An in-depth look after first six games of season for Jets
By Steven Blush
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety D.J. Swearinger (left) intercepts a pass intended for New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) in the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Jets 28-3. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The entire nation got to witness much of what diehard fans of the New York Jets have experienced all season — and for too many decades.
The New York Jets went into Phoenix dead last in the AFC East, to face a fired-up Arizona Cardinals team, well-rested with a returning Carson Palmer after a big win. It was a tough game in a tough environment against a highly ranked team, with a lot on the line.
Related Story: Failures of the Jets never seem to end
The major concern for Arizona at game-time was their loss of All-Pro guards Mike Iupati and Evan Mathis. That, in theory, played into the Jets alleged strong point on the defensive line.
The game’s 28-3 final loss was not as close as indicated. Jets Post Game Live commentator Chad Cascadden, who knows a thing or two about lost Jets seasons, accurately described the game as a “top-down organizational underperformance.” There was optimism coming into 2016, but at 1-5, Gang Green look like one of the worst teams in the NFL.
Head coach Todd Bowles‘ blank stare/glare — unsure whether to rage or cry — evoked images of the bad ol’ days of Bruce Coslet or Richie Kotite. Sure it was nice to watch Bowles finally go all-out with his trademark jailbreak blitzes. But in general, this is the first time Jets fans have had no hope since the Kotite error. Let’s hope that his 2015 duet with Gladys Knight wasn’t the last time that Jets fans ever see a smile on his face.
In previous weeks we’ve discussed the malaise of certain overpaid, under-motivated players unafraid to lose their job. This is an aging team at every key position and old teams that lose hope tend to give up. The only answer for the lack of infield energy comes back to coaching, and this team plays less disciplined than even reckless Rex Ryan.
In tribute to New York Rock bad boys KISS’ return to the area Oct. 29 at Mohegan Sun, here are five songs from Gene and Paul and the boys that reflect the current NYJ state of mind.
Next: 5. Shout It Out Loud
Oct 17, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) reacts after being benched in the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Jets 28-3. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
5. Shout It Out Loud
The biggest concern over this 1-5 start in the short-term is the quarterback — Ryan Fitzpatrick has been terrible, and they have had little faith in Geno Smith.
The bearded one outta Harvard still makes rookie mistakes. The Cards forced Fitz into a box and he could not deliver at all. He telegraphed his passes and missed way too many wide open passes. How many times can we watch him throw too low to Quincy Enunwa or too high to Brandon Marshall?
Regardless of his elite-quarterback salary, there is no reason to stick with Fitz — two touchdowns and ten interceptions in the last four games deserve a seat on the bench. He has done a complete 180 from last year — and proven himself a career backup, overseeing the least effective red zone offense in the NFL.
After the game, Bowles left the door open to replace Fitzpatrick — there was certainly little reason to keep him in starting role. By Wednesday, the team named Geno as starter — though don’t expect a full-time return to John Idzik’s second-round pick of 2013.
You gotta hand it to Geno, coming out on the field pissed off after another Fitztragic fiasco. Sure, his field sense can be alarming, but Smith offers a different energy, possesses a pocket presence, and can aid the running game.
At this rate, expect to see Bryce Petty under center by December.
Next: 4. Got To Choose
4. Got To Choose
What offensive weapons do the Jets have? The running game is mediocre at best. The tight ends can’t block or catch. And Eric Decker, undergoing consecutive hip and shoulder surgeries, may have very well played his final games in Green and White
Without Decker, there is simply not enough firepower in the Gang Green passing arsenal to break even the most vanilla man-to-man coverage. Fitzpatrick has displayed no chemistry with his rookie receivers, though at this point seventh-rounder Charone Peake and undrafted free agent Jalin Marshall have proven more productive than fellow UDFA Robby Anderson.
Short passes from Ryan to Bilal Powell were offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s offensive forté; not Matt Forte, who seems to run slower and less decisive by the week.
Gang Green knew that they had to rush the football against the Cardinals’ defense, especially with no Decker. But they just don’t run the ball enough. In the second quarter, there was that 3rd and 1 where they went five-wide and misfired, and then B-Marsh committed a penalty! As WFAN’s Joe Benigno would say, you can’t make these things up!
If the quarterback is the Jets short-term concern, the long-term problem is the offensive play of the offensive line. The injury-ravaged O-line had its worst game of the season against Arizona, unable to open holes for the running attack or adequately protect the passing game. But while the protection broke down all around him, Fitz exacerbated the situation with his incapability of completing even the most rudimentary pass patterns.
Other than Nick Mangold, four of those five spots need to be replaced. The organization was most worried about free agent tackle Ryan Clady making it through the season without another needing another knee surgery, but his problem is his diminishing field play. The least of guard Brian Winters issues is his recent concussion. Ben Ijalana, Brent Qvale, and Wesley Johnson have proven to be marginal fill-ins. If highly drafted Idzik-era lineman Dakota Dozier was even on their level, he’d see more than limited special teams action. And we’re not even mentioning Breno Giacomini’s season-long, career-threatening back strains.
Things will get worse before they get better.
Next: 3. Rip It Out
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles on the sideline during the first quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
3. Rip It Out
Questions abound with the Jets supposed strong suit on defense.
Gang Green had to step out strong and silence the Arizona faithful. That is something that they did not do early on, with an almost unforgivable 58-yard David Johnson rushing burst through missed tackles and blown assignments, that set this game off in a hole early on.
