FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The game film was just as bad as it looked from the sideline.
Rex Ryan’s offense struggled to get anything done in its season opener, and the New York Jets coach is downright concerned about his unit.
“Yes,” he said Tuesday. “Absolutely.”
That means offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, quarterback Mark Sanchez and everyone else on an offense that gained just 176 total yards and went 1 for 11 on third down in a 10-9 loss to Baltimore on Monday night.
“Offensively, there was nothing,” Ryan said. “There was no rhythm.”
The former Ravens defensive coordinator gave his old team plenty of credit, saying it did what it needed to do against the Jets. That doesn’t mean he was ready to give his offense a free pass.
“When you’re 1 of 11 on third down – really 1 of 12 when you put the fourth down in – you’re not going to beat anybody,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to get better.”
The Jets had good field position a handful of times, but managed only three field goals by Nick Folk. They tied a franchise low with six first downs, and didn’t convert their first third-down opportunity until only 57 seconds were left in the game. Sanchez, whom lots is expected of in his second season, was held to just 74 yards passing, the second-lowest total of his young career.
“I think we have the ability,” Ryan said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt. I know we have the ability, but we’ve got to find a way to convert on third down and keep drives alive.”
That might mean even simplifying the game plans.
“If that’s dialing things back or whatever,” Ryan said, “we’ll search for the right answer.”
The Jets’ final offensive play was the night in a nutshell. Facing a fourth-and-10 from the Jets 31, Sanchez found Dustin Keller along the right sideline for a catch that appeared as though it would keep a last-minute drive alive.
Instead, Keller ran too short a route and stepped out of bounds a yard short of a first down.
“When I caught the ball, I thought I was right at the spot and could just go out of bounds ahead of the first-down mark,” Keller said after the game. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
Keller and Sanchez weren’t the only ones at fault. There were plenty of penalties on both sides of the ball – 14 of them, in fact – that cost the Jets some big plays. One of them was a 33-yard catch by Keller that would have put New York at Baltimore’s 4-yard line early in the second quarter. But, Braylon Edwards was called for an illegal shift and the Jets later settled for a field goal.
“Just undisciplined play on offense and defense,” Sanchez said after the game. “That’s just the way things go. You have to be smart. You can’t blame anything on the officials. You just have to look at yourself in the mirror and own up to the mistakes. That’s what we’ll do and move on.”
The Jets are going to have to, and quickly. They play the high-scoring New England Patriots on Sunday.
“This team we’re going up against, we’ve got to find a way,” Ryan said. “That team right there is going to score and we have to be able to score, obviously.”
Ryan said Sanchez is going to have to throw the ball down the field more often for the Jets to be successful.
“We just need to take advantage of some of the things that we have,” Ryan said.
Such as a big receiver in the 6-foot-3 Edwards, reliable Jerricho Cotchery and versatile Brad Smith. But, those were the only true wide receivers the Jets had on their roster against Baltimore. New York re-signed the speedy David Clowney on Tuesday to help out the passing game.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Jets are going to abandon their “Ground-and-Pound” philosophy of running the football most of the time. However, it was peculiar that Shonn Greene, expected to be the No. 1 running back, didn’t carry the ball in the second half after fumbling twice and losing one of them.
He finished with 18 yards on five carries, while LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 62 yards on 11 attempts. Ryan said he hadn’t yet spoken to Schottenheimer or running backs coach Anthony Lynn about how Greene was used in the game.
“We’ll see,” Ryan said. “Shonn Greene is a huge part of what we do and who we are.”
Whoever these Jets are, they need to get better in a hurry if they have any plans of backing up their big and bold Super Bowl talk. And, it all starts at practice Wednesday.
“We’ve got to go, come out ready to work with hard hats on,” Ryan said. “Let’s go. We’ve got to get this game behind us, move forward and come out with that kind of passion and energy that we expect around here.”
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