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 to gauge the prospects of Rex keeping his job.
Week 6 opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
Takeaways: Just a week after signing his praises, Geno Smith committed a pair of costly red zone turnovers that played a big part in the Jets’ 19-6 loss to the Steelers.
With games against the Patriots, Bengals, and Saints forthcoming, New York had a golden opportunity to beat down what had been a reeling Pittsburgh team and stake its claim as a squad with a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Instead, an uneven game on both sides of the ball will undoubtedly force Rex and his staff to go back to the drawing board.
It has been noted that the Steelers were coming off a bye entering this contest, and despite playing on the road, they seemed to be flying around the field with an abundance of energy. They got after Geno to such a degree that it was hard to believe that this was the same player who picked apart the Falcons only six days prior.
The Jets had a few chances to put Pittsburgh on the defensive early in the game, but on two crucial instances in particular they failed to capitalize on opportunities. Muhammad Wilkerson had Ben Roethlisberger perfectly lined up for a safety on the Steelers’ second possession of the game, but for some reason he went in and decided to try and tackle Big Ben high. Per usual, vintage Roethlisberger was able to brush off the sack attempt and spin out of trouble. On New York’s subsequent possession, they moved the ball down the field with relative ease on Dick Lebeau’s defense only to come up short on a 3rd and 1 play at the two yard line of the Steelers. Instead of going for the jugular right off the bat, Rex elected for the field goal. It pretty much was all Pittsburgh after that.
Not to say that New York didn’t have its chances, but overall it was an ugly game for the green and white. On defense, the secondary continues to be a weakness and blew a number of coverages (especially Cro), and they continued their alarming trend of giving up big gains/allowing first downs on “3rd and long” situations.
Credit Pittsburgh’s defense, as for the most part they kept the Jets’ offense at bay, forced some turnovers, and eliminated the big plays. Geno had a shot at making a difference-making play in the second quarter when Stephen Hill broke free on a go-route, but the rookie signal caller put too much air under the ball and overthrew his wide open receiver.
With New England on deck next, the Jets have to hope that Geno continues his recent trend of playing a good game every other week. I know I sound like a broken record, but if he can just ramp down the turnovers versus the Patriots they have a representative chance of winning. The team as a whole is a little beat up at the moment as a number of key contributors are now lost for the season following injuries suffered in this game. With any luck Gronk elects to sit out at least one more week before returning to action.
Rex Watch: Likely remaining wins needed to keep job – 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Who’s next: 10/20 vs New England