Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jets find another way to lose, fall 30-25 to Miami

Being 4-4 wouldn't be so bad if it weren't filled with so many glimmers of hope and if it didn't begin with a 3-0 start.

I think this game review would best be formatted in a little segment called "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"

The Good
In this ugly loss, you can't blame the defense very much. They allowed 104 total net yards. It wasn't its fault the Dolphins scored 30 points. The Jets stuffed the Miami offense, holding it to just 9 of those 30 points. The best news was the return of the pass rush. The Jets tallied 6 sacks, some of which came in big situations.

Chad Henne didn't have many throwing lanes to throw to all day, and his receivers didn't make many plays for him. The Wildcat was a non-factor, gaining only 6 yards on 9 carries. Sione Pouha and Shaun Ellis among others performed admirably up front in the absence of Kris Jenkins, and Darrelle Revis and the pass defense was stout as usual.

On the offensive side, Dustin Keller came out of hiding to record 8 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. He made two clutch receptions in the 4th quarter, one on a 4th-and-1o on the Jets' final drive, and another on the touchdown before that. His quarterback Mark Sanchez recovered from a mediocre first half to post good numbers and lead the Jets to a few scoring drives, and Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery both made plays for him. Thomas Jones also managed a solid but unspectacular 102 yards on the ground on 27 carries against a solid run defense.

If the defense brings out this effort the rest of the season, there's no reason the Jets can't be in every single game the rest of the season. They will feel the loss of Jenkins at some point, but this was a big step in showing they can survive and even thrive without the big man in the middle. As for this game, the Jets rose to the challenge on defense. Ronnie Brown said the Dolphins were the tougher team in the first game. The Jets were the tougher team today. Unfortunately, that didn't matter in the end. Which leads to...

The Bad

The Jets can make fun of the Dolphins all they want, but they've beaten them twice now. There are no moral victories. The Jets now can finish no better than .500 in the division, and Miami is absolutely a factor in the playoff and division race now, at least as far as the Jets are concerned. A win would have been huge, and they played well enough on two sides of the ball to get it. Now, the New England game in three weeks is basically a must-win.

The Ugly

The way in which the Jets lost is hard to script. In the third quarter, Shonn Greene fumbled the football, which Jason Taylor took the other way for a touchdown. Ted Ginn Jr. added two touchdowns on back-to-back kick returns for touchdowns. Danny Woodhead made a poor play allowing Ginn to break outside on the first return, and he was one of many Jets, including Larry Izzo, to miss Ginn on the second one.

Those mistakes forced the Jets to be climbing uphill the entire time, and once the absurdity stopped, the defense let up its only touchdown of the game. Mark Sanchez and the passing game looked much better in the 4th quarter as they tried to throw the ball down the field, but when he needed to do it one last time in the end, he was sacked on third down, and there was nothing there on 4th down.

The coaching staff certainly doesn't go blameless either. Why go for 2 points in the 3rd quarter? The Jets were chasing points the rest of the game, and with their final drive stalling in the red zone, it makes it hurt even more. Plus, not only did they go for the conversion, but they also had to call a time out to think of a play. One more time out would have meant one more chance for the Jets. Did they really need that extra time to think of a fade route?

And Brian Schottenheimer certainly wanted to establish the run, but at what cost? While Mark Sanchez struggled a little bit early, he worked through it pretty quickly, and he played very well down the stretch. The Dolphins' secondary was very inexperienced, and it showed late. Plus, in the last 2 point conversion, in which Wallace Wright's catch was nullified due to an illegal shift penalty, it seemed like Schottenheimer didn't get the play in quickly enough, forcing a rushed shift and a key penalty.

Bart Scott's comments after the game have to go in the ugly category, too. I admit, it cracked me up, but you have to give your opponent at least a little credit. The egg on the Jets' face after talking trash all week also has to fit into the ugly category.

This is going to be a long bye week.

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