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The 2009 Jets Final Review

I’m going to go over the final year stats to see how well the Jets actually did this season taking the quality of opposition into account. Looking over the stats we can likely project areas that the Jets will see as need for improvement next season.

Passing Offense

In general the passing offense was nothing short of a disaster in 2009, though there were glimmers of hope in the playoffs. The Jets turned away from passing the ball even moreso in the second half of the season, but statistically the passing game actually got worst in most categories when adjusted per attempt and taking the ability of the opponents into account. While there look to be certain negative trends in the passing offense the last four seasons, the fact still remains that the Jets had a rookie QB starting 15 games and at times he looked completely lost on the field. Sanchez turned the ball over at an alarming rate, continuing a trend with the Jets that began in 2007, and was terribly inaccurate when passing the football. On the positive side of the ledger, Sanchez was the best QB in the system to pass the ball deep down the field. When adjusted per attempt he was well above average in 20 and 40 plus pass plays. He was the only QB under Brian Schottenheimer to ever be above average in the 20 plus category, a testament to his arm and ability to get the ball down the field. Had WR Braylon Edwards hauled in a few big throws Sanchez’ big play numbers would have been outstanding. This is a huge positive as he moves forward. How much better he will be in 2010 is anyone’s guess but it is hard to imagine that there will not be improvement in his game.

We know the Jets are not getting a new QB or a new coordinator next season, so what are some of the areas where the Jets will look to improve in the offseason? When you look at the big passing numbers it would look as if the Jets are set at the WR1 and WR2 position and would be foolish to allow Edwards to move on to another team. The Jets were without Edwards for the first few games of the year and Jerricho Cotchery also missed time, but the numbers remained solid despite the lack of games from the big two stars. When you look at the low completion percentage, YPA, and complete lack of short passing game it would look like the Jets will be shopping for at least one more receiving target for Sanchez. The Jets will be looking at a slot WR, a well rounded backup Tight End, and pass catching running back out of the backfield. In 2006 those positions combined for 70 receptions. In 2007 it was 99 receptions. In 2008 there were over 130 receptions from those spots. In 2009 it fell to 48. 2009 was basically a two person show and a few cameo appearances by TE Dustin Keller. In order for Sanchez to improve they need more from these three positions. The team may be able to hope that RB Leon Washington fills a void, but he is coming back off a devastating injury and even if the Jets rely on Leon they need to fill at least one of the other two positions.

The other slight concern is the growing number of sacks the Jets allow. Again some of that is on the QB for holding the ball way too long, but this is a few years running where the line has not been great at keeping the QB upright. There looks to be little room to upgrade, but the signs would point towards finding another Tight End that could be kept in to block in certain situations, but also be a receiving threat something Ben Hartsock was not. The Jets may be able to address the TE in free agency where there are a few interesting options, including Anthony Fasano of Miami and David Thomas of the Saints. It would be surprising if the team does not upgrade the TE2 spot in the offseason as it could fill a number of voids.

Statistical Breakdown:

Comp Attempts Yards TD INT 1st 20+ 40+ Sack
Jets 13.125 24.56 148.75 0.75 1.31 8.19 2.31 0.50 1.88
Opposition 20.09 32.94 221.72 1.38 1.10 11.42 2.79 0.60 2.00
Differential -34.67% -25.42% -32.91% -45.45% 19.32% -28.28% -17.16% -16.67% -6.45%

Comp % Yds/Comp Yds/Att TD/Att INT/Att Sack/Att 20+/Att 40+/Att
Jets 53.43 11.33 6.06 0.031 0.053 0.076 0.094 0.020
Opposition 61.00 11.03 6.73 0.042 0.033 0.061 0.085 0.018
Differential -12.40% 2.70% -10.03% -26.86% 60.00% 25.45% 11.08% 11.75%

Running offense:

It is hard to put the Jets run game in a true perspective because they ran the ball so much during the season. When you run the ball as much as the Jets did even adjusted numbers can be badly skewed because you usually can’t run for big yards when you are up points and just running out the clock. Thomas Jones clearly wore down as the season went on. At the midway point of the year the Jets running attack, which was primarily Jones at that stage, had 11 carries of 20 or more yards and 2 of 40+. In the second half of the year the team only gained 8 of 20+ and 1 of 40+, which was a Wildcat play from Brad Smith. The Jets line does a good job of springing guys, but it is up to the runner to turn a 4 yard hole into a 20 yard gain. The Jets above average TD/Att ratio likely indicates that the team is pretty good at the power running game, a number that is also backed up by a solid 3rd down conversion and 4th down conversion percentage with such poor QB play. The Jets converted 37.5% of their 3rd downs and an amazing 75% of their 4th down plays. Their opposition gave up 39.6 and 50.4 respectively/

