New York Jets: Can They Beat the Denver Broncos at Mile High?

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New York Jets: Can They Beat the Denver Broncos at Mile High?
Nick Laham/Getty Images

The Jets drive me crazy. They have plenty of physical talent, but they just don’t play smart football. 

They can get away with it most of the time, but what about when they run into a team like the Patriots that does play smart football? They lose.

And, it is not just the players. It’s the coaching staff too. 

Looking back at the Jets four losses this season, what has been the common denominator? The offensive line letting Mark Sanchez get whacked.

Once he starts feeling vulnerable in the pocket, he completely loses focus, and that’s when the dumb mistakes start to happen—like the stupid timeout.

That kind of boneheaded move is the type of thing that is a self-fulfilling prophecy because it leads the coaching staff to not fully trust him, and they reflexively veer back into conservative play-calling. 

I wonder if everything is OK with Sanchez behind the scenes. He doesn’t seem himself. He looks scattered and lost. One of his best traits is his ability to block out all the distractions and focus on football, but he just doesn’t look mentally on track. 

Sometimes, I feel like the Jets coaching staff has no real understanding of who their starting quarterback is.

Sanchez does not like to get hit. And yet, the Jets gave up five sacks against New England. New England! When I think of ferocious pass rush, New England is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Part of it is Sanchez’s fault for hanging on to the ball for so long. But, this has happened often enough this season that the Jets coaches should have a plan in place to deal with it.

Andre Carter should not be beating you. Even when the Jets put extra help in the backfield, he still got to Sanchez. This is a bad sign. 

There is now enough film on Sanchez’s jittery pocket reaction to the pass rush that the Jets have essentially given opponents the blueprint for how to disrupt their offensive game plan.

And, it’s the same thing every time: the coaches' inability or unwillingness to adapt on the fly when trouble starts.

What happened to play-action on Sunday night? That’s one of the single best weapons for this team for a few reasons.

Sanchez is great at selling it; it buys him and the receivers time and space so he doesn’t have to try to fit throws into such tight spaces, and it helps ease off the pass rush. 

This is not rocket science. Even if you are playing from behind, it can still be effective.

Until this whole team, top to bottom, starts playing smarter, what you have will continue to be a middle-of-the-pack group for whom the playoffs are anything but guaranteed.

Forget the division title. The Jets will be lucky to get a wild card berth. 

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

And, this is where their early losses kill them. All three were to AFC teams.

 

The Pats are going to take the East. The Texans will take the South. Maybe. Probably. (Holy smokes! Three ex-USC QBs are now starting in the NFL.)

Matt Leinart will do just fine. Every play should be some combination of hand-off to Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Why not adopt the new Denver passing scheme and only throw it a handful of times?

Back to the playoff picture.

Some combination of the Steelers and the Ravens is coming out of the North, and somebody will win the West.

That means that the Jets are basically scrambling for the one remaining wild card against the Bengals, Titans, Bills and whoever is second in the AFC West.  Those are not very good odds, and the Jets' remaining schedule, although easier than the first half, is still not a cakewalk. 

And now, they go to Denver on a short week.

Sanchez has a tendency to rebound after playing poorly. But like I said, he just doesn’t seem right.  That’s a recipe for him to press and make mistakes, which the Denver defense can capitalize on. 

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

 

Plus, Denver’s quarterback is some kind of "full-half-quarter-back" hybrid who now has a grip on the starter’s job and has infused the team with the evangelical zeal that comes from winning.

 

It’s kind of entertaining to watch John Fox on the sidelines with a look on his face that basically says, “Can you believe we’re winning games this way?” And yet, there goes Tim Tebow bulling through the opponent’s defense for another TD. 

Who needs a passing game? Maybe Darrelle Revis can come in on offense and help block.  I’m pretty sure Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson can handle the Broncos passing attack, such as it is. 

Everyone is worried if the Jets can defend the option that Denver runs. I’m much more worried about where this team is mentally.

Once again, the Jets have the pressure of “must win” hanging like a Sword of Damocles over their heads.  The most worrisome thing is that looking back at it now, the Jets don’t really have a quality win under their belt. 

We thought Buffalo was that win, but watching the erratic Cowboys dismantle Buffalo causes one to reconsider. Maybe Buffalo was a mirage all along.

I’m not very optimistic for this Denver game.

Usually, the Jets, and especially Sanchez, like to get back on the field as soon as possible after a loss to get the bad taste out of their mouth. But, a cross-country flight to a high elevation stadium on a short week coming off what basically amounts to a playoff loss is a lot to overcome. 

I think Rex Ryan has to stop it with the must-win stuff. Everyone knows that anyway. I think what has to get preached over and over is to get back to fundamentally sound football.

Quit watching the jockeying of other teams for playoff spots. Quit reading your own press, which always gets you in trouble and allows the media to steer the conversation. 

One game at a time. Who cares what New England and Buffalo do this week? The only thing you can control is each one of your games. 

The second half of a once-promising season got off to a very disappointing start with a loss to the Patriots. That’s in the rear view mirror now. 

The only order of business this week is to go into Denver and beat the Broncos.

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