Jets lose hard to Oakland, 34-24: Post-game Breakdown

Well. That was a mess. The Jets completely folded in the second half to Oakland, losing 34-24. The game went from fun to watch and a competitive contest to a frustrating disaster so fast that Jets fans barely know what hit them.

The worst thing about all the Jets losses last season, except for the 45-3 disaster in New England, was that they were entirely winnable games, so this is familiar territory. Here we are again, looking at a winnable game that the Jets just screwed up, with mistakes or lack of execution.

Let’s break this down a bit.

The defense wasn’t very good. In fact, they were pretty bad.  There were missed tackles, only one sack, and absolutely no run defense. Darren McFadden ran for 171 yards with 2 touchdowns, and the Raiders rushed for 241 yards, the most any opponent has run on the Jets during Rex Ryan’s tenure as head coach.

[caption id="attachment_170" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Darren McFadden (20) brushes off Eric Smith. McFadden rushed for 171 yards. // photo by Jed Jacobsohn, Getty Images"][/caption]

Further, the touchdown that put Oakland up 24-17 in the third was what Rich Cimini at ESPN called a “shocking loss of poise” for the Jets, “a veteran team that usually can handle crowd noise and momentum swings.” McFadden’s would-be-pass turned into a 27 yard running gain, and then Denarius Moore ran 23 yards to the endzone on a reverse.

But the Jets might have been able overcome that minor collapse if it wasn’t for Antonio Cromartie. In addition to his four penalties for 46 yards (his first setting up the Raiders first score in the first half), he fumbled the ball on the kickoff close to the Jets endzone. The Raiders recovered and scored another touchdown a few plays later, putting them up two touchdowns with only the fourth quarter to go. That was the dagger, and in those three consecutive plays, the Jets lost the game.

The next biggest problem was the offensive line. Throughout the preseason and weeks 1 & 2, I kept saying that the offensive line needed to get its act together. The first two games of the season, they held on, but there were some moments where anyone with eyes could see that things were *this close* to coming apart. Through the first half of this game, they’d at least managed to hold on. Then, came the second half of this game. Sanchez was sacked four times, once in what was nearly a sickening crunch between two Oakland defenders. He just managed to fall out of the way in time.

The offensive line created few holes for the running game and couldn’t give Sanchez enough time to throw the ball. Sanchez struggled to stay on his feet long enough to even get a pass off to his receivers.

[caption id="attachment_171" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Denarius Moore (17) dives out of reach of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie for the touchdown. // photo by Paul Sakuma, the AP"][/caption]

If the offensive line can’t function, Jets fans can forget about winning, and start worrying about the reality that Mark Sanchez, the "Sanchize" franchise quarterback who we’re supposed to be pinning all our hopes and dreams on, is going to get killed. It turns out he suffered a broken nose this Sunday. The way the O-line played, they're lucky it's only his nose.

That said, All-Pro center Nick Mangold’s substitute, rookie Colin Baxter, did pretty well in the center position. The offensive line only had one false start, and there weren't any bad snaps or exchanges.

But the only positive spin you can give about the offensive line is that they didn’t fall apart sooner.

The offense overall just didn’t execute – Holmes, Burress, and Mason were MIA for most of the game. It felt as though the Jets should have been up big at the end of the first half, but instead it was a tie game. There was almost no running game. If the Jets can’t run the ball, they are not going to win, and they can barely run the ball. As previously mentioned, Shonn Greene is not looking much like the running dynamo the Jets were hoping he would be this season. He never seems to get the big yards LaDainian Tomlinson got, and can sometimes still get. Greene never seems to find the holes. He barely gets five yards, but consistently gets two yards every time.

Some of the play calling in this game didn’t make much sense either. Santonio Holmes indirectly criticized it himself, saying the Jets need to adjust better on the fly. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been second guessed by Jets fans for years, but today really reminded us why. If the only thing Greene can do is run the ball for two yard gains, why didn’t they just hand the ball to him on 3rd and 2 and then the 4th and 2 in the second half when the Jets decided to go for it on fourth down? Why did they insist on trying to throw the ball to gain two yards? How come, at the end of the game, they didn’t kick the field goal and try to recover the onside kick, instead of having nobody open and having Sanchez dive for the endzone just to have him trip and his knee land on the ground before the ball broke the plane?

Also, I can’t be the only one who has noticed that Sanchez seems to come into his own when in the no-huddle offense. Something to consider when calling plays, hmm?

Finally, the Jets seemed to come out of their funk in the fourth quarter, but it was too late by then to make any real attempt at a comeback. Time ran out on them, but as I watched the clock wind down, I was reminded of the AFC championship game against the Steelers last winter where the Jets finally started to be a good team but then took forever to score points. In the fourth quarter today, the Jets got it together, but they didn’t do it fast enough. They were down 14 points with under 10 minutes to go, and nobody seemed to be in any real hurry.

It was just one of those games where Jets fans are left shaking our heads.

It had been crucial the Jets have a good start, like 3-0 good. While 2-1 isn’t bad, they’re going into Baltimore next week and New England the week after. Both the Ravens and the Patriots are better teams than the ones they’ve faced so far. The Jets are going to have to be very good to beat those teams, and this game against the Raiders doesn’t exactly build confidence. If things go like they did against the Raiders the next two weeks, the Jets could be 2-3 when they finally come home to face Miami.

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