Playing like a rookie

November 21st, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – The Jets young players have been inconsistent, and the 5-5 record certainly indicates that. Dee Milliner, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, even Brian Winters have been the focus of fan vitriol. Which brings up a very common saying, “he looked like a rookie.”

Yes, these players have had some poor performances so far this season, but it’s a complete overreaction to want to run these guys out of town. Young players need time to develop. History is littered with players who took their lumps in the NFL. For every Andrew Luck there is an Eli Manning.

Geno Smith

Geno Smith and the rookies have had their ups and downs this season.

Even Aaron Rodgers was a project when he first came to the NFL. His first two years Mike McCarthy and the Packers were lenient with Favre about returning because they weren’t sold on Rodgers as the answer.

Now there is Smith. We don’t even know if he won the job out of camp. No one thought he’d be ready week one, and everyone was fine with letting him develop. But now the Jets are in a playoff race and fans are ready to write him off.

He hasn’t been good the last several weeks. That’s probably an understatement. In the last five games Smith has thrown one touchdown pass and 8 interceptions while only completing over 55% of his passes twice (both in losses), and only surpassing 200 yards passing twice.

Fans are calling for Matt Simms to start, and pining for the days that Mark Sanchez was under center. Let’s slow down. It’s been a while so I understand it’s easy to forget about how bad Sanchez was, but let’s look at the numbers.

Mark’s rookie season: 53.8% completion percentage/2,444 yards (6.71 YPA)/12 TD/3 rushing TD/20 INT/8 fum/15 games.

Projected 16 game season for Smith: 56.3% completion percentage/3,360 yards (7.12 YPA)/13 TD/5 rush TD/25 INT/6 fum.

I’m sorry, but those numbers clearly favor Smith. And that is all while being asked to throw the ball downfield more, and with a worse supporting cast.

Not a fan of comparing rookie seasons? Ok, let’s look at Sanchez’s numbers last year: 54.3% completion percentage/2,883 yards (6.36 YPA)/13 TD/18 INT/9 fum/15 games. Still giving the edge to Smith

Even take Mark’s best season: 56.7% completion percentage/3,474 yards (6.4 YPA)/26 TD/6 rushing TD/18 INT/4 fum/16 games. Ok, now I might give a slight edge to Sanchez.

Mark got 4 years with those numbers; Smith hasn’t even gotten a season. He’s had games where his top targets were David Nelson, Greg Salas, and Zach Sudfeld.

And Smith isn’t the only one struggling. Winters had one of his worst games last week. Hill has failed to become the reliable receiver the Jets need, and Milliner and the pass defense have allowed way too many big plays.

After four years, being better than Mark Sanchez doesn’t seem like a lot. The point is he’s had a worst supporting cast and has so far performed better in his rookie season than the Sanchize did in his. He’s not the first rookie to struggle and he won’t be the last. He’s not even the only rookie currently struggling on the team. Basically, show some patience and give these players time to develop.

Tight end Konrad Reuland put on IR

November 20th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – The Jets placed tight end Konrad Reuland on the IR today. They have yet to announce a corresponding move.

Even with the move the Jets still have three tight ends on the roster in Kellen Winslow, Jeff Cumberland, and Zach Sudfeld. Winslow and Cumberland have both missed time this season, but played this past Sunday in Buffalo.

Reuland has had a minimal impact for the Jets so far this season, and has seen the bulk of action on special teams. Perhaps most curious about the move is that Reuland played on Sunday, and did not appeared injured. There was no news of the injury before he was placed on the IR.

It wasn’t in the cards: Jets lose to Bills 37-14

November 17th, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY – Nick Folk lined up to kick a 48-yard field goal. The Jets were looking to strike first on their way to their sixth victory of the season. But as the ball sailed towards the uprights, it veered way off to the right thanks to a strong gust of wind. It was an ominous sign that we probably should’ve taken more seriously at the time.

The return to Buffalo wasn't what David Nelson was hoping for.

It was like a giant hand came down and swatted the ball away. Like the universe was working to keep the Jets off the board, the loss already predetermined. The same way it seems the universe is bending over backwards to get the Giants back into the playoff race. In what seemed like only a few moments the Jets went from in control, to trailing 17-0. They eventually lost 37-14.

Destiny is certainly a cheap way to explain a loss, but it seems easier to get your head around than how a team can look so good one week, and putrid the next. Despite their record, the Bills aren’t a bad team. They’re not exactly the ’85 Bears either. Being shutout in the first half is embarrassing.

