With a 1-2 record and facing an important, if not must-win game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Jets got crushed for the third straight week, this time by the score of 28-3.
As if a 1-4 record is not bad enough, the Jets compounded today's loss by sustaining a variety of injuries. Vinny Testaverde was knocked out of the game in the first quarter, and did not return. He suffered a right shoulder bruise.
Backup quarterback Chad Pennington came in and was able to move the ball, but ultimately, could not put the Jets in the end zone.
"An old ball coach told me one time [that] a good quarterback is judged on how many times he can get his team into the end zone," said Pennington. "We had some good plays, but did not get into the end zone and that falls on me. I'm man enough to take that responsibility."
Pennington completed 61-percent of his passes for 281-yards, but the key stat was zero touchdowns. He threw an interception, and was sacked once.
Which brings us to the offensive line, which gave up two more sacks this afternoon, to move the season total up to 13 in just four games. The first of those two sacks came from DT Marcus Stroud, and knocked Testaverde out of the game. J.P. Machado was dominated on that play and throughout the game. He was called for a false start penalty on the next play, and was benched for Darnell Alford.
The line was never able to push the defense forward, and the smash mouth football the Jets predicted all week never showed up. Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan combined for 78-yards on 20 carries. After the game, Martin had no answers.
"I don't know what the answer is. I know we're playing horrible. Right now, we're playing like kids and not an NFL football team. We are a ship sinking right now. We have to find a way to plug that hole. I'm not going to point any fingers. We have to fix it. We're sinking, but I refuse to say that the ship is sunk."
If the Jets are going to right the ship, they must improve their defense. The tackling was embarrassing again today, and the Jets couldn't do anything to stop the run. They gave up 142-yards to Fred Taylor and 70 yards to Stacey Mack.
"We didn't tackle well today," said Mo Lewis, who re-aggravated his hip flexor injury in the game. "We're just not doing it. We're not accomplishing anything we should be. I don't know what it is, but we have to start over and we have to correct this real fast."
You could see the frustration on Herm Edwards' face throughout the game. Every time the Jets started moving the ball and getting something going, they'd turn it over.
"We told the players, ‘If you turn the ball over, commit stupid penalties, and you don't tackle on defense, you're not going to win football games," said Edwards. "Until we get that right it's going to be very, very tough for us to win. We're our worst enemy. Of all the enemies we play, the Jets are killing the Jets. You can't turn the ball over. You can't commit dumb penalties. And we obviously have to tackle. We practice on it, but we've got to do it in a game. If we don't get it done, it's going to be like this every week."
The Jets are fortunate that the division rival Dolphins and Patriots both lost their games, or things could be a lot worse. The season is not over with the team being two games back in their division, but they better start winning soon. It doesn't get any easier next week, as the Jets come home to play Kansas City, the team that just beat Miami, and took New England to overtime last week.
Wayne Chrebet was knocked out of the game today with a right knee contusion. He came back to play in the second half, but only briefly. The defensive line suffered a variety of injuries. Steve White has a right ankle sprain, James Reed jammed his right toe, and Larry Webster jammed a finger on his left hand. On the offensive line, Kareem McKenzie strained his left groin, and Dennis O'Sullivan sprained his right knee.