Sunday, November 15, 2009

Same Old Jets Lose Again: 24-22 to Jacksonville

Whether or not you believe in the curse of Same Old Jets, it certainly exists within this season.

The Jets lost for the 5th time in 6 games, this time to the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-22. This time, they found yet another way to lose. This time, it wasn't Mark Sanchez (entirely), or the special teams (that much): it was the defense. But it is the way in which the defense blew the game that makes things especially frustrating.

First of all, they came into the game not ready to play at all. They missed tackles, and allowed Maurice Jones-Drew to score a touchdown on the opening drive without David Garrard needing to throw a single pass.

In fact the defense didn't even force a punt the entire first half! They allowed 21 points in a half that they didn't bother to show up in. The only drives that didn't end up in points ended in a missed field goal and a clock run-out. Garrard had not thrown a touchdown pass on the road all year; that is, until he faced the Jets.

Sure, they played great in the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th. 5 straight 3-and-outs is impressive, no doubt about it. But when it counted, they inexplicably bro, allowing the Jaguars to move down the field for the game winning field goal.

Somehow, the Jets simply cannot come up with big stops in big spots. Some of the first half problems can be chalked up to post-bye week rust, but that needs to end after a drive or two, and rust doesn't need to yield touchdowns. They turned it around, but some communication breakdowns led to some huge first down pass plays, and as a result, the Jets lost the game. The defense is way too talented to play like a sieve as often as it did.

The mental breakdowns and communication errors have a lot to do with the players, but they have just as much to do with the coaching. I bought a lot of the Rex Ryan hype, and on defense, I still think that he has the goods to mold a great defense. But can he coach a whole team? And the defense has had far too many missed assignments and mental errors this season. A lot of that is on coaching.

The Jets just aren't a good enough team to show up flat on either side of the ball, much less on defense. They can't give the Dolphins 21 points. They can't spot the Jaguars 21 points. And unfortunately, they can't close against either team when handed the lead and a chance to win.

Every loss this season, you can point to a few plays, or a single unit as the main culprit of the loss, and it's no different in this game. It's always something. Offense, defense, and special teams. Good teams get the three to complement each other. The Jets can't. The Jaguars keep the Jets in the game by Quinton Groves falling stumbling flat on his face at the 2-yard line after an interception, and then fumbling the possession away. How do the Jets respond? With a big pass play...only to have Braylon Edwards fumble the ball right back to Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is a Jekyll and Hyde team, but on the road, they've been pretty bad. But if the Jets are a playoff team as Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson have both said, they need to beat this team.

Edwards, Thomas Jones, and Dustin Keller had big drops, and Mark Sanchez was spotty. Edwards needs to catch that 2-point conversion, and Sanchez needs to make a better throw. Jones needs to catch that screen pass in the red zone with a clear path for a touchdown, and Sanchez needs to make a better throw. Not enough drives are ending in touchdowns, and everything seems just a tad off offensively, but much of that is to be expected with a rookie quarterback. Still, when all is said and done, 22 points should be enough to beat the Jaguars.

Thanks to the defense and the coaching, that was not the case. What's with all the trick plays? A reverse pass in the 4th quarter with Edwards? The Jets were moving the ball just fine, what is the point of that? And why are there still too many men on the field penalties in week 10? Rex Ryan should have fixed that problem weeks ago.

And a time out with 1st and goal from the 1? Are you kidding me? There were 20 seconds left on the play clock. Even if they were thwarted from running a quick snap, they need to run a play there. Run it up the middle. Sneak it. Spike it. Do something. I don't care what. Don't waste a time out. Not in the 2nd half.

Playoffs? Playoffs??? I just want to win a game. But next week's New England game is this team's last stand. They need to win that if they have any hope of doing anything this season. And even then, it's going to take a miracle for this team to put together the type of consistency needed to go 6-1 down the stretch.

If there's anything the Jets have proven this year, it's that you never know what you're going to get from them from game to game. Sure, they want to run the ball, and they usually play good pass defense, but the only team the Jets have beaten in the last 6 games is Oakland. Buffalo, Miami, and Jacksonville are not playoff teams. The fact that they went 0-4 against them, with three of the games having huge build-up, is a terrible sign for future big games, nullifying the 3-0 start.

The season is not over yet, but it's close. Watching Sanchez's development will be the main key for the rest of the season barring a miracle. I'll try to have the video up in the next couple days, definitely this week.

Then again, at least the Jets didn't call two time outs and then go for it at their own 28 yard-line. Now THAT would be stupid...

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