Florham Park, N.J.– There is a lot to talk about when dissecting the Jets 28-14 victory over the Patriots, but there were some noticeable issues that need to be addressed that have been lost in the shadows of the brilliance that was the second half.
With the way the rest of the game played out, it’s easy to forget about the fact that the Jets only ran three plays in the entire first quarter. The Jets only got one possession in the first quarter and quickly went three-and-out, other than that the quarter was dominated by the Patriots eating up clock and running up and down the field.
The Jets got lucky as the Patriots had a delay of game penalty called on them that cost them three points, as Stephen Gostkowski missed the second attempt after the penalty was called. Although the Jets managed to hold the Patriots scoreless in the first quarter, Brady quickly put up seven points on the first drive of the second quarter and then he struck again to close out the quarter with another seven points off of a deep bomb to Moss. A play that you’ve probably heard about and seen multiple times over again.
Through most of the first half, Brady seemed like he was in full control of his offense. They had a couple of drives that stalled, but for the most part the Patriots did an excellent job of play calling keeping the Jets off-balance. The way the Patriots were mixing in runs and spraying passes in every possible direction had the Jets on their heels a bit at first.
The problem? Apparently it’s all about communication, that’s the common theme that was heard around the Jets facilities today.
The most glaring miscommunication mistake to point to for the defense would be on that unnaturally amazing one-handed touchdown grab by Moss. The Patriots had just completed a big pass play to their rookie tight-end and entered into their hurry-up offense, watching the play you can clearly tell many of the Jet defenders weren’t set yet, but it seems the reasoning for this was confusion because the defense was working with two different coverage calls.
Immediately after the game Ryan said, “The touchdown pass to Moss right at the end was really upsetting. Moss is a great player and so is Brady. It’s not a good thing when your playing two different coverages. Anytime that happens, that’s trouble, and those guys made us pay. I don’t care what the coverage is, that was a great throw and a great catch.”
No doubt it was a great throw from a great quarterback and an even better catch from a great receiver, but having half your defense run one type of coverage while the other half runs another coverage, well that’s something that any NFL quarterback will make you pay for. It was the Patriots and it was the two-minute drill, but the Jets have to figure out a way to prevent that from happening again.
Even if the miscommunication was strictly due to the hurry-up offense that is still something they will need to correct, because they will see a hurry-up offense again at some point in the season and quite possibly in a crucial part of a playoff game if the Jets finish out the season like they expect to.
It’s also easy to forget that Sanchez took his share of bone rattling hits as the Patriots repeatedly attacked the left side of the Jets offensive line. This was to be expected, with left guard Matt Slauson being the newcomer to this offensive line. What was not expected was to see left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson get beat as bad as he did on a couple of plays.
Ryan explained that there are still some kinks that need to be worked out on the left side of the line, and the problem was all about miscommunication. Ryan said, “Yeah, he (Ferguson) gave up a sack, I was hoping Mark (Sanchez) could have avoided that big dude (Gerard) Warren I think came in there one time and got him too. You know, he’s not perfect, he’s a great player but he’s not perfect, but we got to strive to be that way.”
Ryan expanded on the communication problems saying, “I thought our communication on that left side, even picking up stunts, it wasn’t where I think it should be and it needs to be. I think the more Brick and Slauson play (together) over there, the more comfortable they are going to get, but we’ve got to do a better job I think over there.”
It’s true that the Patriots had more success getting to Sanchez early in the game and found less success as the game moved on, but it’s hard to gage how much of that was the blocking and how much of that was due to Sanchez using his athletic ability to rollout, avoid the sack and still make big plays.
Regardless Sanchez showed great resolve continuously bouncing back up every time he got body-slammed to the turf, but as great as that is to see out of your quarterback, you’d much rather not have to see him take that type of punishment.
After seeing what Sanchez is capable of doing when the offense opens up for him, the Jets can ill afford to lose Sanchez because of a sack given up on his blindside due to a lack of proper communication.
During the second half the Jets took over the game outscoring the Patriots 18-0 in the half, and Cromartie thinks the biggest key to the turnaround was the way the defense started communicating better.
Cromartie said, “Our biggest thing in the secondary is going out there and communicating. I think the first half, we didn’t communicate well. In the second half, we communicated a lot more. We talked on every single play, even when we didn’t have to talk. It makes things a whole lot easier on our end to know where everybody (will be) and how everybody is going to play. That’s one thing we have to do during the week is talk, then go into the game and do the same thing.”
If that is indeed what made the difference, then the Jets might want to start to develop some type of secret football sign language or just practice yelling louder. Whether it was communication, something else or a combination of multiple things, whatever the reason it worked and if the Jets can play like they did throughout that second half then they will continue to have the same type of success.
So while it would be easy to get caught up in all the hysteria and allow the bright spots to block out the bad, that doesn’t help the Jets prepare to fix those problems for future games. These problems were not enough of an issue to cost them this game, but if these issues are not fixed, they will cost them games later in the season.
Still with all that being said, Damien Woody managed to sum up just how much of a difference the last three quarters were from that first quarter, with just a couple quick sentences. Woody said, “Our defense did a heck of a job shutting them down. We ended up winning the time of possession, which was kind of crazy. Early in the game they had like 30 plays to our three (plays). We still beat them in the time of possession (and) that just shows you the resolve that we have on our football team.”
Was proper communication the sole reason for this? Was it one of the biggest reasons? Or did it just work out in such a way that the players felt they were communicating better because of the results?
There is no absolute answer to this rhetorical question, but one thing is absolutely certain. If any players on the Jets think miscommunication is a problem, even just one player, then guess what? It’s a problem and a problem that will reared it’s head at the worst possible time if it doesn’t get fixed.