The Jets did what they were supposed to do by crushing hapless Oakland, 38-0, the worst home loss in Raiders history! For the second straight week the rushing attack went over 300 yards (54 attempts, 316 yards). No team since the 1975 Buffalo Bills had accomplished back-to-back 300-yard rushing performances. It's not supposed to be that easy!
But against the Raiders, everything is easy. LB Calvin Pace tallied three sacks. The first set the tone for the rout. Pace bull rushed the right tackle and stripped QB JaMarcus Russell, the first of three Raider turnovers in the first quarter. Game over.
RB Thomas Jones went over 100 yards again. RB Shonn Greene exploded for 144 yards and two TDs. QB Mark Sanchez played a clean game in his return to California, hot dog and all. The Jets ‘D' held Oakland to 263 yards. What should we make of this?
Not much. The Raiders—and we may have forgotten this because they beat the Eagles the week before—are ATROCIOUS. Of course, a win is a win, and the Jets needed one badly. But keep the win in perspective. It was also costly.
After the ‘W,' the most significant aspect of the game was the worst. Do-it-all running back Leon Washington was lost for the season after breaking his fibula. It will take two or three players to replace him. The Jets didn't wait long to act, re-signing CB Justin Miller to return kick-offs. RB Danny Woodhead may become the third down back, because neither Jones nor Greene is a great pass catcher.
It may seem insensitive to bring up dollars and cents, but the NFL is a business. What a shame that Leon Washington, his agent, and the Jets were unable to come to terms on a contract extension before the season. Now Leon will have to prove he can play in the NFL again before securing what every NFL player covets, a second contract. Leon is making the league minimum on his rookie deal.
For the first time since Chad Pennington's shoulder injury in 2005, the Jets have suffered major injuries to key contributors. Jonathan Vilma hurt his knee in 2007, but by the time he was put on injured reserve the Jets' chances were cooked. This season's injuries to Kris Jenkins, Washington, and others have cruelly snapped a long run of good luck. Injuries will have as big an impact as any factor on the Jets' playoff hopes.
Some other observations:
2) The Jets are the #1 ranked rushing team in the NFL. What? After struggling to consistently pick up ground yards for most of the season, the last two weeks have vaulted the Jets to the top. I'm still not sold. I need to see it against a top rush defense. The Dolphins' defense, which should benefit from an offense (#2 rushing at 170 yds/game) that hogs the balls, isn't very good. The Saints torched Miami for 414 total yards in a 46-34 win, scoring 36 points in the second half.
It's revenge week for the Jets, who are ticked off by the way the Dolphins celebrated their Monday night win three weeks ago. Rex Ryan should still be fuming over the way his defense got pushed around to the tune of 413 total yards, 151 rushing. And Kris Jenkins was on the field in that game! As you know, I'm retired from the predictions business, but I think this is a dangerous game for the Jets.
3) David Clowney. Play him. Not a game should go by that Sanchez doesn't throw him 2 or 3 deep balls. Speaking of the rookie QB, the difference between the Sanchez of the 3-0 start and the Sanchez since was summed up nicely by ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer. Early in the season, Sanchez was surveying the field better. Lately he's been locking on his first read and not seeing open secondary receivers.
4) The unsung hero of the offense is FB Tony Richardson. Do yourself a favor. On a few plays, instead of watching the ball carrier stay focused on Richardson. Watch the work he does to open holes. That's football.
5) If I may weigh in on the Same Old Jets stuff, I'm on the anti-SOJ side. In my view, the SOJ died when Bill Parcells took over the team in 1997 and changed the culture.
Since '97, the Jets have recorded 8 winning seasons, five playoff appearances and three playoff wins. Not great, but not SOJ, either. There have been some very painful losses in that span, but the Jets franchise has come a long way since the late Walton/Coslet/Carroll/Kotite years.