I found myself, due to some sickness, listening to more games than I watched this weekend.
Do you ever do that anymore? In this day and age, I wonder how many of us do, whether because you have to or because you want to.
I listen to a few every weekend, in part because I miss my Direct TV Sunday Ticket and in part because sometimes the announcing is much better. Or at least more entertaining – radio seems to make it ok to be a homer doing play-by-play and that always makes for hysterical radio.
For the Jets game, I split it 50/50. It was tough either way, although it provided my favorite line of the weekend, spoken by my eight year old son.
He walked in, looked at the score and asked where the grave was. I asked him what he was talking about and he told me there should be a grave, since the Pats were killing the Jets.
What happened to the Jets? Was it hubris, a little too much buying into their own hype? Has it been bad luck? Were they always an 8-8 team with airs?
Well, as a matter of fact, yes. I’ll admit I got sucked into the hype after a ridiculous 3-0 start, but looking back on that you have to wonder if the shine on the team was merely a reflection of lowered expectations.
The simple truth is, the Jets suffer both from bad current play and the remaining ills from last season.
For today’s Late Hits, let’s look a little more closely at both.
First, it’s really early to call Mark Sanchez a bust. Almost like it was too early to call him Rookie of the Year after three games. At times, he looks very sharp. More often than not, he just looks like every other rookie quarterback – lost.
A perfect example of Sanchez’s problems are evident in the interception by Brandon Merriweather.
Sanchez, on his own seven yard line, takes the snap and does a five step drop. He scans the field.
So far so good, but there’s nothing out there for Sanchez. As was the case much of the day, great coverage by New England.
After about three of four seconds, the offensive line gives and the Pats flood towards Sanchez. The rookie breaks to his left, outside the hash marks where he is met by linebackers Banta-Cain and Guyton (with Leigh Bodden closing in as well).
Sanchez does what any quarterback does in that situation – he gets rid of the ball.
Here’s where Sanchez struggles though. Instead of throwing it out of bounds, as a veteran might do, Sanchez forces the ball towards a receiver – and right into Meriweather’s hands.
He’s off balance, panicked and desperate to make something happen – that’s an awful combination for any quarterback, much less a rookie who as we all know had limited game experiance in college.
Looking at various replay angles, it’s hard to say exactly what he saw that said ‘Yes Mark, this is a great idea’. Meriweather has a very good angle on wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. Maybe at field level, Sanchez couldn’t see Meriweather. Maybe any quarterback might have made that mistake.
The fact is though, that it was only second down – as much as yo hate to have a 3-10, you would prefer that over throwing a pick.
Sanchez just flat out does not make smart plays. He needs someone – anyone – to sit him down and explain how in situations like that you toss the ball out of bounds.
You’d think the way Sanchez throws picks that perhaps the Jets need to run the ball more. Maybe they do, but statwise, they already run a bunch.
Out of 634 plays, the Jets have run the ball 350 times and thrown just 267. So more than half the time, they dial up the run.
Maybe it’s the play-calling. There have been times I – and many Jet fans – has looked at some of the play calling in the last month and wondered if some of the pass selections were a little too much to ask of a rookie.
Still, at the end of the day, it’s Sanchez’s job to throw or not depending upon what he sees and he’s not seeing what he needs to or at least seems unable to process what he sees.
Again, too early to say bust and it will take time. I wonder if this staff (OC Brian Schottenheimer in particular) is the right group to shepherd him.
The other major issue is the defense. You can’t lose guys like Kris Jenkins for the season and not get hurt.
However another glaring weakness was highlighted yesterday in the loss to the Patriots and that is the strength of the secondary – or lack thereof.
Darelle Revis is a shutdown, top shelf, high end cornerback. One of the best in the league. Sure, Moss scored yesterday but aside from that he had an incredibly quiet afternoon. That was because of Revis who was on him like a comfy blanket all day.
The other side of the field – in fact any other portion of the field – not so much.
