New York Jets: Winners and Losers from Loss to Texans

James Kaminsky@jameskam17Contributor IIIOctober 9, 2012

New York Jets: Winners and Losers from Loss to Texans

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    Anyone who expected the New York Jets to beat the undefeated Houston Texans, after last week's blowout loss at home to the San Francisco 49ers, was delusional. Denial is not just a river in Egypt.

    The Jets, however, stayed competitive on Monday Night and almost won. Poor decision-making by Mark Sanchez and horrible coaching decisions from Coach Rex Ryan cost the team the game, bringing the Jets to below .500 for the first time this season. An ugly fourth quarter saw the Jets bring new life and energy to the game, but ultimately they couldn't overcome the deficit and lost by six.

    While the Jets lost, there are a few positives to take away heading into next week's matchup against the Colts, who are coming off a motivational victory against Green Bay.

    Here are this week's winners and losers. 

Winner: Antonio Cromartie

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    One of the biggest fears heading into the matchup with the Texans was how the Jets would adapt to defending Andre Johnson, one of the league's best receivers, without Darrelle Revis, a guy who in years past has shut down Johnson and kept him out of the game.

    Antonio Cromartie played his best game as a Jet and stepped up to the challenge, holding Johnson to one catch for 15 yards—otherwise known as irrelevancy.

    Cromartie, often called for pass interference, played a brilliant game filled with lockdown defense and no penalties. On the Texans' third drive of the game, on a third-and-13, Cromartie stepped inside on a route over the middle to Johnson and intercepted Schaub. 

    On the offensive side of the ball, Cromartie had one excellent route where Sanchez overthrew him. On a first-and-10 from their own 39, Sanchez bombed the ball deep right to Cromartie, who burned his defender. But the throw was off target and out of bounds. Had the throw been perfect, the Jets would have been inside the red zone with a lot of momentum. 

    Cromartie will need to do just as good a job next week vs. the Colts. where receiver Reggie Wayne is off to one of the best starts in his career, with over 500 yards and two touchdowns in his first four games.

Winner: Jeremy Kerley

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    With Santonio Holmes done for the year and Stephen Hill still out for the Jets, it was time for Jeremy Kerley to step up and fill the shoes for the Jets' depleted offense. Tebow is the Jets' best playmaker, but Kerley is the Jets' best option.

    Kerley stepped up and caught five balls for 94 yards, including a 36-yard reception at the end of the first half. Kerley hasn't been a dominant threat in the return game, but his play at receiver could be the difference between winning and losing the rest of the way.

    Jason Hill doesn't have a clue what to do on a football field, and while Chaz Schilens can be a reliable guy for the offense, he doesn't have the potential for explosive plays the way Kerley does.

    It will take a full effort from Kerley this season for the Jets and Sanchez to stay competitive on offense.

Winner: Special Teams

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    Another night on national television, another chance for the announcers to praise special teams coach and guru Mike Westhoff for his play calls.

    The Jets had three key plays, and two back-to-back plays, that stand out from the loss.

    To start the second quarter on a fourth-and-one, the Jets ran a fake punt and allowed Tebow to gain enough yards for the first. A gutsy play, but a necessary move for the Jets to keep momentum. Sanchez went three-and-out following the big play, though, killing all momentum.

    Later in the game, Joe McKnight ran the kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, extending a 20-7 Houston lead to a 20-14 lead with plenty of time left in the game. This crucial play energized the Jets and kept them competitive, after a time-killing and scoring 14-play drive from the Texans.

    Following the play, the Jets tried to get sneaky and secure the ball from an onside kick. The ball popped out of Schilens' hands and became the Texans' ball. The Texans took advantage of the short field and added on another three points, changing the game from a one-possession game to a two-possession game.

    The Texans never lost the lead again.

    While the onside kick didn't work, the Jets showed huge improvement from last week's no-show against the 49ers.

Loser: Run Defense

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    The Jets have been atrocious this year at stopping the run. 

