New York Jets Progress Report: Where Does the Team Stand Headed into Week 12?
Any team that is below .500 with six games to go is essentially playing a one-game elimination tournament until the end of the season.
The bad news is that their next opponent is the New England Patriots. We have seen Rex Ryan get the better of Tom Brady in their chess matches in the past, and without Rob Gronkowski, the Jets have at least a shot at the upset.
Can the Jets pull off the upset? Can they build off their performance this past week? Here's a progress report of where things stand and where they are headed going forward.
Primary Talking Point
Once again, the Jets showed what they can look like when their defense plays at a high level.
A stout defensive performance is usually the foundation of a Jets win. It allows the offense to play conservatively, protecting the ball and running well.
The Rams offense may not be the greatest gauge of a defensive performance; Sam Bradford's 82.9 passer rating makes him the 20th-rated quarterback in the league, and the Rams have scored the fifth-fewest points in the league through Week 11.
There will be plenty more opportunities for the Jets to turn in performances like the one they put forth against the Rams; they only face one more offense that ranks in the top half of the league in points and yards.
Aside from the injuries to Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, the Jets have been very lucky with injuries this season.
So, in short, they haven't been very lucky with injuries this season at all.
They placed cornerback Isaiah Trufant on injured reserve with a knee injury following their game against the Seahawks, and now are down to Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson, Ellis Lankster and Aaron Berry at cornerback.
Mark Sanchez: The Sanchize had one of his three best performance of the season, going 15-for-20 for 178 yards and a touchdown. It wasn't a dazzling performance, but it was enough.
Thank his defense, thank the running game, but the Jets are much more likely to win if they don't have to overcome Sanchez, but rather get a complementary game from him. Sanchez didn't turn the ball over for the third time this season; the Jets are 2-1 when he has no turnovers.
Muhammad Wilkerson: The second-year defensive linemen had a sack and another pressure on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. He has been one of two consistent bright spots for the defense (along with Antonio Cromartie), grading out as the second-best 3-4 defensive end behind J.J. Watt, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Bilal Powell: The second-year running back scored both of the Jets' rushing touchdowns on the day, marking the first (and second) touchdowns of his career. It was far from a perfect day for Powell; he missed a block in blitz protection, allowing a sack of Sanchez, and he only averaged 3.82 yards per attempt on the ground, but there was a burst in Powell's running that's been missing from the Jets' backfield this season.
Shonn Greene: The veteran running back had a team-high 18 carries for 64 yards (3.56 yards per carry), but split snaps with Powell. Greene entered the season as the team's No. 1 back, but has struggled all season long to the tune of 3.7 YPA, the lowest in a season of his career and 1.3 YPA lower than his rookie average of four years ago. He is a free agent at the end of the year.
Stephen Hill: The rookie wide receiver has been targeted four times in the past two weeks, dropped one and...that's it. No catches. Of course, he might have had another shot at a reception if Sanchez had seen him wide open in the back of the end zone on his interception against the Seahawks:
Still, there are no guarantees he would have caught the pass. He has six drops on the season, or nearly half as many as he has receptions (14). With six drops on 36 targets, he drops 16.7 percent of throws in his direction, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
- Speaking of Stephen Hill, the second-year receiver has seen a reduced work load over the past few weeks, with a lower percentage of the offensive snaps in each of the past three games. He has caught just two passes on 11 targets with two drops in that span.
- Chaz Schilens was not a big-name free agent signing for the Jets, but he has made his presence felt over the past two weeks. He has 20 receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He has caught eight of the 10 passes thrown his way over the past two games. Between Schilens, Hill and Jeremy Kerley, the Jets have a load of No. 2 and 3 receiver types, but no game-breaking threat to speak of.
- The Jets were supposed to struggle in pass defense without Darrelle Revis, right? Then why are they allowing just 5.6 YPA over the past three games? What about 55.7 percent completions? This is also without much of a pass rush from the front seven. A lot of credit is due to defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman for the work he has done with a short-handed unit.
- Speaking of the Jets defense, they have allowed a home defensive passer rating of 67.5; compare that to their road average of 90.5 and you can see why having home field advantage may be considered a big deal for the Jets in their endeavor to upset the Patriots.
It's a short week with the New England Patriots up next, but as alluded earlier, the Jets get a big of help from the absence of Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots won't be drastically adjusting what they do, but not having the threat of Gronkowski will change how the Jets defend New England.
How many wins will the Jets finish with in 2012?
If New York can find a way to pull off the upset, they'll be 5-6 with nothing but winnable contests ahead. The Cardinals, Jaguars, Titans, Chargers and Bills all presently winnable games for the Jets.
Of course, just because they're all winnable, doesn't mean they'll all be wins. Besides the Miami Dolphins, the Jets still haven't lost to any truly bad teams this year. They have struggled for such long stretches, though, that it gives pause to confidence in their ability to string together enough good football to salvage their season.
Only time will tell, but their margin for error is so small that the next slip-up could be their last.
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 via team press releases.
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