Is the pattern for real?
Florham Park, NJ – So how consistent have the Jets inconsistencies been this season? We know they haven’t lost or won consecutive games all year, leaving them at 5-4 heading into the bye. But has it been one type of team that has given the Jets struggles, or one facet of the Jets team that has been inconsistent?
Let’s first look at the five teams the Jets beat. They are the Bucs (0-8, 31st total offense, 17th total defense), Bills (3-6, 15, 20), Falcons (2-6, 12, 21), Patriots (7-2, 11, 19), and Saints (6-2, 7, 9).
Record wise the Jets have beaten teams at both ends of the spectrum. But there is a clear discrepancy in the home/away split at 4/1, and there seems to be a similarity with the teams. Most of them rank in the bottom half of the league in total defense. Outside of the Saints at 9 we’re looking at 17, 20, 21, and 19. And even though the Saints rank at 9, they’re way down at 25 as a run defense, and that’s exactly the area the Jets exploited.
Now the teams they’ve lost to. The Patriots, Titans (4-4, 24, 11), Steelers (2-6, 18, 12), and Bengals (6-3, 9, 5). Again no trend in the record of the opponent, but logically there is a trend for location with three of the four losses coming on the road. And look at the defensive rankings. Outside of the Patriots, the three teams the Jets lost to rank in the top half of the league in defense at 11, 12, and 5.
Taking that a step further, look at the point outputs for the Jets four losses: 10, 13, 6, and 9. Even with a defense as good as the Jets have, it’s tough to win games when you’re scoring that little.
When you look closer at the offensive numbers a pattern emerges. In the Jets losses they have averaged only 99 yards rushing a game. In their wins they average 153. In fact, the only time the Jets got over 100 yards rushing in a loss was week 2 against the Patriots. The problem in that game was 4 turnovers.
There is a difference in passing yards—212 in wins and 190 in losses—but the victory number is inflated by that 331-yard performance against the Bills. If you remove that one game the average drops to 183 in wins.
Defensively the numbers are almost identical. 252 yards passing allowed in wins and 250 in losses. 76 rushing yards allowed in wins and 71 in losses.
So the major difference is in the offensive rushing yards. Part of that has to do with the early deficit the Jets found themselves in (Titans and Bengals), but in both the Steelers and Bengals game the Jets had a poor yards-per-rush average as well. More importantly it brings us to the type of game the Jets struggle with.
The largest margin of victory for the Jets is seven, that in their 27-20 victory over the Bills. And in wins the Jets have only trailed by double digits once: an 11-point deficit to the Patriots going into halftime. That turned around at the start of the second half by the Jets only pick-six of the season.
The point is the Jets have a limited offense. Their main weakness is Geno Smith and the passing game. This isn’t to say it’s all Smith’s fault. There are many factors going into this. But basically, the Jets need to stay balanced offensively to have a chance. They can’t ask Smith to pass them to victory.
If the defense doesn’t show up, or costly turnovers put them in a hole they don’t have the personnel to come back. Good defenses are going to give them trouble because they can force turnovers and limit the effectiveness of the rushing attack, and playing on the road certainly doesn’t help things.
The Jets play three of their remaining 7 games against teams with top half defenses, and two of those three are on the road. The Ravens (10 total, 8 against the run, away), Panthers (4, 2, away), and Browns (3, 7, home).
This doesn’t mean the Jets are doomed to go 4-3 down the stretch. For starters Smith will improve as the season goes on. He has already started to cut down on the turnovers that plagued him early on. Plus, Marty is going to get to know Smith’s strengths and weaknesses more each week. The Jets offense probably won’t morph into a top ten unit in the second half, but it doesn’t have to be.
If anything this shows the clear importance of improving the passing game in the offseason. With a pretty good receiver class coming out in this upcoming draft (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee), and a couple first-round tight end options (Eric Ebro and Jace Amaro) it would be wise for the Jets to spend their first-round pick there, even if there is a top defensive player still on the board.
But focusing on this season let’s see how much the trend was due to the opponents the Jets had, or if this trend is really here to stay.