The New York Jets come out of their bye week two games below .500, two games behind first-place New England and facing two consecutive road games.
Losses in St. Louis and Seattle could have the Jets playing for 2013 by Thanksgiving, which is not what fans envisioned after Gang Green blew out Buffalo at MetLife Stadium in Week 1.
To be fair, the Jets have been hit hard by injuries on both sides of the ball, losing shutdown corner Darrelle Revis and No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes to season-ending injuries. But the players that are healthy, save for a couple, are playing at less than expected levels, and with the injuries, a team needs players to step up, and the Jets just are not doing that.
Here are SB Nation New York’s midseason grades for the Jets, broken down by position.
Quarterback – D-
Mark Sanchez has had a poor season, there is no disputing that. But you do have to give him a slight break considering he was blindsided by the trade for Tim Tebow and lost his best receiver (Holmes) for the season in Week 4 and has been without two other targets, Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill, for portions of the season.
Sanchez has completed 52.9 percent of his passes while throwing 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His quarterback rating of 72.8 is among the bottom few in the league through eight weeks, and he continues to struggle at times with his decision making.
Tebow, who the Jets coaching staff said was going to be used in what was labeled a secretive wildcat package, has been basically worthless, save for a couple of fourth-down conversions while working as the punt protector on special teams. Ryan clearly does not have faith in him as a quarterback, so it begs the question why was the trade made in the first place.
Running Back – D+
The Jets were said by Ryan to be going to a "ground and pound" offense, but Shonn Greene has done very little grounding and very little pounding. The rushing attack ranks No. 14 in the NFL through eight weeks, averaging just under 110 yards per game, with Greene rushing for 507 yards and five touchdowns, but the weekly consistency just has not been there. Greene does not have the speedy complementary back to keep defenses off balance, and the Jets run game has suffered because of it.
Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight have not been factors due to injury, but McKnight has the speed and ability to make a big play, so should he get healthy, expect to see him playing a larger part in the offense. What do the Jets have to lose?
Receivers – D
This position has been hampered by the season-ending injury to Holmes, the nagging injuries to Keller and the rookie Hill and the fact that the rest of the unit consists of the Chaz Schilens’ of the world. Jeremy Kerley leads the team with 30 receptions and 478 receiving yards and he has scored twice, so he has stepped up in the absence of Holmes. General manager Mike Tannenbaum made a mistake not bringing in more weapons for Sanchez and it shows. The Jets passing offense ranks No. 25 in the league, averaging just 207.6 yards per game. Some of that, of course, is on the quarterback, but some of the blame also falls on the wideouts.
Offensive Line – D
The Wayne Hunter saga in the preseason started things on a negative trend and it continued early in the year. Far too often, the line has not given Sanchez enough time to make the smart read, thus leading to an errant throw or a turnover. The running game has improved in recent weeks, but for a supposed ground-and-pound team, being ranked outside of the top 10 in rushing is not going to cut it. The Jets line was once a strength, but with D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and company playing below expectations, their midseason grade is along the same lines are other Jets offensive units.
Defensive Line – D-
Ryan is a defensive coach. He loves defense. He loves getting after the quarterback and making a big play. He loves stuffing the run. He must hate this defensive line.
This used to a formidable bunch. This used to be an elite unit. But as a whole, Gang Green has just 12 sacks through eight weeks, No. 29 in the league, and is the 29th ranked run defense. One of those rankings would be enough to make Ryan sick, but both but make him nauseous when he sees those numbers. Sione Po'uha is hurt and youngsters, especially rookie Quinton Coples, have shown flashes, but they have not been good enough. Without putting pressure on the quarterback, the Jets defense just does not work. The defensive line has only sacked the quarterback 3.5 times, a number that has to go up if this unit is going to show the improvement necessary in the second half of the season to get the Jets defense back to an elite level.
Linebackers – D
Bart Scott is a megaphone who should talk less and play better. He has battled an injury of late and could be entering the beginning of the end of his Jets – and maybe NFL – career. Aaron Maybin is a big talker too, but has done nothing on the field to show for it. He had six sacks and four forced fumbles last season but has none through eight games this year. David Harris leads the team with 65 tackles, and he and Calvin Pace are bright spots, but even they have produced less than expected.
Secondary – B+
With Revis, this unit would be among the best in the entire league, but he was lost for the season with a torn ACL in Week 3 in Miami. Antonio Cromartie said he was now the best cornerback in the league after Revis’ injury, and wouldn’t you know, he has actually played like it. He leads the Jets with three interceptions, including a touchdown and has become a shutdown corner again. Kyle Wilson has done well in his expanded role, and the safety tandem of LaRon Landry, who has a pick-six this year, and Yeremiah Bell are big hitters with swagger. This unit is the best part of the Jets. If only the rest of the team could be this good.
Special Teams – D
If the grades were given out based on only the last two games, this unit would be whatever letter grade is worse than an F, having allowed a kickoff return touchdown, a blocked punt touchdown and a blocked field goal. But luckily, it is an eight-week grading scale. Nick Folk was 11-for-11 before getting his 12th field goal attempt blocked, but he has not been in position to score often enough. The Jets have scored two return touchdowns – Kerley on a punt in Week 1 and McKnight on a kickoff in Week 5, but overall this unit has been subpar.
Coaching – D
Ryan has a big personality and is a big presence, but with that should bring results. The fact is, this team had two brutally inexcusable performances – San Francisco and last week versus Miami – and has the defense, Ryan’s specialty, has taken a big step back. Add in the fact that new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s offense is downright offensive most weeks, and that brings you to a less than average grade. Ryan will be back next season, but others on the coaching staff will not be as lucky if the team does not turn things around.
Front Office – D
The Jets have a glaring need for talent on offense and it was not addressed in the offseason. The defensive front is poor and the linebacking corps needs to be retooled. And the trade for Tebow, one that had experts and fans alike shaking their heads as soon as it was announced, has even more people questioning it eight games into the season.
The team drafted Hill but did not bring in any veteran receivers. They had Greene but did not add a complement to him in the backfield. Sure, Tannenbaum brought in Landry and Bell and Kerley and drafted Coples, but the bad decisions fall on his shoulders too.