AFC East: New York Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For the second time in two months, Rex Ryan played reporter.

The New York Jets' coach popped his head into an interview room Wednesday during a conference call between the media and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Ryan joined the group and fired away.

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Watkins
"Sammy, I've got a question," Ryan said. "How did you help Seth Ryan out? How'd he do out there? And if you could really help him, you wouldn't play this game [on Sunday]. This sounds like Rex Ryan -- I know it does -- but this is a reporter."

Watkins laughed, but never really answered the questions.

The back story: Ryan's son, Seth, is a wide receiver at Clemson. Seth Ryan and Watkins were teammates last season, so it was only natural for the elder Ryan to pay close attention.

Earlier on the conference call, Watkins was asked by a reporter -- a real reporter -- about his relationship with Rex Ryan.

"I know Rex, I have seen him down there at Clemson a couple of times," Watkins said. "He’s a great guy, great coach, great dad and he’s always been funny with me at times, but he’s a great coach."

Ryan has a high regard for Watkins, comparing him to A.J. Green and Julio Jones.

"He's like he’s one of those guys that doesn’t come around very often," Ryan said.

You may recall Ryan pulled a role reversal in training camp. In mid-August, during the dog days of camp, Ryan sat with the reporters one day and fired questions at a grizzled beat reporter.

He loves coaching, but it sure seems like he has a hidden desire to be a sports writer.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets got back to work Wednesday, the second day of practice for new wide receiver/kick returner Percy Harvin.

Harvin was on the field during the portion of practice open to the media, trying to get up to speed with the Jets' offense. The team was working indoors due to the inclement weather.

The Jets appeared to be at full strength, with all players at least participating in positional drills.

That includes wide receiver Greg Salas (wrist/ankle) and linebacker Trevor Reilly (knee), both of whom sat out the team's loss to the New England Patriots last Thursday.

That also includes running back Bilal Powell, who left the game against the Patriots with a foot injury. The same goes for cornerback Phillip Adams, who was suffering from a groin injury against the Patriots according to coach Rex Ryan.
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John Idzik is right: The New York Jets scored a "potential coup" by acquiring Percy Harvin.

No, the Jets' general manager is wrong. Harvin is an ineffective role player.

It's easy to form two different opinions on the trade, especially if you study Harvin's first and last games with the Seattle Seahawks this season.

In the season opener, he was heavily involved in the game plan, touching the ball on six of the first 15 plays from scrimmage. He was electric, totalling 61 yards rushing and receiving on those plays and making the Green Bay Packers look foolish at times.

In Week 6, a stunning loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Harvin got only six touches for the entire game. Net result: Minus-1 yards. They forced the ball to him in various spots, disrupting the flow of the offense. The Cowboys anticipated almost every play, gang-tackling him on five of the six plays.

Good Percy, bad Percy. It's up to Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to create the former. A closer look at Harvin's first six touches and last six:

Packers at Seahawks

1. On their first offensive play of the season, Harvin was split wide left. Russell Wilson threw him a slip screen and he gained four yards.

2. Harvin lined up in the right slot and caught a bubble screen for four yards on third-and-1.

[+] EnlargePercy Harvin
Otto Greule Jr/Getty ImagesIn his first game of the 2014 season, then Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin received the game ball from ESPN Seahawks reporter Terry Blount.
3. He showed his trademark explosiveness on this play, a jet sweep around right end. Harvin bolted around the corner, gaining 13 yards. Wilson used a nifty run-action, faking to Marshawn Lynch after handing off to Harvin. Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers was paralyzed with confusion, not knowing how to react as Harvin blew past him.

4. This time, Harvin was in the right slot. He ran a quick out, catching a nine-yard pass off play-action.

5. The Packers defended this play well. Lined up on the left wing, Harvin caught a bubble screen and was tackled for a two-yard loss. He fumbled, but recovered the ball.

6. Harvin made a 33-yard reception, demonstrating his ability to make plays downfield -- something he didn't get to do as often as he wanted. On second-and-12, he was in the right slot and ran an "over" route, breaking into the clear. He beat a double-team off the line by using a shoulder dip, faking linebacker A.J. Hawk and safety Morgan Burnett so badly that the two defenders ran into each other. It turned out to be Harvin's longest pass play of the season.

