The Jets fell to 1-1 today with a 19-10 loss to the Patriots. This was a very disappointing effort. Gang Green had everything going its way heading into this contest. New England appeared to be in a state of flux, replacing a Hall of Fame quarterback with a guy making his first meaningful start since the Clinton Administration. The crowd was fired up and ready to take out years of frustration on the Pats. It was not meant to be as New England came into New Jersey and controlled the contest.
Favre's Carelessness: Brett Favre had played an unspectacular game into the third quarter. The Pats had a 6-3 lead, and the game was shaping up to be a defensive struggle based on field position. It appeared the contest might come down to a critical mistake handing the opposition points. On what would become a pivotal drve, after a series of penalties moved the Jets back, Favre just started throwing the ball up for grabs. The only reason his first duck was not intercepted was a great play by Jerricho Cotchery interfering with Ellis Hobbs. A few plays later, Favre threw into coverage and had a pass picked off by Brandon Merriweather. The Pats were set up with a short field and scored a touchdown to take firm control of the game. The Jets will not be able to correct this reckless play. It is part of the roller coaster ride that is Brett Favre at quarterback. He will make plays that no other quarterback can like his miracle toss to Chansi Stuckey. Today the team had to deal with the negative.
Run Blocking: The offensive line had a great start to the game, opening gaping holes on the first drive that Thomas Jones used to break 6 and 16 yard runs. The unit played with an attitude on that drive which was missing for the rest of the contest. When Thomas Jones got holes, he showed great burst and broke good runs and finished the contest with an average of over 4 yards per carry (70 yards on 17 carries). For most of the game, however, New England controlled the point of attack. New York's offense stalled for a long period spanning the late first half through the early second half. The Pats have one of the best fronts in the game, but New York invested big contracts in Damien Woody and Alan Faneca and first round picks in D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. These guys should be able to hold their own against anybody. The offensive line is still in an adjustment period as the players get used to each other. They had better gel quickly because another stern test awaits next Monday in San Diego.
Goal Line Play Calling: Trailing 6-0 in the second quarter, the Jets drove down to the New England 3 yard line and had a first and goal. The Pats stacked the box and sold out on the run for three straight plays. The Jets ran it into the line all three times and were stuffed, having to setting for a short Jay Feely field goal. Chris Baker would have been wide open had the team sent him out on a pattern and run play action to Thomas Jones. Instead, New York stubbornly tried to power it in, perhaps to sent a point about the new additions on the line. This might have been a case where having Brian Schottenheimer on the field was a detriment. He may have direct access to his players, but had he been in the press box, he would have been able to see the plays develop and how vulnerable New England's approach was to a play action pass.
Jay Feely: After their first drive stalled, the Jets called on Feely to attempt a chip shot. He shanked a 31 yard kick, and New York ended its first possession with no points and no momentum. That was an early game-changer. There is no excuse for missing a kick that short. It should be automatic for college kickers. It is not even as if this game was in November or December, and winds were swirling at Giants Stadium. If that was the case, Feely still would not have an excuse because he has plenty of experience kicking at the stadium. If Mike Nugent is not ready for the San Diego game, Eric Mangini should have another audition for the kicking job because Feely has not earned another week by default.
Ben Graham: Graham registered a horrendous 27.3 yard average on 4 punts. His only long kick of the day, a 55 yarder, was kicked past his coverage, giving Kevin Faulk plenty of room to run it back. Considering his 2007 struggles on top of this game, Mangini should have Ben on a short leash. If Feely has to audition to keep his job this week, the Jets should have a line of punters right behind them to challenge Graham.
Coles' Drops: Laveranues Coles dropped a pair of routine passes that helped to kill drives. A lot has been made in the media of the lack of comfort Favre and Coles have working together. However, a lack of chemistry is not an excuse for dropping routine passes. Given LC's track record, this game has to be an anomaly in the mold of his 2005 opener at Kansas City. This was just a lousy game for him to come down with a case of the drops considering the trouble the offense had moving the ball.
Matchups on Welker: Wes Welker torched the Jets on underneath routes over the middle. The small compliment to Randy Moss had 7 catches for 72 yards. The Jets had way too many instances where Drew Coleman matched up all by himself on Welker. That was a major mismatch.
Officiating: This was not a deciding factor in the game. Jets fans also have come to realize that there seems to be a different set of rules for the Jets and Pats in their games. This does not change the inconsistent officiating when it came to roughing the passer calls. Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel both threw Brett Favre into the turf well after Brett threw passes in separate third quarter plays. Then on a critical drive in the fourth, the zebras hit Calvin Pace with a penalty for hitting Cassel literally an instant after he threw the football. Again, this did not decide the game, but it is still frustrating to watch the Pats benefit once again from such blatant inconsistency.
