BALTIMORE, MD – A new streak ended and an old one endured in Baltimore. And that means bad news for the New York Jets.
After falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 19-3, on Sunday, the Jets failed to follow a loss with a win for the first time all season and dropped to 3-17 when facing a reigning Super Bowl champion.
The Jets, now 5-6 on the season, were downright awful on offense, managing only 220 total yards – including a paltry three yards in the second quarter – going 1-12 on third down with three turnovers.
Shades of Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Tony Sparano.
Rookie Geno Smith didn’t do himself any favors, completing just nine passes for 127 yards with two interceptions and a 22.3 percent passer rating. Smith now leads the league with 18 interceptions.
For the record, wide receiver Josh Cribbs, who threw two passes out of the wildcat, ended the day with a higher passer rating – 70.8 – than Smith, who until deep into the second quarter was the team’s leading receiver.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg went with a heavy dose of the wildcat throughout the game, opting for Cribbs and running back Bilal Powell instead of Smith, an unspoken indictment on his rookie quarterback.
“[The problems] have to be corrected and it starts with me,” said Smith. “I’ll take it upon myself to be the first one to say that I didn’t play well.”
Even though the buzzards were circling around Smith all game – and will be all week – head coach Rex Ryan stayed with him all game and remained committed to him after it.
“It’s on all of us,” said Ryan after to falling to 0-3 against his former team. “We have to get better. We have to get better in a hurry and we know that.”
Ryan was pressed after the game about the future of his young quarterback but remained adamant that the loss wasn’t all on Geno.
And it wasn’t.
The Jets receivers dropped a number of passes in key situations, which Ryan said “jumped out” to him and the pass protection was porous, allowing three sacks and four quarterback hits.
“I’m not going to talk about one individual, starter or backup,” said Ryan. “I want to watch the tape first.”
The Jets secondary also struggled, allowing two pass plays of at least 60 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown, from Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones, a play that put the game out of reach with five seconds left in the third quarter.
All week, Ryan called for improvement in the secondary, running “Buddy Ryan drills” in practice to prevent big plays, which he called “the Achilles’ heel” of the defense.
Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith also burnt cornerback Antonio Cromartie for a 60-yard completion in second quarter, adding on to the long list of blunders for the All-Pro corner this season.
Adding insult to injury, Cromartie left the game late in the fourth with a hip injury.
The run defense was again superb for the Jets, bottling Ray Rice up for 30-yards on 16 carries, and holding the Ravens to 67 total yards on the ground, a 2.2 yards per carry average.
Nick Folk was the only other bright spot for the Jets, nailing his only field goal attempt, a 27-yarder in the first quarter. He is now 23-for-24 this season.
Moving forward, the Jets will prepare for next week’s game against the division rival the Miami Dolphins while facing two awful realities: they’re now on the outside of the AFC playoff picture looking in, and they have sure-fire quarterback controversy on their hands.
When asked if he thinks he’s the quarterback to lead the Jets to the playoffs, Geno Smith responded: “I know I am,” adding, “There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Jets fans just hope that light isn’t an oncoming train.