The broken Jets need a Rex Ryan 2.0
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Jets lost a heartbreaker here on Sunday, blowing a 16-point lead to lose 26-22 to the Titans. Here are some thoughts and observations from the game:
1. Whoever the new coach of this team is in 2019 has a major challenge awaiting him in figuring out how to break the losing culture that has enveloped this team. The Jets simply don’t know how to win. Think of all the games they have blown over the last three years. Winnable games. There have been blowouts in which they had no chance, but far more often they have led games or been in games in the fourth quarter and just folded.
The Jets are going to need a coach who can give this entire organization a jolt to snap out of this funk. I am not sure who that guy is, but the decision facing Christopher Johnson on this hire comes down to more than Xs and Os. They need a leader who has some charisma to him to get through to these players.
The situation is not exactly the same, but I remember when Rex Ryan arrived in 2009. He was like a lightning bolt in the Jets’ building after the more serious Eric Mangini. You could feel everyone, from secretaries to the players on the field, was energized just by Ryan’s presence.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating bringing Ryan back, as some fans have suggested. I just think they need a coach who has some personality. Someone who can make this downtrodden team believe in itself again. Right now, that belief is broken.
2. Standing in the postgame locker room Sunday, I was reminded of being there in 2012, and it felt similar. The Jets lost that Monday night game 14-10, and Mark Sanchez had four interceptions and fumbled the snap to end the game. After that game, there was a sense that a period of Jets football had just come to an end. There was no way Sanchez would ever be considered the answer at quarterback again (he would make one more start). In that locker room that night, Antonio Cromartie would not talk to the media because he said he feared he would tell the truth. Some players took some shots at Sanchez. It was ugly.
On Sunday, the feeling was not that it was over for the quarterback, although Josh McCown likely started his final game for the Jets. It was coach Todd Bowles. There was a resignation in what the players were saying about their coach. They tried to defend him, but it felt forced. They know the way this is going.
Playing the role of Cromartie was Quincy Enunwa, who said he would not risk his job by offering up his opinion of what is wrong with the offense. It is clear the offense has completely lost faith in offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. There is eye-rolling and sighs of exasperation when you talk to players about the play-calling. It was an ugly scene … again in Nashville.
3. Fans wanted Bowles fired immediately after the embarrassing 41-10 loss at home to the Bills last month. The Jets decided to stick with him for the time being. Contrast that with what the Packers did Sunday, firing Mike McCarthy after an embarrassing loss to the Cardinals at home.
It is an interesting choice to fire a coach in-season. Packers management sent a clear message that they are unhappy with the way this season has gone and felt McCarthy was to blame. It is basically a public relations move to fire a coach in the season, unless you have a situation like Cleveland’s, with the head coach and offensive coordinator at each other’s throats. Packers fans surely are happy they got their pound of flesh.
I was against firing Bowles after the Bills game. Part of the reason is the Jets do not have someone on their staff who is a natural to take over as the interim like the Packers do with Joe Philbin, the former Dolphins coach. The other part is I’m not sure what it would achieve other than making the fans happy and putting Bowles out of his misery.
That being said, with each passing loss the argument to fire Bowles sooner rather than later becomes more compelling. The status quo clearly is not working. Maybe a coaching change would spark something in the players.
4. There are so many areas where the Jets are awful, but one that was on display again Sunday was their red-zone offense. They are statistically the worst red-zone team in football, and you could see why. The play-calling is horrendous when the Jets get there.
The Jets made three trips to the red zone and came away with three field goals. Let’s look at each possession:
Second quarter, 12:34 left:
The Jets put together a nice drive that started at the end of the first quarter and continued into the second. They reached the Titans’ 18 after a short pass to tight end Chris Herndon.
Bates dialed up three straight passing plays once he got to the end zone. The first one was a 2-yard pass to Enunwa and then two incompletions.
I can’t kill Bates too much for this possession. He could have run the ball at least once, but the Jets were in rhythm throwing the ball on this series.
Second quarter, 5:01 left:
Kevin Pierre-Louis blocked a Titans punt to give the offense the ball at the Tennessee 18.
The first play was a deep shot to Jermaine Kearse in the end zone that sailed away for an incompletion. Nice, aggressive call. I like it. But then things went downhill.
On the Kearse pass, Jonotthan Harrison was flagged for holding, pushing the Jets back to the 28. Even though they are technically now not in the red zone, this counts as a red-zone possession because of where the drive began.
On first-and-20 from the 28, McCown threw a short pass to Isaiah Crowell for a four-yard loss.
Now, on second-and-24, is when Bates decides to start running the ball. Crowell gained 6 yards on second down.
On third-and-18, Bates runs the ball again. This time Crowell is stopped for a 1-yard gain. Field goal. Why run the ball on third-and-18 deep in Titans territory when you have a kicker who was making field goals from the parking lot?
Third quarter, 11:46 left:
The Jets get to the red zone after two long runs from Crowell — a 16-yarder and a 27-yarder. So what does Bates do? He gets pass happy, of course.
He calls three straight passes. The first two results in sacks and the third is an incompletion on a short pass to Enunwa. Field goal.
Crowell looked as if he were really gaining steam, and Bates took the ball out of his hands. Terrible.
Surprising snap count: Rookie defensive lineman Nathan Shepherd played just 12 snaps, his lowest total of the season. Shepherd had a terrible game against the Patriots. It looks like the Jets coaches have lost faith in him.
Revealing stat: The Jets have gone five straight games scoring one or zero touchdowns. It is the longest streak in franchise history, according to ESPN. Think about all the terrible teams in this franchise’s history, and this team is worse than all of them in this category.
Game ball: Jason Myers is making a case to be the team MVP. Jamal Adams will be, but Myers is No. 2 in the voting. He went 5-for-5 on Sunday on field goals and continues to be the most consistent scoring weapon the Jets have.
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