New York Jets Mid-Year Report: Offensive Edition
Jul 28, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg speaks with the media prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets are 4-4 and almost through their toughest portion of their schedule. Some good coaching from Rex Ryan and Marty Mornhinweg have kept them in games and some game-winning drives from Geno Smith have finished them. They are in a much better position than most thought but holes on the team have been exposed. Let’s take a look at the offense today.
The Jets averaging 17.9 points per game which is up 0.3 points per game from last year. They are on pace for 3,798 yards passing, 907 more yards than 2012. Rushing yards are on pace to be up 30 yards over last year as well. The offense has shown flashes of what they can be in the first half of the season with rookie quarterback Geno Smith leading four 4th quarter game winning drives, with three of the drives ending on field goals as time expired. Smith has shown poise in the face of adversity and his he made improvements weekly. He needs to not repeat his mistakes because he has 16 turnovers so far (13 interceptions 3 lost fumbles) and five of those interceptions have been in the 4th quarter including three against the Patriots in Week two that cost them the game. Marty Mornhinweg has done a good job with a rookie quarterback and very few weapons.
The running game has been slowed but not from lack of ability from Bilal Powell or Chris Ivory but from a very suspect offensive line. They have not had a competent left guard all season as they started with Vlad Ducasse who was so bad that they went to rookie Brian Winters before he was ready. Winters isn’t committing the penalties Ducasse did but he has been just as bad otherwise. Whether it is getting drawn into helping Winters or the beginning of a decline D’Brickashaw Ferguson has not been up to par this year. Austin Howard has improved and Mangold and Colon have been solid but the line is getting no push in the running game for the most part. Their pass protection has been spotty as well.
I thought Chris Ivory would run for 1100 yards in the preseason but because of hamstring injuries both in the preseason as well as regular season costing him time combined with splitting carries with Powell instead of being the featured back Ivory is on pace for only 460 yards. If he stays healthy and plays all eight second half games that number should be higher but unless can control the line of scrimmage like they did against New England and get Ivory 30+ carries for 100 yards each game his ceiling is around 800 yards. Bilal Powell was an early season surprise using the carries he got while Ivory was injured and Goodson was suspended he was among the league leaders in rushing through the 1st three weeks of the season before tapering off. He has been more than the 3rd down back I predicted running for 385 yards at 3.9 yards per carry putting him on pace for 770 yards. In addition he has 19 receptions for 157 yards including some long gainers. A season with over a 1000 yards combined rushing and receiving would be terrific for Powell. Goodson looked good in the game and a half he played coming off of suspension but he was lost for the year with a knee injury but should be ready for a more normal 2014 season.
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The Jets have had to think outside the box to form a competitive wide receiver core because although Santonio Holmes did return by Week 1 but he has been out the last 4 weeks with a hamstring injury. They also lost Clyde Gates to a season-ending injury and Kellen Winslow to a four game suspension. John Idzik did a strong job getting David Nelson to fill a wide receiver void, Josh Cribbs to solve the returner problem and help as a wide receiver and he claimed Zach Sudfeld from the Patriots as a raw, receiving tight end. Jeremy Kerley leads the team with 27 receptions for 346 yards and Stephen Hill has surpassed last year’s yardage total by having 23 receptions for 340 yards. Without Holmes and Winslow teams have been focusing on Hill more and his production has fallen as a result and the Bengals took Kerley away as well leaving Geno Smith with David Nelson as his only real threat. The return of Santonio Holmes whether against the Saints or after the bye should allow the offense to regain the flow they had when all of the weapons were out there.
In the second half of the season the team needs to get through injuries and put a consistent product on the field. Consistent in the same players so quarterback Geno Smith can develop rapport with these backs and receivers as well as playing consistently as the team failed to have a two game winning or losing streak. They are right on pace for the 8-8 I predicted before the season but ahead of how I thought they would get there. I thought they would struggle through the rough section of their schedule then rally in the second half of the season to get back to .500. They need to move from almost 18 points per game to around 20 points per game on average offensively. The turnovers (16) need to be cut in half. Now they need to take advantage of Buffalo, Cleveland at home, Oakland at home and a couple with Miami to make a playoff push even if they are a year early in the rebuild. The most important objective is still to evaluate and develop Geno Smith and the young group of players here but if you have a chance to win you might as well try to do that too.