The New York Jets spent their bye week away from football. That's not surprising, a disappointing 1-4 finish to the first half of the season after starting the year 3-0, will make anyone want to forget about football. Reminiscent of the 8-3 start that collapsed into a 9-7 season a year ago.
It begs the question, why are the Jets prone to these collapses? Most Jets fans will tell you that it's a curse or sum up the team in three simple words, "Same ol' Jets."
I know a Jets season ticket holder that will not even cheer for the Jets until they are up by three scores with three minutes left in the third quarter, something he calls "The rule of three." He's afraid that without a lead that massive, they will find a way to lose.
Despite the Jets penchant for losing and uncanny ability to find new ways to do it, this team isn't the "Same ol' Jets."
Rarely in my history as a Jets fan, which started in 1990 at seven years old, have I seen a Jets defense play this well.
As of this morning, they have the number two ranked defense in the league (273.4 yards per game). The last time they were in the top ten in defense for a whole season was 2004, when they were ranked seventh. The last time they were in the top five for a season was in 1981. That's two years before I was born.
Along with their fantastic defense, they have the league's best rushing attack (177.6 yards per game). Normally, the ability to run the football coupled with a stout defense equals a successful football team.
Last year's Super Bowl champs, the Pittsburgh Steelers, had the number one ranked defense and the top five rushing teams a year ago (NYG, ATL, CAR, BAL, and MIN), all made the playoffs.
Still the Jets record speaks for itself, they are 4-4 any way you look at it. Where is the success that comes from playing great defense and running the football at will? Two of the teams losses are placed squarely on the rookie quarterback, the Saints game and the Bills game. That's expected with a rookie at the helm.
The other two can be attributed to the wildcat and special teams. The special teams problem should be corrected by Mike Westhoff, Brad Smith's return doesn't hurt either, and the Jets don't see Miami's wildcat for the rest of the season.
The recipe for a successful second half for the Jets is simple, continue to run and play defense. Sanchez is halfway through his rookie campaign and although I'm sure we will see some more mistakes, a healthy receiving corp will make throwing the football easier. If he can eliminate those costly four or five turnover games, the Jets should be playing into January.