EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – There weren't enough New York Jets fans left by game's end to call it a Tim Tebow chant. Murmur is about the best the small crowd of diehards could manage at the end of a 34-0 thrashing by the San Francisco 49ers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Worse, while much of the talk will center around Tebow and starter Mark Sanchez this week even though coach Rex Ryan said he's sticking with Sanchez, the issues ran much deeper than quarterback play.
By the time this game was over, the 49ers hadn't just taken the win, they walked away with the Jets' manhood, grinding New York's once-vaunted defense with 245 yards rushing.
"I apologize for my language because I was going to say we got our butts kicked, but we got our asses kicked," Ryan said. "I've never given up so many rushing yards in my life."
After four weeks, the 2-2 Jets find themselves in the exact spot they were hoping to avoid: A quarterback controversy in the offing. Again, that's about the least of their problems. Yeah, Sanchez was bad, but Tebow wasn't much better in his limited action.
The rest of the offense, led by a putrid offensive line that couldn't protect Sanchez consistently, was also bad. The defense was worse and the special teams topped the whole show when a punt was blocked in the fourth quarter.
By a one-man rush.
[Yahoo! Sports Radio: Niners RB Frank Gore on dominating road win]
This wasn't a term paper on the subject of embarrassment; it was a doctoral dissertation. Shockingly, Ryan's answer to that was to give the players Monday off from work. Then again, he probably doesn't want to be reminded of how his team performed anytime soon.
On the way to giving up 245 yards on the ground, the Jets were both run around and run over. San Francisco backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick showed everybody how the Wildcat/option stuff is really done by rushing five times for 50 yards and one touchdown. All of his runs were to the edges of New York's slow defense.
Then on a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Frank Gore in the third quarter, Jets first-round draft pick Quinton Coples was basically pushed around like a lawn mower at the point of attack.
"When you show that kind of performance on tape, you can expect to see the same thing from a lot of other people," Jets backup linebacker Aaron Maybin said.
To add injury to this insult, the Jets lost wide receiver Santonio Holmes to a left foot injury in the second half, when he crumpled despite not being hit. Holmes had to be carried off the field when he couldn't put any weight on the foot, was carted to the locker room and then was carted from the stadium with his foot in a boot and crutches by his side.
Although a source close to Holmes said that an X-ray taken after the game at the stadium came back negative, Holmes is scheduled to have an MRI on the foot Monday. The Jets are now without their best player (cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee) and their top three receivers (Holmes, who is out indefinitely; rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill, whose status for next week is up in the air; and tight end Dustin Keller, who is out for at least another week).
In short, it really may not matter who the quarterback of the Jets is right now. That's how much of a lost cause this team looked like on Sunday.
Or as center Nick Mangold said when asked about what accounted for this loss the most: "Everything."
That said, Sanchez is obviously regressing after a solid season-opening performance against Buffalo. Sanchez has completed less than half his passes in each of the past three games and the offense has sputtered.
Still, Ryan was resolute in his support of Sanchez.
"I'm not ready to make a quarterback change," Ryan said. "We have to get better play at quarterback. We have to get better at a lot of things. You look at yourself first and there are things that clearly we all need to do."
Later, Ryan continued to be defiant. When asked if the quarterback decision had anything to do with the contract extension that Sanchez was given in the offseason, Ryan responded angrily.
"Contract has nothing to do with it," Ryan said. He then left the podium and snarled sarcastically, "Nice question."
When asked about the situation, Sanchez said he wasn't worried about his job status.
"No, not at all, [I] just have to improve," said Sanchez, who has gone 44 for 101 for 547 yards with 2 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions the past three weeks.
The problem is that Tebow hasn't done much to make people think he would be any better. He completed his lone pass for nine yards and ran twice for two yards on Sunday. His 9-yard completion ended with a fumble by Dedrick Epps, and he ultimately couldn't help snap the Jets out of their funk.
Again, that's not indictment of the player, but rather of the situation. Aside from the injuries, the line is bereft of talent at left guard, right guard and right tackle. Even Pro Bowl left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is basically an overrated pass blocker. The only lineman of great overall ability is Mangold.
The bottom line is that even at 2-2, the Jets find themselves in disarray, looking at everyone and everything as a possible problem that needs some type of solution.
"[The players] have to dig deep and look down at themselves," Ryan said. "As coaches, we need to look at what we're doing. … What can we do to help? We can't just say it's poor tackling and this and that. There must be something to it, so we're going to find out. Clearly, we're not going to beat anybody when we play like we did [Sunday]."
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