Post Game Thoughts- Jets vs Falcons
Another week and another gut wrenching loss that leaves you shaking your head as you leave the stadium.
Just a complete cluster of a game. Mark Sanchez continued his maddening display of quarterbacking the team. At times Sanchez looked great. He threw a beautiful 65 yard bomb to Braylon Edwards. He showed some poise in the pocket in evading a sack and hit a couple of nice passes in crucial spots. Then at other times he looked lost, missing wide open receivers, coming late on passed, and continuing his interception streak. Sanchez also took an awful sack at the end of the first half, which is the one thing you could not do in that situation. Whether the Jets abandoned the color coded system or not I donít know, but after the game Rex Ryan put the blame on himself for the early interception for the personnel on the field and what they were allowing Sanchez to do. Sanchez was not helped by the lack of a running game today. Thomas Jones looked frozen early on and maybe that effected him today, but you have to give the Falcons credit for the defensive gameplan they had. The running game had a hard time playing against the 5 man fronts with 4 linebackers completely taking the running lanes away. Even when a hole opened it closed too quickly. Their best run play of the game may have been Brad Smithís option play. Braylon Edwards had a special game and it was a shame the team wasted it. He caught big passes all game and was great blocking for his other receivers. Jerricho Cotchery also caught everything today. Danny Woodhead made a play or two and had a nice blitz pickup and even Smith made a great one handed grab. But the bottom line was that the team just does not execute when it comes down to crucial situations. The Jets made trips three times into the red zone and never scored. Jones killed the team getting a ridiculous personal foul penalty after a long completion that was then compounded by a Sanchez intentional grounding call that seemed like a bad call by the officials. The offense always had great field position and much like in the first Dolphin game never did anything with it and allowed the Falcons to hang around and win the game. It was just a miserable showing that has most likely ended the season for the team.
Despite what happened at the end of the game it is hard to fault the defense for too much today. They held the Falcons to 3 points for 58 minutes and looked like they were going to win the game for the team. The team had their share of nice moments. Darrelle Revis had his usual passes defensed. David Harris was all over the field. Kerry Rhodes made a few big stops after having regained his starting job. Brat Scott made a few plays. Even Vernon Gholston got a hand on Matt Ryan in what should have been an intentional grounding call. But the game also had too many moments where you realize that the defense is really really good, but just short of being great., something alluded to by the coach after the game. Jim Leonhard dropped what would have likely been a TD that was right in his gut. It was a catch a high schooler would make. Lito Sheppard had a chance to pick one off and missed. Harris had a chance on a batted ball and could not come up with it. Rhodes got run right around when he tried for a strip instead of a tackle. And then of course you had that final drive. Atlanta converted twice on 3rd down. They have up a huge pass to Roddy White and Donald Strickland, who was inexplicably matched up with him, grabbed a little facemask that was the turning point of the game. The team had a mental breakdown on the losing touchdown and that was all she wrote. The great defense comes up with a stop somewhere on that drive but unfortunately the Jets did not. This defense should only get better under the current coaching staff. They are really just one or two players away from being a special defense instead of a really good one. They will give the Colts all they can handle next week, but are going to need some help from the offense if they want to win the game.
What a disaster. This was perhaps the worst day of long snapper James Dearthís career. He had a high snap that Kellen Clemens could not handle on the first field goal both. He was the cause of the blocked field goal with another high snap on the third miss of the day. He and Clemens were working all day on the sidelines to practice, but the two were just never on the same page. Jay Feely missed a 38 yarder that he pushed way tp the right in a game where the kicking conditions were horrible. For the second time this season you could put the majority of the loss on the special teams. Smith had a nifty kickoff return that was inches away from a score. Had the Jets blocker seen Smith break free it may have been a score. Steve Weatherford had a strong day kicking and pinning the Falcons inside the 20. Cotchery had a rough day on returns running east to west far too often. Coverage teams were good and James Ihedigbo looked to have a good day both on specials and on offense.
You saw some of the improvements by Ryan in the way he handled the end of the game which allowed his offense to have ample time to drive down the field for a game winning or tying drive. While it did not work out, he got the offense out there which may not have happened early in the year. The calamity on the sidelines, especially on defense was still there today. The Jets have a new system which had Ryan and Pettine running far onto the field to scream at the team to get the subs right which had them reprimanded by the officials at the end of the game. They ended up using a player to help out on the final drive because of that. They seemed to get away from the ball control aspect of the game, but the Falcons defense may have dictated that as much as that being the actual gameplan. The team took bad penalties and again lost late which is often something that reflects on the coaching. Ryan seemed to say all the right things after the game, but you tell from the reaction in the stadium that a lot of the excitement about him is now gone.
Well almost everything the Jets needed to happen today happened for them, except for the most important thing, which was the Jets taking care of business. The Jets were one play away from basically controlling their own destiny and instead are now just about out of the race. With some help they might still be able to make it at 9-7 and if there was a game to lose it was this one, but they probably let the season slip away.
I can not recall a team that lost so many games in one season on virtually the last drive of the game. It is depressing to see and for the fans who showed up in the cold today it was murder. This is a team just filled with players who donít know how to win. You see it a lot in basketball, but the Jets seem to have translated that into football with a collection of too many guys that came from losing envrionments. That is why these last two games are very important for the psyche of the team. Driving home we heard the Jets commentators say its time to take the shackles off Sanchez and let him sink or swim on his own to see what you have. I think that would be an awful decision.
The Jets need to prove to themselves that they can beat quality football teams like the Colts and Bengals. They have to know they can finish with 8 or 9 wins against a decent schedule, unlike last year, with a rookie QB at the helm. With the offseason programs in the NFL starting so early you want the players excited and ready to go and make that run in 2010. A 9 win season where you look back and say we should have won 11 or 12 if we just did one or two things just a little better will probably have the team working very hard to get better. 7-9 and a 3 game losing streak to finish the year doesnít do that especially with the circus concerning Kerry Rhodes ready to take center stage in January.
The playoff dream may be over, but the Jets can not give up on this season just because that is the case. Finish strong and then figure out how to get better next season. This team is not that far away. But they have to prove that to themselves first before the fans begin to see the difference on the field. Go Jets!