Game totals: Harvin caught seven passes for 59 yards and ran four times for 41 yards, his best game of the season. The Seahawks won, 36-16.

Cowboys at Seahawks

1. Harvin lined up in the backfield. The Seahawks were in shotgun, with Harvin to Wilson's right. On second-and-5, they ran him off left end for minus-1.

2. In the left slot, Harvin caught a bubble screen, but he was dropped for minus-1 on first-and-10.

3. This time, they put Harvin on the move. He shifted wide left and came back in motion to the right, setting up their patented jet sweep. The Cowboys' fast-flow defense read it beautifully and stopped him for no gain.

4. They tried a slip screen, with Harvin split wide right. Linebacker Rolando McClain diagnosed the play quickly, blowing it up with help from a few of his friends. The play lost four yards on first-and-10.

5. Once again, Harvin lined up in the backfield, this time to Wilson's right. It fooled no one. He ran up the middle for no gain.

6. In his last touch as a Seahawk, Harvin caught a five-yard pass. He was in a double-stack to the right and ran a quick look-in route, finding a soft spot in the underneath zone. On the next play, Wilson ran for a nine-yard touchdown to tie the game.

Game totals: Harvin caught three passes for zero yards and ran three times for minus-1. The Seahawks lost, 30-23.
The addition of Percy Harvin took a chunk out of the New York Jets' massive amount of salary-cap space, but they're still not crying poverty. They still have $14.58 million in room, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars ($24.17 million), Cleveland Browns ($20.58 million) and Philadelphia Eagles ($16.54 million) have more space than the Jets.

Harvin
Harvin will count $6.47 million on the cap for the final 10 weeks (nine games plus the bye week). Initially, it was widely reported his cap charge would be $7.1 million, but his former team, the Seattle Seahawks, ended up picking up last week's pay check because the Jets already had played Thursday night, before the trade was finalized.

Despite his abbreviated season in New York, Harvin still has the fourth-highest cap charge on the Jets. The top 5:

1. D'Brickashaw Ferguson -- $11.7 million

2. Nick Mangold -- $7.2 million

3. David Harris -- $7.0 million

4. Percy Harvin -- $6.47 million

5. Eric Decker -- $4.0 million

5. Michael Vick -- $4.0 million
FOXBOROUGH, MASS. -- Outside linebacker Antwan Barnes, activated Wednesday from the physically-unable-to-perform list, will make his season debut Thursday night for the New York Jets, who face the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

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It will mark Barnes' first action since last Oct. 7. That night, he suffered a major knee injury and underwent season-ending surgery. The Jets would've preferred to wait another week before dressing Barnes -- he's had only one week of practice -- but they had an opening at linebacker with rookie Trevor Reilly (sprained knee) out of the lineup.

Curiously, the Jets have five outside linebackers dressed for the game -- Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace, Jason Babin, IK Enemkpali and Barnes. They probably will be rotating pass rushers as part of their plan to disrupt Tom Brady.

The Jets' inactives are Reilly, wide receiver Chris Owusu, wide receiver Greg Salas, cornerback Josh Thomas, guard Dakota Dozier, guard Wesley Johnson and nose tackle T.J. Barnes.

Oday Aboushi will start at left guard for Brian Winters (injured reserve). The change on the offensive line means tackle Ben Ijalana is active for the first time in 23 games as a member of the Jets. They will dress their usual seven offensive linemen.

Without cornerback Dee Milliner (injured reserve) and Josh Bush (released), the Jets will have only seven defensive backs in uniform. They're carrying an extra linebacker, giving them nine for the game.

For the Patriots, they will be without two potential starters on the offensive line, Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork, both of whom are recovering from a concussion. The Patriots' other inactives are wide receiver Aaron Dobson, cornerback Malcolm Butler, running back James White, cornerback Nate Ebner and offensive lineman Cameron Fleming.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Former New York Jets coach Bill Parcells shot down a report that said a Jets scout implored him to pick Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 draft.

"I have no, absolutely no recollection of that," Parcells said Thursday during an appearance on "The Michael Kay Show" on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. "You know, some of these scouts ... now that Brady has been a monumental success, they kind of re-visit their opinion. Don't forget, 198 teams passed him."

Brady was drafted 199th by the New England Patriots, and you know the rest. The New York Daily News, citing an unnamed source, said Jets area scout Jesse Kaye lobbied Parcells in the draft room to select Brady with the 179th pick.

