The Jets fell to 1-3 today, dropping a 24-17 decision to the Detroit Lions at the Meadowlands. Games against the Chargers, Patriots, and Broncos await over the next three weeks. The Jets are on a three game losing streak and on the verge of seeing the wheels fall off. How did we get here? Let's take a look below.
Geno Smith: Geno's 17 for 33, 209 yard, 1 TD, 1 INT stat line wasn't particularly pretty. The actual performance might have been worse. Geno looked like a guy with no confidence out there. He was consistently inaccurate. Passes were sailing on him. He even failed to land a Hail Mary in the field of play to end the first half. He turned it over twice. His reads were not very good. Even reads on designed running plays were off. There were two instances where he had room to scramble but decided to make a low upside pass. We saw a lot of the bad 2013 Geno today. Even the touchdown drive he led early in the second half did not look particularly sharp. It seemed like he was still staring down receivers.
What I thought was even more distressing was what appeared to be a scaled back game plan. Early in the game it felt like the Jets were making a conscious effort to avoid throwing, and when they did they were making simplistic safe passes. No matter what the coaching staff says, it was difficult to believe they have a lot of faith in Geno right now. It seemed like they are now trying to avoid the big mistake. With 7 turnovers in the first 4 games, that has not worked out very well.
I think this is a case where the Jets should probably make a change. Actually I think they should have made a change during this game. Even if you still happen to be high on Geno's long-term potential, him playing with such a low level of confidence cannot help that. I am under no illusions about Michael Vick. There is a real chance he will make a lot of the same errors. The Jets just need to shake something up. The status quo is no good.
Rex Ryan: I really did not like the game Rex ran today. One of the points behind spending big on a backup quarterback is to have somebody good enough to take over in a game like this. Rex should have put Michael Vick into the lineup at halftime. Maybe it could have sparked the offense. Again, there is a disconnect here. The Jets are starting Geno and claiming to have confidence in him. At the same time they are calling the game as though they cannot trust that quarterback to avoid the big mistake. It's tough to win with an offensive approach like the Jets showed in this one. It's one thing if there was no other option at quarterback, but this year there is. The Jets need to either show more trust in Geno or turn to Vick.
Rex also made some curious strategic choices. He burned a critical timeout on a bad challenge in the second half. I'm not sure why anybody thought the call would be overturned. Then there are smaller strategic things like electing to use timeouts after the two minute warning instead of before the two minute warning. This would not save a ton of time, but every second matters in that spot. It didn't end up coming back to bite the Jets since they couldn't get a big stop, but situations like that will present themselves in the future.
Eric Decker: Decker had 4 catches and a touchdown, but I also saw 3 balls go through his hands that he could have caught. These were not easy plays, but the Jets don't have many receivers capable of making the tough ones. The Jets pay Decker a lot of money to pull those in.
Breno Giacomini: He had a couple of penalties, and it seemed like he was struggling to perform his assignments.
Late Game Run Defense: The vaunted Jets defensive front had a strong effort overall, but they got pushed around late in the game when they needed a stop to give the offense one last chance.
Calvin Pryor: After watching his performance against the Bears, I thought he quietly had an excellent game. This one was rough. Twice he took a bad angle/came in late/whiffed on a tackle to allow a big run. He also might have had some responsibility for Jeremy Ross' 59 yard touchdown.
Antonio Allen: I thought he was the main culprit on the Ross touchdown, though. Maybe something will show up different when I rewatch, but Allen was giving a big cushion. It looked like he was responsible deep on that side of the field. If he wasn't he probably would have been challenging the receiver more. It also did not look like there was any reason for him to pass the receiver off to Pryor anyway. It looked like he got lost on a critical play.
Darrin Walls: I actually thought he did a solid job in coverage. He did miss a tackle on Tate and whiff on a critical Bush run charging into the backfield, leaving nobody on the edge and allowing Bush to bust his run outside for a large gain.
Jeremy Kerley: Held to a single catch, it was a very quiet game for the slot receiver.
David Harris: It seemed like Detroit was really targeting him in the passing game.
Chris Ivory: Ivory really came to play. He totaled 100 yards from scrimmage, 84 rushing on 17 carries and another 16 on a pair of receptions. It did not look like Ivory was getting spectacular blocking. He just kept running through contact. Ivory did have a couple of drops, but the Jets would have won had everybody come to play like Ivory did.
Greg Salas: He added receptions of 32 and 28. Salas is showing a knack for running after the catch. It might not be a bad idea to give him a look in the return game to see what he can do with the ball in his hands. They also might consider working a few wide receiver screens to him. Geno needs some simple passes at this point.
Jace Amaro: Amaro led the Jets with 5 catches. Those netted 58 yards. He looks like a difficult guy to bring down when he's got it in his hands.
Chris Johnson: Johnson still doesn't look very good. I think a lot of his touches should be going to Bilal Powell. His 35 yard touchdown run looked to be as much about bad tackling as it was about Johnson breaking a big run. He kept going, though, so he gets some credit.
Muhammad Wilkerson: The Lions had a lot of problems blocking him. His 1.5 sacks only tell part of the story.
Sheldon Richardson: He added another sack, continuing to be a problematic pass rusher for the opposing offensive line. He also registered 8 total tackles.
Ryan Quigley: The much maligned punter averaged just a shade under 50 yards per punt today, including a 61 yarder.
It isn't easy to see a light at the end of the tunnel here for the Jets. They didn't need to beat both Chicago and Detroit, but they probably needed to win one of those games. Now they will need to go 8-4 over the last 12 games just to have a winning record. Even if they do, a 9-7 record is no guarantee of postseason. There also isn't a lot to suggest this team is capable of a run like that.