I know what you’re thinking. How is it that the farce of a team that is the NY Jets, can be in touching distance of the play-offs? After the season they’ve had, with most of the controversy coming around the media circus that is Tim Tebow, and the hype that comes around every time the guy makes a snap, how are the Jets in touching distance of a wildcard place.
Well one look at the Jets’ schedule this season will give you a clue as to how the Jets are at 6-7. Out of their 6 wins, only the Colts actually have a winning record, with wins against the Bills, Dolphins, Rams, Cardinals & Jaguars making up the numbers. Not to mention the fact that 4 of these wins came against rookie QBs (Lindley played for the Cardinals, who are on a 9 game losing streak), it’s no lie that with a tougher schedule, the Jets would be nowhere near these play-offs.
The Jets have managed to get themselves into these positions simply down to hard work and getting the job done against weaker opposition, with the Bills and Rams making up their wins this season. But when they’ve come against opposition that would be considered ‘good’ in the NFL, they’ve crumbled. Against the Steelers, 49ers, Texans, Patriots (twice) and the Seahawks, the record reads 0-6, and a scoreline of 79-190. Ouch. When you concede that many points against the good teams, you’re always going to be in trouble, and this is a side who’s defence has usually helped them to win games in the last few years.
But once again the fact is that the QB position in NY is one that just invites pressure, and it’s clear to see that Mark Sanchez hasn’t handled that pressure well this season, and really hasn’t improved at all in his 4 years as starting QB for the Jets. This season for the Jets he’s started all 13 games, posting stats of: 216 passes completed from 390 attempts, 55.4% completion rate, 2,547 yards, 12 TDs, 13 interceptions, 30 sacks and 11 fumbles. It’s hard to judge those numbers in isolation. But when you look at his figures for the past 3 years, the numbers are relatively the same. The guy simply hasn’t improved, or lived up to the expectations that people put onto him from the draft.
Sanchez isn’t a franchise QB, and even though he got the Jets to 2 AFC Championship games in his first 2 seasons, he’s yet to show any signs of improvement, when other QBs would be improving their completion % and cutting down on interceptions. You can go on about the fact that Sanchez hasn’t got the weapons that most QBs in the league have, but that’s still only covering up the fact that Sanchez’s development has been poor. He was so poor against the Cardinals that rookie QB Greg McElroy was brought in after Sanchez’s 3rd pick, and ended up winning the game for the Jets with a late touchdown.
Is McElroy the answer, or even Tim Tebow? I doubt we’ll find that out this season. Tebow hasn’t been given much of a chance this season to show what he can do, and in a game against Jacksonville last weekend when many of the crowd turned up to see him play, he didn’t see one snap. Whilst the season is still alive, we’re unlikely to see much of these two QBs. However, if the Jets were to lose their next game, this could open the door with play-offs hopes effectively over. I suspect we’ll see more of McElroy in training camp next year, when he can really make a claim for a starting spot. But the fact is that the Jets can’t afford to let Sanchez go, with all of the guaranteed money Sanchez has coming to him.
Sanchez’s QB rating isn’t much better either, with him sitting 34th out of 36 QBs with a rating of 71.8, with only Cassel & Skelton sitting below him, this tells you just how poor Sanchez has been. But, as I alluded to at the beginning, and as this article is about, the Jets can still make the play-offs.
As it stands, they’re in contention for a wildcard spot with the Steelers, Bengals and the Colts. With the Colts sitting at 9-4, and with a game against the Chiefs in their penultimate game, you’d have to say that they’re pretty much guaranteed one of the spots. So that would leave the Steelers & the Bengals in the AFC North, both on 7-6. The AFC North has been a strong division for a number of years now, with 3 teams emerging from this division last season. But, it looks like in order for the Jets to get the one remaining wildcard spot, they’d need these two to slip up.
With the Steelers losing to the Chargers in Big Ben’s first outing since being sidelined with the injury sustained against the Chiefs, they’ll be looking to respond in their remaining games. They face the Cowboys away, and the Bengals & Browns at home. Whereas the Bengals, who lost to the Cowboys in a game they should have won, have the Eagles & Steelers away, as well as the Ravens at home. The key game will be the Steelers vs Bengals, with the winner of that match probably heading to the play-offs.
It’s all very tight for the Jets, and they just have to get their job done and hope that they manage to squeeze into the play-offs. In their last 3 games they face teams with a combined record of 14-25, with the Titans away, the Chargers at home and then the Bills away to conclude the season. On paper, there’s potentially 3 wins there for the Jets, but then again this is the Jets. After going 8-8 last year, and Rex Ryan saying that wasn’t good enough, who knows what will happen if they end up with the same record this season, which is looking very likely.
There’s been talk about Ryan’s future, as there always seems to be in NY, and yet with a kinder schedule and less injuries to their key players, they could maybe have had a better season. Or we could just be brutally honest and agree that the Jets aren’t really a very good team! With lots of work to do in the post season, and maybe even a change of coach to come, it’s clear that the media will still have plenty to talk about. Even if the NFL gods do end up smiling on the Jets and they make it through to the play-offs via a wildcard, you wouldn’t be able to look past a 1 game and out situation, at the hands of either the Ravens, Broncos or Patriots. Whether an appearance in the play-offs is enough to bring back Fireman Ed remains to be seen, but what we can be certain of is that you’ll never stop being entertained by the circus that is the NY Jets.