By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — Brains 2, Bravado 0.
That’s the score now that the Jets have been thoroughly humiliated and exploited by a far more cerebral team. For whatever the reason — and there are likely several additional ones I won’t get to in the words below — the Patriots are more the thinking man’s team than the Jets will ever be this season.
If you woke up Monday morning utterly disgusted, you had every right. Jets Nation was taken to the woodshed Sunday night in every possible way. A superior football mind did a number on the brash and the bovine. Bill Belichick embarrassed Rex Ryan. He schooled him in such a manner it makes you think no matter how many times the Patriots and Jets meet this season the outcome will be the same.
As much as Rex is a revered figure among the Jets faithful, he is and should continue to take a massive hit for Sunday night’s 37-16 debacle. This wasn’t about the Jets not being ready to play emotionally. Nor was it a case of breaks not going Gang Green’s way.
It simply was an in-game beatdown of the highest order. Whatever Rex thought he knew was in fact a misinformation campaign. Whatever you thought Belichick had lost during the Patriots’ recent run of lackluster execution was quickly put to bed.
The better — and infinitely smarter — team won.
How else does one explain the Jets having absolutely no clue how to attack the Patriots’ no-huddle offense? Where’s the logic in allowing Andre Carter — a journeyman defensive lineman with no real resume to speak of — to roam unabated through the Jets’ backfield all night long? Why couldn’t the Jets consistently eat up big chunks of yardage through the air against one of the worst secondaries in the entire NFL?
Those are all good questions, but the only answer is Belichick has a far superior football mind than Ryan.
You live with turnovers. Joe McKnight has been phenomenal this season as a kick returner. His muff in the third quarter was a killer, but you forgive him for it because he’ll have better days going forward. Nick Folk had missed just one field goal all season — a 50-yarder last week in Buffalo — so while his 24-yard shank to end the game’s opening drive was very disheartening, you know Folk will be fine as the weeks progress. Mark Sanchez has thrown interceptions before and he’ll probably throw several more before the season ends. The third-quarter pick Sunday night was ridiculous because he put way too much mustard on a predictable check-down toss to Shonn Greene, a guy not exactly known for his receiving hands. But Sanchez is this team’s quarterback and will remain as such for years. Sanchez has done far more good things than bad this season.
Again, you live with it.
But what you can’t live with is knowing that the smartest coach in the NFL will usually come up with a way to outsmart your coach, who, for his part, wants everyone to believe is at his nemesis’ level. As I’ve stated, physical mistakes happen and you accept them because, well, this is football. But when you are out-philosophized by the one man who is your main road block to home playoff games and bye weeks, well, that’s something you just can’t sweep under the rug. That mental and physical hurdle will be there for the duration and the result of that confrontation will almost assuredly determine the Jets’ long-term travel plans.
No matter how well Rex schemes his defense on a weekly basis, the bottom line is without a pass rush the Jets will not beat Tom Brady. It’s that simple. The one time they got to him Sunday they forced the Patriots’ all-everything signal caller to intentionally ground the ball in the end zone, resulting in a safety. But for the other 60 some-odd snaps the best they could do was watch in horror as Aaron Maybin flailed like a fish on a dock on one singular play that seemed to sum up the differences between the team in first place in the AFC East and the one in second place.
The Jets destroyed Brady in last season’s playoff meeting. Blunt force trauma, for one game, totally derailed the genius of Belichick. Without that type of weapon, the Jets are not going to beat the Patriots, period. And for all that General Manager Mike Tannenbaum has done right over the last three seasons, not addressing the pass rush with anything more than kids and retreads may be the one thing that sticks out most on his resume.
To beat top NFL quarterbacks, even those not named Brady, the Jets simply have to register sacks and serious pressure. I hate sounding like a broken record, but the problem today is the same as it was at the beginning of the season. A perfect defensive game plan without a pass rush — as we saw two weeks ago against Buffalo — is just too much to ask for on a weekly basis. Sooner or later the attractiveness of dropping defensive linemen into coverage to confuse the quarterback will be smacked upside the head by a smarter coaching staff, as was the case Sunday night.
The Jets couldn’t get the right personnel on the field while the Patriots ran the no-huddle. And the Pats didn’t just run it for two or three plays at a clip; they ran it for entire drives. After Sanchez scored on a keeper late in the second quarter, Belichick and Brady needed just 1:11 to move 80 yards in six plays to take the lead back before halftime. Then in the fourth quarter following Plaxico Burress’ TD that brought the Jets within 23-16, the Patriots went predominantly no-huddle during a masterful 13-play, 84-yard scoring drive that put the game away.
Both times, Rex and his “vaunted” defense had no answers. They looked helpless and, at times, pathetic, hoping for an injury to force the Patriots to slow down. On offense, the Jets could not adjust to Belichick’s adjustments. The offensive line reverted to how it looked during Weeks 3-5. Sanchez did throw for 306 yards, but did it really feel like 306 yards? It was once again passing because they had to, not as part of a delicate run-pass balancing act that you figured the Jets had to have to win.
None of what we saw Sunday night was what we signed up for at the behest of a head coach and roster filled with veterans telling us just how good they are. They lied. They lied because if they can’t stop the Patriots they will not win a division title. They will not get to rest in the first round of playoffs. They will not avoid going to places like Baltimore or Pittsburgh, destinations you know in your heart they will almost certainly not leave with a victory.
The only good thing I can take from this God-awful mess is the fact that the Jets get to play on Thursday. And while the world will likely expect them to quickly turn the page, bounce back and handle the subpar Broncos in Denver, are you sure they will?
Does the idea of not having a pass rush that actually completes sacks against a quarterback like Tim Tebow scare you just a little? It should. Why? Because Tebow connected on just two passes on Sunday and his team still won. He runs first and passes later.
My guess is Rex will be out for vengeance on Thursday and will put together a team-wide game plan that will be enough to get the Jets to 6-4, but if I see or hear the bravado again I’ll waste little time reminding this team that Tebow is not Brady, nor will he ever be Brady.
And as long as Brady and Belichick continue to negatively determine the Jets’ travel itinerary come January any win the Jets manage to pull off from now on will carry with it an asterisk, one that denotes they are one win closer to being a wild card.
Something they seem to be every week they take the field, be it Week 1 or 17.
Please read more columns by Jeff Capellini.
Jets Nation, sound off on where you think this team is and where it will end up. Offer your thoughts in the comments section below …