The New York Jets have plenty to be proud of this season, but with Halloween here, it seems only fitting to take a look at five sinister stats from the regular season that might frighten even the most seasoned of fans.
It’s that time of the year again. The werewolves are howling, the ghosts are haunting, and the New York Jets sit at 3-5 following back-to-back losses to division rivals in which they blew 14-point leads followed by a third consecutive 4th quarter collapse this past week.
In other words, it’s a typical day in late October.
In all seriousness, however, the Jets have managed to outperform the expectations of many and have established a team identity to form a group of lovable overachievers who give their all every game. This, in turn, has given a tortured fanbase something exciting to watch and an endearing squad to cheer for, a far cry from last year’s team.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been all pumpkins and sunshine for Gang Green as the relatively young team is clearly going through growing pains and has committed an abundance of foolish mistakes at this point. A quick stat analyzation shows the weaknesses of this youthful bunch and offers a glimpse at future areas of improvement.
With that, it’s time to get our spook on as we delve into five spooky stats from this year’s Jets.
*Side note: That sounded even (candy) cornier in my head*
Next: 5. Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game
5. Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game
The Jets run defense is bad. How bad? Fifth worst in the league bad.
Gang Green has allowed an average of 126.6 yards per game on the ground as of Week 7 which is good enough for fifth worst in the entire NFL. Out of every team that’s allowed more rushing yards per game than the Jets, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the only team above .500. There’s a reason for that.
Stopping the run is an art in the NFL. Team’s that do it effectively tend to be very successful, the Cleveland Browns being the one exception. If a team is able to nullify an opponent’s running game, it allows the defense to key in on pass plays and forces an offense to become one-dimensional. It’s a complete tone-setter, one that usually dictates the outcomes of games long before the clock strikes zero. The Jets need to do a better job defending the run if they’re going to have success moving forward.
So far this year, the Jets defense has given up 110 yards on the ground to LeSean McCoy in Week 1, 86 yards to Leonard Fournette in Week 4, and 119 yards to a combination of Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, and James White in Week 6. That’s not to mention the 40+ yard contributions of both Mike Tolbert and former Jet Chris Ivory in the Bills and Jaguars games respectively.
The Jets front seven must start shaping up to the competition. While the defensive line has been relatively solid in run defense this year, the problem truly falls on the backs of the Jets two inside linebackers. While Demario Davis has rebounded as of late, Darron Lee continues to struggle and the pair’s shoddy tackling and tendency to take bad angles on ball carriers has clearly become an issue. This hurdle must be overcome before the Jets defense could be taken seriously as an above-average unit in the NFL.
Until this is improved, running against the Jets will continue to be more like a trip to a tropical resort than the unnerving walk through a haunted house it could be.
Gotta get those Halloween puns in there somehow…..
Next: 4. Buster Skrine's Struggles
4. Buster Skrine‘s Struggles
Buster Skrine has certainly had his fair share of struggles this season and this was made very apparent in the Jets Week 7 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Skrine did not have a very good game. Some might say he had a BAD game. Some might even say he put on one of the worst performance you will see by an NFL player this year. But perhaps that’s just an exaggeration. You could be the judge of that.
According to Pro Football Focus, Skrine was targeted seven times and allowed a completion on every single one of them. He gave up 119 yards in the air, surrendered three of Miami’s four touchdowns, and was also flagged three times throughout the game for defensive holding and pass interference. Oh and he also allowed a perfect passer rating of 158.3 while he was in coverage. This means that Skrine could not statistically have had a worse day in coverage when paired up with the opposing quarterback.
That’s flat out awful, but unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. Once again per Pro Football Focus, Skrine has a 46.0 rating on the season which is considered “Poor” by their standards and PFF has him ranked as the 91st best cornerback in the league. This is a player who’s supposed to be the Jets number two cornerback and PFF has him barely ranked as a capable number three.
It’s been an abysmal season for Skrine and unless he improves, opposing quarterbacks will continue to carve holes in our secondary rather than pumpkins.
Next: 3. Pass Rush Concerns
3. Pass Rush Concerns
This is a topic that’s been widely discussed over the past few weeks, but the statement still holds validity. The Jets need to get more production out of their pass rush.
One of the strengths of the Jets defense is supposed to be what it’s been for years now. The big boys up front, the fat men who do the sacking, the defensive line. Regardless of what you call them, the lack of production, particularly in the passing game, certainly has to be alarming for many Jets fans.
If you combine the sacks from every defensive lineman on the Jets roster, Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson included, you get a whopping total of ONE sack. The only defensive lineman who has managed to register a sack on the season for the Jets has been Wilkerson, and that came just this past week against the Falcons.
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Now it’s understood that sacks aren’t the be-all-end-all statistic for a defensive lineman as there’s a lot more that goes into the profession than simply getting to the quarterback and taking him down before he is able to throw the ball.
