A Big Win and Big Month Ahead for the Jets
Article by Double G Sports Contributing Writer, Kevin Connor.
By: Kevin Connor
The Jets came out of Sunday night with a significant, albeit ugly win. I have been trying to exact its significance (other than the obvious advantage of beating a divisional contender on the road) since the game ended, and I’m still not sure what to make of it all.
On one hand, the Jets showed a lot of guts and a lot of resilience to earn that win. A quick touchdown by Braylon Edwards to immediately regain the lead after the Jets had lost it, a great red-zone stand to win the game, and a well-executed offensive game plan suggest that the Jets have those intangible qualities that separate the contenders from the pretenders, but there were also some glaring areas of concern, not least of all that the defense almost rolled over and died in the final two minutes but for Brodney Poole’s game-saving tackle.
I think what it means is that, after three weeks of football, we know little more about the Jets than we knew before the season: they are loaded with talent, promise, and swagger…and they haven’t shown they have what it takes to win the big one. Not yet anyway.
Mark Sanchez has demonstratively shown that he is capable of leading the offense, but all the other concerns loomed large on Sunday night. The front seven, which had been blitzing mercilessly for four quarters (and on the field for most of the game), was clearly exhausted and just couldn’t keep pace with the Dolphins’ receivers downfield in the final drive.
Thankfully, the Fins’ last stand was from the 11-yard line, eliminating the need to cover downfield routes, but the secondary’s inability to cover for a constantly over-exerted defense could be a major problem against the serious championship contenders, all of whom are pass-first teams with QBs like Manning, Brees, and Rodgers. Certainly, Darrelle Revis’ absence had a lot to do with their problems defending the deep ball, but his presence on the field did not nothing to alleviate the issue all last year.
Matt Slauson is a disaster at left guard. Did it seem to anyone else like he was getting beat flat-footed or taking a holding penalty every single down (those penalties almost derailed the Jets’ chances, by the way). Tannenbaum needs to reach into his bag of tricks and find an answer to this problem. The Jets can survive with Slauson against the Dolphins, but when they run into teams with potent pass rushes like the Packers, Texans, and Steelers in the coming weeks, Sanchez might be in a lot of trouble.
Speaking of pass protection, it seems like revered fullback Tony Richardson is less of a factor with each passing week. He was barely on the field in Miami; it appears the Jets are shifting to a one-back system now that confidence is growing in Sanchez’ abilities. This looks like a promising decision, and will undoubtedly make for fun viewing when the Jets attack the Bills’ much-maligned pass defense this week, but if Slauson continues to underperform, the Jets might need to throw Richardson back onto the field for added pass protection – a shame, considering how well the receiving corps is playing with an extra man spread wide.
October might just be the defining stretch of the Jets’ season. Buffalo is dominating the blooper reel these days, but they are a division rival, and they always seem to baffle the Jets. New York needs to banish the red-and-blue demons from their past and come out with a decisive, dominant victory at home to warm up for three consecutive games against playoff contenders Minnesota, Denver, and Green Bay. The Jets can set themselves apart with some big wins in those games, especially considering that Green Bay and Minnesota are coming to the Meadowlands. If Ryan can lead the team to a 3-1 record in October, the Jets will emerge with a very soft November schedule (at Detroit and Cleveland, then home for Houston and Cincinnati) with a playoff berth dangling in front of them. More to the point, the games against Minnesota and Green Bay will show how the Jets stack up against two favorites for the NFC crown.
The Jets have been generating a lot of interest stories for their off-field antics in the past months, but the really intriguing storylines lay between the sidelines. With three weeks down, the Jets have shown just enough promise to make us believers, and just enough ineptitude to leave the damnable letters S.O.J hanging over our heads. October should emphatically settle that debate.
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