When the New York Jets were sitting at 5-5, it was fairly clear they would need to win their final six games to make the playoffs. When looking at their upcoming schedule, the first three games appeared to be easier than the final three games. The hope was that they could build up momentum and iron out their winning identity in time for the schedule’s difficulty picking up.
After 7 and a half quarters of mediocre football, the switch was flipped. Ever since Mark Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes on a slant and go late in the fourth quarter against Washington for the go ahead touchdown, the New York Jets have been rolling.
Are they ready to handle the daunting task of winning in Philadelphia, beating the Giants, and then finishing the season with a win in Miami?
There was plenty of talk of getting back to the “Ground and Pound” on offense but it has only become a reality in recent weeks. Shonn Greene is playing his best football since the 2009 playoffs and is looking like a complete, lead back who is ready to take 25 touches each week. LaDainian Tomlinson is healthy and ready to be a weapon on third downs and in the screen game. On top of that, Joe McKnight should be back for the final three games and is finally beginning to get acclimated as a part of the offense.
Mark Sanchez isn’t racking up gaudy statistics but he is protecting the football, making timely throws, and producing points. Over the Jets recent three game winning streak, he has accounted for nine touchdowns (seven passing, two rushing) and only one turnover. The Jets offense is averaging 33 points per game during that same span. Sanchez looks to be playing angrier the past three weeks. We saw him yelling on the sideline after tossing a game winner against Buffalo and you can see it in his press conferences, the constant torching from the media and the boos in his home stadium have him heated and that isn’t a necessarily a bad thing.
If Sanchez isn’t turning the football over, the Jets are tough to beat but more importantly the offense needs to keep up the point production. Philadelphia and the Giants are going to put up points. You can’t bank on winning those games 16-13. Rex Ryan can scheme with the best of them but this defense still has holes in it and will give up some plays. The question will be if they can force turnovers and come up with key stops late in the game.
Having a linebacker with the speed of Aaron Maybin will help against Philadelphia and you hope that Bart Scott and Calvin continued their improved play from the past two weeks. On paper, the Jets are going to have some match-up issues with both the Eagles and Giants but then again on paper they should have had issues with the Colts and Patriots this past January and we remember how that ended.