Wednesday, January 26, 2011

N.Y. JETS ~ REX's JETS get Grounded and Pounded

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL ~  Pittsburgh Steelers 24;  NEW YORK JETS 19

Bad ROAD TRIP:   Mind If We Dance With Your Dates? 

Not only didn't Otis Day and the Knights not "love" the Jets - They didn't even recognize the Jets when they walked in.  Showing up to that club was a bad idea from the start.  As soon as they walked in, the music stopped and all eyes were on them.  They settled in anyway for what was most likely going to be a very weird night. 

Once the music kicked-up again, one patron made it very clear he didn't want to talk and that he didn't go to college.  Another guy pulled out a switch-blade.  They had their tabled ripped out of the floor in front of them and to top it all off, had their dates taken away from them for a dance with strangers. 

When LEAVING! became the smart thing to do, they smacked up the car, along with a few others in the parking lot, in their attempt to flee and left the girls from Dickinson College behind to walk home alone.

Yes, the night was an unmitigated disaster; we know.

It's over Man; (Big Ben) Dean Wormer dropped the big one!  For Coach Rex Blutarsky and his Green Fraternity, I guess it IS seven years of College down the drain after all.  The Jets wound up tripping over their own marbles - all 10,000 of them.  The DeathMobile was really a Green Edsel in disguise.  And now,  there's no breaking beer bottles over Coach Blutarsky's head trying to cheer-up Flounder and getting him to stop crying about wrecking his brother's '64 Lincoln.

I think BOONE said it best and spoke for all, when he so eloquently said,

"You F%?#ed Up!...You Trusted Us!"

OK - So college was a complete waist of time for everybody, but Man! - wasn't it fun while it lasted?  Many of those characters from the movie all left Faber College behind to lead very different lives, just as free-agency will disperse some of this team's current players.  But the memory of their mayhem never went away and the memory of two great games against the Colts and Pats shouldn't either.  What the Boys achieved in one semester was Classic and something we who saw it, will remember for the rest of our lives.  When the pain subsides from this loss, Jet fans will look back on this season with endearment and acknowledge it for the Classic that IT was.

The horse, the toga party, the Mayor's daughter, the food fight, Dean Wormer's wife...  They were all worth it in the end even if they never got a chance to graduate.  So to Coach Blutarsky and the Boys..., Thanks for a great time.

NEW YORK JETS:  A Final Quiet Flight Home.

With a Better First Half, They Could Have Been
The TITANS of N.Y. Again!

So what happened out there?

Rex elected to defer the Kick-Off as is his custom.

Then, the Steelers proceeded to pounded out massive yardage running the ball and Big Ben capitalized on key downs by rumbling outside the Pocket. The Steelers went on a 9:06 minute drive ending in an opening possession touchdown.  Things went down hill from there for the Jets.  A Mark Sanchez fumble and return for a touchdown by Pittsburgh exacerbated the score and everybody went into halftime with the Steelers leading 24-3. 

The Jets Defense was plagued by poor tackling allowing over 100 yards rushing in the first half alone.  Offensively, the Jets could only gain ONE net positive yard running the ball and could not capitalize on a Big Ben interception.

In the second half, they gained back respectability.  Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene and the Defense worked to get 16 more points on the scoreboard making the contest a 24-19 affair.  The Defense held the Steelers scoreless in the second half and scored two points of their own with a Safety.

And then the biggest point of contention of the night would be Coach Schottenheimer and what happened at the goal line.  Because after that, the Steelers got the ball back and Big Ben rolled out one final time to get one more first down and secure the win for Pittsburgh.

That's the game, basically in a nut-shell.

Of note is, in spite of a horrible QB Rating, Big Ben had a most remarkable and disruptive game out of the pocket.  He not only ran for yardage, he rolled out and threw accurately on the run and controlled third down for the Steelers.

He dared throwing Darrelle Revis' way, which I thought he would.  And Revis really should have come down with an interception.  But two Big Ben interceptions, in the end, didn't come back and doom the Steelers.  Instead, all his other work outshines the numbers he's credited with in the box-score.