With the loss the Jets home/road split is becoming more pronounced. Their lone victory on the road was against a Falcons team that is in the running for the top pick in this year’s draft. That’s also the only game on the road that Geno Smith didn’t turn the ball over. He’s had at least two turnovers in every other contest. After torching a depleted Bills secondary in week 3, a healthy group returned the favor. Smith only completed eight of his passes, while throwing three picks. The only touchdown he threw was a pick-six

But Smith isn’t alone in his struggles. The defense continues to give up big plays. The storyline at the start of the game was how inexperienced the Bills receivers were, but they certainly took advantage of a suspect Jets secondary. Sure Dee Milliner gets a lot of the attention, but Antonio Cromartie has been inconsistent too. The Jets needed him to follow up on his strong performance last season, but he’s struggled.

The “Sons of Anarchy” continue to play well, and the Jets once again kept a team to less than 100 yards rushing (The Bills had 68 yards for 1.8 ypc), but they only sacked Manuel once and the team failed to get a single turnover.

But even knowing all that, the worst sign is the way the Jets react in these games. It seems when the game starts going bad they let things spiral. Simply put, when it rains it pours with this team. The only real fight they showed was right after halftime. Smith engineered a touchdown drive that cut the deficit to 20-7. 13 points is certainly a manageable comeback. But just as quickly the Jets lost the momentum. The Jets only have one comeback after trailing by double digits, and a defensive score spurred that.

For all the bad, there were positives. There was the run defense that was already mentioned, and the run offense was pretty good as well. The Jets ran for 133 yards with 4.6 ypc. A 69-yard run by Chris Ivory near the end of the game certainly helped those numbers, but the rushing attack wasn’t dormant outside of that play.

It’ll be a rough week, but with the way things have been going it’d be far from a shock to see the Jets get back in the win column next week.

Ed Reed a welcome addition to the Jets locker room

November 14th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – You couldn’t find a person part of the Jets organization who was anything but excited about the addition of Ed Reed.

Dawan Landry welcomes back former teammate Ed Reed.

Reed was signed this morning after being released by the Houston Texans earlier in the week. He got in early enough to practice, and sported the number 22. While Rex Ryan has already said Reed won’t start this week, Reed did line up next to his old partner Dawan Landry for part of practice.

Both Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman were borderline giddy about getting the former all-pro back on their team. Even after his release from the Ravens the duo never expected Reed to be wearing green.

“Obviously we recognized that he’s a tremendous football player and we would’ve loved to have him, but I think sometimes there are financial things,” said Ryan. “And really the commitment was going to be too great.”

Reed signed a 3-year $15 million contract with the Texans in the offseason, but the Jets will only be paying a fraction of that price. But the Texans willingness to let Reed goes doesn’t mean the safety is done in this league. He’s had an underwhelming season highlighted more by what he hasn’t done (missed the first two games due to injury, and hasn’t recorded a turnover yet this season), than what he has.

“I would say that is a false statement that he can’t play anymore,” said Rex. “I saw the [Chiefs game]. I saw that particular game that you’re talking about. What I saw was a guy that had movement skills, a guy that was locked in man coverage–that straight zero coverage on tight ends–and still did a tremendous job. So I was excited about watching him.”

“I don’t think I’d be here if they thought [I didn't have anything left],” added Reed.

But more important than the type of player Reed can be for this defense, is what kind of mentor he can be for the young defensive backs in this locker room.

“I said, ‘Mr. Reed. Hello, I’m your shadow,’” said Josh Bush. “To be around a guy like him and Dawan is every young safety’s dream.”

“For the younger safeties it helps a lot more,” added Antonio Cromartie. “He teaches them things maybe they haven’t seen, and he understands what Rex is looking for from his safeties and stuff like that.”

“I’m here to help the team win,” said Reed. “If that’s coaching the young guys up on their technique, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what my game has always been about.”

The Jets pass defense has struggled this season due to an inconsistent secondary. The youth certainly plays a factor into it. Reed might not fix that on his own, but as a coach on the field, a mentor in the locker room, and an athlete with a few good years left, he should certainly help.

Is the pattern for real?

November 7th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – So how consistent have the Jets inconsistencies been this season? We know they haven’t lost or won consecutive games all year, leaving them at 5-4 heading into the bye. But has it been one type of team that has given the Jets struggles, or one facet of the Jets team that has been inconsistent?

