Rex Ryan
New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was fined 75k for cursing at a heckler. REUTERS

Perhaps never before has a center become, well, the center of attention for the Sunday Night Football crew.

But there he was - if you watched the Jets fall 34-17 to the Ravens on Sunday night, you know his name - in the middle of every discussion. During plays, the camera usually was not focused on him - except for the bad snaps that led to Jets fumbles.

It was typically after the play, when the replay led to a dissection of what Baxter did wrong. How the Ravens bull-rushed the middle and he was unable to stop them. How he was unable to pave the road for Shonn Greene or LaDainian Tomlinson.

The high-flying Jets are reeling. That much can be told from perhaps the most important offensive line position getting so much negative attention - or getting any attention at all.

It led to the sense of desperation that lingered throughout the ugly Jets loss. The desperation and feeling of hopelessness started on the very first play.

Here was Ed Reed, the Ravens' best defensive player, lining up to attack Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez's blind side. He came in untouched. Sack. Fumble. Seven points for the Ravens.

It set the tone for the field day the Ravens would have with the Jets' offensive line. Everything starts with an offensive line. Nothing started Sunday night.

A lot of times, Sanchez ended up flat on his back. Twice, he was strip-sacked on fumbles that the Ravens returned for touchdowns. Another time, he was hit, and the slight shift in momentum toward the Jets swung back to the Ravens when Sanchez's interception was returned for a touchdown.

Mark Sanchez scored 21 points for the Ravens. For the Jets? Nothing.

Things are going wrong because defenses are getting in the backfield, Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes told reporters after the game Sunday night.

Well, that and the fact that the Jets cannot establish their running game, either. The ground and pound mentality of head coach Rex Ryan's first two seasons has vanished. Greene's final line: 10 carries, 23 yards, a long of eight. The team's: 19 carries, 38 yards, 13 long.

It's a vicious cycle. Part of it is Sanchez's numbers: 11-for-35, 119 yards, four turnovers. The Jets had a pitiful seven first downs on the night.

Can't run, can't protect. The optimistic Jets fan will look at the positives - they are 2-2 through the first quarter of the season, one game behind the Bills and Patriots, and have a chance to pull even with the Patriots next weekend in Foxboro.

The pessimistic Jets fan will look at the negatives - namely, that game in Foxboro next weekend.

I think we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us, Ryan said in an early August news conference, when the outlook was still sky-high for these Jets, the brashness and cockiness still flowing. Anybody out there that wants to sign up for it? Are you good enough as a team to beat the New England Patriots? Forget about us.

Are you good enough to go out and beat the New England Patriots? I'm challenging the league.

Right now, Ryan need only to challenge his own team. Because the Jets look like anything but the team that could take on his challenge.