The New York Jets surprised the football world with their dominant Week 1 victory as their retooled offense scored 48 points and they scored at least one touchdown each on offense, defense and special teams.
Needless to say, it wasn’t going to be that easy every week.
On Sunday at Heinz Field, the Jets were humbled by the Pittsburgh Steelers, who outplayed New York in every facet of the game, giving the Jets ample opportunity to look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves who they are.
The Jets are not going to put up 48 points each week like they did in their season opener. They’re not going to score just 10 points like they did in Pittsburgh, either. The truth lies somewhere in between.
Yes, the truth is that you’re never as good as you look in a big win and you’re not nearly as bad as you look in a loss.
That being said, the Jets proved that they are still a work in progress, especially as they try to work out the kinks of their new offensive system.
On the Jets’ opening possession, Mark Sanchez marched down the field for an eight-play, 90-yard touchdown drive, completing four of five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown pass to former Steeler Santonio Holmes.
However, Sanchez and his receivers simply could not get on the same page the rest of the way, as they only completed six of their final 22 pass attempts for 58 yards.
The Jets converted 10 of 14 third downs in Week 1, and 11 of 15 to start the season, but they were just four for 12 on third downs in Pittsburgh and three for their last 11.
Stephen Hill was invisible, catching zero passes on just two targets, as he was unable to get separation and give Sanchez a target to throw to. Dustin Keller was missed more than I would’ve like to admit going into the game.
Holmes only caught three of the 11 passes thrown his way, some of which were inaccurate throws, but much more were catchable balls that Holmes either dropped or otherwise was unable to haul in.
Third down success and lack thereof epitomized the game for both teams as the Jets were four for 12 and the Steelers were eight for 15.
“It came down to, we couldn’t get off the field on third down, and we couldn’t stay on the field on third down,” Rex Ryan said after the game. “I think that’s really where you look at it. That’s probably the thing that jumps out at you.”
Yes, Ryan’s defense, which did not have Darrelle Revis, was unable to finish when they got pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, which has always been the Jets’ biggest downfall when they’ve gone toe-to-toe with Big Ben.
The Jets had at least 10-12 quarterback pressures, but only three sacks, two by linebacker Garrett McIntyre, who had an outstanding game filling in for the injured Bryan Thomas.
Time and time again, the Jets would get into the pocket and pressure Roethlisberger, only to see him slip the tackle and make a big play downfield, something the Jets had no answer for.
Even Jeremy Kerley, he of the big punt return for a touchdown last week, muffed a punt for the Jets’ lone turnover.
In the end, it was a thundering fall back to earth for a team that looked so in-sync and impressive in Week 1.
As bad as the Jets played, they’ll enter Week 3 with a clean slate, with a chance to get their second division win of the year when they face the Miami Dolphins at SunLife Stadium in Miami.
A win next Sunday will do wonders for the Jets, both mentally and logistically, as they technically still stand atop the AFC East even after the Pittsburgh game.
That’s because the Jets have a division win already, something no other AFC East team has. That being said, the Jets have a ton of things they’ll need to tighten up if they plan on winning many more games.
The Jets were punched in the mouth by the Steelers, and I’m sure Rex Ryan would love nothing more than getting another shot at them in January.
But the Jets aren’t there yet. In a tough AFC, they’ll have to prove their worth. They’ve got 14 more games to do so. Each and every week is another opportunity to show what they’re made of.
Only time will tell if the Jets can make the most of those opportunities and become the team everybody in that locker room believes they can be–a team that’s a heck of a lot closer to the complete team they were in Week 1, rather than the discombobulated team they were in Week 2.