In fact, Williams and Wilkerson are coming off their best games of the season as they were both able to provide consistent pressure in the face of both Jay Cutler and Matt Moore and were also key contributors in run defense. Wilkerson followed that up with an impressive performance that included a sack against the Falcons. That being said, I’m sure most Jets fans would like to see that sack number start ticking up.
However, in a 3-4 defense, it’s not generally the defensive ends that get the flashy stats. That role usually gets filled by the team’s outside linebackers. In case you didn’t know, the Jets starting outside linebackers are second-year man Jordan Jenkins and veteran special-teamer, Josh Martin.
Jenkins is a developing linebacker who is solid in most areas but doesn’t excel in any. His best trait is probably his run defense. Martin, on the other hand, has finally been given the chance to start this year and unfortunately for the former Kansas City Chief he has failed to make much of an impact. The Jets have gotten a little bit of production from journeyman David Bass, but he too has been less effective in recent weeks.
It doesn’t bode well for a team if 6.5 out of their 11 sacks have come from their inside linebackers and secondary. The team needs to start developing a pass rush outside of the blitz or else they risk putting increased stress on their inexperienced defensive backs.
The Jets pass rush has looked like a graveyard over these first eight weeks, but with a little more presence from the team’s star defensive ends, the graveyard could become alive and well before we know it.
Next: 2. Poor Showing from the O-Line
2. Poor Showing from the O-Line
On the other side of the line of scrimmage lies the offensive line. The big boys up front, the fat men who prevent the sacking…..you get the point.
The O-Line was considered a question mark amongst a team of uncertainty going into this season. The Jets had two inexperienced linemen in center Wesley Johnson and right tackle Brandon Shell who both had little starting experience, yet were being asked to start Week 1. The team had a new left tackle in free agent acquisition Kelvin Beachum who had his fair share of struggles and injury concerns over the years.
The only areas that were considered a constant were at the two guard positions. James Carpenter and the newly re-signed Brian Winters both had solid, well-rounded seasons last year and they were thought of as the stalwarts of an undependable offensive line. This hasn’t been the case.
Per PFF and as of Week 7, all but one Jets starting offensive lineman has graded out with a PFF score of above “Poor” this season, that being Beachum who scored a relatively impressive 78.7, good enough for 18th best at his position. Apart from Beachum, guard James Carpenter scored the next highest at 50.7 which ranks him as the 38th best guard, barely middle of the pack. And it only gets worse from here.
The guard opposite him, Brian Winters, graded out at 44.1 which placed him as the 56th best guard in the NFL. Considering there are only 64 starting guards in the league, 56th out of 64 doesn’t sound too flattering. Tackle Brandon Shell falls just below Winters with a PFF grade of 43.5 which ranks him 61st in his position once again rating him as one of the worst offensive tackles in the league.
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Perhaps the biggest offender of all is center Wesley Johnson. The 4th-year center grades out with a loathsome 36.0 rating which lists him as the 35th best at his position. This means that PFF considers Johnson to be a backup caliber lineman. And considering he starts for the Jets, that’s not a good thing.
It seems that the Grim Reaper has come out and sucked any life the Jets offensive line had left in them. And if they’re going to be successful up front, they’re going to need to break through their coffins and burst through opposing defenses.
Are the puns feeling forced at this point?
Next: 1. Penalty Yards
1. Penalty Yards
With any young and rebuilding team penalties always seem to be an issue. The players are youthful and inexperienced and are thus more prone to stupid blunders such as penalties. The Jets are evidently such a team.
To date, New York has amassed a total of 63 penalties over eight games which is “good” for third worst in the league. As if an average of nearly eight penalties per game wasn’t bad enough, the Jets make their screw-ups count as their combined infractions have totaled an astounding 596 yards which is the most in the NFL by a decent margin.
From an outside perspective, one might simply attribute this to the juvenility of this team but a closer look uncovers a deeper problem for the Jets. It isn’t exactly the young players that are getting the penalties.
Two of the top three offenders on the team are both seasoned veterans at this point, that being defensive backs Morris Claiborne and the aforementioned Buster Skrine who have eight and six flags apiece. In fact, Claiborne ranks second in the league in terms of total penalties while Skrine is tied for fourth in defensive penalties.
Darron Lee is the one repeat offender who’s shortcomings could be chalked up to his inexperience. The second-year man has six penalties to date which tie him with Skrine for the second most on the team and the fourth most defensively in the NFL.
Penalties single-handily cost the Jets a victory in Miami as the team was flagged 12 times for an ungodly total of 124 yards. This is a trend that must be put to an end soon or else the Jets risk losing more games in the same fashion.
It seems as if many players on this Jets roster have rethought their decision to become football players and have instead decided to become morticians because they continue to dig their own graves.
The Jets season hasn’t been quite as scary as some might have anticipated, but Gang Green will always be good for a good fright or two. Happy Halloween everybody!
Also, thanks for putting up with all the bad Halloween puns….this is my creative outlet.