Shonn Greene is more explosive than Jones and the Jets look to be ready to hand the reigns over to him, but Greene did seem to get nicked up during the season and is a non-factor in the passing game. If Greene was healthy the entire year and played as well as he did in 2009 he would probably rank 2nd or 3rd in the NFL in big plays. The health, however, might be a concern and there is always a concern of year to year success with a young player who only sees limited action. Jones should return as a short yardage, change of pace back, but might be replaced due to salary considerations. With Washington coming off surgery the Jets could look to draft another runner late to see if something is there. If they lose Jones they may also look to simply find a cheaper veteran to stick on the team in the event Greene falters.

Statistical Breakdown:

Att Yards Yards/carry TD 1st 20+ 40+
Jets 37.94 177.25 4.54 1.31 8.25 1.19 0.19
Opposition 27.69 120.9 4.37 0.88 6.32 0.69 0.15
Differential 36.99% 42.47% 3.99% 48.58% 30.52% 72.73% 25.00%

TD/Att 1st/Att 20+/Att 40+/Att
Jets 0.035 0.22 0.031 0.0049
Opposition 0.032 0.228 0.025 0.005
Differential 8.46% -4.73% 26.07% -8.76%

Run Defense

A very solid effort all around which saw the Jets excel even though NT Kris Jenkins missed most of the season. There were some excellent aspects to the run defense this year. The Jets gave up zero run plays or longer than 40 yards against a schedule that produced 42 runs over 40 yards this season. This is the second year in a row the Jets accomplished this feat and it speaks volumes about the teams linebackers and secondary players. A teams defensive line is always going to have a few breakdowns during the year, but its those second level players that keep plays from breaking deep and that is what the Jets defenders do. The Jets held teams to 12% below their average YPC, a number that actually improved as the year went on, and 24% less TD/Att.

While there were no negative run stats, there were two slight trends that developed as the year went on. At the midway point of the season the Jets were holding teams to nearly 57% below their TD/Att averages and 35% off their 20+ runs/Att. Those two categories, by the end of the season, fell to 24% and 8% respectively. Those categories fall very much on the defensive line and to a lesser extent the linebackers of the defense. With two older defensive ends it stands to reason that the line began to wear down a bit as the season went on. There is also a likely correlation between lack of impact players and the 20+ runs as well. With the Jets having to rush players so often there are going to be plays where blowing up the D-line means no line of defense until the runner hit’s the safeties. The one thing that was lost with Jenkins was the ability of a player to penetrate to the backfield without help.

With the age at the corners of the line it is clear that the Jets need to find a more durable younger player to groom to take over for either Shaun Ellis or Marques Douglas. With the long standing injury history of Jenkins the team can not simply rely on the fact that Jenkins will return and all the problems will be solved. It is unlikely he will hold up to a 16 game schedule even with the emergence of Sione Pouha as a viable alternative to give Jenkins a rest. Expect the Jets to look for a 3rd DT to add to the rotation and to draft a DE that has the ability to either fight multiple linemen or push his way into the backfield. If the Jets were able to upgrade the line in the draft it might allow the blitz to reach the QB more often and force teams into negative runs on first down.

Statistical Breakdown:

Att Yards Yards/carry TD 1st 20+ 40+
Jets 26.25 98.63 3.76 0.69 5.44 0.63 0.00
Opposition 28.83 124.43 4.32 1.00 6.66 0.76 0.18
Differential -8.96% -20.74% -12.93% -30.96% -18.33% -16.20% -100.00%

TD/Att 1st/Att 20+/Att 40+/Att
Jets 0.026 0.207 0.024 0.000
Opposition 0.035 0.231 0.025 0.006
Differential -24.17% -10.30% -7.95% -100.00%

Pass defense

In a word, stellar. The Jets statistically excelled in every category exhibiting no real weaknesses over the course of the season. The team’s success, of course, was helped by the explosion of Darrelle Revis, who had such an excellent season that people began comparing his cover skills to Deion Sanders. Revis is different than almost any other good corner in the NFL because he is unable to be schemed. When you play Oakland and match up with Nnamdi Asomugha you can do your best to make certain your star wideout simply plays on the opposite side of the field. This is why Asomugha is rarely if ever thrown on and Revis seems to be thrown on all the time. The offense can’t just move the star WR around to try to avoid Revis as Revis plays the entire field and is rarely beaten, holding his opponents to under a 37% catch rate, according to Pro Football Focus. The Jets excelled at eliminating the TD via the air and were superb at stopping the big play. Both indicate strong tackling and smart play in the secondary. The lack of big plays should also indicate that the Jet safeties also did their jobs helping out when needed.

