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Is it possible that Rex Ryan could have looked at the Jets’ 48-28 victory over the Buffalo Bills last week and not understood why the Jets won? It certainly seems that way after watching their season-deflating 27-10 loss to the Steelers Sunday afternoon.
Against Buffalo, New York mixed up their offense, but only after having established that Sanchez could throw on any down. Like a fighter getting hit by punches thrown at different angles, the Bills never knew where the next shot was coming from.
But that’s not the way the Jets looked against the Steelers. On their
first possession, Sanchez took them 90 yards, 80 of them through the
air, completing four of five passes. Then, for some reason known only to
Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, they went to the
Neanderthal ground-and-pound offense, which we were so happy they didn’t
use against Buffalo.
If you missed the game, it went something like this: Shonn Greene on
1st down for 2 yards, Bilal Powell into the line for 3 yards on 2nd
down, then Sanchez under pressure throwing incomplete on 3rd. That was
pretty much it.
The Jets were all over the place on defense, blitzing, faking
blitzes, trying to mix up coverages and disguise the fact that their
best player, Darrelle Revis, wasn’t in the lineup. Overall, they did a
pretty good job. The front line completely shut off the Steelers’
running game, holding them to a ridiculous 66 yards on 28 carries. But
slowly Ben Roethlisberger began to read what the Jets were doing, and
from a 7-3 deficit at the end of the 1st quarter Pittsburgh moved to
13-10 at the half , 20-10 at the end of the 3rd, and finally, the
17-point final margin.
The Jets blitzed and blitzed and got burned only once, in the 3rd
quarter when Antonio Cromartie mistimed a jump on a pass to wideout Mike
Wallace, resulting in a 37-yard TD.
But the defense was out there alone yesterday, trying to take up the
slack for the offense. There’s no way the Jets can win a game like that,
particularly when everyone doesn’t do his job. Safety LaRon Landry
committed two 15-yard penalties, which gave Pittsburgh critical first
downs. He also managed to miss Roethlisberger on a safety blitz; and on
the next play Roethlisberger threw a 37-yard pass to Mike Wallace in
the end zone. (In a moment of inexplicable brain lapse after the
Buffalo game last week, Ryan compared Landry to Detroit Lions Hall of
Famer Dick “Night Train” Lane.)
What else went wrong? Well, Santonio Holmes, who scored the only TD
on the first drive, dropped two passes, just like during the preseason.
And rookie Stephen Hill, who was so sensational against the Bills,
looked completely intimidated by the Steelers’ secondary and was
completely shut down — no catches.
In fact, and if I had to make one point as to why the Jets lost this
game, it would be this: After Holmes scored on the opening drive, the
Jets wide receivers didn’t catch another pass for the rest of the game.
And so the Jets have taken not one step forward and one step back but
one step forward and several steps back to where they were about the
middle of last season.
As Ryan and his staff review the game films of this debacle, is it
possible they won’t understand why they lost? Is it possible that next
week they are going back to this ground-and-pound thing against the
Miami Dolphins? Yes, it’s very possible. All too possible.