For the first time in the Rex Ryan Era, the Jets will lose more games than they win in a season. Gang Green fell to 6-9 today, losing to the Chargers 27-17 in the Meadowlands. In a season with plenty of games that have been painful to watch, this was another. The good news is we only have to watch this team once more until September so the suffering is almost over. Join me below as we go over what went wrong.
Offensive Line: It wasn't all their fault. Greg McElroy's reluctance to throw the ball to all but the most wide open receiver led to protection problems. So did McElroy's bad movements in the pocket. At the end of the day, though, 11 sacks in a game speaks volumes about how bad the protection was in this game. After this game, it is clear the offensive line needs to be upgraded in the offseason. Not to single out Austin Howard because everybody was bad, but his good little run is officially over. Any idea the Jets would be dumb to use an early Draft pick on a tackle because they have Howard should be disavowed.
Greg McElroy: I feel comfortable in saying McElroy is never going to be a franchise quarterback in the NFL. I saw enough throws to know he just does not have the arm strength. Next to him, Chad Pennington looks like John Elway. His ball floats whenever he throws it more than ten yards. He cannot fit it into any kind of window. McElroy severely limits any playbook. There were things I liked from McElroy. He had two turnovers late, but those came when he was put in a position where he had to win the game. Early when things were going to plan, he protected the ball and made smart decisions. He showed he was tough and not afraid to run to pick up yardage. Can he eventually grow enough to become a decent backup? Maybe, but he still has work to do. Part of the protection problems were simply him holding onto the ball way too long and not having the athleticism to slide from pass rushers.
Wide Receivers: Clyde Gates burned everybody on the pass out out of the Wildcat and then won a contested ball. I liked the effort Braylon Edwards showed. This was overall a terrible job by the wide receivers, even by their standard. I will be able to see more watching the game over, but there were just too many instances on replay angles where nobody got open. I don't think any receiver the Jets put on the field today other than Jeremy Kerley deserves to be playing in the NFL.
Antonio Cromartie: Cro got burned for a long touchdown on a play similar to the one he allowed Week 2 in Pittsburgh. He was in good coverage and then got lost trying to make a play on the ball. This was a big blemish in an otherwise good season.
Eric Smith: Smith is not a good football player. He shouldn't be playing on the Jets. We got another reminder today when the Artist Formerly Known as Antonio Gates made him look foolish on a touchdown.
Rex Ryan: This is for the time he wanted to go for it on fourth down, but the punt team was on the field. When are these communications breakdowns going to stop happening? When is he going to get control on what is happening with this team?
Quinton Coples: Coples got lost a few times in the run game and for the second time in three weeks committed a personal foul incorrectly that was attributed to Muhammad Wilkerson, but the Chargers had a really tough time blocking him when he was getting to the quarterback. He had a sack and a half and made a few more trips into San Diego's backfield. It's going to be fun to see what happens next year after he has an offseason to develop.
David Harris: Near the end of the year, Harris is finally starting to look like Harris. He had 10 tackles, many of which were near the line of scrimmage.
Bart Scott: Bart was active near the ball with 5 tackles and showed nice instincts on his sack of Philip Rivers after a botched snap.
Muhammad Wilkerson: 5 tackles, another sack, and pretty consistently winning his assignments.
Jeremy Kerley: I was against the Tim Tebow trade for many reasons. One of them was I felt like Kerley could run the Wildcat at least as well. Kerley's 42 yard completion was more than Tebow has done all year in the Wildcat. He completed another pass later that got wiped out on a penalty. I think Kerley is more dynamic than Tebow as a runner, and now he's shown he can do things in the passing game.
Shonn Greene: Greene averaged under 3 yards per carry, but that is deceiving because over a quarter of his carries were on the goal line. He punched in a pair of touchdowns and looked good otherwise, making people miss and running through tackles. He also had 2 catches for 42 yards. Shonn has been a different player the last few weeks. Now I hope this doesn't fool the Jets into giving him a new contract.
This season comes to its merciful conclusion next week against the Bills. Then the tough work begins, trying to figure out a way to build this team into a good one in 2013.