Now that it has been a few days since that little business that happened Monday night, the Jets can now plod forward like it didn’t happen. Rex Ryan has buried the football from that game — The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Gay amusingly posited that the ball returned from the dead and scored two Patriots touchdowns — and everyone is going to try to put it behind them. Sure, it was 45–3, and sure, it was a total breakdown of everything the Jets have shouted they were going to do all season, but hey, that was totally Monday. It’s a new day.
On one hand, the need to move on is sane and logical. After all, it’s not like the loss knocked the Jets out of the playoffs or anything. They’re currently the fifth seed in the AFC – with a potentially very winnable game against Jacksonville in the first round – and if they win out and the Patriots lose a couple games (which is at least theoretically possible), they’ll end up with the top seed in the AFC. No matter what, the Jets will have to collapse not to make the playoffs. They’re not going to collapse, right?
The first test is Sunday against Miami, a team that’s having its fair share of trouble and would seem to be a welcome chaser after that nasty shot on Monday. (Which you’ve already forgotten about, yes?) The Jets seem preoccupied with how Mark Sanchez is feeling, but as poorly as he played Monday, the team gave up 45 points. Pinning the loss on him is taking the “as the quarterback goes, the team goes” theorem to an extreme. Sanchez needs to play better, but so does everybody else, by a lot.
What matters on Sunday is for the Jets to get back to what they do best: running the ball, playing ball-control, stuffing mediocre offenses. It’s what got them to 9–3 in the first place. (Which, after all, is the second-best record in football.) If they can do that, the Patriots will be the least of their concerns. But if something goes wrong on Sunday, this whole thing can go down in a heap. The loss Monday, as bad as it was, was just one loss. It is the job of Rex Ryan and his staff to make certain that it does not turn out to cost them more.