"After watching it on tape, I think I played good," the New York Jets' quarterback said Monday on a conference call with reporters. "I made some good throws, made some good reads."
The second-year quarterback has made some curious comments recently. Two weeks ago, Smith was mocked for saying he has displayed "flashes of being a Pro Bowl quarterback." On Monday, after a crushing loss to the New England Patriots, he still was wearing his rose-colored glasses.
Smith acknowledged they should've fared better in the red zone, but he added: "I think we did a good job overall. Protection was great. The run game was great. Aside from one or two plays here and there, I think as an offense we did a pretty good job against a really good defense."
Bottom line: The Jets scored one touchdown. They lost, 17-16. No, the offense didn't do a pretty good job.
Smith's fourth-quarter sack was the killer. It came on a third-and-4 from the Patriots' 24. The Patriots blitzed, rushing five. The Jets had six in protection, but there was a miscommunication between running back Bilal Powell and right tackle Breno Giacomini, leaving linebacker Dont'a Hightower unblocked.
Smith refused to accept the blame for the sack.
"I know you’re supposed to get the ball away in that situation," he said. "Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to and I wasn’t able to."
He claimed he wasn't surprised by the blitz, but there was "immediate pressure and didn’t want to run backwards or try to scramble out to the right or to the left and take a bigger sack, so I tried to pretty much eat it right there and take as minimal a loss as I could."
What about throwing a quick outlet pass?
"I’m pretty sure you guys have seen the play," Smith said, bristling. "There is no outlet in that situation on that play. The guy who was the outlet, the back, was in protection."
True, but wide receiver Jeremy Kerley was open underneath.
Smith's comments were surprising because, in the past, he has owned up to his mistakes, as every quarterback should. These latest remarks show a lack of accountability, and that's not what you want from your quarterback.
Belichick doesn't fire off too many candid responses, which made it stunning almost five years ago (January 2010) when he ripped Casserly for reporting on CBS that Tom Brady was playing with three broken ribs.
"Who's been wrong more than Charley Casserly since he left the Redskins? His percentage is like a meteorologist," Belichick said during his weekly spot on WEEI radio.
At the time, Casserly, a former Washington Redskins and Houston Texans general manager, was working as an information man for CBS. The Jets are interested in Casserly for his knowledge of the NFL, not his reporting skills. He will be hired as a New York Jets consultant if owner Woody Johnson decides to fire general manager John Idzik and/or coach Rex Ryan. Casserly won't have a say in the Idzik and Ryan evaluations, according to sources, but he will have input into potential GM and head-coaching searches.
What does Casserly think of the Jets? In an October interview with CBS Radio, he was asked to assess blame for the Jets' season. He seemed to be pointing the finger at Idzik.
"I would say, having been in an organization, it's hard to know from the outside-in who's making the final decision on things," he said. "For example, they took two corners in the first round. One is hurt [Dee Milliner], and the other one, [Kyle] Wilson, hasn't panned out. So how much of that was the coaching staff? How much of that was the scouting staff? Who made the final decision? Those are the things you're going to have to figure out -- and that's the owner's job to figure that out."
Casserly added, "This year, they did not take a corner [in the first round] -- and they were in desperate need of a corner. Cincinnati took Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State [24th overall], who was rated about in the middle of the first round. Now, he's not playing for them because they have a lot of other corners, but they do like him there.
"Not addressing the cornerback position was huge because [of] two things: One, any time you talk to Rex Ryan, he says, 'Give me corners. That's what I need, is corners.' When you watch their defense, they've never had a legitimate outside pass-rusher you have to game-plan against. But by having good corners, Rex is as good as anybody in the league at designing blitzes to get people free.
"So that's an example of the front office not getting what the coach needs. From the outside-in, that's the obvious one we look at there. It's a legitimate question because clearly there's not enough talent around that football team to compete. I thought Rex should have been the coach of the year at 8-8 last year."
Preparing for the likelihood of an organizational housecleaning, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson is poised to hire former Houston Texans and Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly as a consultant in the event he decides to make major changes, league sources told ESPN.
With the Jets missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season, speculation has been widespread that coach Rex Ryan will be fired. The biggest question surrounds general manager John Idzik. He was hired only two years ago, but Johnson is so frustrated with the 3-12 season that he's leaning toward firing Idzik as well, according to sources.
