The one thing that stands out when observing the box score from the New York Jets' 9-0 defeat against the Green Bay Packers is the number of pass attempts Mark Sanchez had.
Compare that to the number of carries split between LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.
Listening to the FOX analysts would make one believe that the Green Bay Packers were completely shutting down the Jets running game. This is true to an extent, but only to an extent.
Tomlinson and Greene combined for 76 yards on those 22 carries, which is a 3.5 yard per carry average. The Jets running game was not rolling up the yards against the Packers, but it was grinding out some yards. Only Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wasn't letting them do that enough for the Jets to win.
The Jets were a touchdown away from winning for over 57 minutes of this game. In a scenario like that, the team can afford to grind out yards on the ground.
What they can't afford to do is throw the ball 38 times and have their receivers drop balls left and right and allow Packers defenders to rip the ball out of their hands.
That is unacceptable play from a unit that needs to support their 23-year-old quarterback as much as possible.
Today they did the exact opposite.
It all starts at the top with Rex Ryan, who, to say the least, made some questionable coaching decisions. He gets an F for this game.
From there it trickles down to Brian Schottenheimer, who called a terrible game.
First things first: when the ground game is averaging just 3.5 yards a carry, it would be prudent to make better use of Shonn Greene, the 230-pound bowling ball. Tomlinson is having a great season. But given the situation, the Jets would have been much better off giving Greene 25 carries.
Secondly, the patterns of Schottenheimer's play-calling is too obvious. If a fan sitting at home can predict the play every single time the Jets line up on offense, chances are the Packers defensive coordinator can do the same thing. Too many times in the second half the Jets came out, threw short on first down and ran on second down, forcing Mark Sanchez to complete long third-down plays.
That series of play-calling is fine, as long as it is not repeated ad nauseam throughout the second half. All it does is set your sophomore quarterback up for failure by repeatedly forcing him to throw into the strong winds at the Meadowlands.
Finally, the actual plays were atrocious. Where were Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller for the entirety of the game? Why were they repeatedly throwing to Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery despite the pair's repeated drops?
The most perplexing question: Why were the Jets throwing the ball 20 and 30 yards down the field on 4th-and-5 and 4th-and-8 on their final two drives?
Brian Schottenheimer gets an F- for this game.
From the offensive coordinator, it falls on the receivers. The receivers dropped the ball, literally and figuratively. Even if those "interceptions" were questionable, they still highlighted a lack of focus on the part of the Jets receivers.
Jerricho Cotchery, who is usually as sure-handed as they come, has been plagued by drops in the last two weeks.
Santonio Holmes, who was supposed to take this offense to another level, has been Mr. Butterfingers since his return from suspension. His drop on 3rd-and-7 on the Jets' first drive out of the half set the tone for continued failure.
The receivers get an F- along with their coordinator.
The one player on the offense who deserves the least amount of blame is Mark Sanchez. Becoming a quality NFL quarterback is a long process. It doesn't happen overnight. It usually doesn't happen in the course of one or two seasons. Mark Sanchez still needs his teammates and coaches to support him.
Schottenheimer and the Jets receivers did not do that today. Sanchez was not impressive, but he certainly doesn't take the bulk of the blame for this loss.
However, Jets fans can draw some positives from this game. The Jets defense, which played at full strength for the first time all season, looks to be back to form, holding the Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense to 237 total yards, including just 156 passing yards.
The offensive line may have surrendered a critical sack to Clay Matthews on third down on the team's final drive, but they gave him a tremendous amount of time the remainder of the game.
The Jets out-gained the Packers 360 yards to 237 yards and won the time of possession battle, but they were also flagged for more penalties and turned the ball over three times.
It was a disappointing loss for the Jets. They were at home, coming off a bye and playing a banged-up Packers team.
The fact that Mark Sanchez didn't lose the game for the Jets is a meager consolation prize. If anything, it makes this loss feel even worse. When the weakest link on the team isn't the reason for a defeat, it stings that much more because fans are left asking "what if?"
What if Rex Ryan coached with some common sense today?
What if Brian Schottenheimer actually called a good game?
What if the receivers held onto the ball?
But they didn't. Schottenheimer's play-calling was atrocious. Ryan looked like an amateur on the sidelines. Save for the offensive line, everybody who is most important in supporting Sanchez dropped the ball in Week 8.
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