The Fall of the New York JetsBy Ben Kamisar on December 19, 2010 at 12:41 am in Featured, Jets
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Three weeks ago, the Jets were one of the hottest teams in the NFL; with a seemingly much matured Mark Sanchez, stellar offensive weapons and a stalwart defense, the Jets looked poised for another deep playoff run. But unfortunately for Gang Green, the events of the past few weeks hit them like a Mack truck. First came the loss of one of their defensive leaders, Jim Leonard, in a collision during practice that left him out for the season. Next, both the Jets offense and defense were embarrassed by the Patriots in the 45-3 routing in Foxborough in what many, including us here at Fan Huddle, thought would be the game of the century. And finally, once the Jets players were already thoroughly embarrassed, strength coach Sal Alosi put the nail in the coffin and tainted the Jets’ entire organization by intentionally tripping a Miami Dolphin gunner as he ran down the sidelines.
As fast as these Jets rose to the top tier of the NFL, their fall may have been quicker. Sanchez, who made strides this season by limiting his mistakes, allowed the Patriots, one of the worst pass defenses in the league, to intimidate him into making costly errors. His three interceptions were unacceptable, as the ball oftentimes was thrown right at the defense. And in that game as well as the loss to the Dolphins last week, Sanchez could not make accurate throws, throwing behind his receivers on a crucial third down play in the first quarter against the Patriots, as well as on the last drive against the Dolphins.
But the problems do not end with Sanchez; the weapons that served him so well in the beginning of the season have all but disappeared. As I discussed earlier, the Jets rushing game has plummeted back to mediocrity since their stellar start to the season. The game against the Patriots marked the first time either Greene or Tomlinson averaged over four yards per carry since week nine. And on the somewhat rare occasions that Sanchez gets the ball to his receivers, they can’t even make the play. Most obviously, Santonio Holmes dropped a sure touchdown pass that could have transformed the outcome of the game in Miami, but he isn’t the only Jet to do so. Braylon Edwards, once renowned for both his catching and dropping prowess, returned to old form against the Patriots, letting the football bounce right out of his hands.
The one silver lining for the Jets is their defense, which remains one of the best in the league. Tom Brady did put on a passing clinic in the Monday night game, but the fact remains that he is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game. Some days, you just get beat. If the Jets defense can let that one go, they can remain one of the better units in the league.
If the turnaround is to happen, it must happen now. The Jets cannot afford to sulk their way into the playoffs and earn a wildcard despite a poor finish. But it will not be easy, as they face a tough Steelers team this Sunday. As much as I would love to see a turnaround, I do not expect one this week, not against a battle-hardened team like the Steelers who are on a four game win streak. Look for the league’s number one rush defense to clamp down on the run and force Sanchez into passing way more than the Jets would like.
Prediction: Steelers win 17-7
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