On Friday, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan invoked the Super Bowl when he explained his decision to leave cornerback Darrelle Revis on the team’s active roster, at least for the time being, despite Revis tearing his left ACL last week against Miami.
Ryan is probably safe placing Revis on IR now, though, because after the way his team played in Sunday’s 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, it’s hard to see the them making the playoffs — much less playing for a championship — any time soon.
The shutout wasn’t the first of the Ryan era; that came on Halloween night 2010, when New York lost 9-0 to the Packers. Nor was it the most lopsided Jets loss since Ryan took over in 2009; the Jets got pummeled 45-3 against the New England Patriots five weeks after that 2010 shutout against Green Bay.
But Sunday’s effort was so exceptionally horrid, and New York’s moribund offense was so unthinkably inept, that it was nearly impossible to derive anything positive from it. And during Ryan’s postgame press conference, it became clear that his frustration had begun to boil over.
“I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but we got our ass kicked,” an angry Ryan aptly clarified after the game. “There’s no two ways, ins or outs about it. … Right now, we’re not even close to being one of the better teams in this league.”
It’s a harsh assessment, sure, but what else could Ryan say? There was no defending his team after the embarrassing game it had just played.
New York’s 145 yards of offense were the fewest by a Jets team since 1997, and the 245 yards gained on the ground by San Francisco were the most by a Jets opponent in five years. The Jets converted just two of 13 third downs and only had five more first downs (nine) than turnovers (four) — and three of New York’s first downs came as a result of defensive penalties by San Francisco.
The score should have been even more lopsided, but 49ers kicker David Akers missed two field goals and backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick intentionally slid short of the goal line on what would have been a fourth-quarter touchdown run.
And to make matters worse, the Jets also lost wide receiver Santonio Holmes, perhaps their most dangerous offensive weapon, to a possible serious foot injury.
So yeah, they got their ass kicked. Thoroughly. And most players in the Jets locker room seemed to agree.
“Everybody should be pissed,” said cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who is carrying the defensive load with Revis out for the season. “But we’ve just got to continue to play; you’ve got to fight to the last minute.”
Jets safety LaRon Landry had an even more biting assessment of his team’s performance as it fell to 2-2 on the season.
“If anybody thought that we were there or close to being there, I think today was a real wakeup call,” Landry said. “I think today was an indication that all of us, not one person on this team is where they need to be right now. We all have corrections and mistakes that have to be rectified if we’re going to be able to turn this ship around.”
The first and most obvious place the Jets need to find some consistency is under center. New York’s defense and running game were brutal against San Francisco, but the team’s hapless quarterback play was of much greater concern.
Mark Sanchez completed just 13 of 29 passes, his third straight game completing fewer than 50 percent of his throws, and did little to inspire confidence that he’s a guy who can be relied on going forward. To his credit, Sanchez did seem to recognize just how awful he played.
“We’ve got a lot of football left, and it’s the guys in the locker room, myself included, that have to improve,” Sanchez said. “It’s on me to lead this team and lead these guys and play better than I did today. … The answers are in that locker room. Nobody is just going to show up and fix everything. We’ve got to fix it ourselves.”
If you were to listen to the 79,088 booing fans in attendance Sunday, you’d think backup quarterback Tim Tebow might be that answer.
But Ryan brushed aside any talk of a quarterback change, and Tebow, who completed his first and only pass attempt of the season on Sunday, diplomatically sidestepped every effort reporters made to get him to say he wanted to play more.
Instead, Tebow focused on putting a positive spin on his situation and the loss — as he often does — and shifted the attention to New York’s next game, at home against Houston next Monday night.
“Different teams that I’ve been on, with losses like this, I feel like we really have rallied behind because you don’t want to feel like that again,” Tebow said. “It kind of puts you on edge a little bit. When you’re in meetings, you’re a little more focused; when you’re on the practice field, you go a little bit harder; when you’re in the weight room you lift a little bit more. And I think it could be the best thing that happens to us all year.”
It’s unreasonably optimistic to believe that Sunday’s flop by the reeling Jets could be a harbinger for success going forward — or maybe Tebow just wasn’t watching the same game everyone else was. But if nothing else, New York can take comfort in knowing that it can’t play any worse.
“It’s not a position that we’re used to being in or that I am used to being in,” Ryan said. “It’s not one that I ever want to go through again. My dad always said, ‘If you stay in it long enough, it’ll happen to you again.’ I certainly don’t look forward to that day."