Look, I don't have an ax to grind, here. I just want to see the Jets as accurately as I can, so we can determine how to move forward. There has been some disagreement lately about the overall talent on the Jets roster, especially on defense. Its a key question, because your view of the talent level on the Jets frames your opinion on the Tannenbaum - Ryan regime as it stands today, what your outlook is on the Jets going forward, and on whether or not the Jets should continue as they are designed now.
This article is primarily based on the player ratings from PFF. I am aware that these are not perfect. Two very smart people here have questioned their reliability. I would like to counter that to some extent. Given enough of a sample size, these ratings are generally pretty reliable. SI just came out with its first half All-Pro list. PFF had 14 of the 22 selections nailed by having these players at the very top of the position player rankings, and were not far off on any of them. There is just as much reason to question SI's selection as PFF's rankings. Although these ratings are of course not perfect, I am not aware of any other inclusive, unbiased player ratings system. At the very least, it should provide some food for discussion on analyzing the team and may give some fans a new perspective on some players, whether positive or negative, and on the Jets as a whole.
The Jets 22 starters are listed below, along with their percentile ranking, as determined by PFF player ranking. The player rankings among NFL peers are based on a total of either 20% of total snaps played, or 50% of total snaps played, whichever was most appropriate.
QB Sanchez 29th out of 32 QB's ranked. 9th percentile
RB Greene 22/24. 8%
FB Hilliard 26/27. 4%
WR Hill 82/110. 26%
WR Kerley 35/110. 68%
TE Keller 21/60. 65%
OT Ferguson 15/62. 76%
OT Howard 51/62. 18%
G Slauson 50/59. 15%
G Moore 37/59. 37%
C Mangold 6/35. 83%
DE Wilkerson 3/33. 91%
DE Coples 15/33. 55%
NT Pouha 54/82. 34%
OLB Thomas 16/31. 48%
OLB Pace 31/31. 0%
ILB Scott 33/51. 35%
ILB Harris 45/51. 12%
CB Cromartie 13/103. 87%
CB Wilson 82/103. 20%
S Bell 55/77. 29%
S Landry 72/77. 7%
Some points of analysis, some of which are obvious but important, and some of which will be controversial. It would be great to hear your opinion on why you may disagree:
1) On offense, Sanchez and Greene, probably the 2 most important players on the team, are both near the bottom of the NFL. Duh.
2) The Jets pass catchers are actually not that bad. Besides DE and CB, this group is probably the best element on the team. Here's to you CB.
3). Outside of Mangold and Ferguson, the Jets OLine stinks. Period. What a difference from 4 years ago.
4) On Defense, the Jets aren't any more talented or better than the Offense. The avg % ranking for the Jets starters is 37% on Offense and 38% on Defense.
5) Wilkerson is unappreciated. He is the 3rd best 3-4 DE in the NFL and the only player on the team who grades out in the top 10 at his position.
6) The middle of the Jets Defense, NT and ILB, has been a huge problem this year and the play we are getting here is far below what we are paying.
7). Pace is the worst 3-4 OLB in the NFL. He is getting paid $7.3mil. Ouch. If you have been a Pace or Thomas fan over the years, enjoy the last 8 games, because this is the end for them.
8) CB Wilson grades out quite poorly, despite all of the praise he gets here. This bears watching in the 2nd half of the season.
9) Safety. This was the biggest surprise to me. These players have been very reliable, playing on nearly every play of the season, and have racked up impressive tackle totals. But they grade out very poorly here, especially Landry who is ranked as the 6th worst safety in the NFL, and primarily because of run defense, not pass defense. I am not in full agreement with PFF here, I think these safeties have been a stabilizing force on the Defense. But it does cause concern. Maybe we will see new faces at safety in 2013, along with all of the other positions.
10) PFF gives very little reason to believe that the Jets may improve because of replacements from the bench. Few Jets who have seen significant time grade out very well either: Demario Davis, McIntyre, Maybin, Lankster, Trufant, Powell, Schillens, Cumberland or Reuland. The only exceptions are Devito, who is a solid player and already a semi-starter, and surprisingly, Gates and Jason Smith, who grade out as slightly above neutral.
In conclusion, fans who believe that the Jets talent level is actually pretty good, and that there is reason for optimism going forward with the Tannenbaum/Ryan regime have a big beef with PFF and all other, more traditional team ranking statistics as well. The cumulative PFF player rankings puts the Jets Offense as 29th in the NFL. They are 27th in yards per game. PFF puts the Jets Defense at 27th in the NFL, and they are 16th in the NFL. Maybe PFF is underrating the Jets, but not by much.