Let’s first look at the five teams the Jets beat. They are the Bucs (0-8, 31st total offense, 17th total defense), Bills (3-6, 15, 20), Falcons (2-6, 12, 21), Patriots (7-2, 11, 19), and Saints (6-2, 7, 9).

Owner Woody Johnson and GM John Idzik would certainly like to know what is the cause of the team's up and down play.

Record wise the Jets have beaten teams at both ends of the spectrum. But there is a clear discrepancy in the home/away split at 4/1, and there seems to be a similarity with the teams. Most of them rank in the bottom half of the league in total defense. Outside of the Saints at 9 we’re looking at 17, 20, 21, and 19. And even though the Saints rank at 9, they’re way down at 25 as a run defense, and that’s exactly the area the Jets exploited.

Now the teams they’ve lost to. The Patriots, Titans (4-4, 24, 11), Steelers (2-6, 18, 12), and Bengals (6-3, 9, 5). Again no trend in the record of the opponent, but logically there is a trend for location with three of the four losses coming on the road. And look at the defensive rankings. Outside of the Patriots, the three teams the Jets lost to rank in the top half of the league in defense at 11, 12, and 5.

Taking that a step further, look at the point outputs for the Jets four losses: 10, 13, 6, and 9. Even with a defense as good as the Jets have, it’s tough to win games when you’re scoring that little.

When you look closer at the offensive numbers a pattern emerges. In the Jets losses they have averaged only 99 yards rushing a game. In their wins they average 153. In fact, the only time the Jets got over 100 yards rushing in a loss was week 2 against the Patriots. The problem in that game was 4 turnovers.

There is a difference in passing yards—212 in wins and 190 in losses—but the victory number is inflated by that 331-yard performance against the Bills. If you remove that one game the average drops to 183 in wins.

Defensively the numbers are almost identical. 252 yards passing allowed in wins and 250 in losses. 76 rushing yards allowed in wins and 71 in losses.

So the major difference is in the offensive rushing yards. Part of that has to do with the early deficit the Jets found themselves in (Titans and Bengals), but in both the Steelers and Bengals game the Jets had a poor yards-per-rush average as well. More importantly it brings us to the type of game the Jets struggle with.

The largest margin of victory for the Jets is seven, that in their 27-20 victory over the Bills. And in wins the Jets have only trailed by double digits once: an 11-point deficit to the Patriots going into halftime. That turned around at the start of the second half by the Jets only pick-six of the season.

The point is the Jets have a limited offense. Their main weakness is Geno Smith and the passing game. This isn’t to say it’s all Smith’s fault. There are many factors going into this. But basically, the Jets need to stay balanced offensively to have a chance. They can’t ask Smith to pass them to victory.

If the defense doesn’t show up, or costly turnovers put them in a hole they don’t have the personnel to come back. Good defenses are going to give them trouble because they can force turnovers and limit the effectiveness of the rushing attack, and playing on the road certainly doesn’t help things.

The Jets play three of their remaining 7 games against teams with top half defenses, and two of those three are on the road. The Ravens (10 total, 8 against the run, away), Panthers (4, 2, away), and Browns (3, 7, home).

This doesn’t mean the Jets are doomed to go 4-3 down the stretch. For starters Smith will improve as the season goes on. He has already started to cut down on the turnovers that plagued him early on. Plus, Marty is going to get to know Smith’s strengths and weaknesses more each week. The Jets offense probably won’t morph into a top ten unit in the second half, but it doesn’t have to be.

If anything this shows the clear importance of improving the passing game in the offseason. With a pretty good receiver class coming out in this upcoming draft (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee), and a couple first-round tight end options (Eric Ebro and Jace Amaro) it would be wise for the Jets to spend their first-round pick there, even if there is a top defensive player still on the board.

But focusing on this season let’s see how much the trend was due to the opponents the Jets had, or if this trend is really here to stay.

What to make of Dee Milliner

October 31st, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – It’s probably time to cut ties with Dee Milliner. He is halfway through his rookie season, and it has become clear that he will never live up to the potential he showed in Alabama.

I’m completely joking, but I’m sure that previous paragraph didn’t seem that outrageous to many of you.

Dee Milliner has struggled mightily to start the season. Is it too early to label the first-rounder a bust?

Milliner has had injury issues since rookie minicamp, and hasn’t impressed in the limited action he’s seen as he’s already been benched in two separate games. That’s not what you want to read about from an All-American corner who went ninth overall in this past draft.