The Jets, who had picked quarterback Chad Pennington in the first round, ended up choosing defensive back Tony Scott at No. 179. He never amounted to anything in the NFL.

Parcells said he had a "high regard" for Kaye, a longtime scout, but he emphatically denied the Brady scenario.

"I don't ever remember hearing his name from anyone in the Jets organization," he said. "I don't know who that was that said it, but I can tell you no one ever told me to draft Tom Brady."

Here's what I think happened:

It's commonplace in the draft room for area scouts to push players from their region. Kaye scouted the Midwest and had seen Brady at Michigan, so he probably gave a positive scouting report. But to say he made a passionate plea for Brady ... I'm not sure. I have to think Parcells would've remembered that. Then again, it doesn't help his legacy to admit he passed on Brady.

The Jets already had Pennington, Vinny Testaverde and Ray Lucas, so they weren't looking for another quarterback.

There was one heated draft-room debate that year, and it involved the decision to pick wide receiver Laveranues Coles in the third round. Parcells was skeptical because of Coles' off-the-field troubles, but he was talked into it -- and it turned out to be a good selection.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets linebacker Calvin Pace doesn’t like playing on Thursday to begin with, and when he looked at the Jets' schedule with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady back to back, he didn’t think it looked right.

Pace
"It's going to be another tough one," Pace said. "Someone at the NFL really had it out for us with this schedule. But that being said, nobody feels sorry for us. We’ve just got to go out and handle our business in a very hostile environment, find a way to get a victory."

The Jets will play in Foxborough Thursday night, and visiting teams haven’t fared well on that night. Since 2006, according to ESPN Stats & Info, visiting teams have a .351 winning percentage on Thursdays.

“I think it’s a terrible idea," Pace said. "I think that’s the one way that you’re pretty much ensuring a bunch of guys potentially get hurt. It’s the kind of situation where it’s not ideal. I think you could go around and ask most players, and they probably don’t want to do it."

Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was lukewarm on the idea.

“How do I feel about Thursday games in general? Sells tickets, I guess,” Richardson said.

Richardson added that the turnaround is hard on the players, who have to rehabilitate the week’s injuries and digest a full game plan in half the time.

One player who doesn’t mind Thursday night games? Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback is 6-0 playing on Thursdays.

“I don’t think there’s any real magic plays that we hold for Thursday night games or anything like that,” Brady said. “I think these are important games for our team. It’s a short week. You have to max out on football, put everything else to bed and try to put everything you can into these three days and see where we’re at Thursday night.”

Hard to hate the day when you have a perfect Thursday record. This week, Pace has an opportunity to change Brady’s mind.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets receiver Eric Decker said he was confident he’d play against the New England Patriots Thursday night despite a hamstring injury that has limited him on and off for weeks.

Nelson
Decker
“It’s something that obviously you need to stay on top of, because at any time it can come back, and I guess (you can) aggravate it (again) or (it can) just swell up a little bit,” Decker said. “Obviously I am doing all the right things and working with the training staff to make sure that my strength is good and flexibility, all those things are good.”

It’s good news for the Jets, who have done statistically better with Decker on the field. The Jets will also have wide receiver David Nelson back after he missed the Broncos game following a setback to his ankle injury.

The one likely absence? Wide receiver Greg Salas came into the locker room at the tail end of media availability and was seen with a cast on his wrist.

Jets

Did not practice: S Josh Bush (quad), LB Trevor Reilly (knee), WR Greg Salas (wrist/ankle).

Limited: WR Eric Decker (hamstring), LB David Harris (shoulder).

Full: OL Willie Colon (knee), TE Jace Amaro (knee), OL Breno Giacomini (lower back), DL Damon Harrison (ankle), RB Chris Johnson ankle), OL Nick Mangold (shoulder), WR David Nelson (ankle), DB Darrin Walls (knee).

Patriots

Out: LB Jerod Mayo (knee), RB Stevan Ridley (knee).

Did not practice: OL Dan Connolly (concussion), DB Nate Ebner (finger), OL Cameron Fleming (finger), OL Bryan Stork (concussion).

