Through 8 weeks of the season the New York Jets stand at 4-4, 1-3 in the AFC East. Considering that the Jets entered the season with a rookie head coach and quarterback, these results seem satisfactory, except for one thing. The Jets enter the bye week losers of 4 of their last 5 games.
Lets take a look at how Gang Green’s offensive units graded out through the first half of the season.
Quarterback – After being named the starter in week one, rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez has had his ups and downs in the first half of the season. Before we get into his grade, lets just take a quick look at the situation Sanchez walked into. Mark took over a team built to win now, in the New York market where the media loves to criticize players, to play for a fan base starving for a championship. And if that was not tough enough, Sanchez was expected to play like last year’s star rookie quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. I do not care who the player is, this is not an enviable situation regardless of the amount of money the Jets are paying Sanchez.
As for Mark’s performance on the field, his numbers are as follows: 8 passing tds, 3 rushing tds, 10 interceptions, 1,443 passing yards. While these statistics are not electrifying, Sanchez has shown several positive attributes in the first half of the season. First off Sanchez has shown the ability to effectively move around the pocket, displaying tremendous footwork and pressure awareness. In addition Mark has displayed a very accurate passing touch, especially while on the run, which is not often found in young quarterbacks. Sanchez also appears to have very good command of the huddle and definitely has earned the respect of his teammates with his dedication to the team and desire to win.
As for the negatives, Mark has struggled at times with the staring down receivers of his receivers and has showed the propensity to be a little reckless while holding the football. In addition Sanchez tends to be a little too emotional, especially when things are not going his way, which is something opposing defenses feed off of.
All things considered I think Sanchez has played fairly well the first half of the season. While his play has cost the Jets a game or two, it has also put the team in position to win several others. Grade: B-
Running Backs- Gang Green is once again led by Thomas Jones, who is ranked 5th in the NFL with 704 yards. While many predicted this to be a breakout year for Leon Washington, he was lost for the season due to a severe injury in the Raiders game. (Prior to that he was not being used as much as expected) Rookie Shonn Greene had a very good game against the Raiders, rushing for over 100 yards, and will be relied upon more in the second half of the season. Grade: A
Offensive line-It was no secret that the New York Jets were going to base their offensive schemes around the running game. After 8 games Gang Green leads the NFL in rushing averaging 177 yards a game and are tied for 2nd with 12 rushing touchdowns. The offensive line has done an excellent job winning the battle of the trenches and opening up holes for the running backs. The only area where the offensive line has struggled is in pass blocking, where teams have been stacking the box to get pressure on the rookie quarterback. The Jets offensive line gave up 15 sacks through 8 games and the number could have been a lot of higher if not for the shiftiness of the young quarterback. Grade: B
Tight Ends-Coming into the season much was expected out of Dustin Keller, but he has yet to get on the same page with Mark Sanchez. After 8 games Keller has only 23 receptions, with 8 of those coming in the last game against the Dolphins. In terms of the blocking tight end position, Ben Hartsock has been dreadful committing costly penalties at the most inopportune times. Grade C-
Wide Receivers- Jerricho Cotchery started out the season very strong and quickly became the go to guy for Mark Sanchez. Braylon Edwards, who joined the Jets in week 5, has become a very big, productive, playmaker in the Jets offense. Second year player David Clowney is finding his way and has started make big plays down the field. Grade: B
Overall- The Jets wanted to build their offense around the running game and have been effective doing so. The problems have come in the passing game, where it was either the quarterback making bad decisions or the play calling not maximizing the talent on the field. The Jets have to do a better job using the short passing game (screens, slant passes) as well changing up the formations in order to get favorable match-ups. With a rookie quarterback these growing pains were to be expected, now it is a matter of how the team adjusts going forward. For the first half of the season I will give the Jets offense a B-.