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So I woke up this morning with a different feeling for a football Sunday. It's been a long time since the Jets played a game that didn't have playoff implications. In fact, the last time that the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs before the last week of the regular season was 2007. Needless to say, I didn't like this feeling. It made me nauseous. It reminded me of the Rich Kotite era and other losing Jets seasons past.
Offense: Still Anemic
Things started well for Gang Green against the Chargers but they didn't last. On their second and third drives of the game, the Jets moved the ball nicely. The second drive included a 30-yard screen play to Shonn Greene and a 42-yard bomb to Clyde Gates. The Gates play was out of the Wildcat but the throw wasn't made by Tim Tebow. Instead, Jeremy Kerley surprisingly took the snap and threw a floater. Fortunately, the Chargers let Gates get wide open enough that they couldn't knock it down.
Greene finished off the drive with a rarity, a first-quarter Jets touchdown. The third drive also ended in a Greene plunge and was highlighted by a 22-yard pass interference call on Quentin Jammer against Braylon Edwards. Despite a 14-7 lead at home, it was all downhill from there with the Jets managing only a meaningless field goal to cap off a 27-17 loss.
Even more troubling was a new point of concern that has arisen for the Jets — the offensive line. The Chargers had 11 sacks and hit McElroy another 16 times. Plenty of blame to share among Gang Green's line. Needless to say, there are very few quarterbacks that can overcome such poor protection and it is particularly troubling given that San Diego was averaging less than two sacks per game. In fairness to the O-line, part of the problem was that, at times, McElroy held onto the ball too long.
Defense: Good but Not Great
I doubt that anyone will argue that Muhammad Wilkerson is the best Jets defender up front. He provides the most pressure on opposing QBs and is tough to stop. He had another good game. Quinton Coples continues to improve, creating a nice tandem. Coples had 1.5 sacks and three QB hits. Unfortunately, one of those hits roughed the passer. David Harris was also solid, leading the team with 10 tackles.
The Jets were tough against the run again, holding the Chargers to less than 3.0 yards per carry and 87 yards total. Of course, Ryan Mathews, San Diego's best rusher, wasn't playing due to injury.
Philip Rivers only connected on 11 passes but two of those were for scores. Antonio Cromartie got burned on the first one by Danario Alexander, and Eric Smith was beaten by Antonio Gates for the second one.
I believe that the Jets could be a dominant defense next year but they'll need to get Darrelle Revis back and re-sign LaRon Landry and Mike DeVito.
Special Teams: So-So
The first time the Chargers got the ball, Micheal Spurlock returned a punt for a 63-yard touchdown. It was a terrible start for a unit that's been shaky all year.
Joe McKnight was a bright spot returning kickoffs, including 46- and 37-yarders. McKnight is one of the best kickoff returners in the league. We just have to solve our punt return issues. Kerley (a.k.a. "Mr. Fair Catch") just isn't cutting it in this role.
Surprise of the Day
The surprise of the game was the heavy use of Kerley in the Wildcat. It looks like the Jets are getting ready for the post-Tebow era. If this is the case, I think the Jets will be fine in this area as Kerley looked effective and comfortable in this role.