- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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Clearly, Geno Smith wasn't the only problem on offense. This was an across-the-board breakdown. You had that sense watching the game the first time, but a review of the tape reveals the scope of the problems. Let us count the ways:
1. Poor pass protection: Smith was under seige. Unofficially, he was pressured on six of his 10 dropbacks in the first half and four of his first seven dropbacks in the second half. It's tough to operate when the quarterback is pressured 10 times in a span of 17 dropbacks. The Ravens didn't blitz a lot. Didn't have to. By my count, they sent more than four rushers on only six dropbacks. One resulted in a sack, and Smith escaped two potential sacks with nifty scrambles.
LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, RT Austin Howard and LG Brian Winters each allowed a sack. Winters, a third-round pick, continues to be a liability, especially in pass protection. That Rex Ryan has stuck with Winters this long shows what he thinks of Vladimir Ducasse. The offensive line wasn't the only culprit. The running backs, too, had issues with pass protection, as Bilal Powell (two pressures), Chris Ivory (one) and Tommy Bohanon (one) failed to sustain blocks.
At times, the Jets were exploited because of bad matchups. On the first sack, the Ravens rushed six and, somehow, TE Jeff Cumberland ended up blocking OLB Elvis Dumervil. That's hardly an ideal situation. Dumervil forced the pocket to change, allowing blitzing LB Daryl Smith to blow past Winters for the sack. Howard also had problems with Dumervil, allowing a key pressure on the second sack (Ferguson was beat by Pernell McPhee) and surrendering the third sack by himself on the final play of the game.
2. The dropsies: After the game, Ryan bemoaned the dropped passes. Frankly, I thought he was reaching, perhaps trying to protect his rookie quarterback. There were two blatant drops (David Nelson and Santonio Holmes), but there were three other catchable balls that hit the turf (Cumberland, Kellen Winslow and Stephen Hill). Maybe Ryan was counting those as drops; defensive-minded coaches are tough graders when it comes to offense.
The Jets' receivers have a hard time getting open against press coverage, so they can't afford to drop the ball when they do get open. It's hard to believe, but the wideouts had only three receptions in this game (13 targets). When does that ever happen in the NFL? Until Greg Salas' 30-yard reception with under six minutes left in the game, Smith had as many catches as the leading wide receiver, for crying out loud.
3. Put Smith on the move: Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg needs to get Smith outside the pocket more often. He called only two designed rollouts, resulting in 18- and 12-yard completions. Mornhinweg should've dialed up a few more. A moving pocket serves two purposes: The quarterback can avoid the rush and it cuts the field in half, reducing his reads.
In the pocket, Smith was 7-for-18, 97 yards and two interceptions. Interestingly, he was a better pocket passer earlier in the season, managing a 59-percent completion rate and a healthy 7.5 yards per attempt over the first 10 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Of course, he did have only seven touchdowns and 16 interceptions from the pocket in the first 10 games.
Not keeping up with the Jones: Ryan is way too protective of Ed Reed, who played a key role in Jacoby Jones's 66-yard touchdown reception. Ryan said Reed is third on the blame list, but other than rookie CB Dee Milliner, who else is there? As Ryan said, the Jets were in "quarters" coverage -- four across in the secondary. Milliner, who accepted responsibility, actually had decent coverage. Reed was too shallow. When he saw Jones angling into his quarter of the field, Reed turned and ran, perhaps remembering his former teammate, Joe Flacco, was capable of throwing it over his head.
Reed, resembling an ancient Willie Mays losing a fly ball in the sun in the 1973 World Series, lost track of the ball in the winds and inadvertantly cut off Milliner, freeing Jones. Flacco's throw traveled 60 yards in the air and hit Jones in stride -- another embarrassing moment for the Jets' beleaguered secondary. Reed may have saved a touchdown earlier in the game, jarring the ball loose from Jones, but he was brought here to help the deep-ball issues -- and that hasn't happened.
Conservative defense: Ryan didn't blitz Flacco a whole lot, perhaps knowing he struggled against standard pressure -- a minus-4 touchdown/interception differential before Sunday, according to ESPN Stats. But he ripped apart the Jets' standard pressure. He was 14-for-18 for 249 yards and touchdown when facing four or fewer pass rushers.
Here's another sobering stat for the Jets: Flacco was 2-for-3 for 126 yards and a touchdown on passes longer than 30 yards. Before Sunday, he was 4-of-17 with an interception on those throws this season. Well, at least the Jets solved Flacco's long-ball problems.
Shades of Alosi: On Jones's 37-yard punt return in the third quarter, the Jets' sideline was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct because it interfered with an official. Actually, at the start of the run, there were four assistant coaches and four players standing in the white area on the boundary -- off limits. Most of them moved back by the time Jones turned up the sideline, but two coaches inched closer and were practically on the field of play. One was special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica and the other coach (the guy who got in the way of the official) was defensive-line coach Karl Dunbar. The coaches were protesting what they felt was an illegal block on Troy Davis. None of this would've happened if Ellis Lankster hadn't missed a tackle at the start of the run.
One last look back at the New York Jets' 19-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens:Clearly, Geno Smith wasn't the only problem on offense. This was an across-the-board breakdown.