Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Penalties, Lack of Offense Doom Jets in Home Opener

What a mess.

After 8 months of hype, the Jets fell flat on Monday Night Football, losing to the Baltimore Ravens 10-9. While the defense was pretty much everything that had been advertised, this looked like a game that could have been plucked straight out of last year.

The passing offense could not have been more inept despite Mark Sanchez not turning the ball over once. If you had told me that before the game, I would have loved the Jets' chances. But 10-21 for 74 yards will never get it done. That's an atrocious effort against a secondary that on paper looked like it could be beaten. The Jets just never took any real chances downfield, with Sanchez overthrowing a covered Jerricho Cotchery on the one time they did try.

Brian Schottenheimer showed once again why Jets fans can be so frustrated with him. The Jets averaged 5.5 yards-per-carry, but they only ran it 21 times (two by Sanchez on QB scrambles). Granted, his team never had the ball, so all the stats are small. But 1-11 on third downs is absolutely pathetic. The only time the Jets did convert was on the last drive of the game. Before then, if the Jets saw 3rd down, they could have just brought on Steve Weatherford then to punt it away because they simply weren't getting it.

Not all the blame falls on Schottenheimer and Sanchez, however. Jerricho Cotchery failed to reel in a key 3rd down catch late in the game that he should have had. And the pass blocking, a question coming into this game, failed Sanchez many times, as he was rarely able to get set in the pocket and make throws down the field. He checked down all the time, and not very accurately.

Despite the complete ineptitude of the passing offense, the Jets were right in this game until the very end. That's because they won the turnover battle 3-1, and the Ravens ran for just 49 yards on 35 attempts. But 14 penalties for 125 yards by the Jets cost them the game. The only touchdown Baltimore scored came after a borderline Braylon Edwards running-into-the-kicker penalty and a pass interference penalty in the endzone on Kyle Wilson that gave the Ravens the ball on the 1-yardline. 125 yards in penalties, 1-11 on offensive 3rd downs, and giving up 11-19 on defensive 3rd downs is certainly not the recipe to win.

And even still, the Jets had one last chance to win. On a 4th and 10 play, the Jets needed to move about 35-40 more yards to set up a field goal with 47 seconds left. Sanchez found Keller for what appeared to be a rare conversion. But inexplicably, Keller stepped out of bounds without reaching the ball over the first down marker, and the game ended.

There is so much blame to go around in this game, but the Jets can't feel sorry for themselves as the schedule doesn't get any easier. Tom Brady and New England come to town on Sunday, with the Jets having a short week to prepare against a team that looked fantastic week one. Lose that, and they go 0-2 in home games to go on the road and face a Dolphins team that swept them last year.

Needless to say, the Jets need to figure out a way to score touchdowns and stay disciplined, and they need to do it now. This wasn't a must-win game, but if the Jets aren't careful, this season could spiral out of control before the calendar turns to October.

But hey, at least Nick Folk, Steve Weatherford, and LaDainian Tomlinson played well!