That's all, folks
Sitting pretty in the playoff picture just more than halfway through the season, with wins against quality teams such as the Patriots and Saints, the Jets were staring down the "lighter" part of their schedule and things were looking up. Four losses in five weeks later, the Jets are done, the nail in the coffin delivered on the road against the Panthers. What happened?
The Play that Turned the Game
Carolina led 16-13 late in the third quarter when the Jets lined up to punt deep in their own territory. The general feeling was that Gang Green, heavy underdogs, had hung around just long enough to make the Panthers nervous. It was the type of game they wanted to be in -- hard-nosed and low-scoring. Long snapper Tanner Purdum hiked the ball, and let the Carolina linebacker Jason Williams come flying right up the middle untouched. Punter Ryan Quigley didn't stand a chance. The punt, if you can even call it that as it barely made it more than a few inches off Quigley's foot, was blocked, and recovered on the 12 yard line. Carolina took care of business and punched it in for a touchdown and never looked back.
More of the Same
We didn't really see anything new from Geno and the offense today. Smith made some rookie mistakes (staring down receivers, not moving on from his first read, holding the ball too long) and some nice throws. The receivers dropped a couple of balls and were wholly unremarkable. Chris Ivory ran tough, but didn't provide anything game-changing. The offensive line struggled to keep Geno upright. There's not much to say that hasn't already been said before about this side of the ball, except that the Jets will be expected to inject a whole lot of talent in their offense in the offseason, through the draft and free agency.
In high school, Sheldon Richardson earned the nickname Boss Hog as he could be found anywhere on the field at any given time. The 300-pounder returned punts, took handoffs, and even had stints under center as a quarterback. He simply could not be taken to the ground. Yesterday we saw Boss Hog, a definite candidate for defensive rookie of the year take two straight goal line handoffs, eventually breaking through for the TD. For the Jets and their fans, it was the bright spot in what has been a very bleak 5-week stretch.
The Beginning of the End of the Ryan-Era?
The debate as to whether or not Rex Ryan will return as the Jets head coach can now commence in full. The "dead men walking" Jets still have two games left to play, so we can really get into the complexities of the debate as the season winds down, but for now I'll leave you with two bullet points on the Rex Ryan era: (1) the defense, his bread and butter, has finished 1st, 6th, 20th, 20th, and is currently ranked 23rd overall in total defense under Rex Ryan in his 5 seasons as coach, and (2) the Jets record after a win is 1-13 over the past 3 years. When you look objectively at the job he's done, it doesn't look good for Rex.