If you want to nitpick a few areas that the Jets may address in the offseason you can. The Jets were not far above average in attempt adjusted interceptions and sacks. That tells you that outside of Revis the Jets simply lack impact players. While the Jets do pressure the QB, they only had 11.8% more sacks than average and those were often the result of completely selling out the defense with big blitzes. In some ways the low interceptions are caused by the lack of an impact player up front. If you have to blitz your defensive backs to get to the QB they can not be in a position to pick off an errant pass. The other issue that the team may look at is only holding teams to about 7% less than their YPC average. Revis is taking the WR1 spot way down which means teams are picking up the slack as they attack the other spots on the field.

There are three positions the Jets will look to potentially upgrade or add to in the pass defense. The first is finding the impact pass rusher that Vernon Gholston never evolved into. The Jets need an upgrade to LB Bryan Thomas, even if it is just a situational 3rd down rusher. Thomas never gets to the QB. A third safety to replace Eric Smith would also look to be an improvement. Smith was not strong in coverage at all and is certainly not a playmaker. Kerry Rhodes suffered at times when he was in coverage while Jim Leonhard could use some help on run downs. That third safety to fit in the rotation could make the secondary complete, an option that would likely be found via free agency. The other option is to draft a potential CB2 that would play the nickel back spot to start the season. The Jets need someone with a bit more athleticism than Dwight Lowery or Lito Sheppard to help bring that interception total up and YPC down. Sheppard was far worse than Lowery in both categories and will most likely not return.

Statistical breakdown

Comp Attempts Yards TD INT 1st 20+ 40+ Sacks
Jets 16.19 31.31 153.69 0.50 1.06 8.00 1.94 0.19 2.00
Opposition 20.32 32.95 209.10 1.38 1.06 11.40 2.58 0.49 1.88
Differential -20.32% -4.98% -26.50% -63.75% 0.00% -29.85% -24.75% -61.53% 6.19%

Comp % Yds/Comp Yds/Att TD/Att INT/Att Sack/Att 20+/Att 40+/Att
Jets 51.70 9.49 4.91 0.016 0.033 0.064 0.062 0.006
Opposition 61.65 10.29 6.35 0.042 0.032 0.057 0.078 0.015
Differential -16.15% -7.75% -22.64% -61.84% 5.24% 11.76% -20.81% -59.52%

Special Teams

This is the first time I am really looking at specials from a statistical standpoint, but the numbers basically say exactly what you would expect. The Jets special teams had problems last season in almost every phase of the game. Teams averaged about 7% extra yards on kick returns and 4.6% more yards on punt returns. The kicking game was average. The Jets ranked 15th in kickoff distance, 16th in touchback percentage, and 18th in field goal percentage. The breakdown in the critical categories was that Jay Feely ranked 21st in the NFL in FG % between 30 and 39 yards and 17th between 40 and 49.

P Steve Weatherford was below average in most categories. He ranked 25th in the NFL in average and 21st in percent of punts downed inside the 20 and 31st in the NFL in punts inside the 10. Those two numbers clearly indicate a poor ability to either directionally kick or vary his leg to play field position. Those numbers are made worse based on the fact that Weatherford ranked 5th in the NFL in percentage of punts that resulted in touchbacks, so the argument that the Jets did not have an opportunity to pin teams down is not valid. Weatherford simply could not control the punts. The one category where Weatherford did excel was percentage of kicks that were fair caught. 32.5% of his kicks resulted in a fair catch which was good for third in the NFL. That one area probably resulted in the Jets coverage teams doing better than anticipated.

Neither Feely nor Weatherford will likely be safe next season. Feely was on a one year contract and may or may not be back. It is unlikely the Jets will guarantee his deal as they did last season and may want to look at an option with a bigger leg. Weatherford will most certainly face a challenger or two. The poor coverage teams should give an indication of spots the Jets will look to upgrade. The Jets special teams coach, Mike Westhoff, has already stated that he prefers defensive backs and linebackers for special teams so expect the Jets to be looking late in the draft and at the undrafted players for those positions as the Jets need contributors in this phase next year.