Can the New York Jets Really Make a Deep Playoff Run This Season?

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Can the New York  Jets Really Make a Deep Playoff Run This Season?
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

"Oh yes, definitely. We will be in the playoffs and deep in the playoffs."

The mighty-confident words of New York Jets second-year wide receiver Stephen Hill, via NFL.com.

Heck, if you don't believe in yourself and your team, what's the point of playing, right? 

Instead of instantly making a mockery of Hill's comments like the gentlemen did on NFL AM, let's reasonably break down the merits of the wideout's bold assurance before forming an opinion on the Jets' 2013 playoff chances. 

The easiest and most legitimate knock on the Jets is their unenviable quarterback situation. Despite Mark Sanchez's newfound confidence—that could be likened to Hill's conviction—the reality is that he's far from a viable quarterback. 

In his first two seasons, his deficiencies were masked behind a stout defense, Rex Ryan's assailing, bewildering blitz-happy scheme, a stonewall offensive line and a dependable running game. 

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
At the end of the 2009 season, Sanchez's first in the NFL, no team ran more times (607) or for more yards (2,756) than the Jets. Conversely, only three clubs allowed fewer yards per carry than Gang Green did that season (3.8). 

Going a step further, New York allowed the fewest yards, points and touchdowns per drive, according to FootballOutsiders.

The following season, only the Kansas City Chiefs ran more times (556) than the Jets (534), and Ryan's team ended the year with the fourth-highest rushing yard total (2,374).

Only two teams surrendered a lower yards-per-carry average than New York's 3.6, and while the defense dropped to eighth and ninth respectively in regards to points and touchdowns allowed per drive, no club allowed fewer yards per drive.

New York endured an utterly disastrous season from top-to-bottom in 2012, one that went about as surprisingly bad as 2009 and 2010 went surprisingly well. 

So it's safe to say Sanchez probably isn't as good as his teams were in his rookie and sophomore seasons but not as bad as the statistics suggested last year. 

Even taking the middle ground between the most successful and least successful Jets campaigns over the last four seasons, Sanchez simply doesn't cut it as the starting quarterback of a team that goes "deep" into the playoffs, at least by today's signal-caller standards.

He's never completed 57 percent of his passes or had a QB rating of more than 78 in a given season.

There's plenty of uncertainty surrounding Geno Smith; however, he also possesses a fair amount of talent. No one knows for sure which quarterback will win the starting gig, yet it's reasonable to expect whoever's under center for the Jets in 2013 will be relatively substandard and more of a game manager than anything else.

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
The presentation of New York's defensive and run-game prowess in 2009 and 2010 was an attempt to illustrate how much help Sanchez had then as well as a glimpse into the Rex Ryan way of winning football games. 

Sure, the "run and stop the run" winning football formula has become passé in today's frenetically pass-prevalent NFL, but it's how Ryan coaches, and it's an adage the Jets will have to live by in order to have any chance of exceeding rather low expectations in 2013. 

Frankly, Ryan's squadron is better suited to be that type of old-school football team this season than it was in 2011 or 2012, yet the overall collection of talent on offense and defense isn't nearly as impressive as it was the previous two seasons— you know, when the Jets actually went deep into the playoffs. 

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Defender Muhammad Wilkerson is a downright stud and could generate some All-Pro buzz. Beyond him, there's not a truly established defensive lineman, and the linebacking corps isn't what it once was. Dee Milliner could become a solid pro, but that won't happen in year one, and he certainly won't be able to fill the void left by Darrelle Revis, a bona fide game-changer.

If Hill takes a big step on the outside, Santonio Holmes returns to form, and if Chris Ivory stays healthy—an enormous if—the Jets could have an outside shot at competing for a playoff spot in December. 

Although Ryan will tap into every last ounce of the defense's potential, there are holes that weren't there before. Coupled with inadequate quarterback play and lackluster offensive skill position talent, those holes will keep the Jets in the 5-8 win range, a far cry from Hill's suggestion of a deep playoff run. 

 

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