    They allowed 245 rushing yards to San Francisco last week, the most ever under Rex Ryan, and this week allowed 169 yards on 35 rushes.

    It seems predetermined that the opposing running back will score every week against these Jets.

    Pouha's absence certainly hurts, but it doesn't help that the Jets can't seem to fix this lingering problem. Every team has killed the Jets this year with the running game. The Jets are allowing an average of 172 rush-yards per game, second-worst in the league.

    The Jets will be trailing in almost every game until they clean up the run defense. It keeps the defense tired and on the field, and obviously helps the opponents' play-action plays, which Schaub used to his heart's delight on Monday night.

Loser: Mark Sanchez

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    Mark Sanchez did just enough to save his job for one more week, but his costly turnovers once again led to a Jet loss. 

    How many times have we seen this? How many more times are we going to see this?

    Sanchez is too small and doesn't have the offensive line to protect him. He can't throw the ball over his line. The ball gets tipped way more than anyone else I've ever seen. It's almost predetermined.

    Two times Sanchez gets tipped and it leads to interceptions. The biggest being the play of the game.

    While the Jets were driving with under two minutes in the first half, Sanchez tried to throw the ball to Kerley on a slant to the end zone. J.J. Watt tipped the ball, and it led to a Texans score before the half. 14-10 or 14-14 became 17-7. 

    When the game was on the line, Sanchez threw an inevitable interception that tipped off the hands of Jeff Cumberland. 

    Turnovers killed the Jets, and Sanchez is responsible for these mistakes. How can we say he is maturing and growing when every week he makes the exact same mistakes?

    Sanchez also overthrew Cromartie on what would have been a game-changing play, something elite veterans shouldn't be doing, but something Sanchez seems to do on a weekly basis.

Loser: Rex Ryan

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    It took Rex Ryan's best coaching effort to get this depleted Jets team ready for the Monday Night matchup, after the blowout to the 49ers. With an 0-4 record following blowout losses, it's time to look at Rex and see what he could have done better last night.

    The answer? A whole lot.

    Forgetting about the risky onside kick, there are three instances that show how unorganized the Jets are, and why the blame has to go to Rex Ryan.

    With the Jets trailing 23-14 entering the fourth quarter, the offense looked to be making major strides after a Cumberland completion for 24 yards. The Jets had the ball in Houston territory and first down.

    Sanchez hooked up with Kerley on second-and-14 from the 48 to bring the Jets all the way to the Texans' 16.

    The Jets then had absolutely zero clue what to do on offense. They were forced to call their first timeout. One would think after a timeout the team would come out prepared and ready to get into the end zone.

    A touchdown would have made the game a two-point game, with the Jets having all momentum.

    Instead, the Jets wasted the opportunity, scored only three, and never scored again. Burning the timeout would come back to haunt the Jets, when they watched Houston run down the clock with under two minutes.

    A second busted timeout was called later, and the Jets once again seemed to not have a clue what to do.

    After the Jets defense held the Texans to a third-and-out, the Jets got the ball back with great field position with 10 minutes to go in the game.

    Shonn Greene finally showed signs of life with a 12-yard run and a 19-yard catch, bringing the Jets to the Houston 35. After the big screen-play, though, the Jets looked confused and flustered, and were forced to waste another timeout.

    After the timeout, the Jets had a "stellar" drive. Tebow for no gain, Sanchez incomplete, Sanchez sacked and Malone punted.

    The Jets were never the same.

    Following that punt, Houston had the ball on their own 15 with 6:29 to play. The defense came on the field hungry, too hungry. 12 guys came on the field, gave the Texans five more yards, and led to more time killed off the clock. 

    There is zero excuse. None. How can a coach in the NFL allow for something like that to happen? Rex's team was in a position to win this game, but poor decisions and a lack of organization ultimately killed any hope for a comeback in the fourth quarter.

    In the NFL, where each game matters and every decision in each game is so important, Rex whiffed several times and cost his team the game.

    If he doesn't improve with his time management, there will be way more controversy then just Tebow vs. Sanchez.