Are the Jets the only team in the league whose every loss is more egregious than the one that came before it? Never would I have thought that it could get worse than getting blown out by 40 by the Bengals, yet the Jets really outdid themselves this time. Maybe the point differential is not quite as wide a gap, but to look this awful against a team you already beat once this year, who were only 3-7 coming in, after you yourself were cruising into a bye week after defeating Drew Brees and the Saints? Something about that run on sentence just makes this latest defeat sting the most of all.
This team is in a bit of a weird spot right now, caught between being playoff contenders and having to experiment with what they have, to see if anything inspires hope for a better Jets tomorrow. For the most part, all experimentation deals with Geno Smith, who is coming off what is yet again his worst game as a pro. 8-23 for 103 yards, no touchdowns, three interceptions, a fumble and one benching for Matt Simms. As much as Geno gets killed after every loss because he never seems to learn from his inconsistency and countless (24) turnovers, starting Matt Simms over him is not the answer. Because Smith has shown moments of, if not greatness, at least competence as an NFL quarterback. To make the decision to not start him this far into the season would kind of defeat the purpose of making him the starter in the first place. Geno Smith needs to be subjected to as much testing as is possible, to determine whether or not there is a starting NFL quarterback within him. No ill will towards Matt Simms, but he is really an unknown entity at this point. Maybe if Geno starts to really struggle and the Jets are just totally down and out, like they fall to 5-9, you start Simms. But if this team is going to try and make a playoff push, they are better off sticking with Geno, a semi-known, highly erratic entity that has helped them win five games this season.
Our other New York Jets guinea pig has been Dee Milliner, who, at this point, has to be seen as a failure in his rookie year. It seems like at least once a game that Milliner loses some guy in coverage, giving way to a third down conversion, touchdown or other type of big play variant. Just in this last game against Buffalo, he allowed T.J. Graham, someone I had honestly not heard of until this game, to get wide open on a long pass, leading to an easy touchdown. Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel let fly a fairly long pass down the sideline in the second quarter, which Milliner seemed to have perfectly covered. Wind had been a big factor in the game already (see: Nick Folk’s first field goal attempt,) and when the receiver (Graham) noticed that the ball was going to be under thrown as a result, he made an adjustment. Doing the complete opposite, Milliner kept running down the sideline; he saw neither the ball nor his man. Graham, fully adjusted and wide open, caught the pass and rather easily waltzed into the end zone, before dunking the ball through the goal posts so hard that it flew into the stands (which was kind of funny/awesome, despite my rage.) The play was kind of a big momentum swing in the game, as the Jets were never really close to competing with Buffalo after that.
Basically, Milliner needs to get better at what he’s being paid to do, because this is not the first time he’s made a costly mistake on defense and it certainly won’t be the last. Obviously, I’m not blaming the whole loss on him, the rest of the defense did not look much better in the passing game. It’s just that he was supposed to be this NFL-ready rookie coming out of Alabama and has thus far not had what I would I would call a “positive memorable performance” in any game. Something needs to happen with him and it needs to happen sooner rather than later, but I’m not quite sure what that “thing” is (be it benching him, him improving or riding this year out before bringing in a veteran next year.) Either way, you can be sure that the Jets’ pass defense is going to be tested this week.
A Game Where You Can Be Sure That the Jets’ Pass Defense is Going to be Tested: New York Jets (5-5) @ Baltimore Ravens (4-6)
The defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens have to be desperate for a win right now, if they want to have any sort of chance to make a late season playoff run. Their running game has been surprisingly atrocious the entire year and that really should not change against a Jets defense that has been fairly excellent against the run all year. What is worrisome is that the Jets pass defense was so incredibly terrible against a rookie last week, and now they’re going up against a Super Bowl winning, self-proclaimed top five NFL QB in Joe Flacco. Flacco can really air it out if he wants to, and he’s got some legitimate downfield targets that can do some serious damage. I’m looking for the Ravens to try and strike early against these Jets, just to get them a little bit demoralized, before keeping things a relatively low-scoring affair.
For the Jets’ part, they need to maybe start relying more on their run game, which has been by far the more consistent part of their offense. With the weather getting colder and windier now as we head into the winter months, it is as good a time as any to get into a good rhythm just handing it off. Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory have proved more than capable of handling the work load. Both of these teams really need this win, so hopefully it will be an entertaining game. Plus the newly acquired Jet Ed Reed will be going up against his former longtime team, so that will be fun for everyone from the fans, to the players, to the 24-hour sports news cycle.
– The one year anniversary of the Butt Fumble just passed; never forgive, always forget.