Image: Associated Press
A 4-3 record, that no one besides a hopeful NYJ fan could imagine, stares at the so-called experts that selected the Jets as the worst team in the NFL, entering the 2013 season. Yet, while the Jets have done a lot to keep spirits high in the tri-state area and beyond, the team's inconsistency looms large, like their next competitor.
At the start of the season, the Jets had (and probably still do) the 7th youngest roster in the league. It can do wonders for speed, and playing with energy, but it can also highlight inexperience-driven flaws.
Glass half full on defense
On defense, Gang Green remains one of the ferocious units in the country. The Jets have allowed an average of just 302.6 yards a game (4th/NFL), while holding opponents to a 3rd-down conversion rate of 34% (4th/NFL). Last week's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots sure helped the caused, as the Jets held them to just 1 3rd-down conversion in 12 opportunities.
While the stats look more than decent by average, each game has brought a different side of the coin, in terms of success. The secondary has been the most glaring issue of the Jets defense, allowing a 99+ yard receiver in four of their seven contests. The safety position has been played average, but the cornerbacks have to improve if a playoff push is to happen. More...
2012 Pro Bowl participant Antonio Cromartie has not played up to last season's success. Cro has been ranked as one of the worst starting cornerbacks in the NFL, by various outlets, but his troubles have come while dealing with injury and consistent placement on opposing teams' number one wide receivers. Alongside him have been interchanging pieces in rookie Dee Milliner, Darrin Walls (UDFA/second year player), and Kyle Wilson, a fan-despised player for his poor play and taunting.
The Jets defense, this year, will continue to rely on QB pressure; games may come down to 3rd and 4th-down sacks and forced turnovers.
Glass quarter full on offense
Geno Smith continues to impress, improve, and scare fans. Sound familiar, eh? If you ride my train of thought to Mark Sanchez's days at the helm of the ship, you'll have to recognize that Smith has tools that Sanchez never had or will.
While Smith has struggled to right his TD-INT ratio of 8-11, he has provided sparks via long plays and drives, and rocket passes, that would be at the top of Sanchez's wish list.
His supporting crew lacks big names—Santonio Holmes' name lies in one catch. Yet, Marty Mornhinweg has groomed the offense correctly. Mornhinweg, arguably the Jets' biggest offseason acquisition, has whipped a bunch of non-spectacular players into a decent recipe. The Jets stand at 15th, in terms of yards gained on offense, but will have to score more points to take pressure off their defense.
No team can expect to make the playoffs, or at least go far in them, while scoring an average of 19.1 points a game as the Jets have, in today's NFL.
Just get streaking
No, not talking about that one time at band camp; the Jets need to start winning games, more than one at a time. New York has yet to win two or lose two in a row, echoing the up-and-down play from all three phases of the game.
The Jets' rookie leader in Geno Smith gave his thoughts on the team's play, today: "We’ve been kind of hot and cold, but it’s time for us to become level and play consistent. It starts with practice. We’ve been getting better every day in practice, I think the chemistry is growing."
Chemistry is key all around the ball, as the primarily young players still learn each others tendencies, such as Geno connecting with WRs that understand the routes and plays being called.
Orange and Black
The next roadblock on the Jets' route to success, is the Cincinnati Bengals. This is a team that had a rebuild of its own throughout the past few seasons, and may finally be at their peak.
The Bengals are coming off a huge win against the Lions, in Detroit, and look to carry that momentum to Sunday. Cincy can be as good as their QB Andy Dalton allows them to be. It's tough to put it all on his shoulders, but with a stacked team—WR AJ Green, 2 duos of starting-caliber players (RBs and TEs), and a top defense—the Bengals should be more intimidating than they come off.
While gaining a 12th-best, 365 yards a game, the Bengals are 22nd in scoring (21.1 pts/gm).
I stated prior to the season that this game would be one of the most pivitol games for the Jets, and I stand by it. With the 5-1 Saints coming to town the following week, the Jets can't afford to continue riding their rollercoaster of play.
The Jets match-up with the Bengals very well, with defensive pressure hopefully causing Dalton to make mistakes, while Geno Smith and the Jets offense will have to keep it close.
It all goes down Sunday at 4:05pm on CBS.