT Kris Jenkins again for the season, as he came off the field with just a pained look on his face after getting his bad leg bent backwards that told a sad story that his career was over. Linebackers Bart Scott, David Harris, and Jason Taylor all had big hits and plays. Scott did an awesome job on his forced fumble getting knocked down and then getting back up and chasing down the runner and knocking the ball loose. The run defense was outstanding. They gave RB Ray Rice no room to run and just swarmed to the football. If they play like this for 15 more games they will have the best run defense in the NFL and it wont even be close.
The secondary was up and down. They had plays with excellent coverage and also gave up huge third down conversions via both penalty and poor coverage. CB Darrelle Revis looked good. He had one early defensive holding penalty, but you never really even heard his name the rest of the night as QB Joe Flacco just simply avoided him. You got to see the good and bad of CB Antonio Cromartie during this game. The defense targeted Cromartie over and over and he did a pretty good Lito Sheppard impersonation getting flagged for penalty after penalty, though some were questionable, and giving up some big completions. He also had an interception and a spectacular return showing off that athleticism that made him special out in San Diego a few years ago. CB Kyle Wilson got picked on as well, was beaten on a few plays, and taken advantage of by the veteran receivers of the Ravens. His penalty on a 3rd and 28 is unacceptable no matter what the circumstance. The Jets corners have to play better than this in the future if they want to win. Teams are not going to throw on Revis the way they did last season.
Outstanding effort all around. P Steve Weatherford had a great game consistently pinning the Ravens deep inside their own territory. Coverage was excellent all game. Vernon Gholston had a huge hit early and James Ihedigbo nearly caused a fumble with a huge hit right on the goalline. Jim Leonhard had his best day returning punts with two big ones. I had assumed this would be Wilson's job, but after he coughed the ball up and did little on his other return it may be Leonhards job to keep if he wants it and continues to play as his did in this game. K Nick Folk was 3 of 3.
I don't think you can say that the Jets were out coached this game, but they certainly did not look prepared. Ryan, OC Brian Schottenheimer and DC Mike Pettine did not seem to have any solution once their initial gameplans faltered. It was clear that something was wrong with Sanchez and that all the motion was costing the team, but they never thought of going to something a bit more traditional to settle the offense down. Once they realized that Cromartie and Wilson were having a terrible time out there in coverage, made worse by the fact that the officials were going to call a tight game, they never backed off the sell out blitzes to give them help. Sometimes you have to change things up in a game to be a success and they did not do it this week.
Unlike last year, the Jets looked unprepared and not ready to open the regular season. You cant win a football game when your offense picks up all of five first downs and your defense gives up 3rd down conversion after third down conversion. The penalties were unreal. Some may have been unwarranted, but the Jets played careless football. This game really brought back the bad memories of last season. Terrible offensive play. Chances to win the game late and coming up short. Not taking advantage of mistakes.
It is going to be a rough week for Jets fans, who are going to be upset by the media coverage of this game. People always overreact to week 1 wins and losses and there are many in the media who have waited over 7 months for this to happen. For as well as the defense played there were signs that this unit will not be as good this year as they were last season and that is going to be a big point for those who look a bit beyond the score. It's going to be brutal, but the Jets deserve it for this performance, specifically the offense.
With the New England Patriots coming to town next week Rex Ryan is going to have to get his team much more focused than they looked this week. The Jets lost the crowd half way through this game and they will be ready to turn fast on the Jets if they look like this against their biggest rivals. Ryan has to find a way to see just what is wrong with Sanchez and how he can fix it. You saw on the TV show a QB that at times was kind of aloof to everything going on and at others extremely hard on himself for playing poorly. The QB position is as much a mental battle as a physical one, especially for a young QB, and they have to be very careful that they do not allow him to lose the mental game. If he does that it may be over.
The Jets have to simply put this game out of their heads and move on. Hard Knocks is done. The Revis contract dispute is done. The early season jitters are done. Its time to get back to playing football and not worry about this other nonsense. A loss, even at home, to a team like the Ravens is not a disgrace. It may be disheartening and a reality check of sorts, but its not as if they lost to a team like the Saint Louis Rams. For as bad as they played they were right in the game and the front 7 on defense was outstanding. Lost in all the excitement of the offseason was the fact that the Jets were basically an 8-7 regular season team last year. They were not perfect and were not going to be perfect this year. This loss can be a good thing to bring them all back down to earth. Lets see how they bounce back next week before we start really worrying about the season. Go Jets!