New York Jets: From Potential AFC Top Seed To This?

Victoria SterlingCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 12: Head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan looks on from the sideline against the Miami Dolphins at New Meadowlands Stadium on December 12, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

I think this Jets' loss to Miami was arguably worse than the shellacking at the hands of the Pats.

At this point, there is no shame in losing to Tom Brady. We’re a couple of weeks away from resuscitating the old “Who’s better: Tom or Peyton?” argument from circa 2005-06. You watch. It’ll be on all the sports gab shows before you know it.

But I can tell you this much: The New England Patriots are six games away from hoisting another Lombardi Trophy. Tom will acquire his fourth gaudy ring (Hi Terry Bradshaw! Hi Joe Montana!), his third SB MVP and a 2010 season MVP, and Bill Belichick is going to be COTY. Book it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You bet against these two at your peril. I feel bad for two teams in particular that I predict they will crush. It’s vengeance against the Ravens if they meet up in the postseason. That horrible beatdown the Ravens put on the Pats in the first round last year still stings.

If they end up in a rematch with the Giants, watch out. 18-1 still hurts. There will be no fluky helmet catch this time around.

Anybody else who can beat them now? The Steelers can probably give them a run for their money, but I still like the Pats against a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger. You’ll hear plenty of fancy talk about the Falcons, but the coaching and QB matchups favor the Pats. Indy? Too many injuries. Eagles? I am not sure about Michael Vick's ability to stay upright.

The only team that I think could seriously challenge them is the Saints. Sean Payton’s offensive brilliance plus Drew Brees’ execution, plus a team that was just on the big stage and won’t have the yips, looks like a pretty good matchup.

Sorry, Bears, you were just exposed as the frauds you are. Tom picked you apart on your field, in the snow, and did it with ease.

So where does that leave the Jets? Booking tee times for January. I do not understand how the offense has gone off such a cliff. Mark Sanchez’s confidence is absolutely gone. He looks like a JV QB who got pressed into emergency action in the crosstown high school rivalry game.

This makes no sense to me. He should have plenty of confidence (again, no shame losing to Brady) after engineering his first ever (three!) comeback wins. He now knows the playbook. One more year under his belt.

I continue to believe that there is a behind-the-scenes battle over the soul of this team. I know Rex wants to ground and pound. That’s his calling card. But one-dimensional in the NFL works only for so long. You must continue to adapt.

I’m not saying quit running the football, but LaDainian Tomlinson (looking late-season gassed) and Shonn Greene (now a neck injury?) both scare me. Joe McKnight? Still don’t trust him. Oh how they must rue the day they cut Danny Woodhead. They still don’t let Mark run enough play action and bootlegs either, which would set up the run better than the “right up the gut” that is coming most of the time and getting stuffed.

Something’s not right. I wonder if Sanchez is injured. When they examined his jaw on the sideline last week, he jumped skittishly away. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some kind of arm or shoulder injury. I hope not, but his accuracy is terrible right now. Remember when Tom looked so awful in that Ravens' playoff loss? Turns out he was playing with broken ribs.

The sacks Mark is taking are an injury waiting to happen. It is even more worrisome because they have now lost Damien Woody on the line. I’d like to see Sanchito in the shotgun more, if only to protect himself, but that can be dicey in the inclement weather. And the receivers? An epic case of the drops all around.

They have to open up the passing playbook though, drops or no. If they refuse to do this, opponents will stack eight in the box and keep you from moving. I said before that the way to beat the Jets is to get up by a couple of TDs and then sit on their points-deficient run game. I never thought all you’d have to score was 10 points!

We’ll see what happens at Pittsburgh this week. But I am not confident. One of the most critical traits of a successful QB is confidence. Right now on the sidelines, Mark looks like the uncomfortable kid sitting at the restaurant as his drunk parents have a loud and embarrassing public fight.

I don’t know how to right it. I guess if I was Brian Schottenheimer, I’d call both Mark’s dad and his old HS FB coach/QB guru Bob Johnson and get them to give Mark a talk. His dad can tough love him into sucking it up and not moping, and Coach Johnson has always been a go-to guy for Sanchez (even back at SC) to check in about his mental and mechanical state of play. I think Schottenheimer currently has too much on his plate to really give Mark the mental boost he needs.

It would be nice too if LDT and Mark Brunell pulled him aside and shared some war stories of down times and how they got themselves back on track. There was a lot of this done last year by the veterans behind the scenes, and Mark would constantly cite how much it helped him gain perspective. The Jets can still make the postseason, but they need to take a top to bottom look at what is and is not working and be fearless about change.

This may well be the biggest test of his coaching career for Rex. His QB is a mess. His offense cannot get any traction, and his defense is mad because he threw them under the bus after what was a pretty good job holding Miami to only 10 points (all on Sanchito turnovers! Ugh.). To say nothing of that ridiculous knee-jerk sideline incident.

All you’re going to hear about this week is the lack of Jets' organizational control. The haters will talk about the Hard Knocks esprit de corps and how that doesn’t win championships. Maybe they’re right. I don’t know.

The Jets are looking at Steelers (@ Pitt), Bears (@ Chi) and the Bills at home to close out. None of these are gimmes. They need to win at least one because that wild card situation for the sixth spot is dicey.

But know this: The Jets will not be playing in Dallas in February 6. It pains me to say it, but no one is going to stop the 2010 New England Patriots.