Jets Win In Spite of Rex
Geno Smith played his best game on football's biggest stage on Monday night, and that will be what most people remember about the Jets 30-28 victory. He was poised, accurate and showed off a strong arm. Most importantly, he didn't turn the ball over. For Jets fans everywhere, it was a pleasure to watch.
However, lost in Smith's heroics and a breakout performance by Muhammad Wilkerson were some more inexplicable in-game decisions by Rex Ryan. It was foolish strategy that easily could have cost the Jets game. Let's give Ryan credit for his defense, which is playing outstanding football. But, if the Jets really want to contend, he cannot continue to botch easy decisions each week. Coaches are going to make strategic mistakes, but it becomes alarming when they make them repeatedly and don't seem capable of learning from them. Here are three glaring errors that Ryan made last night:
1) Deciding not to go for 2 when up by 12 in the 4th quarter.
This decision was the most egregious of the game. It's a no-brainer to go for 2 points when you are up by 12 with only 12 minutes left. Teams are supposed to have a chart for these situations, but the Jets must have left theirs back in New York. While the 2-point conversion is by no means automatic, there is little value in a 13-point lead at that point in the game when you can make it 14. The odds of the Falcons scoring two TDs are much higher than them scoring one TD and kicking two field goals. If you miss the conversion, you can still win with a field goal if Atlanta scores two TDs to take the lead (which they did). Had the Jets ended up losing 28-27, you can bet Ryan's first post-game question would have been, "Why in the world didn't you go for 2?" Luckily for Ryan, Smith and Nick Folk saved him from having to answer for an obvious, boneheaded decision.
2) Yet another poorly used replay challenge.
In the first quarter, Roddy White fumbled after a catch and the ball was scooped up by Julio Jones for a huge gain. From the first replay it was clear White had possession and tucked the ball away before fumbling. Rex Ryan still decided to challenge it. Coach's challenges are not to be used like you're ringing a dinner bell. They are not to be used like you're a 5-year-old who is upset with a play's outcome and want a "do-over." They have value and should never be tossed away in a haphazard manor. Ryan did virtually the same thing against Buffalo two weeks ago when he burned both of his challenges in low leverage situations. When he needed them later in the game after an EJ Manuel fumble, he didn't have them. If Rex Ryan played poker, he would be the type of player that goes all-in with a pair of sixes on the first hand.
3) Not using your timeouts wisely.
It's important not to confuse bad process with good results. Towards the end of the first half on Monday, the Falcons were deep in Jets' territory as the clocked ticked down. The Jets had timeouts in their pocket that they could have used to give themselves time for a final drive of their own. Instead, Ryan was content to let Atlanta use up the clock. Luckily, the Jets defense stuffed Jacquizz Rodgers on fourth down and the half ended. However, the Jets had no way of knowing Atlanta would go for it twice on 4th down during the drive. The Falcons could just have easily kicked a field goal, and if the Jets had used their timeouts, they could have had over a minute to drive back down the field. Each drive a coach can give his offense is valuable and those timeouts don't carry over to the second half. While the results were great (a goal line stance), the thought process was still poor. If Ryan keeps making these types of errors, it won't be long before his luck runs out.