The Jets fell to 8-7 today as they lost to the Giants 29-14 in the Meadowlands. Although the Giants scored 29, the defense actually did a pretty good job. Big Blue only had 11 first downs and 9 completed passes. A field goal, a touchdown, and a safety were all the result of either a turnover or a short field. The defense was far from perfect. There were some huge plays allowed. The real blame goes to a once again anemic offense. Even though the Jets held it for over 36:00, the story of the season remained the same. The offense is one of the worst in the league.
More after the jump.The Bad:
Mark Sanchez: I said it last week. I will say it again this week. Given the players the Jets lost in the offseason, they needed Sanchez to carry more of the load this year. He has failed to grow as a player. What went wrong in this game? You name it. He was not seeing wide open receivers and going elsewhere with the ball. He was wildly inaccurate other times. He showed zero pocket presence. The offensive line might not have been good, but better awareness could have bought himself some extra time to make some players.
Sanchez is a guy who is perfectly capable when his running game and defense is carrying the load. Draw him a simple, high percentage pass, and he'll hit it. That isn't good enough, though. To win big in the NFL, a team needs to be able to make big plays in the passing game. Why? Look at the penalties the Jets had in the third quarter when running it well. One penalty kills a drive if all you can do is run. One missed tackle that results in a big play like the Victor Cruz touchdown can be a killer if you can't throw and score big. Not every receiver is going to be wide open. There are going to be some slight openings where the ball has to be delivered accurately on time. Sanchez left a ton of those on the field today. His coaching might not be good, but you can only blame coaching so much. We don't give the credit to Brian Schottenheimer when Sanchez makes a play. He shouldn't get all the blame either when he doesn't. I counted no less than five touchdowns he left on the field today either because he didn't see an open receiver or made a bad pass to a guy who was open. Sanchez also has no idea when he has to get the ball out under pressure. Let me say another thing. There can only be so many miscommunications where the receiver runs the wrong route or the running back goes the wrong way on a handoff. These things have been happening all year, and there is only one constant, Sanchez.
Brian Schottenheimer: I would love nothing more for the Jets to have Aaron Rodgers. You would too. So would Brian Schottenheimer. The Jets do not, however. They have Mark Sanchez. As much as Schotty would love to pretend he has Aaron Rodgers, he is foolish if he draws up a game plan as though he did. You have to work with what you are given. The Jets are not built to win with Mark Sanchez throwing 59 times for the reasons I mentioned when I touched on Sanchez. Now add five Giants sacks and three Sanchez scrambles. Schottenheimer called 67 passing plays today. Please note that his run blockers were blowing the Giants off the ball for long stretches during the second half. The biggest indictment was probably the series that began with around 5:00 left and the Jets at midfield down 6. Three passes. I have told you in past years the sad news that the Jets loved Schottenheimer so he would not be fired. If you are looking for a silver lining, I do not see any way they can possibly bring him back now.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Jason Pierre-Paul is a great player, but Brick has taken a step back this year. He used to control dominant pass rushers. This year he has not been able to handle them. I am searching for an explanation. Brandon Moore isn't having as good of a year as he had in the past, but at least he has the excuse of Wayne Hunter being next to him instead of Damien Woody.
Nick Mangold: He was responsible for one of Brandon Moore's false starts with a late snap and then botched the exchange with Sanchez on the goal line.
Brandon Moore: The other two penalties were his fault.
Wayne Hunter: Justin Tuck had a big game, but you could have predicted that.
Offensive Line: I know I just singled out the group, but how many passes did Sanchez have batted down? A lot was on those guys allowing Giants linemen to get too deep.
Plaxico Burress: He started hot, but he made a bad play near the end of the half not getting his feet in on a catch, had a false start, and an unnecessary pass interference penalty to wipe out a touchdown when he would have been open without pushing off.
Santonio Holmes: With a quarterback who could find him open, he would have had a monster game, but he also had two big drops to kill drives, one of which should have been ruled a fumble.
Dustin Keller: He actually led the team with a solid 8 catch, 77 yard stat line. He also had two passes bounce off his helmet, one drop, and another he could have come up with but didn't. Keller may have all the physical ability in the world, but he is an underachiever. A guy as good as we all say Dustin can be comes up with all of those balls.
Antonio Cromartie: He was really good for most of the day, but anybody responsible for a missed tackle on such a big play as Cro was on the Cruz play has to go here. He also made some awful decisions as a kick returner. He just takes off at top speed and never tries to make anybody miss, even an unblocked tackler right in front of him.
Nick Bellore: It's best to be anonymous if you are a blocker on the punt team. I can give him a pass on the call against Jason Pierre-Paul, but the second one a few moments later was brutal.
Mike Westhoff: We all love Westhoff, but special teams have been one meltdown after another the second half of the year. Why does he trust Cromartie more than Joe McKnight?
Brodney Pool: He was actually pretty solid for most of the game, but he got run over on an Amhad Bradshaw touchdown. Bradshaw just wanted it more.
Aaron Maybin: He never got near Eli Manning. He hit a runner five yards out of bounds.
Jamaal Westerman: For the really dumb roughing the passer penalty.
Ellis Lankster: One good play on special teams, two bad ones.
Nick Folk: The Jets would have gone to the locker room feeling much better if the game was tied. That was one heck of an onside punt, though. The Jets almost got it.
Darrelle Revis: So yeah, maybe the Giants realize that Revis is the best defensive player on the planet now. Eli Manning only had 9 completions because he incredibly kept challenging Revis. Hakeem Nicks beat him once early. It was over from there. Revis also had the deflection that set up the interception to put the Jets back in it.
Jeremy Kerley: This is what the Jets wanted from him all year. He was downright explosive as a punt returner, averaging 18 yards a pop. He also made an impact as a receiver with 5 catches for 36 yards. Sanchez missed him down the seam for a late touchdown that would have given the Jets a chance to try an onside kick.
Sione Pouha: Sione dominated up front. The Giants broke a few big runs, but Pouha dominated the point of attack. On the series that resulted in the Cruz 99 yard touchdown, the Giants stuck Manning in the gun and threw on all three plays because they were so afraid to run at Sione near their own end zone.
Mike Devito: Devito also held up his end of the bargain for the most part in the run game.
Muhammad Wilkerson: He had 5 tackles and a sack. I can't wait to see him next year after the coaching staff has an offseason to work with him and refine his game. He is really getting good at using his long arms to shed blocks.
Calvin Pace: Pace has become a master of setting the edge.
Shonn Greene: Greene showed as good of a feel for the game as I have ever seen from him. He anticipated where his blocks were going to be and ran strong through arm tackles, rushing for 58 yards on 14 carries. The Giants bottled him up in the first half, but he ran great in the second half. Maybe if Brian Schottenheimer had used him more, the Jets could have won.
LaDainian Tomlinson: LT was pretty elusive today. He had 65 yards on 11 offensive touches. I still think Joe McKnight should be playing more.
Joe McKnight: He got open on that vertical route. He would have been one of the heroes had Sanchez thrown a good ball and it had gone for a touchdown. Maybe the Jets should use him more. Just a thought.
David Harris: Harris had a few hiccups, but he made some impact plays, including a sack and the key interception.
Bart Scott: Bart had 5 tackles, but he set other guys up by getting consistent penetration to redirect runners on both defense and special teams.
Normally this is the end of the post where I recap what this means in the big picture. I won't do that today. We will have plenty of time for that in the offseason that is likely seven days away. I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank you for taking the time to read what we've written in the past year. Enjoy the holiday with your loved ones and remember it's only football. I feel blessed to have such a great group to talk football with like you guys. I'll have posts up in the next day or two when I can.