The Zionist Conspiracy
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Same Old Jets
1. Longtime Jets fans had a bad feeling about today's game. Historically, whenever the Jets go on a nice run and get their fans' hopes up, they make sure to lose to a bad team. I hoped today would be different. Of course it wasn't.
2. Let's get one thing out of the way upfront: The refs killed the Jets today. Contrary to the moronic ramblings of CBS' Solomon Wilcots, the pass to Chris Baker in the end zone was the epitome of a forceout and should have been a touchdown.
Wilcots kept saying that there was no conclusive evidence that Baker would have landed in bounds. But the rule is that unless there is no way that Baker could have stayed in bounds, the play is to be ruled a completion. The referees ruled that Baker could not have landed in bounds. They were absolutely wrong. Even if Baker's momentum was taking him toward the sidelines, it's certainly possible that he could have kept both feet in bounds, and the play therefore should have been ruled a touchdown.
The refs also hurt the Jets in the 3rd quarter, when the Browns appeared to muff a punt. While the replay did not show the muff (see more about that below), the Browns punt returner chased after the ball, a clear indication that he touched it.
3. That the refs ripped the Jets off does not excuse the team's terrible performance today, for which there is plenty of blame to go around. Most culpable was the coaching staff.
Let's start with the offensive playcalling. On their opening drive, the Jets drove from their own 9 to the Browns 15 yard line, with Chad Pennington throwing for three first downs and running for a fourth. It looked like the Jets could be off to a quick start. But the Jets then ran three straight plays, taking the ball out of Pennington's hands. On 3rd down, the run was a 1 yard loss by Brad Smith on a QB draw, who had replaced Pennington at QB.
In the 2nd quarter, after an interception, the Jets took the ball at the Cleveland 42. Again, they ran three straight plays, again, on 3rd down and short, in came Smith behind center, and again the Jets lost yardage.
With Smith at QB, the Jets lined up three receivers, but the Browns were not at all fooled. They stuffed the box. Everyone knows that the Jets will not let Smith throw the ball. The result was two stalled drives in the first half.
The Jets also failed to throw downfield slants, despite the fact that Cleveland's secondary, mediocre to begin with, was banged up, and that the Jets receivers have been proficient in turning those plays into big gainers. Most of the Jets passes were short dumpoffs, and they also went for a number of big plays that all failed.
Then, down by 10, early in the 4th quarter, on 3rd and 12 from the Browns 25, the Jets tried a draw play, presumably to set up a shorter field goal attempt. The play lost 5 yards, and the call was terrible. Did the Jets think they could come back from a 17 point deficit by setting up field goals?
Late in the game, the Jets' pass protection was awful. The offensive line could not prevent constant pressure and hits on Pennington, and the Jets repeatedly could neither pick up blitzes, nor call plays to exploit and beat the blitz. Instead, late in the 4th quarter, Pennington inexplicably continued to take seven step drops.
4. In sharp contrast to the Browns, on defense, the Jets again refused to blitz until it was too late. In their first three games, the Jets came up with big plays off blitzes, particularly from free safety by Kerry Rhodes. But starting in week 4, things changed. They refused to blitz Peyton Manning, they refused to blitz Jon Kitna, and today they refused to blitz Charlie Frye. Frye had as much time as he wanted on almost every pass play, since the Jets defensive line can only very rarely create any pressure. The refusal to blitz was again self defeating, as Frye was allowed to drive down the field again and again, and repeatedly convert third down passes, including the touchdown pass to Kellen Winslow.
The Jets finally blitzed late in the 3rd quarter, and for the first time all game, kept the Browns in their own territory when they sacked Frye twice.
5. The Browns came into the game with the NFL's second worst rushing performance. Fortunately for them, Jim Brown came out of retirement at just the right time.
Actually, though Reuben Droughns had been having a terrible season for the Browns, playing the Jets is the cure for whatever ails NFL running backs. Roseanne Barr could run for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Jets.
6. In the 3rd quarter, the Jets lost a timeout when they challenged the ruling that Cleveland did not muff a punt. The Jets had a long commercial break to decide whether to challenge. While the Browns probably did touch the ball, no replay supported the Jets, who therefore had little chance to gain a reversal, and Eric Mangini's challenge was a poor decision. If the Jets had that timeout, perhaps they could have run the ball once or twice during their final drive, or at least made Cleveland think twice before blitzing on every play.
7. Justin McCareins is absolutely gutless. Under a blitz on 3rd and long and about to be hit, Chad Pennington made a bad decision throwing a pass that floated toward an open McCareins. But McCareins just stood there watching, then slipping on his own weight, never making any effort for the ball, instead allowing the Browns to make an easy interception.
8. Some will say that today's game simply proves that the Jets are not a good team. They aren't, but nor are the now 2-5 Browns. The Jets and Browns are fairly close in terms of talent. While the Browns had the home field advantage, the Jets had the momentum of a 4-3 start against a 1-5 start, and the Browns had injuries on offensive line and defensive back.
The bottom line is that the Jets were outcoached, outplayed and outwilled today. While the Jets 4-4 record in the first half of their season is better than most expected, they took a step backward today, looking much more like the awful team Herm Edwards mismanaged last season. With games against the Patriots and Bears following next week's bye, hopes that the Jets could emerge as the AFC's surprise team have been dashed. A 4-4 second half and an 8-8 season are more realistic goals, but even to achieve that will require a much better effort.