A dejected Chad Pennington ponders the future during the Jets 31-13 loss to the Bills yesterday. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
What a difference a week makes. Early last week, the Jets were the playoff-bound toast of the town in New York while the Giants were left for dead after a huge divisional loss to the Cowboys. This week, it is the Jets whose playoff hopes are on life support after a loss to divisional rival Buffalo while their crosstown rivals have new found hope after a win in Carolina.
After being anointed the surprise of the season on pre-game shows across the country by a slew of analysts, the Jets flat out shocked the expert with a dud in what was supposed to be an easy home game against the hapless Bills on Sunday.
When the two teams met in September, the Bills offense lit up the Jets defense for 475 total yards. Though running back Willis McGahee continued to show he simply owns Gang Green with another 125 yards on the ground, the Jets defense was not the lone problem in the loss. Costly turnovers and an inability to put the ball in the end zone ultimately spelled doom for the Jets on Sunday and possibly for their playoff hopes.
“Buffalo’s a good team,” head coach Mangini said of the loss. “There’s certain things we had to get done. We couldn’t turn to ball over and we did three times. We couldn’t give up big plays and we did.”
Mangini stressed the importance of all three phases playing “complimentary football.” The defense must help the offense by holding down the opponent and the offense must help the defense by not leaving them stuck with their back to the goal line as they did on Sunday. The first year head coach did not blame any one person for their mistakes, despite some poor individual efforts like that of rookie left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who allowed defensive end Aaron Schobel to sack the quarterback three times.
“It wasn’t just Brick, he had some help on some of those plays and that could have been better, some of the drops from Chad could have been a little better,” Mangini said. “It’s never really one guy when it comes to pass protection.”
Despite the tough loss, Mangini’s mantra of moving on to the next game and taking the same approach seems to be ringing true with the team.
“Just give credit to Buffalo,” veteran defensive lineman Bobby Hamilton said. “They had a good game plan and they out-executed us. We’re moving on to Minnesota, though, that’s the only thing we’re concerned with now.”
The Jets will need a win in Minnesota to keep any dwindling playoff hopes they have left alive, though the “P” word still has not found its way into the Jets locker room.
-Quarterback Chad Pennington’s performance seems to be a tell-tale sign of whether the Jets will win or lose any given game this season. While Pennington has sparkled in the Jets seven wins, he has been dreadful in their losses, including a three turnover performance yesterday.
-Rookie quarterback Kellen Clemens has been making some noise in practice over the few weeks and was rewarded Sunday as he was the team’s number two quarterback for the first time all season.
“He had some really good weeks in practice and like any position it’s open,” Mangini said of Clemens trumping veteran Patrick Ramsey on the depth chart. “I thought he had earned being bumped up to number two.”
-Running back Kevan Barlow told reporters he is still not 100 percent recovered from a lingering calf injury that he has had since the offseason. The veteran said he ran into old friend and former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis who had a similar injury during his career. Bettis told him it could take up to a year to fully recover from the injury.
-Mangini will begrudgingly move practice indoors to the team’s practice bubble to prepare for this week’s game in the Metrodome. This will be the Jets first game in a dome this year and while the coach loves practicing in the elements, the importance of simulating a game-day atmosphere seems to have won out this week.
The team has off tomorrow then returns to begin preparation for the Vikings on Wednesday. Be sure to check back to JI for a complete report.