To sum up last night’s Monday Night opener against the Baltimore Ravens in a single word: disappointing. And that might be generous.
After an off-season of ranting and raving that the New York Jets were going to run rampant on the rest of the league, the Ravens put the yapping to rest with a 10-9 victory in Week 1.
The Jets looked, yet again, awful on the offensive side of the ball, failing to convert any third-downs or redzone attempts. The defense was impressive with the level of physicality in their play, but were lacking mentally being penalized seven times while allowing the Raven offense to have their way on third downs (11/19 on 3rd conv.)
Head coach Rex Ryan has welcomed, if not invited, the spotlight to his team this season, confident that he and his team will shine rather than sweat in that bright spotlight. If last night is any indication to how the season will unfold, it looks as if the Jets’ star has already burned its brightest.
Let’s start the JetsInsider.com’s analysis with the quarterback, Mark Sanchez. He was 10-of-21 for 74 yards, which is good for a rather pedestrian QB rating of 56.4. With All-Pro S Ed Reed out and injuries to the Ravens starting corners, it seemed only logical that Sanchez would try spreading the field, perhaps taking a shot or two at Braylon Edwards. But, as we saw all pre-season, he settles for the safe underneath passes for little to no yardage. The offense couldn’t even convert a single third down until the end of the game. To his credit although, he did not turn the ball over, and had a veteran-like run and slide for a first down. The offense continued it’s troubles in the redzone by squandering two early attempts, instead settling for field goals. (You heard it first, PK Nick Folk is going to be a fantasy stud with all the opportunities he will see.)
But to place the blame entirely on the shoulder of Sanchez would be irresponsible. The offensive line, last year regarded as one of the NFL’s best, looked very suspect against a staunch Raven’s front seven. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the new $60 million man, was called for offensive holding late in the third quarter. That may not seem like a big deal to single out one penalty in the game, but when he has been penalized at least one time in every game he’s played in 2010, it kind of opens your eyes. A lot has been made of the hole LG Alan Faneca, who played next to Ferguson, left when he was cut by the Jets in the off-season, but it could become an even bigger hole if Ferguson’s play starts to suffer because teams stack up defenders to Sanchez’s backside. Faneca’s replacement, first-year starter Matt Slauson (6-5, 315 lbs.), looked like a rag doll being tossed aside when Haloti Ngata casually brushed him aside and devoured Sanchez, who walked off the field gingerly after the hellish hit.
The ground game gained a total of 47 yards. From a team that prides themselves as a running team, this just isn’t gong to cut it. Shonn Greene didn’t seem to have his head in the game, fumbling twice (losing one) and dropping a few easy swing passes. LaDanian Tomlinson looked very sharp, with big gains of 17 and 20 yards, providing the lone offensive fireworks on a night that featured great pyrotechnics and a lightning storm.
Like I said before, the defense definitely lived up to their level of physicality, but mentally–much like the entire team–they were lacking. They rallied after the early, season-ending loss to All-Pro DT Kris Jenkins. But even that wasn’t enough to stop the mental deficiencies by the Jets defense. QB Joe Flacco went back and forth picking on Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Cromartie, who I have said before has big play potential but too often gets caught out of position and has to make up for it, did exactly that. He picked off a Flacco pass in the endzone for a 66-yard return, but was called for four penalites–the definition of inconsistent.
It is to be expected that teams are going to pick on the rookie Wilson until he proves he can hang with the big boys. While he was called for a few penalties, Wilson also had some great coverage and the receiver just made a great play on the ball. Before long, Wilson will be a strong asset for this team.
The Ravens stayed away from Darrelle Revis for the most part, but veteran WR Derrick Mason did draw a defensive holding call on the All-Pro corner, who grabbed the jersey of Mason in an effort to stay with him. However it appears that teams are still fearful of Revis, no matter how long he was out for.
With all the hype that surrounded this team leading up to last night’s stinker, the game is considered to be a huge disappointment. When expectations that are so high are not met, there is a long fall that follows. Many people may point to the superiority of the Baltimore Ravens, who are a sexy Super Bowl pick, as why the Jets struggled. However, the road isn’t going to be any smoother with games against the Patriots, Dolphins and Vikings in the next three weeks.
All three teams will be gunning to shut the mouths of the Jets, as will the rest of the teams they will face this year. The Jets want to be a Super Bowl champion? They want the spotlight to be on them? Well this season they are going to get a taste of being a defending Super Bowl champion, in the sense that every team is going to give them their best shot and put Ryan and his team back in their place.
Having said that, it’s only Week 1. There are 15 more games to be played and it starts next week against the rivaled New England Patriots. The Jets need to get a good offensive rhythm early against a Patriots team that has a weakened pass rush and a young defense, something that hasn’t been seen in New England in sometime. Between the special teams and defense the offense can be blessed with great field position and they need to do more than allow Folk to take chip-shot field goals every time. That falls on Sanchez to start making better decisions, not necessarily the safer decision.
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