New York Jets football had a bit of an identity crisis in the beginning of the season. And that crisis almost lead to their early demise. Before the season started, the Jets talked a big game --of course-- and spoke about the importance of winning the AFC East. Division title? Home-field advantage in the Playoffs? Playoffs?!The team was 2-3 (could've easily been 1-4 if it weren't for Tony Romo's desire to lose the game) and heading towards disaster. Their talk of winning the division seemed out of reach and absurd.
The Jets are now done with their first half of the season; they snapped out of their early season funk just in time and are now 5-3, tied for first place in the AFC east.
They start their second half of the season with a very important game that should set the tone for how they finish the rest of the season. The Jets will face the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. But before we get into their showdown on Sunday night and their second half of the season, let's take a look at how they did the first half and grade them, shall we?
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, wanted third-year QB Mark Sanchez to air it out this season. That didn't work so well. Mark Sanchez is inconsistent and is known for slow starts. Although his accuracy has gotten slightly better he has not shown, yet, that he can take over a game. He is better suited as a game manager, when the Jets are running the ball well. His turnovers can be a killer (10 turnovers - 7 interceptions and 3 fumbles) and he needs to improve this in the second half of the season.
Aside from that appalling game Sanchez had against the Ravens, he hasn't fared too horrible. Mark has completed 57% of his passes for 1,775 yards and 13 touchdowns, so far. Mark is under a microscope and has been under scrutiny this entire season, and, let's face it, he's no Aaron Rodgers, but the Jets' success walks hand-in-hand with him being under center; if Sanchez goes down, then how would the Jets do. It would be a disaster.
First-half season grade: C+
The Jets' running game looked horrible the first four games of the season. Shonn Greene was slated as the Jets' primary running back, but Greene started off slow and showed he couldn't handle the workload. The Jets' running game is ranked 25th in the league. Not good for a team that prides itself on its ground and pound, but things seem to be changing for the better. Greene's last four games have shown his improvement. He's churning out yards after contact, averaging more yards per carry in the last four games.
LaDainian Tomlinson is doing a decent job as a third-down back.
first-half season grade: C
With the Jets' receivers names and their resumes, on paper, they should be the stars of the team. But that is far from the truth. Jets' receivers have not shown the potential threat they can be --where in the world is #1 receiver Santonio Holmes--. It could be because of the lack of chemistry Mark has shown with his new receivers Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason (no longer with the team). Although, Plaxico looks to have improved recently.
Did Jets' management make a mistake in dismantling the flight boys? Mark Sanchez built some rapport with the old receiving corps. Let's hope the new receiving corps. can be more of a threat the second half of the season.
The one who has had a good season so far has been Dustin Keller. He leads the team with 29 receptions. Keller has 436 yards and two touchdowns.
first-half season grade: C-
What used to be the Jets' strength did not seem like it the first few games of the season. The line couldn't block, I'm looking at you Wayne Hunter, (it didn't help that Nick Mangold was out for two games) and it is a shocker that Mark Sanchez was seriously hurt, the way he was getting hit. But, the line seems to have turned it around recently; giving Sanchez more time and the run blocking has shown improvement as well. It helps that Mangold is back in the lineup and appears to be healthier.
first-half season grade: C+
The Jets' run defense is ranked 25th in the league but that doesn't really reflect the big picture. Aside from the Raiders game, who stomped on the Jets' defense, their defensive line doesn't look that bad. Piouha and DeVito have done a decent job so far, also, Mo Wilkerson is doing a nice job, for a rookie, so far.
Their secondary is, of course, always playing good football. The secondary makes it difficult for opposing teams to throw on them. Revis is having his best season so far. Kyle Wilson has shown great improvement.
The linebackers are on and off. They have gotten beat by running backs, on the edges, so far. But, the plus-side is that Aaron Maybin looks to be a steal! Let's get him in on some more packages. Both David Harris and Calvin Pace have played good football so far.
The Jets' defense isn't as bad as numbers may show. They have produced 18 sacks, and already have 13 interceptions. They just need to a bit more on the run defense.
first-half season grades: B+
McKnight leads the league in kick-off return average and that helps the Jets' offense, giving them good field position the majority of the time. Nick Folk almost had a perfect first half of the season, converting 11 of 12 field goals, his first miss coming last week against the Buffalo Bills.
Whether it's converting most field-goals, getting touchdowns or good returns on kick-offs, blocking punts, the special teams group has been great.
first-half season grade: ACoaching:
After witnessing four weeks of terrible football, I would've graded the coaching a D. Rex Ryan admitted he made a mistake in thinking Mark was ready to carry the load, and be a pass-oriented team. It didn't work, so Rex fixed it in time and made adjustments, he went back to ground and pound. It worked.
Rex also did a nice job of handling the locker room turmoil, which could've ended badly, ruining any chances of success this season. Now, the Jets are back to winning and it has boosted their confidence. If they continue playing the way they have the past few weeks, the second half of their season looks to be promising.
first-half season grade: B+