Morning After Report: Where the Jets didn’t Muster up at Heinz Field

Well, as it turns out, LaMarr Woodley was right when he claimed on Twitter that his Pittsburgh Steelers would not be 0-2 following their match-up with the New York Jets on Sunday.

The Jets started out hot — right where the left off after their 20-point drumming against the Buffalo Bills — with two great drives offensively and defensively holding Ben Roethlisberger to field goals in their first few possessions. But after posting 10 points in their first two drives, that efficiently effective offense turned stagnant and stale — sputtering on drive after drive due to costly drops, untimely penalties and the defense’s inability to get off the field on third downs.

Moreover, the losses of Darrelle Revis and Dustin Keller limited both sides of the Jets ball. On defense, the corners continually played off the speedy receivers — allowing the underneath pass in return for not giving up the big play. Offensively, Mark Sanchez grossly missed his safety valve tight end — after completing only three passes in over two hours of real time throughout the game.

Now 1-1, with the rest of their rivals in the AFC East, the Jets have a classic case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Are they the beast of a team that dominated Buffalo in all three facets of the game? Or are they merely mortal against the likes of bigger foes in the NFL?

While it’s only the start of Week 3, those are viable questions at this point. We can only go by what we’ve been able to see thus far, which should leave Jets fans scratching their heads to which New York team will show up in Miami on Sunday.

Will the real New York Jets please stand up?

PASSING OFFENSE: D

  • Sanchez & co. started off strong — passing out of singleback and jumbo sets effectively and quickly. They were quick to the ball, Sanchez was decisive and delivered strikes going 4/5 for 75 yards — finding three different receivers on their lone touchdown drive. After that? He completed three passes to two tight ends until their final drive of the game — where it was too late to do anything.
  • The problem with the receivers? The Steelers press coverage off the line of scrimmage following their first score. After a historic introduction, Stephen Hill was virtually non-existant with zero receptions, one costly drop and two total targets on the day. Rex Ryan preached that his young core would have to overcome Pittsburgh’s press and they didn’t respond. Instead their frustration led them to play for the pass interference calls.
  • You aren’t going to win many games by going 4-15 on third downs. Getting back to the offense’s reliance on drawing penalties, a third of their first downs (5) came via the penalty — that’s relying far too heavily on a veteran defense to make mistakes.
  • Missed opportunities: Up 7-6 on their second drive of the day, take a look at this sequence. On 1st&10 from PIT 24, Sanchez ran a bootleg play action which fools Steelers defense. Sanchez rolled to left and had Santonio Holmes open over the middle of the endzone, who shook Ike Taylor on a nice double move. Instead of planting his feet and delivering a strike, Sanchez — who had time — threw on the run and put the ball behind Tone that would’ve been an easy 6 points. Two plays later, Sanchez accurately read blitz and audibled to his hot route. Steelers sent six on a 3rd&5 from PIT 19. Sanchez fired to tight end Jeff Cumberland, who must’ve not realized the blitz or audible, as the ball hit him square in the back. Two chances to extend drive/score and, instead, resulted in three points.

Antonio Cromartie's lack of press coverage was just one of the reasons the Jets faltered in Pittsburgh. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

RUSHING OFFENSE: C

  • Losing Shonn Greene to the head injury following a solid 9-yard gain really changed the feel of this game. Greene is by no means flashy, but he did the dirty work to keep offense moving early and wore out the defense on those scoring drives. The problem is he hurt himself in the process — an all too common sight for Jets fans.
  • While Powell provided a nice change of pace to the ground game, the offensive line lost the push they had on their first two drives.
  • Ryan had stated that these two defenses are very similar. One of the weaknesses on the Jets defense is their aging linebackers’ inability to cover shifty, pass-catching running backs. The Jets have two backs that fit this description. I would’ve like to have seen Powell and, dare I say, Joe McKnight see some more action in the passing game. Both have the skill set to make a cut and take off. Jets running backs had no receptions in the game.

PASSING DEFENSE: D

  • All too often I saw corners Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson playing 5-6 yards off the Steelers receivers, allowing Big Ben to take what was given to him — and, at times, find the open man deep down the field. The “Bugatti Boys” — the Steelers receivers new nickname for their speed — were allowed a free release off the line of scrimmage giving their engines a chance to get revved up. Especially with Cromartie, who’s long arms and physicality could have been utilized to disrupt the timing of their routes. Or at the very least put a little fear in them on the next play.
  • I was really impressed with Garrett McIntyre filling in for the injured Bryan Thomas. He played with a tenacity on the field that was evident — coming up with a sack and huge tackle for loss late in the game.
  • I was, however, not impressed with the pass rush as whole. The team abandoned the blitzes later in the game as Roethlisberger burned them blitz after blitz. The pressure was there against a weak Steelers offensive line, but arm tackles and grabbing at the shoulders won’t bring down the burly Steelers QB — again, too many missed opportunities.
  • Although he was costly at times, I don’t mind the play by LaRon Landry. That’s what the Jets brought him in to do — to be their intimidating force on the back end. He just needs to focus his rage.
  • THIRD DOWN DILEMMA! It has been a thorn in the side of this defense dating back to last season. Allowing the Steelers to convert over 50% of this third downs. They cannot allow teams to sustain drives at that rate or they’ll have trouble beating anyone.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C

  • It wasn’t nearly as bad as the 169 yards they allowed to C.J. Spiller last week. The Jets run defense is tailored to stop the bruising running style of the Steelers. The problem, however, was the same they had in stopping Spiller — missed tackles. Ryan and Landry can talk about being the best defense in the league all they want, but if they can’t wrap and take down then all the talk is fruitless.
  • Sione Po’uha had no push off the line from what I saw. The back still seems to be a concern at this point in time. He continually lost the individual battle against Maurkice Pouncey.
  • I was, however, very impressed with Mo Wilkerson. He continually set the edge and closed off the gap on the outside. He’s setting himself up to be one of the premier edge run stoppers in the league.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C-

  • After his best professional game last week, Jeremy Kerley might have had one of his worst games against the Steelers. His bobbled punt not only took the ball away from the Jets but completely sucked the air out of this team. He wasn’t going to be able to make a play on the return with good coverage. Ryan won a challenge — gaining momentum — and had great field position in line for his team that was still in striking distance of a win. Mike Westhoff conceded field position on following punt return, pulling Kerley up in coverage. On ensuing drive, Sanchez had words with Kerley, who appeared to have run the wrong route.
  • Rob Malone continues to be a positional weapon for Westhoff. He had two punts inside 20 — one of which was a touchback after Isaiah Trufant grabbed the ball instead of tipping it out of the end zone.
  • McKnight also is a positional weapon, averaging 28 yards on four returns. His explosiveness stil needs to be utilized on offense, I believe.

COACHING: D

  • Where was Tebow? They seemed to give up on the Wildcat after one negative play. In on only three plays late in the game, he appeared to have provided a bit of a spark to the stagnant Jets offense in the second half. After a 6-yard loss to Greene in the Wildcat package, they gave up on him, forcing Sanchez to come in clean up his mess. That’s not good for either player. Give Tebow a chance to right his wrong. Don’t force Sanchez to come in a situation where he is forced to make a play.
  • I commend Ryan for his challenge calls. The first proved to be a huge momentum swing — which ultimately swung back to the Steelers following Kerley’s blunder. The second came on Pittsburgh’s demoralizing 10+ minute drive that iced the game. His defense fatigued and hoping to strike gold on either the fumble or downed knee by Isaac Redman, Ryan threw the flag and was ultimately fruitless.

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