Coach Herman Edwards and offensive coordinator Paul Hackett have been criticized -- and often rightfully so -- for their clock management and communication skills, but now quarterback Chad Pennington has been added to the mix. One key mistake for Pennington against the Patriots Saturday night came when the Jets were forced to attempt a field goal on third down at the end of the first half with a timeout remaining.
After a false start by fullback Jerald Sowell backed the Jets up for a 1st-and-10 at the 10 with 31 seconds remaining, Pennington threw a short screen for a 1-yard loss. Rather than call the last timeout, Pennington called the next play and went under center with 17 seconds left -- a decision he's allowed to make.
But the ball wasn't snapped for seven seconds, leaving the Jets with only six seconds following an incomplete pass to tight end Chris Baker, too little time for a crack at the end zone before trying a field goal.
"At that point on the 11-yard line, you can't really risk trying to throw a ball in the end zone because you can't take a three-stop drop and throw it in the end zone (and still have time for a field goal)," Edwards said. "If you take a shot going 5 steps, you're probably not going to be able to really get the kick. So at that point you've got to kick it (on third down). Rather than not make it, I'll take the points."
Pennington, though, wasn't to blame for exhausting a timeout after an incomplete pass during the Jets' final drive. Following an incomplete pass to Curtis Conway with 50 seconds left, Pennington burned the Jets final timeout, coming out of the huddle with a handful of seconds remaining on the play clock. The right play came down from offensive coordinator Paul Hackett but the wrong personnel were on the field.
"When you call a play, you've got to have the right personnel in the game," Edwards said. "That's an error. That's an error on the offense, on the coach."
It wasn't clear whether Edwards was referring to himself or Hackett.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--WR Santana Moss, with 67 catches, 1,039 yards and 10 touchdowns, was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
--LG Dave Szott's status for the season finale in Miami remains unknown because of a sprained left knee. Brandon Moore and Jonathan Goodwin will play more in Szott's place if he can't go. Both could be auditioning for the starting job next season if Szott retires, which he is considering, or is not retained by the Jets.
--G Brandon Moore has been playing more the last two games and the Jets are very pleased with his progress. He could see more snaps this week in Miami if Dave Szott (knee) can't play and the Jets will let him battle for a starting position next season at either guard spot.
--G Jonathan Goodwin may see more playing time or even start on the left side if Dave Szott (knee) can't play. Goodwin is the primary backup at left guard.
--TE Chris Baker had three catches for 31 yards against the Patriots -- both career-highs, after not making a catch in the previous two games. The Jets would like Baker to emerge as a legitimate candidate for the starting job next year but his progress has been slow. He has 14 catches for 137 yards but also dropped a sure touchdown in the end zone against the Patriots.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We just kept playing it till the end, till the bitter end. If you make a play or two, maybe it's different. We weren't able to do that. We made a few plays, but we had some we could have made and we didn't make them. Quite frankly, they made some plays. That he made a bunch of big plays. That's why they're 13-2." -- Coach Herman Edwards on the Jets staying with New England all game long but failing to succeed on the key plays that might have given them a win.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: F -- Five interceptions against the Patriots is just the flare that lets everyone know Chad Pennington is in a slump. He hasn't thrown a touchdown in three games and has thrown nine picks in the last five games. Maybe it's play calling, maybe it's the fact that Pennington has just 20 NFL starts under his belt, it's probably a mix. The Jets aren't too worried at this point but they will be looking into their offense during the offseason.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Curtis Martin rushed for 89 yards and continues to be effective as a receiver out of the backfield. Where's the backup help though? LaMont Jordan and Jerald Sowell still aren't touching the ball.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- David Givens burned Aaron Beasley and the Jets for two touchdowns and the secondary didn't get much help from safeties Tyrone Carter and Sam Garnes, who often seemed in the wrong place or just couldn't get to the ball quickly enough.
RUSH DEFENSE: D -- Antowain Smith averaged 6.7 yards a carry and totaled 121 yards. It isn't a surprise the way this unit has played all year but still inexcusable. Tackles Jason Ferguson and Josh Evans are playing well but the linebacking is awful, Sam Cowart may be making tackles but it's often at the end of a big run rather than early to prevent one.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- The Jets allowed New England to start a drive in Jets territory three times in the first half -- resulting in one touchdown -- and the Patriots' average start was at their own 39, Doug Brien was terrible on kickoffs. The Jets average start was at their own 26.
COACHING: D -- Clock management again became an issue after the Jets attempted a field goal on third down at the end of halftime while leaving a timeout on the board. The Jets also had the wrong personnel on the field on one play in the final minute. No one knows, however, whether the fault lies with coach Herman Edwards or offensive coordinator Paul Hackett. Both have been criticized for these issues before.
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