The New York Jets are a deeply flawed football team. There is a frustrating level of dysfunction in the front office and a concerning lack of talent spread throughout the roster. Yet, when you strip away all the media backlash and punchlines…the Jets are an overachieving mediocre team. Through 13 regular season games, there is 17 teams with an outright better record than them, 1 team with the same record and 13…yes 13 teams with a worse overall record than them.
That’s right, the biggest circus in professional sports is having a better year than a whole bunch of teams in their own league, including two in their own division. There is a chance that when they take the field this Monday night, they will pull into a tie for the final AFC playoff spot with a victory. Could you imagine this team in the playoffs? The collective anger and bitterness of all the wise-ass pundits would be worth the trip alone.
How is this possible? There isn’t a team in the NFL with less offensive talent than the Jets. Their defense is pretty good but far from elite, mainly due to a lack of overall talent at linebacker. They have been a disaster on special teams all season. You can blame the schedule but Buffalo and Miami are playing the exact same one (if not a slightly easier one) and have a worse record with more overall talent.
His reputation will prevent him from getting the credit he deserves, but Rex Ryan has done a commendable job this year. There has been ugly moments but those blowout wins over Indianapolis and St. Louis don’t look so weak now do they? People scoff at a win over Jacksonville but Jacksonville hung 37 points on Houston 3 weeks ago and beat up on a Tennessee team 2 weeks ago, that many people will pick the Jets to lose to on Monday. This isn’t a good team but they haven’t quit and they have scrapped together enough wins to play a highly relevant game in week 15.
Rex is far from a perfected coach. He needs media training. He needs to learn to be less loyal. He needs to find a new offensive coordinator and be paired with a new, strong-minded GM. Yet, in a league filled with the likes of Jim Schwartz, Romeo Crennel, Dennis Allen, Ron Rivera, Chan Gailey, and Pat Schurmur…the Jets could do much worse. The focus this off-season needs to be on revamping the front office and rebuilding the roster…not starting over at head coach.
Let’s also not ignore the players who have put together strong seasons amidst the never ending idiotic TEEE-BOWWW speculation. Muhammad Wilkerson and Antonio Cromartie have been All-Pro caliber on defense, while LaRon Landry hasn’t been too far behind. The Jets received some heat for signing Landry but he hasn’t missed a game and has been productive all season. Rookie Quinton Coples is starting to come along and Mike DeVito and Yeremiah Bell have put in workmanlike seasons that are flying under the radar.
Offensively, there hasn’t been much to celebrate but the offensive line has been better than the general perception. D’Brickashaw Fereguson is having a nice bounce-back season and Nick Mangold remains a top five center in the NFL. The rest of the unit has struggled at times with pass protection but is getting a steady push in the running game. Bilal Powell is averaging 4 yards per carry and is showing potential to be the team’s long term 1B/3rd down back. Shonn Greene has been better in recent weeks but likely still won’t return (and the Jets would be foolish to sign him to a new contract). Despite his fumble yesterday, Jeremy Kerley has put together a very good year and will be a big part of the offense moving forward into 2013.
The Jets play ugly football because that is how they can win right now. Regardless of what happens the final three games, this roster needs to be rebuilt. But for now, all you can do is sit back and hope for another impromptu late season run from the Rex Ryan led Jets.