Limited: QB Tom Brady (ankle), CB Brandon Browner (ankle), LB Jamie Collins (thigh), DL Dominique Easley (shoulder/knee), LB Dont'a Hightower (knee), DE Chandler Jones (shoulder), S Devin McCourty (rib), WR Matthew Slater (shoulder).
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In their final practice before facing the New England Patriots Thursday night, the New York Jets were missing a key member of their receiving corps Tuesday: wide receiver Greg Salas.

Salas
Salas, who suffered wrist and ankle injuries Sunday against the Denver Broncos, wasn't spotted during the 30-minute window open to the media. He also didn't practice Monday, meaning it's unlikely he will play Thursday. The injuries aren't believed to be serious, but the quick turnaround obviously is a factor.

Meanwhile, fellow receivers Eric Decker (hamstring) and David Nelson (ankle) participated in early drills and likely will be limited for the second straight day. From all indications, they will play against the Patriots. Nelson, inactive last week, probably will join Decker and Jeremy Kerley in the three-man receiver rotation.

Rookie linebacker Trevor Reilly (knee), who has been spelling Calvin Pace for a handful of snaps each week, missed practice again.

Linebacker Antwan Barnes, one year removed from major knee surgery, has returned to practice. He's on the physically unable to perform list, so the Jets have a three-week window to evaluate him and decide whether to put him on the 53-man roster or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Geno Smith calls out New York media

October, 13, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith apparently isn't happy with the way his recent off-the-field transgressions have been portrayed by the media.

The New York Jets' quarterback, who cursed a fan and missed a team meeting on the eve of a game, let his feelings be known while speaking Monday to the Boston media. On a conference call with reporters, Smith was asked about how he's handing his "topsy-turvy" season. (Truth be told, it has been more turvy than topsy.)

[+] EnlargeGeno Smith
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsGeno Smith and the Jets are facing scrutiny given the QB's latest actions and the team's 1-5 record.
"For me, it hasn't been," said Smith, who faces the New England Patriots Thursday night on the road. "I think, obviously with everything that goes on with the media, a lot of things are, I would say, miscommunicated, and then it just gets misprinted and then misunderstood.

"I don't have any quarrels with anything," he continued. "The main thing is that we just have to find a way to get a win. The hardest part about it all is losing. With the effort, the time that we put in, the preparation that we put in throughout the week, coming up with game plans -- we always have a really good game plan going in -- and then obviously we haven't executed as well as we'd like. Those things are tougher than I guess what can be said and what is portrayed out there in the media."

It's hard to imagine he blames the media for the brush fires he created, yet it seems clear he believes the media blew them out of proportion. He may have created another mini-controversy by going down this road. Such is life in New York when you're the quarterback of a 1-5 team.

Smith could've answered the question a different way, demonstrating accountability for his actions. It's never a good idea to blame the media, especially when you're struggling to do your job.

He accepted responsibility in the immediate aftermath of the cursing incident at MetLife Stadium, apologizing after the game. He was fined $12,000 by the NFL for unsportsmanlike conduct toward a fan.

Smith also apologized to his teammates for missing the team meeting, calling it an honest mistake. He didn't make the meeting because he went to a movie theater near the team hotel in San Diego and lost track of time, he said. He apparently got confused by the three-hour time difference.

The Jets backed Smith, refusing to discipline him other than a probable fine. It sparked a firestorm of criticism, and people close to Smith say he was taken aback by the fallout. He didn't help matters Monday, sharing his true feelings with the Boston media.

It conjured up memories of an old Chad Pennington anecdote. The former Jets quarterback usually handled himself well in front of microphones and cameras, but there was one time when he got upset with the media and lectured reporters on how they should consider it a "privilege" to cover the team.

Pennington got ripped for the comments, and he later remarked it was one of his most regrettable moments during his time in New York.

Gloomy Jets desperate for win

October, 13, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Michael Vick has been in the league 12 seasons, and he can't remember playing on a team during a stretch this bad.

The New York Jets (1-5) have dropped five straight – with three of those games at home -- and have two practice days to prepare to face the New England Patriots on the road. During this skid, starting quarterback Geno Smith cursed out a fan and missed a team meeting. Coach Rex Ryan has said he expects to lose his job if the team can’t save the season.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesCoach Rex Ryan and the Jets are reeling following a Week 6 loss to the visiting Broncos.
Vick, the Jets’ backup quarterback, is a veteran -- but he's new to this.

