When Rex Ryan got the Jets head coaching job, he made it very clear that he didn't like people making references to the "Same Old Jets," the three-word shorthand that explains pretty much everything that's happened to the franchise in the last 40 years. His Jets were going to be different, they were going to expect to win no matter who the opposition was and they weren't going to be shy about letting you know that they expected to win.
The Bills game offered a litmus test on his rejection of the label. There was the meek, undermanned opponent, there was the need to right the ship after a pair of tough losses and there was a loving crowd clutching the team to its collective bosom. Under the new Rex Ryan system there weren't any links to the franchise that's built its legend on the back of losses in games just like this one, we were told, so there wasn't any reason to expect anything less than a resounding victory.
You know what happened and you know that it reeks of Same Old Jets from top to bottom. The question now is how do you stop things from looking that way for the rest of the season with massive holes on your offense and defense. The defensive hole is the harder one to fill, partly because Kris Jenkins is of a size normally found on weight-loss reality shows and partly because he's of an athletic ability never found sitting around looking for a job six weeks into the NFL season.
Without Jenkins, what is the Jets defense going to look like? They played okay against Buffalo, but there was very little resemblance to the unit that was winning rave reviews over the first four weeks of the season. They pretty much stepped back and let Buffalo trip over themselves, a fine strategy but you wonder how much more damage they could have wrought if they'd stepped on the gas. The Jenkins size hole in the middle of the defense is going to tempt teams to bust the ball up the gut, which will cause a further slowdown as the defense needs to be safe without their All-Pro defensive tackle consuming so much of the offense's attention.
Safe is also a keyword for dealing with the offensive hole, also known as Mark Sanchez. Anything the rookie could do wrong on Sunday, he did do wrong. He locked onto receivers, he forced balls into double coverage, he took sacks when he should have thrown the ball away and he simply made bad passes when guys were open. It left him with a deer in the headlights look, and had Ryan talking Monday about paring the offense back to accomodate Sanchez.
Wondering why it wasn't pared back in the first place or why Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer thought it was necessary to put Sunday's game totally in Sanchez's hands is probably a waste of time, but it's just like the Jets to wait until disaster strikes to address issues that were clearly brewing beforehand. Sanchez was terrible, but when the kid who was allowed to play with knives stabs himself and his friends you've got to blame his parents as well. Gut the playbook, get rid of the shifts and whatever else you want to do, but it would help if Schottenheimer gave the offense a shot to win while playing with an erratic rookie.
Six weeks into the season and major changes on both sides of the ball to try and stop blood from gushing out of wounds. Maybe Rex was right and these aren't the Same Old Jets because those teams usually didn't crush all hope and joy for another seven or eight weeks.