I'm assuming among the pregame comments Eric Mangini made to the Jets was a reminder that yesterday's game with the Patriots actually counted toward the regular season. He's a smart coach and it would have been a bit reckless of him not to just make sure one last time that his guys didn't still think they were only playing a quarter or a half before the reserves took over. If we assume he did make such an announcement the only question is why didn't his players pay any attention to it? Week One was a full-scale disaster for the Jets. They failed to produce in every facet of the game, nearly got their quarterback killed and lost in an embarassing 38-14 rout to New England.
The offensive line failed to do its job. They couldn't open holes any better than they did a year ago, even without Richard Seymour in the Pat lineup, and they couldn't protect Pennington or Kellen Clemens. One of their breakdowns led to an injured ankle for Pennington in the third quarter. He responded by hobbling off the field as quickly as he could so the team could avoid using a timeout. The crowd responded by cheering wildly for his replacement Kellen Clemens who threw one completion before the Jets punted. Pennington returned, with no fanfare from the crowd, and led the Jets on their second and final scoring drive before handing the game over to Clemens.
I understand the crowd's reaction. Things were going poorly and a new quarterback always brings a spark of hope that things are going to get better. In this situation, though, they were dead wrong. Pennington was the only Jet to have a decent game yesterday. He hit on 16-of-21 passes for 167 yards and two scores. He wasn't intercepted but was sacked four times, thanks in no small part to the team's refusal to pay Pete Kendall. When Pennington hurt his ankle it was Jarvis Green that came from the undermanned left side and rolled him. His status for next week is unknown but it's terrifying to imagine what this line will do against the Ravens defense.
On defense there wasn't a hint of a pass rush which helped Brady keep his uniform clean en route to 297 yards and three touchdowns. The secondary looked poor, especially on Randy Moss' 51-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, but it's hard to say how much that had to do with their own poor play and how much was because the front seven played like there was a force field around the Patriots pocket. They weren't any better against the run. Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris combined for 126 yards on 31 carries to help the Pats keep the ball for 33 minutes.
Throw in a breakdown that led to Ellis Hobbs' 108-yard kickoff return to start the second half and you have as complete a failure as you could have a nightmare about in the first week of the season. The defensive problems had as much to do with Brady's excellence as anything and you have to figure that there will be improvement when they aren't facing such a loaded offense. That offensive line, though, doesn't foster such hope. Pennington looked like a soldier driving out on patrol in one of those unarmored Humvees that our government employs instead of spending the money necessary to fully protect the troops. He realized it, “With six minutes left, down 31-14, I had to, for the first time, be brutally honest with myself as far as injuries are concerned, and say that without the threat of the run, I’m kind of a sitting duck.” After one week Pete Kendall's looking like this season's Most Valuable Player. It's a shame he plays for the Redskins.
(AP Photo/Mel Evans)