Monday, December 13, 2010

We Wanted It Less: Dolphins 10 – Jets 6

I believe the title says it all here. The Jets knew they needed to start fast and score points this week, and again they came out cold. Some may say it was the rain that was to blame for this pitiful effort, but there was a much deeper reason for the Jets’ defeat.

Mark Sanchez had his third bad game in a row on Sunday. This time, he fumbled 4 times (losing 1), threw an interception, and completed only 37% of his passes. Both Sanchez turnovers occurred in the 1st quarter in Jets territory and led to all of Miami’s 10 points. He also got very lucky on about 3 or 4 more passes that could have also been intercepted. The Jets recovered 3 fumbles from the Dolphins, 2 of them from quarterback Chad Henne. However, all 3 of Miami’s turnovers took place in Jets territory as well, and turned out to be the difference in the game.

The Jets failed to drive from wherever they started on the field. Sanchez may have been terrible, but he sure was not given any help. It was very evident that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling was horrendous. The offense has been very predictable for a while, and it was made clear on Sunday. The Jets scored 31 points in their last meeting with the Dolphins, but could barely get into Miami territory in the loss. They ran on the majority of their first downs and rarely ran to the outside. With Sanchez’s struggles, the Dolphins took the opportunity to stack the box and stop the run, and they made it look easy. The Jets managed a dismal 2.8 yards per carry and failed once again to use the Wildcat formation effectively. The Jets called for the Wildcat on a 4th and 1 in the 2nd quarter and failed to convert on the trick play. The Jets were 0/3 on 4th down conversions and only 6/21 on 3rd down conversions.

The Jets receiving core also let Sanchez down. The most obvious instance was Santonio Holmes’ wide-open drop in the end zone in the 2nd quarter. Jerricho Cotchery and LaDainian Tomlinson also had a couple drops of their own. Braylon Edwards was only targeted twice and made only 1 reception. On one play, tight end Dustin Keller paused in his route, almost causing Sanchez to throw an interception to a defender that kept running after Keller had stopped.

Believe it or not, there are some positives to take out of this game. The Jets’ defense played extremely well, only giving up points off turnovers by the offense. The Jets outgained the Dolphins 280 to 131 yards and also had the ball for about 7.5 minutes longer. Chad Henne went 5/18 for only 55 yards and was sacked 5 times. No Dolphin receiver made more than 2 receptions, including Brandon Marshall who had 10 of them for 166 yards in the week 3 matchup. Safety Brodney Pool had his best game as a Jet, recording a sack and recovering a fumble along with 4 tackles. Kicker Nick Folk, who has struggled lately, made both of his field goal attempts from 35 and 42 yards, accounting for all of the Jets’ points.

It is clear that something needs to change with the Jets if they want to avoid a late season meltdown. Head coach Rex Ryan admitted after the game that he is worried and that they even considered benching Sanchez at one point, but felt that it was not his fault. The Jets are now 9-4 and fall 2 games back of the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

Note: Player of the game goes to Dolphins’ punter, Brandon Fields. Fields averaged 56.4 yards on 10 punts with a long of 69 yards. He made a huge difference in the field position game and the Jets slumping offense never started closer than midfield, which occurred after a fumble recovery.

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