Mark It Down: Jets Learn Jerricho Cotchery's Value to Sanchez in Loss

Angel NavedoSenior Writer IOctober 19, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 3:  Quarterback MarkSanchez #6 and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery #89 of the New York Jets celebrate a first quarter touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the NFL preseason game at Giants Stadium on September 3, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In a masterful showing of ineptitude, the New York Jets discovered new, creative ways to lose a game on Sunday with their crushing 16-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

A second-quarter, season-ending injury to All-Pro nose tackle Kris Jenkins triggered a tragedy of errors, highlighted by rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and his five-interception outing.

Coach Rex Ryan showed his rookie colors again with poorly-timed challenges and a mismanaged clock. Ryan tossed the challenge flag out in the fourth quarter, exhausting a valuable timeout following a Buffalo punt return for an insignificant six yards.

Penalty flags flew early and often with everything from false starts to unnecessary roughness. While Ryan's Jets are certainly more aggressive, they're also undisciplined when it matters most.

Gang Green's disgraceful performance received its final stamp of emphasis when punter Steve Weatherford bobbled the snap on what should have been the game-winning field goal in overtime.

At least that's what this brand new excuse machine of mine sputtered for the first few hours after the loss before settling on a small shred of vindication.


Turbulence through the air

In losses to the New Orleans Saints and Bills, Jets' fans witnessed the kind of quarterback Sanchez will be when he doesn't have receivers he can trust. 

Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets most sure-handed receiver, missed Sunday's game against the Bills with a hamstring injury—his first since December 2007—severely staggering the offense.

Through five games, Cotchery's 360 receiving yards are tied with Arizona Cardinals standout receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Except Cotchery has 24 receptions and one touchdown to Fitzgerald's 35 catches and five scores.

Cotchery was a league leader in receiving yards early in the season until the Saints defense neutralized him in Week Four. He was identified by New Orleans as a favorite of Sanchez and saw double coverage. 

The fifth-overall pick went on to throw three picks in the Superdome, and Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum pulled the trigger for an early October trade with Cleveland for receiver Braylon Edwards.

The transaction is still expected to be a successful one, but the expectations are contingent upon how well Cotchery and Edwards complement one another. If Cotchery's not available, it's unreasonable to expect Edwards to fill the void of two receivers after 10 days on the roster.

With no viable receiving threat to play opposite Edwards, the Jets newly-acquired receiver faced double coverage from Buffalo's fourth-ranked pass defense. Sanchez targeted Edwards nine times for three completions and 40 yards.

Losing versatile receiver Brad Smith in the lineup didn't help either.