The New York Jets' 2012 season has been a struggle to say the least. From offense to defense to coaching, not much has gone right for Gang Green.
Mark Sanchez is in the midst of the worst statistical season of his career, and the team's defense is far from the powerhouse it was two seasons ago.
The ground-and-pound strategy that carried the Jets to two consecutive AFC championship games has vanished, along with the dominant offensive line that played huge in the team's success not long ago.
Seemingly all options have been exhausted by Rex Ryan's staff, and with little success. Granted the team's schedule has not been a breeze through the first five weeks, but there hasn't been much success to turn to thus far.
All is not lost, however, for the Jets. Despite a slew of injuries, Ryan still has valuable pieces to the puzzle left on his roster. Here's how he can piece together a playoff-contending team in the season's final 11 games.
With injuries to Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley remains as the team's most consistent receiving option.
On 15 receptions this season, Kerley has accumulated 291 yards. His two touchdowns have him tied with Stephen Hill for the team's lead.
With Sanchez's usual favorite, Dustin Keller, out with a hamstring injury, Kerley has solidified his spot as the quarterback's go-to man. His five receptions and 94 yards Monday versus Houston were both season highs, and it wouldn't be crazy to expect more Kerley targets from Jets shot-callers as the season progresses.
The Jets run defense has been disappointing this season, but it has improved as of late.
Even in their Week 1 route of Buffalo, the Gang Green D allowed 195 yards on the ground. In Week 3 against Miami, they nearly matched their lackluster performance by giving up 185 rushing yards to Miami.
The run defense showed strides versus Houston, however, in Week 5. Arian Foster did amass 150 yards—the Texans almost eclipsed 170 against the Jets—but most of the damage was done early.
In the second half, Houston carried the ball 22 times for only 57 yards, amounting to a 2.6-yard average. It wasn't enough to win the game, but it was a marked improvement from weeks past.
Next, Rex Ryan will need his defenders to put together a full game of dominance against the Colts. Then he can focus on stringing weeks together, and the wins will soon pile up.
With injuries to Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Dustin Keller, the Jets receiving corps is depleted, and it's only Week 6. To compensate, Rex Ryan may just have to get creative.
Antonio Cromartie sounded off during training camp, dubbing himself the team's second-best receiver (via ESPN New York). The cornerback saw his first action on offense in Week 5 versus Houston, and he was targeted once. Mark Sanchez was unable to complete the pass.
Cromartie could be just what the team needs on offense at the moment. They're starving for a playmaker, and he has the big-play tools to energize an offense.
Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens currently lead the Gang Green pass-catchers due to several injuries. Cromartie likely won't be any sort of No. 1 option out wide, but it's within the realm of possibility that he can provide a threat on offense.
Cromartie definitely isn't one to doubt himself. "I can run every single route in the route tree," he told Jane McManus of ESPN New York during camp. Cross one person off his list of doubters.
There's not many other ways to put it: Mark Sanchez has not gotten the job done this season.
His completion percentage and QBR are at an all-time low, as well as his average completion yardage. His six touchdowns are good for just 17th league wide.
More importantly than any numbers can depict, is that Sanchez's confidence looks shaken. There are times this season that the former first-round pick is unable to complete a pass, which is unacceptable from an NFL starter.
The offseason addition of Tim Tebow certainly raised eyebrows, but it was thought to be a move that would motivate Sanchez to be a better player in 2012. Apparently, the result has been the opposite.
Sanchez has regressed so much that fans are now calling Tim Tebow's name, and rightly so. Although not a prime option, at this point, the Jets don't have much to lose.
Tebow would provide more than Sanchez can, aside from passing. His athleticism and rushing ability could help out the team's hurting ground attack. Even in his current limited role, it seems as if the offense instantly gets going as soon as Tebow steps in.
Sanchez may be the Jets' long-term gunslinger, but in the right-now, Tim Tebow should be the one under center for New York.