Failure to Launch: With 7 Games Left, New York Jets Remain Grounded

Daniel FriedmanCorrespondent INovember 12, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 21: Mark Sanchez #6 and Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Jets prepare to huddle against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

A quick look at the schedule shows that there are still seven more weeks of football, but for all intents and purposes, the New York Jets' season ended yesterday in Seattle. 

It's not even so much the fact that the Jets lost this football game, it was the manner in which they did so that basically told you everything you needed to know about the character and competitiveness (or complete lack thereof) of this team. 

Coming off a desperately needed bye week, the New York Jets had plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments and give themselves a chance to bounce back from that 30-9 thrashing by the Dolphins 15 days ago in Miami.

A solid performance against the Seahawks on Sunday would've done the trick, but, simply put, the Jets dug their own grave at CenturyLink Field.

As has been the case for much of the past few years, the Jets defense certainly kept New York in the ballgame, at least during the first half. And as has been the case all too often, this team's offensive struggles kept the defense on the field far too long and tired 'em out and, inevitably, their opponents built themselves an insurmountable lead. 

It's time to face reality. Whatever plan the Jets' brain trust had for this season (and, to be perfectly honest, I still don't know what that plan was), it's not working, nor is it likely to change. 

Of course, the obvious question is: Who's to blame for this team's shortcomings? Is it Mark Sanchez? Is it Rex Ryan

No matter how many people you ask, one thing appears to be unanimous: the fact that Sanchez is at fault. 

I'm not going to suggest that Sanchez doesn't bear any responsibility here, because he absolutely does. However, I don't think that his blemishes stem from a lack of talent or potential. The mistakes he makes are mentally rooted. 

Sanchez tends to be rather indecisive, which isn't exactly conducive on the football field, where pass-rushers exploit such behavior, and the consequences can be fatal. He also has more trouble in the red zone than a quarterback should ever have, and ball security continues to be an issue. 

Still, it's unfair to pin all of this team's offensive woes on Sanchez. 

If you're looking for someone to point your finger at, look no further than Jets' GM Mike Tannenbaum. 

It was Tannenbaum who ignored the deteriorating offensive line and also failed to address the run game by drafting or acquiring a quality running back.

It was Tannenbaum who failed to go out and address the pass rush.

It was Tannenbaum who decided that leaving Sanchez with an arsenal composed of Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight was a good idea.

The one move he made that I actually agreed with was trading for Tim Tebow. I understand that I'm in the minority here, but I felt (and still do) that bringing in a quarterback that would actually push Mark Sanchez was something that was absolutely necessary. 

Mark Brunell posed no threat whatsoever; therefore, Sanchez could make a hundred mistakes on the field, and the starting gig would still be his.

Sanchez needed a kick in the rear end and what better way to arrange for one than by picking up the most celebrated backup quarterback in the history of football. 

Also, the fact that the Jets have been successful running the Wildcat in the past, when they had Brad Smith, told me that Tebow could have a similarly positive impact. 

Which brings me to our next culprit, Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. 

Sparano was brought in because of his supposed offensive and Wildcat prowess. Suffice it to say, his "brilliance" has been visible on the football field alright. Even with the Jets' lack of offensive talent, Sparano's play-calling has been questionable at best this season. 

As for head coach Rex Ryan, I'd say the loudest guy in the room is the only one I don't blame.

Sure, he's said some dumb things to the media and, sure, he might be a bit too brash, but overall, Rex Ryan has done a pretty good job as head coach of the New York Jets.

He's the most effective coach they've had since Bill Parcells and, no, that's not an exaggeration. 

If anything, Rex's brilliance on the defensive side of the ball has been the only reason why the Jets have had any shot in hell whatsoever of being competitive this season, and it was absolutely the backbone behind their back-to-back AFC Championship appearances. 

This is not a "quick-fix" situation. The Jets aren't a piece or two away from becoming contenders. 

If you think simply getting rid of Mark Sanchez solves everything, you're going to be disappointed. There's a lot of work to be done, and it's going to take time for this organization to draft and develop players to plug all the holes. 

A pass rush would be nice, as would a productive run game. Drafting or signing a top-flight deep threat might not be the worst idea, either. 

Can the Jets win with Mark Sanchez? I think they can, and they've proven that before.

But regardless of what their long-term plans at quarterback are, there's not a single one out there that's going to turn this group of players into a championship-caliber football team. 

No matter how you slice it or who you want to blame, the Jets are in serious trouble right now for a number of reasons. 

Ironically, Rex and Co. aren't a circus, contrary to what everyone expected them to be and what they absolutely were in every sense of the word last year. 

The New York Jets are a football team that simply lacks the ability to compete. 


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