Last night was about as bad it as ever got for the New York Jets in the Rex Ryan era. They were physically assaulted by the Baltimore Ravens defense to the point that Mark Sanchez could press charges against Wayne Hunter, Vladimir Ducasse, Colin Baxter, Matt Slauson, Brandon Moore, and even D’Brickashaw Ferguson. It all starts up front and the Jets offensive line is awful. Colin Baxter and Wayne Hunter are not starting caliber offensive lineman. Vladimir Ducasse is not a NFL caliber player. You are in trouble when Matt Slauson is your third best offensive lineman. When you start with the blame for last night, start with the line and then move to Mark Sanchez.
We wrote here all week how Sanchez was in need of a big time performance for the Jets to get a victory. He responded with arguably the worst game of his career. I am aware how brutal his protection was but Sanchez allowed himself to get rattled and even when he had time he was horrifically inaccurate. He is supposed to be a leader. He can’t play scared and dejected to the point he was last night. Bottom line, he needs to grow up and be better than he was the previous two years to compensate for the lack of running game the Jets have.
The world has given up on Shonn Greene and trust me I hear you. He hasn’t looked good as a feature back. He has also had nowhere to run. That being said, it is time to give Joe McKnight a bigger role on the offense. The Jets need an infusion of speed at the running back position. They very clearly struggle running up the middle, so why not attack the edges with a speedier McKnight?
While we are in blame game mode, let’s give a helping to the Jets coaching staff for the knee jerk reaction of putting Vladimir Ducasse in. Let’s also give a helping to Mike Tannenbaum and the front office for drafting Ducasse and not assembling enough depth on this offensive line. The Jets need a veteran, immediately.
You have heard it all today and all the anger is right. The Jets puff their chest out and are going to be kicked while they are down. The fans and media will overreact but honestly they have a right to be disgusted with what they saw last night.
Everything being said, this is the team we have for the rest of the year. So, let’s focus on what the necessary adjustments need to be and what positives the Jets can work from moving forward. Last time I checked they, if they win next week they are 3-2, New England is 3-2 and the Jets have the tie-breaker with 11 games to play. Hell, even if they lose next week there is still 11 games to play. Contrary to popular belief, this team will not pack up their bags and not bother to show up in New England. Where do we go from here?
1. The defense responded last night and put together a terrific performance. If you can play defense, you can compete…as long as your offense doesn’t directly allow 21 points. Aaron Maybin brought a little life to the Jets pass rush and I know it was only 1 strip sack and 1 quarterback pressure, but I loved the energy he was playing with. Muhammad Wilkerson also played his best game of the season last night and will only get better as the season goes on.
2. The special teams can still make plays. Joe McKnight returned a kick 107 yards for a touchdown, forced a fumble on kickoff and forced an interception when he played cornerback by the way. He can be a big factor moving forward.
3. On offense, the Jets need to force themselves to run the football to protect Mark Sanchez and to keep games competitive. It will take creativity because the front five isn’t getting a great push. It is going to take a combination of Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, John Conner, Joe McKnight, and maybe even some Jeremy Kerley in the Wildcat. Misdirections. Outside handoffs. The Jets must find a way to get some type of balance. They could also replace running plays by making better use of screens to all the previously mentioned players and the receivers.
4. When the Jets do take to the air, they need to max protect when looking down the field. The passing game needs to be simplified…again. It is time to dump the base formation being a three receiver look. The Jets need two tight ends on the field, if they are releasing Keller into the formation so Matthew Mulligan can stay in to block. If they are going one tight end, get John Conner on the field to stay in and pass protect.
5. Finally, show a little pride. The Jets can put their head down, walk into New England take it on the chin from an angry Patriots team who had their season ended by the Jets smacking them around and showboating all over field or they can stand up, do what they did to New England last January and show the league, their fans, and everybody else…they aren’t dead yet.