In my last article, I outlined a few of the fundamental problems plaguing the Jets right now. What good is pointing out problems though without offering solutions? The ideas which you will read below are all well within reason...no fantasy trades for Maurice Jones-Drew or unrealistic firings. All of them include player or coaching personnel currently under contract and can easily and realistically be implemented.
1. Replace Eric Smith in the starting lineup with Brodney Pool
Pool is a sixth-year player like Smith and has been a starter before for both the Jets and Browns. He's also the better player. Week after week, Smith presents a liability in an otherwise relatively solid secondary. Yes, Antonio Cromartie has his shortcomings, and the nickel-and-dime backs are shaky, but Smith is the most overwhelmingly noticeable problem.
Welker got more than half of his yards on a 73-yard third-quarter pass play, when it was Eric Smith, not Revis, who was at fault. Watching the replay, Smith bites on the play-action and does not provide the safety coverage Revis is expecting. It's then Revis, not the closer Smith, looking incredibly slow, who catches Welker and saves a touchdown.
Smith is flat out not fast enough to be a starting safety. You don't need to have a burner as the late-Al Davis believed, but you need a guy who is at least speedy enough to keep up with opposing TEs.
Smith can't even do that.
The sight of Smith two steps behind a TE has become an all too common one. In today's NFL, where the TE is becoming even more of a hybrid position, with guys like Aaron Hernandez who have skill sets more similar to a wide receiver, Smith does not cut it. Pool is better in coverage and needs to be put in the starting lineup.
It's no secret that I don't think Brian Schottenheimer is a particularly effective offensive coordinator. Now in his sixth season with the Jets, he has called some very good games, but those are few and far between when you look at the full body of work. It's only getting worse this season.
I support the idea of re-establishing the run game, but Mr. Schottenheimer decided this was the week to do it, against the Patriots—the NFL's WORST pass defense coming into that game. That's the same one that was torn apart by CHAD HENNE and the winless Dolphins.
The run worked well in the first half, but when it stagnated in the second half, he stubbornly stuck with it, as the Jets squandered the defense's three-and-outs against Brady. Nick Mangold was back Sunday, the offensive line played better, there's no excuse for SEVEN three-and-outs for the Jets offense.
Tom Moore was brought in this season as a consultant. He's the offensive guru who coordinated the Colts' prolific offense with Peyton Manning under center for 13 years. Obviously, he did something right.
I'm not trying to make Schottenheimer a scapegoat, as I'm completely aware of the offensive line issues. However, the Jets have been winning games in spite of Schottenheimer for years and while they tried to sweep reports of players complaining to Rex Ryan about him under the rug, I don't believe those are just being made up.
Moore is a proven veteran who would offer a change as a play-caller. I'm not naive enough to believe that Schottenheimer will be stripped of the offensive coordinator title. He's often not a bad game-planner, however, his in-game adjustments and play-calling are suspect. Moore coordinated Manning's audible-heavy scheme, and I think Mark Sanchez is more well suited to a no-huddle, rhythm-based offense, so this could be a great fit.
3. Get Joe McKnight involved in the offense
The Jets need a playmaker on offense. For years and years, it's been dink and dunk. Long runs or pass plays are an extreme rarity for Gang Green—and I wonder why.
Is it offensive design and play-calling?
Or is it the pieces on offense themselves?
The Jets have not had a true gunslinger quarterback in recent memory. Vinny Testaverde was for a season (1998); Chad Pennington sure wasn't, Brett Favre was over-the-hill, and Mark Sanchez is still a work-in-progress.
They've had lots of good, dependable offensive pieces at RB and WR, guys like Curtis Martin, Wayne Chrebet and Jerricho Cotchery.
But there haven't been that many truly dynamic offensive threats. Keyshawn Johnson was for a brief time. Leon Washington and Brad Smith have been the closest thing in the past few seasons. Those two each become a valuable change of pace player who could turn a defense on its head- and that's missing right now from the 2011 Jets offense.
That player (or at least one who can fill that void) is already on the roster though.
It's Joe McKnight.
I know he became deeply entrenched in Rex Ryan's doghouse for his rookie shenanigans, but McKnight has become a difference maker whenever he is on the field, whether it be returning kicks, blocking a punt or even applying the pressure on Joe Flacco on defense that forced him to throw an interception.
Dismissing McKnight at his natural position, running back, is a big mistake. It was just one game and a game with little on the line, but McKnight carried the ball 32 times for 158 yards in last season's final game against the Bills.
Shonn Greene is not a big-play threat, and LaDainian Tomlinson is not as explosive as he was in his Chargers' day. McKnight at least deserves some carries to try to provide a spark for this stagnant offense.