Rex Ryan’s New York Jets did just about everything they could have hoped for against the Miami Dolphins yesterday. They held the Dolphins to a minuscule 104 yards and completely shut down that pesky wildcat offense that caused all the trouble a few weeks ago. Mark Sanchez even had a positive day, throwing two second-half touchdowns, running for another, and avoiding the interception bug. Everything went right. And the Jets still lost 30–25. Oof.
The main reason the Jets lost an extremely winnable game was Ted Ginn Jr., the scaldingly fast returner who took two kickoffs back for touchdowns in the third quarter. (The second one was especially impressive; the Jets’ special teams had covered it well, but Ginn still danced his way around, through, and past everyone.) But the real reason they lost was that they kept kicking him the ball in the first place. For the first time in his short Jets tenure, coach Ryan is taking hits not for his big (and fun!) mouth, but for his on-field moves (or lack thereof). He kept kicking to Ginn, he made a bewildering two-point-conversion decision, and missed an opportunity to throw a challenge flag on a fumble that would have given the Jets the ball. It was a shaky day.
The growing conventional wisdom on Ryan is that he shows so much confidence in his players that he can’t see their limitations, and thus allows them to make the same mistakes over and over. This may or may not be true, but this is what we do: We make coaches’ strengths into weaknesses. Ryan is not the first it has happened to.
Mostly, though: The Jets head into their bye week at 4–4, a mediocre team that’s a game and a half behind the Patriots and tied with the Dolphins, a team they’ve already lost the tiebreaker to. More to the point: They’ve lost some games they’ll desperately need if they’re going to sneak into the playoffs. Sanchez has settled down and started managing games again. The defense isn’t being fooled anymore. The Jets have a tall, big-play wide receiver. And they’re still 4–4 heading into the bye. If the Jets end up home in January, watching other teams in the postseason, they’ll have many games during which to pinpoint exactly why. Yesterday was probably the worst of them.