The Jets marketing mantra for 2010 was simply “Go Time.” New York entered the season with a new home that wasn’t named for the other team in the city, a head coach who had taken New York by storm and a summer where they emerged as media darlings due to HBO’s hit reality show “Hard Knocks.”
“Go Time” seemed apropos for the Jets until two weeks ago. As far forward they seemed to be leaping in Weeks 1-12, it’s been “Reverse Time” in Weeks 13 and 14..
With a 45-3 disaster in Foxbororough still fresh in their minds, the Jets came out sloppy and flat, an unimaginative bunch that failed to capitalize on three Miami turnovers in a 10-6 loss to the Dolphins. It has become a worrisome trend for the Jets this season, who at 9-4, have scored just 18 points in those four losses.
And in three of those four losses, the defense has conceded just 10 points. By and large, the defense is playing well enough to win games for the Jets, but the offense has consistently struggled to carry its own end of the bargain.
“Obviously it is a concern, it is something that we must work on and take care of,” fullback Tony Richardson said. “We as an offense didn’t execute today. Our defense played well enough for us to win this game.”
And the flat performance of the offense, marred by untimely penalties and dropped passes, brought down any hope of the Jets winning game faster than the Metrodome roof can collapse.
The Dolphins were limited to just three first downs in the entire game, as the offense managed just 131 yards on 56 plays. The Jets had 25 more plays on offense, held the ball for eight minutes longer than Miami and totaled more than double the total offense yardage, yet still found a way to lose.
“It is sickening to be honest, absolutely sickening,” left guard Matt Slauson said. “It wasn’t anything they did to stop us; it is what we did to stop ourselves.”
The play calling seemed bizarre and many of the fans who still remained in the field level lounge that surround the press conference area seemed to agree, as they hiccupped their way through repeated chants of “Schotty must go!” Inexplicably, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, the target of the protests, seems to have gotten away from the Jets calling card a season ago. Last year’s top-ranked rushing offense carried the ball just 31 times as opposed to 44 play calls for a pass, a puzzling move as the team was never down by more than 10 points and had no need to panic. The Jets went for less than 100 yards rushing as a team on Sunday for the first time all season.
“The defense had a terrific game, but offensively you’re not going to beat anybody if you make the kind of mistakes we made,” Ryan said. “I’m not taking anything away from Miami because they played great. Part of the reason we looked so poor was that Miami played so well. We have the talent to play better than this. I know we do.”
In Camelot, the song goes, it only rains after sundown. Perhaps Sunday afternoon’s torrential rain at the New Meadowlands Stadium is a good reminder for even the most ardent of Jets fans, that their team, and in particular their offense, is anything but paradise. Even a head coach as ever-Pollyanna chipper as Rex Ryan couldn’t mask the storm clouds over his team and the serious problem that his offense is in. In fact, the Jets haven’t scored an offensive touchdown since the third quarter of the Thanksgiving win over Cincinnati .
“That’s pretty hard to believe, no matter who you go up against,” said head coach Rex Ryan, who seemed at a loss to explain the ineptness of his high-priced and supposedly high-octane offense. “We have plenty of talent.”
Talent yes, but the game plan or at the very least its execution appears suspect for a third straight week. Ryan said that he considered benching quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had two turnovers and was 17-44 for 199 yards due to poor performance. Moments after saying that “There’s a heck of a lot more to blame than Mark Sanchez,” Ryan admitted to thinking about benching his quarterback in the third quarter.
“I considered it, but when you look at it, he gives us the best chance to win,” Ryan said.
Perhaps, but Sanchez has yet to prove in his second year in the league that he is a quarterback who can consistently win against upper tier teams as the Jets have just two wins this season against a team currently with a winning record – and both wins came in the first month of the season. The need for Sanchez to once again manage games is not made any easier by an offense that has gotten away from running the ball. When the Jets did put the ball on the ground, Schottenheimer repeatedly gave LaDainian Tomlinson the majority of the carries but kept calling trap plays and inside runs for a player who is most effective outside the hash marks and in the open.
“The play calling is what it is,” Ryan said. “I have all the confidence in our offensive coaches.”