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NY Jets: Win over Miami gives false hope to fans

By Paul Newbold
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Don’t let the win the NY Jets got over the Miami Dolphins fool you into thinking this team doesn’t have a whole lot of work ahead to make this season a successful one.

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) avoids Miami Dolphins defenders and runs for a touchdown during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The headline for today’s article is likely to bring down an optimistic fan base on my head. Fans across the net are fired up after Sunday’s dominant win over the Dolphins. The playoff predictions have begun in earnest once again and there have even been claims that a return to the Super Bowl is a distinct possibility.

As most of my regular readers will already know, I don’t believe this roster is playoff caliber. Undoubtedly this team is talented, and has played better then last season’s Jets, but there are still remaining weaknesses that need to be addressed before they can be considered serious contenders. In my opinion, the Jets are still in rebuilding mode under a new Jet regime.

We discussed at length the serious concerns surrounding the Jets’ quarterback, offensive line and linebacker positions before this season got underway. During the course of the season, we have discussed the need for an upgrade at running back, tight end and wide receiver. It has become apparent to me and many of my readers that Mike Maccagnan will face a true test this off season.

The Dolphins game was a dominant win and brought the Jets back to a game over .500, standing today at 6-5. There are five games remaining to the season, so the Jets still hold the potential to be 11-5 at season’s end, but I think we would all agree this team is not going to win out however.

A victory over the hapless 4-7 Dolphins hasn’t changed my outlook on this football team, I predicted 8-8 at the season’s start with the possibility of a 9-7 finish if things went the way the Jets need it to. For the record, I’ll continue to stand by that prediction until they prove me wrong.

The Dolphins game was an exciting one to watch, the Jets were dominant upfront defensively and offensively they looked better then they have all season. Despite those facts, this was only one game, coming off a 1 -4 skid, with the one win coming against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While the victory was a great one to get, it was one the Jets were expected to win in going away fashion. The only upside I could find in the victory was that this team finally beat a team they were supposed to beat. That has been a rarity this year for this franchise.

The Jets handled the Dolphins handily in London back in October, embarrassing the Dolphins on an international  stage to the tune of 27-14. The Jets were supposed to sweep the Dolphins this year, as they have been a very poor football team at times this year. It was fun to watch, but it did little to change the fact that this team is in the middle of NFL pack, and is barely holding on to a wild card chance.

I know Jet fans were excited to get a victory and I understand that they are hungry for a playoff birth. Yet this victory was a hollow one, coming against the last place team in our division. Let’s take a real look at this football game.

Next: Offense

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) looks to hand the ball off during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

The Jets’ offense exploded for 38 points against the Dolphins this week. It was exciting to watch as the 38 points were the most points put up by this offense yet this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick finished the game with four touchdowns but let’s put this “explosion” into perspective.

The Dolphins’ defense was ranked 23rd coming into this game according to the ESPN rankings. Injuries have decimated the Dolphins this year and their injury woes got worse as this game went on. By the beginning of the third quarter, the Jets’ offense were going up against second and third stringers due to the injury bug.

The Dolphins have given up 30 points or better four times this year, including the 38 the Jets managed on Sunday. The Bills put up 33 and 41, the New England Patriots managed 36. In fact the Dolphins have only held two teams to less then fourteen points on the season, holding the Washington Redskins and the Tennessee Titans to just ten points.

What was supposed to be a strength for the Dolphins this year has virtually disappeared. Injuries have hurt, but the unit as a whole has under performed this season. The Jets were supposed to explode offensively against this football team, they did it back in October, so this shouldn’t have come as any surprise. It surely wasn’t any indication that the Jets’ offense has “turned the corner” and that playoff caliber offense is going to be the norm as the season progresses. The Jets only did what they were supposed to do, play well against a decimated defense.

Sunday’s game, reemphasized the need for the Jets to upgrade this offense in the off season. As we have talked many times this year, Ivory cannot continue to carry the entire load in the run game. Chris Ivory looked more like his earlier self against Miami, putting up 87 yards on 21 carries, but fell way short of the 166 yards on 29 carries back in October. Yes, the game plans changed from the previous meeting, but it’s apparent Ivory is tired. If you subtract Ivory’s long 31 yarder, he would have finished 2o for a mere 56 yards, the guy has been overworked this season!

Behind Ivory there has been a huge drop off in production all year. Last week in fact, Fitzpatrick was the second highest runner for the team. Bilal Powell had a decent game behind Ivory, putting up 28 yards on six carries, but he doesn’t appear to be a guy that is going to relieve much of the workload from Ivory’s shoulders.

Stevan Ridley got two chances on Sunday and managed just a single yard, it has become apparent that he’s not in Chan Gailey’s favor and will likely be one and done for the Jets. Zac Stacy was lost to injury for the year, but his 89 yards on 31 carries won’t do much to get him a vote of confidence from the coaching staff at season’s end either. The Jets need other running back options for next year undoubtedly!

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) catches a touchdown pass from New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Marshall had another huge game on Sunday against a decimated Miami secondary, putting up 9 catches for 166 yards. Marshall has proven himself to be the best the Jets have to offer at wide receiver and he didn’t disappoint the home town fans on Sunday. Eric Decker also had a good game for the Jets, hauling in 5 catches for 62 yards. Devin Smith did a little bit to prove his critics wrong in this game, managing two receptions on three targets for 33 yards and his first NFL touchdown.

Again though, behind Marshall and Decker the drop off is apparent. No other Jet receiver put up more then two receptions on the day. Now there is always a slight drop off behind a team’s #1 and #2 receivers, but Gailey has historically moved the ball around in his offenses. The lack of adequate targets has limited Gailey in fully implementing what he would like to do. The Jets have to look wide receiver at some point in the off season.

