New York Jets: Is There A Silver Lining In Lambeau Meltdown?


Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets’ 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday at Lambeau Field couldn’t help but leave a lingering, bitter taste in the mouth of Jet fans. In one of the most bizarre games in recent memory, gang green managed to blow an 18-point lead and ultimately was burned by their inefficiencies as well as the prolific Packer offense.

Despite the disappointing result, is there a silver lining to take out of Week 2 and into the rest of the season? First up is the Bears (1-1) on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium.

On the surface, it’s hard to be anything but frustrated and frankly a bit mystified with the Jets (1-1) and the outcome in Green Bay. Credit the Packers as well, who dictated basically the entire second half of the game and clawed back but the Jets fumbled their shot at a big-time upset. If they weren’t so reprehensible it would be hysterical to at all many ways New York managed to shoot themselves in the foot.

That’s why it’s really anyone’s debate as to who should be blamed ultimately for the Jets’ defeat. If any one of the blunders we saw on Sunday hadn’t happened, regardless of time left in the game, the Jets are sitting in a much prettier spot than the one they set up for themselves.

For me, blame can’t be pinned on any one person or play—there were too many gaffes from too wide a range of personnel to accurately determine that. It’s not one of the specific wasted opportunities that cost New York the game but all of them rolled into one.

Let’s take a look at the self-inflicted wounds and there were a lot of them. They take up most of this post symbolically the way they took up most of the game on Sunday.

The Marty Mornhinweg attempting and Sheldon Richardson actually calling timeout fiasco was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for the Jets. We know it shouldn’t have been granted as the head coach is supposed to be the only one allowed to call timeout and Rex Ryan didn’t. Maybe it’s more bad luck, or typical Jets luck as many would note, that Geno Smith ended up connecting with Jeremy Kerley for the game-tying touchdown. At the very least, both parties were attempting to aid the team on their do-or-die 4th down attempt.

Do we blame Richardson for whispering to the ref? Or Mornhinweg for running down the sideline as if he wanted the timeout? Or Ryan for not having control of his sideline? Maybe it’s all three to an extent, with the coaches certainly being more culpable.

Some blame can certainly be thrown in the secondary’s direction as well, mostly the cornerbacks. Aaron Rodgers picked on Dee Milliner, Kyle Wilson, Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls with equal opportunity while lighting the Jets up for 346 yards. Jordy Nelson ended the day with 209 yards receiving and a touchdown. The back end was burnt like toast—and they couldn’t tackle either.

We can’t forget about Muhammad Wilkerson getting tossed out of the game after haphazardly throwing swings down by the goal line. He’s the anchor of that smothering Jets’ defensive line and arguably the best player on the entire team. There’s no question that Mo needed to harness himself there. To take control and not hurt the team by getting ejected.

Geno Smith actually sparked the turn of events by throwing an interception with two minutes remaining the first half, up 21-9. I have no issue with the Jets’ aggressiveness because of the opposing offense but a turnover there is unacceptable. Geno threw a duck after Brian Winters was beat clean off of the line of scrimmage. It was the beginning of the end for the Jets, who entirely lost momentum after going into the half up 21-16 as opposed to 24-9 or better.

Damon “Snacks” Harrison is a main cog in the Jets’ run stopping game. However on Sunday it was Harrison who failed to get off the field in time, causing a flag for twelve men on the field. The penalty negated a David Harris interception deep in Green Bay territory that had points for the Jets written all over it.

The truth is that all of these mistakes played roles. The Jets are an undisciplined and unpolished product; one that cannot seem to avoid self-inflicted wounds. The Jets find interesting ways to lose games—it’s happened for decades from A.J. Duhe to Dan Marino’s fake spike to Doug Brien missing two field goals in Pittsburgh. If you ask Jet nation it’s more nauseating than anything else.

The masses have been calling this a “Same Old Jets” type of loss. One that you wouldn’t expect from anyone but gang green.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

In a way that’s true. But there is a difference in this situation and there is a little bit of a silver lining for the Jets to take deeper into 2014. Even with all the mistakes against the Packers, there’s tangible evidence the Jets are a team skilled enough in most areas to stay competitive with almost any team.

They are not as far behind the upper-tier NFL teams as originally thought. In some spots they are at a talent disadvantage while they match up in other areas but compared to the best teams, the execution in New York isn’t up to par yet.

This is overall the most talented team Rex Ryan has had in his tenure. The front seven is arguably tops in the NFL and they’re attempting to prove they can harass quarterbacks to no end. The offense has some weapons for once in Eric Decker and Chris Johnson while Geno Smith is progressing slowly but surely.

The “Same Old Jets” probably would’ve gone into Green Bay and lost the game by thirty. If they managed to take the 18-point lead and lose it, they would’ve crawled up into a shell and never kicked the field goal to tie the game at 24. Whether or not it counted, the S.O.J definitely would not have drove down the field and scored the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth.

Sure, only the Jets could illegally call a timeout and prevent an improbable game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. My point is merely that this team isn’t the lost cause some of those past teams were. Within the frustrating loss there are still glimmers of hope to be seen while watching the Jets.

There are obvious holes like the secondary and other areas that need fixing but the loss in Green Bay should ultimately be taken in stride. They hung with one of the best teams in the NFL on the road. The Jets didn’t embarrass themselves; they shined a brighter light on their weaknesses and shortcomings. Week 2 was a game that good teams win and the Jets just aren’t there yet but it doesn’t mean they aren’t on their way. It’s clear this team is much improved and with growth can make a playoff run in a wide-open AFC.

New York could be in the process of proving it can compete with the better teams in the NFL. They’ll have chances to prove it too with the next five games coming against upper-echelon opponents.