Good on paper, bad on the field. That is one way to sum up the start of the 1-4 New York Jets 2016 season. Coming off a successful 2015, their first season under rookie head coach Todd Bowles, there were high hopes for the Jets to improve further on a largely unexpected 10-6 record. With one of the best defensive lines in the game, an impressive set of offensive weapons and an elite cornerback in Darrelle Revis, the Jets were expected to hit the ground running in 2016, despite a tricky opening schedule. Consecutive games against the Chiefs, Seahawks and Steelers were always going to be a challenge, but did we really expect the Jets to fold in the way they have? What is going on with the New York Jets?
Lets start with the obvious; Ryan Fitzpatrick has been bad. Maybe this was predictable; after all, it follows the pattern of his previous career – one year of success, the next it falls apart. Luckily the Jets didn’t pay him as much as the Bills did a few seasons ago, but they did still pay him $12million – an investment which isn’t exactly paying dividends. Fitz received the worst QB rating Pro Football Focus has ever handed out following his 6 interception game against the Chiefs in week 3 and added a further four INTs against Seattle a week later. The week five Pittsburgh game was better with 65% of passes completed and no turnovers, but still only 255 yards passing yards.
It isn’t just the quarterback who has not been firing on all cylinders. Last year receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker set a league record for their combined touchdown catching prowess. Impressive rookies Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake and Robby Anderson were to meant add to this fire power, forming one of the most powerful reciever corps in the league. In reality this hasn’t been forthcoming aside from the week two game against Buffalo, although considering the subsequent performances, those 493 total yards now seem like the anomaly. Brandon Marshall currently ranks 14th in receiving yards with only 2TDs on the year; and a number of drops in clutch moments. Eric Decker is out injured. Quincy Enunwa has stepped up, making some key plays, but in reality the offense don’t seem to be able to get moving. Matt Forte, who had an exceptional three TD game against the Bills, has seen his rushing yards decrease game on game. The Jets offense are particularly struggling in the second half of games, failing to put a single point on the board in the final 30 minutes against the Steelers.
The Jets are meant to have one of the best manned and best coached defenses in the league, but even this side of the ball hasn’t been reliable, aside from rush defense, in which they rank second in the league. Defending the pass has been a problem and pressure on opposing quarterbacks lacking. Seven of their twelve total sacks for the year came in the week one loss to the Bengals. Since then, the lack of pass rush and pressure has allowed opponents even more time to throw on the struggling secondary, which have been the biggest weak point. Despite an elite corner in Revis and promising talent in Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams, there have been numerous occasions where they have been torched by receivers, particularly on deep balls. Before the injury which ruled him out against the Steelers, Revis looked considerably slower than previously and likely past his best. As if to illustrate the problems, Jets defense rank 31st in the league against the pass and have allowed 100 plus QB ratings against them in every game.
Head coach Todd Bowles brings a much needed level of measured reality to the Jets locker room, but some of the decisions he has made this season have erred far too much on the side of caution. Take the two 4th down situations the Jets faced in the second half against Pittsburgh; both times, on 4th and 1 and 4th and 2, he elected to punt. At this point the Jets were down by two scores, with the clock rapidly ticking away. He has also been criticized for poor game management through previous weeks. Against the Seahawks, they left the field at the half with all three time outs remaining. Bowles say he is ‘pissed off’ and ‘frustrated’ following the defeat to the Steelers, but continues to point to the ‘good week of practise’ as a positive. To keep the New York media and fans at bay, he will need to translate the practise into reality on the field, making some big decisions when it counts.
Despite all the struggles Gang Green have faced so far this year, star receiver Brandon Marshall seems to be in a positive mood. According to him they are in the ‘perfect position’, a comment which has raised a few eyebrows, considering the situation. They are certainly now underdogs and face an uphill battle to leave 2016 anywhere near the preseason expectations. The Jets did have five win run following a 1-4 streak last year, but that was after they started the year 4-1. All is not lost, but with games against the Cardinals and Ravens next on the cards, a turn around is needed across the board.
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