With external pressure at an all-time high and internal pressure simmering due to the arrival of new GM John Idzik, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is essentially coaching for his job this year. What will it take for him to survive the axe? Barring a Woody Johnson intervention on his behalf, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of seven or eight wins along with a clear indication that the rebuilding job is going as planned. With this as a backdrop, I will monitor the progress of my Jets on a weekly basis and try and gauge the prospects of Rex keeping his job.
Week 4 opponent: Tennessee Titans
Takeaways: It was only a matter of time before turnovers by Geno Smith put his team in a position from which they couldn’t recover from, and this was precisely the case against Tennessee. Geno’s two interceptions and two fumbles helped this one get out of hand early, sending the Jets back to New York with a record of 2-2 following a 38-13 shellacking.
Heading into Tennessee, I mistakenly thought that this contest would go down to the wire. Perhaps last Sunday’s win provide me with a false sense of optimism, but with both squads being known for playing tough, physical defense, like Vegas I truly believed that this would be a one possession game. Unfortunately, Geno’s carelessness with the ball repeatedly put the Jets’ defense in unfavorable positions, and, somewhat surprisingly, Rex Ryan’s group was unable to rise to the occasion and limit the damage.
Playing from behind all afternoon, the Jets abandoned their running game far sooner than they would’ve preferred to. This put Geno squarely in the crosshairs of the Titans’ relentless blitzing attack, an attack he seemed ill-equipped to handle. New York can probably live with an interception every now and then from its rookie quarterback, but the breakdown in his mechanics and lack of situational awareness under duress have to be a little worrisome. This is easier said than done, but the Jets are in dire need of a clean game from Geno if they are going to have any chance of beating the quality opponents that litter their upcoming schedule. Combine that with the fact that they will be without two of their primary receivers (Stephen Hill due to a concussion and Santonio Holmes with a hamstring injury), and it is paramount that the offense controls the ball and makes smarter decisions.
The Jets’ defense did an excellent job of putting the wood to Chris Johnson (holding him to 21 yards on 15 carries), but the back-end played poorly in known passing situations and gave up three ugly touchdowns. Antonio Cromartie is New York’s best corner, but he slipped in coverage on a second quarter TD pass to Nate Washington and was later burned on a 77-yard bomb. I like watching ‘Cro’ play, but he did a ton of woofing on Sunday with the opposition and didn’t back it up like he typically does. The touchdown thrown by Jack Locker in the end-zone at the end of the second quarter was inexcusable and pretty much put the game out of reach.
It would’ve been huge for Rex to leave Tennessee with a win, as the next five games are brutal (Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New England, Cincinnati, New Orleans). Can the Jets win two of those five? Personally, I would sign up for that right now. This gauntlet starts this Monday night in Atlanta against Matt Ryan and the Falcons. We all know what Geno and the offense has to do, but the defense also has a massive challenge waiting for them. I just hope that the front four can dominate the line of scrimmage and get to Ryan often enough so he can’t sit back and pick the secondary apart with passes to Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones.
Rex Watch: Likely remaining wins needed to keep job – 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Who’s next: 10/07 at Atlanta