But it’s far too early to call Milliner a bust. He missed time early in camp due to a holdout, and has dealt with various injuries since. Cornerback is already a tough transition from college to the NFL, now imagine less time to prepare in the offseason AND having to learn Rex Ryan’s scheme.

There was a strong belief when he came out that he would be NFL ready because he played for Nick Saban and in the SEC, arguably the toughest conference in college football at the time. A fine point, but it’s also well known that Saban doesn’t teach NFL technique to his corners. Most notably they aren’t asked to backpedal. That’s one of the many technique adjustments Milliner had to make in his transition to the NFL, something that would’ve been nice to work on during the offseason.

That’s not even getting into the recent history of Alabama cornerbacks taken in the first round; the most recent two being Dre Kirkpatrick and Kareem Jackson.

Kirkpatrick is in his second year with the Bengals, and similarly to Milliner, has already been labeled a bust by the fans. Like the Jets, the Bengals have not given up on him. Now that Leon Hall is out for the season, Kirkpatrick has the chance to work his way back into a starting spot.

That doesn’t sound really comforting does it? Well Jackson also struggled his rookie year. In fact, in a game against the Chargers he let up five catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns against Patrick Crayton and Seyi Ajirotutu. Like Milliner he was benched.

His second year in the league wasn’t much better. But by his third season he was regarded as one of the better young corners in the league. Jackson picked off four passes and held receivers to a 47.7% catch rate, which was sixth lowest in the league.

Milliner is struggling. He needs to refine his technique and improve his tackling, but he is far from the first corner to go through this. For another example look no further than the Giants.

Corey Webster was a second round pick in 2005 who fell so far down the depth chart most fans forgot he was even on the team. He was only pressed into duty in 2007 when the team was hit by injuries. How did he respond? By having the best stretch of his career, acting as the Giants top corner as they went on to win the Super Bowl. Simply put, patience is key.

“[Milliner]’s close to being that player that we want,” Rex Ryan said hopefully yesterday. “I will say this, by the time the season’s over, I think he will be the best rookie corner and playing better than any rookie corner in this year’s draft.”

“I’ve just got to continue to work and get better and just see how things go,” added Milliner. “That’s the only thing I can worry about.”

More than technique or physical issues, the problem affecting Milliner seems to be confidence. It’s amazing how lost out there he looks. That’s something that can be fixed, and he has one hell of a coach to do it.

“He just needs to have some success tied along with it, and I think that’s what’s missing,” said Ryan. “Get an interception or two and I think he’s going to be good. He’s a smart young man. He wants it and I think he’ll get there.”

Look back at those Alabama tapes. It might be hard watching him make play after play following last weekend’s debacle, but what you see is a confident corner, and a corner with all the physical tools to succeed in this league. Give him some time to develop. It might not even happen this year. But Dee Milliner will be a good cornerback in this league.

Preview: Jets (4-3) vs. Bengals (5-2)

October 24th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – It’s amazing how each week the Jets establish either a new high or a new low. They have gone from stealing a victory against the still winless Bucs, to pulling one out against the hated rival New England Patriots. They’ve set the lows from a painful three-point loss to those same Patriots, to a poor six-point showing against a then winless Steelers team.

Antonio Cromartie will have his hands full with AJ Green this Sunday.

If their inconsistencies stay consistent we could be looking at a pretty bad loss this Sunday. The Bengals, with as good of a defense as any in the league, are certainly equipped to do it. The Bengals have one of the best run defenses in the league, holding opponents under 100-yards rushing, and a 3.8 ypc average. It certainly helps that they have one of the best defensive lines in football that is also known for rushing the passer.

But the Jets offensive line is pretty impressive in its own right. Even with the loss of Mike Goodson the running game continued to hum. Chris Ivory had his best game in green, and him and Bilal Powell will look to keep that going. And let’s not forget that the Jets have a pretty good defense of their own.

When: Sunday, October 27 2013, 4:05  pm EST (TV-CBS Radio-ESPN)

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinatti, OH

Injury Report (as of Thursday) –

Jets – DNP: WR Santonio Holmes (hamstring) LMT: TE Jeff Cumberland (hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (hamstring), S Antonio Allen (groin, finger), C Nick Mangold (ribs), TE Konrad Rueland (knee), WR Greg Salas (knee).

