NFL Nation: 2011 week 4 coverage

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 34, Jets 17

October, 3, 2011
Okay, now it’s official: It’s crisis time for the New York Jets, who embarrassed themselves Sunday night on national television, falling to the Baltimore Ravens, 34-17, at M&T Bank Stadium.

What it means: The Jets have a two-game losing streak, and it’s the first time in the Rex Ryan era they’ve suffered consecutive back-to-back, double-digit losses. This is bad; their once-promising season could be in peril. They were outcoached, outplayed and, frankly, intimidated by the Ravens, who scored three defensive touchdowns for the first time in franchise history.

Rex’s return: Ryan’s old defense is a lot better than his current defense. This game was personal for Ryan, a former Ravens assistant, and his team wasn’t ready to play. Maybe Joe Namath was right, after all. This was a Kotite-ian performance by the Jets, who allowed two fumble-recovery touchdowns for the first time in franchise history.

Woe Mark: Quarterback Mark Sanchez was under duress from the first play until the last. It would be wrong to blame him for the entire offensive debacle, but he didn’t help matters with a few horrible decisions. He committed four turnovers -- one interception (returned for a touchdown) and three fumbles (two returned for scores). By the third quarter, he was so rattled that he was just chucking and ducking.

This was Sanchez’s worst game in a long time; he needs to regroup and lead his team out of this funk. He has nine turnovers in four games. If Ryan had a viable alternative, we’d have a quarterback controversy.
On the interception, by cornerback Lardarius Webb, Sanchez misread the coverage and threw quickly to Santonio Holmes off play-action. Webb sat on the route and made an easy pick. On the Jets’ first play, Sanchez failed to recognize a safety blitz by Ed Reed. It wasn’t a sneak attack; Reed was positioned on the line. They decided not to block “the best safety that ever played,” as Ryan called him. Sanchez was blindsided, a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown.

A second touchdown came on another blindside sack, this time defensive tackle Haloti Ngata splitting the left side of the offensive line. It was scooped up by outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and, well ... you know the drill by now.

Musical linemen: Once again, the Jets played without the leader of their offensive line, as Nick Mangold (ankle) was declared inactive before the game. Rookie Colin Baxter made his second career start, but he was benched for three series in the second quarter. Bad move. They weakened two positions, sliding left guard Matt Slauson to center and inserting Vladimir Ducasse at left guard.

The move reeked of desperation, and the Jets nearly paid a steep price. Ducasse was awful, giving up a strip sack/touchdown to Ngata. They’re lucky Sanchez was able to get up after being blasted by Ngata. The coaching staff came to their senses and went back to the starting lineup. Truth be told, the starting unit couldn’t pass-block, either. Who ever thought Mangold was their offensive MVP?

Injury report: The Jets lost dependable outside linebacker Bryan Thomas in the first quarter and he never returned. Thomas was carted off with what was announced as an ankle injury. He was replaced by Jamaal Westerman. Thomas’ injury looked serious and he could be out an extended period.

Bright spots: Not many. Joe McKnight scored on a 107-yard kickoff return to make it 7-7, the longest play in Jets history. Pass rusher Aaron Maybin, picked up off the street, recorded his first career sack.

What’s next: The Jets are on the road for the third straight week, heading up to Foxborough for a showdown against the Patriots -- the Jets’ first AFC East game.

Wrap-up: Chargers 26, Dolphins 16

October, 2, 2011
Let's take a look at the San Diego Chargers', 26-16, victory over the Miami Dolphins.

What it means: Sunday's loss was another big blow for the future of Miami coach Tony Sparano. He could be the NFL's first coaching casualty of 2011. The Dolphins are 0-4 this season and overall has lost seven straight under Sparano. The bye week is a dangerous time for embattled coaches. The two-week break gives Dolphins' ownership plenty of time to rethink the direction of the franchise. Time will tell if Miami gives Sparano the quick hook now or provides more time. Miami defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is on staff and has head-coaching experience. Nolan probably would get the interim tag if the Dolphins chose to make a coaching change now.

Injured quarterback: As if things couldn't get worse, Miami starting quarterback Chad Henne suffered a shoulder injury in the first half and didn't return. Henne was having a decent season compared to previous years. He was replaced by backup Matt Moore, who threw for 167 yards and an interception. The Dolphins have two weeks to determine if Henne can return for their next game. If not, Miami has to decide whether to move forward with Moore, or try calling another veteran quarterback (David Garrard?).

What I liked: The Dolphins were somewhat competitive for three and a half quarters. This was another game Miami was not expected to win. Miami has been solid on the road dating to last year. The difference is Miami isn't winning those close road games this season.

What I didn't like: Miami didn't get much from its running game and the defense gave up several big plays. The 55-yard touchdown play to Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson was a perfect example. It was a blown assignment and no Miami defender was in the vicinity of Jackson. There has been poorly-executed plays like this all season for the Dolphins. It's one of several reasons Sparano is on the hot seat.

What's next: The Dolphins have a bye in Week 5. They return Oct. 17 to play a road game against the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football."

OAKLAND – A look at a down day for the Raiders:

What does it mean: The Raiders aren’t ready to compete with the game’s elite. Not yet, at least. After an impressive win over the New York Jets last week, the Raiders were handled pretty easily by New England. The Raiders need to clear up mistakes or its playoff hopes will be dimmed at some point. Oakland is heading in the right direction, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

Tomorrow’s talker: The Raiders’ defense is a problem. It couldn’t stop the Patriots on the ground or in the air. New England had 410 yards of total offense. Defense has been a problem in the early season for the Raiders. It has to be addressed. There is too much talent on that side of the ball for it to get routinely gashed. The least amount of points the Raiders have allowed the season is 20.

Trending: This was Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell’s worst game of the young season. He has become a solid game manager. Sunday, Campbell threw two terrible interceptions, including a crucial pick in the end zone late in the second quarter, which was the turning point of the game.

Keep your cool, Richard: This game clearly meant something to Oakland defensive end Richard Seymour. It was the first time he played New England since it traded him to the Raiders in 2009. He had two 15-yard penalties on the Patriots’ first offensive drive of the game and he added another five-yard penalty. Seymour is Oakland’s leader. I know he was amped, but he has to keep better composure.

What’s next: The Raiders finish a tough three-game stretch at Houston next week. The challenge doesn’t get any easier for the Raiders’ challenged defense.


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