Centuries from now, aliens are going to descend upon America, dig up our country’s history in a capsule, and confusedly scratch their alien heads.
Not about the Kardashian sensation, the invention of Crystal Clear Pepsi or the William Hung phenomenon that took the nation by storm in 2004. Those they’ll be able to piece together. No, the one thing that will keep them restless, baffled and up long alien nights will be the following conundrum:
“Why did ESPN spend an entire week on-site at training camp for a 4-12 team back in 2012?”
Well, I didn’t have any answers for our alien friends at the time and I certainly don’t have any for them now. Following Sunday’s 34-0 blowout loss to the 49ers at home, the Jets — a squad that’s actually still .500 and 2-0 in their division — reached the lowest point of the Rex Ryan era in New York.
The New York defense couldn’t stop San Francisco against the pass or the run, the ground game was downright inept, and the passing offense was non-existent. Quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 13 of 29 passes for 103 yards, threw an interception and was sacked three times. With the game well out of hand and the crowd booing, moaning and pleading for backup quarterback Tim Tebow, Ryan kept Sanchez out there until the very end.
The final would have been 47-0 had David Akers made two makeable field goals and 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick not shown some mercy by sliding at the 1-yard line before strolling into the end zone untouched on San Francisco’s final drive.
The Jets fans clogging up the sports radio station phone lines in New York this week aren’t necessarily clamoring for Tebow. In fact, I don’t know a single Jets fan who actually wants to see — or trusts — Tim Tebow under center as the Jets’ full-time starting quarterback. But they want something. Anything. They’re clamoring for a change.
Sanchez’s remaining supporters — and yes, there are still quite a few in this town — point to his back-to-back AFC title game appearances in 2009 and 2010 as proof that the fourth-year quarterback can be “the guy.” Alas, those teams were much different than the outfits the Jets front office is trotting out there today. Though he made clutch plays and did lead the Jets to four playoff victories on the road in two years, those teams were much more well-rounded than the 2012 Jets.
With Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes out with injuries, the Jets don’t have any real NFL playmakers on their squad. Shonn Greene looks like he’s running through mud every time he carries the ball, there’s no second receiver on the roster, and the Jets’ pass rush — considered the strength of the team in years prior — is filled with first-round failures, overpaid veterans and guys who have yet to live up to expectations.
Whereas other teams load up in the NFL Draft and free agency, the Jets have been stuck in neutral for the past few offseasons. Recent first-round selections Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples have not made any impact, veteran pass rushers Calvin Pace, Aaron Maybin and Bryan Thomas have been invisible through four games, and the team’s big “project” pick from a year ago — 330-pound defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis — hasn’t done a thing in two years.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan have found plenty of convenient scapegoats in their time together in New York. Brian Schottenheimer, Plaxico Burress and most recently — right tackle Wayne Hunter — have all been shown the door.
But at what point are the head coach and general manager made accountable? The Jets weren’t just beaten up and embarrassed Sunday. Jim Harbaugh also outcoached the heck out of Rex Ryan, breaking out the very Wildcat package that the Jets practiced all summer long. They did so with perfection in New York’s home building. Colin Kaepernick was everything Jets fans ever dreamed Tebow could be and more. This was Wildcat 101, and both Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano watched it executed flawlessly for 60 minutes.
Which begs the question — did the Jets defense not know how to defend a package the offense was apparently working on throughout training camp? The Jets were so outcoached and under prepared by the 49ers in Week 4 that it left me wondering what exactly the team did work on all week? Did they watch even a second of 49ers’ game film? Did they actually practice?
Sanchez, Tebow and even third-stringer Greg McElroy — I don’t know if any of the Jets’ three quarterbacks have a chance to succeed with the talent that surrounds them on offense. And even if they do find a way to generate some points, how can they be successful with a defense that has no bite, can’t rush the passer and can’t defend the deep ball?
Unfortunately, it’s about to get much, much worse for Gang Green.
Only a small portion of the country saw Sunday’s effort. The Jets have the undefeated Houston Texans — the one team that might be more physical than San Francisco — on Monday night. This one’s on national television, a stage for the entire world to watch.