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Why Do New York Jets Players Have Such Poor Situational Awareness?

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In last week's victory over the Washington Redskins we saw two young Jets on offense make mistakes related to time and score. On a third and 23 late in the third quarter, Mark Sanchez called a timeout with the play clock running down. This was a monumental mistake. What difference would taking the penalty have made? There is not a ton of difference between third and 23 and third and 28. The odds of converting either are very low.

Late in the fourth quarter, New York led 27-19. Shonn Greene broke a 25 yard touchdown run. He should not have scored, though. He should have just gone down on the 1 yard line. The Redskins were down to one timeout inside the two minute warning. Had Greene gone down, the Jets could have taken the knee and run out the clock to end the game. Not doing so gave the Redskins a chance, albeit slim, to score, recover an onside kick, and score again to send it to overtime.

What is frustrating is both players had recently made similar mistakes. Sanchez messed up a timeout against the Patriots a few weeks back. With the Jets looking to run time off the clock near the end of the first half, Sanchez did not bleed the play clock before taking a timeout. It left extra time on the clock for New England to get a touchdown before halftime. In the Playoffs in New England last year, Greene similarly scored a touchdown when just going down would have ended the game.

We can argue a lot over the role of coaching when it comes to players performing. How much of players failing to develop is due to bad coaching? How much of it is guys just not being good enough? Things like situational awareness, though, are a coaching problem. When young guys consistently do not understand score and time, that is on the coaches. Their job is to teach the game. When things go uncorrected, that is a bigger problem. All the coaches have to get heat, the head coach, the coordinator, and the position coaches.

It did not cost the Jets against the Redskins, but continuing to make subtle mistakes due to clock management will come back to hurt the team. It is a matter of time unless it gets corrected. The coaches need to improve.