Bengals – Out: CB Leon Hall (achilles), DT Devon Stills(elbow) DNP: WR Marvin Jones (shoulder), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring), CB Terrence Newman (ankle) LMT: RB Rex Burkhead (calf)

Game Keys:

Establishing the Run – As mentioned the Bengals defensive line might be one of the best in football. The rest of the defense isn’t too bad either. Geno Smith played well last week, but a strong running game will keep the pressure off of him, and limit his opportunities of forcing a turnover against an opportunistic defense.

Keep AJ Green in check – Green is the main game changer for this team. He seems to have a big play every week. Antonio Cromartie had a good game on Sunday, but he has struggled this season, and will likely shadow Green for much of the day. If he can keep Green in check this game should be a low scoring affair. That’s another way to take the pressure off of Geno.

Pressure Andy Dalton – In the past few weeks Dalton has put together some pretty nice performances. He has already beaten Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tom Brady this season, but he is not an elite quarterback. Dalton can be rattled, and make mistakes. Teams have been trying to combat the Jets strong defensive line, but if they can find a way to pressure Dalton they should be able to force a turnover for the second straight week.

X-Factor:

Brian Winters – The rookie has been solid so far, but has had some breakdowns as well. He can’t afford to do that this week. He will likely have Geno Atkins lined up across from him this week. Atkins is a guy who could terrorize Winters all day and make things very tough for the Jets offense. On the other hand, if Winters performs well that would be a huge boost for this team.

The Pick – I’m riding this roller coaster until the pattern stops. The Bengals are going to win a close one.

The Jets defense is going to keep this low scoring. I’m not the biggest Andy Dalton fan, and Rex is certainly the coach to knock him off his game. But that Bengals defense is too good to allows Chris Ivory to have a repeat performance. Even if David Nelson builds on his strong performance, there just isn’t enough for Geno to pull out a game-winning drive this week.

Bengals win 24-21

Jets thinning out at wide receiver

October 17th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ- Last week the Jets could only muster six points against the Steelers. They went into the game without the injured Santonio Holmes, and the recently suspended Kellen Winslow. Now they’ll be without RB Mike Goodson and WR Clyde Gates who both went on IR earlier this week.

Geno Smith is left with Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, and midseason acquisitions David Nelson, Josh Cribbs, and Greg Salas. Actually scratch Salas; he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury. That’s a pretty thin group to go against a 5-1 New England team that just knocked off the unbeaten Saints.

The Jets will be without Santonio Holmes and several other receivers they started the season with.

“We practice very hard, hopefully we can build enough of a rapport with one another to the fact that we can go out and execute,” said Smith. “When the game is on the line, we’re not thinking about the name or the number on the back of the jersey. We’re all here with that Jets logo on the side of our helmets and trying to win for the organization.”

That’s a good attitude, but the receivers are going to need to step up. While Kerley and Cumberland have been reliable, there needs to be more production outside of those two.

Hill has already improved upon his rookie season, putting up more yards and showing his big play potential with a 16.7 ypc average. But he’s got to be more consistent in games. His season-high for receptions in a game is 6, and that came in game one against Tampa Bay. He’s only had 12 receptions in the other four games he’s played in. In those four games the only time he caught more than half the passes he was targeted on was against Atlanta, and he was only targeted two times in that one.

David Nelson was signed a few weeks ago pretty much off his couch. Since then he has totaled three receptions for 20 yards. He’s now the Jets third receiver on the depth chart.

In 2011 Josh Cribbs posted career-highs across the board at receiver, totaling 41 receptions for 518 yard and four touchdowns. Not eye-popping numbers, but not bad for a team in need of production at the receiver position. Problem is he had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the offseason, and the injury scared off enough teams that he didn’t make an NFL roster until the Jets signed him earlier this week. Plus it’s not known what his role will be with the team.

“Wherever they need me,” said Cribbs. “We talked about it. It’s a weekly decision, a gameday decision. We’re rotating reps, so whatever they need me (to do).”

Right now that appears to be as a kick returner with Gates and Goodson on IR. After all he did make the Pro Bowl in that role with Cleveland.

“We think that he looks pretty good right now,” said Rex Ryan. “Now, what that means, what kind of role he’ll have on offense, I’m not sure yet. Certainly, he’ll have a role as a returner for us.”

As mapped out there are a lot of question marks with this group, but if there is a silver lining it’s that they are young and eager.