"First time in my career," said Vick, who started the first five games of the Philadelphia Eagles’ eight-game skid in 2012. "So I'm fighting through it just like everybody else. It's a first time for everything and in that situation you just have to figure it out."

That doesn't necessarily mean he's clamoring to start, however. "I'm happy with my role," Vick said Monday. "But you always wish it could be more or you could do more to help."

He is no more baffled than veteran Jets center Nick Mangold. Earlier in the day, Ryan confirmed this was the low point of his coaching career. Could Mangold say the same?

"It's definitely up there," Mangold said. "Having a five-game skid is not fun for anybody and it's definitely not what you expect. Had some difficult times through the nine years and this is definitely up there."

On Monday, the team placed top cornerback Dee Milliner and left guard Brian Winters on the injured reserve list. The team is extremely thin at corner after losing to Peyton Manning and the Broncos 31-17, and have another future Hall of Famer in Tom Brady coming up.

It all makes for a quiet and gloomy locker room.

"It's tough right now," right guard Willie Colon said. "We've got to find a way to stop the bleeding. ... A lot of issues we're going through are self-inflicted."

One player who seems undeterred by the losing? Smith. Last week, he was fined $12,000 for cursing at a fan following a loss to Detroit. The moment was caught on camera. The next week he missed a meeting in San Diego.

"We obviously all take on the mantra and the demeanor of our head coach, and he's a very, very confident guy," Smith said.

Apparently, Smith didn't get the memo about it being the worst stretch of Ryan's career. But there are other forms of motivation available. Colon found one in the fact this is Patriots week. Last year, Colon was ejected from the game at Gillette Stadium after a brawl.

"The only motivation is that it is the Patriots," Colon said. "We know the rivalry and how much we dislike them. They're playing good football and we need a victory in the worst way. It's going to be a tough challenge and we have to get it done."

There is also the fact that, despite a 1-5 start, the team hasn't yet faced a division opponent. The Patriots look mortal this season, but that doesn't mean the Jets as currently constituted can beat them. Wide receiver David Nelson missed Sunday's game with an ankle injury, and receiver Greg Salas didn't practice with a wrist injury.

"There's plenty more football to be played, it's not like we're out of anything yet," said newly acquired wide receiver T.J. Graham. "We start our division games, which count as two wins when you win. We're not looking at it the wrong way. It's not half empty, it's half full."

Geno Smith will start vs. Patriots

October, 13, 2014
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback when the New York Jets face the Patriots on Thursday, coach Rex Ryan confirmed. Some of the team’s fans have chanted for backup Michael Vick to be played when Smith has struggled.

Smith
Vick
Vick
"You can look at Mike to adding different things," Ryan said. "But I think Geno’s the way to go right now, and that’s why I’m comfortable saying he’ll be our starter."

Vick, the team’s $4 million backup, has not had much better luck when he’s been inserted into games. During a 31-0 loss in San Diego, both Smith and Vick played a half, and neither was able to get much going on offense. Early on, Vick was used in some wildcat packages without much success.

To be fair, the Jets' 1-5 record isn’t Smith’s fault -- the Jets' offense has looked terrible. Two of the most impactful red zone wide receivers -- David Nelson and Eric Decker -- have been intermittently injured. And there is the ineffectiveness of the offensive line. Smith was sacked four times against Denver and was pressured constantly in the pocket. The Jets only rushed for 31 yards, limiting Smith’s options.

"I thought he did play well, I thought he did respond," Ryan said. "And I expect the same thing this week."

John Idzik has taken a lot of criticism for the way this team is constructed. From this years draft, just three of the 12 draft picks started on Sunday. But Ryan defended the record under Idzik’s tenure, and even pointed to Smith as one of the positives from the 2013 draft.

"You’ve got Geno Smith, a starting quarterback in this league that I think has upside," Ryan said. "So, that’s a great pick."
videoEAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Peyton Manning did the pitching, Julius Thomas the catching. A quick pass, a wide-open Thomas and ... boom. Another touchdown for the Denver Broncos, who beat the New York Jets, 31-17, Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

"It's so f---ing easy!" Thomas screamed in the end zone, his words carried on TV because of a nearby mic. "It's so easy!"

The Jets claim they didn't hear Thomas, whose 4-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter gave the Broncos a 17-point lead. Nevertheless, it was an in-your-face moment for the Jets, who dropped their fifth straight.

