Like Rex Ryan, I don't believe in moral victories. You either win or lose. Therefore, Monday's close loss against the undefeated Houston Texans is particularly hard to stomach. The Jets went toe-to-toe with one the NFL's best teams but committed a series of costly errors and were unable to stop Texans D-lineman J.J. Watt. Further, the coaching staff conspicuously aided and abetted the Jets' woes.
Two wasted timeouts in the second half came back to haunt the Jets as they sought to drive down the field for a game-winning score. Further, they inexcusably got called for too many men on the field following a Jets punt and Texans fair catch.
But the biggest gaffe was calling for an onsides kick with the score 20-14 early in the third quarter. Perhaps, the Jets got caught up in the emotion following Joe McKnight's electric 100-yard kickoff return immediately preceding this dubious call. Or perhaps the Jets were showing a lack of confidence in their defense. Either way, Gang Green shouldn't have risked giving the Texans great field position with an on-sides kick in a close game with plenty of time left on the clock.
The Jets offense wasn't much better. Their running game continued to sputter with Shonn Greene only averaging 3.3 per carry on a meager 8-for-26. Mad props to Bilal Powell, however, for running down Brice McCain following Watt's deflection that allowed McCain to return an interception 86 yards. Powell's relentless effort prevented the Texans from scoring a touchdown and settling for a field goal instead.
Powell averaged 4.5 per rush and still looks like the quicker back. As I wrote two weeks ago, Rex Ryan has got to give the kid more carries. Greene isn't breaking many tackles and we MUST do something to improve our running game.
McCain's interception just before halftime was the second game in a row where Mark Sanchez made a critical turnover while deep in enemy territory as the half was winding down. Like last week, Sanchez's gaffe resulted in a six-point swing against the Jets.
Sanchez had a ridiculous three balls tipped by Watt. How many times do you allow the same defender to tip your passes before you make an adjustment? How about something novel like throwing away from Watt? Sanchez's numbers weren't impressive (14-for-31, 130 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions). However, he was under a lot of pressure and was sacked three times. The offensive line has got to do a better job giving him more time. Case in point: Sanchez's 27-yard touchdown to Jeff Cumberland came when he was given great protection.
Tim Tebow made three nice plays. A 13-yard run in the red zone that the Jets could only convert into three points, a short first-down run on a fake punt, and a perfectly thrown 27-yard pass that Jason Hill inexplicably couldn't handle. The Jets could have done a lot better than the newly signed journeyman. Hill got cut form Jacksonville. Enough said. And now with Clyde Gates (who made a beautiful catch in the first quarter) injuring his shoulder, it looks like they'll be back in the market for another receiver (Plaxico, anyone?). They are down to just three healthy wide receivers.
On the defensive side, the Jets held the Texans to only six points in the second half and had a huge stop on third-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. However, they still are having major problems stopping the run. Arian Foster had a big game (29-for-152), including a 46-yard scamper while deep in Texans territory and an easy 13-yard touchdown run.
The Jets secondary held the Texans' passing attack in check. Matt Schaub was only 14-for-28 for 209 yards. Antonio Cromartie did get burned turning the wrong way on Owen Daniels' first-quarter touchdown but then made up for it by intercepting Schaub later in the game and otherwise playing real solid. He looked rejuvenated and shut down the dangerous Andre Johnson (one catch, 15 yards). Next up are the Indianapolis Colts, who, after beating the Green Bay Packers last week, will be no walk on the beach. The Jets need to right the ship to get back to a .500 record.