Game Recap: Futility at Home

The New York Jets produced one of the most dismal offensive performances in team history today as the Miami Dolphins scored an early ten points and hung on for the rest of the game for a 10-6 victory in the Meadowlands.  The Jets did not score a touchdown for the second straight game.

It wouldn’t have even been close if not for the defense which performed well throughout the game.  They gave up 89 yards rushing, and only 55 yards passing.  The Dolphins receiving playmakers, Fasano, Bess and Marshall combined for every one of those 55 passing yardage, no other Dolphin caught a pass.  Marshall, who burned the Jets for 166 in their first game, had only two catches for sixteen yards in this one.  Still, it was all for naught because the Jets’ offense is so inept at this point that ten points is an insurmountable lead.  If this game is an example of playing like a Jet, then I’m canceling my flight to Florida for Christmas.  I want to live to see my grandchildren married.

Mark Sanchez will receive a lot of criticism for this game, and he made some ill-advised and some poor throws.  But, in the fourth quarter, he showed how much he cared by converting a third and thirteen with his legs, diving head first for the marker. It was only the the fourth time the Jets converted a third down in the game.  They had had fourteen previous opportunities.

Santonio Holmes, who was called SanAntonio Holmes most of the game by the sadly unprepared announcing team, caught a forty-two yarder to permit the Jets to kick their second field goal in the fourth quarter bringing them to within four points.  Nevertheless, he dropped the only touchdown opportunity the Jets had in the second quarter when he was wide open and failed to catch a ball that hit him in the shoulder.  Sad to say, the defense played so well that, if he had caught that pass, the Jets would have won the game.  Alas.

Turnovers were everywhere, on both sides of the ball.  Sanchez fumbled three times losing the ball once, and he had an interception on the second attempt of the game. That turned into three points as the Dolphins drove the short field from the Jets 42 yard line.  The only touchdown of the game also came off a turnover, in this case a Sanchez fumble.  With a little bit of creative offensive PI, Brandon Marshall got free to make a first down, then found a seam in the end zone for the only seven point score of the day.  For what its worth, that’s the same zone the Jets have been burned on for key scores in two other games this season.

As we have come to expect, Jets receivers treated quite a few passes as if they were burning embers.  Cotchery, who made some nice catches in the fourth quarter also had some groaning, unconscionable drops.  Keller, too, let a couple fall uncaught.  Braylon Edwards had no drops, but that was because he never got near the ball.  Holmes drop will now become the stuff of legend.

Penalties, too, destroyed drives.  Ben Hartsock, alone murdered two promising drives with a personal foul and a hold.  Of course, for the new Jets, second and twenty is no better than second and eighty.  There is no chance that they will convert it.  Not in a million years.

Coaching decisions during the game were simply bizarre, from game plans, to play selection, to time management.  The determination to run on first down was impressive in the first half.  10 of twelve opportunities produced 27 total yards.  Still, if I were looking for a single sequence that epitomized the coaching staff’s ineptitude, it would be the sequence that followed Jason Taylor’s recovery of a Ronnie Brown fumble, with 1:52 left in the first half.  Those two possessions, first the Jets then the Dolphins, should be studied by every young coach for a catalog of how not to take advantage of a turnover and waste a golden opportunity.  I won’t recap, because I couldn’t do it justice and it would make me sick, but that one minute and fifty-two seconds, carefully analyzed, should tell you all you need to know about how not to coach in the NFL.

All in all, it was an exercise in massive incompetence.  People may say that the problem is execution, which puts the onus on the players.  That’s fairly glib, since the players are the ONLY individuals who actually execute on the field.  However, the coaching staff executes during the week, in preparation.  Moreover, in no sport is the coaching staff more critical than in football, not in basketball, hockey, and certainly not in baseball.  If the coaching staff doesn’t execute, you see it through the way the game is played, in frustration, incompetence, broken plays, dropped passes, and turnovers.  So, if you’re inclined to complain about the execution by the players, remember that they’re not in it alone.  The players are not the only individuals on the team who have to execute.  Players have to feel confident, and a good portion of this team looks beaten.  Sanchez’s face, in the fourth quarter, wracked with self-doubt, frustration and a desperate desire to do anything he could to change the state of affairs, showed that in spades.  That ought to be a referendum on the coaching.

Right now, you have to wonder if the ship can be righted.  People will say, they’re still 9-4, everything will be fine.  It’s just a bump in the road.  Maybe they’re right.  I hope so.  But, there isn’t much to hang onto after today’s game.  In short, they stunk up the field.