Little Yards, Lots of Penalties

andrew lief

After starting the season with a 2-1 record, the Jets came down to Earth on Sunday during their 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

While most people will blame Geno Smith for the loss after his four turnovers, they also need to look at the bigger picture.

Since he’s a 22-year-old rookie, it’s expected that he will have games like these.  He’s also surrounded by practically nobody on offense.

The running game, which is supposed to be the strength of the Jets offense, has only 492 yards so far this season.  In comparison, the league’s leading rusher LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles has 468 yards.

The lack of a running game is due to two things: them not having a good running back and them having a horrible offensive line.

I’m sure the Saints were thrilled when they were able to trade Chris Ivory to the Jets for a fourth round pick last spring.  Ivory is an injury-prone back, who has never played a full season in his four-year career. When he’s on the field, he plays hard, but he doesn’t produce enough yardage that a quality running back should.

While Bilal Powell has had some nice games, he’s never shown that he can be a consistent answer at the running back position for the Jets to be the long-term starter.

This spring, General Manager John Idzik needs to address the running back position.  They need a speed back who has the ability to break a long run at any moment. Right now the running backs impose no fear into opposing defenses, which makes it difficult to pass the ball as a result.

The offensive line needs a lot of work. Left guard Vlad Ducasse has been horrible, and should be benched for rookie Brian Winters.  He had a decent game against the Patriots Week Two, but he’s come back to reality the last two weeks missing blocks and committing penalties left and right.

ESPN’s NFL Nation Reporter Rich Cimini, who covers the Jets, tweeted yesterday that Winters is going to be practicing with the starting offense this week over Ducasse. Hopefully this means that he will start on Monday night because honestly, he can’t be any worse than Ducasse.

Nick Mangold has not looked like the dominant, all-pro center he was prior to his high-ankle sprain during the 2011 season and left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson continues to be an overrated lineman, despite continually making mistakes.

What’s more alarming than the lack of a running game is how undisciplined the team is.

The Jets have committed a league -leading 44 penalties so far this season, giving their opponents 395 yards in the process. If the Jets want to have any success for the remainder of the season, the amount of penalties they commit needs to decrease drastically.

By committing these penalties the Jets are just handing their opponents free yardage.  Because of all the penalties the offense is forced to convert a lot of third and longs, and the defense is allowing opposing offenses to advance the ball without actually doing anything.

Rex Ryan will have to come up with a way to motivate his players to commit less penalties that is more effective than making them do push-ups.  Come on, Rex, push-ups?  I think professional football players can handle some push-ups.

Make the person who commits the most penalties buy the team breakfast or fine a player $1,000 per penalty. Get creative, Rex.

So, don’t blame Geno.  He’s playing hard in an impossible position.  If he can learn from these tough times and improve, he’ll be a franchise quarterback for the Jets.

Looking forward, the Jets will travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons on Monday Night Football this week. This game will begin the most difficult five-game stretch of the season where they’ll play the Falcons, Steelers, Patriots, Bengals and Saints.  They start this stretch in a tough venue to play in Atlanta and will lose 31-13.  The Falcons offense led by Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will be too tough for the Jets defense to stop.