Jets vs. Ravens: Takeaways from New York's 19-3 Loss to Baltimore
The good news is, the Jets were finally able to break their mind-boggling win-loss-win-loss pattern.
The bad news is, they broke it during the wrong week.
Their second loss in a row comes at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, scoring only three points in one of the ugliest offensive performances of the year (which is saying something). If Geno Smith's job was not in doubt now, his role will certainly be questioned over the coming weeks after completing just nine passes and throwing two interceptions.
Here are the takeaways from this week's loss to the Ravens.
Pass Protection Is a Huge Concern
Geno Smith will take the brunt of the blame for the three-point outing, but he was hung out to dry for most of the game because of horrendous pass protection.
Smith was sacked three times and hit on six other occasions. He was rarely, if ever, given adequate time to make throws.
Rookie left guard Brian Winters was the leakiest player on the line, but the offensive line was not the sole source for protection breakdowns. The tight ends and running backs were victimized by blitzes as well, most notably Jeff Cumberland and fullback Tommy Bohanon.
The Jets can debate about who their quarterback is all they want, but until their pass protection improves, it will hardly matter.
Geno Smith's Confidence Is Shot
Looking back on the first month of the season, it is hard to believe that the Jets have started the same quarterback through the entire season given the drastic shift in production in the position since the halfway mark.
Geno Smith's stat line is abysmal, finishing 9-for-22 for 127 yards and two interceptions and producing just three points in the process.
Smith hardly got adequate help from his supporting cast: the pass protection was bad, and his receivers dropped passes with regularity.
Still, the "old" Geno would have found a way to overcome his team's mistakes and at last make a push at the end of the game to make the score look close. This new, demoralized Smith looked as lost in the fourth quarter as he did when the game started.
Geno Smith does not deserve to be benched just yet, but there is as much doubt about him as the Jets' franchise quarterback as ever.
Ed Reed Should Not Be a Starter
Adding a future Hall of Famer to a roster may seem like a no-brainer, but the Jets are starting to find out why he was an unwanted commodity in the middle of the season.
The lack of speed in Ed Reed's game was on full display, as he allowed Jacoby Jones to generate yet another huge passing play against the Jets secondary. Playing in a deep Cover 1 look, Reed labored to get over to help Dee Milliner, resulting in a long touchdown to put the game out of reach.
Perhaps, Reed can still be a useful player, but he needs to be taken out of his starting role (at least) to allow younger, faster players to play in the deep zone.
Wide Receiving Corps Needs an Overhaul
The Jets had a lot of trouble getting accurate passes off, but when they did, the receiving corps did just about everything possible to negate the few positive things that were happening around the line of scrimmage.
The wide receivers accounted for three total receptions in the game (two for Greg Salas, one for Santonio Holmes). Holmes, who is supposed to be the Jets' go-to receiver, dropped more passes than he caught (one catch in four targets).
David Nelson had at least one costly drop, while Stephen Hill went yet another game without a catch.
Outside of maybe Greg Salas, the Jets have good reason to part ways with every other receiver on the roster after the season, whether the reason is driven by performance or finances (or both).
Quinton Coples Is Improving
As ugly as the loss was, there were some positives to take away on the defensive side of the ball.
The Jets defensive line was dominant (as usual), but the player that stood out the most was Quinton Coples. His stat line of four tackles and a half-sack hardly jumps off the page, but he applied some much-needed edge pressure on crucial third downs that was missing from earlier games.
Coples was also stellar against the run, making a huge tackle-for-loss that virtually ended a drive before it even started.
It may have taken three quarters of the season, but the former first-round pick is finally starting to look like the explosive rookie he was a year ago.
The Wildcat Is Disruptive
Yes, the wildcat formation did generate a few plays in the beginning of the game (including a reception by Geno Smith), but it ultimately cost the Jets more than what they got in return.
With a young quarterback struggling as much as he has, taking him off the field or sending him out wide on every other play makes it difficult for him to get into a rhythm early in the game.
With so few "regular" passing attempts, the offensive line also has trouble getting into a groove of its own. With only one passing attempt on every series, asking a young quarterback to convert on nearly every attempt is only asking for trouble.
The wildcat can be used maybe once or twice per game, but using it as a base offense (particularly early in the game) may have backfired on the Jets.
Punt Coverage Is Becoming an Issue
Behind all of the talk about the sputtering offense is how poor the Jets' coverage units have played.
Jacoby Jones returned five punts for 108 yards, good for a 21.6 average. He could have had even more if penalties had not called back some of his returns.
There was not one particular reason as to why the Jets struggled so much in this area. At times, Jones just outran the coverage, while missed tackles nearly cost them a touchdown on at least one occasion.
This may not seem like a huge issue on the surface, but allowing these returns is wasting some great defensive play from the few players on the team that are performing well.
Reality Is Setting in
Just three weeks removed from their euphoric win over the New Orleans Saints, the Jets' season has taken a sharp turn for the worse with two blowout losses against teams with losing records.
The real question that surrounds the Jets is whether or not they are an underachieving team now or if they were overachieving earlier in the season to trick everyone into thinking they were a playoff-caliber team.
There were low expectations for the Jets headed into this season, which have since risen after their fast 5-4 start. However, after dropping two straight games, it is worth considering that the Jets' record is bloated. After all, many of their wins came in late, come-from-behind fashion.
In reality, the Jets are just a few missed kicks away from firing their coach next week.
We will find out exactly how good the Jets are over the next month.