Casserly won't be part of the evaluation of Ryan and Idzik. Sources stressed that Casserly would be retained only if Johnson decides to replace Ryan and/or Idzik, but the fact that he reached out to Casserly is a strong indication the Jets are preparing to start over.
Smith isn't a good clutch player and he's mistake-prone when under duress. Here's my take on Smith: His whole is less than the sum of his parts. He has the physical skills to be a good quarterback, but something is missing. The Jets have spent two years trying to find it.
2. Ryan's epitaph with the Jets: "If he only had a quarterback."
3. The Jets have the worst red-zone offense in the league, having converted only 38 percent of their possessions into touchdowns. No other team is below 40 percent. A big reason is Smith, whose Total QBR inside the 20 is 14.2, 29th in the league. A QBR of 50 is considered average. Unlike passer rating, the QBR weighs sacks -- and Smith has five red-zone sacks.
On Sunday, Smith took one sack, not counting the game-changing, third-down sack, which took place just outside the red zone. On that particular play, Smith had Jeremy Kerley open underneath for what would have been a first down on a third-and-4, but he held the ball too long, allowing the Patriots' blitz to get home. A miscommunication between running back Bilal Powell and right tackle Breno Giacomini, both of whom were trying to block Rob Ninkovich, allowed Dont'a Hightower to loop inside for the sack.
Those kind of glitches -- game-management errors -- are inexcusable. It conjured of memories of Week 2, with Marty Mornhinweg and the timeout fiasco against the Green Bay Packers. I'm not sure why they considered a pooch in the first place. I'd take my chances with Folk, who made a 53-yarder in that direction during the pregame warm-ups. The Jets always seem to experience brain cramps against the Patriots.
5. Sunday was a tough, all-around day for Ryan. A potential head-coaching job went by the wayside, as Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced that he is keeping Joe Philbin. I wonder how much of Ross' decision was based on him not wanting to meet the San Francisco 49ers' compensation demands for Jim Harbaugh. Ryan still could be in play for potential openings in Atlanta, Chicago and Oakland.
6. Weird stat of the day: The Jets' average margin of defeat is 12.3 points -- and it will be remembered as one of the worst seasons in franchise history. A year ago, in a season that was deemed a success, the average margin of defeat was 18.8.
8. The Patriots attacked rookie cornerback Marcus Williams, targeting him 12 times, but the kid held up nicely. He allowed only seven catches for 65 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. It was a terrific game for Williams, who had an interception and three pass break-ups.
9. Here's a positive note: Williams' interception was the Jets' 12th takeaway, meaning they won't finish with the fewest in a 16-game season. The Houston Texans finished with only 11 last season. The Jets still could finish with the fewest in franchise history -- 15, set last season.
10. Kerley got a heavy dose of Darrelle Revis. When Percy Harvin went out with a rib injury, the Patriots started putting Revis on Kerley. He had only one catch in the second half.
The Drive: The Jets went three-and-out midway through the fourth quarter, ending with a missed field goal.
The Situation: This could've been the turning point. Cornerback Marcus Williams made a fantastic interception on a pass that deflected off the hands of Brandon LaFell, with Jason Babin applying pressure on Tom Brady. The Jets took over at the Patriots' 30, down by a point, with 7:18 left in the game. Surely, they'd manage at least a field goal to take the lead.
What Happened: They came away with nothing. After two running plays, the Jets faced a third-and-4 from the 24. Instead of playing it conservatively, as he did on a previous third down in the red zone, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg called a pass play. It backfired. The Patriots unveiled a new blitz, catching the Jets by surprise. Inexplicably, Geno Smith held the ball, taking a 10-yard sack by Dont'a Hightower. It might have been excusable for a rookie, but not a second-year quarterback.
The Impact: Instead of a 42-yard field goal attempt, or perhaps closer, the Jets were pushed back to 52 yards, the outer limit of Nick Folk's range. His attempt was deflected by big Vince Wilfork, conjuring up memories of the first meeting between the teams. That day, Chris Jones blocked Folk's attempt from 58 yards at the end. This time, the Patriots took over and never relinquished the ball, dropping the Jets to 3-12.
2. Sheldon Richardson, defensive tackle: Richardson, who compared himself last week to J.J. Watt, played another strong game. He recorded a half-sack, bringing his total to seven, and generated multiple pressures on Tom Brady. The Jets sacked Brady four times and recorded 11 -- count 'em, 11 -- quarterback hits. "We had a feast out there," Richardson said. He's right.
