5 Things the New York Jets Must Address During the Bye Week
The New York Jets are 4-3 following a two-game winning streak to right the ship before heading into the much-needed bye week.
So far this season the Jets have looked troublesome and inconsistent. The offense has sputtered after high expectations while the defense has done all it can to keep the team in contention.
Despite their struggles, New York is winning football games and dominating on defense. Fans and media outlets started panicking when they started 2-3, but recent victories against the Miami Dolphins (0-6) and San Diego Chargers (4-2) have brought some calm upon Jets Nation.
The Jets have played some good football in these past two weeks. Still, there is a lot of room for improvement and the toughest part of their schedule waits in the coming weeks.
As is the goal with every team during a bye week, it’s important that the New York Jets heal up from any bumps and bruises that may be lingering before they return to the gridiron. Luckily for the Jets, the injury bug has yet to hit like it has for many of the other teams across the league.
Antonio Cromartie, Nick Mangold, Mike DeVito, and Joe McKnight are all struggling with injury while future Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson is still recovering from the flu.
At this time, none of these injuries appear to be serious enough to cause them to miss the Jets’ upcoming game vs. the Buffalo Bills, but it would be a big plus for the Jets if they could take the field fully healed.
The Jets’ rugged start was cause for concern, but they have quickly bounced back with two big victories against the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. Unfortunately, the Jets have shown time and time again that success has a tendency to get to their heads.
Former Charger Antonio Cromartie had no trouble showcasing that this past week following the Jets’ 27-21 victory over the Chargers.
The Jets have looked much improved in their last two games, but a long season still lies ahead with some notable challenges along the way. The Jets must continue to do things the Jets’ way, but they have to stay focused on the season week by week. They cannot afford to let their pride cost them another shot to get to the Super Bowl in January.
Mark Sanchez Must Be More Efficient
The New York media can be brutal and it has been so far this season for Mark Sanchez. Despite his continued progress, Sanchez has yet to look like the quarterback Jets fans hoped for when New York traded up and spent the 5th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft on the kid from Southern Cal.
Sanchez has been inconsistent thus far this season. He ranks 17th in the NFL in passer rating (83.0) and 16th in passing yards (1,545).
With the tools the Jets have placed around him, Sanchez needs to improve and improve quickly. The big day vs. San Diego was a step in the right direction—now he just needs to keep it up.
Continue Forcing Turnovers
The New York Jets game is all about defense. They made that abundantly clear the minute they hired Rex Ryan to be their head coach and they have not failed to hold up that image in the 2 ½ seasons since his hire in 2009. This season has been no different.
After opponents avoided Revis Island at all costs last season resulting in an interception-less 2010, Darrelle Revis has already picked off four passes in 2011.
Revis’ teammates have joined in the mix as well, resulting in a team total of 11 interceptions on the young season which ranks 3rd in the NFL.
The Jets have also forced an impressive nine fumbles and recovered five of them, which ranks 6th in the league. The New York defense is a blanketing, suffocating unit that should continue to be the key to victory.
Run Defense Must Tighten Up
Overall, the New York Jets defense is among the best in the league. A closer look at their defense against the run reveals some concerning statistics. Through seven games, the Jets are ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed in front of some of the worst defenses in the NFL such as the St. Louis Rams, Indianapolis Colts, and Carolina Panthers.
While the Jets have allowed just four touchdowns through the air, they have surrendered a league-high nine touchdowns on the ground, tied only with the 0-6 Indianapolis Colts.
The remaining nine games on the Jets’ schedule include five games against teams ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards in the NFL. Three more rank within the top 20.
If the Jets plan to survive their second-half schedule, they will need to tighten up against the run and limit the damage they take against the run. With little change across the defensive front for the New York Jets since last season, there is no reason the 4th-ranked run defense in 2010 cannot turn the time machine back for their final nine games and march their way into the playoffs for a third-straight season.
They will meet their first big test following the bye week against their divisional foe, the Buffalo Bills.