“Same Old Jets” – that’s the phrase that fans of the New York team use when disappointed with the team’s performance. Same Old Jets – it’s a motto that means expect the worst, but hope for the best. Same Old Jets – that’s exactly what they were Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
After a blowout victory against the Buffalo Bills at home in week one, the Jets looked like an entirely different team Sunday. An offense that was explosive just one week ago was completely flat following an impressive first drive that resulted in a touchdown.
Mark Sanchez looked sharp early, hitting on four of five passes on that drive for 80 yards and a touchdown, but he only managed six more receptions for just 58 more yards after that. The running game looked solid early too, with Shonn Greene running hard and Bilal Powell picking up where he left off when Greene was sidelined temporarily with a head injury. But when the passing game faltered, the running game disappeared with it.
A defense that picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick three times just one week ago was mediocre, missing tackles and letting Big Ben Roethlisberger work them over for 275 yards and two touchdowns. They hurt themselves with a slew of sloppy penalties and looked tired for much of the second half, struggling to get off the field. They allowed 8 of 15 third down attempts and had trouble tackling just about anybody in the third quarter.
I have to give credit where credit is due, though, as the Steelers defense stepped up big without James Harrison and Troy Polamalu on the field. Their defense could have taken the day off and blamed it on the loss of two of their best players, but they played hard Steelers football all day long. If it weren’t for the lack of a gigantic hair poof in the secondary, you would have never realized that their playmaker safety didn’t take the field on Sunday.
While the Jets face a much easier opponent next week in the Miami Dolphins (1-1), they will still be under a watchful eye as the world waits to see if the Tony Sparano offense got lucky in week one or if it actually is for real. It sure didn’t look like a step up from Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme on Sunday, but the Steelers had a lot to do with that.
Regardless of what the 27-10 score at the end of the game would lead you to believe, the Jets offense never once turned the ball over, with a fumbled punt by Jeremy Kerley after a big defensive stand being their only giveaway. Despite several long passes from Mark Sanchez, the fourth-year quarterback didn’t throw one interception. He was highly ineffective for most of the game, though it would be tough for any quarterback to have neutralized the Steelers’ blanket coverage of the Jets’ wide receivers.
The moral of the story is, there isn’t anything to worry about just yet, Jets fans. The defense had trouble figuring out how to stop Big Ben Roethlisberger, but most do. The pass rush only worked to his advantage as he seems to play his best on the run and outside of the pocket. Without Darrelle Revis on the field, the secondary failed to stop a corps of speedy receivers. None of that was unexpected. None of that is cause for concern.
Mark Sanchez didn’t play his best football, but he still looked better than he did in 2011 and prior to that. Sanchez never went into the panic mode that we’ve seen so many times before. The offensive line actually looked solid for the majority of the game, run-blocking effectively and protecting the quarterback as best as they could in a game in which he needed a lot of time in the pocket to allow his receivers to break free.
It’s still early in the season. Teams are still working out the kinks. The Jets’ offense looked great week one, but the pass game isn’t going click instantly with new receivers Chaz Schilens and Stephen Hill now in the picture. The loss of Dustin Keller affected the offense Sunday, and the loss of Darrelle Revis cannot even remotely be quantified. Expect a bounce-back win next Sunday in Miami to put your mind at ease for at least one week before the 49ers come to town.
By Zach Berger
Follow Zach on Twitter at @theZachBerger
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