By Steve Silverman
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The embarrassment that was New York Jets football on Thanksgiving Night against the Patriots was painful for any Jets fan to watch.
Considering the way the schedule sets up from this point forward, the Jets blew a major opportunity to become one of the NFL’s best stories of the second half of the season.
A win over the Rams in Week 11 turned out to be a just a blip, because when they ran into the New England Patriots, they were not ready to play football.
There’s a huge talent gap between the Jets and the Patriots and Mike Tannenbaum needs to be held accountable for that at the end of the season.
But when the Jets went to Foxboro in October, they pushed the Patriots to overtime before falling short. This time, the game ended in the second quarter.
The focus is on Mark Sanchez. He apparently committed the gaffe of the century when he ran into guard Brandon Moore’s buttocks – with a big assist to New England defensive tackle Vince Wilfork – and the collision forced Sanchez to put the ball on the ground.
New England safety Steve Gregory picked up the ball and ran into the endzone. No Jets player even put his hands on Gregory.
That was the second touchdown in a three-score explosion within 52 seconds. As bad as it was, the first and third touchdowns in that disastrous span may have been even worse.
With the Patriots leading 7-0 early in the second, New England took over at its own 17 following a Robert Malone punt. As the Pats came to the line of scrimmage, Tom Brady could see that the Jets were ignoring backup running back Shane Vereen, who was lined up on the left side.
All Brady had to do was catch the snap, look to his right to freeze the linebackers and then toss the ball to Vereen. He caught ball in stride and raced 83 yards into the endzone.
If the NFL had changed the rules of its game and turned it into touch football, Vereen still would have scored. Nobody got a hand on him. It was a pitiful exhibition of being outflanked, outthought and outplayed.
Then came Sanchez’s gaffe. New England kicked off and Joe McKnight caught the ball. As he headed away from his own goalline, the Patriots’ Devin McCourty made contact with McKnight. He did not smash into him or blast him into next week. He made contact.
The ball popped up into the air and landed in the arms of Julian Edelman, who was already running at near full speed. He never had to break stride after securing the ball, and he turned the corner and scored again. Untouched by the Jets.
So, it appears to be over for the Jets. But yesterday’s humiliation is not always a death sentence in the NFL. The schedule gives the Jets five more games to play.
If they had not put on such an odiferous performance against New England and had managed to steal the game – New England still has plenty of issues in pass coverage – the Jets had a chance to roll in the final weeks of the season because the schedule is so easy.
But a strong finish will only serve to mask what happened on Thanksgiving Night.
That would be a bad thing. The Thanksgiving Night horror show needs to remain in the forefront. It has to be the impetus for change.
Change in the personnel department. Change in the lineup. Perhaps even change in the coaching staff.
Woody Johnson, the next move is yours.
What personnel moves do you think the Jets need to make for next season?