On Sunday the New York Jets lost to the Chicago Bears 38-34, in what has to be considered one of their worst defensive performances of the season. Here are some of my observations from the game.
Sanchez solid- Quarterback Mark Sanchez entered the game with a sore shoulder and not many knew what to expect from the young quarterback. Well Sanchez came out with his guns blazing and played an excellent game against a physical defense in brisk conditions. Mark made several big throws and kept his team in the game until the final drive in the fourth quarter. This kid continues to develop and mature as a quarterback and his performance the last two weeks should quiet some of the doubters. Sanchez faced two top defenses on the road, in December, and held his own against both of them.
Schotty shines- Another solid game plan from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer as the Jets offense was very effective keeping the the Bears defense off balance . Schotty got Sanchez going early with some easy throws and then continued to attack the Chicago defense the remainder of the game tallying 393 total yards. The Jets also got tight end Dustin Keller back into the game plan which produced excellent results as DK had 7 catches for 79 yards.
Offensive line consistent- For the second week in a row the Jets offensive line held their own against a stout defense. Gang Green’s line did not yield a sack and led the way for 124 rushing yards. The Jets line also gave Sanchez a fairly clean pocket which allowed the passing game to get in sync.
Up and down day for pass catchers- It was an up and down down day for the the Jets receivers as they made several big plays in the passing game, but also made some mistakes that cost Gang Green points. Braylon Edwards (6 catches/78 yards) was once again very consistent, while Santonio Holmes had a terrible fumble, and Dustin Keller and Brad Smith had huge drops.
Tackling anyone? This had to be one of the Jets worst performances in terms of tackling. The second half of the game was a complete nightmare as there were several broken and missed tackles that ended up in scoring plays for the Bears. For a team that considers themselves to be a top tiered defense, a performance like this is unacceptable.
3rd quarter meltdown- The Jets defense held their own in the first half to only come out in the third quarter and completely embarrass themselves. Gang Green gave up 21 points in the third quarter, which included 117 passing yards. The pass defense was horrific and the Jets had only 10 men on the field for one of the touchdowns. There were several blown assignments and many questionable play calls including Jason Taylor dropping back into coverage. To say the Jets need to fix some things defensively is an understatement as the Bears offense is nothing compared to the likes of the Chiefs or Patriots.
Why kick to Hester? The Jets started out the game avoiding All-Pro returner Devin Hester at all costs, to only kick to him in the second half. One question: Why? Hester returned it twice, one for 38 yards and the other for 40. I am sure mistakes happen, but the Jets clearly paid the price for them both times.
This was not one of Rex Ryan’s better games as his defense completely disappeared and he once again made some questionable game management decisions. To go for a fake punt on the first drive in the third quarter is a high risk, high reward type of decision. To only have 10 men on the field for defense is a problem. Gang Green must find a way to clean up their mistakes on defense as the same old story of “communication issues” is no longer cutting it. There is one game left in the season and there is no excuse for having defensive ends dropping back to cover running backs or tight ends. If the defense has become too complicated, streamline the scheme and get back to basics. That approach has seemed to work on the offensive side of the ball.
Jets clinch spot in the playoffs- While there is plenty of disappointment with the Jets performance against the Bears, there is a bright spot as Gang Green earned a spot in the playoffs as the Jaguars lost to the Redskins. Notice the word EARNED. Many are quick to report that the Jets backed into the playoffs, but the fact of the matter is that Gang Green has already won 10 games, which is more than that of an eliminated team like the San Diego Chargers. Would it be nice to win your way into the playoffs? Sure, but it is not like the Jets leaned on a ton of tiebreakers to secure their spot. It came down to winning games and the Jets did just that throughout the season.
Looking forward- The New York Jets will be one of 6 teams to make the playoffs in the AFC Conference, which is all you could ask for as the season began. Sure it would have been nice to win the division and get a first round bye, but once you are in the tournament anything can happen. As of now it appears that the Jets will be headed to Kansas City for their first round game, but things could changed based on game results next weekend.