After a summer of f-bomb-dropping bombast, much of it on national television, the Jets suffered the first bloody playground come-uppance of the 2010 season in the NFL's school of "Hard Knocks
In this reality show at the New Meadowlands Academy of Pigskin Sciences, the lessons come on the field, not in front of a microphone.
Rex Ryan's preseason Super Bowl victory tour, complete with an invective-laced navel-gazing look inside the Jets sausage factory
, came crashing down around itself in the very first game of the year – an ugly 10-9 loss to the Ravens.
Even Rex, Rob and Buddy know the answer this morning. The statistical lowlights say it all:
The J-Men tied a 34-year-old franchise record with just six first downs
Second-year quarterback Mark "The Sanchize" Sanchez, looked like the lost rookie of early 2009, passing for just 74 yards; he was sacked twice for -14 yards, for a net of 60 passing yards on the night
New York totaled just 174 yards of offense
New York converted 1 of 11 third downs
Baltimore imposed its will upon the Jets, holding the ball for 38:32 vs. 21:28 for New York
The underdog Ravens (naturally, CHFF picked them to win outright
) appeared to play with a chip on their shoulder, few more so than emotional firebrand linebacker Ray Lewis: even at the ripe old age of 35, the future Hall of Famer was laying out New Yorkers like the Son of Sam.
At one point late in the fourth quarter, the forever young Lewis was still playing with the full speed and fury of a 22-year-old: he nearly decapitated Dustin Keller when the Jets tight end dared attempt to catch a pass across the middle of the field. The potential game winning drive soon fizzled, like almost every Jets drive before it.
Keller, meanwhile, provided the signature moment of Ryan's Jets a few plays later: the Gang Green faced 4th and 10 at their own 31 with 40 seconds to play and in need of a field goal to win. Sanchez connected with Keller for a first ... ahh, noo! Keller stepped out of bounds about a half-yard shy of the first-down marker, which was right in front of him.
It was a fitting end for a team in need of a quick come-uppance. The loud-mouthed coach Ryan, meanwhile, is largely to blame for the defeat.
ONE – Ryan's offense had no answer for the Baltimore defense. Sure, the Ravens will field a very good defense this year – but so good that it embarrasses the offense of a team that's pledged to the football world that it's going to win a Super Bowl? That's pathetic.
TWO – Ryan's team committed 14 penalties for 125 yards – a lack of discipline usually attributable to a lack of good coaching.
THREE – Ryan's big off-season defensive acquisition, cornerback Antonio Cromartie, snagged an interception, but had trouble in coverage most of the night. By comparison, Baltimore's big off-season acquisition, receiver Anquan Boldin, was the game's top offensive weapon, with 7 catches for 110 yards – many of them against Cromartie.
FOUR – Ryan's rants were cited by the Ravens as one of their great motivators.
"Anytime you challenge a warrior, a warrior is always going to respond," said Lewis, in typically bellicose manner, in the postgame press conference. "It became personal when the schedule came out."
A little humility never hurt anybody. So maybe Ryan and the Jets learned a valuable lesson Monday night in this school of "Hard Knocks." They better learn fast: the Patriots come to town on Sunday, fresh off an impressive 38-24 win over the Bengals
Lest we forget, for all the hype around the Jets this year (and we did pick them to win division ourselves
), they were smoked 31-14 the last time they played the Patriots. The Jets are also 0-2 in their last two game, including a 30-17 loss to the Colts in the AFC title game in which Peyton Manning torched them for 377 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT.
It's been a full decade, meanwhile, since New York posted a better record than their division rival Patriots.
If the Jets come out of the gates 0-2 and two games behind their nemesis from New England, the bombast of summer will have turned whiplash fast to the familiar old autumn lament out of New York: "Same Old Jets."