3. David Harris, linebacker: In what may have been his final home game, the free agent-to-be recorded the 1,000th tackle of his career. Said Harris: "I'll think about it after the season. I would've rather had a win." He was credited with 10 total tackles, including a half-sack.
2. Eric Decker, wide receiver: It was a quiet game for Decker, who had only two catches and four targets. You figured the Jets' receivers would have a tough time against the Patriots' corners, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner -- and they did. Percy Harvin's rib injury -- he didn't play the second half -- hurt the offense. It wasn't a good day for the Deckers. His wife, country singer Jessie James Decker, was supposed to perform at halftime, but she called in sick.
3. The "Fire John Idzik" movement: The anticipated protest, organized by a disgruntled fan group, never became visible in the stadium. They reportedly distributed more than 10,000 "Fire Idzik" penalty flags, but it was hard to pick them out in the crowd. The venomous plot probably was foiled, in part, by the Jets' competitive performance.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Pucker up, Rex.
After six years of bluster and broken promises, it's time for New York Jets coach Rex Ryan to kiss Bill Belichick's rings. Why not? The rivalry is over, with Sunday confirming what we've known all along: Ryan can rattle Tom Brady with his clever defensive schemes, but he can't beat the New England Patriots because he has an incomplete team. It's why Ryan will be out of a job in a week, the culmination of a rotten season that almost certainly will cost general manager John Idzik his job, too.
Six years of frustration played out in one afternoon at MetLife Stadium, where the Jets endured their 12th loss of the season, 17-16. They were in position to pull off a major upset, but they self-destructed in a span of 52 seconds in the fourth quarter -- a small window into the core of their problems. Inexplicably, Geno Smith took a third-down sack, followed by a Ryan-Marty Mornhinweg disagreement on the sideline, followed by a wasted timeout, followed by a partially blocked field-goal attempt from 52 yards.
"I really thought it was going to be our day," said a disgusted Ryan, who probably has used that line a dozen or so times over the years in his post-New England news conferences.
This was another tease. The Jets were in terrific shape after Marcus Williams' interception at the Patriots' 30 with 7:18 left in the fourth quarter. On third-and-4, the Patriots caught the Jets by surprise with a new blitz. Smith held the ball and took a 10-yard sack. Instead of a potential go-ahead field goal from 42 yards, give or take, it was back to 52 yards, the limit of Nick Folk's range. To make it worse, the Jets had to burn a timeout because the play clock was winding down -- inexcusable.
"It was pretty dang critical," Ryan said of Smith's mistake. "You can't take sacks in those situations. Obviously, we botched the end of that as well."
Amid the confusion, Ryan had words with his offensive coordinator. You can't help but wonder if Ryan preferred a safe running play on third down instead of a pass. One source described it as a moment of frustration between the two coaches. The run-pass storyline has been simmering all season with Ryan and Mornhinweg, whose philosophical differences have been analyzed and reanalyzed.
"I'm sure we're at odds," Ryan said sarcastically. "At least, that'll be the story. We had to burn a timeout. I really butchered that whole thing. That's on me."
Ryan also wasted a timeout on an ill-advised replay challenge with 4:38 remaining, which came back to bite him when he had no timeouts remaining in the final 1:55. In the end, the Jets played well enough to have their hearts crushed, which always seems to be the case against the Patriots.
"It stinks," guard Willie Colon said. "Bottom line."
"It sucks for the team, the organization and the fans," Folk said. "It seems like our year for close losses. It's a tough way to go out."
It's a tough way for Ryan to go out, but this is the monster he created. Even with no-names at cornerback, he can devise game plans that neutralize future Hall of Fame quarterbacks -- Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, et al -- but Ryan has missed the playoffs four straight years because he has never developed an offense or a quarterback. Obviously, some of that falls on Idzik, who deserves to get fired. There are strong indications that he will get a pink slip. Owner Woody Johnson, poised to clean house, needs to formulate another plan for attempting to overthrow the Evil Empire.
Ryan is 4-9 against the Patriots -- one glorious moment (the 2010 playoff win) sandwiched between utter frustration. Ryan commended Belichick for constructing a team that knows how to win close games. Conversely, the Jets know how to lose. If it's not an ill-timed interception, it's a bad sack. If it's not a blocked field goal, it's a wasted timeout. Over and over and over.
