By Brad Carroll
Unlike last week in San Diego, the New York Jets actually came up with an inspired performance against the heavily-favored Denver Broncos Sunday afternoon. While that was good to see, it still wasn't anywhere near good enough to win, as the Jets fell to 1-5 after a 31-14 defeat. The Jets problems that have been prevalent all season long were there against the Broncos, which is the frustrating part of this entire campaign.
The Jets twice had the ball late in the game with a chance to drive for the game-tying touchdown, only to fail each time. The Jets defense had their chances to come up with big stops at the end of both the first half and second half, but failed to do so yet again. The Broncos scored two touchdowns in the final 5:50 of the first half to go up 17-7 at the break. Denver took over with 5:05 to go in the game as well, leading by seven, and the Jets defense allowed the Broncos to convert two third downs before forcing a punt with under a minute to play.
The offense, which had a three and out and pick-six on those two potential game-tying drives, gained a total of 31 yards on the ground, with Geno Smith the leading rusher with 11 yards. The Jets turned the ball over twice, including losing a fumble on a punt return. Smith played decent, but he couldn't lead the team to victory, and instilled little confidence he could do so when the ball was in his hands with a chance to tie.
It only gets worse from here, as the Jets have to take on the Patriots this Thursday. They will have to do it without Dee Milliner, who is likely to miss the rest of the season with an apparent Achilles injury. We all know what that means for the Jets secondary, which was porous even with Milliner in the lineup.
The Jets don't have the depth and don't have the players to compete against the big teams like Denver. That is the fault of owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik, who have both taken the cheap route with the roster, while at the same time gouging fans with high ticket prices and PSL's.
Here's a closer look at what the Jets had to do to beat Denver Sunday and how it actually played out on the field.
Geno Has Game Of His Life
Why It Was Key: "Geno Smith's future may be as nothing more than a backup quarterback in this league, but he has to play like a franchise passer Sunday. If Smith has any fight left in him, he'll show what he has against Denver. Whether that's good enough or not is anyone's guess. But a possible upset starts and ends with Smith's play."
How It Played Out: Smith wasn't bad, but he wasn't great either. He was downright mediocre, which just isn't good enough to win games, especially against a team like Denver. Smith finished 23-for-43 for 190 yards with two touchdowns and an interception that was returned for a score late in the game. Shockingly enough, Smith was the leading rusher as well, with just 11 yards. Obviously, Smith didn't play well enough to win, but he also didn't get much help from his receivers, who had at least four drops, and a non-existent running game. Smith did have the ball in his hands with a chance to tie the game twice in the final minutes. The Jets took over with 6:09 to go, but went three and out after an incomplete pass, four-yard completion and another incompletion. The Jets got the ball back again at the five with 56 seconds to play and down seven, but Smith threw incomplete, was sacked for a near safety and then threw a pick-six. The question Rex Ryan, John Idzik and everyone else who has a say in who the quarterback will be going forward is did you believe Smith had the ability to drive the team to victory in either situation? The answer for most is no. Smith played one of his better games of the season, but again, it wasn't good enough to win. He's still the starter for next week, Ryan said so in his postgame press conference, but everyone already knew that was going to be the case.
Blitz, Blitz, Blitz
Why It Was Key: "The only chance the Jets have on defense is to disrupt Peyton Manning in the passing game, and that means sending the house early and often. Manning might pop a couple of big plays to open receivers with the Jets selling out on defense, but there is no way the Jets can sit back and watch their defensive backs get burnt to a crisp."
How It Played Out: The Jets had tremendous success when they blitzed, as Manning actually was skittish at times in the pocket. When the Jets brought the house, Manning short-hopped throws and the Jets defense got off the field. But the Jets didn't do it nearly enough, as Ryan sent just three pass rushers on many of Manning's 35 dropbacks in the game. Not surprisingly, Manning had all day to throw in those situations, hitting big plays against the terrible Jets defensive backs. The Jets had two sacks and three quarterback hits, but they could have done so much more if given the opportunity to put added pressure on Manning. The Broncos quarterback completed 22-of-33 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. Even Julius Thomas after a third-quarter touchdown was picked up on a field mic saying "it's so f---ing easy." It was, especially when the Jets didn't bring the pressure. It's too bad, because the Jets had success when they did blitz Manning.
Control Clock On Offense
Why It Was Key: "The Jets also need to move the ball on the ground, which is the best way to keep Manning on the sideline. If the Jets can get their running backs involved, it makes everything easier for Smith and the defense as well. If the Jets control the clock on offense, and don't turn it over, they will at least put themselves in position to make this a game."
How It Played Out: The Jets failed in every way possible on this key, rushing for just 31 yards on 15 carries. Chris Ivory had eight rushes for seven yards, Chris Johnson had three for nine, and Bilal Powell had two for four. Out of the backfield, Ivory had one catch for 14 yards and Johnson had one grab for four yards. The Jets were outgained 138-31 on the ground and 359-204 overall. The Broncos had a distinct edge in time of possession, holding the ball for over 33 minutes. The Broncos ended up being the team to control the game on the ground, the first to do so against the Jets this season.