The game was right there for the taking, huh? The Jets defensive line had dominated all day, and Bengals QB Andy Dalton had been dropped once every 4 dropbacks. Even with AJ Green renting out Revis Island for a party of one, the Jets just had to stop the Bengals one more time and leave an emotional week one 1-0. They then would have found themselves in prime position to go 2-0 and put Rex Ryan and the Bills at 0-2 while either keeping pace or building a too early one game lead over their arch nemesis in Massachusetts. All they needed was one stop and Todd Bowles’s stubbornness, Ryan Fitzpatrick’s downright awful game, and the clamp Cincinnati put on Brandon Marshall would be forgotten. It wasn’t meant to be…
This isn’t a “same old Jets” loss, although some people would have you think it is. The Jets and Bengals are two good teams, and two of the 6/8 best in the AFC. The Jets came out hot, featuring Quincy Enunwa and Matt Forte, and the Bengals came out hot featuring AJ Green. The Bengals adjusted because they have the great equalizer in the NFL; the better coach AND the better QB, and if you think that the latter doesn’t matter anymore look no further than the Patriots beating a trendy Super Bowl pick in the Cardinals in Arizona with Jimmy Garropolo making his first start of his career. The Jets, behind their second year coach and journeyman QB, did not adjust.
I’ll be the first one to tell you that I thought Darrelle Revis could handle Green. If he proved he couldn’t, I assumed Bowles would adjust. He did not, not even when Green beat Revis down the field on appeared to be straight man to man coverage but what was a cover 3 where Marcus Gilchrist got caught in between the underneath in route and the deep post. Removing the TD and Revis failed to wrap up repeatedly and was beat on every route imaginable by Green. It was up to Todd Bowles to adjust and give Revis more help during the game, and that did not happen. It’s one of the reasons the Jets woke up at 0-1.
Bowles has shown a willingness to go away from ineffective players but he has also shown a stubbornness with his star cornerback and $12 million dollar quarterback during a coaching career now 17 games in. I don’t buy that Bowles cannot make mistakes just because he’s into his second year; you see coaches 10 years in make mistakes at times, so I’m not very worried about that so much as I am about his refusal to adjust when it comes to arguably the two most important players on this team. Bowles also did not come off well during his press conference when he became agitated when asked about Revis’s performance. For a coach that appeared calm all year long in the face of adversity last year, it was concerning to see him seemingly lose it when questioned. The biggest improvement the Jets could’ve made from last year to this year has to come from him.
Speaking of those two players, Revis has earned his rope. I won’t make excuses for him because he was bad against Green, and it was an all day thing. However, it’s insanely telling that people were ready to put more blame on Revis as if forgetting that Fitzpatrick completed 50% of his passes after the first quarter and did not execute in the red zone. Fitzpatrick scoffed when questioned about how “good” he is and thought he could miss all of training camp and just produce at the same level as last year. The pressure should’ve been on Fitzpatrick as is, but after his offseason holdout and some of the comments he made it was also concerning to see him play so flat for 75% of the game. The fact that his play came after his offensive line gave him time all day makes it even worse. Add that to the fact the Jets got numerous contributions and it’s a bad loss to take.
The OL, led by Brian Winters, played terrific and more than held their own against a talented Bengals defense. Quincy Enunwa showed his versatility and improvement with a lot of big catches in the middle of the field. Matt Forte was a bright spot for an offense that too
often appeared to be stuck in mud last year when Brandon Marshall was out/ineffective. Leonard Williams proved that he’s about to be a top 5 DL in football shortly, and Muhammed Wilkerson reminded folks that he is a top 5 DL. Calvin Pryor was the only bright spot in the secondary. And now, it’s on to Buffalo. Instead of going for win number 2, the Jets will try to beat the Bills for the first time in what seems like a really long time. Let’s hope they decide to not be stubborn.
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