“Every guy comes out with the right mentality and attitude,” said Smith. “We’re getting better. That goes for every single guy in this locker room. And all the young guys, we’re hungry, we want to be the marquee players. We all use each other to kind of motivate one another and to get better on a daily basis in practice.”

Sunday will be a good opportunity for these young guys to make a name for themselves. Nothing will get you remembered faster than a win against New England.

Jets add Josh Cribbs in active day

October 15th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ - The Jets signed Pro Bowl return man Josh Cribbs with Clyde Gates and Mike Goodson heading to the IR. The Jets also signed wide receiver Greg Salas off the Eagles practice squad, and added ex-Stony Brook star running back Miguel Maysonet to the practice squad.

Clyde Gates joins Mike Goodson on the IR as the Jets add returner Josh Cribbs

Cribbs isn’t much of a receiver–he only had 107 receptions in eight seasons with the Browns–but it’s clear he was brought in to replace Gates and Goodson as the team’s kick returner. The Jets had brought Cribbs in several times since the start of free agency, but passed because of questions about his knee. Cribbs hasn’t played a snap this season, he was released by the Raiders in the preseason.

Salas is a former fourth-round pick of the Rams who totaled 27 receptions back in 2011. He will likely serve as depth for a receiving corp that lost Gates, and will probably be without Santonio Holmes for a few more weeks.

Gates showed promise in training camp, but has continued to be unimpressive during games. Goodson was just coming off the four-game suspension he served to start the season. In the limited time he saw against the Falcons and Steelers he showed the speed and promise that made him one of the few signings this offseason.

Jets lose a slugfest at home 19-6

October 13th, 2013

East Rutherford, NJ - Lou Holtz once said, “You’re never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” That couldn’t be any more fitting coming off the high of the Monday night win in Atlanta, to today’s 19-6 stinker to the now 1-4 Steelers. The Jets sit at 3-3, having yet to lose or win consecutive games. But this roller coaster ride shouldn’t be unexpected with rookie quarterback Geno Smith under center to start the season.

One coverage breakdown by Antonio Cromartie was enough to bury the Jets in a defensive struggle.

Smith had arguably his best performance on Monday, but in case you haven’t heard, Dick Lebeau is 15-2 against rookie quarterbacks as the defensive coordinator of the Steelers. Oh, and he had a bye week to prepare. Today that defense held Geno Smith and the Jets to six points, getting two interceptions (their first two of the season), and three sacks (they had four in the previous four games).

“I don’t know if I’m more excited getting an interception because it helped us win the game, or so you guys can stop asking about it,” said Steelers safety Ryan Clark.

Clark’s interception came on Geno’s worst play of the game, an interception he threw into triple coverage. But it was a play Geno was duped into.

“William Gay realized that when they are in a certain formation, they always ran vertical routes,” explained Clark. “He was screaming out ‘Verticals’ and he did a good job making his man go around him. I played Cumberland to force Smith to go outside and he floated the ball enough so that I had an opportunity to catch it.”

This loss can’t squarely be put on Smith’s shoulders. The Jets were in this game until Antonio Cromartie let Emmanuel Sanders past him for a 55-yard score on third down. That one play accounted for more points than the Jets mustered the entire game. Instead of a close 9-6 affair, the game became an uphill battle with the Jets down 16-6.

“Our job is to keep them out of the end zone and we didn’t,” said Cromartie. “They scored on a third and one. It’s something we can’t have, especially for me.”

Overall the Jets defense was solid. They had another stout performance against the run, only giving up 2.8 yards per carry. They collected four sacks, a number that could’ve been more if it wasn’t for the numerable holding penalties the Steelers committed. But in the end the defense couldn’t take advantage of the long down and distances Pittsburgh was forced into from those mistakes.

Once again the Jets secondary struggled in man-to-man coverage and they failed to get a turnover for the fourth time this season. The game was closer than the 19-6 score indicates, but the Steelers made the plays that the Jets couldn’t.

The Jets were without Santonio Holmes and Kellen Winslow, and can be without the two for the next couple weeks. Jeff Cumberland has taken advantage of the additional playing time, leading the team in receiving yards for the second straight week. Not enough guys have stepped up, though.

The good news is Mike Goodson has looked good his first two weeks back from suspension. He left the game early with an injury, but if it isn’t serious this team has the weapons in the running game to make up for their injured receivers.

The Jets remain home next week, and welcome in the New England Patriots (4-1) for a rematch of the 13-10 loss at Foxborough.