"If we knew that was being said, we'd probably try to get in his face," safety Dawan Landry said.

Linebacker Jason Babin said of Thomas, "That's his opinion. I'm sure he'll feel the wrath with that one -- from the league" -- meaning a fine.

Probably not, though. It wasn't Thomas's fault that he got excited and decided to talk trash near an open mic.

Thomas' touchdown, his second, was the lowpoint for the Jets. You can't tell by the final score, but the defense played reasonably well, considering the opponent. Manning threw three touchdowns (the 504th, 505th and 506th of his career), but he was unsettled at times by the Jets, who confused him with coverage-based schemes.

Rex Ryan used three- and four-man rushes, dropping seven or eight into coverage. They played more zone than usual, forcing Manning to hold the ball. He still completed 22 of 33 for 237 yards, but he wasn't particularly sharp.

"They did a couple of unorthodox things," Manning said.

One of those things was using outside linebackers Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace in pass coverage, splitting them wide and having them jam the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. Manning, whom Ryan described as a Bobby Fischer-like chess master, checked to running plays when he saw that look.

"When you take your two linebackers and walk them both out on your two receivers, they're basically kind of laughing at your running game," Manning said, delivering a rare tweak of an opponent.

But he's right. The Jets dared them to run, and they got gashed by Ronnie Hillman (24 carries for 100 yards), who started for the injured Montee Ball. The Jets have allowed 100-yard games to backup running backs in consecutive weeks. Last week it was Branden Oliver of the San Diego Chargers.

Overall, Ryan said the Manning game plan was "fairly effective." He apparently forgot about Thomas' two touchdowns (he beat Calvin Pryor and Darrin Walls) and Demaryius Thomas' monster day, 10 catches for 124 yards. The Jets also allowed an 80-yard touchdown drive before halftime, tarnishing a solid first-half effort.

"Anytime we made a mistake, he capitalized," Babin said. "He's not Peyton Manning for no reason."
SmithAaron Ontiveroz/Getty ImagesGeno Smith & Co. managed just 204 yards and 3.3 yards per play on offense in their loss to Denver.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Once again, a New York Jets home loss was defined by a curse. This time, it wasn't Geno Smith with the potty mouth, it was Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who caught touchdown pass No. 506 from Peyton Manning and screamed, "It's so f---ing easy! It's so easy!"

Thanks to an end zone mike, his on-the-spot commentary reached a nation of television viewers.

Yes, the Broncos made it look bleeping easy at times in their 31-17 victory Sunday at MetLife Stadium. The Jets? They just bleeping stunk on offense.

It's never easy for them. Their offense, which performs as if the field is 200 yards long, has unraveled before our eyes, and you want to know the most alarming part? You can't blame it on Smith and his turnover-prone ways. He was the easy scapegoat last season -- ditto, the first three losses this year -- but this problem goes beyond the quarterback.

Blame general manager John Idzik for constructing an offense with no deep threats and thinking Chris Johnson could rejuvenate his once-great career after years on the decline.

Blame Rex Ryan, whose myopic view of the game creates an organizational imbalance. He's a glorified defensive coordinator, with zero input into the offense. His defensive mind can keep the team in games, as it did Sunday, but that's not enough.

Blame offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, whose play calling is all over the map. He goes from trusting Smith too much to not trusting him at all, which happened to be the case against the Broncos.

Blame the offensive line, a once-formidable unit (circa 2009) that got pushed around by the Broncos. The Jets rushed for only 31 yards, their lowest total since 2006. When Ryan said he wanted Smith to run more often, he probably didn't mean for him to be the leading rusher. But he was -- with a grand total of 11 yards. Ronnie Hillman, the Broncos' backup-turned-starter, gained more yards (26) on one of his carries than the combined total of Johnson and Chris Ivory (16).

The Jets (1-5), losers of five straight, can't function if they can't run. It's as simple as that, as Mornhinweg likes to say.

"We're playing with only two of the three phases right now, the offense not being one of those phases," right tackle Breno Giacomini said.

Smith still hasn't proved he's part of the solution, and he may never get to that point, but his past two interceptions (one last week, one Sunday) haven't ruined the Jets. This has been a team meltdown. They missed a chance to upset the Broncos on a day in which Manning didn't have his A-game.

