Jets a long way from Super Bowl look
The games are amazing. There are upset specials at every turn. And after Week 1, panic buttons are being pushed.
Our every Tuesday, in-season SCHEIN 9 is back. Hide the women, children and Todd Haley.
1. Big picture
The New York Jets stole one against the Dallas Cowboys, and they aren’t giving it back. But if the Jets want to live up to the Super Bowl hype, they are going to have to play much better this season.
Rex Ryan’s outfit deserves a ton of credit for being tough and clutch in the fourth quarter after getting thoroughly outplayed by the Cowboys. Credit Mike DeVito for forcing a Tony Romo fumble at 24-17 on a third down when the Cowboys could have gone up by two scores. That changed the game.
Joe McKnight blocked a punt, and it was returned for a Jets touchdown to tie the game. Romo continued his inept play in the clutch when he foolishly tried to throw on Darrelle Revis, and the best pure cornerback in the league picked off the pass with less than a minute to go. Then former Cowboys kicker Nick Folk bombed a field goal from 50 yards out to seal the comeback.
Congrats to the Jets and their game MVP, Romo. But they are going to have to get more even play, starting with their own quarterback, if they want to host playoff games in their stadium in January. For the Jets, it is all about winning the division. It is all about being better than Tom Brady and the Patriots. Right now, they are not.
On Sunday night, Mark Sanchez played hot potato with the football. The fumble was haphazard. I thought the game was over when Sean Lee picked a pass from Sanchez and nearly scored at the end of the third quarter.
Sanchez, historically, seems to play better late in games when there’s a sense of urgency. Should offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer go to an up-tempo no-huddle from the get-go? It might be worth a try.
Sanchez has proven to be a winner in the playoffs in his brief NFL career, with four road playoff victories in two years. But his play during four quarters of a regular-season game is a legit roller-coaster ride.
And what the heck happened to the ground and pound? How does Shonn Greene get only four carries in the first half, 30 minutes of football where the Jets were basically inept on offense? Schottenheimer talks about running, but he has to actually run the ball with his bell cow. This was unacceptable.
Plaxico Burress was a factor late, but why wasn’t he targeted in the first half with all of the Dallas injuries in the defensive backfield?
Wayne Hunter and the Jets offensive line got manhandled by Dallas.
I appreciated Ryan’s candor when he addressed the media postgame. He loved the effort but was very disappointed with the play throughout the game, especially on defense. In fact, he refused to give any player on defense a game ball after the Dallas offense shredded his defense.
Antonio Cromartie got beat like a drum by both Dez Bryant and Miles Austin for scores, with Austin literally ripping the ball out of Cromartie’s hands. Romo carved up this defense before his fourth-quarter meltdown.
The comeback was exhilarating and showed this team has championship fabric. But did you see the machine that was the New England Patriots on Monday night? Brady threw for 517 yards and four touchdowns in an epic display. And this was against a strong Miami defense!
Will there be home playoff games for the Jets? Sanchez and the Jets are 1-0 but have a lot to clean up.
2. Amateur hour
The Kansas City Chiefs embarrassed themselves and the league on Sunday afternoon at home, getting drubbed by the inferior Buffalo Bills 41-7. The play in every phase, the coaching, it was all inept. The Chiefs were clearly not ready to play. The preseason was tumultuous with the Jonathan Baldwin vs. Thomas Jones fight, with coach Todd Haley playing his starters relatively deep in the fourth preseason game and tight end Tony Moeaki going down for the season.
And now, young safety Eric Berry is done for the year with a torn ACL.
This season can spiral, and fast.
3. Can’t make it up
Rex Grossman carved up the New York Giants defense for 305 yards. Eli Manning looked totally dazed and confused. Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and head coach Tom Coughlin refused to run the ball. The Giants got a field-goal attempt blocked.
You have to credit the Washington Redskins.
But, at the same time, you also have to wonder aloud where the heck the Giants are going if they can’t win in Washington. Injuries are not an excuse. They lost 28-14 to Grossman, who totally outplayed Manning. Chew on that.
4. Color me impressed
I loved the Houston Texans on Sunday. But this was a rare game where winning wasn’t enough. The Texans needed to rout Indy and they did. Now it is fair and easy to cite Peyton Manning’s absence. But let’s not underreport and underrate the fact Houston bashed the Colts 34-7 without star running back Arian Foster.
