The bye week provides a good opportunity for a NFL team to scout themselves and look at how they can improve for the duration of their season. Here are a few things the New York Jets hopefully realized before their final six games begin…
1 – Chris Ivory is underutilized – Beating an endless drum that you are likely tired of hearing by now, the Jets simply don’t use their best overall running back enough. Ivory is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, 8.6 yards per catch and has 5 touchdowns but has somehow only topped 15 carries twice in ten games this season. Ivory’s style punishes a defense but he rarely is given a chance to truly wear on them. He is only averaging 12.3 carries per game, which is a foolishly low number. Ivory produces when given the ball, give him the ball more.2 – Jace Amaro is underutilized – Speaking of things you are probably tired of hearing about, the Jets simply don’t use their best overall tight end enough. Amaro is playing 43% of the team’s snaps and has only been targeted 44 times, despite catching 77% of his targets and blocking just as well, if not better than Jeff Cumberland. Amaro is too frequently left to work in the short passing game and isn’t given enough opportunities down the seam or on outside nine routes which are oddly allocated to the plodding Cumberland. Amaro has two redzone touchdowns this season and should be in line for more targets there as well.
3 – Be More Aggressive Down The Field – Mike Vick is now gearing up for his third start and had the additional week during the bye to work with the starters. Remember that beautiful touchdown pass he threw to TJ Graham against the Pittsburgh Steelers? It is time for more chances like that to be taken and for a generally more aggressive downfield passing attack. The Jets offensive line has steadied since Oday Aboushi replaced Brian Winters, Vick still has a cannon and they have the personnel to get down field. With the Percy Harvin acquisition, Eric Decker has been mostly relegated to possession routes but the guy didn’t forget how to run a post since leaving Denver. He is 100% healthy now, has a credible threat opposite of him and should be able to take advantage of single coverage opportunities.
4 – The Secondary Shuffle – Jaiquawn Jarrett and Marcus Williams are coming off quality games. Darrin Walls should be back healthy. Antonio Allen is now fully back to his proper position. Calvin Pryor played well against Denver and New England before slumping and being benched. Dawan Landry is a below average starter. Kyle Wilson is a below average slot corner and neither of them will be on the team next year. You can argue that Rex Ryan is trying to save his job so he should play his best players…fine but Wilson isn’t one of the Jets four best corners if Walls is back healthy. Get him on the bench behind Williams, Walls and Philip Adams. Landry is a consistent minus for the defense, to the point that you aren’t sacrificing much, if anything by letting Pryor play alongside Jarrett. Besides, doesn’t it look better for Rex if Pryor flashes down the stretch and shows development promise rather staying with Landry and his D level of play each week? Rex may be back next year and if he is, it will be with Pryor, Allen and Jarrett at safety…not Landry.
5 – Pick Your Spots – The Jets have been repeatedly gashed when they have blitzed this season. You cannot run a defense without ever blitzing or bringing pressure but let’s hope some learning is done from early season mistakes. Remember when the Jets had Buffalo pinned back deep only a few short weeks ago in a 14-7 game? They blitzed Kyle Orton, left Sammy Watkins in man coverage and Buffalo just missed a huge play. Two plays later, they showed the same look and Buffalo hit Watkins for a monster play leading to a touchdown. Go let your defensive line get Orton or at least if you are blitzing, don’t man up Watkins without help over the top. The Jets will be able to get away with more blitzes when they play Teddy Bridgewater and Zach Mettenberger but need to play more cautious versus Orton, Ryan Tannehill and Tom Brady.6 – Clean It Up – You can only do so much about certain penalties but can this team find a way to cut back their rate of hurting themselves? Can they stop wasting timeouts? Can they manage the clock better? People scoff at timeouts but if the Jets had an extra one on Thursday Night in New England, they can run one or two more plays on that final drive and make Nick Folk’s game winning 58 yard field goal that much closer. Also, stop deferring. The Jets have been terrible defensively on team’s opening drives and one of Marty Mornhinweg’s strengths is actually working off a script on his first series. No more deferring. Take the ball and try to get a lead.