By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — If you didn’t bring a mask with you to the new Meadowlands Stadium on Sunday, by around the middle of the third quarter you probably wished you had.
Because it was at about that point the reality set in that these Jets, as talented as they say they are and often prove to be on the football field, still know how to pull bags over the heads of the fans and steal their wallets.
Maybe the Jets were just playing dress-up during their utterly disgraceful 9-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers. Maybe they were just getting their Halloween on, joining in on the festivities on the day it’s legally acceptable to pretend you are something you think you’re not.
Make no mistake, the Jets embarrassed themselves on Halloween, and now have stoked the flames of fear all across their fan base. Just when everyone thought they knew what they had with this team, many of the players and coaches ripped the rug out from underneath everyone.
Now losing to the Packers isn’t necessarily a crime. Green Bay is a good football team, especially on the defensive end, and could ultimately be the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl. But there was something about the Jets’ approach to Sunday’s game that was, indeed, downright criminal. Some will want to blame the long bye week layoff for the utter lack of focus and execution. Others will want to just chalk up the entire debacle to a good football team just having a really bad week.
Those factors definitely played into the loss, but what was more alarming was the fact that the disaster happened at home, a place where the Jets are supposed to be dominant and are supposed to use as the backdrop toward securing some home games in the playoffs. But as it stands, the Jets are just 2-2 now in their new building and because of that are in second place in the AFC East, one game behind the New England Patriots, who they have already beaten. The home doughnut was the Jets’ first since a 10-0 defeat to the Chicago Bears back on Nov. 19, 2006.
“It felt embarrassing to be shut out at home,” right tackle Damien Woody said. “Our personnel and our coaching staff is too good for us to be shut out at home.”
That seems to be the consensus.
If the Jets had lost on a late field goal or had been outgunned in a shootout there would have still been many upset people, but odds are the fans would have been able to walk away more justified in saying it was just a bad week. But to be shut out at home in the manner they were just reeks of the past. Those three words often used to describe the Jets after a loss will not be used in this space, mostly because I don’t believe them to be appropriate, but it sure felt that way, didn’t it?
Dropped passes, penalties, questionable coaching decisions, a missed field goal, a lack of a discernible plan on offense and dreaded turnovers (fabricated or otherwise by the officials) all played a role in what was one of the worst losses anyone can remember, considering the stakes and the new perception that this franchise is in fact nothing like the old one that took up residence in the old stadium.
“We let one get away from us,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “We just never got it done.
“I wish we could play it again, do it over, but there are no do-overs in this league.”
And as usual many of the same culprits are being bashed this Monday morning for the team’s failures. One has to wonder what offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was thinking when he decided that barely using Shonn Greene and Brad Smith was a good idea. And where were the adjustments? Clearly Charles Woodson had Braylon Edwards under lock and key and the Packers were well aware of the fact that rejuvenated LaDainian Tomlinson was — and probably still is — somewhat in the running for NFL MVP.
But yet there was quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is now in a three-game slump, often bouncing and floating throws. And when he was accurate there was Jerricho Cotchery having arguably one of his worst games as a professional and Santonio Holmes seemingly forgetting he had ever played the position before.
About the only thing positive to come from the “effort,” was the play of the defense, which, Drew Coleman brain locks aside, basically shut down what is a one-dimensional but still powerful Packers offense. And this happened despite the fact that the Jets only sacked Aaron Rodgers twice and didn’t force a single turnover.
So here the Jets are at 5-2 and faced with what is considered the soft part of their schedule. November features four games, including the next two on the road, against teams currently a combined 10-17. The run starts this week at Detroit, a team that is better offensively than many give it credit for, and then goes to Cleveland for the “Mangini Bowl,” a game the former Jets coach will probably sell his soul and his children to win.
If the Jets are indeed everything they fancy themselves to be they will come back to the Meadowlands in time to play high-powered Houston at 7-2 and with the past behind them. If by some chance the Jets drop one or both of their next two games all hell will break loose and there will be nowhere to hide.
“We’re a team that’s willing to go out there and lay it on the line,” punter Steve Weatherford said after Sunday’s loss. “It just didn’t work out today.”
Well, it better work out starting in Detroit or all the pomp and circumstance created by an offseason of stellar moves, a preseason television show that garnered a lot of attention and a five-game winning streak that supposedly put this team into the NFL’s elite will look more like a funny mask, makeup and a long cape.
All hiding the truth of what the Jets really may be.