Friday, November 12, 2010

New York Jets Mid-Season Report

Eight games into the 2010 NFL regular season, the New York Jets are 6-2 and are tied for first place in the AFC East with the New England Patriots. The Jets hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots after defeating them 28-14 in week 2 at New Meadowlands Stadium, and by having a 3-0 record versus the division. So far, so good. If the Jets can keep this pace, they will surely be rewarded with a spot in the postseason. The only question is if they can keep this pace the way they have been playing as of late. Play calling has been questionable in almost every game this season. Mark Sanchez has been shaky at times, but brilliant at others. Darrelle Revis has played some games unhealthy and has had to sit a couple as well, but is finally starting to look like his 2009 self. The ground game is not the best in the league at the moment, but the Jets offense is slowly transitioning into a passing offense, whether it is the correct move or not.

A Look Back:
Two tough losses: The Jets’ two losses this season were very ugly. The first, a 10-9 loss in week 1 to the Baltimore Ravens. Ground and pound was the plan going into the game, and pound they did. Unfortunately, the Jets did not have enough carries to make a big impact in the game. Mark Sanchez’s passing plays seemed to be very conservative and were not good play calls at all. The following week against the Patriots, Sanchez and the passing play calls were the complete opposite, making fans wonder why they hadn’t thrown the ball like that in the previous game. The Jets offense failed to move the chains much in this game, only producing 6 first downs in the entire game.

In week 8, coming off a bye, the Jets failed to score once at home against the Green Bay Packers. The Jets actually put up more yards and first downs than the visiting Packers, but costly turnovers and a failed fake punt cost them opportunities and field position. The officiating in this game was debatable, especially on the two Sanchez “interceptions,” but there’s nothing anyone can do about that now. Rex Ryan was sloppy with his use of Challenges and timeouts and could not challenge some plays when he really needed to.

Positives from these losses: The defense gave up a total of 19 points and only gave up an average of 259.5 total yards in the two losses. Opposing quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers had very low quarterback ratings of 62.2 and 59.7 respectively. The defense has played well, but has not been the deciding factor in most of the games this season.

Summary of the Wins:
The Jets have averaged 28.8 points scored per game in the 6 victories, and 18.5 points against per game. This means that they are giving up almost as many points in each win as they did in both losses combined. It is clear at this point that the defense will not be winning games for the Jets, aside from Dwight Lowery’s interception return touchdown to ice the game against the Vikings. This season will be determined by the play of the offense and thus, on the right arm of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has looked much better this year in the two-minute and no huddle offense and he has helped drive the Jets down the field late in a few games for important scores. The defense has shown plenty of closing power too. They had crucial late stops against Miami, Minnesota, Denver, and Detroit to help close games or give the offense a chance to tie/win the game. The ground game is ranked 4th in the league, but has definitely had better games than their last few. LaDainian Tomlinson seems to have struggled a bit of late, but he still plays an important role in the passing game. Darrelle Revis finally looked like himself in the most recent win at Detroit, holding Calvin Johnson to 1 reception for 13 yards.

Mid-Season Recap:
LaDainian Tomlinson has been a benefit to both the running and passing game. His 4.9 yards per carry are no secret this season, but he also has 5 touchdowns and is also tied for the team lead with 30 receptions. His ability to pick up blitzes and block bigger linebackers has given Mark Sanchez more chances to throw from the pocket.

Dustin Keller has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL, but has not seen as many targets in the last few games. He has 5 touchdowns, which is third among tight ends and 447 yards, which is fourth among tight ends.

Braylon Edwards also has 5 touchdowns, 2 of which are for 67 yards and 74 yards. He has been the deep threat that the Jets needed this season, and he has not dropped as many passes as one would have expected thus far.

Santonio Holmes had not been effective in the passing game for the Jets until the win in Detroit, in which he had 5 receptions for 114 yards.

Jerricho Cotchery has 5 dropped passes this season, but it seems like he has had more. Jet fans would describe Cotchery as a sure-handed receiver, but this season he seems to be in a slump. He says he is working through it and will come back strong the rest of the season.

Mark Sanchez has 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions through 8 games. This is a much-improved ratio when compared to this point last season. If he can keep up his pace this season, he will have 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and close to 3400 yards. With the defense playing well and the ground game waiting to get going again, these numbers can definitely lead this team into the playoffs. He needs to improve his 53.5% completion rate. He has shown the ability to lead the late drive down the field this season, something that was non-existent in 2009.

