Green Lantern: Memo To The Jets: Defense Never ‘Takes Week Off’ In NFL
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By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — Now we’re going to see what this team is made of.
It would be easy to chalk up the Jets’ disgusting 34-24 loss in Oakland on Sunday to the defense just having a bad day, a theory that seems to be a running theme on many Internet message boards right now. It would be logical to assume, those fans contest, that the effort will be much better next week on Sunday Night Football at Baltimore.
But as we all know logic rarely plays a role in how a team performs on a week-to-week basis. Only game-planning and execution matters.
And right now Rex Ryan’s bunch looks like it has no clue how to do either.
The Jets may have thought they had the right plan to handle the Raiders’ Darren McFadden, but it’s clear they had no idea whatsoever how to pull it off. It’s also fairly apparent that the issues with the pass rush have not gone away and you have to hold your breath every time Antonio Cromartie is on the field.
The Jets’ pride and joy took a beating on Sunday. The defense never made a play. It didn’t force a single turnover and recorded just one sack, and that came because Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell slipped. What’s worse and simply stunning is the fact that the Raiders went 0-for-8 on third down, but still amassed 23 first downs and 234 yards rushing.
Cromartie had arguably his worst game as a professional, getting flagged four times for more than 40 yards and butchering a kickoff in a manner I had never seen before prior to leaving the contest with an apparent rib injury. We all know he’s a feast or famine player and that consistency has never been his strong suit, but Sunday was absurd. Hell, he didn’t even get burned for a touchdown and yet was arguably the Jets’ most ineffective soul on the field.
Defense-wide, the Jets were utterly befuddled by the Raiders’ hurry-up offense. They got beat by trickery. They got beat up the middle and around the ends. They had five penalties prolong drives.
It certainly wasn’t the type of effort the fan base has grown accustomed to over the last two-plus years.
And this notion that somehow offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is even partly to blame for the loss is comical. It’s pretty much a given we must “blame Schotty” whenever things go south.
That crap has to stop.
Yes, the Jets’ offense went into the tank in the third quarter. The play calling did appear to be conservative, but ultimately it’s up to Mark Sanchez and his offensive line where the ball ends up being thrown. The running game, after finally getting some legs under it in the first half following two games of complete ineptitude, disappeared after halftime. Shonn Greene caught an early flight back to the East Coast. LaDainian Tomlinson’s stellar first half as a receiver out of the backfield quickly became ancient history. Santonio Holmes caught one pass all game.
I get all of that, trust me. But before you go sick on Schottenheimer keep in mind the fact that the Jets’ offensive line was horrendous after the intermission. It should not have been asked to constantly pass protect, yet it was because the defense couldn’t shut down a high school offense, let alone one from the NFL.
When you build a 10-point lead against a team that pretty much is one-dimensional you have just one job: force that opposing offense to explore other dimensions. The Jets didn’t even come close to making Campbell feel uncomfortable and never disrupted his short passing game. The Raiders scored 24 unanswered points after falling behind 17-7 and they did it with creativity in some cases and basically by telling the Jets what was coming the rest of the time.
I assumed Ryan would reach into his bag of oratory tricks during the intermission and basically challenge the defense to get its head out of its collective butt, or make some kind of adjustments that would control McFadden. Maybe he did scream at his team, but if so the message wasn’t received. Rex, himself, deserves a ton of blame for the debacle because whether he tried or not the bottom line is the Raiders — not the Jets — played Sunday like it was their Super Bowl. On top of that, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine actually was way too conservative with his schemes. When the Jets did blitz they seemed like they didn’t have the heart to see each play through to its conclusion.
So now what? Well, maybe the Jets didn’t know this stretch of three straight road games would be pivotal, but I and 99 percent of the fan base sure did. What no one expected was New England looking equally abysmal defensively in a last-second loss up in Buffalo. So, the Jets sort of caught a break, but at the same time shot themselves in the foot. The Bills are much improved, no question, but they shouldn’t be challenging the Jets and Patriots for the AFC East title in December.
I’d like to say Sunday was an aberration and that next week the defense will get back to being itself. But on the other hand, there was entirely too much chest pounding following the 32-3 win over Jacksonville last week. The Jaguars are arguably the worst offensive team in football. To wear the defensive effort in that game as a badge of honor was ridiculous then and even more hysterical now, knowing what we know and have seen.
The Ravens are an infinitely better offensive club than the Raiders. Running back Ray Rice can singlehandedly destroy any defense, as a runner or receiver. Joe Flacco is Joe Namath compared to the Raiders’ Campbell. The Ravens have receivers all over the place and you already know what their defense is capable of on a weekly basis.
The question now becomes, what will the Jets’ defense do? If this unit is not embarrassed and humiliated by what went down Sunday, it will never be. It was humbled. It was exposed. And it has no excuses.
Talking the talk and then walking the walk is probably the most overused cliche in pro sports, but in the Jets’ case it’s apropos. And this new-found pressure to prove something beyond talking smack or beating up on the weak sisters of the league is now as much on Ryan’s shoulders as it is any player that laid an egg Sunday against the Raiders.
And you know who you are. The list is long and distinguished.
One bad effort could be considered an anomaly, but two in a row marks a trend. The Jets’ defense better regroup and quickly because nobody signed on for the type of stupidity we saw Sunday. They better fix it now rather than later or this little bit of a hot seat the players are on will quickly become flammable.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini
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