Rex Ryan: Week 5 Is the Moment of Truth for New York Jets Coach

Victoria SterlingCorrespondent IOctober 2, 2012

Sept. 30, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) calls out a play during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

The Jets were embarrassed in front of their home crowd on Sunday, shutout and shellacked to the tune of 34 points. 

Everyone knew the 49ers were a better squad, but the Jets weren’t even competitive. 

What the 49ers really did is expose the Jets for what they are:  a mediocre team sliding fast into irrelevance. Do not be fooled by their 2-2 standing tied atop the AFC East.  The Jets will be lucky to get four wins this year. 

Too pessimistic, you say? 

Allow me to make my case. 

The Jets proclaimed this year that their offense would be ground and pound with a liberal dose of the Tim Tebow-based wildcat sprinkled in.  The problem with that is you need a running back who can ground and pound it. 

Shonn “3-yards-a-carry” Greene is not that guy.  It’s a huge issue if that’s what you want to base your offense on.  Rex Ryan always preaches that sticking with the running game will eventually pay off with a long breakout run or two.  That’s true, assuming your offense doesn’t constantly go three-and-out. 

I’m no Tebow fan, but if you’re going to have him try to run the wildcat, you’ve got to give him more than one play at a time to do it.  Tony Sparano panics and puts Mark Sanchez back in the minute he loses a yard.

Which leads us to the Jets starting quarterback. 

Conventional wisdom is that the Jets have coddled Sanchez since his arrival.  I say they have done the exact opposite. 

When Sanchez was drafted he came to a team that had a strong running game, a stellar offensive line and serviceable but not flashy wide receivers.  The Jets implemented a conservative game plan and found success for the first two years of Ryan’s tenure. 

Little noticed, however, has been the erosion of talent on this team. 

The offensive line play has declined.  The fall off from Thomas Jones and LaDainian Tomlinson to Shonn Greene has been noticeable.  The Jets went vanilla on WR this year declining, to pick up another star wide out to at least try to draw some of the coverage away from Santonio Holmes. 

Explain to me how this is coddling?  If anything the pressure has been ratcheted up on Sanchez as his offensive weapons have dwindled.

The defense is a year older and, in my opinion (with the exception of Revis), mostly getting by on reputation now.  Anyone who studies film can see that there is no pass rush, the Jets can’t keep contain on the edges and everyone seems to have forgotten the fundamentals of how to tackle.

Even if everyone remained healthy, this was likely to be a .500 squad.  Old, slow defense plus a lack of offensive firepower is not how you win a championship.

Then the injury bug arrived with a vengeance.  Gone is Darrelle Revis for the year with a torn ACL.  Gone for who knows how long with some kind of mystery foot injury is Santonio Holmes.  Dustin Keller has been out for three games with a hamstring injury and doesn’t look to be joining the lineup anytime soon.  Stephen Hill is out with a hamstring injury. 

And now the undefeated Houston Texans come to town. 

San Francisco handed them the blueprint on how to beat New York, and Houston is going to unleash on the Jets.  The Jets offense is basically a practice squad right now in terms of talent.  The Jets also can’t stop the run and will therefore likely spend an inordinate amount of time chasing Arian Foster around.  The Jets will be lucky if they can put up a field goal. 

So who is responsible for this mess? 

I have to place a ton of blame for the erosion of talent on the front office.  The Jets are so thin at quality starters everywhere you look.  This was apparent before the draft.  But then the Jets had to go and acquire Tebow.  I hated the move then and I hate it now.  It didn’t really add anything except drama to the team.  Drew Stanton was a perfectly serviceable back up in case of injury to Sanchez. 

The worst part was giving up the draft picks. 

Think of how different things would be if the Jets had gotten lucky with a stud player in the draft.  Or they could have packaged the picks and tried to work out some kind of trade for an established pass rusher or wide receiver. 

But no, the Tebow circus it had to be. 

And now Tony Sparano doesn’t even seem to know how to effectively use him.  Jim Harbaugh must have cackled to himself all the way back to San Francisco after schooling the Jets in what a real wildcat threat looked like by running it  with HIS backup QB, Colin Kaepernick. 

Which brings us back to Rex Ryan. 

He has the unenviable task of trying to get this team ready for what will surely be a Monday Night Football embarrassment.  His starting QB does not look right mentally.  I wonder if the fractures have already started in the locker room.  Maybe that’s why Ryan keeps affirming that Mark is the starter.  Thing is—there is no other option. 

Houston is going to put up points.  What people keep forgetting is Tebow won all those games in Denver when it was late and the score was close.  That’s because Denver’s superior-to-the-Jets pass rush, offensive line and wide receivers kept them close.  We just saw that against the 49ers; the Jets cannot do the same. 

The formula to beat these Jets remains:  Get up a couple of scores using your quality passing game. Then sit on the run and dare the Jets to catch up.  Capitalize on the inevitable turnovers and three-and-outs. Record the win.

It doesn’t matter who is under center for the Jets in this game.  Tebow can’t put up enough points with his style of play and Sanchez doesn’t have enough receiving options.  This is what Ryan is up against.  If he can pull the Jets out of this nosedive, he will be a candidate for coach of the year. 

In my opinion, the Jets do not have the talent to beat Houston.  Rex Ryan now has to find out if they have the determination to even try.

We’ll find out Monday night.


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