For those of you who wonder how to take today’s loss to the Green Bay Packers 9-0 at the New Meadowlands Stadium, I have a suggestion. Take it as a referendum on Rex Ryan’s management style. Who made the decision to try and leg out a 4th and 18 from punt formation? The punter, Steve Weatherford. Some might say that a punter doesn’t get paid to make that kind of decision. Some might say that the head coach is the only one who ought to make that call. Not Rex. Or at least not today. For the record, the strategy didn’t work. And, who planned an offense that saw the Jets’ best power runner, Shonn Greene, only run the ball six times against a team that was devastated with line injuries and playing Howard Green at tackle? Brian Schottenheimer. Some might say that, after last game, the head coach ought to decide how much running the Jets do. Not Rex. Or at least not today. For the record, the strategy didn’t work.
At some point, we have to point the finger at Rex. I know how lovable he is. I know his players adore him. But, maybe Rex ought to quit being so generous with responsibility and understand that it’s his responsibilty, not theirs. He’s got to set the tone for every unit. As soon as the offense starts to look a little better, Rex backs off. That’s Schotty’s area, he tells himself. I’m a good guy and I’m not second-guessing Schotty. Well, no Schottenheimer offense has ever ranked higher than sixteenth, Rex. Is that really good enough?
The Jets’ offense, features two highly qualified tailbacks, one a young stud with power to burn, the other, a seasoned, still quick veteran with gobs of experience. It features three 80 catch guys and a tight end who could catch 80. Then there’s a terrific offensive line which, despite a few weaknesses, could easily be considered one of the best in the NFL. At the top is a bright, young quarterback with a good arm. Why does that unit underperform? I have a recommendation. Let’s stop blaming the players. I know Sanchez had a poor first half. I know Holmes and Cotchery dropped more than they caught. I know about the holding calls. I know about the fumbles in Packers’ territory. Still, can we stop blaming the players? It’s the scheme, baby.
Can we finally and unequivocally blame the guys at the top?
After the game, Rex seemed most exercised at the wide receivers for their admittedly poor play. But, who designed the offense that has looked wooden and predictable for the past two games straight? With all these weapons, why did this team only muster four drives into the opponent’s end and no points? That wasn’t the ’85 Bears.
The defense cannot really be faulted. True, it did not respond well to the Packers movement. The switches in coverage assignments seemed to confuse the Jets more than the Packers. Roles still need to be defined in the secondary and, more than once, Drew Coleman did not know his responsibility. There was also a lack of contain on runs around the defense’s left side. Nevertheless, the defense kept the team in the game until the offense finally surrendered a chip shot to make 9- with two minutes to go.
Specials were ok, not great, and they didn’t exploit the Packers’ weaknesses on punt coverage. Brad Smith had another nice run back into Packers’ territory but, par for the course for the past few weeks, it came to nothing. Of course, we must also count the Weatherford punt fake, which was stupid on so many levels.
A lot of people will want to blame Mark Sanchez. By my count, there were at least five drops that would have led to another sixty yards and neither interception should have happened although he doesn’t get credit for trying to stick it in there. For the record, based on the last two games, he’s going to have 32 interceptions in the next sixteen games. I’m just saying… Still, if those five catches are made, he throws for over three hundred yards which isn’t much less than all a quarterback can do to help his team. Sanchez didn’t fumble, twice, and he didn’t lose two tossup catches that turned into interceptions.
As for the offense, let us have more trick plays like the end around that lost fifteen yards. Let us have more Wildcat plays which gained less than ten yards on two tries (much less if we count the fumble). Let us run, again, on first down but then almost never on second down or third down. Let us run a 3rd and 2 in the fourth quarter from the friggin’ shotgun, when my two year old niece knows the Jets don’t ever run from that formation. Let us have more bizarro quarterback sneaks on first down after 40 yard catches into the opponents’ territory in the fourth. And let us have the poor execution and mistakes. A critical holding call on Mangold. A critical holding call on Keller. Five dropped passes, and I’m being generous by not counting LT on a screen that could have gone for a ton. And two passes ripped out of the hands of receivers who failed to fight hard enough for the ball. Nice game all around, guys!
Still, if you want someone to blame. Lean on the guy with big shoulders. We were at this point last year and he took over the offense. He needs to do it again. 5-2 teams sometimes don’t make the playoffs. I submit, that the votes are in.