The New York Jets have finished the first quarter of the season at an encouraging 3-1. It is hard to say they aren’t the fourth best team in the AFC right now (behind New England, Denver and Cincinnati). You can complain about their level of competition all you want but they have three double digit victories and you play who is on your schedule. Let’s run through some head turning stats, a positional review and projections for the rest of 2015…
- The Jets are ranked first in the NFL in scoring defense (13.8 PPG) by 3.4 points
- The Jets have outscored their opponents 44-14 in the second half this season
- The Jets are ranked second in defensive DVOA.
- The Jets lead the NFL in forced turnovers with 13, including 10 in the second half
- The Jets lead the NFL in turnover margin at +6
- Chris Ivory is 3rd in the NFL in rushing yards (314) despite missing a game
- Chris Ivory had more rushing yards vs Miami than LeSean McCoy or Lamar Miller have all season
- Brandon Marshall has had more receiving yards in three separate games than Sammy Watkins has all season
- Trevor Reilly has the same amount of sacks as the entire Miami Dolphins roster
- Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall have combined for the same amount of offensive touchdowns (6) as LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin, Jarvis Landry, Lamar Miller, Greg Jennings and Karlos Williams (6).
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been the most Ryan Fitzpatrick possible through four games. He aggressively pushes the ball to Brandon Marshall and takes an inordinate amount of chances. Despite his inconsistencies and turnovers, he has been strong in the two minute drill leading three touchdown drives in four games before the half and has regularly came up with timely chain moving conversions. It still remains very conceivable that Geno Smith could get a chance at some point this season but for now it remains Fitzpatrick’s job.
On Pace For: 352/580, 3,696 yards, 28 touchdowns, 24 interceptions
Despite only playing three games, Chris Ivory has been arguably been the team’s MVP. He is currently third in the NFL in rushing yards and has added three touchdowns, while averaging an impressive 5.0 yards per carry. The best compliment to the Jets dominant defense is the chain moving, tackle breaking style of Ivory. Bilal Powell has been right on his career average of 3.9 yards per carry as the primary backup and been solid in the passing game (14 receptions on 18 targets). Zac Stacy is a plodding back-up and miscast as a kick returner, who is likely to be replaced by Stevan Ridley when he comes off the PUP list. Tommy Bohanon has been better than expected in a limited fullback role.
On Pace For: Ivory (252 carries, 1,256 yards, 12 touchdowns). Powell (136 carries, 524 yards, 56 receptions)
Brandon Marshall has arguably been one of the five best receivers in the NFL so far this season. It doesn’t matter if a “shutdown” corner like Joe Haden or Vontae Davis is on him or he is double teamed, Marshall has been getting peppered with targets and making plays. Eric Decker has been banged up but been an extremely valuable player in the slot and the red-zone. The Jets badly need him at 100% out of the bye week. Stop asking about Jeremy Kerley, Decker is the slot receiver. Devin Smith has been getting open but Fitzpatrick is struggling to get on the same page with him. The return of Chris Owusu will likely help more on special teams than offense, as Smith isn’t likely to lose his reps.
On Pace For: Marshall (120 receptions, 1,600 yards, 12 touchdowns). Decker (56 receptions, 720 yards, 12 touchdowns). Smith (20 receptions, 212 yards).
Quincy Enunwa is the only Jets tight end somewhat involved in the passing game. He has struggled with drops and mental errors but showed some flashes in the second half of the Eagles game. Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis have blocked well in the the games they played in but are non-factors in the passing game. Undrafted free agent Wes Saxton was competent when called in for Cumberland, which was encouraging to see.
On Pace For: Enunwa (24 receptions, 308 yards)
This unit has been the most pleasant surprise in 2015. James Carpenter has greatly improved his play in a new system, Willie Colon gave the Jets his best three games since being here before missing week 4 with an injury, when Brian Winters was a surprisingly competent fill in. Nick Mangold has remained stable in the middle and the Jets scheme has done a nice job masking the occasional issues D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Breno Giacomini are having on the edges. If the Jets offensive line can keep up this rate of play, this team could very well be playoff bound.
Muhamamd Wilkerson is playing “PAY ME” football. He is on pace for a career high 14 sacks and has been dominant in every game this season. Leonard Williams has been strong in the run game and is improving every week as a pass rusher. Damon Harrison remains one of the league’s top nose tackles and backup Leger Douzable has turned into a key chess piece off the bench. Oh yeah…Sheldon Richardson is coming back. Good luck blocking this unit the rest of the season.
The weak spot of a great defense. If you want to move the ball on the Jets get their linebackers in space and throw on them when possible. Todd Bowles isn’t naive to this which is why we are likely to see more and more personnel groups loaded with defensive lineman and defensive backs. The less linebackers on the field, the better for the Jets. David Harris is still the unit’s best player and looks rejuvenated in this system. Demario Davis has been average and remains a liability in the passing game. Quinton Coples is a ghost and is likely to be further phased out down the stretch, potentially in favor or Trevor Reilly or Lorenzo Mauldin. Calvin Pace is 1,400 years old but still can competently set the edge.
Marcus Gilchrist has elevated his play from San Diego last season and been a steadying presence in the secondary, while Calvin Pryor has looked every bit of a first round pick. Darrelle Revis is worth every penny with two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and his standard lockdown coverage. Buster Skrine fits like a glove as the team’s slot corner, providing a blitzing threat off the edge and a sure tackler in the back end. Antonio Cromartie is the only defensive back to have allowed a touchdown and could be in danger of eventually losing some playing time to Marcus Williams. Recently signed Dion Bailey could be a find, particularly if they use more three safety looks. Dee Milliner will also further add depth after coming off the short term IR.
A weak spot. The Jets punt and kick coverage has been concerning. Jeremy Kerley doesn’t provide much explosiveness at punt returner and Zac Stacy may be the league’s slowest kick returner. A returning Jamari Lattimore, Darrin Walls and Chris Owusu should help. Nick Folk is one of the league’s better kickers, in a league short on them. Ryan Quigley remains mediocre at best.
Overall: Prior to the season I picked the Jets to go 8-8, after seeing their start and the state of the AFC, there is no reason to think this team can’t threaten for 10 wins barring a major injury or meltdown at quarterback.