The offensive production for the Jets hasn't been pretty the past two weeks as they've mustered nine points combined in losses to the Patriots and Dolphins. This afternoon, coordinator Brian Schottenheimer talked with reporters about those who are concerned with the offense's effectiveness.
"This is a business of high highs and low lows," Schottenheimer said. "When we were 9-2 a lot of people were patting us on the back, a lot of people were telling us how great we were, Mark was a great young quarterback. And it doesn't take you very long to go from one extreme to the other. That's why you have to take the good with the bad, you have to keep working and be the same person week in and week out."
Since stringing together five straight victories with 24 points in each game followed by a four-game win streak with 23 points in each game, the Jets have been held out of the end zone. Despite criticism of their OC, the players have stuck up for their coach by saying it's all of their responsibilities.
"Absolutely, I appreciate the guys saying that, but overall I'm in charge of the offense," Schottenheimer said. "With that, I take a lot of pride in that. I take a lot of pride in my job, in my unit, and we're not playing very well so it's my job to put the players in position to make plays. It's my job along with the staff to do the fundamentals right."
One such set of fundamentals is the footwork of quarterback Mark Sanchez, which head coach Rex Ryan pointed out after the loss to the Dolphins. Equipped with natural ability, a veteran mentor in Mark Brunell and an experienced QBs coach in Matt Cavanaugh, Sanchez has worked all week to correct the little mistakes.
"We've done a couple of drills," Sanchez said. "I'm just talking with Brunell and going over some things in my head and really hammering down the footwork as I study at night. It's just focusing on the fundamentals that got us to our nine wins, so it's not as hard as you might think to rehash that, go over it again and work at it. It's been good reminders and it's kind of gotten in the way of wins and it's time to get back to the fundamentals."
Sanchez went the first five games of the season without an interception, but since Week 6 he's thrown eight touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The stretch run of the NFL season can test even the most seasoned veteran, but it's even more difficult for a second-year man. Schottenheimer doesn't make excuses for his quarterback and expects him to bounce back from his recent troubles.
"What you hope and what we believe and know is that he's mentally tough," Schottenheimer said. "He's surrounded by really good coaches, surrounded by really good players. That's where I have to look at myself, how can I get the ball more to Braylon? How can I get the ball more to Dustin? He has good players around him. He doesn't have to do it all by himself."
While the Jets will hope to rekindle the flames of their passing game that features Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Keller and Edwards, it's important to establish the run as well. Future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson is looking forward to playing a familiar foe this week in the Steelers, despite the degree of difficulty.
"It's a challenge," Tomlinson said. "I've played these guys a bunch and they're always good against the run. It doesn't change, but we have a good offensive line, I think everybody knows that. We have to come ready to play. We have to challenge them just like they're going to challenge us, and the best man will win."
A Jets offense that is sixth in the NFL in rushing and 21st in passing will be going up against a Steelers defense that is first in the league in stopping the run, allowing 60.1 yards per game. The Jets must be able to pass and run effectively this week in order to halt their losing skid and inch closer to solidifying a playoff berth.
"You can't just play these guys in a box," Schottenheimer said. "They're awfully good. Their front seven is extremely powerful. Some people don't even try to run it on them, to be quite honest with you. So they try to spread them out and throw. We have a lot of different things that we actually like, but at some point you're going to have to throw the football on them."