Florham Park, N.J.– Not much went right for the Jets during yesterday’s game, but Lions coach Jim Schwartz managed to negate about 55 minutes of Jets ineptitude by making one highly illogical play call.
For around 55 minutes Jets fans had to be furious, not only with the players, but more so with their coaches. The 11 penalties (for 99-yards), was way beyond unacceptable, but this is becoming the most consistent part of this team and that’s never good. A game or two with a lot of penalties you can chalk up as an anomaly, this right here, this is an ongoing epidemic that is seriously threatening to derail the Jets championship dreams.
This time last week, the Jets coaching staff had to bear the brunt of the burden from their shutout loss to the Packers and for most of this game it seemed that today would be a lot of rehashing and piling on from last week’s complaints. What a difference five minutes can make, and what a difference one boneheaded play call on a late third-down can make.
Watching games like this tends to be frustrating for anyone, sure it’s nice for Jets fans to see their team pull out a hard-fought, comeback victory, but sooner or later Jets fans are going to want to see their team take an early lead and keep it. Games like the one they played yesterday can be especially frustrating when one knows they are going to have to write about it.
As a writer, when you watch the game you obviously jot down little notes about a big play or call here or there, but you can’t help but have a million different possible headlines run through your head as the game progresses. Yesterday’s game offered much more than a million possible headlines and it seemed like every couple of minutes the theme and tone of the headline would change, almost causing a process overload.
Penalties continue to plague the Jets each and every week and as long as the penalties continue it’s going to be hard for this offense to establish any type of rhythm. As the amount of penalties continue to steadily climb with each game the blame starts to shift to the coaches more and more, yes the players have to execute, but it’s up to the coaching staff to make sure these types of self-inflicted wounds stop being opened.
There was an awful lot to question about the Jets coaching staff in yesterday’s game. The offense failed to establish a dominating running game once again, and while the Lions defense held their own about half the time the Jets ran it, the Jets still seem hesitant to simply impose their will on defenses by continuing to pound the ball to wear out the defense. Defenses were always prepared to stop the run last year and that never stopped them from running anyway, there is no real reason the Jets shouldn’t expect the same to happen this season, but still they are far too quick to abandon the run game.
After a gorgeous deep ball from Sanchez to Braylon Edwards gave the Jets a 10-7 lead going into half-time it seemed as if the momentum had swung in the Jets favor, but that feeling wouldn’t last long at all. The Jets started the second-half with the ball and started driving downfield, when Sanchez hit Edwards again, this time just on a short out-route and as Edwards tried to make a play to get past the defender he lost hold of the football giving the Lions the ball in great field position at the Jets 47.
The Jets defense then thought they held the Lions to only three points, which would have tied the game at 10, but after Jason Hanson had kicked the ball through the uprights, Trevor Pryce came flopping down on Hanson drawing a 15-yard penalty, which allowed the Lions to score a touchdown on a one-yard scamper from stafford. Yes, Hanson got hurt on the play, which led Lions Ndamukong Suh (really the only time you saw or heard his name all game as Brandon Moore completely neutralized him) to attempt the extra point instead. Because he missed the extra point the Lions only had a three point lead, which would later turn to 10, but if not for the penalty the game is tied at 10-10 and the entire game plays out much differently.
Then on the next drive the Jets started to get into a rhythm, methodically moving the ball down the field and on second-and-five from the Lions 37-yard-line Sanchez dropped back to pass and was picked off at the goal-line by Alphonso Smith. After the long strike to Edwards it’s hard to fault Schotty too much for taking this chance, but with the offense moving and the team almost in field-goal range on second-and-five it would seem to be much safer to just pound the ball inside or at least try some intermediate passing routes, which is something this Jets offense doesn’t seem to do all that often.
Then early in the fourth-quarter with the Lions driving, already leading 13-10, the Lions had the ball near the goal-line and twice the Jets were forced to call timeout because they had 12 men on the field. This has to be the coaches fault as the players clearly were confused as to who was supposed to be on the field, making matters worse, the timeouts were completely wasted because the Lions still managed to score a touchdown anyway to take a 20-10 lead with 11:51 left in the game and it seemed the Jets were going to need those timeouts back if they had any chance of winning the game, luckily for them Lions coach Jim Schwartz complied and essentially gave the Jets one of their timeouts back.
Through 55:34 of the game the Jets were a complete self-destructive mess, luckily for them they play 60 minutes of football, because the Jets would need those last 4:26 and an extra drive in overtime to complete their comeback victory, but of course none of it would have been possibly if not for Schwartz stealing the coaching mistakes spotlight away from the Jets.
The Jets got the ball down 10 with 4:26 to go and immediately drove down the field, marching 61-yards in just 1:40, to score a touchdown to cut the Lions lead to three with 2:46 to go, but with the Jets only having one timeout left it appeared it would be too little too late, even with Stafford being knocked out of the game and replaced with Drew Stanton.
But no one could have expected Schwartz to bail the Jets and their coaching staff out the way he did. The Lions ran the ball to the right for a two-yard loss, followed by the Jets last timeout. Then the Lions ran it again, this time picking up six-yards as they let the clock run down to the two-minute warning, but then inexplicably on third-and-six, two minutes to go and the Jets having no timeouts the Lions had Stanton drop back and attempt a pass, which would of course fall short leaving the Jets with an extra 40 seconds to work with than if the Lions had simply run the ball.
The Jets, were overflowing with confidence at this point and worked their way right down the field to kick the tying field-goal and after winning the coin-toss responded with a 51-yard pass to Santonio Holmes to set up the game winning field-goal in overtime.
Yes the Jets escaped, somehow emerging victorious from this game, but if Schwartz just runs the ball instead of passing on that third-down the Jets might not have had enough time to tie it up. So in a twist of irony the Jets, who are deservingly being criticized for passing too much instead of running, got a chance to win a game because the opposing team choose to pass instead of just running the ball like they should have.
Leaving Ryan and company feeling fortunate to leave Detroit with a win and let most of the questioning of the coaches fall directly at Schwartz’s feet, but we’ll just let the players tell it.
According to the Detroit Free Press, after the game Nate Burleson said, “”We pretty much let them walk out of here with a victory. I’m not going to take anything away from them, they are a good team, but we did give it away.”
“They actually did us a favor,” said Damien Woody, “I was like, what are they doing?”
Schwartz said, “That’s my fault, I didn’t do a good enough job. If we get a first down there, we win the game and take a knee after that. So there’s risk reward in that. Like I said, that’s my fault.”
Because of the head-scratching decision to throw the ball on that third-down, all the fumbles, penalties, the interception and questionable Jets play calling was completely overshadowed, but the problems are still there to be fixed, but for the next 24 hours the Jets can be happy with being lucky. Sanchez who looked lost for a large portion of the game, but as soon as the offense went into two-minute mode something in Sanchez clicked and he managed to lead the Jets to an amazing comeback.
“Obviously, we feel fortunate we got the win,” Ryan said according to the New York Daily news. “But we don’t care. We got the win. We’ll take it. That’s what good teams do. Find a way to win.”
What Ryan says is true of course, they should be happy to take a win anyway they can and like Ryan has said many times before, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good and that was most definitely the case yesterday. So for now the Jets can consider themselves lucky and be happy they pulled off such a miraculous win, but clearly the effort they put forth yesterday is not going to be enough to get them over the Super Bowl hump.
There are plenty of problems left to iron out, from the players to the coaches, but for now the Jets can take comfort in knowing the other team made the biggest mistake of the game and they made sure to capitalize off of it and punish the Lions for their mistake.