The Steelers' Defensive performance in the second half?  How much of the Jets comeback can be attributed to Pittsburgh sitting on a 24-3 lead?  It's hard to say.  Rex said the Jets made zero half-time adjustments because he thought things would turn around as it was.  Well, they did.  I'd like to think Shonn Greene made a difference and again, Sanchez had a great game.  You can say...If It Weren't For The Fumble-6 and What Went Wrong Down On The Goal Line..., the Steelers' Defense could have potentially blown it also.  So, I do believe the Jets comeback was real and not something the Steelers allowed for the sake of an expiring clock.


Well, I'll start with my own Preview: ~ Steel City Showdown.  If you take a second and go through it, it's still what I feel today and now I'm just questioning why Schotty wasn't as aggressive as I think they needed to be.

These teams almost mirrored each other.  I thought both defenses would remain stout, tough and stingy.  I knew Sanchez and Big Ben would be main reasons either team won.  And we all knew both teams would try to impose the running game on each other.  Actually...blah blah blah.  I didn't anticipate the Jets tackling so poorly in the first half and that's as much the reason why they lost as any.  You can point to a myriad of things actually.

You want a short list?

* The Goal Line Stand
* the Roughing the Kicker penalty
* a huge Cotchery drop
* a Mark Sanchez fumble that went for 6 points the other way
* not capitalizing on the first Big Ben INT.
* Pittsburgh rushing for over 100 yards in the first half and the Jets only gaining ONE
* poor first half tackling
* continued devotion and false-hope in LaDainian Tomlinson and not pounding with Shonn Greene
* not one pass to Braylon Edwards for nearly the first three quarters of the game
* etc  etc

** But they did hold the Steelers scoreless in the second half.

Here's the real point I want to bring out of my Preview.  I thought the Jets needed to take numerous chances down field in order to shake loose the running game for them. 

Here's some of what I said in my preview:

"And now, against the Steelers, Mark Sanchez has to win a game for the Jets by his lonesome. Mark and his Receivers will become the focal point of the Jets Offense because I think the Steelers will hold true, and limit the Jets' running game to low yardage. Mark is going to be responsible for managing 1st and 3rd downs while they try and squeeze something out of their running game. This is not to say they shouldn't be trying to enforce the run-first tact, but I do think they'll be managed.

So how do you combat the Steelers defense?  Well, they are very aggressive.  So I say you meet it with aggression.  I say be bold.  You have to make then back off the run other wise they will take it away from the Jets and tee-off on Sanchez.

I think Schotty is going to have to get a little West Coast on Pittsburgh.  Use the Steelers' aggression against them.  Screen passes, draw plays, scatter-passes to Shonn Greene out of the back-field, and a whole bunch of slant and crossing patterns.  But I really think Schotty and Sanchez need to take a lot of chances over the top. As a matter of fact, the very first play the Jets have from scrimmage should be "The Bomb".  Honest!  I would take multiple gambles going over the top.  That's what you're going to have to do if the Jets want to shake their running game loose.  Then hopefully by the 2nd half, the running game can find some daylight and run with power.
.....So, against the Steelers, this Offense may have to get out of it's element.  What Jet fans can hope for is that Schotty's play sheet has everything on it that Mark does best and that a few of those plays find their way.  Because even though the Jets beat the Steelers in the regular season, remember two points came on a Safety and another touchdown was scored on a kick-return. So, Mark Sanchez will have to engineer more than 13-points this time around.
........On Offense, Nothing Ventured; Nothing Gained.  If I'm Rex I'm playing this game ultra-aggressively.  This is for the AFC Championship. Rex wants to win this time.  The Team wants to win this time. Their fans want them to win this time.

So I say TAKE IT! I say try and overwhelm them. I say launch a couple a balls deep early, and see if Braylon Edwards or Holmes can pull down a pass and inflict an early body blow. Because that's the way this has to be.   It has to hurt. The Jets need to make the Steelers think about something else other than the run......"

