Thoughts and observations after reviewing the tape of Sunday night's 37-16 loss to the Patriots:
SCHOTT IN THE DARK: This performance will be a stain on Brian Schottenheimer's record, which will be reviewed after the season. The Patriots, the lowest-ranked defense in the league, used a makeshift lineup and still had their way with the Jets.
Bill Belichick started two undrafted rookies, S Sterling Moore (who never played safety) and LB Jeff Tarpinian -- neither of whom had played A SINGLE DEFENSIVE SNAP before this game. Moore, a cornerback, appeared in his first game after being called up from the practice squad. In the second quarter, they lost CB Devin McCourty (shoulder) and replaced him with Antwaun Molden, a Texans castoff.
This would be like the Jets having to use S Tracy Wilson (practice squad), LB Nick Bellore and CB Ellis Lankster in prominent roles.
Incredibly, the Jets failed to exploit the patchwork unit. Schottenheimer should've used motions and shifts to create confusion for the untested players, but there was very little of that. The formations remained static. They should've used bunch formations, the way the Patriots did to the Jets' defense, but everything was pretty vanilla. This reminded me of the next-to-last game of the '08 season, when the Jets did nothing against a Seattle offensive line that played all backups -- the game that ultimately cost Eric Mangini his job.
NO PROTECTION: The Jets allowed five sacks. Yeah, that's bad, but it's how they happened that's alarming. Three sacks were four-man rushes and one was a three-man rush. It was nothing exotic, the Patriots just won their one-on-one matchups. QB Mark Sanchez showed no pocket presence whatsoever and contributed to at least two of three sacks.
A review of the sacks.
1. Andre Carter, minus-7: The Patriots rushed four, the Jets protected with six. The Jets were in shotgun, empty backfield. TE Matt Mulligan was assigned to Carter, a bad matchup, and he got beat on an outside rush. Instead of stepping up, Sanchez slid into Carter's path.
2. Carter, minus-8: The Patriots rushed five, the Jets protected with five. Sanchez failed to recognize the front and adjust, and Carter came free, unblocked. Once again, the Jets were in shotgun/empty.
3. Carter/Mark Anderson, minus-9: The Patriots showed a double-slot blitz, but rushed only four. Sanchez, in shotgun, seemed hesitant in his pre-snap read. The Patriots stunted, and LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and RT Wayne Hunter each got beat.
4. Carter, minus-6. The Patriots rushed four, the Jets protected with five. Again, they were in shotgun. Carter beat Ferguson.
5. Carter, minus-8. This wasn't good -- a three-man rush vs. a five-man protection. Ferguson actually did a decent job on Carter, but Sanchez held the ball too long and scrambled into Carter. Bad pocket presence.
The Patriots played a coverage-based scheme and it neutralized the Jets. In fact, all of Carter's sacks came with six or fewer men in the box -- the most sacks by any player over the last two seasons with six or less in the box, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
SO MUCH FOR GROUND & POUND: The Jets' players and coaches talked all week about how they weren't going to deviate from their run-oriented approach just because the Patriots had the 32nd-ranked pass defense. Ah, but they threw us a curve ball.
The Jets came out throwing on their first possession, going to the air on five of seven plays. They did it on the second drive, too, employing a seldom-used personnel package -- 2 RBs, 0 TEs, 3 WRs. They had the Patriots off balance, but the Jets bailed out as soon as the second drive ended with a sack. After that, it was back to Ground & Pound.
NO-HUDDLE, NO ANSWERS: The Jets reacted to the Patriots' no-huddle as if they had never seen it before. It's a New England staple, and the Jets should've been prepared. They weren't, as Tom Brady went 5-for-5 for 65 yards and one TD in the no-huddle, according to ESPN Stats. The Patriots went no-huddle on 15 of their 67 plays, accounting for 105 total yards.
The Jets were paralyzed because they rely heavily on substitution and the ability to make pre-snap checks. They also confused the Jets with several bunch formations, a great way to counter a team that plays a lot of man-to-man coverage. No doubt, future opponents will go to school on that, hoping to create similar issues.
HOT BRADY: Brady put on a clinic in the second half, completing 14-for-17 for 135 yards, two TDs. He picked on everybody not named Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Smart cookie, Brady. Here's a breakdown of the second-half completions/burn victims:
S Eric Smith -- Four receptions for 46 yards
CB Kyle Wilson -- Four for 44, including a TD
DB Donald Strickland -- Two for 11, including a TD
Others -- Four for 33.
LESS BLITZING: In their previous two home wins over Brady, Ryan blitzed at least one DB a total of 42 times -- and the Jets won both games. This time, there were only 14 blitzes by DBs -- and Brady tore them apart. He completed 10 of 14 passes, averaging 9.2 per attempt, with one TD, per ESPN Stats.
NO TRAFFIC JAM: At 6-foot-6, TE Rob Gronkowski is a tough cover -- we get it -- but the Jets didn't do a good job of making it hard for him. On both his TDs, they gave him a free release, allowing him to get into his pass route with no difficulty. On the first TD, he beat Smith on a post route. On the second TD, Smith blitzed Brady from the blindside, and almost got there, but Brady made a great read, spotting Strickland on Gronk. No contest.
ON THE FLIP SIDE: The Patriots did a great job of jamming TE Dustin Keller. On Sanchez's second INT, returned for a TD by Rob Ninkovich, Keller was doubled at the line and knocked to the ground by LB Tracy White, another bottom-of-the-depth chart player. Sanchez, looking for Keller, turned his focus to LaDainian Tomlinson and ... well, you saw what happened.