(Long Island, N.Y.) When you begin your season with two home games, the worst you can fare is a split. With a 16-game schedule, every loss is a big one, especially at your stadium. So once the finishing touches were put on Monday night’s 10-9 defeat at the New Meadowlands, the Jets’ thoughts immediately switched to this weekend’s affair with the New England Patriots.
“New England looked pretty darn good (in their opening win over Cincinnati),” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “There are no easy games in this league.”
By mustering only three field goals against the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets used the conservative section of their playbook and never had anything going in the passing game. Quarterback Mark Sanchez appeared to have happy feet and his protection failed him in key moments.
The team’s running game – which led the league a year ago – underperformed as a whole. Shonn Greene was given the starting job once Thomas Jones was let go and the second year back looked nothing like the bruiser he was in the 2009 playoffs. He had a paltry 18 yards on the ground and a big dropped pass. Newcomer LaDanian Tomlinson impressed the masses with 62 yards and a 5.6 average per carry.
The Jets offensive success is dictated by how their rushing attack is working that day. If Sanchez is forced into making things happen with his right arm, then they will be in trouble on Sunday. The USC product was only 10 for 21 for 74 yards, hardly numbers that put a scare into anyone. Perhaps the most alarming statistic to take out of the game was the Jets’ poor efficiency in moving the chains.
“There’s no excuse to be 1-for-11 on third downs,” Sanchez commented. “We’re disappointed with that. We had too many self-inflicted wounds.”
That is for sure, especially when the Jets committed 14 penalties for 125 yards. “We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized teams in the league. Today was a joke,” a frustrated Ryan said. “Without question, we’ve got to get better at things like that. We have to be physical, but we have to play smart.”
Although the defense played extremely well at times (two forced fumbles, one interception), the unit lost nose tackle Kris Jenkins for the year with a torn left ACL, the same knee that caused him to miss a big part of last season. “We just have to step up,” said Ryan. “We’ve got to find a way to overcome it, just like we did last year.”
Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito will once again be counted on to fill the gap of Jenkins’ loss. The top defense in the league managed to keep it together then and they will have to do it again, especially with the offense struggling the way it did during the preseason and the opener.
If the Jets lose to New England, they will be 0-2 and the Pats 2-0. That will be a tough thing to overcome, especially with only six home games remaining after that. If there ever was an early season ‘must win,’ this game coming up is certainly that.