Breaking down The Collapse
November, 22, 2010
By Rich Cimini
If the New York Jets had lost the game, blowing a 16-point lead, it would've been the second-biggest fourth-quarter collapse for a home game in team history. In 1960, the Jets -- known as the Titans -- blew a 17-point lead to the Boston Patriots.
So it would've been a historic meltdown. After breaking down the tape, here's how the unthinkable almost happened:
Things started getting out of control when Shonn Greene fumbled with 9:23 left in the game, the Jets seemingly in control with a 13-point lead. Greene blamed it on a miscommunication and a bad exchange. In reality, there were a few forces at work here. Yes, it was an awkward exchange between him and Mark Sanchez, but Greene did have possession of the ball. It wasn't like he was bobbling it as he went into the line. He also was undermined by bad blocking on a well-designed run blitz by the Texans.
LG Matt Slauson, who admittedly had a rough day, let DE Mark Anderson beat him cleanly. Anderson knifed into the backfield and made the initial hit on Greene. LB Brian Cushing came free on a stunt and stripped the ball. C Nick Mangold, looking lost, didn't block anyone.
THE DEFENSIVE COLLAPSE
Defensively, the fourth quarter was one of the lowpoints of the Rex Ryan era. They surrendered two touchdowns in a span of seven minutes, looking utterly confused. Quite frankly, it was alarming, because on a few plays, there seemed to be players that had no idea what they were doing.
• On Joel Dreesen's 43-yard touchdown, right after the Greene fumble, the Jets rushed five players, including safeties Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith. In most situations -- i.e. man-to-man coverage -- Leonhard or Smith would be responsible for the tight end. Pass rusher Jason Taylor dropped into coverage in what appeared to be a zone blitz. He should've tried to jam Dreesen at the line, but Dreesen had a free release. Taylor let him go, staying in his short zone.
At that point, CB Antonio Cromartie was covering Dreesen and WR Troy Walter, who were running side-by-side in a stacked look. Walter cut inside, and Cromartie followed him, leaving Dreesen wide open. After the game, Leonhard said it was Taylor's job to cover Dreesen. It may have been poor execution, but it also was an ill-conceived play. Why was Taylor, supposedly one of their best pass rushers, dropping into coverage?
• Matt Schaub's 35-yard pass to David Anderson. This was ugly on many levels. The Jets rushed four, overloading the Texans' left side. The entire defense was sucked in by a play fake to the left, and Schaub rolled right. Half the defense stopped, looking confused. It looked like they were playing three different defensive calls. Cromartie, loafing, should've chased Schaub. Instead, CB Darrelle Revis left his man -- Anderson -- and pursued Schaub. That was a no-no. It left Anderson wide open.
• Schaub's 20-yard pass to Andre Johnson. Once again, the Jets bit hard on a play fake and Schaub rolled right. (Gee, you think teams are going to go to school on that tendency?) Johnson, covered by Revis, was on the left of the formation. Revis played an inside technique, but Johnson broke to the outside and Revis couldn't recover in time. Yes, even the great ones make mistakes. In this case, Revis made two big ones in a row.
• Schaub's 4-yard pass to Arian Foster. This came right after the Johnson play, which came after the Anderson play -- arguably the worst three-play defensive sequence of the Ryan era. Once again, the Jets got sucked in on a play fake. OLB Bryan Thomas got caught cheating inside to play the run, allowing Foster to get open in the flat. Three plays later, Foster scored on a 1-yard run to give the Texans a 24-23 lead.
Counting the Dreesen touchdown, the Jets surrendered 116 yards on eight plays, resulting in two touchdowns.
This is not a Super Bowl defense.