One of the things that happens when you talk about the Jets being a team of destiny — much of the talk coming from coach Rex Ryan and much of it coming from media dolts — is that the team itself starts to believe it. This is generally good. Football is a sport that rewards braggadocio in a way that baseball does not; a team that acts as if it is the best team in the sport tends to play like it. But there’s a clear downside: You start taking unnecessary risks because you’re 100 percent certain that the fates are on your side. Rex Ryan coached yesterday like he has coached the Jets since he got here: as if his team can do no wrong because they are simply better than the opponent. Yesterday, it sure bit him.
The Jets lost 9-0 to the Packers at home yesterday — 9-0! — and the reason they lost is because they produced no offense. Before one starts chastising Ryan for some odd, Les Miles–esque decisions, that’s the most important fact to remember: The Jets didn’t score any points, for the first time in four years. But Ryan didn’t make it easier on himself, or his team.
When Ryan called for a fake punt (Ed. Note: Yes, Weatherford “called” it, but he is a punter. Rex Ryan is a coach. Nonetheless: Noted.) on a fourth-and-eighteen in his own territory in the first quarter, it was the type of call a coach who wants to be known as balls-out makes, damn the consequences. It didn’t work, but Ryan’s logic was, essentially, our defense will stop the Packers anyway. He was right — the Packers couldn’t move the ball and settled for a field goal — but he overstated his offense’s ability: Those three points were all the Packers would need. The Jets have the type of team that can win battles of attrition. The main goal for Mark Sanchez, it’s always said, is that he must avoid turnovers and let the rest of the team do all the work; Ryan, with his fake-punt call, basically forced a turnover on his team.
There was also a questionable use of a replay challenge that hurt the Jets, but it still comes down to that offense. Sanchez completed only 16 of 38 passes and had two turnovers, and his passes were floating out of control all day; he was lucky it was only two interceptions. You can blame the crazy wind — it didn’t do Aaron Rodgers any favors either — but Sanchez is getting worse. This was his third bad game in a row. It might be time to get concerned again.
This game isn’t the end of the world. The Jets still have four very winnable games coming up, and the defense might have played its best game of the season. (Darrelle Revis looks like he enjoyed the bye week, anyway.) But the Patriots and Dolphins aren’t going away, and the Jets just got shut out at home. If the Jets win their next four, this ugly, endless game will be forgotten. But that’s about the only way that could happen. It’ll require a month of wins to wash this nasty game out of everybody’s eyes. Next week, the Jets play the Lions and their quarterback Matthew Stafford — taken the same year as Sanchez, four picks before him. Right now: Man, wouldn’t you rather have Stafford?