New York Jets Jump Way Up Power Rankings

Victoria SterlingCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 22: Wide receiver Stephen Hill #84 of the New York Jets celebrates his 51 yard touchdown catch with teammate Jeremy Kerley #11 against the Buffalo Bills quarter during the second quarter in a game at MetLife Stadium on September 22, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

So the Jets have made huge jumps in many NFL power rankings.  Don’t get carried away Jets fans.  This is not a repeat of 2009.  The regression toward the mean will happen soon enough.  This team is a couple of penalty plays from being 0-3. 

Tampa Bay gave away a win on opening day with Lavonte David’s boneheaded shove of Geno Smith that set up the game-winning field goal for the Jets, and the Jets were lucky to survive the Bills after committing 20 penalties.  My favorite part is New York media conveniently downplaying Smith’s turnovers.  He’s on pace to overtake Mark Sanchez from last year at this rate. 

But that’s not how you sell hope.

Jet’s media coverage and fans will keep telling themselves that Smith is the answer, the next Russell Wilson or Andrew Luck.  Until around about the time the Jets have to play the Falcons, Bengals and Saints.  You know, teams that can actually put points on the board.  By then there will be enough tape on Smith’s tendencies that smart defensive coordinators (like Rob Ryan in New Orleans) will have a plan of attack. 

Let us not forget that by all accounts Smith did not win the offseason QB battle.  He is starting now because the Jets foolishly limited their options and exposed Sanchez to injury when they inserted him in garbage time against the Giants in Game 3 of the preseason.  (Fascinating read shedding light on why Ryan might have made that impulsive decision here.  I never knew the Giants took the rivalry so seriously.  I would not have guessed they spared it a thought.)

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Anyway, as I said, soon there will be enough NFL tape to game plan against the new quarterback.  Smith often telegraphs his throws, and I don’t think he can correctly read complicated defenses yet.  But he is enormously helped by new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s play calling. 

There is no doubt that Smith has a strong arm and I’m all in favor of winging it downfield.  But I still don’t trust the offensive line, and it will be easy to limit the offense when opponents can bottle up tight end Kellen Winslow.  Santonio Holmes is still not 100 percent.  Whither Chris Ivory and his balky hamstring?

Sep 22, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) throws a pass against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

If the Jets win against the Titans next week, you can bet we’ll start seeing the articles comparing this team to the 2009 rookie campaign of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez.  But the difference between the two seasons is that there were many more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball in 2009 than there are now.  That’s why this is still a two-year rebuild in my opinion. 

Ryan has done a great job coaching up his young defensive charges this year.  But the wide receivers are a work in progress.  Remember too, how thin this team is at backup for many positions on offense from the 0- line to running back.  Eventually that will catch up with them, and the team will settle to somewhere in the mid 20s in the rankings, correctly valuing their very good defense and their middling, mistake prone, learning-on-the-job rookie quarterback.  But that is to be expected.  And Smith will get the benefit of the doubt this year that Sanchez would not, primarily because he is not Mark Sanchez.  Barring disaster or catastrophic injury, Smith is going to stick around.  Sanchez will be gone. 

I’ve written about that ad nauseum, but ultimately I think it will be good for Sanchez.  He needs a fresh start.  Alex Smith looks rejuvenated in Kansas City.  Sanchez would be an immediate upgrade over the backup quarterbacks in several NFL cities.  My guess is that is why he is probably electing to rehab his injured shoulder than go under the knife. 

The public position on that is the medical folks advised surgery is not necessary at this time.  Just keep with the rehab.  But there was enough confusion when those diagnoses first surfaced that it gave me pause.  So, why not delay any potential surgery if needed and see what happens?  Maybe Sanchez will be well enough for a midseason trade to a team who finds itself in need of a starter because of injury.  He’s played through shoulder pain before. 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 8:   Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets walks on the sidelines against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Im
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

This is the end of the line with Sanchez and the Jets.  It’s too bad because it would have been nice to see what he could do with an offensive coordinator that actually knows how to play call to help out quarterbacks. 

The Jets still look like a .500 team to me.  If that.  Everyone wants to drink the Kool-aid that Geno Smith will be "the next great young quarterback."  All the hype over the summer with regard to Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick didn’t help.  It unfairly raised expectations.  Two of that group are now scuffling along, not resembling the dynamic players from a year ago at all.  And all four played for teams with arguably much more talent overall on the offensive side of the ball than what the Jets possess.

A shiny new quarterback is always exciting.  Folks tend to forget about the growing pains along the way.  But this current squad doesn’t have the depth to make up for rookie play and mistakes the way it did in 2009.

I wish Smith luck. I really do. I think he ultimately would have benefited from going somewhere that he could sit and learn for a while.  There is no shame in that and lots of upside.  Ask Aaron Rodgers.  Instead, Smith’s honeymoon will last until next year, where, depending on his play this fall, the Jets will either draft another quarterback or if Smith succeeds, get him some quality offensive depth to help him out. 

But regardless of what the polls say this week, the Jets will not be in the postseason this year.  One more way they differ from 2009.