The Jets have followed every win in 2013 with a loss. That streak continued today as Gang Green fell to 4-4 after a 49-9 beatdown at the hands of the Bengals in Cincinnati. This one was close until the opening kickoff. Let's commiserate below.
Antonio Cromartie: Cromartie tops the list for one simple reason. The only plausible gameplan that could lead the Jets to success involved him stifling A.J. Green with little help. He gets paid the big bucks to shut down top receivers. The Bengals have numerous offensive weapons, including two tight ends, both of whom the Jets could not stifle one on one. Cromartie started by getting burned deep on the first drive on a pass the Bengals missed and then committed a pass interference that set up the first touchdown. He went on to be beaten deep even more, some of which the Bengals hit. Some they did not. He did not hold up in coverage at all.
Dee Milliner: Speaking of not holding up in coverage, Milliner continued to look like a raw rookie who struggles being physical, locating the ball, positioning himself to defense a pass and tackle. It was all around ugly and earned the first round pick another benching. Milliner really has not shown many signs he is capable of holding up in any kind of extended role. I don't know why Rex Ryan keeps running him out there as a starter. This really needs to end. Milliner might be a real asset one day, but it seems unlikely that day will be in the year 2013.
Defensive Line: In a battle of strong fronts, the Bengals controlled the line of scrimmage. Andy Dalton was barely bothered on the Cincinnati scoring drives, and the Bengals had success running it early. Damon Harrison had his first rough game of the year, losing the point of attack on a regular basis.
Offensive Line: The Jets lost the line of scrimmage on the other side of the ball. The longest rush a Jets back had before the final play of the first half was 3 yards, and that was mainly because there was nowhere to go. The Bengals added 4 sacks, and the unit allowed too much pressure.
Geno Smith: This one really wasn't about Geno. There wasn't much he could do. I'm not sure there was a quarterback in the NFL who could have won this game for the Jets. He didn't have many places to go with the ball downfield. I just didn't like seeing the two interceptions returned for touchdowns. The first one was partially on Jeremy Kerley for giving up on his routes, but the second one was Geno throwing late. I just don't like seeing that tendency.
Jeremy Kerley: He was a nonfactor in a game where he should have made a big impact. He also was partially at fault for the first interception. It looked to me like Geno was expecting him to continue upfield. He should have at least had a better play to break that up.
Antonio Allen: I have him here really for one reason. I don't think games like this are predetermined. I don't think the Bengals were destined to blow the Jets out. I think a few big plays early can snowball on a team and drowns it in a seas of momentum. Sometimes all it takes is one important play to swing things. On the first drive, Allen had a chance to tackle Jermaine Gresham short on a third down reception and failed to do it. That might have gotten the Bengals out of their rhythm and allowed the Jets to get comfortable. That isn't to say I blame Allen for the loss, but we'll never know how things might have been different.
Josh Cribbs: It looked like he was to blame for the big kickoff return right before the half that set up the knockout blow touchdown. If the Jets make a tackle and give the Bengals average field position, it is likely a two score game heading into the locker room and New York ball to start the second half.
David Nelson: I'm not sure that Nelson is really going to be a major part of the Jets' future, but in the short run he has been a pretty nice weapon, somebody big and strong who can win contested balls and run through arm tackles after the catch. He had a team high 8 catches for 80 yards.
Nick Folk: Good from 45, 47, and 50 with no misses. That's a good day.
So that ends the first half. We have an inconsistent football team, one that has neither won nor lost two in a row. As disappointing as today was, the Bengals are a better team. The Jets are not, and never were contenders this year. What they are is a rebuilding team.
Let me, however, end on a hopeful note. Despite today's loss, through the first half they appear to be further along than many, myself included, expected. While today this team gets an F, I must say that there are some encouraging things to build on in the second half. Hopefully the things that were good in the first half stay good, and those that were not start to turn.