The season that Jets fans have waited so long to get underway got off to a bad start tonight. The Baltimore Ravens came into the Meadowlands and spoiled the first home opener in the new stadium by a 10-9 score. There is plenty to dissect here. Like so many of last year's losses, this one was agonizing because so much of the defeat was brought on by self-inflicted wounds. One game into the new season, the 2010 Jets do not look a whole lot better than the up and down 2009 Jets.
More after the jump.
Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery: I will get to Mark Sanchez in a bit, but I think Edwards and Cotchery were as much to blame for the lack of a passing game as anybody. The times when Mark had protection and looked downfield, they were not getting open against a suspect secondary. Cotchery had a key drop on a third down late in the game that proved to be a killer. Edwards had two penalties that showed a lack of discipline. The first came when he didn't come set. That wiped out a deep completion to Dustin Keller and a first and goal. The second came when he flew out of control trying to block a field goal and nicked the kicker. Folks, you might not like the rule, but it was the right call. Edwards was out of control. A guy on the other side of the ball cannot touch the kicker. That extended a Baltimore drive and led to the game's only touchdown.
Mark Sanchez: It was only one game, but Sanchez looked like the polar opposite of the guy throwing it up for grabs on every play at times last year. That is not a good thing. He went from one extreme to another. There's protecting the football, and there's avoiding any throw with even the slightest risk. It's good that he wants to protect the football, but he needs to go through his progressions and make sure nothing is open down the field. Now Cotchery and Edwards were not getting open when he was, but there were way too many times his first instict was to dump it off and avoid any risk. He looked like Trent Edwards or the 2007 version of Chad Pennington. A guy reckless with the ball is not an effective quarterback. Neither is a guy who never tries to make any sort of big play. He also wasted his last timeout way too early on the final drive instead of getting up to the line and spiking the ball after a first down. That timeout was too valuable to blow.
Damien Woody and Brandon Moore: The Jets were ineffective running the ball to the right side on most of the night. Woody and Moore were not consistently hitting the second level. That means Ray Lewis goes unblocked when the opponent is the Ravens. Those scenarios do not end well the vast majority of the time. The run game numbers look good, but the Jets did a lot of damage on misdirections and gadget plays. Run blocking has gotten off to a slow start the past two years. We can only hope it picks up. Woody also got beaten badly in pass protection a few times and had a critical false start penalty late in the game.
Shonn Greene: Greene looked horrible. He fumbled twice and dropped a key pass. The second fumble in particular was a killer. The Jets were in control of the game and entering scoring range. He bumped into Matt Slauson. If he wants to be a number one back, the ball cannot go on the ground at all, let alone when he gets tapped by a teammate.
Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson: It's funny how these things go in pairs tonight. Cromartie and Wilson were picked on time after time by Baltimore and were either burned or picked up penalties. Wilson's were really bad. He held a guy five yards down the field on a third and twenty-eight. That's really bad. I don't think he can be let off the hook for that just because it was his first game. Even a rookie should have better recognition of the situation than that. He also had a pass interference that set up the lone Baltimore touchdown. Neither guy showed very good recognition for the ball. There were times they were in coverage and just didn't turn their heads to play the ball. San Diego fans everywhere were nodding and chuckling watching Cromartie. He looked like the same feast or famine guy he did in San Diego. There was a great interception follow by plenty of inconsistency. Wilson fumbled a punt return for good measure.
Cornerback Assignments: I don't want to be too hard on Wilson. He had a rough first game. He still has great potential. I do not understand why he had so many matchups with Anquan Boldin in the second half. The Jets did not stick just stick Darrelle Revis on Boldin. Boldin isn't necessarily a homerun threat. There is precedent for Rex Ryan not having Revis follow around the other team's top target if it isn't a deep threat like with Vincent Jackson in the Playoffs last year. There should have been greater recognition, though, that Wilson was having a tough time out there. When Boldin goes for 110 yards, and none comes when the number one corner is on him, the plan is flawed.
Brian Schottenheimer: I will not get on the play calling. I think the issue was more execution than his calls. I will get on the needless shifting and play changing after breaking the huddle. If your own guys are more confused than the opposition, it defeats the purpose. This also led to the Edwards penalty that very well might have cost the Jets this game. Honestly, if this hasn't changed in five years, it probably never will.
