Florham Park, N.J.- That smell permeating from the Meadowlands is more than just the normal stank from the swamps just off of route 3. The horrifically putrid odor is the rotting corpse that has become the New York Jets offense.
This offense is literally an embarrassment of riches right now.
With dynamic, explosive weapons at every position somehow this Jets offense has become one of the most boring and predictably ineffective offenses in recent memory.
Sanchez has played beyond terrible the last three games, but it’s so much more than that.
Yesterday reporters asked Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith if, despite Sanchez putting the blame all on himself, it would take a collective effort to get this offense turned around and Cotchery and Smith wasted no time saying every single player, not just Sanchez needs to get better and get better fast.
“Yeah, yeah, I mean…(laughing). It’s not Mark, it’s not Mark believe me. We are not playing well offensively, as a whole, as a group, so one guy can not shoulder the blame for this.” Cotchery said, “That’s why I said every guy on our offense has to get better for us to have an opportunity to put points on the board and win games.”
“Without question. We saw the film today, we saw the film from the last two weeks and Mark, he’s the quarterback and of course you know he feels like he should do that, but it’s not just Mark.” Smith said, “It’s the receivers to the offensive line, the running backs. All of us have to better, do better at executing and just play the game the way we know how to play it and we’ll be fine.”
If Santonio Holmes and or Jerricho Cotchery make those two catches that bounced right off their hands the Jets probably go on to win Sunday’s games, despite how bad Sanchez played. Sanchez needs to play better, no question about that, but his teammates, and coaches, need to help him out along the way.
“We’re not taking advantage of our opportunities. I had a couple of opportunities yesterday (and) didn’t make them.” Cotchery said, “It’s just different things at different times, and that causes your offense to not get into a rhythm and not put points on the board. It just starts individually. Individually, you have to get better and the rest of it will take care of itself.”
The most obvious problem with Sanchez’s recent play has been his inaccuracy. His throws have been all over the place, often throwing behind his targets or throwing in no man’s land between two targets. Sanchez’s confidence is clearly shaken right now, but that’s where it becomes his teammates and his offensive coordinator’s, responsibility to help him out and put him in a position to where his confidence can be built back up.
“At the quarterback position, it’s always a mental thing, dealing with knowing who’s coming with pressure, your reads, your footwork and all those types of things. That’s something that’s pretty constant. He’s going through some growing pains and that’s just how it is.” Smith said, “We have his back, just like he has our back. That’s what I’m excited about, our backs up against the wall, hurting a little bit, a little disappointed and that’s what brings us closer together. That’s what this game is all about, guys getting closer together and finding a way to get it done, so I’m actually pretty excited.”
The fact that Sanchez has struggled shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, he is still just a second-year quarterback with a lot to learn. The fact that he has struggled so badly and so consistently without any hope of an end in sight is what is so troubling.
Unless there is a dramatic shift in the Jets offensive philosophy and play-calling Sanchez is going to continue to struggle and the Jets can kiss their playoff chances, let alone Super Bowl aspirations, goodbye.
It’s easy to point to last year’s struggles and hope that the Jets will turn it around with their backs to the walls again, but this team bears very little resemblance to last year’s squad right now as this team is struggling to find an identity and the offense is struggling to find just what it is, if anything, they can do well at this point.
It’s also easy to look at the Jets record of 9-4 (especially considering they already matched last year’s win total) and their two game lead over any potential Wild Card hopefuls in the AFC and still feel optimistic as Shonn Greene or Brandon Moore do.
“We’re 9-4 so, everybody’s acting like we’re 4-9 or something like that, but we’ll be okay and we’re going to move forward and succeed from this.” Said Greene.
When a reporter mentioned to Moore that many outsiders looking in are saying the wheels are falling off, Moore quickly cut them off. “Well, that’s the outsiders. We’re just fine, we’re going to come to work on Wednesday, each guy is going to find a way to get better.” Moore said, “We’re not concerned with what people outside think, we’re the only ones here that can fix it and get it turned around. So I could really care less what people on the outside think.”
But even without taking the psychosis of Jets fans into consideration it’s easy to see why fans might see the sky falling in on the Jets season.
A struggling second-year quarterback has to lead his struggling offensive team on the road in two straight weeks and play against two of the best defenses in the league, in what will surely be extremely cold weather conditions is not exactly the best recipe for success.
