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Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Report card: Bad mark for Mark

By Rich Cimini

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Handing out grades from the Jets' 14-10 loss to the Titans, which mathematically eliminated them from playoff contention:



The Jets didn't need Mark Sanchez to be Tom Brady to beat the Titans; they just needed mediocrity. They didn't get it. They got five turnovers, including four interceptions. The first was a bad decision, the second an overthrow, the third a late, telegraphed throw and the fourth a horrible decision. The only thing he didn't do was throw a pick-6. The pass protection was solid at times, making his performance even more alarming.



The Jets actually ran the ball pretty well (146 yards), continuing a late-season trend. Shonn Greene picked up tough yards and Joe McKnight provided a little spark off the bench. ... Why don't they give McKnight more chances? He's the only back with home-run ability. ... The running game should've opened up play-action opportunities for Sanchez, but he went 3-for-7 on play-action passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Three of his four interceptions came on play-action.



The numbers look pretty. The Jets held QB Jake Locker to 149 yards and a 79.5 passer rating, and CB Antonio Cromartie did a fantastic job on WR Kenny Britt (one catch for 7 yards), but the numbers don't tell the whole story. Locker had been a turnover machine -- nine in the previous three games -- but he didn't turn it over at all. You can't call yourself a top-10 defense and not force any turnovers against Locker and a mediocre Titans offense.



One slip up, that's all it took. Chris Johnson found a crease and bolted 94 yards for a touchdown. NT Sione Po'uha accepted the responsibility, saying he filled the wrong gap. It was the longest run against the Jets since 1998, when the 49ers' Garrison Hearst ran 96 yards in overtime. ... Later, the Jets got burned on a QB sweep by Locker, who ran 13 yards on a read-option. The Jets got burned on the same exact play by the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick in Week 4.



The Jets got good pressure on P Brett Kern, coming close to blocking a couple of punts. Pressure may have forced him into a 19-yard punt in the final minute, which nearly cost the Titans the game. ... Muhammad Wilkerson blocked a field goal. ... The return units were pretty much a wash.



Can you blame the coaches for four interceptions? That's a tough one, but you have to wonder why they allowed the turnover-prone Sanchez to take so many deep shots. He attempted eight passes of 15-plus yards, completing only two, according to ESPN Stats. In fact, he completed twice as many deep balls to the Titans (all four interceptions) as he did to his own team. ... Coordinator Tony Sparano had his running game going, yet he abandoned the conservative play calling that allowed them to pull out ugly wins in the previous two games. ... Rex Ryan's handling of the QB situation was curious. Why remove Sanchez after two decent series? Why not dress Greg McElroy? Did they really need six wide receivers? We could go on and on.