Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Da Jets

Wow, did the Jets shit the bed or what on Monday night up at Gillette Stadium against the Cheatriots? I've been highly critical of course of the Cheatriots ever since they and their coach Bill Belichick got busted taping other teams' practices and walkthroughs -- including in at least one of their superbowl wins, that against the vastly superior Philadelphia Eagles back when TO was still trying and was still relevant to the NFL. But, I mean, wow what a game plan against the Jets last night. You just can't say enough about how great Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and that entire Cheatriots team are, with a special focus on Tom Brady, who after last night's nearly perfect and highly efficient performance now has 27 touchdowns and an amazing 4 interceptions on the season. That guy is just so fucking cool, there are almost no words.

Anyways, how bad are the Jets? Seriously now, this has got to be the single worst 9-3 team in the history of the NFL. Somehow the team that made the AFC Conference Championship in 2009 was gifted with the easiest 2010 schedule I've ever seen, and the Jets have responded in kind, going 8-0 against Miami (6-6), Buffalo (2-10), Minnesota (5-7), Denver (3-9), Detroit (2-10), Cleveland (5-7), Houston (5-7) and Cincinnati (2-10), opponents with a combined record of an unbelievably bad 30-66. Meanwhile, versus teams that are going to be in the playoffs this year, the Jets are 1-3, with an early-season victory over the Cheatriots the only bright spot. And what's more, while they've gone 8-0 against those bad teams this year, anyone who's watched the games like I have knows all too well how poorly they have played in mostly all of them, even in eventually squeaking by with wins. They beat the Dolphins late in the 4th quarter after playing some uninspired football against a key divisional opponent, they squeaked one out in the final minutes against a horrible Broncos team that just fired their head coach after less than two seasons in charge, and then they somehow scored 10 points in the final 3 minutes to tie Detroit and then poked one in in overtime to salvage a win against the most embarrassing franchise in the league. Still not learning their lesson about playing down to the level of their competition, they then allowed the 5-win Browns to come back on them and tie a game they should have had put away, and then failed to score in a few drives in overtime, only managing to run a pass play into the end zone in literally the final 6 seconds of the overtime period to avoid a damaging in-conference tie as well against a team they are supposed to be clearly better than. The next week they once again squeaked by a weak Texans team by a field goal in the 4th quarter. Anyone who's watched the Jets this season knows they could easily be 5-7 or 6-6 at this point in the season, even given the way they've played in their eight wins against subpar teams so far on their schedule.

The Jets have had some major problems on offense when they face strong opponents so far in 2010. While the team has averaged a lofty 28.3 points per game in their 9 wins against all those horribad teams this year (plus the Cheatriots), the Jets have basically had no offense whatsoever to speak of in their three losses against the only three playoff-bound teams they have faced, which is one of the most concerning things for Jets fans today. In Week 1, the Jets lost 10-9 to the Ravens, but that score might as well have been 100-9 because Mark Sanchez has perhaps his least efficient game of his entire football career, be it the pros, at USC or even in his kiddie touch football league, amassing just 74 yards passing despite playing the entire game and averaging just 3.5 yards per attempt, for a qb rating of 56 and change. In Week 8, in getting shut out 9-0 by the playoff-bound Green Bay Packers, Sanchez threw for 256 yards, but it took him 38 attempts to do so, and he threw two costly interceptions to put up a final qb rating of 43.3, which is getting right down there into JaMarcus-Russell-himself territory. And then in this week's 45-3 shellacking by the Cheats, Sanchise firmly planted himself in JaMarcus Land by amassing a quarterback rating of just 27.8 in throwing for just 164 yards, once again no touchdowns, and three interceptions. This team just does not have an offense when it plays good teams.

Almost equally concerning is the defense of the Jets, which is still strong but which is not even close to the league force that it was back in 2009. After easily coming in as the top defense of 2009, the Jets' defensive squad is currently ranked 8th in the NFL in total yards allowed, behind Miami in their own division, and San Diego, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in their conference, all potential playoff opponents, and likely on the road at that now that the Jets have lost the inside track to the AFC East crown. While the Jets remain 3rd in the league in rushing yards allowed, they have allowed nearly 50% more yards on the ground than Pittsburgh in their own conference, and the most concerning stat from my perspective is the pass offense, which has really slipped dramatically from a year ago and all the talk of "Revis Island", etc. So far through 12 games of the 2010 NFL season, the Jets are allowing over 218 passing yards per game, good for just 14th out of the 32 NFL teams, after finishing well out in front in first in this statistic back in 2009 with under 154 pass yards allowed per game. And, after also ending 2009 in first in points allowed at just 14.8 points per game, so far in 2010, the Jets have slipped to 6th and are allowing their opponents to score nearly 20 points each week. The problems on defense are still not as pronounced as those on offense, but this is simply not the team on the defensive side of the ball that it was in 2009, not even close really when it comes right down to it.

As I mentioned, the loss to the Cheatriots now puts the Jets one game behind the Cheats with four games left to play in the division, and clearly leaves the Cheats with the inside track to win the AFC East. New England's remaining schedule includes road games against Buffalo and Chicago -- both presumably wins for the NFL's best team -- and home games against Miami and the Packers, which I also assume the Pats will win based on what I've seen over the season so far as a whole. Meanwhile, the Jets still have road games left at playoff teams Pittsburgh and Chicago, which I think it is fair to assume will both be losses given the way this team has fared against teams with actual talent and skill in 2010, plus home games against Miami and Buffalo within the division that I would not call gimmes either given how poorly the team has played even in its eight wins against the dregs of the NFL. This does not sound to me like a good recipe for the Jets to catch the Cheatriots in the division after this Monday night's loss, meaning that the Jets are at this point likely playing for a 5 seed at best in the AFC postseason race. And with the Ravens already owning the tiebreaker over the Jets due to their Week 1 victory head-to-head, and with the Ravens set up to play Houston, New Orleans, Cleveland and Cincinnati in their final four games, even the 5-seed is not at all set in stone for the Jets at this point with four games remaining in the season.

Given the Jets' performance so far in 2010 against playoff-bound teams almost across the board, it's hard to imagine this team going far when they're set to start off the postseason in the wildcard round by travelling to a team like Jacksonville/Indy or Kansas City (they might take the Jags, but I would expect them to be a solid dog to either of the other two teams if they go on to win their respective divisions), and then even if they win those games on the road, the next stop will be a trip to Pittsburgh or another stop in New England. Unless something changes dramatically with Rex Ryan's squad here in the last four weeks of the regular season, one can only assume we're looking at an early exit for Sanchise et al in the 2010 playoffs.

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