Report Card: Pass fails

December, 24, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The losses are mounting, the grades are sinking. Our report card from the New York Jets' 27-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers:


It was, quite simply, the worst day of pass protection in Jets history. They tied a team record with 11 sacks allowed, equaling a mark set during the 1987 strike games. But those were replacement players; these guys are, like, real professionals. The line will get the blame, but QB Greg McElroy, in his first NFL start, contributed to the debacle by holding the ball too long on several occasions. He was so programmed not to throw interceptions that he ate the ball too many times. To his credit, he hung in there; give him a medal. The longest completion was Jeremy Kerley's 42-yarder to Clyde Gates -- wide receiver to wide receiver. 'Nuff said.


This was a real setback, considering how well the Jets had been rushing in recent weeks. They rushed for only 69 yards, their lowest total since Week 5. Shonn Greene got to the second level a couple of times, showing a little burst, but he was held to 38 yards. He did well in short yardage, scoring on a couple of 1-yard runs. Mostly, it was tough sledding. Not afraid of McElroy or his outside weapons, the Chargers crowded the box and overplayed the run.


One of the Jets' main objectives was to force turnover-prone QB Philip Rivers into mistakes. They failed -- no takeaways, underscoring the need to add playmakers to the defense. Playing with little margin for error (read: crummy offense), the Jets got burned by allowing two big plays -- 37- and 34-yard scoring passes in the third quarter. CB Antonio Cromartie misplayed the ball in the air on the 37-yarder and S Eric Smith was beat by TE Antonio Gates on a crossing route for 34 yards. Rookie Quinton Coples continued to make an impact as a pass rusher, recording 1.5 sacks and three QB hits.


The Chargers were held to 87 yards and a 2.9 average, using a cast of backups. Starting RB Ryan Mathews suffered a season-ending injury last week, leaving Ronnie Brown and a bunch of no-names. David Harris, Mo Wilkerson and Bart Scott were active at the point of attack.


The Jets fell into a 7-0 hole because of Micheal Spurlock's 63-yard punt return for a touchdown, only two minutes into the game. Talk about a buzz kill. It was the first punt-return touchdown allowed by the Jets since 2003, the latest in a litany of special-teams blunders. It was the fourth touchdown allowed by the kicking units. Punter Robert Malone had a terrible day, struggling with distance and hang time.


You know things are bad when you get outcoached by Norv Turner, a lame duck who adjusted well at halftime. The Jets managed only 83 total yards in the second half, never making it to the red zone. They suffered an embarrassing meltdown, allowing 11 sacks. Coordinator Tony Sparano is a former OL coach whose philosophy is built around protecting the quarterback. So much for that. Once again, Rex Ryan mismanaged the quarterback situation, but his efforts were hurt by Tim Tebow, who wanted no part of the Wildcat. It keeps getting uglier for the Jets. Just when you think they've hit rock bottom, …

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter



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