Who Are These Guys? And Why do They Keep Losing?

Coming off yet another difficult loss at home against Miami last week and heading into Houston for tomorrow afternoon's contest against the Texans, the Jets count themselves among the worst teams in all of professional football. A great deal has been made of statistical and theoretically competitive improvements on offense over the last several games, where any number of changes from Offensive Coordinator Mike La Fleur have arguably turned the Jets into a functional NFL offense. While some may argue that no rookie quarterback--as in Zack Wilson-- failing to go through reads and take checkdowns is the main reason for the improvement, there are other factors that have led to the offense's recent success. An improved Offensive line developing chemistry, La Fleur moving upstairs into the booth and off the field to get a clearer perspective on the game, quicker play calling and tempo/strategic reliance on no huddle, and willingness to use trick plays in desperation. And lest we forget, perhaps the single most important adjustment, getting out of the blockheaded, two tight end, "12" personnel grouping, and getting three and four wide receivers on the field to spread out opposition defenses and give skilled players opportunities to make hay in space.

That common sense has paid off. Over the past four games, and although the Jets are only 1-3 in the span, they've averaged almost 350 yards passing per game. Since Zack Wilson went out, the Jets have led, more than any other team in the league, in total yardage and total offense. Number one at 435 yards per game. First. They went from next to last in total offense and 30th in passing to 21st overall and ninth in passing. Repeat. From 30th passing overall, the virtual toilet bowl of the league, to ninth. Ninth out of all 32 teams. Not bad. And that with three different quarterbacks and against some really nasty and capable groups, including the Bills, who currently lead the league in total defense.

But. While the offense suddenly found itself, or at least found ways to move the ball, get first downs, and stay on the field, the defense, almost just as suddenly has pretty much completely imploded. The Jets have gone from being a tough and capable unit, led by a stout front four that was getting pressure on the qb and a resilient young secondary that bent but didnt break, to the worst overall defense in the league. Dead last. Makes you wonder. If the offense that couldnt score or move the ball out of a paper bag in the first five weeks but is statistically among the best in recent weeks, and the defense, that was living in the offensive backfield and bringing consistent pressure in the first part of the season, but now gives opposing offenses anything they want, anytime they want, what would the Jets be if both these units were both playing well AT THE SAME TIME? I think one thing is for certain. They wouldnt be 2-8 going into week twelve with seven games left to play.

So going into Houston, I think the question we gotta ask ourselves is how did we get here? And what happened? Well,first off, Im not an defensive coordinator, and I dont play one on tv, but right now Jeff Ulbrich and his staff are leaving his players in position to get beat and get dominated. Especially on the defensive line, where the Jets are being outsmarted, bullied, run over and run around. The stunts and line calls lack creativity and aggression, and lead to breakdowns from the inside out, including at the second level with thinning linebackers, and then on to inexperienced secondary defenders who have nowhere to turn for help. However. Its not all about Ulbrich. The other very critically important factor in acknowledging the Jets's decline,and I think its really important to acknowledge this point...

Injuries have decimated this team like no other in the NFL. It started in the preseason with the loss of our best player, and has continued into this week. Start with injured reserve, out for the season, and this is only on the defensive side; Lawson, Curry, Joiner, Bryce Huff, Maye, Cashman, Sherwood, Zane Lewis. This week Moseley, Fatusaki, Shaq, Shephard, and again, our best defender, Franklin Myers, all questionable. It never rains. But it pours. And here comes Zaxh. So let's look on the bright side. Seven games to go, and one at a time. And we're not only alive, but notwithstanding the injuries particularly, we might be showing signs of incremental, dare i say it, improvement? Let's keep playing hard. And get out of Texas with a win for a change....

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