Texans star linebacker DeMeco Ryans told us on the SiriusXM Blitz: “All of the credit goes to our offensive line. Plug in anyone at anytime, because of the way the offensive line balls out.”
Houston also showed brilliance in the new 3-4 defense, with Mario Williams looking very comfortable at linebacker.
I know the Colts are depleted, but you get the feeling the Texans smell opportunity.
5. I’m a genius/moron
The Baltimore Ravens proved me right by punching the Pittsburgh Steelers in the face. Do you think Joe Flacco had enough of the criticism this offseason? That was a statement 35-7 pounding.
The Chicago Bears proved me wrong (yet again) by making Matt Ryan a sub-par quarterback. That Chicago defense was amazing.
6. Backseat coaching
Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris was on our SiriusXM Blitz show on Monday and blamed himself for putting the Bucs in the two-minute offense way too early in a loss to the Detroit Lions. Morris was absolutely right, and this was a first guess watching the game. LeGarrette Blount had only five carries in the game. That’s totally unacceptable. Blount spoke out about it to the media on Monday. And I’m sure Morris doesn’t blame him.
7. My guys
• Chan Gailey: The Buffalo Bills coach told us on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday that it was personal for him, facing a team that fired him as offensive coordinator a couple of years ago. And he told us that this team is better than “the four wins” the critics are giving Buffalo. Yes, that would be me who predicted Buffalo to win four. Tight end Scott Chandler had two touchdowns. It begs the question, “Who the hell is Scott Chandler?”
• Cam Newton: I was totally wowed by the neophyte throwing for 422 yards. I was even more impressed when he was angry after the game because his team lost.
• Haloti Ngata: The Ravens big man set the tone for the bone-crushing performance with a forced fumble, a deflected pass and creating all sorts of havoc.
• Brian Urlacher: I voted for Urlacher last year for Defensive Player of the Year. Somehow my peers didn’t find his season worthy of first team All-Pro. He had a pick and returned a fumble for a score in the Bears' “remember us” win against the Atlanta Falcons. Urlacher is the heart and soul in Chicago.
• Ted Ginn Jr.: With his San Francisco 49ers leading 19-17 against the Seattle Seahawks, Ginn busted a 102-yard kickoff return. For good measure, he returned a punt for 55 yards. When you employ Alex Smith as a quarterback, you need to find other ways to score.
8. My goats
• Sean Payton: With a final play from the 1-yard line after a penalty, and needing a score and a two-point conversion to tie the game, how in the world do you give the ball to Mark Ingram and not let your smoking-hot star quarterback, Drew Brees, try to throw a touchdown!
• Donovan McNabb: I’m guessing that 39 passing yards in his Minnesota Vikings debut was not what he was looking for.
• Brian Daboll: The fourth-and-inches pass from the goal line was the single worst play call of the weekend, and if you watched football this weekend, that says something. If Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was angry before, he must be livid at his new offensive coordinator.
• Tony Romo: I’ve always been a Romo fan. But he earned the goat horns this week. He looked like a chicken running around with his head cut off on the fumble. How to you try Revis with a minute to play? Beware, Tony. Dallas doesn’t have Wade Phillips to blame any more. You earned this.
• Special teams: For those who say the lockout didn’t hurt play in Week 1, did you see the quality of special teams play on field-goal and punt protection? Did you see the quality of kick and punt coverage? This is what happens when you don’t have minicamps and OTAs and you can’t practice twice a day and young players don’t know what they are doing.
9. Three nuggets of wisdom
• Cedric Benson is back to being the Cincinnati Bengals' workhorse under new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. His production of 25 carries for 121 yards is the perfect recipe for the Bengals, who stunned the Browns in Cleveland. Excellent job by Gruden.
• The Lions' victory in Tampa, on the heels of four straight victories to end last year, shows once again that Jim Schwartz is a heck of a coach and the Lions are a legit contender this year.
• I called Patrick Peterson the single best player in the 2011 NFL draft. You can see he is a work in progress as a corner. But his 89-yard punt return for a touchdown, breaking a 21-21 tie, showed his immense talent, and it gave the Arizona Cardinals a win in the first game of the Kevin Kolb era.