Well, that's what I said.  That's how they scored on Holmes' touchdown.  They tried only a few down-field passes in the first half.  Braylon Edwards I believe blew a route on one of them but more glaring is the fact he didn't have a reception for most of the first three quarters of the game.  But Coach Schottenheimer never really gave the deep threat a chance while the play was there waiting for them all night!  The Steelers secondary isn't great aside from that guy with a lot of hair.  And so what happened?  The Steelers took the run away from the Jets allowing them ONE yard rushing in the 1st half and they tee-d of on Sanchez causing a fumble-6.  Coach Schottenheimer didn't do enough to make the Steelers' defense think differently.  He needed to be more aggressive and pick on their corners with deep passes.  Why else did Mike Tannenbaum bring in Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes in the first place?  This was supposed to be the game where they improved upon the Offensive disappearance in last years' Championship game.  This was the game; not any other before this!

Then, there was The Goal-Line Stand.  Again, I believe Coach Schottenheimer got it all wrong.  Of course he got it all wrong.  People in Mongolia knew he got it wrong.  Every unborn Jet Fan will come to learn how wrong he got four plays that ran his team into the ground and kept them out of the Super Bowl.  Say what you will about the first half.  Yes it went bad, but too often we are reminded it's not how you start; it's how you finish.  Ask the Giants for a lesson in that (See Eagles). 

Why did this team and Coordinator rely so heavily on LaDainian Tomlinson based on greatness from years gone by?  Shonn Greene has been the young legs propelling the Jets running game ever since LT began to disappear mid-way through the season.  He should have been featured, not only in the first half, but on the goal-line hand-off that went to LT instead.  There were for downs, one yard, three feet and Glory to go.  Shonn Greene should have been choice one, two, three and four.  But Coach Schottenheimer elected to hand the ball off to someone who once upon a time would have flown over the pile, but this time couldn't use his walking cane to pole-vault onto a sidewalk.  Do we have to rehash the two pass calls?  Let's not, right?

Execution during the most critical, crucial moments of a game is the mark of a Champion.  But even great players need help.  Winners are still needy of a Coach putting them into position where-by they can make greatness transpire on the field.  Sanchez had himself a great day regardless of his coach and in that critical time, the QB needed and demanded more and better from his Coordinator.

Brian Schottenheimer didn't do that.  Instead, during those critical four downs near the goal line, I felt, I observed, someone who operated with a complete lack of urgency and didn't rise up to the challenge of the moment.  The play selection is a wholly different matter for which he deserves his very well deserved criticism.

I'm not a Jets fan so I'm perhaps not qualified to fan-dump someone's job.  But I do know you Jet fans have been complaining for years about this guy.  He drives you as crazy as Kevin Gilbride does me...and I don't blame you.

And what to make of the season now?

There's alot of opinions about players, Rex and the season to occupy space with.  Maybe a lot of that gets dealt with in the future. 

For now, I'll leave it at this:

If the Jets had not beaten the Colts in the first playoff game, Coach Rex and the Jets would have been pointed at, laughed at, ridiculed and mocked.  A decades' worth of new jokes and immature, but funny ways to manipulate J-E-T-S would have been arming a new generation of 13-year-olds' ridicule towards the team to use against their friends for a decade to come.

Had they lost to the Patriots, their fortitude would have been questioned; everything would have been questioned.  They, the verbal participants of Trash Talk Week, would have gotten destroyed by the media.  As a matter of fact, the whole thing would have been a complete disaster.  We'd still be sheltering ourselves from the fall-out.  A comprehensive, all-out media Blitz would have be brought upon JetsNation with a loss in Foxborough.

And now that the Playoff run has ended with a loss to the Steelers, I just want to reach into my pocket, pull out a pack of candy Life-Savers, and offer you one.  There's nothing to be embarrassed about.  No one should be receiving any more criticism than the routine Blah Blah blah...that usually follows a season that doesn't end with a Super Bowl.

Don't be so hard on yourselves.  Being in the Final Four is fun and the ride was great.  Sports, after-all, are more about failure, than anything else.


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