New York Jets Progress Report: Where Does the Team Stand Headed into Week 7?
If it seems like the Jets have really dominated the easier competition and have been outplayed by tougher teams, it's because that's exactly the way things have gone this season so far.
But at 3-3, the Jets don't have a lot to complain about. Sure, their offense is hit-or-miss, but their defense seems to be finding its identity without Darrelle Revis.
Most importantly, the Jets are right in the thick of a heated division race with every team locked up at 3-3 right along with them.
Here's a progress report for the Jets through six games, with a look ahead.
Shonn Greene: How long his stock stays up will depend on whether he actually turned a corner or simply took advantage of a porous run defense. That being said, Greene ran hard on Sunday for the first time since December 11, 2011 against the Chiefs and for just the fourth time in the past 22 games.
Stephen Hill: Hill returned from injury this week riding a two-game catchless streak. He emphatically got back on the stat sheet, catching a nine-yard pass on 3rd-and-8 followed by a touchdown five plays later. Defenses must account for Hill's speed, and the Colts were clearly paying attention to him when he went deep.
Tim Tebow: The famed backup quarterback threw a pass that was good for 23 yards to linebacker Nick Bellore and also ran for a first down on 3rd-and-1. The backup has been one of the most popular men in New York this season, but he's always less popular after a Jets win.
The offensive backfield: Injuries to both running backs Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell have left the Jets thin at the position. That leaves just Greene and former William & Mary running back Jonathan Grimes as the Jets travel north to take on the Patriots.
Adversity? What adversity?
Sure, the Jets lost Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. Yes, the Jets have dealt with the injury to Dustin Keller all season.
But the fact is, they are 3-3 with a chance to put New England on the ropes in the race for the division.
The defense has adjusted well to life without Revis, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie is stepping up as one of the better cover corners in the league.
The Jets followed their blueprint for success perfectly, making life as easy as possible for Mark Sanchez by taking the pressure off him with simple throws, a stout defensive performance and a top-notch running game.
The Jets don't play the Colts again this season, and they likely won't run into a team that plays as well into New York's strengths.
Mark Sanchez threw 18 passes. The Colts turned the ball over four times. These are not things that will happen every week, especially against the better teams in the league.
The Jets' only wins this season are against teams at or below .500. They have only lost to elite competition, but with a host of good teams awaiting them on the schedule, it's fair to wonder whether the Jets can capitalize on their fortuitous positioning in the AFC East through six games.
Stats to Build On:
77.1: The Jets' defensive passer rating, which currently ranks fourth in the NFL.
The Jets have always been one of the league's best in this category, finishing in the top six in each of Rex Ryan's three years as head coach. It was believed, however, that this rating would climb dramatically without Revis.
That has obviously not been the case, as Cromartie and the secondary as a whole has stepped up.
3.3: The Jets' average first-quarter points allowed on defense, which ranks 10th in the NFL according to TeamRankings.com.
Of course, getting off to a good start is great to set the tone for any defense, but the Jets have not done well enough to capitalize on that good start. Here's their average points allowed by quarter, accompanied by the NFL ranking in parenthesis: 7.2 (25th), 5.7 (21), 7.3 (19).
Stats to Improve On:
4.5: The Jets' sack percentage on defense, which currently ranks 23rd in the NFL.
Yep, the Jets have one of the 10 worst pass rushes in the NFL by this metric.
Their lack of a pass rush has been a big problem for them this year at times, and unless they get it corrected, that problem figures to rear its head again at some point this season.
45.7: The Jets' defensive third-down percentage, which currently ranks 30th in the NFL.
The Jets have had the 11th-most plays run against them of any defense in the league, which is indicative of their inability to get off the field on third down. That could also help explain why the Jets allow an average of 2.5 more points in the second half than the first half.
If the Jets can correct their third-down defense, the unit could improve in many other ways, as well, especially with the extra energy it would have from not being on the field for extended periods of time.
The Jets couldn't be happier with how things have played out.
Parity is at an all-time high with seven 3-3 teams in the AFC, including four of them in the AFC East. The Jets aren't even out of contention for the division yet, much less a spot in the playoffs.
How many wins will the Jets finish with in 2012?
With two division games up next, the Jets have a chance to either run away with the AFC East or slide way back in the standings. How they respond to the opportunity will determine the outlook for the rest of the season.
They are still underdogs to the Patriots, but what else is new?
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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