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Post Game Thoughts: Jets 10 Steelers 27

A little dose of reality this week as the Jets hung around for 3 quarters before watching the Steelers pull away for good.

Offense

Itís hard to even fathom what happened to the offense today. The team started out great, catching the Steelers off guard with their run pass selection and taking advantage of a number of penalties. The teams first two drives of the game saw them gain 124 yards and another 27 yards on penalties. The rest of the game saw a total of 101 yards with 49 coming on a meaningless final drive and 22 yards coming on a Tim Tebow run, so essentially the offense did nothing in the second half of the game. It is really indescribable how bad it was. Everything in the league starts and ends with the QB play and the game really turned on the Jets FG drive. Mark Sanchez had Santonio Holmes wide open in the end zone and sailed the pass on him, not even giving him a chance to make a play on the ball. It was as if that pass shattered all of Sanchezí confidence as he proceeded to go 3 of 14 for 22 yards during the portion of the game where the outcome was in doubt. Sanchez was victimized by a few drops, but those numbers are staggering for a 4th year pro. He seemed visibly frustrated with Jeremy Kerley on his failure to turn upfield and split the safeties after he gashed the coverage and at the end of the game just looked upset. Mark is under tremendous pressure because of the circumstances with Tebow and this is the type of performance most people expect to push the coaching staff to play more of Tebow and less of Sanchez.

The wide receivers were a mixed baggage. Holmes looks far better than he did last season. I know the statline was bad, but he drew a lot of penalties (though one was a gift as he just dropped a ball with nobody near him) and was open often but saw the balls miss him. But at the same time he dropped at least two or three balls and late in the game showed a bit of a temper when Sanchez threw high on a ball he wanted low. Sanchez didnít give him a great chance but you cant be signaling down with your arms to your QB after you have dropped a few that were in your chest. Kerley had the big catch early and was then invisible while Stephen Hill struggled against a complex defense. Hill is getting a little too much grief on an early drop that was a difficult catch. TE Jeff Cumberland didnít fill in well for Keller missing a clear hot read early in the game. While this is closer to what most expected out of this group, I just felt there were positives about Holmes and there was the fact that TE Dustin Keller did miss the game.

The running game was bad. The Jets never have success against the Steelers and this was no different. At some point the Jets will likely give more carries to Bilal Powell who may be a bit more effective than Shonn Greene, but its clear the Jets do need to find a more explosive player. They donít have it right now and it hurts them. I donít think the offensive line really played poorly or well. They just seemed average for the most part, but when they do create holes they need more explosion to take advantage of it. All in all the offensive output was eerily similar to what we saw last season on a team that had no offense at all.

Defense

People are going to rip the defense a bit for falling apart late, but this, to me was a better effort than we saw last week. I think we tend to overrate the Jets defense. The Jets have a good defense but still has to prove they can be a truly great defense. They were a great defense in 2009, but that is 3 years ago now. I think what the Steelers did is something that can be expected against the Jets. They pick and pick and pick away until the defense finally breaks. Even with Darelle Revis in the games, the team needs better play from the offense if they want to put on those great types of performances again. Unless the young guys can make a major impact they are not the kind of team that can simply do it without the offense helping them out.

The biggest problem the Jets had was their failure to contain Ben Roethlisberger. Now Roethlisberger is a difficult guy to bring down, but some of the plays were just pure whiffs. David Harris had him dead to rights and rather than going down into his gut tried some swipe at the shoulder pads move. At his price tag he has to make a better effort. A secondary blitz by, I believe, LarRon Landry, just saw him over run the target and not even get close to Roethlisberger. Bart Scott had a nightmare miss, but that was at least the type of play you expect Roethlisberger to escape. When you let Roethlisberger escape he makes plays and thatís what he did this game.

Did the Jets miss Revis? Absolutely. They were able to pick the Jets apart without him and Antonio Cromartie on the field together, but the Steelers also made great plays. The TD to Mike Wallace was a beautiful catch. Cromartie had the coverage but decided to play for an interception, not thinking Wallace could go up and make the catch. You have to give the Steelers credit for that and I wouldnít be surprised if Cromartie would have been in that exact same situation even with Revis on the field. The depth in the secondary isnít good and they also seemed to target the LBs in coverage , which led to critical 3rd down conversion after 3rd down conversion, but was that really much different than last season? Not really.