Dwight Lowery has been ok when not hurt but nothing exciting. Lito Sheppard is servicable and no more. Jim Leonhard is pretty solid, but makes some large mistakes. Kerry Rhodes talks a much better game than he is playing right now.
The simple fact is, Revis is just one man. He cannot stop everyone – and with a team like the Patriots you can’t just shut one man down.
In other words, great you shut down Randy Moss. But Wes Welker lit you up for 15 catches for 192 yards (and 11 rushing just because he can).
It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Go ahead and double up on Welker – someone else usually steps up.
Put aside the Patriots (and after that beating, who wouldn’t) though and look at some of the issues the Jets have had in the secondary this year. Revis is having a phenomenal year. The rest?
Well….uh… they sure do… look good in green!
You can still argue the merits of drafting just three players in April’s draft. Especially given concerns about the depth of both lines and the secondary. I said then and I still say it was ballsy and I like it – despite guys like Christopher Owens and Jarron Gilbert who the Jets and Rex Ryan spent a lot of time looking at in the spring.
It’ll be years before most of the second or third rounders pan out or don’t.
But you have to wonder how hard it will continue to be for the Jets to hang in games when so much of the field is underperforming.
At some point the team needs to address the secondary further.
There are other issues. Schottenheimer makes some odd play calls going back to last year. We were told it was Mangini holding Schotty back but it seems like more of the same in some respects this year. The running backs are good enough but one more injury to Jones or Greene and the Jets are in soem real trouble. Losing Leon Washington was bad enough.
That’s not even get into the lack of depth of at least two positions, the bust that appears to be Vernon Gholston or the critical drops players like Dustin Keller and Braylon Edwards have had. The trash talking without end.
All have had an impact this season, all have contributed to a pretty egregious drop in play. The two items detailed above are just the biggest and most obvious (although not loudest if you include the chest beating early on).
The wreck that was the loss to the Patriots was bad, no doubt about it. The reasons for it was nothing new though, and will be at the root of more losses of the Jets don’t do something to account for them – and soon.
Some other NFL thoughts -
What’s more outstanding – Stafford’s five TDs (albeit against a cruddy Browns team) or the fact that he apparently pushed past team medical officials to go back out on the field with a bad wing?
I can’t think of a team or city that NEEDED a guy to do something like that, the way Detroit does. It’s a great story, a great moment and even if the season is another filled with struggles and losses this is a moment to build off of.
What’s black and gold and undefeated, but nobody gives a damn about it?
Apparently the New Orleans Saints.
I know I’m not the only one, but for the LOVE OF GOD CAN NEW ORLEANS GET SOME LOVE? Maybe I’m wrong but it seems like for every one article on a National level which talks about how good the Saints are playing, there are 45 others about how awesome the Colts are.
What’s up with Jay Cutler you ask? Well, nothing. This is the same Cutler who played in Denver – the exact same one. He’s not doing anything new.
He’s just doing it with a bad oline, mediocre wide receivers and a stuttering, stammering rushing attack.
I guess that’s up with Cutler then.
I’d have to look – and I’ve talked to multiple people on multiple shows including with Dan Levy of onthedlpodcast last Wednesday – but Steven Jackson has really impressed me this year. If only he played on a good team.
Nice job AFC North – not only did you all lose, but a pair of you lost to two of the worst teams in the league. Oakland? OAKLAND? Come on Bengals. YOu want us to take you seriously, don’t cough ten points up in the fourth quarter.
Not to take anything away from a win by a shattered Oakland team, but come on.
Don’t you laugh, Steelers. The Chiefs? For real? 17 points in the second half? At least you can give the excuse that Polamalu is out (NFL.com says they are 2-3 without him).
Still, weren’t you guys the top defense in the NFL? Weren’t they the 30th ranked offense?
It’s not the apocalpse but damn.
Plenty of great stuff on Sunday as always. Hope you got to see a bunch of it. If I missed something you really think should be talked about, email me at email@example.com – maybe we’ll do a Thanksgiving weekend column with the best of your best.