Let's start with last night's game, which I know is still a sore spot with a lot of Jets fans. Let's start with the defense:
Your defense only gave up 10 points; 3 were spotted to them by Conley, and the other 7 of those were in the fourth quarter, when they looked quite gassed. On that drive, they weren't getting the penetration that they did earlier game.
Personally, and this might be because I am a bills fan who has to watch a putrid defense every week, I thought your defense played phenomenally. You allowed 125 yards rushing to a team that has a pretty good running game, especially with Tebow in the backfield. Also, don't forget that Denver has a really good offensive line, anyone remember the no names that Shanahan turned into 1000 yard rushers with that line? You should be proud your defense held it together as well as they did, adding in that it was a short week with a new scheme at altitude.
The one blemish on your defense, was that call that ended up with the Tebow rushing TD. Personally, if you knew he was going to pass the ball, yes that was the right call. It is a well documented fact that Tebow struggles with people in his face, it distracts him and he makes bad decisions, see their game against Detroit for a large number of examples.
But was an all out blitz really the right call in that specific situation? I don't believe so. I do think blitzing was the right call, Denver was moving very well on that drive, and you had to try something different. I had 2 big beefs with the call. The first being that for as much as everyone said they knew he was gonna run it, to leave no backup in the most pivotal drive in the game was pretty retarded. Just leave Leonhard or Smith outside to prevent the big play in the event that they picked up your blitz. One safety actually playing safety would have prevented that. My other chief complaint, is that it looked like you had no outside containment. Eric Smith was the only rusher that I saw come in from the outside. You sent every single blitzer up the middle, against the aforementioned offensive line, who picked it up. To add to that complaint for those who really believe that Smith was supposed to set the edge, do you really believe that a very nonathletic safety is a good choice to set the edge against possibly the most halfback-like quarterback in the NFL? To put it another way, would you trust Smith to set the edge against Vick? I know I sure wouldn't, especially considering there was no help behind him.
On the whole though, your defense hasn't cost you games. It isn't the defense's fault that the offense essentially spotted the Broncos 10 and responded with only 13 points of their own against a very mediocre defense. I haven't seen all your games, but most of the issues with your defense appear to have been solved. You still have no pass rush, and your safeties are still suspect, but you have a good defense, and the run defense has looked a lot better the last several games as well.
Now, on to the offense...
I have seen a lot of dragging on Plaxico for the pick six, saying he has to help his QB and so on, and I do agree that he should have done more than just fall down or keep running, but did anyone really watch the replay? Sanchez could not have telegraphed any more clearly even if he had handed the play out on post-it notes to the defense. I saw a lot of bad throws and incorrectly-identified coverages, and he continually threw into double coverage, and tried to fit a couple of balls into windows that closed before he released the ball. He also seems to have no pocket presence. He takes a lot of sacks when he should throw it away, and has time to throw it away, and has jittery feet (partly due to the aforementioned large number of sacks) in a relatively clean pocket.
In the run game, you continually tried to run Mcknight up the gut even though that didn't work with Powell or Greene before he left, and you wonder why it looked like he was running into a brick wall every time? That is just bad playcalling. Overall, Mcknight looked decent, he was fairly decisive and running hard, even if he should have broke a few of those plays to the outside when there was no lane. The designed runs to the outside were working fairly well, and he looked fairly explosive. He does need to work on his hands though, but I will get to that on special teams.
Your offensive line looked really bad yesterday. I don't know who calls the protections, be it Sanchez, Mangold, or a combination of both on the field, but they did a really terrible job yesterday. Hunter looked really bad, and how on earth does Mulligan end up one on one with one of the better pass rushers in football? A blown protection call is the only thing I can think of, and it wouldn't have ended terribly if Brick hadn't gotten driven back into the pocket, thus not giving Sanchez the opportunity to step up (this was one of those balls he should have just thrown away, there is no possible way he didn't see either Brick or Mulligan getting beat). Overall a bad day. On the season as a whole, though, they have been sloppy and spotty, dominating at times against good defensive fronts, and terrible against weaker fronts.
On the season as a whole, your (lack of) offense has been your biggest downfall. I think your offense is worse than the 22 rank that it has, I haven't looked it up, but I would guess that most of your drives are either longer scoring ones with a very large number of 3 and outs. Part of this is Sanchez, and part of it is Schotty. As for Sanchez, like I noted above, he telegraphs his throws to a very bad extent. This is not the first time I have seen this from him. This has been a recurring theme on a lot of his intermediate throws this year. He stares his guy down until he makes the cut and then throws to him, and often times, doesn't even look to see if a safety or LB is coming over to the play. He has missed a large number of open guys this year, and schotty is not to blame for that. I also very rarely see him hit a receiver in stride, though he has shown he has the accuracy to do it. What schotty is to blame for is the predictable playcalling. Last night was the first time I saw you guys run several screens in a game, and your play-action calls have plummeted. I also noted the running it up the gut above. This is not news to most of you. In addition to that and overall there is a sincere lack of intensity. Sanchez needs to step up as a leader. Being a leader doesn't mean just taking the lumps when you lose, it means getting your WR's face if he slacks on a play. It involves getting your offense revved up when they are really flat on the sidelines while your defense does its work. It also means yelling at your guys to get to the line at the end of the game. It took him how long to (fake) spike the ball? in new england, that takes 5-7 seconds tops, depending on the refs, or Brady has the perpetrator's head. It took you in excess of 10 seconds. That to me is not getting it done, and that is on sanchez.
I am also gonna go out and say that you guys really miss Braylon Edwards. I don't think Plax is the answer. He is tall, but he can get run down by a lineman, he has lost a lot of his speed, and it almost looks like he has to push to get good separation, and has had more than his fair share of drops. I will excuse his invisibility at the beginning of the year to his prison sentence, but all I see from him now is someone who clings to his size and his ability to get away with interference. He is the same Plax the Giants had with a lot of talent wasted away with age.
Lastly, the special teams. When Bobby April left buffalo, you took over best special teams, quite possibly in the entire AFC, and (based on my eyes, not stats, so I could be wrong) but I would also go with top five in the NFL, and you have been there fairly consistently. But can someone please tell your players that dropping the ball is bad? It seems to be a very recurring theme this year. I will admit that people have bad days, but Mcknight seems to be having bad months when it comes to ball security.
I still think that if both wild cards don't come from the North, that you will be the other wild card. The AFC north is hard to gauge this year because Baltimore can only beat winning teams, and Cincy has looked good, even against stout competition, but has only beat two teams with a winning record, and we may not have a winning record for much longer, and Tennessee hasn't been lighting the world on fire either. Pittsburgh is not nearly as dominating as in years past, but they are the most consistent and proven team in the division, despite being swept by Baltimore. It is unfortunate for you guys that the season turned out this way, the Patriots have looked a lot more vulnerable than they have in a long time, so if you were going to poach the division crown, this is the year to do it.
Wow, that ended up a lot longer than I originally intended it to be.....