The Jets lost more than just a game on Sunday — they lost their identity.
Sunday afternoon’s 34-24 loss in Oakland was an embarrassment for the Jets, as they were thrown around like a rag doll. There were no answers from the defense on how to stop Darren McFadden, who ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and the offense was clueless in protecting Mark Sanchez, who was the victim of four sacks and countless more hurries and hits.
And with a game in Baltimore against the 3-0 Ravens looming this weekend, the Jets need to get back to their identity fast.
“We are a physical team. That’s what we go by. That’s our identity,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “We know this upcoming game is going to be very physical and tough. We know the Ravens are going to bring it, and we’re going to prepare hard this week.”
After the game, head coach Hue Jackson said that his Raiders wanted to “bully” the Jets and physically dominate them. The performance from head coach Rex Ryan’s team in Oakland, especially after billing themselves as a team that thrives on physicality, was disappointing.
“They turned it up a little bit, a little bit more power rush, a little bit more movement,” guard Brandon Moore said. “We just have to do a better job, but there’s was nothing they did exotic”
Losing a game is tough, but losing a game where your very core is questioned is worse.
“Obviously, we want to get that game behind us, but we have to learn from it. What we said yesterday basically holds true. You look at the tape, that old saying, ‘It’s never as bad as you think it is, it’s never as good as you think it is.’ That holds true in this game,” Ryan said. “So, overall it was not up to our standards by any stretch, and quite honestly there’s only one other time I can remember a game like that happening to me, and [I’ve] coached, what, 15 years in the NFL? So it doesn’t sit too well with me or anybody in this organization and the good news is we get to play Sunday. The bad news is that we have to play against a team that is rolling right now.”
A scapegoat has begun to emerge.
On Monday, Ryan pointed to the Jets being penalized five times on defense, twice with pass interference calls on cornerback Antonio Cromartie, as part of their difficulty in establishing their own physicality. Since the Jets utilize a lot of man-to-man coverage, the pressure is on the Jets’ secondary to play physically at the line and, if they get beat, to rely on their physicality to make a play. Sunday, that led to penalties.
New rules in place this season to encourage more offense are making it more difficult for the Jets cornerbacks to play physical defense without getting flagged for their efforts.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors by having five defensive penalties in that game. It gives you five more possessions basically,” Ryan said. “That’s going to kill you. But it’s much harder to play defense. I think sometimes, the defensive guy has a right to the football, and it’s hard to sometimes judge, is it pass interference? Is a guy making a play on the ball? I think some of these receivers are so good at knowing how to draw penalties or whatever, but it’s certainly much harder to play defense now than it was, say, 10 years ago.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.