Perception vs Reality for the New York Jets, Post-Week 3
Without a doubt, the Jets are the most misunderstood team in the NFL. While they have certainly had their share of extra-curricular activities. Their perception of being a "circus" is a gross misinterpretation of this team's intentions.
The following slides will set the record straight as to how common perceptions about the team align with reality.
Perception: Tebow Is a Threat to Mark Sanchez's Job
Obviously, the Tim Tebow saga was the dominant story of the Jets' offseason. With Mark Sanchez coming off a year of regression and Tebow being just a few months removed from taking the Broncos to the playoffs, the media and majority of fans assumed that the Jets will not hesitate to insert Tebow as the starter as soon as things turn sour.
Tebow was successful in Denver because he was able to run the college option with a weaker offensive line. Why can't it work in New York?
Plain and simple, Mark Sanchez is the superior quarter in almost every aspect. The only way Tebow is getting on the field is if something happens to Sanchez in terms of injury.
The 2011 Denver offense was viewed as a success because they made the playoffs. What most forget is that there were game in which Tebow completed literally two passes to win the game. If the Broncos don't get a handful of lucky breaks, the Broncos miss the playoffs and "Tebowmania" is nothing more than a flash in the pan.
Plus, Tebow took over for Kyle Orton, who is a mid-aged quarterback, who was about to be a free agent. Sanchez is the face of the franchise and was given an extension right before the season.
Bottom line, the Jets coaches, not the fans and media, make the decisions.
Perception: Rex Ryan Loves to Clog the Media with Jets Coverage
If you head on over to ProFootballTalk.com on any given day, there is a good chance that you will find at least one story on the Jets.
Between Rex Ryan's unique coaching style and Tim Tebow, the Jets are going to be in the news, no matter if they are winning or losing. In fact, they may get more attention when they lose than when they win.
Rex Ryan is constantly provoking other teams and making outlandish statements.
The truth is, almost everything Rex Ryan says is him answering a question in a press conference or interview. He may be confident in his ability as a coach, but that is all it is: confidence.
Ryan is not going to ever be disrespectful to another opponent. He may think his team is better, but he's never outright says that the Jets are better than Team X.
Because everything Rex says is guaranteed to drum up Internet hits, his words are truncated and are made out to be more controversial than they truly are.
For example, take his comments about Stephen Hill in an interview with Sports Illustrated. It was perceived that he was distancing himself from the draft pick, when he meant to say that he was wrong for not believing in Hill before the draft.
Perception: Mark Sanchez Can Make All of the Throws
Coming out of USC in 2009, Mark Sanchez was never assumed to have the big arm that Matthew Stafford had, but it was widely believed that he had an NFL arm that could make every throw.
Sanchez's strength was his ability to throw on the run (which has proven to be the case), but his lack of a true "gun" for an arm is not the reason for his struggles.
While that may be true, Sanchez does not have quite enough arm strength to ever be an "elite" quarterback.
By comparison, player like Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers have terrific arm strength that allow them to get away with throws that other players cannot. Their unique gifts allow them to raise their team to higher levels of play.
Sanchez is a quarterback that needs everything perfect around him, as his arm strength and accuracy do not allow him to make as many great throws as other, better quarterbacks can. When he does make on-target throws, he requires a clean pocket that he can snap into, which is rarely the case with the Jets.
Sanchez can throw all of the routes, but he has more limitations from his arm strength than most realize that play into his completion percentage being lower than 50 percent.
Perception: Shonn Greene Is the Sole Root of the Running Game's Issues
While the "Ground and Pound" offense has struggled to find its form this season, it has become trendy to point fingers at Shonn Greene as the root cause of the problems.
Those who criticize Greene have good reason do. For a back that is supposed to overpower opponents with his physicality, he rarely breaks tackles to get yards after contact. He has no agility that allows him to cutback with ease, making the Jets running game very easy to stop.
There is a possibility that Shonn Greene could be the worst starting running back in the league, but it's not like his backup Bilal Powell has lit up the world in his limited action. Blame falls on both the runners and offensive line for the lack of execution.
As you can see in this All-22 breakdown, there were miscues by both the line and runners, including Bilal Powell.
Replacing Shonn Greene may give the run game a bit of a boost, but a change at one position won't magically revive "Ground and Pound."
Perception: Antonio Cromartie Is Not a Top Cornerback
With Darrelle Revis (once) roaming on his opposite side, Cromartie is often picked on by opposing quarterbacks.
As physically talented as anyone in the NFL, Cromartie drives Jets fans crazy with his maddening inconsistency. Plus, he is a weak tackler and useless in run support.
While Cromartie was certainly up-and-down in his first two seasons as a Jet, he has really settled down into being a solid, lock-down corner this year.
He misplayed the ball on the touchdown he gave up to Mike Wallace, but he had perfect coverage until Mike Wallace made a tremendous catch to keep his feet inbounds.
In terms of his tackling, Cromartie still gets a bad rap for his missed tackle on Shonn Greene in the 2009 playoffs. Last Sunday, he leveled a Dolphins fullback with the sheer force of his shoulder.
While the Jets' defense is sure to take a hit with the loss of Darrelle Revis, the improved place from Cromartie can help soften the blow.
Perception: Muhammad Wilkerson Has Not Performed Up to Expectations
After being showered with praise by the Jets' coaching staff for his excellent form in OTAs, Wilkerson has not been able to rise up to the top of the NFL in terms of sheer dominance.
He has yet to record a sack and the Jets' run defense has been leaky. Even with Sione Pouha returning to the lineup, the Jets have not been able to live up to their reputation as a stout run defense.
Casual fans watching the game from their couch are unable to truly diagnose how well Wilkerson has played.
As a 3-4 defensive end, Wilkerson is not going to ever generate many sacks, but he has been one of the best run-stuffers at his position through three games.
Just last Sunday, according to ProFootballFocus, he had an incredible nine tackles, which would be impressive for a middle linebacker, let alone a 5-technique. He graded out as a +5.8 overall and +6.9 as a run stuffer.
Those familiar with PFF's grading system will appreciate Wilkerson's dominance, as it appears as if the former first-round pick is living up to his high billing so far.