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Rex Ryan vs Brian Schottenheimer

September 14, 2010

A lot of things went poorly in the Jets’ 10-9 loss to the Ravens last night. 100 yards of penalties in the first half – some earned, some perhaps unearned – and the defense’s frequent inability to stop the Ravens on third down (and long, all too often) certainly contributed to the crappiness. The stakes being raised by all the hype (mostly supplied by the Jets themselves), by Hard Knocks, by it being the opening game at their new home stadium, by facing Rex Ryan’s former team all made it tough to watch the Jets flounder.

But I feel like the takeaway for a lot of people will be the putridness of the offense. And it was putrid: 176 yards and six first downs. Six first downs for the entire game.

And a lot of people will blame Brian Schottenheimer. I myself called for his head a number of times during the game. I’ve always felt that he is workmanlike and unimaginative. Maybe I’m biased because of his last name; it’s easy to imagine his seemingly very average skill set wouldn’t have gotten him this far were it not for his famous dad.

But can we really pin last night’s limp performance wholly on Schotty? I wonder. Now, maybe technically you can only go by what you see on the field, but through interviews, on Hard Knocks and elsewhere it’s been made abundantly clear: Rex Ryan is all about defense. The recent New York Time Magazine article on him is about eight pages long with maybe a sentence or two devoted to the offense. If that.

My suspicion is that the atmosphere created for the team and especially coaching staff can be summed by something like “Offense needs only do the minimum and the defense will win the game.” Which, in terms of a team vision, simply will not cut it, and possibly encourages the worst tendencies of a bore like Schottenheimer. And it’s too dependent on the defense, obviously, but particularly this type of defense, which isn’t exactly risk-averse. They will get burned on occasion.

No, the offense needs to be run with more assertiveness, with more – dare I say it – panache. Which brings me to the quarterback. There is no chance of this team going to the Super Bowl, or even the post season, if they are going to hide Mark Sanchez. Or hide him for 99% of the game then ask him to be Peyton Manning with a minute and a half left to go. The coaching staff has to come to terms with what they have here, use him to the full extent of his abilities and hope for the best. Burying their heads in the sand and utilizing Sanchez as conservatively as humanly possible is not effective game management. Being this conservative goes beyond being “smart”, beyond boring. It’s dangerously inert.

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