Watching the Jets this season is like riding a rollercoaster. Sometimes it seems like the ride is rising, momentum is gaining, and the only place they can go is up. And sometimes, they start screaming downward, with no bottom in sight. Today’s game was as pure an example of that as any. When the Jets played well, they were exception. But when they were bad, it was difficult to watch.
Let’s get granular.
Once again, Joe McKnight was exceptional. After the Patriots drove down the field for a touchdown to start the 2nd half, he brought the ball back to the Patriots 20 on the kickoff return to set up an easy Jets touchdown. The rest of the squad played well, but made some painful mistakes. Patrick Turner made a dumb penalty to pull back a good McKnight return. The biggest error was made by the punting team, giving up a 25-yard return to Wes Welker late in the 3rd quarter to put the Patriots on the Jets 25, allowing them a sure field goal.
The defense played as well as could have been expected, given the circumstances and their opponents. If you were disappointed by how the D performed today and consider my praise excuses, feel free. But I truly believe they contained the Patriots as well as they possibly could. Through playing a mix of coverage and blitzes, the Jets were able to get at Tom Brady, sacking him a total of four times (with one sack taken away by a phantom flag).
Their biggest failures came on three drives: the first Patriots scoring drive, the quick scoring drive that opened the 2nd half, and the Patriots’ clock-killing runs on their last drive of the game. The 2nd half drive was tough to watch: Revis seemed to give up on Welker, letting up a 74-yard pass, setting up the Patriots on the Jets 6-yard line.
Even tougher, though, was watching the Patriots eat up the clock at the end of the game. After the Jets offense finally seemed to figure out how to play, scoring to make it 27-21 with 7:14 left in the game. The defense knew what was coming. They knew the Patriots were going to run at them, over and over again. And that’s exactly what happened. Yet no matter how many times BenJarvus Green-Ellis was given the ball, the Jets were unable to stop him, allowing the Patriots to kick a field goal to make it 30-21 with 1:02 to go.
However, it remains hard to pile on this defense. They held the usually stellar Brady to 294 passing yards and one throwing touchdown. And don’t forget that Cromartie interception in the end zone to save a score at the end of the 1st half. No, the scorn in this game can be heaped on one particular person:
Here’s a stat for you, and it’s one that I find absolutely unbelievable: every drive (except for the one ended by the game clock) during which the Jets produced a first down ended in a score. Every single one.
Basically, if the Jets had the ball, they either went 3 and out or they scored. Either the offense worked incredibly well or it failed miserably. More often than not, it failed. The Jets went 3 and out seven times today. Most notably in the 2nd half, when they traded 3 and outs with the Patriots, barely allowing their exhausted defense any time on the bench. It’s no wonder the Patriots eventually came down the field to score.
And I think the biggest flaw in the offensive scheme was the playcalling. While the running game was beautiful on our scoring drives, it was far too predictable on the others. We need to throw more on first down to keep defenses guessing. And we need to avoid, under any circumstances, throwing it short on 3rd and long. I can’t even count the number of times I saw that happen. And we need to, every once in a while, throw it deep on early downs.
To be honest, there was a lot to like in today’s game, despite the final score. On the few drives that worked. Sanchez and his receivers seemed
crisp and synced up.
But after this kind of performance against arguably the worst pass defense in the league, the team needs to think about its personnel. Speaking candidly, I hope the rumors about the wide receivers questioning Schottenheimer’s schemes are true. After this game, I don’t think this team can win without somebody else making the calls.