All summer on "Hard Knocks," Rex Ryan made it clear that the Jets were going to be in the business of shoving the ball down the throats of every team they came into contact with during the 2010 season. It took exactly one game for those words to prove empty.
Not on defense, mind you. The Jets defense was certainly in attack mode against the Ravens. They offered no space to run the ball and did everything they could to knock Joe Flacco off his game. A couple of sacks and three turnovers says that it worked well enough. The aggressiveness wound up hurting the team a bit in the way of penalties and some long pass plays, but that's part of the price you pay for playing a certain style.
Ryan seems to be just fine with that risk/reward ratio on defense, so why does he allow the team's offense to be more conservative than your average Fox News personality?
We're not going to absolve Mark Sanchez of any responsibility for what went down on Monday night. He was in such a hurry to get rid of the football that it seemed he thought it was infested with the Ebola virus and played like he was terrified to make a mistake. Anyone who watched him during the 2009 regular season knows why such thoughts would be dancing in his head, but you don't go out and, to quote Ryan, "beat every f---ing team in this league" by being afraid that something might go wrong.
The Jets tried passes of more than 15 yards just three times on Monday night even though the Ravens are shorthanded in the secondary and the referees made it clear that they were into calling holding and pass interference. Two were incompletions, but one of those passes went for a big play to Dustin Keller until it got called back because of a penalty.
That penalty was caused by one of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's clever pre-snap shifts, his favorite innovation perhaps because it helps obscure the fact that the actual plays he was calling lacked any imagination whatsoever. That wasn't the case when we last saw the Jets. In the playoffs they took shots downfield and threatened defenses even though there was a chance that Sanchez would be intercepted, sacked or whatever. That kind of daring was nowhere to be found on Monday night and it helped destroy the Jets.
Last year, the Jets needed to step in and rescue their season by drilling into Sanchez's head that he couldn't make mistakes. This year needs to be about the opposite because Sanchez needs to grow as a quarterback to lead this team to the places that they want to go. They have cast their lot with Sanchez and spent a lot of time talking about how much they believe in his abilities. It's now time to back up those words with actions.
Maybe that won't work and the Jets will wind up falling short of expectations. At least they'd go down fighting, though, which is a lot better than what they did on Monday.