Under head coach Rex Ryan, the New York Jets have normally been one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.
That’s what makes this season all the more strange. Though the offensive struggles are nothing new, the defense’s inability to keep the Jets in games has been a surprising development in 2012.
It’s not completely unforeseen, though. The Jets are dealing without their best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, after losing him to a torn ACL in week three. Revis, widely regarded as the best cornerback in the league, is able to take away half the field in the passing game when healthy. Without Revis, the Jets are still one of the best pass defenses in the league, ranking 6th in passing yards allowed per game.
Unfortunately for Ryan and the Jets, that’s one of the few areas in which the Jets are excelling. Their rush defense is 30th in the league, allowing 145 yards per game. They’ve only gotten home to the quarterback on the pass rush 16 times in nine games. And they’re allowing 25.3 points per game, 24th in the NFL.
The issues with the offense have been well documented. The Jets are also missing a key player on the offensive side of the ball, with leading receiver Santonio Holmes out for the year with a lisfranc injury. Behind Holmes, the Jets receiving corps is shockingly pedestrian, with names like Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates and Chaz Schilens getting the bulk of the playing time.
But the Jets’ problems passing represent a chicken-or-egg type scenario: can the receivers not get open, or can the quarterback not get them the ball? It’s probably a fair amount of both.
Mark Sanchez has never been considered an elite-level quarterback, but this year his inconsistency has been on full display. Sanchez is completing just 52 percent of his passes and has thrown just one more touchdown (10) than interception (9). In nine games, the Jets are averaging less than 200 yards through the air. It’s one of the reasons the Jets are 30th in the league in total yards, gaining just 302.7 per game.
The Jets improve slightly in the ground game behind an above-average offensive line. Running back Shonn Greene has averaged 3.7 yards per attempt but the running game – and the entire offense in general – lacks explosion. Lacking big-play ability and relying on a quarterback with accuracy issues is not a recipe for success.
Adding to the issues is the presence of Tim Tebow. While Tebow himself isn’t a distraction, many fans – and recently some teammates – have been calling for him to take over the quarterbacking duties with Sanchez’s struggles. Ryan has been hesitant to make the switch, a decision that’s only brought more turmoil to a team already fighting for its life.
The Jets are down. The Rams would do well not to let them off the mat Sunday.