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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 23 Dolphins 20

Iím not sure if it can get any uglier than that game, but at least the team came away with a win and itís far better to be 2-1 than 1-2.

Offense

Iím not even sure where to begin with the mess that is the offense. On one hand we all knew it would be bad, but itís one thing to know something is going to be bad and then watching it play out that way. Were there positives? Sure. WR Santonio Holmes is playing better than last season and didnít display the same attitude that he had last week when passes didnít go his way. He finished the game with 147 yards, numerous drawn penalties and the big 38 yard reception on the game winning drive. WR Jeremy Kerley has his big catch and run to set up a FG as well as a TD reception. QB Mark Sanchez did drive his team on two big drives, including a drive that should have won the game in the 4th quarter as well as the game winning overtime drive.

But, more often than not the offense was just a disaster. The play from Sanchez can be mind numbingly bad at times. His interception in the end zone was one of the worst throws you will ever see from an NFL QB, let alone a player in his 4th season. When you have a big target you throw the ball up where only he can get it, you never leave the opportunity for a defender to come down with the football. He had Stephen Hill wide open for a long boom and just missed. He had Jeff Cumberland wide open in the end zone for a score and just missed. He had Chaz Schilens wide open for what should have been a big gain and couldnít hit him in stride. The stalling in the red zone was incomprehensible. He had a ball in OT that should have been picked off. If there was one thing that was better this week it was that he did stand in there in the face of pressure rather than heading down as soon as he saw it come, but there is nothing in the way he plays that makes you confident in his ability.

For the good that Kerley and Holmes did there are also multiple shortcomings. There was a period when they seemed to be getting absolutely no separation from the Dolphin defenders and it totally stalled the offense. I donít know if this was a lack of talent or a good scheme from Miami, but it was clear nothing was going on. Kerley, to me, is going to be a guy capable of a few big plays here and there but is not going to be reliable enough to be a weapon all game long. There is always a big place for those type of players in the NFL, but with the state of the offense they really need TE Dustin Keller back. One of the plays around the goal saw Sanchez get freaked as soon as Holmes got jammed at the line and he just tucked the ball and ran, a play that had no chance of resulting in a score.

The whole Tim Tebow thing has become a comedy and this goes back to the coaching. They are putting him all over the field to get him in the games and he serves almost no purpose out there. Itís like playing 10 on 11 when he and Sanchez are on the field at the same time. His few plays are not doing much and it goes back to the Jets never practicing anything with him in the live action that occurs in the preseason. Look the NFL has changed and practices donít carry the same weight they used to since contact is limited. Tebow looks lost out there when running most of these plays. Itís also a situation where the staff seems to throw him out there to see what he can do and once it fails they pull him out. Itís just bad planning. In NBA speak Tebow would be a volume shooter. Heís like the exact opposite of a Aaron Maybin or Leon Washington, who have been good situational players for the Jets. What made Tebow special last year is that he had a million tries to do something, looked awful 85% of the time, but when he broke a play it looked spectacular. He cant turn it on and off. When it happens it happens but a handful of plays at QB and a quick hook is almost never going to work. Either you give him full series or just admit you made a mistake and move on. You practiced with him as your backup QB and maybe that is what he needs to be right now.

The running game continues to stall, though Bilal Powell at least shows some potential. Shonn Greene is simply too slow to work with an average or below average offensive line, and the Jets are not very effective run blocking right now. Sanchez did face some pressure passing the ball but he was only sacked one time, which was as much the fault of him holding the ball too long as it was Vlad Ducasse and DíBrickashaw Ferguson losing their assignments. Austin Howard had a few bad moments out there and within a few weeks the Jets may be moving Jason Smith to RT if Howard continues to have trouble. The Jets need the offensive line to set the tone of the game and it just seems as if they arenít doing that right now. It was the one identity the Jets had offensively in 2009 and 2010, but itís gone right now. When you have poor offensive talent you need that to stabilize a game and the Jets arenít getting it now.

Defense

CB Darrelle Revis went down on a non-contact injury and it did not look good. Im sure it has been discussed by the time I actually post this and hopefully he wonít be lost for the season, but it looked like his leg got caught in the turf as he planted and just didnít go with him. He was clearly in a lot of pain ad it would be a devastating loss to the team. I rip on Revis on a lot for the way he treats his contract, but when you see injuries like that happen you realize why players sometimes do what they do even if it doesnít seem right. If that is indeed the worst case scenario the financial implications for Revis are gigantic. Here is a player looking to be paid like a defensive end that has one year left on his contract. A severe knee injury gives no chance for a renegotiation next season and may limit his earning potential I the future. Did it affect them today? Not too badly since Miami canít really throw the football, but it will hurt the team if they lose him long term.

