When the Jets play the Jaguars on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, they will try to break an undesirable first-quarter drought. The Green & White have not scored an offensive touchdown in the first quarter of any game since a 1-yard run by RB LaDainian Tomlinson in Week 4 of 2010 in their 38-14 win at Buffalo.
It's a streak that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is not proud of.
"It's one of those things where you try not to get too frustrated with it," said Schottenheimer. "Bottom line, we need to execute better. You have to go and just take one play at a time, focus on that play and execute that play to the best of your ability."
By not finding the end zone in the first quarter, the Jets have had to climb out of an early hole on several occasions. In fact, they have fallen behind in 10 of the last 14 regular- and postseason games. By failing to score early and giving up the first points of the game, the offense is pressured almost immediately.
QB Mark Sanchez knows all about the streak, and the importance of setting a positive offensive tone early in the game.
"We need to start faster," said Sanchez. "Whether it's in the no-huddle or whatever, we just need to start faster and sustain a couple more drives and be better in the red zone."
Sanchez has shown the ability to thrive in the no-huddle in the past, and that is something Schottenheimer always considers using.
"We talk about it every week," said the coordinator. "It's always available and Mark likes it. He's very comfortable in it. It's a tool for us that we can use and we'll get to it when we need to."
As for why the streak has reached 16 games and counting, Schottenheimer and his QB differ in opinion.
"I think the play-calling is fine," said Sanchez. "We just can't have negative plays on first down. We need to get much better on first down."
While Schottenheimer would agree that first downs have been an issue, he insists that some fault rests on his shoulders.
"Obviously, if you come out and give up a sack on the first play, that kind of shoots you in the foot a little bit," said Schottenheimer. "But I need to call better plays."
Sanchez and the Jets have put together five fourth-quarter come-from-behind wins in their last 15 games dating to Game 6 at Denver last season. Although they have shown exceptional resolve when falling behind, their path to victory could be much less strenuous with some first-quarter scores.
The Jets did score a TD in the first quarter of their Week 15 victory over the Steelers last season, but that came on Brad Smith's 97-yard kickoff return to open the game. Smith is now gone to Buffalo, and with him went the scoreless first quarter drought, according to Schottenheimer.
"We're obviously aware of it," said Schottenheimer. "But this is a new group. To go back and compare it to last year – it's a brand new group, so that's in the past. We look at it that way, we really do."
Pettine on the Jaguars
The Jaguars come to New York boasting one of the most dynamic and respected halfbacks in the game. RB Maurice Jones-Drew was vilified by both Jets fans and fantasy football players in 2009 when he took a knee instead of punching in a TD in the fourth quarter of their 24-22 win over the Green & White.
The Jets were left with no timeouts, and by taking a knee, the Jaguars were able to bleed the clock and set up for the game winning field goal as time expired. Although the Jets had cleared the way for Jones-Drew to score, he called their bluff and made them pay.
"We watched that game, and it's still one that bothers us," said Pettine. "We allowed a team to come in here and be more physical than we were. That's something we never want to have happen, especially at home."
Jones-Drew finished that game with 123 yards rushing and a touchdown. This time around, Pettine expects another heavy dose of the Jags' tailback.
"This is not a flashy offense," said Pettine. "Especially on the road, they're going to come in and they want to take the crowd out of it. They're going to run the football."