Jets: 1 and 3 (or 4) is Not the Way To Head Into the Playoffs

Victoria SterlingCorrespondent IDecember 27, 2010

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 19:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets hands off to Shonn Greene #23 during their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 19, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

Jets, Jets, Jets.  You've got to play 60 minutes of football.  

Yes, the Jets are in the playoffs and in an eerily similar fashion to last year.  I won't say they backed in, but maybe they snuck in through the side door.  This loss to Chicago is so perplexing. 

On one hand, for the second week in a row, Schotty called a great game and Mark Sanchez was rolling.  This is important, especially being able to answer with touchdowns after the Bears scored instead of field goals or punts.  Being unable to score seven when they got the ball was a huge problem earlier in the season.  You can see the confidence now in the offense when they get the ball back. 

There were still too many drops by the receivers, though, and they need to continue to work back to the QB when plays break down and he starts scrambling.  The play action is paying huge dividends.  It's definitely opening up options for both the run and the pass.  But what a terrible way for Mark to end the game with a pick. 

It reminded me so much of the Atlanta loss late last year, where he also threw the pick that cost them the game.  That was an agonizing time.  Rex thought they were eliminated and said as much at the press conference.  Mark felt horriblethat he alone had cost the team a shot at the postseason. 

Turns out the next day.....Lazarus!!!!  A series of unbelievable breaks went their way, and they ended up in the postseason after all. 

Something about that incredible good fortune focused the team for the playoff run.  Mark finally GOT IT about ball security and played his best football of the year, and the whole team rallied to get within 30 minutes of the Super Bowl. 

Well, the Jets need to focus again.  And this time, they need to make their own luck.  I hope Mark can play against the Bills. 

I realize they don't need that win, but Sanchez runs on momentum, and there will never be too many live games reps for him and the receiving corps.  We'll have to wait and see how his shoulder holds up this week.  But there sure seemed to be plenty of zip on the balls I watched him throw. 

Surprisingly, I have confidence in this offensive unit right now.  Shaking up the playbook was the right thing to do and provided a great spark.  

However, I am extremely concerned about the defense.  What happened in the third quarter? Jay Cutler just lit them up.  I mean, he just torched the secondary.  Revis Island did ok, but Antonio Cromartie got burned in this game.   Boy do they miss Jim Leonhard. 

Rex?  Defense is your calling card.  This has got to get fixed.  I am not a fan of the constant blitzing.  Everybody knows it's coming, and any QB with a good arm and some speedy receivers is going to feast on it (BTW, what has happened to the offensive line for Chicago?  What a makeover since that horrendous game against the Giants where Cutler was repeatedly sacked). 

And speaking of QBs with good arms and speedy receivers...that's every team you are about to face from here on out.  

So now what?  First order of business is to beat the Bills.  And they will not be pushovers.  I've said before, I love how much pride and moxie the Bills have showed this season.  This game is not a gimme.   I'd like to see if the Jets offense can execute a game plan where they get up early by two or three touchdowns and let Mark Brunell and Kellen Clemmons perform mop up duty in the second half.   Maybe give Joe McKnight some live reps. 

I believe that for this team, keeping all of their starters in their weekly rhythm of preparation and playing is extremely beneficial.  They have a bad tendency to start sluggishly after long layoffs.  

Defense?  It's up to you, Rex.  Can you reshape this unit using the players you now have and deny your opponents?  Are your boys champions or not?  Show me.