LocalBozo.com’s special beat reporter Jordan Rubenstein will be covering the New York Jets all season long, with quarterly season recaps about where the team is headed. We’ll also have reporter Tim Sachs tackling the New York Giants head on as we bring you all local NFL coverage heading to the upcoming ‘Big Game’ held at MetLife Stadium in 2014. We look back at both teams’ first half season of play and ahead to what the remainder of the season holds in store.
Check out Jordan Rubenstein’s Preseason Preview here and see how the team is stacking up against his predictions.
Halloween is all about dressing up and portraying different characters. From childhood throwbacks to the latest pop-culture references, it’s a fun, lighthearted time for the whole family to step outside oneself and pretend to be something different. The New York Jets, in choosing to zig when everyone else in the country zags, are a living breathing metaphor for having spent the season’s first 8 weeks in a variety of different costumes. But instead of dressing up for Halloween, the Jets may have finally revealed their true identity: a lackluster and inconsistent football team that has pretended to be a contender until this point despite owning a 4-4 record.
…Or are they a seesaw team that has pulled off some defining moments that will prove valuable for the stretch run?
…Or are they a team that has taken advantage of opponents that are having a down year and are facing some trials and tribulations?
So wait…who are the Jets exactly?
Well, you could say that they’re an offense that needs their running game to be effective to set up the pass. Sans the big win in the Georgia Dome against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5, an effective running game has meant an effective passing game in recent weeks. On the other hand, in losses to the underachieving, blocking-inept Pittsburgh Steelers and hard-charging Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets leading rushers gained 30 and 35 yards, respectively. And in this week’s loss in Ohio, that leading rusher was backup quarterback Matt Simms. However, en route to upsetting the rival New England Patriots, the Jets totaled 177 yards on the ground, including a season-high 104 yards from running back Chris Ivory. That allowed rookie Geno Smith to look more composed, play more composed and make some key plays.
But a quality rushing attack really has more to do with up-front blocking than the running back himself. Some very average backs in this league have had all-pro seasons because of the big boys up front and frankly, the Jets offensive line just hasn’t been consistent. Not blocking as a unit, being called for penalties and allowing too much pressure have all been part of a frustrating trend of inept play at times. When the line plays well, which it is certainly capable of doing with mainstays D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold as well as the experienced Willie Colon, good things happen, such as the 513 total yards of offense Gang Green put up during a win against the Buffalo Bills earlier this season.
At the end of the day, if the Jets’ front five play cohesively during the second half of the season, it will create scoring opportunities, sustain drives and keep an already-overplayed defense on the sideline. It’s a formula as old as the game of football itself, but it bears repeating. Hopefully Rex Ryan is repeating this sentiment during film study every week.
Defensively, there’s only so much you can expect out of a group until wear and tear takes its burdensome toll. Granted, this past Sunday’s game was a disaster and Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made the Jets secondary look like a high school team, but considering Smith threw two pick-sixes and only led the Jets to nine points, the ’85 Chicago Bears defense wouldn’t have won that game. There was nothing good to take away from the team’s showing- on either side of the ball. And speaking of takeaways, the Jets have just five on the season (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries). To put that in perspective, the 2009 and 2010 Jets teams which advanced to the AFC Championship Game in both years, combined to generate 61 turnovers.
Pressure on the quarterback has been pretty good with Muhammad Wilkerson having recorded an impressive seven sacks already. But what happens when there is no penetration in the backfield? The secondary gets carved up quicker than a pumpkin by Edward Scissorhands. Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner was benched on Sunday and you could argue that Antonio Allen and Antonio Cromartie actually looked worse. That’s been a trend at various points of the season too. The secondary just is not as physical as it should be with the exception of Dawan Landry.
The Rest of the Way
With the likes of Stevie Johnson, Torrey Smith and Mike Wallace coming up after the bye as well as the numerous offensive weapons the New Orleans Saints will bring to the table this weekend, including dynamic tight end Jimmy Graham, the Jets cornerbacks and safeties will need to step up their coverage, play tighter on the receivers and show some ball-hawking ability. If they allow those four to roam free, the next quarter of the season will look an awful lot like this past Sunday.
The likelihood of the Jets getting dependable play up front, stepping up in the secondary and winning the turnover battle on a consistent basis is undeniably slim since that requires a lot to go right all at once for a team that only puts things all together occasionally. Nonetheless, with half the season to play and in the hunt for the final playoff spot, the Jets can still prove to be more of a treat than a trick.
And wouldn’t their fans be thankful for that as we head toward Thanksgiving?
My Preseason 2013 New York Jets Prediction: 4-12
- Jordan Rubenstein