Week 8 of the NFL season is one that the Jets and their fans will hope to forget very quickly. The Jets failed to score a single point against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday and barely showed any life on offense the entire game. There were many things that were wrong about what happened in Sunday’s game.
The longest run from scrimmage by the Jets was a 20-yard run by Mark Sanchez, the last play of the game. The running game never got going in this game. The Jets did rush 29 times, which is not a low number, but for a team that is supposed to be about the “ground and pound,” and a team that led the league in rush attempts last season, this was not enough. The Packers have failed to contain the run this season, but looked pretty good against it in this one. LT and Shonn Greene both failed to rush for 4 yards per carry in this embarrassing defeat. Three of the 29 attempts came out of the wildcat, one of which was fumbled. One more was an end around to Jerricho Cotchery that was mishandled from the original handoff to LaDainian Tomlinson and ended up losing 8 yards. This play call did not make any sense to me and I would love to know what Brian Schottenheimer was thinking when he called it. Playing from behind and still deep in their own territory, this play definitely had more risk than reward.
Schotty’s play calling was questionable the entire game. Every opportunity was wasted with bad play calls. He called some short slants on 3rd and long, had one drive that was run, run, run, and punt, and never capitalized after big plays. Brad Smith’s 47-yard kick return to the Green Bay 48-yard line was quickly wasted on a three and out. The Jets never took advantage of the momentum after that play. The play calling quickly took the crowd out of the game and the stadium was silent even after the few first downs they got. There never seemed to be any moderate range passes. Sanchez had to make many deep passes and had plenty of short dump offs and slant plays, but there were not many passes thrown between 10 and 20 yards from scrimmage. Keller has become somewhat of a non-factor lately, after being the best receiver for the Jets for the first few weeks of the season. I am definitely not a fan of the plays that Schottenheimer has been calling this season and something needs to change if this offense wants to get going again.
Another problem I have noticed is the Jets trying to force Santonio Holmes into the game plan more. His production has been almost non-existent in his first three games with the team. He dropped some passes in Sunday’s game, one of which most likely would have ended up going all the way to the endzone. His biggest play so far was drawing the defensive pass interference late in the game against the Broncos that led to the game-winning touchdown. I feel that Santonio’s presence has hurt the Jet offense in his first few weeks with the team. Sanchez and Braylon Edwards were playing great together before Santonio’s arrival, but Braylon is slowly losing chances with Santonio in the game. Edwards was targeted 4 times in Sunday’s game, only one of them catchable, and barely at that. He made a shoestring catch on an underthrown ball, which, if thrown well, could have taken the Jets another 15+ yards farther down the field than the 32 yards he gained on the play. Edwards was also left wide open downfield on one play with no cornerback covering him or safety help in the area, and Sanchez did not even look his way. Dustin Keller is also losing some looks with Holmes on the field as well.
If any player has benefitted from Santonio Holmes’ presence in the Jets’ offense, it is Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery has been thrown to 30 times in the three games that Holmes has played in this season, 9 more times than the four games played without Holmes. Cotchery is finding single coverage out of the slot, being covered by either nickel backs or linebackers, but he is not taking advantage of these opportunities. One of the most sure-handed receivers the Jets have had the last few years, Cotchery has had a number of dropped passes this season, including some crucial ones in Sunday’s game. He is going to have to get himself together if this offense wants to be productive again this season.
Mark Sanchez looked like a rookie in this game. Sanchez has a dismal 43.3 quarterback rating in this game, although that number would be higher had he not thrown two questionable “interceptions”. He did not get much help with plenty of drops from his receivers, but he also made plenty of ugly throws. He overthrew open targets and had some passes knocked down at the line. The only ball he completed to Braylon Edwards barely made it to the wide-open receiver. I never expected Sanchez to be perfect this season, but a lot of games are going to be lost when he can’t complete passes and lead drives down the field.
One thing that I cannot ignore is the two “interceptions” that Sanchez threw. I would love to ask what the referees thought after they saw the replays of those plays after the game. By rule, when a receiver and defender both have possession of the ball and they go to the ground, the offense gets the ball. This rule was interpreted differently by Sunday’s referees, which caused one drive to end without the opportunity to punt, and another to stall after the Jets had gained 48 yards on the drive. Did these calls eventually cost the Jets the game? With how the offense played overall, I cannot say yes, but we cannot be sure what would have happened had both of those drives been able to continue.
The one bright spot for this Jets team in Sunday’s game was the defense. The pass rush was less than spectacular, but they did manage to sack Aaron Rodgers twice in this one. Rodgers, who has been one of the higher rated quarterbacks in the NFL the past two seasons, posted a 59.7 quarterback rating against Jets, and was only able to complete 15/34 passes. The rush and pass defense were both superb and limited the number of big plays in this game. With the offense not gaining much field position all game, having 3 turnovers and numerous failed drives, the defense was left in many tight spots, and they stepped up big time. Though they did not force any turnovers, the defense managed to hold the Packers, no strangers to putting up lots of points, to 4 field goals, 3 of which were good. The first field goal came after a failed fake punt by Steve Weatherford, 2 attempts came after Sanchez interceptions, and the final one iced the game after the turned the ball over on downs in the final minutes of the game. Darrelle Revis and Calvin Pace both appeared to be 100% in this game, which is something positive going into the second half of the season.
The Jets’ defense can keep us in any game no matter who the opponent. The offense is the question mark every week. Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling needs to improve for the offense to get back to what it has been for most of the season. He had admitted after the Broncos game that his play calling had been predictable for much of the season, and the story was the same on Sunday. It seems that we have a two-faced quarterback, and we can never be sure which Mark Sanchez we will see each Sunday afternoon. I expect Santonio Holmes’ presence to have a much more productive impact as we get deeper into the season and feel that the current situation is only temporary. The ground game was a dud on Sunday, but with the backs and offensive line this team has, games like this will be a rarity.
I will give it to the Packers for playing a better game than the Jets, but neither team has much to be proud of from this one. I do not believe this is the end of the world for the Jets, who still carry a strong 5-2 record. I am very disappointed in the players and coaches for failing to put together and execute a good game plan after having two weeks to plan for this one. Next week, the Jets go to Detroit to play a Lions team that has shown plenty of life on offense this season. They have a defense that can be rushed against quite easily, and I would expect to see a big increase in the number of carries from Sunday’s game to next week’s. I have always believed that good teams can lose to other good teams in any given week, but the best teams win the games that they are supposed to win. There are still 9 games left this season, and I still expect big things from this Jets team.