I don't think the Jets could have gone into the bye on a worse note. Today's 30-25 loss to Miami at the Meadowlands stings. It drops the Jets to 4-4, one and a half games in back of the Patriots in the division, two in the loss column. The Dolphins are just half a game back, even in the loss column, and holding the head to head tiebreaker in addition to a 3-0 division record. The Jets are 1-3 in division.
Beyond the frustration of losing is the way the Jets lost. It's very difficult to win in the NFL when you're spotting the opponent 21 nonoffensive points. All of these points had more to do with what the Jets didn't do than what the Dolphins did right.
More after the jump.
Kickoff Coverage: I guess it goes without saying that kickoff coverage belongs here when the opponent runs a pair of kicks back for touchdowns. The Jets looked like they were Purdue against Ted Ginn. There were so many errors on the kicks, it wasn't even funny. There was Jay Feely drilling it too low on the first one. Danny Woodhead didn't contain to the outside. Wallace Wright took a bad angle to Ginn. Larry Izzo whiffed on a tackle on the second one. Guys didn't stay in their lanes. Against a speedster like Ginn, that's asking for trouble. I wouldn't be surprised to see at least one guy on kickoff coverage released between now and the next game.
Larry Izzo: Wasn't he supposed to be on the roster for his special teams play? There was his missed tackle on Ginn, but there was also the inexplicable running into the punter penalty. He had no shot at blocking a punt and still dove into the punter. Izzo is a candidate to be that guy released.
Shonn Greene: Even when Mark Sanchez has been bad, I've gone easy on him. It's rough adjusting to the NFL for a quarterback. So much is different from college. A rookie running back doesn't get the same kind of slack. Sure, there are some things that are different. One is the extra blocking duties. The defenders are also bigger and stronger. Still, you have to hold onto the football. His unforced fumble was a total gift to Jason Taylor.
Justin Miller: Is he in game shape? He looked pretty ordinary on returns (5 for 115). It seemed like he had trouble getting quickly to his lanes and breaking tackles.
The Defense: The defense deserved better. It only allowed 9 points, and 3 were the result of a short field. The blitzes got to Chad Henne this time, even though the 'Fins did many of the same things they did in the first game like max protecting and rolling him out. 6 sacks on Chad Henne and only 112 passing yards. Henne got rattled and made some terribly inaccurate throws when he heard footsteps. Ronnie Brown had under 3 yards per carry. Ricky Williams was just over 3. Just a dominant performance by the defense. It avenged its only poor performance of the year. This unit has played much better than its 4-4.
Mark Sanchez: No question the rookie was the best quarterback on the field. The disastrous third quarter put the Jets behind two scores. Although the coaching staff was very conservative early, they had no choice but to let Sanchez cut it loose. Mark put 22 up in the second half (with an assist from Davone Bess) and had the Jets on the verge of a winning touchdown. The Dolphins covered New York's receivers on the goal line, and the offensive line had a breakdown. Not Mark's fault. He did make an incredible throw to Dustin Keller on fourth and long to prolong the drive. Great touch on the ball.
Dustin Keller: Where has this guy been all year? 8 catches for 76 yards and a great grab on the receiving end of that fourth down play. I'll give the coaching staff some credit too. Miami's struggled covering the tight end, and it seems like the calls made Keller Sanchez's primary read. Is this the start of big things? Will he become Mark's safety blanket? Stay tuned.
Braylon Edwards: 4 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Certified Dolphin killer. And if you ever question his heart, watch the way he fought his way into the end zone on the touchdown grab.
Thomas Jones: Another 100 yard day. The average wasn't too great, but put it in context. The Dolphins were loading up the box all day. There were a lot of times nothing was there. He made a lot of guys miss.
Sione Pouha: Miami's vaunted rushing attack gained 2.3 per carry. Pouha was a force inside clogging lanes. He had 5 tackles and opened things up for others.
Shaun Ellis: Nice of him to finally show up this year. He had 1.5 sacks and generally won his matchups on the line. The way Miami was leaving extra blockers in, guys were going to have to win their matchups to get to him.
David Harris: 5 tackles and a sack. He was all over the place.
Bart Scott: 8 tackles and the sack that got the Jets the ball back for their last drive with a chance to win. So was he.
Defensive Approach: Give the staff credit. They adjusted well from the first game. The Wildcat was held in check. The Jets did a much better job of staying in their lanes. They also sent extra men from the secondary. It worked. It may have left them vulnerable to the pass, but they closed on Brown well and forced him to eat it for a big loss and got a ball deflected both times he was looking to throw it. The fact is the formation is usually a running formation. Passes are going to be few and far between. When they do try to throw it, Brown isn't putting it up unless he has a guy wide open and isn't under pressure. He's not trained to throw. It's always best to attack him with extra men even if it leaves a guy open. Force the running back to make a throw.
I also liked the Pace-Gholston-Ellis-Westerman line on passing downs.
We saw plenty of the Ellis-Green-Pouha-Douglas line and Pace-Harris-Scott linebacking look I predicted to stop the run. It worked.
Again, Henne was on the run all day and got hit so much he felt heat and rushed his throws even when there was none.
I don't expect this to be a fun bye. This team should not have lost this game. The Jets lost the first game to Miami because the Dolphins outexecuted them. They lost this game because they self-destructed. Give the Dolphins credit for not self-destructing I guess, but there's no way this team should be 4-4 at the halfway point. That's where we're at, though. At this point, we have a mediocre football team on our hands.