New York Jets: 7 Questions That Remain Unanswered After Week 1
Yes, the Jets made a huge statement last Sunday by laying the smackdown on the supposedly improved Buffalo Bills, but there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered for the green and white.
In fact, the Jets dominance of the game may actually raise more questions as to exactly how good this Jets team is. Was Sunday's result a reflection of a terrific Jets team? Or, are the Bills just that bad? Or, is it both?
Here are seven remaining questions for the Jets to answer heading into Week 2.
Can Mark Sanchez Keep Playing at a High Level?
Sanchez stuck it to his haters on Sunday by posting the best game of his career, completing over 70 percent of his passes and throwing for three scores. His only interception came on a bobbled pass.
He was poised, confident and showed a level of comfort operating Tony Sparano's offense that he has never shown in the Brian Schottenheimer era.
Most importantly, he got the ball to his playmakers and actually stretched the field more than eight yards with his arm.
However, while Sanchez has flashed the ability to put together games like this, he has never been able to put it together for long stretches at a time. Consistency, more than anything else, has been Sanchez's Achilles' heel.
Much of what Sanchez does from here will depend on the play of the players around him. Can his line protect him from elite pass-rushers every game? Will Stephen Hill continue to get open against more experienced corners? All of these factors will have a big impact on Sanchez's performance moving forward.
What Is the Fate of the Wildcat?
When you compare the success of the Wildcat package against the "regular" offense engineered by Mark Sanchez, it is easy to dismiss the Wildcat as nothing but a gimmick that just takes a productive quarterback out of the game and disrupts the rhythm of the offense.
However, while the numbers may not show it, the Wildcat served an important role in Sanchez's success. The mere presence of the package put the Bills in more simplistic, vanilla defenses that Sanchez was able to pick apart.
Of course, the Jets have yet to fully unleash the full extension of the Wildcat package, as Tebow never attempted a pass in his handful of snaps. You can bet that the Jets have a lot more tricks up their sleeve to throw off defenses and get big chunks of yardage.
Moving forward, the use of the Wildcat will hinge on the performance of the base offense. If Sanchez keeps playing at this level, there is really is no point in bringing in Tebow to stall a productive drive. However, it can still be used in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Where Is the Pass Rush?
Despite making a concerted effort to beef up their defensive line (at the expense of other needy positions), the Jets pass rush was unable to get much pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick, failing to record a sack all afternoon.
However, while the sack numbers may not be there, it is worth noting that the Bills are not an easy team to sack. Because of their quick-strike offense in which Fitzpatrick gets rid of the ball very quickly, the Bills gave up fewer sacks in the regular season than any other team in the NFL last year, allowing 23.
Ultimately, the Jets' secondary was good enough to get the job done, creating turnovers and scoring touchdowns of their own in the rout. However, relying on fumbles and horrific decisions by the opposing quarterback is no way to field a consistently great defense.
Therefore, while there should not be too much cause for concern based on Sunday's performance, players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples are going to have to step up their game when they go against the Steelers (and their weak offensive line) next week.
If the Jets cannot get pressure against a banged-up Steelers line, then it would be time to worry about the pass rush.
Is Darrelle Revis Going to Be OK?
It is difficult to overstate what Darrelle Revis brings to the Jets defense. Without Revis in the fold, the Jets are going to have a tough time dealing with the likes of Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, especially if the pass rush continues to disappoint.
Despite suffering a "mild" concussion late in Sunday's game, Revis is on pace to play against the Steelers next Sunday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. However, head injuries, especially concussions, are tricky, and complications can always flare up between now and Sunday.
The absence of Revis would not be entirely catastrophic, as Kyle Wilson played as a boundary corner during his days at Boise State. Ellis Lankster, the man behind Wilson on the depth chart, had a strong summer as well.
Still, while the Jets may be able to survive a game or two, there really is no such thing as a "mild" concussion for professional football players.
Can Stephen Hill Continue to Produce at a High Level?
After a preseason filled with ups and (mostly) downs, Hill showed the football world why the Jets moved up to draft him in the second (and even considered taking him in the first round).
Hill abused fellow rookie Stephon Gilmore with his speed and leaping ability on the long touchdown pass from Sanchez. His toughness was evident on his second score, turning a routine crossing pattern into a touchdown by running over Bills defenders.
What makes his debut even more impressive is that he was actually sick during the game, as reported by Brian Costello of the New York Post:
He wasn’t feeling good. He actually got sick a couple of times on the sideline. [He] showed that toughness that we knew he had. That’s kind of what we’ve been seeing through the mini-camps, is that he’s ahead of where most rookie receivers are.
However, as impressive as Hill was, he was going against a rookie corner and catching passes from a hot quarterback who had plenty of time to throw. While I would not expect this kind of production every week from Hill, he certainly showed a lot of talent and grit for a young rookie.
Is the Run Defense That Bad?
While the Jets turned in about as complete of a game as you can ask for, they were gashed on the ground by C.J. Spiller, who accumulated 169 yards on just 14 rushing attempts.
Much of this can be chalked up to a lack of concentration and discipline in a game that was already in hand by halftime, but the Jets have shown vulnerability to faster runners like Spiller in the past. Last year, Darren McFadden torched the Jets defense and essentially cost them a game.
Some of Spiller's biggest runs came from poor tackling, but the Jets also gave him big cutback lanes by not setting the edge like he should have. On one run, Spiller turned what would have been a sure loss into a big gain by running out of a Kenrick Ellis tackle and taking advantage of a Jets defense that was completely out of position.
Again, everything done in the second half should be taken with a grain of salt, as the game was already in hand, but this is starting to become a disturbing trend for a team that prides themselves on stopping the run first and foremost.
What Took the Jets so Long to Start Austin Howard?
This is one question we will never know the answer to.
Seriously, I would have loved to be in the meeting room when they decided to keep not only Wayne Hunter as the starter but pay him a handsome roster bonus to do so. How can people who evaluate players for a living possible think that Hunter was the superior player to Howard or anyone else on the market?
After watching Hunter for the past season and a half, why not do everything they could to replace Hunter? What were the Jets afraid of? That Austin Howard would screw up their dynamic offense that was on pace to score zero touchdowns this season?
Nonetheless, Howard played a fantastic game against on one of the best pass-rushers in the game. Howard's emergence saved Tannenbaum big time, it give Mr. T credit for making the right decision in time, even if he did flirt with disaster.