All last season I harped on the Jets defense trending downward and not getting the job done. Some of the feedback was that it was all Sanchezí fault and he tired them out. I think what we are seeing is that the it had nothing to do with Sanchez and it was just an excuse to not want to blame the defense for not being that good. Last week I thought the team showed some decent signs despite the fact that they could never get off the field, but there was no sugar coating this performance. Twice the team had a chance to snuff the life out of the Dolphins and twice they couldnít do it. The run defense is absolutely putrid and the Jets caught a major break by injuring Reggie Bush on a meaningless play at the end of the first half. They couldnít stop him. That was a far bigger loss in this game for Miami than Revis was to the Jets since he is their offense right now.

The Jets ILBís may be the most overpaid group in the NFL. The tackling form is terrible and I am sick of watching David Harris go for shoulder pad tackles and then get carried by a runner for 3 yards. He looks no different than Jon Vilma looked for the team in 2005 when things started to go south and he was left to make plays on his own rather than as part of a gang mentality. Bart Scott had a critical penalty and made no impact this week. The secondary is letting the team down as well. Antonio Cromartie is having a bad start to the year and I wonder if this is the inevitable downturn for a player that relies solely on his athleticism to play the position. Kyle Wilson had a terrible penalty where he just failed to turn around and play the football. Wilson is the second coming of Justin Miller on the field. Just no awareness of anything. The backup players in the secondary are all sub par.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the group is the lack of contribution from the young players. Everyone expected big things from Muhammed Wilkerson, but he is making no impact out there at all. He had a bunch of tackles today, but I couldnít name one that was a meaningful play. Aaron Maybin isnít making the plays he did last season and raise your hand if you have seen Quinton Coples do anything. I think our teams defense, at this point, is being exposed for the lack of talent they have. In 2009 and, to a lesser extent, 2010 the Jets his a lot of the talent shortcomings with a scheme that caught every team off guard. The Jets created havoc with blitz schemes that masked the fact that they didnít have very good players at most positions. Revis bottled up option A and the other 10 guys came from all angles to demolish teams. Every team has it scouted now and there is nothing unique about what the Jets do now.

The lack of talent is what separates a team like the Jets from the Ravens and Steelers, who are able to win games with their defense. The Steelers have run the same defense for ages. The Ravens go from coordinator to coordinator and continue to excel. They have had years where they donít fire, Baltimore had one under Ryan in fact, but talent can overcome a lot. The Jets teams in 2009 and 2010 played with a lot of passion. One of the reasons S Kerry Rhodes was run out of town was that he was one of those players who didnít have it play in and play out. That passion was created by a variety of factors. Bart Scott looking to prove he was a more important player than people gave him credit for. Jim Leonhard always trying to keep a job. Darrelle Revis and David Harris playing to make a killing on new contracts. Sione Pouha looking to prove he belonged in the NFL. Now these players are older and have made their money. Nobody has stepped up to show the hunger they showed 2 and 3 years ago. More importantly these new practice rules donít allow the Jets to instill in their younger guys the ideals of hitting hard and making every play count. Teams without grade A talent up front are hurt by these new rules far more than those who have great talent in the front 7. This is a defense that looks like they are going thru the motions, with the exception of S Laron Landry who hits hard and comes fast on every play.

I donít know what the coaches excuse was today for this unit, but they were every bit as bad as the offense. You canít hide it and I donít think there is a way to fix it. It is what it is and playing for 17-13 wins isnít going to work unless something dramatically changes with their players and the effort they are getting from the players.

Special Teams

The Jets caught a break when the Dolphins called time out to ice K Kick Folk, who saw his field goal blocked on a play that didnít count. If Miamiís field goal kicker had made even one of his two field goal misses they would be 2-1 rather than 1-2 right now. P Robert Malone had a really strong game, his best as a Jet. There was the one fake punt by Tebow that led to a first down and Kerley had a few nice punt returns. Nothing again in the kickoff game and right now that looks like it may not be the factor it used to be in the past.