Oh, but Ryan was proud of his defense.
"We're the team that always gives [Brady] the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not," Ryan said.
Unfortunately for Ryan, moral victories don't lead to contract extensions.
The New York Jets' place-kicker has had a solid season, making 29 of his 35 field-goal attempts. But in the Jets' two games against the Patriots, Folk had potential game-winning kicks blocked.
Despite the cold weather, Folk made a kick from that distance in pregame warm-ups. It would have been 10 yards closer, except for Dont'a Hightower's sack of Geno Smith on the previous play.
Folk had connected from 26, 23 and 37 yards earlier in the game.
"I feel like I was hitting the ball pretty well today," Folk said. "It's a bummer the last one; I didn't get a chance to see it go in."
"I hit it about as pure as you could hit the ball," Folk added. "I’d like to think it would have gone through."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said his team made a tweak before that fateful kick.
"I coached special teams for a significant part of my career. I know how that goes," Belichick said. "When you see a guy block a kick or get pressure in a certain area, you try to stop that and that usually creates opportunities for somebody else. We’ve gotten it from different guys in different gaps. If the team concentrates too much on trying to stop one guy and there’s an opening somewhere else, we’ve got to be able to take advantage of that.
"We had a stand right there before the snap and changed our alignment a little bit. It was a long kick, like the one we had in New England. Like Chris [Jones] did, Vince got his hand up and the ball was a little low. The key to blocking the kick was being in front of the ball. Vince got himself there and made the play."
Folk did have a game-winning kick in the Jets' 30-27 overtime win over the Patriots last season. But it was not without controversy. Folk was originally wide left from 56 yards away, but Chris Jones was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pushing a teammate into the opponent's formation -- a penalty that had never been called in an NFL game before.
What's next for Folk and the Patriots? Well, we'll just have to wait for next season.
But then two critical mistakes -- an interception and a sack -- cost the Jets dearly, in what turned into a heartbreaking 17-16 defeat.
The pick -- Smith's only one of the game -- came late in the third quarter, with the Jets leading 13-10. The Patriots had just finished a 13-play, 81-yard drive, but the Jets held them to a field goal, giving them some momentum.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, from his own 20-yard line, Smith threw off his back foot, aiming for tight end Jace Amaro. The ball was short, and easily intercepted by Pats linebacker Jamie Collins.
Smith was under pressure, but it was still a poor decision.
"I definitely saw the guy underneath it and I wanted to put air on it and lead [Amaro] out to the sideline," Smith said. "I took the hit, I couldn't see where the ball was going. I was just hoping it fell to the ground and [Collins] made a good play."
"He underthrew it. It was a poor throw," Jets coach Rex Ryan said. "That was a big play on their part. [Collins] made a great play. Just a tad underthrown, but it was a big play in the game."
Eight plays later, Jonas Gray found the end zone, giving New England a 17-13 lead.
Smith's second big error came midway through the fourth quarter, with the Jets trailing 17-16, but already in field goal range following a Marcus Williams interception. On 3rd-and-4 from the Pats' 24, Smith dropped back to pass and was then pulled down by Dont'a Hightower for a 10-yard loss, turning a manageable 42-yard field goal attempt into a more challenging 52-yard attempt, which was partially blocked.
Smith couldn't quite throw the ball away in time to avoid the sack.
"The guys got on me fast. As soon as I got the snap, I felt immediate pressure," Smith said. "In those situations, we always talk about situational football, and in those situations, my job is to throw the ball away [and] prevent the sack. But I was bottled up in the pocket. I just tried to limit the loss [and] tried to not hurt us any more."
"That's something you have to learn from," Ryan said. "You can't take a sack there no matter who is in your face. Get rid of the football."
Guard Willie Colon said the Patriots unveiled a new blitz on the play, something they hadn't shown before.
"They hit us with a new look, and they got us," Colon said. "That’s the NFL."
Smith finished the day 17-for-27 for 210 yards, with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland, and the one interception. It's his third straight game with a quarterback rating of 83 or above. But it wasn't good enough on this day.
"I think for the most part aside from a few plays here or there, I did a pretty good job at making good decisions," Smith said. "In close games, one or two bad decisions can be the difference."
