In one of the most miserable Jets home games in a long time, or at least since week one, the New York Jets fell to the Green Bay Packers 9-0. It was the first game all season in which a touchdown was not scored, and the first time the Jets were shut out since November, 2006 against Chicago, another NFC North squad.
The blame for this loss can be put squarely on the shoulders of the offense. While the special teams rarely gave the Jets good field position, the offense could not string enough plays together to have any legitimate chances to score. Every time the Jets advanced into Green Bay territory, disaster happened. Brad Smith had a fumble early on. Mark Sanchez had not one but two interceptions by Packers' defensive backs ripping the balls away from Jets' receivers. Both were questionable calls at best, but very little went right for the Jets on this day. The one legitimate chance the Jets had to score, Nick Folk missed a 37-yard field goal
Sanchez was completely off all game. While the interceptions weren't really his fault, his accuracy and decision-making were very shaky. He threw a number of passes too high or too low for his receivers to hold on to. His receivers didn't help him out at all though. In addition to not fighting hard enough for the intercepted passes, there were a number of key drops in this game. Santonio Holmes dropped a crossing pattern that could have easily gone for a touchdown had he held onto it. Even the normally sure-handed Jerricho Cotchery had a few drops, particularly in the 4th quarter.
The Jets also had another turnover early in the game when Steve Weatherford failed to convert on a fake punt on 4th and 18. He felt he could catch the Packers napping, but he was only able to convert 17 of the yards necessary. He was initially given the first down until Mike McCarthy threw a challenge flag which revealed that Weatherford stepped out of bounds just before the first-down marker. That missed opportunity led to the first Packer field goal.
And yet despite all this ineptitude by the offense, the Jets actually ended up with 123 more yards of total offense than Green Bay. The defense was lights out almost all game. Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie blanketed their receivers as Aaron Rodgers was held to just 170 yards passing and a 44% completion percentage. The Packers also ran for just 3.1 yards-per-carry on the day.
What the defense didn't do is force turnovers and create big plays. Rodgers made smart decisions all night and was barely touched by the Jets' pass rushers. As a result, Packers punter Tim Masthay was able to pin the Jets inside the 20 five different times.
The Packers simply didn't make mistakes, and while they didn't put the ball in the endzone, they took advantage of opportunities the Jets gave them in order to win the game.
Rex Ryan has to get some blame for this flat performance. He didn't have his best day either, using both of his challenges in the 2nd quarter, rendering him unable to challenge a controversial Charles Woodson interception later. This is the 2nd straight year the Jets have lost at home against teams they should beat after the bye week.
But really, it was just a day where absolutely nothing would go right on offense. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene were okay running the ball, but they didn't break any big plays. The passing game was just off all day, and when the Jets had chances, they'd squander them with turnovers, penalties, and a missed field goal.
With Detroit on the docket next week, the Jets should be able to get back in the scoring column for the first time in two weeks. But the Lions are a tough team at home and are coming off a 37-25 triumph over Washington. Gang Green must assert themselves and beat an inferior team, something they failed to do this week.
The problem is the New England Patriots just keep winning. At 6-1, the Pats have the best record in the NFL. Having won four straight games against Miami, Baltimore, San Diego, and Minnesota, the Patriots are riding high and could certainly go 12-4 or 13-3. Winning a wild card spot also won't be easy, with the quality depth of the AFC. If the season ended today, the Jets would be the #5 seed, Pittsburgh would be the #6 seed, and Indianapolis would be on the outside looking in.
On paper this is the easy part of the Jets' schedule. The next two weeks, New York faces Detroit and Cleveland on the road. Both teams have the ability to play hard and win, but if the Jets want to be an elite team, they should win both of those games. After that, the Houston Texans come to town in what will be a key AFC battle. Then the 2-5 Bengals come to the New Meadowlands Stadium on Thanksgiving. The Bengals are better than their record, but once again, they are a team the Jets should beat.
Sunday was supposed to be the beginning of this "soft spot" of the Jets' schedule. If the offense can get on track at all, there's no reason the Jets still can't reel off a few wins in a row the way the defense looked. But Sunday was an utter disaster, and the Jets need to fix what's wrong with their offense fast, starting with Sanchez playing better.