Have we reached the midway point in NFL season already? My, how times does fly. And like Charles Dickens so eloquently put it in a Tale of Two Cities, thus far it’s been the best of times and it’s been the worst of times for the Jets. Laced with Super Bowl aspirations and dreams of a soaring offensive attack, their season was hit with a wave of turbulence filled with injuries, finger pointing, and bush-league play.
Sanchez has, at times, looked to have fulfilled the title of “Sanchize”, but has at others proven skeptics who think he’s still not ready to make the leap from game-manager to game-winner right. The defense, boasting themselves as the bullies of the league, were shellacked for their milk money as team’s ran by them. The offensive line and, in turn, the running game were pounded; losing the signature of a Rex Ryan team.
And, still, we’ve seen young players blossom (Jeremy Kerley, Joe McKnight) in the spotlight. There’s been the rebirth and retribution of fallen stars (Plaxico Burress, Aaron Maybin) and a war of words between two historic Jets personas (Ryan, Joe Namath).
Yet, throughout it all the Jets remained ever-confident; dreams delayed but swagger never swaying. They overcame a well-noted three-game losing streak to a 4-3 record and a puncher’s chance at getting back in the AFC East division hunt. Heading into Week 9 the Jets Insider is pulling all-nighters filled with Red Bull, Starbucks, Halloween edition Reese’s pumpkins and stacks of stats to make the grade for this mid-term edition of the Morning After Report.
PASSING OFFENSE: C+
- To the Sanchez doubters:With 12 touchdowns through seven games, Sanchez ranks ninth in the league; ahead of former Pro Bowlers Michael Vick, Tony Romo, and Matt Ryan. Sixty-one percent of the time spent in the red zone has resulted in a touchdown. His 0.9 interception per game rating his higher than Tom Brady, Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger.
- Thus far Dustin Keller has pulled in 25 receptions for 372 yards, averaging 15 yards per catch. In the team’s four wins he’s compiled 21 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns, while getting only eight receptions for 106 yards and zero scores in their three losses. The point? More Keller means more wins.
- Hampered by injuries on the offensive line, Sanchez has been sacked the twelfth most in the league at 17 times, mostly likely leading to his six fumbles, four lost.
- The combination of Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes has yet to take flight. Their eight combined touchdowns (still three less and Calvin Johnson) is skewed due to Burress’s last game where he had three red zone touchdowns. They’ve totaled 40 receptions for 554 yards — their combined yardage ranking eleventh in individual receiving yards, behind Dwayne Bowe and ahead of Jeremy Maclin.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D
- Rex Ryan’s two-year average rushing yards per game: 160.1. His 2010 average: 92.4. Without a strong secondary rushing threat, Shonn Greene has been forced to be the lone attack and, at times, looked sluggish. But over his last four games he ranks eleventh in rushing yards (264), ahead of Ray Rice and Darren McFadden, and averaging 4.3 yards per carry in that stretch.
- What LaDanian Tomlinson has lacked rushing the ball, he’s made up in receiving. His 20 receptions ranks 17th among RB and his 13.0 yards per catch is third.
- The offensive line has been a bit of a carousel ride. With the loss of Rob Turner, the unit was the thinnest we’ve seen in years, cycling through nine different players in three positions due to either inefficient play or injury. Hard to find continuity when the players to your left or right continually change.
PASSING DEFENSE: B
- Anyone still think Darrelle Revis is overrated? He’s accounted for a third of the team’s total passes defended (10) and interceptions (4), while getting their only two defensive scores. All this while facing the likes of Vincent Jackson, Wes Welker, Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin thus far.
- Tights ends have continued to hurt the Jets passing defense. They rank twenty-seventh in the league in yards allowed to opposing tight ends at 64.4 yards per game. Teams target the mid-section of the Jets defense, mostly their poor pass-covering MLBs and undersized safeties.
- At 18 sacks thus far, the Jets are on pace for 41 sacks on the season. Their average over the last two seasons? Thirty-six. The loss of Bryan Thomas hurts, but waiting in the wings is a hungry Aaron Maybin (3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles).
RUSHING DEFENSE: D
- The Jets were among the bottom third in the league in rushing yards allowed, giving up 126.9 yards per game. Ryan has predicated himself and his team as one that’s going stop the run above everything else, allowing an anemic 98.6 yards in his first two years.
- Where Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito stepped up huge was the whole left by Kris Jenkins. A year later the tandem seems to get pushed aside while blockers advance to the next level of the defense. The problem is, players like Bart Scott (36 tackles) have been getting pushed aside as well.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A
- Mike Westhoff has proven that it’s not the players that make the system, for his continues to defy the odds. With Joe McKnight returning kicks, the Jets lead the league in return yardage (30.3). According to TeamRankings.com, the Jets special teams unit leads the league in estimated points per game at two.
- The oft-maligned Nick Folk has quietly put together a perfect season thus far, going 10/10 on tries and 3/3 on tries of 40+ yards. The thing is the Jets are keeping his attempts down. This time last year he had 16 attempts missing three.
- Punter T.J. Conley ranks in the top third in the league at pinning the opponent inside their own 20, doing so 31% of the time.
- There are some things that go beyond statistics. And despite the faults and shortcomings of this team thus far, this might be Ryan’s best coaching performance yet. Keeping a team on the playoff track amidst locker room feuding, media frenzies and public criticism nationally.
- Ryan is a perfect 4-0 at home. With a career home record of 9-7, Ryan recognizes the importance of defending your home turf. The combined record of the four remaining games (vs. NE, vs. Buffalo, vs. KC, vs. NYG) is 19-9.
- Offensive coordinator continues to be the scape goat, right or wrong on this team. When the offense struggles it’s his fault. Yet when they produce it’s because of Sanchez living up to his potential. It’s a no-win situation for Schotty. This should be his last season with the team, for the betterment of both parties.