Growing Pains

Last week’s loss to the Jaguars hurt.  All week I was consumed with thoughts of disappointment in the Jets organization. Watching this team lose five of six left me with not only nothing to say, but also nothing to hope for.

As the week went on,  I began to forgive and forget.  I tried my hardest to find it in me to stay positive and tackle the Patrriots game with 100 percent of me supporting my team. While I knew that a win over the “vengeful” Patriots would be difficult, my real hope was that the Jets would play to their capabilities and showcase the talent that I know they have.

Well, the much-anticipated game has come and gone. An agonizing four hours have passed, and the Jets are now 4-6 and the notion of a playoff spot a fleeting memory. Disappointment is dead and gone, replaced by anger. After surviving many Jets losses through the years, I know how to take a loss.  I can accept losses when the Jets lose to a team that is more talented.  I can also accept losses that purely don’t make sense and just “happen," but what I refuse to take lightly is when the Jets lose a game purely because of poor coaching, poor preparation and self-inflicted mistakes, like they did Sunday in the 31-14 defeat.

It was inexplicably awful.

Yes, the Patriots that showed up Sunday were a very different team than the team the Jets faced in Week 2. Regardless, the Jets have the talent and skill to hang with them, or to at least avoid embarrassment. CBS analyst Jim Nantz was being kind at the end of the game when he stated “sometimes you’re just not better than the team you are playing against."

I simply do not agree.

Even the worst teams in the league will beat you when your quarterback has as many interceptions as completions in the first half, and finishes a game with five turnovers. Mark Sanchez has now tossed 16 picks, second most in the league.

As a rookie quarterback these mistakes are expected, and as fans we’re supposed to be tolerant. The rookie excuse works only for so long. At some point all the mistakes need to disappear and the learning curve has to shrink. To see the same mistakes week after week is not fair to the fans, not fair to the rest of the team and most importantly not fair to Sanchez.

With only 26 games -- counting college -- under his belt, how can we expect him to know what needs to be done in order to improve and progress? Every aspect of the Jets has had its ups and downs in this season, but you have to admit the team would be in the neighborhood of 7-3 if this rookie had played better. It’s the responsibility of the offensive coordinator to help his young QB develop.

Brian Schottenheimer has engineered basically a non-productive offense this season. He has shown that regardless of the talent level of his receiving corps and offensive line, he is incapable of calling the type of plays that, when executed properly, can turn into points. I’ve referred to Schottenheimer's play-calling numerous times as erratic and nonsensical. Forget the monotony of his neverending “run-run-pass” calls, his play-calling is nothing else but predictable.

Schottenheimer's occasional attempts at being “cute” always seem to be at critical points in a game. The last thing I want to see on 3rd and 2 is a wildcat formation with Brad Smith taking the snap. Why give a fullback the ball in short yardage when that fullback hasn't touched the ball much in the game or is not agile enough to find a hole, to insure that the team gets that needed first down? It's as if the cocky Schotty takes over, like he's suddenly smarter than everyone else. The results don't justify the mindset. Where's the creativity? Why have Sanchez throw another pass just because he completed one on the previous play? The Jets are a run-oriented team, but why be so predictable when calling running plays?

Schottenheimer has shown he's incapable of helping a rookie QB thrive. His playbook is making this offense somewhat one-dimensional, and does not play to the strength of Sanchez. Anyone who looks at the history of the quarterbacks who have played under Schottenheimer will see that they have all been much more successful once they have left the organization. If that doesn't raise an eyebrow then I'm not sure what will.

There are many other areas on this team that need to be addressed,  Schottenheimer is only a piece of the problem at this time.   Defense has its own issues...but I'll leave that one for another post.

One main goal for the rest of this season should be to help develop Mark Sanchez, overcome these rookie mistakes and give him a chance for success next season.  My hope is that the organization realizes this and supports him with the proper personnel needed before we find ourselves in the same predictament in 2010.