If you’ve ever been 20 years old you know the feeling. That ‘Morning After’ feeling. Your pores ooze out the Jack Daniels’ from the night before, stomach uneasy from the unhealthy amount of mixed Coca-Cola. Hair disheveled, last night’s clothes doubling as your bedtime pajamas, there’s a stain of cigarettes on your breath and remnants of a girls’ perfume stagnant on your skin — except there’s no girl there. The only thing that you wake up with is that thin band of pain shooting up from behind your eye socket meandering its way up to your forehead. A hangover so bad that there’s not enough over-the-counter drugs to subside that excruciating feeling.
Get me an egg and cheese sandwich and a yellow Gatorade stat.
After the 37-16 pounding the Jets took at home against the New England Patriots, Rex Ryan and his players must’ve had a similar feeling Monday morning. Prior to the game, the Jets had everything on their side: winners of three-straight welcoming a team on a two-game skid who hasn’t won in the Meadowlands since 2008. The offense was clicking and the defense finally seemed to hit their stride. A cliche in sports, but they controlled their own destiny to an AFC East title and were 60 minutes away from moving into the driver’s seat.
In the beginning of the season, Ryan issued a challenge to the other 30 NFL teams: “Someone else, please, beat the Patriots.” Well, some teams got that memo with the Bills, Steelers and Giants all beating New England. However, his own team must’ve missed that as the were swept by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for the first time since 2007. They have little time to dwell on their poor performance, as they turn around and travel out to Denver to meet Tim Tebow and the Broncos on Thursday Night Football.
PASSING OFFENSE: D
- While Mark Sanchez did top 300 yards for the third time this season and fifth time in his career, his two interceptions were costly. To say the Patriots secondary was in shambles Sunday night would be an understatement — yet Sanchez failed to take advantage. Mental mistakes were the microcosm issue of the night for the team, perhaps highlighted mostly by Sanchez’s costly timeout on third and goal in the second half. That gave Brady and the Patriots offense enough time to go down the field and score before the half — which they did — leading Ryan to call it the “stupidest call in the history of the NFL”. That’s his starting quarterback he just called out.
- Dustin Keller (2 receptions, 37 yards) was hardly used against a Patriots team that allowed 11 receptions, 152 yards and 1 TD combined against the Steelers and Giants tight ends the last two weeks. His poor performance was highlighted by the show second-year tight end Rob Gronkowski put on. But the glaring difference between Keller and Gronkowski was not receptions, yardage or even touchdowns — it was the targets. Keller was targeted only four times to Gronkowski’s staggering 11 targets from Brady.
- The offense’s problems can’t all be shouldered be Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Arguably the game’s best pass-blocking tackle, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, was worked by journeyman veteran Andre Carter for four sacks and a slew of other QB pressures. The Patriots had 15 sacks coming into the game, and left with a total of 20. The Patriots sent numerous four-man rushes, using little-to-no blitzes. But due to the aggressive four-man fronts, they needed Keller and Matthew Mulligan to stay back and block, leaving three receivers to find openings in seven-man coverages. That math never works out in the favor of the offense.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-
- The combination of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene averaged five yards per carry. Problem is, they only had 20 attempts between the two of them. The game wasn’t out of hand until late in the second half. Ryan has repeatedly said that he wants his offense to be a run-first team, yet in their four losses this season they’ve averaged 22 rushing attempts as a team. It’s hard to pound the ground on a minimum amount of attempts.
- With his 16-yard reception in the fourth quarter Tomlinson moved into fifth place on the NFL’s all-time scrimmage yards list, surpassing Barry Sanders. Tomlinson finished the game with two catchers for 22 yards. His 18,206 total yards is now 948 yards behind Marshall Faulk.
PASSING DEFENSE: F
- The Jets defense had no answer for Brady, who was out for blood on Sunday night. Miscommunications and defensive players huffing and puffing were the reoccurring images from the night. The defense seemed shocked by the Patriots no-huddle, hurry-up offense — something they’ve done all season long.
- The pass rush was this close to sacking Brady a couple of times, clawing at his feet in a last-second effort before Brady was able to side-step, plant and throw for a completion.
- Kyle Wilson, who has played exceptionally well in his sophomore season, reverted to his rookie campaign as he continually looked out of place and oblivious in coverage.
RUSHING DEFENSE: A
- Well, at least the rushing defense stepped up to the plate. After giving up 136 yards and two scores to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, they held him to eight yards on eight carries and leaving the entire Patriots rushing attack to 2.1 yards per attempt.
SPECIAL TEAMS: D
- After setting a team record for consecutive field goals made to start a season, Nick Folk has missed one each of the last two weeks — this last one being a chip shot that kept the Jets off the board on their first drive of the game.
- Joe McKnight, who’s been a great weapon to the offense with his athleticism in the kick return game, was forced to return punts after he replaced Jeremy Kerley. The result? A botched return that led to a field goal that put the Patriots up a touchdown.
- In the post-game press conference, Ryan looked nearly unrecognizable — appearing dejected, beaten and ragged. Hunched over with his head down as he spoke in the microphone, Ryan looked little like the jovial braggart that’s usually over-zealous and over-the-top. It’s always alarming to see the leader of your team soaking in the smell of defeat.
- There’s no excuse to the lack of execution and communication against a team that they know all too well. The only answer for the lackadaisical play? The preparation by the coaching staff.
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