Darrelle Revis missed two games and was limited in more with a hamstring injury, most likely caused by his absence in training camp. Last week in Detroit, he took Calvin Johnson completely out of the game, as I expect to see from him throughout the rest of the season. Antonio Cromartie has played well and has 11 passes defended this season along with 2 interceptions.

The special teams units have been solid through the first 8 games. Brad Smith is always a threat to take a kickoff to the house. Steve Weatherford, aside from his bad decision on the fake punt against the Packers, has punted very well and stopped opponents from having good field position. Nick Folk was one of the best signings the Jets made this offseason. He has hit the clutch kicks and is the power kicker the Jets have needed for years.

Looking Forward:
I’d like to see Shonn Greene start getting more carries. It is time to let LT rest up for some crucial December games. Shonn Greene has carried well of late and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. I believe he is just getting started. Given more carries, he will shine in the second half of the season and help in the playoff push.

With Revis now looking 100%, I would expect the pass defense to be much improved from 18th in the league. After being the best pass defense in the league in 2009, this defense is much better than they have played and I think it starts with Revis. They’ll be top 10 in no time. Hopefully top 5.

They has been talk of the no huddle offense being used more often. Mark Sanchez has executed it well this season, but using it for a larger part of the game will not make more sense for this team. I believe it could help beat the Browns in this Sunday’s game, but for an offense that is supposed to be based on the ground and pound, trying to speed the game up does not make much sense.

I would like to see better play calling, but I cannot see this happening. Brian Schottenheimer has admitted that his play calling has been predictable and has criticized himself publicly, but he has not done anything noticeable to change this. They will just need to execute the plays that are called better than they have so far.

Santonio Holmes will become Sanchez’s primary receiver. Sanchez and Braylon Edwards have seemed to have a connection all season long, but Holmes is the better route runner and will catch more important balls. Braylon will continue to be the primary deep threat.

My Mid-Season Grades:


Compared to expectations before the season, Mark Sanchez has performed way above what was expected of him. After his start, he has shown some inconsistency, only earning him a B. He can be better.
Running Backs

LaDainian Tomlinson was supposed to be done. He wasn’t supposed to be as good as he has been. Having Shonn Greene in their back pocket leaves the Jets with a great running tandem.
Wide Receivers

Braylon Edwards has performed very well this season. Santonio Holmes is only starting to carry his own weight. Cotchery has dropped many more passes than usual for him.

Tight Ends

Dustin Keller is 3rd in TDs and 4th in yards for tight ends. He is a weapon in the slot and something not to be taken for granted.

Offensive Line

The offensive line has done a fantastic job protecting Mark Sanchez and creating seams for LT and Greene to run through. A few penalties here and there but overall a great job. Matt Slauson has exceeded expectations.
Defensive Line
Sure they have not recorded many sacks, but they are 4th in the league in run defense, even without DT Kris Jenkins. Only two teams have broken 100 rushing yards against them.


David Harris has been outstanding as usual. Bart Scott has played well, but costs this team some important yardage by running his mouth and getting penalties. Jason Taylor has started to fade and Calvin Pace does not seem up to speed yet. They lack a speed rusher, which can account for the lack of sacks.


Only ranked 18th in the league? Unacceptable from the top ranked pass defense last season. Only reason they get a B- is because Darrelle Revis is starting to look like himself again, which means wonders for the second half. They are not deep at cornerback though, especially with top draft pick Kyle Wilson not performing at all.

Special Teams

Nick Folk has been a gift to this team. Steve Weatherford has pushed opponents deep into their own territory. Brad Smith is always dangerous. Can’t go wrong with a Westhoff squad.


The defense has been outstanding when it matters. The offensive play calling has been awful and is causing the star-studded offense to underachieve. Rex Ryan is doing what he wanted though, leading the league in wins. When a team is 6-2, coaching cannot be criticized too much.

Overall, I give the Jets a B+ through the first 8 weeks of the season. They definitely have played well, but look like there is plenty of room to improve. This team has a lot more potential than they are living up to right now, and I believe that the sky is the limit for them.

Offensive MVP: LaDainian Tomlinson

Defensive MVP: David Harris/Antonio Cromartie

Special Teams MVP: Nick Folk

Rookie of the (Half) Year: John Conner

Most Improved: Mark Sanchez

Second Half Breakout in Waiting: Shonn Greene

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