Not Going for It in the Second Quarter: The Jets had a 3-0 lead in the second quarter and a fourth and one on Baltimore's ten. They kicked a field goal. This was a chance to take control of the game and send a message that this team goes for the knockout blow. The way the defense was playing, 10-0 would have been huge. Instead, the Jets kicked a field goal. I didn't like the call then. I don't like it now.
Jim Leonhard's Big Punt Return: He showed good vision and had a nice run back. A return man needs to find the end zone, though, when only the punter is between him and the end zone.
D'Brickashaw Ferguson: Brick had a rough night. He wasn't great in pass protection and had multiple penalties.
Vernon Gholston: For all of the talk entering this game, I didn't notice him do anything to stand out once.
Dustin Keller: Fourth down, the game is on the line, the Ravens are giving up everything underneath, and Keller has so little awareness that he cannot figure out where the sticks are when running his route and before going out of bounds. There is no excuse. He should be benched for that.
Wayne Hunter: I hope getting that punch in was worth letting the team and fans down by giving up 15 yards.
Michelle Tafoya: She mentioned Inez Sainz without talking about how Sainz said she was not offended. That's shameful journalism.
Darrelle Revis: He took the first step to justifying that contract tonight. I do not believe a pass was completed against him. He looked like the guy who had been in training camp and preseason the entire time, while the other guys at his position looked like they jumped in last week. Can we all agree that training camp and preseason really aren't all that important?
LaDainian Tomlinson: When you write as much as I do, you are bound to be wrong about a few things. It's nice when being wrong feels good. I was adamant against signing LT. He looked great tonight. He showed explosion that was missing last year while in San Diego. He was assertive hitting his holes. He was one of the few bright spots on offense.
Brad Smith: Smith's play in the Tiger formation was probably the other bright spot. He had 27 yards on 2 carries.
Bryan Thomas: I think he might have made more plays tonight than he did in his first eight years in the league combined. He had 9 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Eric Smith: Smith was excellent in run support and playing underneath in place of injured Brodney Pool. He finished with 9 tackles.
Bart Scott: Scott was another member of the 9 tackle club and was all over the field making plays against the run. He was also good as a blitzer and forced a fumble.
Shaun Ellis, Sione Pouha, and Mike Devito: These three controlled the front against a very good offensive line. Ellis set the tone early by forcing a fumble on the first play of the game on a sack of Joe Flacco.
Jason Taylor: The numbers were not as gaudy as those of some of his teammates, but he was consistently winning matchups.
Nick Folk: He wasn't pretty, but he was pretty effective connecting on all three of his field goal attempts, even though he snuck two in. Hitting from 48 is a good sign.
Steve Weatherford: He averaged just under 45 yards per punt and pinned Baltimore inside the 20 on four of his six kicks.
Marquice Cole: Cole was fantastic as a gunner. He drew a penalty. He also forced Tom Zbikowski inside on the return man's terrible mistake in the second half. At least the team looks like it can replace Wallace Wright.
- I'd like to give Baltimore credit where due. Their protection on third down was terrific. There were no open gaps for blitzers to shoot through. Flacco also had excellent pocket awareness and knew when to buy himself time. Baltimore's success on third down was more what they did well than what the Jets did wrong, coverage aside.
- Ray Lewis has to get a ton of credit. He talked a big game. He backed it up.
- Can we please not call Mark Sanchez a bust? Yes, he played poorly. It's still silly to give up on a guy after 19 starts. Last year's Joe Namath comparisons when he played well, Joey Harrington comparisons when he played poorly got old really quickly.
- I feel like I could have condensed this by saying good were LT, Smith and the defense sans Cromartie and Wilson, and the bad were Cromartie, Wilson, and the offense sans LT and Smith.
- Notice how many times I discussed penalties. Only the one hold on Cromartie was a bad call. The Jets killed themselves with a lack of discipline.
The good news is that there are fifteen games left. Let's not go crazy with the doom and gloom. It is a long season full of peaks and valleys. There were times last year the Jets looked like one of the best teams in football and times they looked like one of the worst. It was a disturbing start. There are five days to correct things before the Pats visit. A team is never as good as it looks at its best and never as bad as it looks at its worst.