We are going to take a look at how the Jets are stacking up versus their opponents averages this season to put the performance of the team is some kind of context.
Everyone knew there would be struggles with a rookie QB and the team has certainly struggled with their passing game. When Mark Sanchez has been bad he has been really bad and has begun to come under fire from the media and fans alike for some very inconsistent performances. Sanchez has a habit of being a little loose with the football in the pocket and due to some protection issues has rushed throws at times that go wildly off target. He hit a low in a game against the Buffalo Bills where he threw five interceptions, but has steadily climbed up in every statistical category the last two weeks before the midway point. Sanchez began to play a bit smarter and much safer with the football.
The Jets biggest problem as they entered the season was the lack of a second target in the passing game. They had Jerricho Cotchery, who had a tremendous season prior to injury, and a list of no name players who failed to provide a passable second option. TE Dustin Keller, who many hoped would grow into that role, had problems being a prime target and never seemed on the same page as his QB. Realizing the problem at hand the Jets made a big mover in acquiring Braylon Edwards from the Cleveland Browns in exchange for Chansi Stuckey and Jason Trusnik. Edwards has been a big addition to the club and gives the team a nice one two punch with he and Cotchery. The Jets finally got to see a glimmer of what that tandem could mean during the 30-25 loss to Miami, the first game the two had where both were healthy. It opened the game up for Keller to be the third target in the offense as he put up 76 yards and a score in the loss. David Clowney is slowing stepping up as another part of the offense now than Edwards has arrived and he will be needed since their primary backfield receiver, Leon Washington, is done for the year.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment in the passing game is the shaky offensive line. They have done a poor job of keeping Sanchez upright based on the amount of times he throws the football and that is something that needs to change. Sanchez’ internal clock looked a bit better against Miami where he was able to pass the ball away before taking the sack, but you can not allow a rookie to have those kinds of problems. Alan Faneca in particular has been a disaster. He has been credited with 3 penalties and 3 sacks allowed. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who declared he would be in the Pro Bowl, has not fared significantly better, though he is much more consistent than Faneca. Ferguson also has 3 penalties and he has allowed 2.5 sacks. The rest of the line has done very well, though Damien Woody has had problems all season with the false starts. The Jets will need better play from the left side of the line if they want to improve the passing game in the second half of the year.
Looking at the stats the Jets have tried to gameplan the fact that they have a rookie at QB, throwing the ball 21% times less than the normal amount of passes attempted against their opponents. What the Jets and Sanchez need to improve on is finding the safe options to keep the chains moving. Sanchez’ completion percentage is bad, but he is outperforming the defenses on 20 and 40+ yard passes if you break it down by attempt. His interceptions/attempt are incredibly high (41%), which has become a staple of the Brian Schottenheimer offense. Those numbers indicate that he is likely looking down the field too much during these first 8 games. Designing some high percentage passes should bring those interceptions down and maybe help the Jets in some other key areas.
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The Jets have begun to show a bigger commitment to the run in the past few games and it has paid off in big statistical outputs for the team. Thomas Jones, who started off very slowly and may have been distracted by contract talks, has become a dominant force the last 3 weeks. He set a single game rushing record for the Jets in week 6 and still has an outside chance at leading the AFC in rushing this year. Leon Washington never developed into the big play back the team was hoping he would be and unfortunately saw his season come to a crushing end against the Oakland Raiders. Shonn Greene has shown some potential in his few carries he has had this year. He looks like he could be a nice complement to Jones, but will need to mentally recover from a fumble that arguably cost the Jets a win.
The offensive line has been far stronger of late in run blocking than pass protection. While Faneca is no longer a dominant run blocker he is still one of the best pulling guards in the NFL. Damien Woody, Brandon Moore, and Nick Mangold have all been excellent in the run game. Ferguson does a good job of getting down the field and picking up blocks as well. It has become a big strength in this part of the game.
Statistically the Jets are doing excellent running the ball. They average 11% more yards per attempt than average and the line is doing a great job at springing Jones and company into the second level where the team is averaging a whopping 45% more plays/attempt over 20 yards. There are, however, two concerning areas. One is the lack of touchdowns. Adjusted per attempt the Jets are actually 5% below average in this category. For a team that has such a high yards per carry this should not be the case. It is not like the Jets are throwing multiple TD’s and when you consider that 3 of the 12 Tds scored on the ground have come from the QB something is not right. Secondly the lack of first downs, which like TD’s is about 5% below average when adjusted per attempt. Both of these stats show that the Jets are either not trusting their run game in short yardage or are failing to create opportunities to run for the first down. This is an area where the Jets have to improve to keep the chains moving and the pressure off the QB.
Overall the Jets offense has been relatively productive, but they fail to score points and turn the ball over too much through the air. The Jets are controlling the games based on number of plays run and TOP. The 3rd down conversion is about average and the 4th down play calling has been outstanding. The Jets put the ball on the ground way too much, which is mainly attributed to Sanchez’ lack of pocket awareness and casual play. While they are not losing the fumbles those do back the team up and it could also explain why the runs for firsts are not as impressive as they should be. The 3rd down conversions have been a problem for a few years now and I would expect the Jets to take a more conservative approach in both the passing game and play selection over the next half of the season.
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|| Fum Lost
Click Here for the 2009 Defensive Breakdown