At the halfway point of the season the New York Jets are 6-2, which puts them in first place in the AFC East and ties them for the best record in the NFL. Here are my mid-season grades for Gang Green.
Quarterback: B Sanchez- 1,692 passing yards 10tds 5 ints, 1 rushing td– Mark Sanchez is much improved in year two cutting down on erratic throws and poor decisions. Sanchez has a much better grasp of the offense and has been very effective late in games. Mark is starting to become a threat in the offense, which is something that could not be said last year. Needs to improve: Completion percentage which currently stands at 53.5%. Early game effectiveness as Sanchez seems to be a slow starter.
Running backs: B+ The New York Jets ground game led by backs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene ranks 4th in the NFL averaging 148 yards a game. Tomlinson has also been very effective catching passes out of the backfield as he is tied for the team lead with 30 grabs. Needs to improve: Distribution of carries. Tomlinson is showing some signs of slowing down and it is time to get Greene more involved in the game plan.
Wide Receivers: C The Jets receiving group has made some big plays, but continues to have issues with drops and fumbles. Needs to improve: Reduction of turnovers, improved separation from defenders.
Tight End: B+ Through 8 games Dustin Keller is having a Pro-Bowl caliber season with 30 catches and 5 touchdowns. Needs to improve: The Jets need to get Keller more involved in the game plan. When Gang Green gets Keller involved early in the game it seems like the entire offense opens up.
Offensive Line: B+ The Jets offensive line has only allowed 12 sacks and 18 quarterback hits, which is amongst the best in the NFL. Matt Slauson continues to progress and should get better as the season moves on. Brandon Moore is having a Pro-Bowl season. Needs to improve: Reduce penalties, blitz protection
Offensive Coordinator: C Brian Schottenheimer continues to frustrate the masses with his inconsistent playcalling. Schotty goes from handcuffing the quarterback, to airing it out too much. It appears at times that the offense makes plays in spite of the play calling. Needs to improve: Less predictability on offense, get Keller more involved in the game plan, get Greene more carries.
Defensive Line: B The Jets defensive line has played well especially considering that they lost defensive tackle Kris Jenkins early on. The run defense has been stout and there has been decent pocket containment. Needs to improve: Generate more pressure on the quarterback
Linebackers: B+ The Jets linebackers continue to make plays all over the field. David Harris has to be one of the most underrated defensive players in the NFL. Needs to improve: Coverage of running backs and tight ends, pass rush
Secondary: C The Jets secondary has struggled at times, especially when Darrelle Revis was hobbled with an injury. Antonio Cromartie has been solid but Gang Green has had some problems at the nickel back and safety positions. Needs to improve: Reduction in blown assignments, communication throughout secondary, limit penalties.
Defensive Coordinator: B+ The Jets added several new parts to their defense and continue to have one of the best units in the NFL. That is saying a lot as they have had to play without Kris Jenkins, Darrelle Revis, and Calvin Pace. Needs to improve: Better pass rush, pass coverage especially at the nickel back position.
Special Teams: B+ Both Nick Folk and Steve Weatherford have had solid seasons, with Folk completely exceeding expectations. Brad Smith has been consistent in the return game, with Jim Leonhard and Kyle Wilson doing decent jobs in the punt return department. Needs to improve: Kick coverage, limit penalties.
Head Coach: B+ The Jets entered the season with huge expectations and for the most part the team has lived up to them. Gang Green is in first place in the AFC East and is tied for the best record in football. Needs to improve: Clock management, reduction in penalties, reduce turnovers
Offensive MVP: LaDainian Tomlinson
Defensive MVP: David Harris