Halfway through the season and it’s time for midterm report cards.
QB – B-
Say what you will about Mark Sanchez and his inconsistency and INTs, but remember that this is a Rookie QB who has been the leader on offense from day 1. Coach Rex Ryan went all in with Sanchez from the beginning and the team responds to him every game. He’s had some good games, he’s had some dreadful games, but the Jets are IN every game with Sanchez at QB.
RB – A
The Jets rank first in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,421.
Thomas Jones has 704 yards at 4.7 yds per carry with 7 TDs. His touches per game has steadily increased over the past three weeks and only time will tell if he can endure the entire season.
Shonn Greene will do his best to replace the injured Leon Washington and try for results similar to the Raiders game (144 yds) and not the Dolphins (fumble returned for TD).
WR – C+
Another sleepy season for the WRs. In part because of Rookie Sanchez and the coaches decision to limit his passing and the surge of the running game, the WRs still need to make plays when called on. Jerricho Cotchery leads the team with 27 receptions for 430 yards and newly acquired Braylon Edwards (13, 192) has already provided a nice spark for the team.
TE – C+
Every week, Jets fans wait for Dustin Keller to emerge as a top notch TE in the NFL. With a strong game against Miami last week, Keller is definitely a major player in the Jets offense and alone, warrants probably a B at this point. The problem is consistency and the good week, bad week, good week, bad week, strategy is not winning over fans hearts. Ben Hartsock, on the other hand, has arguably cost the Jets two games this season. First, against Buffalo, and his costly penalty in Overtime which forced the Jets into a longer FG; and second against Miami, where he committed not one, but two penalties on 2 pt. conversion attempts. (side note: Ryan has admitted that Hartsock has a tendency to commit these penalties in practice as well. Not good).
Offensive Line: A
Leading the league in rushing is a testament to a solid RB and a more than solid offensive line. While Sanchez has taken some hits this year, the line has been tough and knock wood, injury free so far.
The Jets have the number 2 ranked defense in the NFL. Think about that. Digest that. Enjoy that. This defense plays with an energy that hasn’t been seen since, well… I’m not sure when I’ve ever seen it before.
Before the Miami meltdown, part I, the Jets defense had allowed 3 TDs in 4 games. (4 against Miami, 1 against Buffalo, 0 against Oakland and 1 against Miami), and the Jets have allowed 9 TDs in 8 games. Pretty good. Pretty…pretty good.
While injuries to Jenkins, and Sheppard, who has missed a ton of time, will hurt this team down the road, the acquisition of Bart Scott and blitz packages can’t be praised enough. More sacks would be appreciated, though.
Special Teams: B
Kicker Jay Feely has been solid this year. (13 of 15 on FGs and 18-18 on PATs).
Punter Steve Weatherford is averaging 41.5 yds per punt with 13 inside the 20. Oh, he is also 3 for 3 on fake punt conversions. Thought I would mention that.
Aside from the horrible tackling against Ted Ginn last week, the special teams has been normal, which is acceptable. The loss of Washington will hurt big time, as Leon seemed to make a big play last year when needed on kick-offs.
Coach Ryan has made some mistakes. Yes, not calling a timeout against the Dolphins in Miami was dumb. Yes, constantly going for 2, rather than kick the PAT was questionable last Sunday, but you cannot deny that these Jets play for him and will go to war with him every week. (Do you remember Mangini?).
The defense is re-invented and full of energy. Ryan’s belief in Sanchez has paid off so far.