“Yeah, it’s a great challenge for us, but this is what we want.” Smith said, “This is what we want though, this is what we want.”
But if the Jets can’t get it turned around they will be staring 9-6 dead in the face going into their last game of the season against Buffalo. The Jets have the talent and capability to beat the Steelers and Bears, but not playing the way they have been over the past couple months and like the players said, it’s definitely not all on Sanchez.
Step one to helping make life easier for the struggling second-year quarterback, run the ball and then run it some more. The Jets need to get back to ground-and-pound and they need to change their entire style, it’s important not just that they run the ball, but that they change how they run the ball.
Greene needs more carries, especially carries designed to go in between the tackles, L.T. needs the ball in space to be dangerous consistently, run L.T. outside or on draws and use him on screens, but Greene needs to be the bell-cow punishing defenses and gaining chunks of yards on every carry.
At one point during Sunday’s game the announcer pointed out that the Jets had rushed the ball 64 percent of the time on first-down (much more than anyone else), but when that plays inevitably gets stopped because it’s obvious it’s coming the Jets are then forced into a second-and-long situation. If they run it there and get little yards then all of a sudden Sanchez gets one shot on third-and-long to make a play and it’s punting time.
This is why Schottenheimer has been so quick to bail on the run, because he is choosing to run at the worst times and then leaning on the little success the running game has had as his excuse for why he is passing so much.
Switch it up and let Sanchez throw some quick slants or and underneath routes to get him in a rhythm and soften up the defense for Greene. Finally, the Jets can’t ever afford to abandon the run like they have been. For Sanchez to throw the ball 44 times and the entire offense to only get 31 carries in a 10-6 game is simply inexcusable. Last year the Jets didn’t start out running the ball successfully on every play, but they stuck with it and imposed their will, wore down the defense and ultimately prevailed, where is that same dedication this year?
Yesterday Jetsinsider’s own Wesley Sykes spoke up for the vast majority of Jets fans and called for Schotty’s head. This will be the guide on how Schotty can save this Jets season and maybe how to save his job.
First and foremost, the ‘Wildcat’ should probably just be erased from his memory, forget the concept exists. It never seems to gain more than a couple of yards anymore and it always stops the rhythm of the offense. It’s one thing to use it if nothing else is working, but to use it in the middle of a drive just kills the drive every time. Forget the play exists, until that crucial moment when it might be a good idea to run it only if Smith throws the ball, until then bye-bye ‘Wildcat.’
It’s impossible to figure out why they aren’t running more underneath routes for their receivers. Look around the league, the teams that are having success on offense are having success using the middle of the field on underneath routes, hell that’s the one area that the Jets defense has trouble covering. The weapons are there, Holmes Edwards, Cotchery, Keller are all more than capable of running inside routes and breaking a big play, we’ve seen it occasionally this season, how bout some more?
Every game Schottenheimer scripts the first 25 plays of the game and every game the offense gets off to a slow start, think maybe it’s time to flip the script?
Maybe don’t script a single play, maybe you dramatically change the entire tone and style of the script, whatever it is do something. And it can’t just be a little tweak, something dramatic needs to be done.
Finally, step two to making life easier for Sanchez, the Jets took a lot of heat last year for giving Sanchez the three-color coded sheet, but it worked. This isn’t to say they should give him the same restrictions as last year, but they should lighten the load on the kid. Give him less plays to think about, give him less pre-snap movement to worry about and give him less to think about in general.
We’ve seen it repeatedly from Sanchez when he doesn’t have to think and can just react he is at his best, so why not put him in a position to be at his best all the time?
At Monday’s press conference Rex Ryan fielded questions mostly about Sal Alosi so it took until the last question of the press conference for Ryan to be asked about his offensive coordinator.
“It just boils down to executing. Brian (Schottenheimer) does a heck of a job. He’s been around football all his life. He’s a smart guy. He works his tail off, as do all these coaches.” Ryan said, “We’re not satisfied by any stretch of the imagination with how we’ve performed lately, but we just have to get better.”
On the following days, Ryan won’t be so lucky as to only have to sidestep one question about Schottenheimer’s play-calling.
Instead he will be peppered with questions about the starting script, the ‘Wildcat’s’ ineffectiveness and the predictability of the offense as a whole and if he and Schotty can’t come up with a remedy for this funk this team’s season is will end without a single playoff game and some heads are going to roll.