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Lichtenstein: Patience? Sorry Jets, But I'm All Tapped Out

By Steve Lichtenstein
» More Columns

Patience, thou art not a Jets fan.

How could it be if its favorite NFL franchise hasn't been to a Super Bowl in over 45 years?

So to those who are preaching patience after yet another headache-inducing Jets loss — this one a 27-19 slopfest against Chicago on Monday night — I really don't want to hear it right now.

Once again the Jets blew a golden opportunity to cash in on a game they should have won. As a result, the Jets now face a must-win situation when Detroit invades MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

For if they don't, fans like us might as well call it a season and head outside to start our autumn yard work, since the Jets would then need a monumental upset over either San Diego, Denver or New England just to avoid a 1-6 start.

And during that stretch of games, I won't want to read more about how this was meant to be a rebuilding year, a developmental season for sophomore quarterback Geno Smith, yada, yada, yada. Should the Jets then take advantage of a less-competitive schedule and run off a mini-streak to close the season, don't believe that the Jets are back on the right flight path.

Been there. Too many times to count.

In reality, every NFL season is chock full of surprises — carryovers are mere coincidences. Rosters turn over, injuries dismantle teams' best-laid plans, and doormats rise unexpectedly to contend for a playoff berth.

There wasn't any reason why the Jets couldn't have been one of those feelgood stories this year. There are that many bad teams in the league.

But it's pretty clear that it won't happen if patience takes priority over urgency.

The Jets' commitment to Smith, whose two interceptions on Monday kept him on pace to match last year's horrific 25 turnovers, is a prime example.

I've noticed little change in Smith's habits from his rookie season, from his staring down receivers, to his malfunctioning internal clock in the pocket, all the way to his poor decisions as to where to go with the ball. That's why most of the game-turning plays involving Smith tend to be negative.

I want to believe that general manager John Idzik brought in Michael Vick — and paid him $5 million — for this very situation. To step in and at least try to save the season with his veteran presence should it be necessary.

Sounds logical.

Except that coach Rex Ryan already set the table during Monday's postgame press conference for Smith to continue as the starter. At best (or worst, if you're like me and think these do more harm than good), the Jets might use Vick a little more out of wildcat packages.

Ryan wants us to let the kid learn from his mistakes. You know — show some patience.

As if it's only a matter of time before Smith eventually develops into a true franchise quarterback.

In most cases, it never happens. For every Russell Wilson, there are multiple Blaine Gabberts. Quarterbacking is as much about the brain as it is about the arm. Read options, quick-release throws off three-step drops, and diagnosing weaknesses in disguised coverages require skills that Smith may not possess.

Smith couldn't even take advantage of Chicago's injury-riddled secondary on Monday. Oh, his numbers looked decent enough, with 316 yards on 60 percent passing.

But the only number that matters is points scored. After Smith gifted the Bears a quick interception return touchdown on the Jets' opening drive, he only got the offense into the end zone once in six trips into the red zone.

Funny how it was guys like rookies Kyle Fuller and Brock Vereen who made the big plays to deny the Jets at the goal line. They were filling in for injured starters Charles Tillman and Ryan Mundy. Chicago didn't to seem to have any issues with the NFL's "next-man-up" ideology in their defensive backfield.

The Jets, meanwhile, continue to plug holes in their secondary with the equivalent of scotch tape. On the Bears' opening drive of the second half, they faced a third-and-11 from the Jets' 13-yard line. To whom did Jets coach Rex Ryan entrust the middle of the field as he dialed up an all-out blitz on this play?

No really—I'm asking. The player wore No. 24, but he certainly wasn't Darrelle Revis, one of the NFL's top cornerbacks who was available to return to New York as a free agent over the summer and might have been signed if not for his bad history with Jets owner Woody Johnson.

Actually it was Phillip Adams, a one-time Raider bust, who tailed the wrong receiver into the end zone and allowed Martellus Bennett to claim Jay Cutler's pass unencumbered to give the Bears a 24-13 lead.

It's hard to imagine that Idzik and Ryan are reading from the same book, never mind being on the same page. Even if they are, Idzik's lack of urgency in the offseason (considering he left $21 million in 2014 salary cap room on the table) with regard to the Jets' cornerback situation has backfired.

Ryan needs cover corners so he can call blitzes to disrupt the passer. With Dee Milliner sidelined with ankle and quad injuries, Ryan threw inexperienced Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls at the Bears' giant receiving tandem of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. That forced Ryan to drop more bodies into coverage, which came at the expense of the Jets' pass rush.

To be fair, the Jets defense wasn't awful. One Chicago touchdown came via the Smith pick-six, and two others were set up by a muffed punt return and a brutal pass interference flag on Walls. Marshall was held to just one catch for six yards, though Jeffery was a bit of a thorn.

On the Jets' side, Smith obviously didn't possess that kind of weaponry, especially after deep threat Eric Decker aggravated his hamstring injury and left the game in the first half. It called for a more conservative game plan.

So of course offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called 43 pass plays to 26 run plays on Monday. The one guy in the Jets organization who we want to be patient continues to let Smith air it out every week.

No wonder my own patience with the Jets is running thin. Wasted seasons are no fun, especially those that needn't have been.

For a FAN's perspective of the Nets, Jets and the NHL, follow Steve on Twitter @SteveLichtenst1.

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