This wasn't just another must win game with a playoff berth on the line, but another must win game against the cross-town rivals, the New York Giants, whose season also depended on the outcome of this contest. All the hype, pressure, trashtalking, big expectations in what was probably the biggest, most anticipated game of the season - they lost it, just like many Jets teams before them. These were the Same Old Jets all over again. The Same Old Jets that comfortably led two AFC Championship Games, among many other must-wins, only to find another way to lose.
They did it again today. After taking a 7-0 lead on the first possession, they inexplicably began struggling against the Giants team that was really nothing special. The G-men were struggling just as much, yet these Jets allowed them to hang in there and make just enough big plays to win this game. The Jets were playing better on both offense and defense, but failed to capitalize when they had their chances early in the game. The Giants took the Gang Green's best shots, hung in there and pulled out a much needed win.
It's easy to blame QB Mark Sanchez, who had another horrendous game, completing 30 of 59(!!!) passes for 258 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT. But why in the world did he have to throw the ball 59 times when the Jets were never far behind and their running game was working fairly well? We always hear about the ground and pound, but once again we saw none of it today. We always hear about the Giants' front four and their ability to put the pressure on the quarterback. So, why wouldn't you take that pressure off your young quarterback and run more often instead? Shouldn't the point of any offensive gameplan be exploring your opponent's weaknesses rather than playing into their strengths? Apparently Brian Schottenheimer, who according to Sanchez "called a great game", had other ideas.
It would be foolish to blame just Schottenheimer though, as he's not the one who has the ultimate authority over this team. Rex Ryan isn't blind, he saw what was going on but didn't seem to make any adjustments either. Once again he talked the talk but failed to walk the walk. Once again he was outsmarted and outcoached, failing to make any adjustments. "Time to shut up, fat boy!", Giants RB Brandon Jacobs yelled to Ryan after the game and he was right. Ryan's brash trashtalking style used to be a novelty and worked well in the first two seasons but now his act is wearing thin, as his words are not being backed up on the field.
Ryan's defense just isn't the same anymore, giving up big plays like the 99-yard TD pass to Cruz today, not able to pressure the quarterback, and missing plenty of tackles on a weekly basis. CB Darrelle Revis and MLB David Harris seem to be the only steady performers in this unit, but two consistent players don't make a dominating defense, even if one of them is probably the best defender in the game.
Mark Sanchez, who was backed up by the dominating running game and Ryan's defense in his first two seasons, now has to actually win games for the Jets with his arm, and well... he can't do it consistently. His stats look better than in the first two seasons, but he's still only a 50-55% passer whose offensive coordinator doesn't trust him to throw deep. Did the Jets make a mistake drafting Sanchez? They probably did, as Sanchez is not even close to being the quarterback that Detroit's Matthew Stafford is (Stafford was selected in the same year as Sanchez). We won't know for sure though until Sanchez is given a different offensive coordinator, as Sanchez + Schottenheimer just doesn't work...
But for now the Jets are down to 8-7 with a slim chance to still make the playoffs next week. These are the Same Old Jets, believe it or now. These are the Same Old Jets, who always carry high expectations only to fall short in the most embarrassing fashion. These are the Same Old Jets who have always made us believe only to fail again...