Initial Reaction – Ugly But Winning Football, Jets Move To 6-7

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It has been far from pretty but the New York Jets have won two games in a row and three of their last four after today’s 17-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Somehow they remain relevant in the AFC Playoff picture for the final wild-card spot, thanks to losses from both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals today.

The Jets have fully embraced their 2009 style of football – playing suffocating defense and running the football, while shielding Mark Sanchez from taking any risks. It has helped that they played weak competition recently but wins are wins and it is working right now.

Let’s start with the defense, which hit Chad Henne 10 times, had 3 sacks and came down with 2 interceptions. They have now only allowed 16 points over the past two games and are slowly climbing up all the major defensive rankings, thanks to their feasting on mediocre offenses. Muhammad Wilkerson is turning into a legitimate All-Pro player in front of our eyes. He recorded another sack today and hit Henne three times. Rookie Quinton Coples also got in on the action, recording a sack and hitting Henne twice. If the Jets could ever find an edge rusher, it is hard to fathom just how productive the two of them could be on a consistent basis.

LaRon Landry and David Harris were all over the field, combining for 20 tackles, 1 sack and 2 tackles for a loss. It has been a down year for Harris but hopefully he can finish strong. Landry has been a strong free agent signing, bringing a needed physicality and attitude to the Jets secondary.

On offense, Mark Sanchez made one positive play, one negative play and didn’t do much else. The positive play was a huge 37 yard completion to Jeff Cumberland late in the 4th quarter on a beautiful throw. The negative play was yet another strip sack. This team is a mess at wide receiver and tight end. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill appeared to seriously injure his knee, which is the last thing this team needs right now. Hill needs as many reps as he can get in these final few games to keep growing for next year. Right now, the Jets are basically working with Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and Jeff Cumberland as their top three pass catching targets.

The running game was extremely impressive. Led by a strong push from their offensive line, Bilal Powell finished with 19 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, while Shonn Greene had 20 carries for 77 yards. Both backs had a drive apiece in the second half where they took over and showed good burst up the middle. Look for the Jets to continue to lean heavily on their rushing attack in their final three games.

If Cincinnati loses to Philadelphia next week and Pittsburgh loses to Dallas, next Monday night in Tennessee will be awfully interesting.