By the end of the game the Jets were worn out both mentally and physically. Their tackling technique was poor and they couldnít get off the field, but with the support they got should we have expected differently? I think the bigger lesson that needs to be taken away is at the coaches level. The 3rd down and difficult conversions are still a problem forcing them to be a bend but dot break defense. Thatís a schematic issue that needs to be fixed. Secondly this is not a suffocating defense yet and they cant play offensively as if the defense will just get the job done.

Special Teams

Kerleyís fumble didnít hurt the team from a scoring standpoint but it did cost the team field position at a point where the defense needed a breather and the offense needed to feel they had a chance. P Robert Malone didnít distinguish himself and he doesnít seem to get the hang time needed to avoid returns. He also had one punt take a bad bounce. The Jets failed to take a good chance at downing the ball at the one, but that may have been impossible to do anyway. There seems to be far more leg in games this season and that may affect the ability to kick return the ball, which hurt the Jets today as Joe McKnight never had a real chance to do anything.

Coaching

Sometimes you just play a team better than you and that was the case today. The Jets were ready to play and jumped out early, but were simply beaten after that. The third downs on defense are concerning but was there really anything of offense that seemed out of the ordinary given the way the team looked in 2011 and looked on paper in 2012? I listened to SNY after the game for a few minutes and heard the hosts saying the team ran too much, but Sanchez was terrible. They tried to throw they just never completed the ball. There was nothing they could do on the sideline.

Ryan made the right call challenging a hideous spot and got the call in his favor. He made a questionable challenge on a strip, but at that point he was trying anything to keep the game in reach. At that point the timeout isnít valuable anymore because the team is down and will be out if you donít get the call. The refs probably screwed that up as well in terms of spot of the ball, but Rex wasnít going to get the turnover. To me the big question is what was running through their head as Sanchez struggled and Tebow came in and ran two plays that led to yards. I tend to think if Sanchez played like this last week Tebow would have stayed in the game, but Rex gave him a lot of rope and that is the right decision.

Overall

I understand the fans are unhappy right now, but I was surprised to see some of the sentiment online as the game ended. Some said the Jets beat themselves. Others said the coaching staff was poor. Others insinuated that Ryan better be aware of the gravity of the situation. This was overreaction to the first game of the year. The Bills gave the Jets a blowout win last week. They played horrible and the Jets took advantage. The Jets played a better team this week in their home opener and they simply outplayed the Jets. The Jets arenít as bad as this game indicated nor are they as good as the last game indicated. These are the ups and downs of the NFL and there was nothing stunning in this game other than just how Sanchez fell apart after the one missed throw.

These games are difficult to watch because you never feel you are out of the game, but at the same time when you start reviewing the game in your head your realize you were never really in it either. The Patriots had this effect on a number of teams in their dynasty era before Tom Brady really grew into the elite QB level. You would go out and hang around forever and then be terribly frustrated when you could just never make a play to win the game. Sometimes the opponents need to be given credit for it and the Jets were flustered by the Steelers today.

The one worry I do have is seeing some similarities to the past, specifically on defense. I didnít listen to Ryanís postgame but there are certain things he has to do to get on his defense. You could see through three quarters that the defenders are playing as if they think they are something special. That comes from a reputation and the coaches pep talks. I remember in 2005 when the Jets had a fiery coordinator in Donnie Henderson that made his troops think they were better than they were because of 2004. In 2005 they fell victim to lack of offense and they did play hard early on before falling apart. They lacked discipline and there are some signs of that here. It victimized the Jets in 2011 and they have to stop it from happening this season. Offensively the Jets are looking for penalties far too often almost as a bailout. That should be a bonus not an expectation. If you watched the Giants game today you saw the Buccaneers grab and hold receivers all game, one of which led to a big interception. There was a stark contrast in the times a Victor Cruz was screaming for PI and the Jets who seemed to be waving their hands every time there was not a completion when the ball was close. At some point you have to understand the referees will just let you play.

Everyone in the AFC East is 1-1. The Jets get the Dolphins next week in a huge game. Miami blew out the Raiders this week in their home opener despite the fact that they looked lost in their game against the Texans the week before. Thatís the NFL . The Jets in the past have taken this team lightly and caused them to lose a number of games they had no business losing. You have to come out firing early against a young team like that and play hard nosed football on both sides of the ball. There is no reason for them to lose to Miami if they play their best, but if they take them for granted they will be looking up at them in the standings, and then the season may turn ugly. I got the feeling the Jets got far too high on their press clipping from week 1 and this was a good dose of reality to the team. Miami is a far more important game than this past one. Hopefully it helps them play a bit better next week.

Go Jets!

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