Do you remember in Independence Day when Bill Pullman picks up the newspaper and grunts "That game couldn't have been pretty."
No? Really? Am I the only person who knows ID4 that well?
Well, if you hadn't watched the New York Jets' 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and picked up the paper on Monday and looked at the box score, you would have said the same thing as the great President Thomas Whitmore.
Indeed it wasn't pretty for the Jets, who failed in all three phases of football on Sunday in falling to 1-1 on the season. Before we dish on what was bad, and hoo boy was there a lot of bad, we'll get the very short amount of good from yesterday's poor showing out of the way.
It might already seem like a decade ago, but the Jets' first drive of the game was as good as anything you'll see from Mark Sanchez. He was 4-of-5 for 80 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, of course, that was the bulk of the Jets' offensive production for the entire game as they looked lost for the most part after their first drive.
The Jets used the Wildcat on three plays (in a row, interestingly enough), starting with Tim Tebow's 23 yard run. On the next play, Tebow handed to Joe McKnight for his only carry of the day, a 12 yard scamper. Unfortunately, Shonn Greene ruined the party with a six yard loss, at which point Sanchez retook the reins in a less-than-ideal situation. But as MeatLoaf once so eloquently put it, two out of three ain't bad.
Bilal Powell showed some flashes and led the Jets in rushing with 33 yards on nine carries. More on this in a bit.
Garrett McIntyre, ladies and gentlemen. Starting in place of the injured Bryan Thomas at outside linebacker, McIntyre recorded seven total tackles, including four for losses and added two sacks. Unfortunately, when Garrett McIntyre is your best player on the field, that leaves a lot left for us to discuss in the next section.
The Bad and The Ugly
It's kind of hard to make a discernable difference between "The Bad" and "The Ugly" from Sunday's Jets performance, so we're going to mesh it all together into one big slopfest. We start with the offense, which was shutout after their opening two drives netted their entire scoring output of 10.
The Jets' receivers had an awful day, led by Santonio Holmes. Holmes absolutely has nobody else to blame for his horrible performance against his former team. Sanchez threw his way 11 times. Sure, not every throw was on the money, but Holmes only hauled in three catches for 28 yards. He dropped numerous passes, and spent most of the day looking for calls on the Pittsburgh defense, some of which he actually was able to coax the officials into. But overall it was a terrible game for Holmes, who this time can't complain that he was ignored by the game plan or by his quarterback. His poor output was solely on him.
The rest of the Jets' receivers were manhandled by the Steelers' defensive backs. Stephen Hill was only targeted two times and had no receptions. In the second quarter, Sanchez appeared to hit Hill deep down the sideline on a post-corner route, but the rookie couldn't haul it in. It wasn't a blatant drop, but it was also a makeable play. Jeremy Kerley caught the Jets' longest passing play of the game, a 45 yarder which helped set up their only touchdown of the game on their opening series. But Kerley also had a key hand in the loss by muffing a third quarter punt. The Jets had problems with turnovers on special teams last season. There's almost nothing more backbreaking in a football game than turning the ball right back over after your defense has made a stand.
Pittsburgh won the time of possession battle 36:36-23:24. A big reason for that is the Jets' inability to run the ball with any effectiveness, and it starts with Greene. The more you watch Greene - this is now his second season as the Jets' feature back - it becomes more and more apparent that he just isn't a starting-level NFL running back. He hits the hole with no gusto whatsoever, doesn't even attempt to make anybody miss (I guess you have to give him credit for knowing his limitations), has ball security problems, and has almost never, ever had two consecutive good games. When Bilal Powell averages a measly 3.7 yards a carry, and that has an Upper East Side apartment full of Jets fans clamoring for him, you know you have a problem at running back.
You'd be hard pressed to find a worse starting running back in the entire league right now. Go ahead, look at the depth charts around the NFL, and tell me one team that would be better off if they had Greene at running back over their current starter. I honestly don't think you can. With that, it is of my personal opinion that Greene is the NFL's worst No. 1 running back. The Jets should either start Powell next week against the Dolphins, or at the very least split the carries 50/50 between the two.
Now, we move to the Jets' defense, which obviously had a huge hand in the discrepancy of time of possession. New York couldn't get off the field when it needed to the most, allowing the Steelers to convert eight of their 15 third downs. Not having Darrelle Revis hurt, as Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie both had rough days - especially Cromartie who made a terrible play on Mike Wallace's third quarter, 3rd-and-16, 37-yard touchdown, in which Ben Roethlisberger's pass seemed to hang in the air for about an hour. In total, Roethlisberger picked the Jets' secondary apart to the tune of a QB rating of 125.1, the highest ever against Rex Ryan's Jets' defense. Through two weeks, the Jets' defense is averaging 27.5 points allowed a game.
However, Ryan did a good job of dialing up the correct blitzes to get pressure on Roethlisberger. It's true that Big Ben is one of the best in the league at avoiding pressure and extending plays, but the Jets' tackling in the backfield was an abomination. New York had countless opportunities for sacks that they whiffed on, including on Wallace's touchdown. In total, the Jets' tackling was downright bad all over the field, but was magnified the most on the missed sack opportunities.
The loss put the Jets back to Earth a little bit, but it's no death knell. They simply played a poor game, in a place where its very tough to win against another good, desperate team. Would you rather have lost on the road against Pittsburgh, or at home against the Arizona Cardinals (here's looking at you, New England)? With that, the entire AFC East is 1-1, and if Denver loses on Monday at Atlanta, most of the conference will be 1-1 as well. The Jets missed an opportunity to take an early lead in the division, so it's disappointing, but it's not exactly a game to be up in arms about.
If they fall in Miami next week? That's another story.