The tight end position once again was non existent. Quincy Enunwa tried to fill the need for production out of the position, but two catches on six targets for 29 yards isn’t going to get it done on an NFL roster. The position has been a disaster all year, and it is clear that Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland will be gone at season’s end. Gailey was never big on his use of tight ends, using them primarily as blockers in his schemes, but I’m pretty sure even Gailey isn’t happy with this group.

Look, yes the Jets dominated offensively against Miami on Sunday, but surely few will view this offense as a power house, capable of taking a team to the playoffs. The offensive line is aging and against the better teams, have proven to be a liability. The wide receiver group also has some age concerns, but behind them there is a void.

The running back position has proved to be a one man show, and if this team were to reach the playoffs, Ivory would likely be too tired to contribute. Fitzpatrick has played admirably this season, but does anyone really believe he is a playoff quality quarterback?

Next: Defense

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) celebrates his sack of Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17)(not shown) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Defense

The Jets’ defense played dominantly on Sunday. They held the Dolphins to just 20 points and set a new team record by holding an opponent to just 12 yards rushing through four quarters of football. The Jets’ defensive front dominated, sealing holes and catching the run game in the backfield more often then not. You’d have to be crazy to criticize the effort put on by this unit for the day! That being said, there is much more to an NFL defense then the four guys playing up front.

Once again, this was a game where the Jets defense was supposed to dominate. The Dolphins’ offense has scored the sixth fewest points in the NFL this season. They have failed to put up more then 20 points in nine of their eleven contests this season and have attempted to run the ball the fewest amount of times of any NFL team in 2015. They rank 27th in points cored and 26th in yardage. This is not a very good offensive team, and the Jets’ defense had its way with them for the most part.

The Jets’ defensive front brought pressure all day long on Ryan Tannehill, and shutdown the Dolphins run game limiting them to just nine carries for just 12 yards. The Dolphins abandoned the run game before it actually started and that left the defensive line players to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback.

As a result the Jets sacked Tannehill three times for 33 yards on Sunday. Muhammad Wilkerson produced another sack in this one, adding to his team leading total that now stands at 8 sacks on the year. This group is undoubtedly the strength of this football team and as so are a playoff caliber group.

If there is any criticism to be leveled at the Jets’ defensive line in this game it might be that they only produced three sacks on the day. The Dolphins’ offensive line is averaging three sacks allowed per game in 2015, and one would have figured the Jets’ defensive line would be able to top the average. It’s cutting hairs, but with the talent up front on the roster you would have hoped for a bit more, the Dophins have allowed 36 sacks on the year, ranking them the 27th worst team in protecting their quarterback.

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) throws a pass during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ linebacker corps played likely better than they have all year. The issue with the linebackers has been three fold this year. They are an older group who lack overall speed, they have failed to bring pressure off the edge with their outside linebackers and their coverage skills have been poor.

The coaching staff did do some experimenting in this game with additional playing time going to Lorenzo Mauldin and newly acquired Mike Catapano. The Jets will definitely need additions to this squad in the off season to replace an aging group and an under performing Demario Davis. There is no mistaking this unit for a playoff quality group.

The $100 million defensive secondary has seen its share of criticisms throughout the year and this game is no exception. Though they kept the Dolphins from the endzone for the most part, they allowed Ryan Tannehill to put up 351 yards through the air. The Jets’ secondary faced a Dolphins’ wide receiver group that was decimated by injury and yet Jarvis Landry was allowed to put up 13 receptions and 165 yards of offense.

Landry and DeVante Parker actually out gained Marshall and Decker in this one. Now I’ll give it to the Jets’ secondary that they were without their star corner Darrelle Revis, but the allowed yardage has been a problem throughout the year.

On paper the Jets’ secondary is playoff quality, but in actual results I don’t believe they are. Their tackling has been poor and missed assignments have been far too frequent. The highlights in this one for the group came from Calvin Pryor, who came out and set the tone with some devastating hits that surely will make the highlight reels. Marcus Williams had a fantastic interception, but unfortunately went out with a knee injury following the play. Darrin Walls filled in nicely for Williams, but the yardage is just completely unacceptable.

Yes, the Jets’ defense dominated on Sunday, it was great to see, but fans have expected this type of game from them since the start. They played inconsistently this year, disappearing for stretches of games and not showing up for others. Sunday’s game showed the potential that they possess, but make no mistake this was an opponent that they were supposed to dominate. Sunday’s game wasn’t a turning point for them as many have claimed, it was simply a game against a much lesser opponent.

Next: Final thoughts

Nov 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) catches a pass while being defended by New York Jets defensive back Buster Skrine (41) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 38-20. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Final thoughts

The Jets are a good football team, but they still have plenty of work to do at season’s end. Maccagnan and Bowles have done an excellent job to this point in turning a 4-12 team into a 6-5 team with 5 games remaining. The future looks bright for the first time in a long time. With some key upgrades in the off season, they will have a chance to make fans dreams come true. Meanwhile, fans need to stay patient and root for the best possible outcome to this season.

The talk around the fan base has once again become all about making the playoffs. Fans are talking about who needs to lose next week to improve their odds of getting there. Maybe it’s me, but backing into the playoffs is not the path I want my team to take. I want my team to go out and win games and not have to worry about who else needs to lose for the team to make the playoffs.

Next: Jets finally show some fight to keep hope alive

If this team can win out and make the playoffs, I’ll be ecstatic! If they can play at a high level and beat the better teams left in the schedule and make the playoffs, they will have earned it. On the other hand, if they play inconsistently the rest of the way and manage to back into the playoff, they’ll have achieved very little.

I’m likely going to catch some slack from readers for this article, but as I’ve long said here, “I call them the way I see them.” So bring it fans! Leave us a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!

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