When you have a coach like Rex Ryan, you live by the sword and die by the sword.
In Sunday’s 38-34 loss to the Chicago Bears, the New York Jets died by the sword.
With a 24-17 lead to open the third quarter and facing a fourth-and-3 from their 40, the Jets ran a fake punt that backfired and changed the momentum of the game. Lined up in punt formation, with QB Mark Sanchez as the “up” back, Sanchez took the snap, rolled right and threw a pass that went right through Brad Smith’s hands. No first down. Chicago Ball.
On the next play, Jay Cutler connected with Johnny Knox for a 40-yard touchdown to tie the game.
“We worked it all week. We felt good about it … We have to execute that play” said Ryan.
For the Jets, the failed attempt not only turned the game in Chicago’s favor, but signified what fans have feared the whole season. Rex Ryan has no sense of timing. That was not the time to call that play; not with a lead, on the road, in bad weather, at your 40. For Ryan, the game seems to overwhelm him at times. Whether it’s the Jets terrible clock management, Ryan’s indecisions on 4th down, or his inability to figure out what to do with the coin toss (the Jets again won the coin toss and kicked off to Chicago to start. (Chicago would go down the field for a FG), Coach Ryan needs to figure out his gameplan and stick with it.
As it turned out, the Jets also didn’t achieve their goal of avoiding Hester, the most prolific returner in NFL history. He received a kickoff and returned it 40 yards. Steve Weatherford, pulling a Matt Dodge, also hit a punt to Hester while trying to kick it out of bounds.
“You just hold your breath and hope somebody can make an incredible tackle,” Weatherford said. “We missed a few tackles, but it never should’ve come to that. I should’ve hit the ball out of bounds.”
That turned out badly on two levels. Hester returned it 38 yards to set up his own TD catch, and he also twisted James Ihedigbo into the turf while eluding a tackle. Ihedigbo, already playing with a sore knee and ankle, left the game with a knee injury. Ryan didn’t seem to think it was serious.
The coach wasn’t thrilled with the execution of his kickers.
“That was disappointing to say the lest,” Ryan said. “I can understand you get a play or two, but we’re going in there trying to kick the ball away from that guy. We tried to do it all day and he got his hands on it.”