It was disheartening to watch the Cardinals patchwork line with two backup guards smoke the Jets disastrous D-line all night long with zero sacks allowed — as the rising rushing star Johnson easily ran for three touchdowns in the first 25 minutes of play. In fact, DJ completely dominated the Jets defense in all aspects of the game — power, finesse, and brute blocking.
It’s disconcerting to watch the coaches continue to force a 3-4 front without the personnel to play one. The Jets’ roster features four defensive tackles and no NFL quality defensive ends or edge-rushing linebackers. Leonard Williams is the only lineman holding his own; when he got penetration against the Cardinals, Carson Palmer was a non-factor. But they need to start distributing “Missing” posters to locate the $86-million man Muhammad Wilkerson.
Projected starting OLB Lorenzo Mauldin has been such a major disappointment, he can barely see the field. Fans get sick watching Sheldon Richardson run sideline to sideline or try to stop tight ends over the middle. But which player would you rather have out on the field in key situations?
Gang Green looked lost without David Harris, the unquestioned quarterback of the defense, who sat with a bad hamstring after playing 121 consecutive games since 2008. Yet another reason for the “D” to go to a 4-3 front is so the aging “Mike” backer can come off the field in 3rd down situations. First-round pick Darron Lee shined in his absence, and then got hurt and never returned. Lee has star potential.
A few thoughts on the disappointing secondary. Does Darrelle Revis even wanna play football anymore? One of the all-time great tacklers shows no interest in tackling, especially on that opening Johnson touchdown trot. Watching Cardinals star Patrick Peterson lock down Brandon Marshall was a sobering reminder of what Revis could once do.
Buster Skrine is not a starting-caliber cornerback, and needs to go back to playing the nickel; his four coverage penalties in Arizona were unforgivable. Recent import Darryl Roberts, with his size and speed, is already better than the washout he replaced in a “27” jersey, Dee Milliner — and may be as good as the competent Marcus Williams. He’s the type of player they can throw in there, and play in dime packages with Revis. Juston Burris and Rontez Miles, who are seeing increased snap counts, seem the Jets’ best special teams demons.
Next: 2. Shock Me
Aug 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive back Buster Skrine (41) looks on before the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
2. Shock Me
In terms of Sunday’s game, these are not the mighty Ray Lewis-era Baltimore Ravens of recent history. Even so, if not for that electrifying 66-yard touchdown catch and run by Odell Beckham Jr. with 90 seconds to go, the Giants would’ve lost to Joe Flacco and company.
The Jets won’t be as lucky as the Giants were last week at MetLife, where the Ravens played without a combined 20 Pro Bowls in five top starters — WR Steve Smith, LBs C.J. Mosley and Elvis Dumervil, and O-linemen Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley — and top return man Devin Hester. The Jets front four likely won’t be lucky enough to tee off on Mike Tannenbaum-era Gang Green washout Vladamir Ducasse.
Baltimore has been beset with a plethora of injuries — with a staggering 14 players on IR, including 4 cornerbacks — and since early September’s 53-man cutdowns, they have gone from one of the league’s oldest rosters to one of the youngest, with 15 rookies seeing action.
Gang Green’s bad ol’ days will also be represented by Baltimore’s recent elevation of 2013 Jets’ offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, hired to breath new life into a moribund Raven’s air attack. Going into the Giants game, Joe Flacco was the league’s lowest-ranked QB with just 5.9 yards per completion. For what it’s worth, Fitzpatrick wasn’t much better at 6.6 per. Mornhinweg also showed a propensity to occasionally and effectively throw long, so Bowles better beware!
Say what you will about a geriatric Steve Smith, but he had 27 catches in his first four games. Well-documented head-case Mike Wallace has as many receptions as DeAndre Hopkins and DeSean Jackson. Injury-ravaged 2015 first-rounder Breshad Perriman had the biggest game of his career last year, so the erratic Gang Green secondary needs to pay attention. And don’t forget how the Jets can never handle a TE over the middle, so expect Dennis Pitta, and possibly Crockett Gillmore, to erupt with a monster game.
At press time, Flacco has an injured shoulder and looks iffy at best. Who would you bet on in the battle between Geno Smith and Ryan Mallet?
Next: 1. Tomorrow
Sep 11, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Fans cheer before a game between the New York Jets and the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
There’s nothing to suggest that the Jets will take care of business Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford. They understand that the worst of their season is likely over, and they’ve had enough time to look themselves in the mirror. But what does that all really mean?
The Ravens are another franchise in transition, and they are angry over how things went down last week against the G-Men. They are a class organization led by general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh. They have a loyal fanbase driving up the Turnpike to represent in purple, black and metallic gold. So the Jets face another serious test in Week 7.
Gang Green’s problems are so much more deep and profound than their tough first six games of the schedule. The Ravens are no joke, and Bowles’ bunch can’t even be seen as a lock the next week against the winless Browns. Adversity can bring people together or it can tear them apart. We will all see by the end of this season, what these men are truly made of.
The press box tension seen on TV between Jets owner Woody Johnson and general manager Mike Maccagnan did not look good at all. Woody is said to be very unhappy with his 1-5 franchise, so both the general manager and head coach of the Jets are officially under scrutiny.
One can attribute to coaching the continued mental mistakes — namely penalties (on Monday night, eight before halftime!) and missed tackles. It is not incorrect to point to leadership, as this is largely the same players as last season. But the general manager must answer for the continued lack of team speed on both sides of the ball, and a few too many whiffs on drafts and free agency.
Must Read: Top 5 reasons why season will be a failure for Jets
Stronger, faster, greener? For Jets fans, the song remains the same.