Coaching

Rex Ryanís constant belief that you need to hype up your opponents old players really bit his team in the behind this week. Ryan has to realize that it is one thing to do that with a Jason Taylor, who is a legitimate NFL player, than a Clyde Gates, who is a fringe NFL player. The fact that Gates was even on the field for this game was a joke and to make him the option on a play is beyond ridiculous. His poor route running was the reason that Sanchez threw the first interception of the game and that was as much Ryanís fault as anyone elseís. This isnít college and these little things dony carry any reward and as we saw this week brought on a great deal of risk.

I covered the handling of Tebow and its something I just donít understand. I also donít get the idea of bringing him in off a Sanchez pick. Sanchez did nothing to deserve that and it sends a bad message. The Jets had one on the field mishap where they failed to cover a receiver which cost the team a time out and another play with personnel late getting on the field, but neither was a big deal and things were worse off in prior years with that. They do seem to be committed to a platoon with Ducasse and Matt Slauson, which is a bit strange. Ducasse got every third series last week and the same pattern began this game, though it did seem they moved away from it until I noticed Ducasse in again later in the game. O-line is all about continuity and I think they need to make a decision

On the bright side I was impressed that Ryan stuck with Sanchez in Dolphin territory. When Sanchez threw his pick in the end zone I was stunned that they continued to run with Sanchez in there, especially since he was so ineffective on most trips. I would have lost it with him and I thought Ryan would have done the same. To his credit he did not and it shows some commitment to his QB. I also loved seeing Tony Sparano going over plays with Sanchez on the sideline. I never saw in 6 years of Brian Schottenheimer him getting photos from upstairs and sitting down with his QBs in the game and going over things that were happening on the field.

Overall

This was just a brutal game to watch. It was a neverending mess of watching two teams who did not seem to want to win the game. If you are a fan of the Jets you come out of that game wondering how your team did not win the game by 30 points. Likewise if you are a Dolphin fan you come out of that game wondering how your team did not win by 30 points. Neither team did much anything good. Both did a lot bad. Miami probably deserved to win the game. Their head coach made some bad decisions passing the football in their own territory that led to 7 for the Jets and he almost handed the Jets another chance at a FG if not for an Eric Smith penalty that bailed him out. Plus they missed the two field goals.

At this point you have to say it is what it is with this team. Yes its far better to be 2-1 and saying we can sort this out, but is there anything to sort out? They lack talent and sadly lack passion. Coaching means a lot in this league, and I think Ryan is a good one, but Im not sure if this is too much for him to overcome. The whole Tebow thing was something dropped on him that I think he realizes has no real merit. I think itís incredibly difficult for him to look at the film and see the guys he has gone to war with for some time on defense and say they donít have it anymore. Rex is always defensive of any criticism of his players on that side of the ball but he wonít come up with a way to mask it until he can admit to himself that these guys are not good right now. Ryan is big into stats and Iím sure he will come back and say that Harris and Scott combined for 14 tackles, but the fact is those guys are getting dragged and run over. Heíll say Tannehill had an awful stat line but in critical times he has to realize Tannehill made a few big throws that led to big gains either through reception or penalty. Maybe Rex can scheme his way around this but it wont happen until he tells himself that these guys just are not what he thinks they are.

These next two weeks will be real measuring stick games for the Jets. The 49íers and Texans are good football teams. The Dolphins arenít. The Bills arenít. Right now it doesnít even look like the Steelers are a good football team. If the Jets play like this next week its going to be ugly. The 49íers represent what the Jets were all about 3 years ago. Hard hitting, flying to the ball defense and smack you around offense. Like those old Jets they are vulnerable due to mediocre QB play and occasional letdowns, as evidenced by the game this week against the Vikings, so itís not as impossible as some will make it seem, but if the Jets play like this again they have no chance. I think itís imperative that the Jets find a way to upset one of the two upcoming teams. They need to keep treading water and not falling below 0.500 to give them a chance at getting to 5-3 at the midway point. Its kind of a crazy goal after how bad the Jets played this week but you never know.

Maybe the Jets can build on a few things this week. They did at least make some plays to win the game and it wasnít a total gift from the other team. If they could get any consistency from the offense they do have some pieces in the passing game. Maybe Powell can become a steady contributor and be a hidden gem as he gets more games under his belt. They do at least seem to realize that they have to gain big chunks of yards in one play and arenít going to be a grind it out squad right now. If the Jets make the playoffs this season its going to have to be because a light goes on for the offense and they become more consistent every week. I donít think they can do it defensively anymore especially if Revis is out. Lets hope for the best as we see what this team is really made of next week.

Go Jets!

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