Defensive Play Calling: Bob Sutton has become a whipping boy of the fan base during his three years as defensive coordinator, and it has been deserved. He also deserves a lot of credit for the game he called today. He played it very conservatively in the first half, taking away anything deep. Sutton had his defense keep everything in front of it and forced Matt Cassel to put together long drives. Since Cassel lacks Tom Brady's pinpoint precision, he inevitably missed, which kept New England from lighting up the scoreboard. Sutton changed things up in the second half and blitzed heavy to keep Cassel from getting comfortable. The results were three sacks and constant pressure. This defense kept the Jets in the game.
Pass Blocking: The Pats registered a pair of sacks in the game. Richard Seymour beat Alan Faneca on New York's last drive of the first half. The other occurred in the fourth when Damien Woody lost sight of Adalius Thomas, who ended up one on one with Leon Washington, not a matchup in Gang Green's favor. The mistake was a result of Woody's inexperience at the tackle position, where he has less than a year of experience. Aside from that, the offensive line gave Favre plenty of time to throw it. The problem was that New England's maligned secondary did a great job in coverage. The few plays the Jets did make in the passing game were the result of the line giving Favre an ungodly amount of time in which one receiver could not help but get open. As poorly as the line did at holding the point of attack while running, it did a good job protecting Brett.
Chansi Stuckey: Stuckey had a team-high 4 catches. He was just about the only Jet who could get open on critical downs. Many believe he was not hurt enough to warrant a spot on the IR list last year and that the team really just stuck him there to keep him on the roster in the future. Given Chansi's outstanding play in 2008 and how bad Justin McCareins and Brad Smith were a year ago, one must ask why the Jets made this move. Stuckey certainly would have brought more to the table in 2007 than either of them.
Darrelle Revis: Revis blanketed Randy Moss all day, holding the most dangerous receiver in the game to 2 receptions. Even when Moss beat him on a deep route late in the game, Darrelle did not give up on the play and recovered to knock the ball away when Cassel underthrew the target. The Jets have something special in the second year player from Pittsburgh.
Kris Jenkins: The nose tackle manhandled one of the best interior lines in football and seemed to single-handedly shut down the New England ground game. The Jets are going to be very difficult to run against with Jenkins filling two gaps. New York's problem was the heat and humidity. Kris seemed to wear down late in the contest and was on the bench for critical plays when the Pats salted the game. New England ran much more effectively on these big snaps with Sione Pouha on the nose.
- Bill Belchick made a great move keeping former Jet Lamont Jordan out of the game until the second half. Given the heat and humidity on the field, Jordan's bruising style is difficult for fatiguing men in the trenches to handle. Lamont carried 11 times for 62 yards and helped the Patriots melt the clock late in the contest.
- This Pats team is beatable. It appears the gameplan with Matt Cassel is to use him the way the Steelers used Ben Roethlisberger in his rookie season of 2004. Cassel was not asked to make any difficult reads or throws. His job was to hit short passes, avoid mistakes, and throw it away if nothing was there. The Patriots depended on their defense and special teams to make the game a field position battle. Every team inevitably has defensive and special teams lapses during the season. The Pats used to be able to cover those up with the aggressive and explosive offense Tom Brady led. If the coaching staff cannot open up the playbook for Cassel as the season progresses, the margin of error will be thin. Teams without playmakers at quarterback need everything to go right for them.
- The media members on Bob Kraft's payroll, Peter King, Cris Collinsworth, and all of ESPN to name a few, will now inundate us with a week's worth of stories telling us how amazing the Pats are. The sickening thing is that their hype is justified in this case. New England deserves all of the credit in the world. Jets fans saw first-hand in 1999 how a quarterback injury can devastate a club's psyche. The Pats showed that they are a motivated and hungry team with plenty of character. Does anybody think the Colts would have come out with that kind of effort had Peyton Manning suffered a serious injury?
This was supposed to be a statement game for the Jets. The only statement they made is that they are not in the same class as the Pats, even without Tom Brady. Gang Green now trails both New England and Buffalo by a game in the East. The good news is that this team still has fourteen games to get to that point. The defense looks really good. Once Brett Favre gets really comfortable with the playbook, and a talented offensive line gels, this could be a dangerous team. While this loss was disappointing, it was only one loss. Nobody thought this club was going 19-0. This team cannot feel sorry for itself. An immediate shot at redemption awaits next week in San Diego.