- Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff Writer
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1. A little perspective, please: The Jets reached the midpoint of the season at 4-4. Did anybody expect that? Didn’t think so. They showed their best and worst in a span of seven days, upsetting the New England Patriots and laying an egg against the Bengals. There was no penalty-flag bailout in Cincinnati. It was an alarming no-show by the Jets, who have failed to show any consistency. Taking the half-full view, they’re a resilient bunch, having avoided back-to-back losses, but that trend will be put to the test Sunday against the talented New Orleans Saints. Rex Ryan needs to take a hard look at the operation because something has to be done to eliminate the wild spikes in performance.
2. Post-Revis blues: Look, I’m not going to second-guess the Jets for trading Darrelle Revis -- I thought it was the right move for the long term -- but you knew when they made the deal it would be a rebuilding year for the secondary. It has plenty of warts, and some weeks they’re more visible than others. This was one of those weeks. Every defensive back played poorly, starting with Antonio Cromartie and rookie Dee Milliner. The Bengals are a hot team, but there’s no excuse for five touchdown passes, including four to the No. 2 receiver, Marvin Jones. Ryan said they got beat “in every coverage known to man.” Players talked about mental mistakes such as communication errors and poor leverage techniques on certain routes. Let’s be honest: This is a mediocre secondary when Cromartie isn’t playing at a Pro Bowl level (he’s not) and when the opponent has more than one quality receiving option (the Bengals did).
3. First-quarter yips: For Geno Smith, this was reminiscent of the Week 4 loss to the Tennessee Titans in that he appeared unsettled from the outset. He was 1-for-3 for 17 yards in the first quarter, taking two sacks. The Bengals showed a new wrinkle, blitzing safety Reggie Nelson from the slot. Smith did a poor job of recognizing the look, resulting in the two sacks. Unlike the Titans game, he made it through the first half without a turnover, but his slow start put the offense in a hole. It’s the same old story: When Smith plays well, the Jets win. When he doesn’t, it gets ugly. Quite simply, this team isn’t good enough to overcome sharp dips in his play.
4. They miss Santonio Holmes: Yeah, he’s a high-maintenance diva (and that extends beyond media relations), but he’s a competent, crafty wide receiver when healthy. His presence on the field doesn’t scare defenses, but it gives them something to think about. Without him, it’s just a mediocre group of receivers. Jeremy Kerley can’t be your No. 1 weapon in the passing game. The Bengals neutralized him, forcing Smith to look elsewhere. When David Nelson becomes your top weapon (he was targeted 12 times, catching eight), something is wrong. The disappearing Stephen Hill has reached milk-carton status, and there’s little production from the tight ends. The team isn't overly optimistic about Holmes (hamstring) returning this week, so it could be Week 10 (after the bye). We know what will be on GM John Idzik’s wish list in the offseason: playmakers.