Jets Continue Search For Offense
By Neil Cohen
Yogi Berra was alleged to have said: “Without a catcher, you’re gonna have a lot of passed balls.”
The Jets are finding a similar axiom: Without an offense, you’re not going to score a lot of points.
And without points, no matter how powerful your defense is, it’s going to be difficult to get any wins.
The latest example came in Sunday’s 19-3 loss at the Baltimore Ravens. It was the third time in the past six games the Jets scored under 10 points, all losses. They fell to 5-6 and out of a surprising playoff spot with their second straight defeat.
The numbers were ugly against the Ravens. The Jets gained a total of 220 yards and were just 1 of 12 on third downs. The running game, usually a strength, had only 102 yards on 28 carries, with Chris Ivory hurting his ankle.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith continued his regression with fewer than 10 completions for the third game in a row, to go with two interceptions and three sacks. His quarterback rating was 22.3, which only looks good in comparison to the 10.3 he put up the week before against Buffalo.
“The mistakes we made, they’re not on one person,” coach Rex Ryan said in his Monday press conference. “Offensively, as it always does, it seems like as we talk about Geno all the time, the stats are out there for the public awareness, I guess. Here are the facts, he was nine-for-whatever, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture and it’s certainly not on one guy. When you look at the numbers, ‘Boy, that guy really struggled.’ But there’s a reason. Some of it’s protections. Some of it’s dropping the football. Some it’s a poor throw. Some of it’s running not a precise route. There are a lot of factors that [are] involved in it.”
Despite calls for undrafted rookieMatt Simms to take over, Ryan stated Monday that Smith will start against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday, saying, “Right now, I would feel that he gives us the best chance to win.”
Simms has the name value from his Super Bowl-winning father, Phil, and the fans’ belief that every low-drafted or free-agent quarterback will turn into the next Tom Brady. But the Jets have to see if Smith is capable of developing into a playoff-caliber starter or the team will take advantage of next year’s deep quarterback draft. Once Simms is named the starter, that’ll pretty much shows there’s no faith in Smith.
The offensive line hasn’t been doing a very good job of protecting the rookie. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the quarterback was pressured 10 times in his first 17 dropbacks, even without the Ravens blitzing. Smith isn’t moving out of the pocket as much as he used to, and the play-calling has gotten conservative in an attempt to reduce turnovers. Early on last Sunday, the Jets went to the wildcat often, with Smith even making a reception, but that soon was put back into mothballs. The Ravens, much to Joe Flacco’s chagrin, also used the wildcat and were much more successful with it.
The receivers haven’t provided much help for the youngster either. There were two credited drops, but several other balls that while they might’ve been tough catches, should’ve been grabbed. Stephen Hill has all but disappeared. He was targeted just once against the Ravens and has no catches in the past three games, amazing for a player who was a second-round pick in 2012.
“We know we have to score, there’s no question about that, and we have to do a better job on third down,” Ryan said, “So that’s an area of emphasis that we’ll be focused on this week. ... I think we have weapons, it’s just that we need more consistency. I think part of it, guys on the practice field, some of the timing might be off all that. We haven’t had the full complement of guys on the practice field. We had Kellen Winslow miss a couple days. We had Santonio [Holmes] off the foot injury misses a couple days of work. David Nelson was sick. I mean, it just seemed like snowball effect.”
The lack of defensive production made the two 60-yard passes the Ravens completed and their one touchdown feel like an avalanche of points. If the offense doesn’t gear up soon, the Jets’ will see their playoff chances melt away.
An improbable season will turn into another struggle to keep the team together.