Offense A Problem In New York

The Jets have problems with their offense, that much is obvious. But are those problems caused by the offensive scheme, or is it the players?

When an offense underachieves, two people usually get the blame -- the quarterback and the offensive coordinator.

   But while GQ coverboy Mark Sanchez still isn't taking a lot of heat, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is.

   A recent published report (denied repeatedly by coach Rex Ryan and the Jets) stated that wide receiver Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, who was traded to Houston on Tuesday night for a conditional draft pick, all went individually to Ryan to complain about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

   Of course, if fans were allowed to meet individually with Ryan, certainly they would be lining up in droves to vent about Schottenheimer, so much so that the Jets probably could charge admission and thus find a lucrative new revenue stream. Offensive coordinators always are convenient punching bags when offenses underachieve, and while Schottenheimer certainly isn't blameless, there are other problems.

   Both Burress and Mason were new to the offense, which meant they would be learning the Jets' complex playbook on the fly without the usual benefit of spring practices, thanks to the lockout. Plus, Sanchez, still learning in only his third NFL season, would have to get used to the tendencies, likes and dislikes of two new receivers.

   So there still is room for improvement in terms of chemistry.

   Sanchez supported Schottenheimer when asked about him during a weekly radio spot on 1050 ESPN.

   "I'm totally behind Brian," Sanchez said. "I know the players are and the coaches as well."

   As for the report about the wideouts complaining to Ryan, Sanchez said, "I'm not buying it."

   Sanchez and the New York offense had seven three-and-out series and the quarterback threw for only 166 yards against New England and its bottom-ranked pass defense, but maybe they can do better Monday against winless Miami, which is allowing 307 yards per game.

Do Jets need a Fridge in the backfield?

   --Center Nick Mangold had a suggestion Monday to cure the Jets' sometimes sluggish offense.
   Mangold joked, "put (right guard) Brandon Moore back there (in the backfield) and let him be the Fridge and run around."
   Mangold was referencing former Chicago Bear William "Refrigerator" Perry, a mammoth defensive lineman who briefly became a folk hero for the 1985 Bears with his offensive exploits as a runner and receiver, including scoring a rushing touchdown in their Super Bowl win.
   What about Mangold fulfilling that presence? "No," he laughed. "There's no way that could happen. I'm nowhere near athletic enough to do that."

   --Former Jets safety James Ihedigbo, a free agent whom the team chose not to re-sign after the lockout ended, made his first start in the Patriots' banged-up secondary and had six tackles, including four solos, against his old teammates.
   "James did a great job for us," New England coach Bill Belichick said, "in his overall communication and of course he was pretty familiar with the team we were playing."
   "Personally, I cannot ask for anything better," said Ihedigbo, called "Dig" by his teammates while with the Jets, "(than) to show a team who had let you go. It's nothing personal individually, just that you are part of an organization and a part of something and then you're not good enough to be a part of it anymore."

NOTES

   --QB Mark Sanchez went 16-for-26 for 166 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions in the Jets' 30-21 loss at New England. It was Sanchez's first turnover-free game of the season, but his longest completion was merely 22 yards as the conservative Jets didn't take shots downfield against the Pats' woeful defense.

   --RB Shonn Greene, who isn't having the breakout season many predicted for him, had his best game of the season with 83 rushing yards and a touchdown on 21 carries at New England. His TD came on a 3-yard run in the second quarter.

   --RB LaDainian Tomlinson had a second consecutive quiet game, with 13 yards on two carries and one reception for 2 yards. The Jets need to get him more involved in the offense.

   --TE Dustin Keller had a second consecutive subpar game, with one reception for 7 yards. He was targeted only twice, and he has three catches for 19 yards in the last two games. Keller said that the Patriots were jamming him at the line of scrimmage and then using linebackers to reroute him.

   --WR Santonio Holmes had four receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown against the Patriots. It was only his second touchdown of the season.

   --WR Plaxico Burress had three receptions for 42 yards, including a 19-yard catch in the second quarter for the Jets' initial first down of the contest. He also had a critical third-down drop.

   --WR Derrick Mason, in what turned out to be his Jets' farewell, had one reception for 7 yards. He sat out most of the game for reasons that were unclear, but it's now obvious he and coach Rex Ryan didn't see eye-to-eye. Mason was traded to Houston on Tuesday night for a conditional draft pick.

   --WR/PR Jeremy Kerley got most of Derrick Mason's usual playing time in three-wideout sets against New England and had three receptions for 35 yards. He now figures to get more playing time going forward with Mason out of the picture. Kerley's 9-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was his first score as a pro. He also averaged 10 yards on two punt returns.

   --CB Antonio Cromartie saved a touchdown on the final play of the second quarter when New England TE Aaron Hernandez dropped a sure touchdown pass from Tom Brady and Cromartie caught the carom. He returned it 42 yards before being forced out of bounds. However, Cromartie gave the TD back when he lost sight of secondary receiver Deion Branch on third-and-goal in the third quarter and a wide-open Branch caught a 2-yard score from Brady.

   --OLB Jamaal Westerman, getting increased playing time in the absence of Bryan Thomas, recorded two sacks. Thomas is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Westerman, a third-year pro, has three sacks for his career, including one on opening day as a rookie against Houston in 2009.

   --ILB David Harris had nine tackles, including a team-high seven solos. He also had a sack, his second of the season.


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