Actually, it's pretty easy to figure out. It's not a mystical thing. The Jets' offensive line is really struggling, especially at the tackle positions. The loss of right tackle Kareem McKenzie in free agency has proved to be devastating.
Jets starting quarterback Chad Pennington re-injured his right rotator cuff when he was leveled from his blindside by Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer – who beat left tackle Jason Fabini on this play. This is the same Spicer who had seven career sacks over the first seven years of his career. He had three in this game, including the one that ended Pennington's season.
Spicer told Jets Confidential that this was the best game of his career.
And it will go down as one of the worst games in Jets history. They lost Pennington and his backup, Jay Fiedler, for the season.
Fiedler's season ended when the Jaguars other defensive end, Reggie Hayward, blew by Adrian Jones, and tackled the quarterback as he was throwing, jamming his arm into the turf. This led to a torn labrum.
"There are certain reasons for certain things," said Edwards. "It's out of our control."
No, good quarterback protection isn't out of your control. Pennington has now suffered three serious injuries thanks to protection breakdowns.
You can say that all quarterbacks get hit every once in a while. But Pennington, especially the last two seasons, has taken an awful beating.
The team entered this season with question marks at both tackle spots. Fabini, dealing with knee issues and athletic limitations, should be playing right tackle. He probably knows that himself, but he's too much of a competitor to say anything. Remember, when Fabini came in the league most scouts viewed him as a right-tackle prospect. The Jets did also.
Right tackle is where Fabini played initially. But when Jumbo Elliott blew out his Achilles tendon, the Jets moved Fabini to the left side, and he's been there ever since.
He belongs on the right side now. When you get dominated by a journeyman like Spicer, what are you going to do against Baltimore's Terrell Suggs next week, or Tampa Bay's Simeon Rice, the week after that?
That is if Fabini plays. He's dealing with an MCL sprain right now.
Hayward's sack that ended Fiedler's season came against Jones, who was filling in for Fabini. The handling of Jones has been shaky, to say the least. First they drafted him last year to play left tackle, and then moved him to right tackle one year later, a position he has never played before. This is a player who played just one year of tackle in college, so his experience was very limited to start with. And if you think it's easy to switch sides at the tackle position, think again. It's really hard, and was the reason why the Jets scrapped a plan a few years ago to flip-flop Fabini and McKenzie.
So, to throw Jones in there as a first-year starter, at a position he wasn't comfortable at, was a bad plan.
Especially with the team's franchise quarterback, and his $64 million contract, coming off major shoulder surgery. They were really rolling the dice on this one, and they lost.
Aside from personnel issues, another reason the offensive line has been so poor this year is the adjustment to a new scheme.
Under former offensive coordinator Paul Hackett, the team used more of a man-to-man blocking scheme. This year, under new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, the team is using more zone blocking. This requires a lot more coordination between linemen, more lateral movement. Obviously, the line is struggling with it.
And to have a second-year player like Jones worrying about starting at a new position at right tackle, while also handling the backup left-tackle job, was too much to put on his plate. Don't you think when Jones was thrown in at left tackle against Jacksonville he was a little out of sorts with his technique?
So as you can see, there are some explanations as to why the Jets' first- and second-string quarterbacks are now out for the season.
And it wasn't just two plays that the Jets quarterbacks were under intense pressure.
"It was frustrating for Chad Pennington to have the pressure he had in his face," said Spicer. "That is something we wanted to do: get in his face, sack him, hit him, make him feel it. That way, instead of looking downfield he's looking at us."
So now to bring in immobile Vinny Testaverde to potentially replace Pennington is a plan you have to wonder about. Testaverde has a wonderful arm, but after almost 20 years in the league his mobility is non-existent. You are talking about a sitting duck who is going to be somewhat tentative in a new offense he's not comfortable in. That is a potential bad equation for a team with a struggling line.
And for all those people who say he's a good fit for the team's new vertical passing game – well, that is true. But in order to throw downfield, you have to hold your protection longer. That will be a tough challenge for this line the way they are playing. The Jaguars have also put in a vertical passing game this season. Did you see them go downfield much against the Jets? No, because they were doing an awful job protecting their quarterback.
The best quarterback for the Jets now is the mobile Brooks Bollinger, who can make plays with his feet.
But you know that Edwards will likely want to get Testaverde in there as quickly as possible. The two are very tight. How close? Well, consider the fact that Edwards signed Testaverde without even working him out. Remember, this is a quarterback who hasn't been with a team since last January in Dallas. It might have been pragmatic to put him through a full workout – but Edwards chose not to.
The current Jets' situation is clearly a mess. But to say it was just bad luck wouldn't be accurate.
Clearly, a poor plan also helped contribute to this mess.
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