What a difference a couple of weeks can make in the National Football League. Two weeks ago the New York Jets were considered by many to be one of the best teams in the NFL. Now after back to back disappointing losses to the Patriots and Dolphins panic buttons are being pressed throughout Jets nation. So where did it all go wrong?
Lack of identity- Last year when a team played the New York Jets they knew it was going to be a tough, physical game. Rex Ryan preached “ground and pound” and the team did just that. This year the team truly lacks an identity on both sides of the ball. On offense it seems that at times Gang Green becomes enamored with the passing game, which has taken away from the run first philosophy. Defensively the Jets have struggled, especially against the pass, which does not bode well for a team with aggressive play calling. If the Jets are going to right the ship, they need to get back to basics: smash mouth football supported by a physical defense.
Offensive problems- It is no secret that the Jets offense has struggled of late and to most the problems are pretty obvious.
1) Offensive line play- If the Jets are going to implement their “ground and pound” ways, the offensive line must dominate the battles at the line of scrimmage. In addition the line must do a better job of protecting the quarterback. Lost in all of the criticism of Mark Sanchez is the fact that the young quarterback is often found running around the pocket trying to make a play. The offensive line must clean up their mistakes and get back to their physical ways. Of course the injury to Damien Woody will make this a difficult task.
2) Offensive play calling- Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is once again taking some heat for his play calling and rightfully so. The game plans have become predictable, and there are many times that it seems like Schotty has lost a feel for the game. A perfect example is the repeated use of the wildcat formation that continues to be ineffective. To keep putting a young quarterback in 2nd and 3rd and long situations is just a bad idea, as the results have dictated. Enough with the gimmicks and fancy packages, streamline the offense and get back to what made you successful last year. Run the ball with authority, which will open up the passing game.
3) Performance of the receivers- Lost in the hysteria of Santonio Holmes late game heroics is the fact that the Jets receivers have had a very inconsistent season in terms of catching the ball. Dropped passes are drive killers and Gang Green’s receivers must do a better job holding on to the ball.
4) Quarterback struggles- It was only a matter of time before Mark Sanchez cooled down a bit as you could not expect his turnover free performances to continue. At the same time the young signal caller is starting to get back to his erratic ways which includes poor footwork and bad decisions. Sanchez must clean up his game and limit his turnovers going forward. Of course improved pass protection and a reduction in dropped passes would go a long way in helping Mark out.
Defensive problems- The Jets seem to have lost some of their mystique on defense as teams are going right after them. The pass rush has struggled and the secondary continues to give up big plays in the passing game. Gang Green must find a way to generate some type of pass rush without giving up huge plays. Personally I would like to see Jason Taylor get more snaps as it appears he is always around the ball when something positive happens.
Coaching issues- Rex Ryan loves to capture headlines, but now he is getting them for all of the wrong reasons. The Jets coaching staff has had some issues of late and they are as follows:
1) Team preparation- For whatever reason the New York Jets continue to start out slowly in games. The team as a whole comes out flat and it usually takes up to halftime until adjustments are made. Rex Ryan and his staff must do a better job of getting the team ready to play as they cannot continue to start out slowly if they want to be successful.
2) Game management- Over the last couple of weeks the Jets have made several time management blunders that had several people looking for Herman Edwards and Dick Curl on the sidelines. Whether it was blown timeouts, wasted challenges, or incorrect decisions on penalties, the coaching staff has made their fair share of mistakes. Some of these mistakes could come from inexperience but it does not take much to realize that Nick Folk is not going to make a 58 yard field goal in New England.
Can the Jets take back off? It is not pretty in the land of Gang Green as many are already starting to predict a late season collapse. The Jets are 9-4 and still have a very good chance to make the playoffs if they can clean up some of their mistakes. This is a talent laden team that has the potential to be a serious threat in the AFC. Of course it will not be easy as Gang Green has two very difficult road games ahead, where they could be blown out if they do not play well. I think Rex Ryan needs to start holding everyone accountable and get his team back to the basics of “ground and pound.” The Jets need to start talking with their power on the field, not with their words in the newspapers. It will not be easy, but it is possible.
All is not lost just yet Jets fans.