New York Jets: 3 Things to Work on Going into Week 2
Shrouded in over-coverage and controversy during the summer, the New York Jets kicked off 2012 with a game that sent a defiant message to the entire league.
It looks like preseason doesn't matter too much, after all.
After their massive 48-28 victory over a "sleeper" Buffalo Bills team on Sunday, Jet Nation is soaring high—and for good reason. The cloud of doubt that hung over this Jets team earlier this summer has already started to drift away thanks to some great performances by the entire Jets squad.
The questions and concerns at the QB position were squashed thanks to a three-touchdown performance by Mark Sanchez.
Rex Ryan proved he's still as crafty a coach as he ever was.
The ground game showed some tremendous promise, with Shonn Greene chugging for 94 yards and a TD.
The pass coverage was as good as any other team in the league, posting three interceptions and one pick-six.
The truth is, I could go on forever about what the Jets succeeded in doing against Buffalo, but there were still a few things that New York needs to improve on if they have any hope of beating a Pittsburgh team with something to prove in Week 2.
Here are three problems that the Jets need to solve by next Sunday.
1. The Wildcat
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Not since Star Wars Episode I has something with so much hype turned out to be so disappointing.
Obviously, like Episode I, the mysterious Jets Wildcat formation was nearly impossible to live up to its expectations. But that still doesn't make the overblown SportsCenter coverage and top-secret practices justifiable—much like great special effects and Darth Maul doesn't make up for Jar Jar Binks.
Still, it was a whole lot of nothing for Tim Tebow and the Wildcat on Sunday. The big QB acquisition was only able to collect 11 yards on five rushes, and 22 yards in total when he was under center.
Let's not forget too that this was against the Buffalo Bills, a team that really isn't considered a dominant defensive force in any way, shape or form.
The Jets didn't need any typical Tebow heroics to pull this one out. In fact, it turns out they didn't need Tebow at all this week, not with Sanchez was firing on all cylinders. At least the QB debate has been put to rest...for now.
Still, Tebow is a legitimate weapon that has to be used effectively if the Jets want to make this a memorable season. Keeping a player (and an icon) like Tim Tebow on the bench or in a limited role is just bad for business.
With only one game in the books, though, there's plenty of time to still work out the many, many kinks in the Wildcat. The sooner the Jets add a well-executed version of the Wildcat to their offensive ammunition, the better off they'll be.
2. Rush Defense
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Not to knock C.J. Spiller's talent, but good luck rushing for those kind of numbers against any other team for the rest of the season.
Spiller is far from a ground threat, which makes his 169-yard performance that much more embarrassing for Ryan and the Jets.
Luckily, it was the only facet of this team that looked like the typical old Jets (besides Mark's early INT), but it's still a key problem that needs to be solved.
The run defense was plagued with bad tackling (the misses by LaRon Landry and Bart Scott on Spiller's 56-yard touchdown run looked like something out of the Little Giants), poor reads, and what looked like at times to be overall fatigue.
The rush defense is far from unfixable, and there were huge chunks throughout the game where Spiller and his running mate, Fred Jackson, were almost completely shut down. But the big-play potential has to be fixed.
Again, giving up a 56-yard run, a 49-yard run and 169 yards in total to C.J. Spiller is not a promising sign of things to come. Hopefully, this was just a fluke because there are far better rushing attacks than Buffalo's waiting on the schedule.
Luckily, the Jets next opponent will be the Steelers, who looked just plain disgusting (in a bad way) on the ground last week. If New York can fix some of these defensive kinks, then I see no reason why they can't turn things around next Sunday in Pittsburgh.
3. Rush Offense and Fumbles
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For a team who's trying their best to get back to a "ground-and-pound" style of play, I'd consider 118 yards to be a pretty big disappointment.
It was nice to see Shonn Greene go into workhorse mode and carry the ball 27 times for a passable 94 yards and a score, pushing hard for every yard on every down. It's nothing we haven't seen before from him, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Unfortunately, Greene also had his share of mistakes with two fumbles that were luckily recovered by New York. The fourth-year man from Iowa has certainly had his problems with this in the past, and it's a problem that has to be addressed if this offense wants to continue to go in the desired direction.
As for the rest of the rushing attack, it was practically nonexistent, and definitely a non-factor.
Running backs Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight combined for 13 yards on only four attempts, while Tebow was able to amass only 11 yards on five attempts.
This was probably not what the Jets were expecting on the ground. I expect Powell to get some more action as the season progresses since Greene can't continue to be the only reliable rushing option, especially when he's getting the ball almost 30 times a game.
Michael Turner even thinks that's a little excessive.
The biggest key however, is obviously Mr. Tebow. A 2.2 YPC average on the ground is far from what the Jets were expecting when they traded for him, and what's ESPN going to do with their daily Tebow update if he's not producing?
Until Tebow can prove that he's capable of running with a jersey on as well as he does shirtless through the rain, the ground game will suffer, which only means that this team will suffer.
Placing the game in the hand of Mark Sanchez still isn't the best option, even with his great performance in Week 1.
As for Greene? The fumbles will have to stop. He got lucky on Sunday, but those balls won't always bounce back into the Jets hands.
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Are the Jets that good, or are the Bills that bad?
It'll be the biggest question all week, on every New York radio station or sports network.
Personally, I think it's a little of both, but that doesn't take away from what New York did on Sunday, silencing critics and putting the entire league on notice.
Obviously, it's just the opening week, and the Jets have a long way to go before they can be considered true contenders this season. By next week we all could be calling for Mark Sanchez's head, crying out for Tim Tebow to save us, or shaking our heads in amazement at another ridiculous Rex Ryan comment.
That's just the way that football—and the Jets in particular—works.
Still, the potential was there. But so were some concerns. The Jets are still a group of guys who are trying to find themselves as a team, and it's going to take more then just one game to put all the turmoil from last season behind them.
Like most teams coming out of Week 1, we saw our fair share of good and bad from the New York Jets, now it's just about going into practice this week with the goal of playing even better than last week.
Thanks for the read folks. I'd also like to know what you'd like to see the Jets improve on going into Week 2.