The Jets fell to 9-4 today at a rainy Meadowlands Stadium after a 10-6 loss to the Dolphins. When coupled with New England's rout of Chicago, hopes of winning the AFC East are now pretty slim. With trips to Pittsburgh and Chicago coming up, the Playoffs might even be in doubt unless the offense can start doing something. The unit has looked horrible the last three weeks.
More after the jump.
Mark Sanchez: You always like to try and find some silver lining in a young quarterback's play, even if something small to build upon. I'm struggling to come up with something for the job Sanchez did in this game. I guess he kept working hard to evade pressure and showed some heart running with the ball. That's about it. He frankly looked like he didn't know how to read a defense early in the game. He threw some passes early that anybody watching at home could see were totally covered. That is not common. The rest of the game, he missed open target after open target. Yes, the ball was wet, but bad weather is a fact of life in the Meadowlands. Early in the year, his completion percentage was low even when he was having success. It was clearly a red flag. Sanchez needs to just work on not putting the ball on the ground when hit. He fumbled 4 times. The interception and the fumble Miami recovered led to the only 10 points the Dolphins scored
Brian Schottenheimer: I just cannot believe there are people out there who want to give Schottenheimer a pass because Sanchez is playing poorly. It's incredible. I will admit there might not have been anything he could have done considering the quarterback play, the receivers dropping passes, and the poor run blocking. There's a problem, though. Schottenheimer is not putting this team in a position to succeed.
When your quarterback is throwing so poorly that he would struggle to hit a cow in the rear end with a guitar, should you be calling pass plays 60% of the time when you have a top five run game? Is that Sanchez's fault? Should your best power back, Shonn Greene, get more than 8 carries in a bad weather game? Is that Sanchez's fault? Should you go shotgun and spread the field on third and short to eliminate the threat of a run? Is that Sanchez's fault? Should you go shotgun on fourth and short with your Wildcat quarterback and hand the ball off to a guy who started the play 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage? Is that Sanchez's fault? Should you call a pass in the flat to the tight end for one yard on third and five? When you have a backup tackle playing against the league leader in sacks, shouldn't you consistently give him help on passing downs?
Furthermore, isn't part of his job to get Sanchez to play better? If he can't, does he not bear some responsibility for his full throated endorsement of Sanchez before the 2009 Draft? How can Sanchez be the only culprit when these same issues existed when Brett Favre, Kellen Clemens, and Chad Pennington were playing quarterback? This guy simply has to go.
Santonio Holmes: Nice catch late in the game, but that drop in the end zone was a killer. The Jets lost by 4. The difference between touchdown and field goal on that drive was 4 points. Plus a touchdown on a perfectly thrown ball might have made it a different game. Sanchez might have gotten some confidence.
Jerricho Cotchery: He led the team with 5 catches, but a drop in the first half might have cost the team a shot at a field goal. A drop on the last drive on a pass he might have taken to the barn will haunt Jets fans tonight.
Ben Hartsock: Hartsock had a pair of bad penalties while run blocking. Considering that run blocking is all he provides, that's a very bad day at the office.
Offensive Line: The unit was without Damien Woody, which hurt, but this was a troubling day. Even though the Jets couldn't throw it effectively, it didn't look like the Dolphins were really stacking the box. The Jets still ran it for only 2.8 yards per carry. Schottenheimer still should have made more of an effort to establish the run, but those numbers are bad. The unit also allowed 5 sacks. That was about as bad of a game I have seen from a Jets offensive line since 2007.
Braylon Edwards: He's been invisible the last three weeks.
Dustin Keller: Sanchez missed Keller a few times, but Dustin misread coverage on one crossing route and dropped a screen that could have gone for a big gain. We keep waiting for this guy to exploit his considerable athleticism and become an elite weapon. I'm starting to wonder whether he ever will.
Antonio Cromartie as a Punt Returner: I advocated for it, but I'm less than impressed after seeing it. He only averaged 7 per return and didn't seem to be reading his blocks very well.
Nick Folk: Nailing a pair of kicks in this kind of bad weather might be what the doctor ordered to get his confidence back. His kickoffs were also much better. He was getting it to the goal line.
Brodney Pool: He's been a bit of a GGN whipping boy, but I thought he played really well today. He was effective against the run with 4 tackles. He had a sack, and he made a great hustle play recovering the fumble. I thought it looked like a scoop and score situation, particularly with the way the offense looked, but I'm not going to get on him.
Calvin Pace: That sack and fumble looked like it might have changed the game.
Jason Taylor: I thought he kind of faded late, but he was very active early and held his own against Jake Long. He had a hit and a deflected pass, but there were a lot of subtle things like forcing Henne to move from comfort in the pocket or forcing backs to change their direction. Like Pool, he showed good hustle on his fumble recovery.
Sione Pouha: The Dolphins couldn't handle him up front. It's not often a nose tackle is able to get off double teams to lead a team with 10 tackles. You'll usually see 3.2 yards per rush from the backs when it does happen.
Bart Scott: 9 tackles and was very good in coverage despite getting burned for the touchdown.
Linebackers in Coverage: It has been something of a weak point for the Jets this year, but the linebackers really did the job holding down Miami's tight ends and safeties.
Antonio Cromartie as a Corner: Brandon Marshall caught 2 passes for 16 yards. Only 1 of those was on Cro. Chad Henne was clearly flustered, but I don't think you can undersell what Revis and Cromartie did today. They were a huge part of why the blitz was so effective. They blanketed their assignments, which took away the hot routes Henne needed to slow the pass rush down.
Rex Ryan/Mike Westhoff (End of First Half): Dan Fouts was right to call the Jets to task for not putting three to four men deep to fair catch the punt before the half. I would blame Westhoff, but I'm not sure whether Rex Ryan knows the rule. It seems to be only announcers who realize a team can attempt a free kick after a catch. I've only seen one coach try to utilize it. It was a game involving the Cardinals a few years back. If the fair catch was the plan, Westhoff had the wrong personnel back there. If it wasn't Rex should be called to task for not knowing the rules.
- We might have just witnessed the greatest punting performance in NFL history. Given the weather, the fact Brandon Fields hit 8 punts over 50 yards is staggering. He hit 4 over 60. If Fields was on the other side, I can't help but feel like the Jets may have won.
- Taking the ball seemed like a silly move. The strength of this team is the defense. It should always be on the field first to set the tone of the game. Plus getting the ball to start the second half adds a mental edge.
It's difficult to sugar coat this. I don't think a lot of concern is unjustified. This offense looks horrible and has difficult games coming up. I hate to say it, but it's starting to feel a lot like 1993...or 2000...or 2008.