Jets get the W, and that's good enough
The New York Jets are a happy family once again.
Well, at least until the next crisis comes. And it inevitably will — unless the Jets can correct the shortcomings that continued in Monday night’s 24-6 victory over visiting Miami.
The offense still lacks consistency. The run defense is a shell of the dominant group fielded in recent seasons. Fielding punts and kickoffs has become an adventure.
An opponent more formidable than the pathetic Dolphins (0-5) would have had a very legitimate shot at extending New York’s losing streak to four games.
But enough about the mistakes that Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his staff assuredly will highlight before their next game — Sunday against formidable San Diego (4-1). If nothing else, last week’s player in-fighting that threatened to rip the Jets asunder was replaced by the feel-good, Kumbaya vibe that comes from crushing an AFC East rival.
“It was big for us,” Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes said.
Holmes would know that more than anyone.
It was Holmes who started an internal controversy last week by ripping New York’s offensive line for insufficiently protecting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Right guard Brandon Moore responded by saying that such comments fragment the locker room and are not becoming of a player bestowed team captaincy as Holmes is this season.
Ryan, who traded discontented wide receiver Derrick Mason to Houston last week after the veteran had expressed dismay about the offense’s direction, deserves credit for taking a creative step to extinguish another fire. He made Moore and Holmes co-captains for the pregame coin toss, prompting both to say afterward that their tiff is in the past.
“It was good,” Holmes said. “We both looked each other in the eye and said, ‘Let’s go. It’s time to play football.’ ”
Unfortunately for the Jets, it wasn’t good football right off the bat.
New York (3-3) was playing at home for the first time in almost an entire month before the losing skid began. But the only thing the Jets could have done to make the Dolphins feel more at home was provide gift bags containing subway tokens and “I Love New York” T-shirts.
Like in last Sunday’s 30-21 loss to New England, New York’s offense opened the game with four consecutive three-and-outs. The initial first down with 6:04 remaining in the second quarter drew a sarcastic round of applause from the MetLife Stadium crowd.
The fact New York was still ahead 7-6 at that point speaks volumes about Miami’s ineptitude and the skill of Jets all-star cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The Dolphins should have led 10-0, but drives that reached New York’s 5- and 1-yard lines both ended in field goals. Miami wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who created his own pregame controversy by claiming he would “play like a monster” and probably get ejected in the second quarter for fighting, once again proved maddeningly inconsistent.
Marshall’s six-catch, 109-yard performance was overshadowed by the plays he didn’t make. He inexplicably lost his balance and ran out of bounds untouched on what should have been a 65-yard touchdown pass after torching cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Marshall failed to corral another throw in the end zone on a pass slightly behind him but certainly catchable. That marked Marshall’s fifth wasted scoring opportunity this season on an offense with no room for error.
Marshall also must shoulder the blame for the play that put New York on the scoreboard. He stumbled after getting tangled with Revis, who was then in perfect position to catch a Matt Moore throw that hit him squarely in the chest. Revis sprinted downfield unimpeded so quickly that he had time to backpedal across the goal-line in capping a 100-yard interception return.
“That was huge,” Brandon Moore said. “That set the change. They wanted to attack him. Throw at your own risk. He made them pay for it.”
As they fell behind, the Dolphins ultimately were forced to abandon a rushing attack that gained a solid 118 yards on 25 carries. Matt Moore, forced into his first Dolphins start following the season-ending shoulder injury suffered 15 days earlier by Chad Henne, simply was overwhelmed while getting sacked four times and intercepted again by Revis late.
As for New York’s quarterbacking, Sanchez still won’t make your head turn. But he was turnover-free and accounted for two scores, one on a 5-yard draw and the other on a 38-yard pass to Holmes keyed by the downfield blocks of fellow wideouts Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Kerley.
Sanchez described the win as being “just what we needed.” Brandon Moore couldn’t agree more.
“When you (lose) three times in a row, you can start doubting yourself a little bit,” said Moore, whose unit allowed two sacks and paved the way for New York’s 104-yard rushing output. “You forget what it feels like to win. It felt good to get that going.”
Barring some necessary improvements, the Jets probably won’t roll through their next three games against the Chargers, Buffalo (4-2) and New England (5-1). But as Holmes pointed out, New York is moving forward “as a team.”
That’s about the best thing the Jets have going right now.