Mangini’s Worst Day as Head Coach and Other Postgame Thoughts

Even a little snow in Seattle could not help the Jets escape from this mess. It was exactly one month ago (Nov. 23) that the Jets thumped the previously undefeated Titans 34-13 and began looking like not only a playoff team, but a Super Bowl team. But those cries of joy have turned into screams for help as the Jets ride on a collision course with a monumental collapse. Now as they prepare for what could be one of its darkest days since the franchise’s inaugural season in 1960, Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington will look to stick the nail in their coffin. The same quarterback that the Jets booted away just four months ago to bring in Brett Favre can boot the Jets away from the playoffs. The thought is daunting enough to make any Jet fan cringe.

Jets head coach Eric Mangini has appeared loose and has often joked with the media during his press conferences over the past month, but yesterday he looked like a beaten man. He suffered through one of his worst afternoons in his three-year tenure at the worst possible time. It might be hard for the Jets to say goodbye to Favre if he desires to return for a second season as a Jet, but showing Mangini the door might be a bit easier.

The Jets no longer control their own destiny as they prepare to face the first-place Dolphins on Sunday at the Meadowlands, but they can certainly help their slim playoff hopes. A win and a Patriots or Ravens loss and they are in. Then again, that’s easier said than done.

*Mangini faced a boatload of criticism after the Jets’ Week Two loss to the Patriots for handing the ball to running back Thomas Jones on three consecutive plays inside the five-yard line, but Sunday’s performance was Mangini’s worst as a Jet. On the first offensive series, the Jets traveled 78 yards and faced a fourth-and-one at the Seattle two-yard line, but the Jets opted for a field goal. Mangini explained that “points were going to be at a premium,” but opening the game with a touchdown would have really set the tone. When a defense has the football shoved down their throats on their home field only to eventually allow a field goal, it serves as a confidence booster. Even if the Jets are unable to convert on the fourth-and-one and are shutout on the drive, the Seattle offense takes over at their own goal line. With a future Hall of Fame quarterback, the conference’s leading rusher, two solid wide receivers and a multi-million dollar offensive line, the Jets have not displayed enough confidence in their offense. 

*Mangini’s second costly decision came early in the fourth quarter with the Jets down just 10-3. Jay Feely’s 45-yard field goal easily sailed through the uprights, but a delay of game penalty nullified the points. The Jets were set back five more yards and almost surely Feely was going to remain on for a 50-yard attempt. Despite the sloppy conditions his footing seemed alright and his previous attempt looked like it would have been good from 60 yards. But Mangini called on the punt team to subsequently pin the Seahawks at their seven-yard line. In a game where Mangini explained that “points were going to be at a premium,” why not let Feely attempt the kick? He’s been consistent all season (23-of-27 attempts) and has made several clutch kicks, but the Jets opted for the punt.

*Mangini’s decision to pass on fourth-and-two from their own 20-yard line with 2:21 remaining in the fourth quarter ended up being a costly one. Favre’s pass to Coles fell incomplete and Olindo Mare knocked through a 38-yard field goal just 29 seconds later to give Seattle a 13-3 lead. What was most baffling about the decision not to punt was that the Jets still had three timeouts plus the two-minute warning. The decision showed that Mangini had no confidence in his team and that he was coaching scared. Seattle did not even have to travel one yard on the series before extending their lead to ten points.

*Mangini was not the only coach to have a bad day at the office in the Jets’ 13-3 loss. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer only dialed up 17 carries for Jones. Jones gained 67 yards on the afternoon but was inexcusably limited. On an afternoon where the weather was going to be a factor and your quarterback looked his age, why not hand the ball off to your workhorse? Jones has carried the Jets all season and was voted team MVP by his teammates, but he was an afterthought in the offense. The Jets were within seven points or less for 58 minutes, but they played like they were down by two touchdowns. Last time I checked, the Seahawks run defense did not sit on the same level with the Steelers and the Ravens.

*It is too early to tell where Brett Favre will be playing next season, but his arm has looked fatigued over the last month. The conditions in Seattle were unfriendly and Seattle’s pass rush beat up Favre, but several of his deep balls were underthrown. Favre had wide receiver David Clowney open by five yards in the first half, but his pass fell short, resulting in an incompletion. It could be a scary sight for Jets fans come Sunday if Favre continues to struggle and Pennington turns the Meadowlands into his own highlight reel. Over the last four games, Favre has thrown just one touchdown pass and six interceptions (1-3 record). In that same span, Pennington has thrown six touchdowns and just one interception in leading Miami to four consecutive wins.

*Coles has made several big catches as a Jet, but he’s got to secure Favre’s fourth-and-two pass late in the fourth quarter. The throw was vintage Favre but Coles let the ball slip right out of his grasp. The pass might not have been as important if it came in the first quarter, but the incompletion handed Seattle the football at the 20-yard line and allowed them to kick a field goal for a ten point lead.

*Rookie tight end Dustin Keller has disappeared along with the Jets’ offense. Keller seemed to have developed into a force within the Jets offense as he recorded 26 receptions with one touchdown over a five-game winning streak that spanned from Oct. 26 to Nov. 23. However, in the last four weeks, Keller has caught just 13 passes, with seven of those coming in one game. Keller caught just one pass for two yards Sunday.

*Where has nose tackle Kris Jenkins and the Jets run defense gone? On Sunday the Jets allowed Maurice Morris to rush for 116 yards behind a makeshift offensive line. After spending much of the season as one of the league’s top run defenses, the Jets have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of the last four weeks.

*The Jets recorded zero sacks and allowed Seneca Wallace to complete 72 percent of his passes for 175 yards and one touchdown. With the big name additions that the Jets have added to this defense, there’s reason to be concerned. The Seahawks only scored 13 points and totaled 295 yards, but the Jets defense just did not get it done on Sunday.

*Linebackers David Harris, Bryan Thomas, Eric Barton and Calvin Pace only combined for 15 tackles. That statistic can sometimes be misconceiving if an offense throws deep alot, but the Seahawks ran the ball 36 times. Harris also got beat on tight end John Carlson’s two-yard touchdown grab. Overall it was just a poor afternoon for the Jets’ defense.

*One positive on the dark day came from rookie cornerback Dwight Lowery, who recorded two fumbles. Lowery has fallen after a hot start, but Lowery will surely continue to play a key role in the defense next season.

*The Seahawks did an outstanding job of completely eliminating Jets running back Leon Washington. Washington had just three catches for 14 yards but he was shut out on the receiving end. The Seattle linebackers had their eyes on Washington each time he hovered around the backfield. Washington was also limited by Seattle on special teams as he averaged just 17 yards on his four kick returns and returned just one punt for four yards. Seahawks punter Jon Ryan was impressive as he pinned the Jets inside the 20-yard line on three of his five punts.

*Seahawks cornerback Josh Wilson enjoyed one of his finest games of his two-year career. Wilson recorded five tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

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