I know far less about football than most people here, but it seems to me that in recent weeks, the criticism has become increasingly disjointed from what seems apparent to me, at least. If I understand the arguments correctly, it seems the consensus is that this year has been a pure disaster, that the Jets are filled with holes, and it would be better if some of the players they do have would just not play, have relatively few strengths, and are generally very far from ever being a good team, meaning the best thing they can do is lost, intentionally or otherwise, and get a good draft pick.
My counter-argument here is going to be pretty simple. They're 6-7. And with the games ahead of them it looks likely that they'll finish somewhere around .500. That's not a great team, but they must be doing - something - right.
Well, you might say, record doesn't say too much. For example, a win against the Jaguars is seen the same as if the Jets had beaten the Patriots. True, but their strength of schedule has been a .544. (The Jets winning percentage is .462, which means they have ever-so-slightly been better than the average opponent's opponent)
Okay, so they won some games. But maybe they were lucky. They got destroyed by the 49ers and the Dolphins. That's a fair point, and of the 12 games they have played, they lost five by more than one score. But they also won 3 by that margin as well, including against the Colts, a team that will almost definitely make the playoffs. Of the five close games they have played, where luck would seem to play the biggest role, they have been 3-2. This looks more like an inconsistent team, than one whose record is being bolstered by lucky breaks.
Alright, some of you might say; they're mediocre. Who cares? Before the season started, most people predicted they would finish around .500. Fans hoped for maybe a bit more; ESPN expected they'd go 3rd. They were right. They're mediocre.
That's what's kind of interesting, though. The Jets have more or less met expectations this year, despite a shocking amount of things going wrong. If I had told you before the year that the Jets offense wouldn't have its two most explosive pass-catchers, not a great group to begin with, from last year, Sanchez would, if anything, deteriorate, and they wouldn't figure out their RT before the final game of the pre-season, would you have thought they could win 8 games? Maybe you would; but how about if they also lost what most people thought were their two most important defensive players for virtually the whole season?
Something must have gone right.
I'm not going to reiterate what everybody knows about Revis, etc, but I do want to note one thing about how difficult this year has been that doesn't seem to have been emphasized. Before the season started, the consensus seemed to be that the Jets' strength was the secondary, but its second strength, certainly on the defense, and maybe for the team as a whole, was the DL. In many senses, this has been true, with both Wilkerson and Coples developing, and many have argued that the Jets should shift from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 defense. Yet, if you look closely, the Jets' depth there has been so weak, that they really haven't been running a 3-4 defense this year. Nor have then been running a 4-3. Often, they've been running a 2-4. Cimini has the data from the first half of the season; if you count the percentage of snaps for each of the DLs, you'll see it reaches 2.7, which means that for 30% of snaps, the Jets have had only 2 DL. For some games, it's been much worse; against the Jaguars, it was 2.17 (http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/jets/post/_/id/18733/playing-time-analysis-defense-9), meaning that eighty percent of the time,the Jets had only 2 DL.
The point? Lots of things went badly.
But yet...there's that pesky record. My read? Something must have gone right.
Once you take that position, you get to play a form of ju-jitsu with all the criticism.
Mark Sanchez is one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL and plays a critical position, and the Jets can't do anything with him. You mean that with somebody that bad at QB the Jets have - still - gone .500? Wow, you must think the rest of the team is fantastic!
The Jets have nobody to throw to. Other than Kerley, who is a slot receiver, everybody should be on the bench. Whoa...nobody to throw to either? And still .500? You must think that there are some HoFers on the team! And that's without Revis!
You might think this is just fancy word-games, and maybe it is. But consider this; football is a difficult game, and for the Jets to win half of their games, they must be doing something right. If you think that Sanchez is terrible, then there must be somebody else who is as good as Sanchez is bad to make up for it. Because, at the end of the day, when the games were played, they were close to .500, meaning that though 16 teams might be better than them...sixteen were worse. And that's before Revis and company come back next year.