In their past 49 possessions with Smith at quarterback, the Jets have produced only five touchdowns -- awful. Somehow, they managed a 63-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to make it 24-17 (File under: Even a blind squirrel ...), but they squandered a chance to tie the game with 6:09 remaining. They went three-and-out, with Smith misfiring on a third-down slant to Eric Decker.

"I've got to put the ball in a better spot and he's got to get a little bit more separation, so we can pick up those first downs in the future," said Smith, who didn't throw his weekly interception until the final seconds -- a pick-six from his own 1-yard line.

After last week's 31-0 debacle, the Jets' plan was to reestablish the running game, but it quickly became apparent the plan wasn't going to work. On their first eight first-down runs, they gained only eight yards. If you can't run on first down, there's no hope. The line generated no push whatsoever. The Broncos loaded the box, daring Smith to throw. He completed 23-of-43 for 190 yards, mostly quick throws.

They made no attempt to stretch the field, allowing the Broncos to swarm the line of scrimmage. In fact, nine of Smith's 11 attempts in the final quarter were thrown five yards or less in the air, according to ESPN Stats & Information data. Mornhinweg had him on a tight leash.

With no playmakers on the perimeter, the Jets are an easy team to defend. Decker is a solid, complementary receiver, and rookie tight end Jace Amaro (10 catches for 68 yards and one touchdown) is an emerging player, but there's a shortage of explosiveness at the skill positions. That falls on Idzik, who, with 12 draft choices, failed to adequately address a glaring need. Johnson was supposed to provide a home-run threat at running back, but he can't get the ball out of the infield.

The Jets had two chances to tie it in the fourth quarter, but did anyone honestly believe Smith & Co. were going to march for a touchdown? It was just a tease.

"That's terrible," Giacomini said of the blown chances.

Afterward, Ryan seemed almost resigned to the current predicament.

"We're struggling a little bit, offensively," he said.

Forget the curses. Maybe they're just cursed.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Thirty-one. That was the number of total rushing yards the Jets managed against the Broncos in a 31-17 loss. And 11 of those yards were from quarterback Geno Smith.

So what happened to the celebrated running backs? There were no injuries, but Chris Ivory averaged .9 yards a carry and Chris Johnson led all running backs with 9 yards on =three carries.

[+] EnlargeSmith
Aaron Ontiveroz/Getty ImagesThe Jets couldn't run the ball or protect Geno Smith in the loss to the Broncos.
“We always want to run the ball,” Smith said. “You’ve got to stay balanced on offense. We went out there and we gave it to our guys. Hats off to Denver. They did a great job at coming up and stopping the run. But like I said, that’s a part of the game. You’ve got to figure out ways to get the guys involved. We tried to do it in the passing game with getting them some quick screens and dumping it down to them in the flats and check downs. When it comes to that, obviously we’ve got to run the ball better. But the passing game should be able to pick it up.”

The run game was supposed to be the jets calling card this season, and it worked early on -- but not against the Broncos. The Jets haven’t struggled like this in a game since 2006, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It was the worst rushing game of the Rex Ryan era, a 38-yard effort against the Ravens in 2011.

Jace Amaro, with the candor of a rookie, explained why missing the running game was so hard. Amaro capitalized by scoring the first touchdown of the game on a 2-yard pass from Smith in the first quarter.

“We’re really a run-first team and when we’re unable to run the ball it definitely brings a burden on the offense,” Amaro said. “And we feel like we have really good backs and we need to utilize them as best we can. When you’re unable to run the ball hurts the offense especially from the passing game, we like to do a lot of play-action stuff so it definitely hurt us a little bit.”

The responsibility for opening those gaps falls on the offensive line. Willie Colon wouldn’t talk after the game, but center Nick Mangold addressed the problems.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t get it going, we couldn’t get it going all game,” Mangold said. “And that falls on us up front. We have to open those holes. When that gets going, it helps everyone else.”

Instead, Smith was pressured too often in the pocket, holding onto the ball or throwing it away. Smith was sacked four times. According to Stats & Info, nine of Smith’s 11 passing attempts in the fourth quarter were under 5 yards, and one of the longer attempts turned into Aqib Talib’s interception returned for a touchdown.

That kind of pressure was why, when the Jets had a possession that could have tied the game in the fourth quarter, the team instead went three-and-out.

“We only ran it 15 times today,” Ryan said. “We tried.”

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