When last we met, I was opining that I thought Rex Ryan was facing one of his toughest coaching challenges ever: Two demoralizing personnel losses and a 34-0 blowout embarrassment at the hands of the 49ers.
Somehow Ryan had to get this team believing again in spite of all manner of reasons not to.
Mark Sanchez had a better outing than his stat line would suggest. He was plagued by drops and batted/tipped balls. Let’s give credit to JJ Watt for a terrific effort with those batted balls. Sanchez seemed to take a “what are you gonna do?” tone about those in the postgame press conference. I say —do something. This issue is not going away (it happened against the 49ers too). You're being scouted for it Mark. You need to make some adjustments so the frequency of these goes down. They're a fast track to demoralizing, drive ending turnovers.
So now what? I still don't think this team is a playoff team. The deficit of talent is too much when you consider they still likely would have to get past the Pats twice to even think about winning the division.
So what do you do when you have a deficit of talent but still want to win? You have to get more creative.
I think the Jets did a nice job on several offensive plays on Monday. I liked going for it on 4th and short. It is disturbing that the best choices for those options were the 2 QBs on the roster. The running game as it is presently constituted is a serious disappointment and I don't see it ramping up any time soon. Rex admitted afterward that he had a huge hand in how aggressive some of those calls were. (I liked the onside kick. I realize I'm in the minority though.)
What I did not like, and have not liked, is how Tony Sparano pulls Tim Tebow at the first sign of trouble. It's not fair to Mark to ask him to come in and clean up anytime Tebow can't spring a couple big plays in a row.
I was not on board with the Tebow acquisition and I can't believe I am saying this, but it's not fair to Tebow either. Tebow picked up a nice 13 yards down by the goal line. No gain on the next play. Immediate Sparano hook. Tebow should have gotten the extra downs to try to bull his way the 3 remaining yards into the end zone. At least Tebow can move the pile, unlike Shonn Greene.
Plus the Jets should have been worried about turnovers in such close quarters with the batted passes problem. You might as well take a chance Tebow could scramble in right behind center. Way too cautious and risk averse.
All of which leads me to this: Going forward, if I were the Jets, I'd ride the hot hand of Sanchez and his young receivers if they can get into a rhythm. But if the offense stalls and the Jets bring in Tebow, keep Sanchez out there too. No, not split out as a receiver. That's lame. Everybody knows Teebs isn't going to throw to Sanchez out in the flat.
Right now, when Tebow comes in, defenses knows to play the run and single in on Tebow. Sure he might hit a long Hail Mary, but if you keep your safety single high, you take your chances with a big throw and dare Tebow to beat you with his legs. It's pretty predictable at this point.
But what if you kept both Sanchez and Tebow in the back field side by side?
Imagine if you're on the opposing defense. The Jets have created some confusion. Who is going to take the snap? Will one QB hand off to another? Will Sanchez run play action off a fake Tebow hand off? Will Tebow take the snap and scamper up the middle because all the wideouts ran routes and the defense had a split second where they had to commit to who/what they are going to try to defend? Will Tebow take the snap and toss to Sanchez for a long downfield Jeremy Kerley bomb? Nobody knows!
I'd close practice as much as possible and work on this. The wildcat, as presently constituted, does not bring the element of surprise. It's basically only effective if Tebow picks a good running lane and beats his man on defense.
The Jets are thin on playmakers, but anybody can access the element of surprise. Plus they have the one critical element to making this work: Center Nick Mangold who is very smart, very good and would be able to adapt on the fly to whichever way the Jets want to go.
Will this expose the Jets (or me) to ridicule? Yes, but that rubicon was crossed long ago.
And what if it works? To remain relevant, the Jets desperately need to steal a couple wins. They had a chance against a quality Houston team but couldn't quite pull it off.
At this point, nothing should be off the table.