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After Painful Loss, It's Gut Check Time

The sun came out today in Florham Park, but the Jets are traveling through a storm pattern right now.

You hope that the Jets just endured their most difficult four-game stretch of the season.  It seems like months have transpired since the Jets dominated the Bills in Week 1.  Since then, they got handled it Pittsburgh, eked out an OT victory in Miami and then suffered one of the most disturbing regular season losses in franchise history to the 49ers. 

Along the way, the Green & White have played without Dustin Keller's services for three of the first four games.  Darrelle Revis, a leader who just happens to be the top cornerback in football, suffered an ACL tear against the Dolphins and he in all likelihood will miss the remainder of the season. 

Then trailing 17-0 in the four quarter on Sunday, Santonio Holmes caught a pass, fell awkwardly after a short gain and lost the ball.  Carlos Rogers scooped it up and went the other way 51 yards for a score while Tone suffered in agony with a foot injury. (Rex Ryan said Monday that the X-rays were negative on Holmes' foot and the team is in the process of getting results on his MRI.  The team is hopeful that the injury is muscle related and that No. 10 doesn't have any ligament damage.)

This loss to the 49ers was brutally painful.  The Jets were bullied Sunday in their house and in front of their fans.  The franchise has been playing games since 1960 and this was the 11th blanking of the home team and worst home shutout since 1989.

And there doesn't seem to be easy answers as the Jets have to make fixes in a hurry to be competitive in Week 5's Monday night matchup with the Houston Texans.  The 4-0 Texans can make teams look bad and they're averaging a winning margin of 17.5.

Through four games, the Jets have the NFL's 28th ranked offense and they are 31st against the run.  A consistent push isn't there on either side of the ball and the Jets tackling and technique just hasn't been good as they're yielding a whopping 172.8 yards per contest on the ground. 

Not many positives came out of Sunday, but the Jets did sack Alex Smith twice, held the 49ers to 4 of 12 on third down and rookie DE Quinton Coples flashed a couple of times with his increased playing time.

Elite quarterbacks can mask problems sometimes, but the answer isn't benching Mark Sanchez.  He doesn't get a pass either because everyone is part of the problem, but it seems like the Jets haven't been at full strength since summer.  Keller is his go-to-guy and he basically was able to give you a few plays against the Bills.  The receivers were banged-up throughout training camp, Stephen Hill didn't play yesterday and now Holmes may be out for an extended period of time.

As they'll do to many teams this season, the Niners shut down the Jets rush attack.  The NFL is a passing league, but the Green & White need more out of their ground game because Sanchez is a good play-action passer.  Their 3.2-yard attempt average ranks 30th in football  and Tim Tebow's 22-yard run in Pittsburgh was the team's sole carry of more than 20 yards.   

You can't pinpoint one area where the Jets are excelling in at the moment.  But with that being said, it would be foolhardy to say they quit against the 49ers.  They lost to a better team and frustration had to set in as the Jets were out-gained by 234 yards.  Throw in four takeaways and a blocked punt and you get a 34-0 destruction.

But it's one game.  The Jets are 2-2 at the quarter mark, in a three-way tie atop the AFC East with the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills.  The second quarter of the season — Week 5 vs. Houston (4-0), Week 6 vs. Indianapolis (1-2), Week 7 @ New England (2-2) and Week 8 vs. Miami (1-3) — features three more home game.  There is a lot of football remaining and Rex Ryan's Crew has to find a way to fight through.

As dark as it was Sunday, it could be worse.   The challenge won't get any easier against the Texans and the Jets have to take steps forward — win or lose — next Monday night.  It's gut check time.

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