After the first quarter of the season, I reviewed the Jets team position by position on a scale of A-F. Due to the Jets' schedule, the Jets completed their 9th game before I had enough time to watch enough tape to grade the next quarter. In case you're wondering, I won't be including the Bills game in this analysis as it is part of the third quarter. I will focus solely on the 4 game chunk in between the Dolphins and Bills games. Now let's get started
A - Top 3 unit
B - Above average to great
C - Around league average
D - Below average to poor
F - Holding the team back (bottom 3 unit)
First Quarter Grade: D-
Second Quarter Grade: C
A lot of people viewed my first quarter grade as too harsh for Fitzpatrick and company, but I'm still not really sure why. Yes, the Jets were 3-1 at that point. But Fitzpatrick showed no arm strength and a penchant for making at least a couple of boneheaded plays each game. His stats weren't bad, but he looked a lot worse than the stat sheet implied. He still looks a lot worse than the stats say, but his next 4 game stretch was significantly better. Over the second quarter of games, Fitzpatrick posted a 104.9 passer rating (rounded up) with impressive numbers all around. He used his legs reasonably well when necessary, picking up some key first downs and even a long touchdown run. Unfortunately, he had some backbreaking mistakes as well, including a fumble on the first drive of the game against the Patriots that put the Jets in an immediate hole against an undefeated team. His limited arm strength has hurt the Jets at times and he has made some very poor reads and throws that are simply inexcusable. Fitz may be putting up some good stats, but he's left so much on the field. On the other hand, he posted 7 touchdowns against only 2 turnovers and 4 sacks over 3 games, and that's really all the Jets should need from their QB to win just about every week. The QB group as a whole is weighed down a bit by Geno Smith's one game performance, which was not terrible considering that he had not taken the first team reps in practice and the defense imploded. He had a bad interception and took some awful sacks that showed essentially zero game awareness, leading me to believe that despite Geno's advantage in arm talent, his insertion into the lineup would be a noticeable downgrade from Fitzpatrick. Especially considering that his performance came against Oakland, a team that was ranked dead last in pass defense at the time. Frankly, the QBs as a whole played much better than I would have expected during this stretch, making a 2-2 record pretty disappointing.
First Quarter Grade: B-
Second Quarter Grade: D+
Coming into the second quarter of the season, Chris Ivory was an unstoppable beast. He was averaging just under 5 yards per carry and over 100 yards per game. He started the second quarter with his best performance of the season, tallying 146 rushing and 50 receiving yards at a whopping 7.3 yards per carry. Against the Patriots, however, Ivory seemed to suffer an injury that limited him for the next 3 games. Ivory's yards per carry dropped from a ridiculous 5.54 over the first 5 games to a pathetic 1.53. And that's rounding in his favor. Something has clearly been wrong with Ivory, and without Ivory, the Jets' running back group is pretty horrendous. Stevan Ridley remained inactive while Zac Stacy compiled only 79 rushing yards on 24 carries. Bilal Powell had 4 carries for -2 yards against the Redskins before being injured and missing the remainder of the games. At one point, the Jets lead the league in rushing. Chris Ivory lead the league in yards per game. Now the Jets are 13th in rushing yards per game and a depressing 22nd in yards per rushing attempt. The offensive line hasn't exactly been opening gaping holes, but the running backs have been pretty awful during this 4 game span. If not for Ivory's dominant game against the Redskins, an F grade would make sense. If the Jets want to get back into the thick of the playoff chase, this unit needs to step it up.
First Quarter Grade: B+
Second Quarter Grade: C
I really don't know how to grade the receiving corps over this span. Take Eric Decker for example: Decker averaged just about 6 receptions for 73 yards and .75 touchdowns per game. On the other hand, he had a bad fumble against the Redskins and what seemed like double digit drive-debilitating drops. Brandon Marshall also put up some good numbers, averaging exactly 6 catches for 80 yards and .5 touchdowns per game. But he too suffered from a case of the dropsies, while also fumbling and making mental mistakes that have really cost the team. Kerley has been a bit disappointing in his extremely limited role, but he remains a decent slot option. After being signed off of the practice squad, Kenbrell Thompkins compiled a respectable 10 catches for 96 yards over 2 games. Devin Smith remained a rookie disappointment with 1 catch for 7 yards over the entire 4 game span, showing absolutely no chemistry with his quarterbacks and getting zero separation on his routes. This is a group that has the talent to be in the top 10 in the NFL. They haven't performed well in the last few games, with most of their production coming in garbage time or because teams have sold out to stop the Jets' rushing offense. This group is also underperforming, and they will have to improve for the Jets to get back to winning games. Over the last 4 games, they've looked like a league average group.
First Quarter Grade: F
Second Quarter Grade: F
Honestly, I have nothing to say here that I didn't say in The First Quarter. Without Jace Amaro, the tight end group is just not very good. Even with Amaro, the tight end group would probably not be very good. Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland have 4 receptions over these 4 games. There isn't much talent here. It's hard to argue that the Jets have anything but the worst tight end group in the NFL right now.
First Quarter Grade: C+
Second Quarter Grade: D+
Recently, the offensive line has looked a lot more like I had expected coming into the season. The offensive line gave up 2 sacks in the first 4 games. It has given up 7 over the last 4 games. While I wasn't particularly high on this group's run blocking in the first 4 games, it has gotten even worse over the last 4 games. A combination of costly penalties, drive killing sacks, and poor run blocking have plummeted this group in my rankings. I've seen Brick get beaten badly multiple times. I've seen stunts that leave the offensive line looking dazed and confused. Injuries to Nick Mangold and Willie Colon have hurt, especially with Mangold's replacement reminding us why Mangold should not be taken for granted. Injuries also hurt a lot more on the offensive line due to the need for cohesion in blocking assignments. Still, the line has not done nearly enough recently. If the Jets' 4 game production were spread over a full season, the offensive line would allow 28 sacks (despite a QB who takes very few sacks) and would likely rank in the bottom 5 in rushing statistics. It's hard to win games like that.
It's no surprise that most of the position groups are taking a step back here. Our record over the first quarter was 3-1 while our record in the second quarter was 2-2 despite playing against three teams that drafted in the top 5 last year. Injuries have also hurt the Jets in the run game with a debilitating injuries to Ivory and multiple starting offensive linemen. The offense as a whole has been a C type group and hasn't been able to get much going against some pretty mediocre defenses. Next, we'll take a look at a defense that really struggled in the second quarter of the season, especially against the Raiders and the Patriots.