That was never more true than in this game. The Jets outplayed the Patriots, except for Smith's two failures in crunch time.
Here are some key statistical notes, based on tracking by ESPN's Stats & Information:
1. Bottom-line results. The Jets held Tom Brady to 23-of-35 passing for 182 yards and tied his season high with four sacks for 36 yards. Brady’s 3.9 yards-per-dropback average was his lowest in a game since Week 1 and only his third game under 4.0 in the last five seasons.
2. Mixing pressure calls. The Jets' mixed pressure well against Brady, sending three or fewer rushers after Brady at a similar percentage to their blitz. Brady's season average is 6.9 yards per dropback, but he was well short of that regardless of how many rushers the Jets sent.
- Three rushers -- 10 times (3.9 yards per dropback)
- Four rushers -- 23 times (3.9 yards per dropback)
- Five rushers -- 8 times (3.8 yards per dropback)
4. Not much happening down the field. Brady’s average throw distance was 5.2 yards downfield, his lowest this season. Brady did not attempt a single pass at least 15 yards downfield for the first time since Week 4 of 2010. Part of it was that he didn't have time.
5. Not afraid to rush just three, dropping eight into coverage. The Jets sent three rushers after Brady on 26 percent of his drop-backs in Week 7, the only other game this season Brady faced three pass rushers on at least 20 percent of dropbacks.
- This time, Rex Ryan didn't punch a wall, as he did after the Week 7 loss to the Patriots. He blew off most of his frustration at his postgame news conference, delivering an unusually blunt assessment of Geno Smith, who made two critical mistakes in the second half -- an interception and a third-down sack.
"Pretty dang critical," Ryan said of Smith's sack, which forced Nick Folk to try a 52-yard field goal that was partially blocked. "That's something you have to learn from. You can't take a sack there, no matter who's in your face. Get rid of the football. You can't take sacks in those situations."
As for the interception, Ryan said, "He underthrew it. It was a poor throw."
- Center Nick Mangold, who was carted off in the second quarter with an ankle injury, wore a walking boot and needed crutches to leave the stadium. X-rays of the ankle were negative, according to the Jets, but he will go for an MRI exam Monday to determine if there's ligament damage. Mangold refused to rule himself out of the season finale, although it seems like a stretch that he'll be able to play.
Replacement Dalton Freeman (one penalty) did a decent job, but he's no Mangold.
The team provided no update on wide receiver Percy Harvin (ribs), who didn't play in the second half. That forced the Jets to adjust their game plan; they had hoped to use Harvin in a variety of roles. The durability questions that have hounded him throughout his career have resurfaced in recent weeks. Harvin has also battled an ankle injury.
- Even though they had nothing at stake, this was an important game for the Jets. They badly wanted to beat their No. 1 rival.
"This was going to be our Super Bowl for this season," safety Calvin Pryor said.
- Defensive end Sheldon Richardson took solace in the performance of the defense, which sacked Tom Brady four times and limited him to 182 passing yards. Asked to describe how the defensive line fared, Richardson said, "Feasting. We had a feast out there."
Ryan echoed that sentiment.
"I don't know if it's really possible to control Brady," he said. "If not, we're the team that always gives him the biggest challenge, whether he admits it or not."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets center Nick Mangold wore an NYPD cap before Sunday's game against the New England Patriots, as a tribute to the police department and the two officers killed on the job Saturday.
"Those two officers, it's a shame. That's tough," Mangold said. "Those guys, they do a great job. I've been here nine years. Every one of those guys that's out there, that risks their lives every day, to go out there and keep the community safe, protect the community -- for that to happen, for those two guys, for their families, that's a raw deal.
"If wearing that hat gives a little bit of comfort or shows support for those folks, I'm happy to do it."
Mangold said he had the idea after reading about the killings Saturday night. He texted a friend, who helped him obtain the hat.
"Those men and women, they go out there every day, they don't know if it's gonna be their last day," Mangold said. "We go out here, we play a sport. We don't know whether or not it's gonna be our last play, you never know. And when you magnify that with when you go out there, you don't know if it's your last day on Earth, I can't even imagine what they go through.
"I've always been a big fan of the NYPD, [New] Jersey police, our folks locally in Chatham [New Jersey], they do an unbelievable job. And so I took the opportunity to support them."