|Catching up with … the Jets||10.10.12 at 12:39 pm ET|
The Jets are a mess. They’re 2-3 (their same record through five games in 2011) in a weak division with an easy schedule down the stretch, but a mess all the same.
Speculation over the Jets’ offensive issues following a dreadful preseason has turned into reality, with the subpar play of quarterback Mark Sanchez and the season-ending injury to top wideout Santonio Holmes. Meanwhile, hints that the team’s once-elite defense could suffer from increased age and lack of pass rush have come to fruition as well, not to mention the fact that they’ve now lost cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season.
Still, the Jets showed they can beat the league’s lesser teams during their 2-1 opening stretch, particularly in their 48-28 win in the season opener against the Bills. And as Monday night’s narrow loss to the 5-0 Texans showed, the Jets still have enough on the defensive side of the ball to hang with some of the better teams.
It’s going to take a few weeks to sort this team out and whether they’ll be even stay in contention in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here’s what we do know about the Jets.
1. The defense is not the same, especially without Revis:
It’s one thing when a team loses its best player to injury. It’s another thing when a team loses, arguably, one of the best players in franchise history — which is exactly what happened to the Jets when Revis tore his ACL against the Dolphins in Week 3.
Much is said about Revis Island and his ability to shut down the opposing team’s top receiver for one game. However, the true impact of Revis’ abilities lie in what he allows the rest of the defense to do in terms of blitzing and focusing on run support. When Revis singlehandedly holds such a large component of the passing game in check, it allows coach Rex Ryan to utilize the other 10 players however he pleases, particularly those blitz packages he’s made his name with since his days in Baltimore.
Through five games, the Jets defense has allowed an average of 371.8 total yards offensively and has yet to limit a team to under 330. That’s up from a mark of 297.4 through the same stretch last year. Part of that is certainly the Revis injury, which moves the much-less-capable Kyle Wilson into a more prominent role on the defense. But most of the issues have to do with the fact that the Jets defense is not getting any younger and can’t get to the quarterback. New York is currently 30th in the NFL in sacks with five and has yet to get any major contribution from Quinton Coples, who they selected with the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft.
2. The quarterback controversy is more of a quarterback travesty:
The biggest knock against Tebow during his time with the Broncos was that he couldn’t complete half of the passes he threw. It turns out Sanchez can’t do it either.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sanchez is the first quarterback since 1999 to complete less than half of his passes (48.4 percent) through four games while throwing at least 25 passes. Despite the ever-looming presence of Tebow on the bench, Ryan has been consistent in his support of Sanchez, giving him votes of confidence following their most recent loss to the Texans and during a weekly radio appearance on Tuesday.
Tebow, meanwhile, has had a diminished role, serving as a glorified wildcat back and the league’s most famous upback in punt formations. So far, Tebow has thrown the ball twice, completing one pass for nine yards. He’s also rushed for 57 yards on 14 carries, which rank him third on the team in both categories, and has yet to get into the endzone.
3. Their wide receiver problem is no joke:
When cornerback Antonio Chromartie declared himself as the second best wide receiver on the Jets during the preseason, it was funny, with a bit of harsh truth. Now, following the Holmes injury, it’s a dark reality.
As his appearance on offense during Monday’s night’s game against the Texans showed, the Jets are serious about throwing Chromartie out there. Looking at their other options, the move should come as no surprise.
Holmes still leads the team in receptions with 20, holding a sizeable lead over the team’s new top receiving threat, Jeremy Kerley, who has 15. Outside of Kerley, the Jets will look to rely on the physically gifted, but raw, Chaz Schillens and Stephen Hill as well as players like Clyde Gates, who was cut by the Dolphins at the end of training camp.
The loss of Holmes also may have manifested in one of the scariest rumors that Jets fans (and most delightful headline for Pats fans) could see emerge: Terrell Owens to the Jets. The rumor was sparked after the current free agent tweeted his availability to the Jets, a sentiment that was neither confirmed nor denied by Rex Ryan during his radio appearance on the Michael Kay show. However, there is now a report out squashing those rumors. Still, things are getting desperate at receiver in New York.
The Jets may have gotten crushed in the process, but the beatdowns by the hands of the Niners and Texans has gotten New York’s two toughest non-divisional games out of the way, making way for a much more manageable schedule the rest of the way.
The Jets have a tough stretch following their Week 9 bye as they travel to Seattle and St. Louis before taking on the Patriots on Thanksgiving and then playing the upstart Cardinals at home. If the Jets are still alive at that point, they’ll be on solid position with a final stretch against at Jacksonville, at Tennessee and home against San Diego before finishing the season in Buffalo.
Jets remaining schedule:
Week 6 vs Colts (2-2)
Week 7 @ Patriots (3-2)
Week 8 vs Dolphins (2-3)
Week 9 BYE
Week 10 @ Seahawks (3-2)
Week 11 @ Rams (3-2)
Week 12 vs Patriots (3-2)
Week 13 vs Cardinals (4-1)
Week 14 @ Jaguars (1-4)
Week 15 @ Titans (1-4)
Week 16 vs Chargers (3-2)
Week 17 @ Bills (2-3)
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