The Jets lost to the Patriots today, 38-14 and really looked pretty beaten up throughout the game.
The game was totally over once the Pats returned a kickoff for 108 yards. You have to just tip your cap to Hobbs' return - I did not think he would have tried to run that back. Just goes to show how the day was going for the Jets. Kicker Mike Nugent spent the offseason bulking up, kicks a deep ball that he probably would have never kicked last year, and it gets run back for a record setting touchdown!
Well, my worst fears were confirmed as the lack of a left guard hurt the Jets this game. As you may recall, Pete Kendall had a contract dispute and got traded to the Redskins during the preseason. The lack of good protection affected Pennington and the running game. Here's a few things I noticed:
-First, the Pennington injury - shades of Vinny Testaverde going down in 1999 on opening day. One can blame this on Pennington's "lack of durability" all one wants, but let's face it - lack of a left guard was to blame here. The missed coverage came from the blind side. He was under pressure all day as well, it's impressive he passed as well as he did.
-The running game was in total disarray. The Jets didn't run much play action passing, which surprised me, but I suspect that the heavy pressure made it difficult to pull this off. Also a lack of running game - probably due to no holes being open. It was telling when Thomas Jones ran for about 10 yards in the second quarter and screamed and jumped in the air as if he had just scored a touchdown!
-Chad Pennington played very well in the passing game, but I was surprised about the fact that he only threw to Coles and Cotchery most of the game. Again, I blame the lack of a left guard here, as it didn't look like they ran much in a way of spread formations in order to keep Pennington protected.
Then there's the Patriots. They looked very good, although I wonder if the Jets offense had been more balanced if the game would have been closer. Pennington ended up passing pretty well, despite their pressure, and I think if the Jets had created some running lanes that they could have kept the Patriots off balance a little more. Randy Moss obviously is over his hamstring problem and Tom Brady looks like he's in great form despite his supposed shoulder problem. The Pats should be able to do very well in the passing game and put up points but I actually thought the Jets did reasonably well against the run. I was also surprised that it seemed like the Jets stuck with a three man rush against the Pats, and it didn't seem like they blitzed too much.
Overall, I'm surprised that the Jets got rid of Kendall so easily. The blind side of the QB was trusted to some novices and it looks like it's going to hurt in a number of ways. Now we have this injury to deal with as well. There are no favors in the Jets schedule either - they have Baltimore, Miami, Buffalo and the Giants coming up. Baltimore and Miami are going to be tough if the protection isn't there on the line, and then division game Buffalo will be intense, as will the inter-city battle vs the Giants. I think the Jets are more talented than the last three teams, but these games still seem pretty tough.