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It may sound overly presumptuous that the best is yet to come for the New York Jets this season. Still, the prediction is right on the money: we’ve already seen the worst that this still-talented Super Bowl contender squad has to offer. The Jets’ purported “ground and pound” running attack has been mercilessly grounded and pounded; starting RB Shonn Greene, who by some miracle is flagged as a “do-not” cut by the Yahoo.com fantasy sports advisory, is averaging a dismal 1.1 yards a carry. Mark Sanchez (6TDs, 5INTs, 55% completions, 75 QB rating) has gone from a promising sophomore QB in 2010 to just plain sophomoric thus far in 2011. And that’s not even the worst of it: the Jets once trumped up defensive line has given up a whopping 522 yards total yardage in the league this year, good for 27th in the NFL.
Still, even given these atrocious statistics, there are some things to consider before dismissing the Jets playoff hopes:
One could argue that things are about to go from bad to hopeless as the floundering (but still 2-2!) Jets play against the offensive juggernaut New England Patriots this Sunday. Actually, quite the opposite is true, as the Jets match up well against New England on various fronts.
The Patriots have had it easy thus far on the offensive-end, going 3-1 against the Dolphins, Chargers, Bills, and Raiders: all teams in the bottom half of the league in team-defense. Tom Brady, who started this year off accumulating 900 yards in two games, has since passed for 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 46/75 competions. Brady’s decline in performance the last two weeks against mediocre secondaries bodes well that the Patriots pass offense will struggle against Darrelle Revis and company. And while the Patriots run-by-committee offense is in the top 10 in the NFL, it’s still relatively unproven, and not nearly as threatening as McFadden.
The Patriots’ defense should provide an ideal opportunity for Mark Sanchez and his receiving corps to come together in a big-game setting. The Patriots wish they had the same problems the Jets defense currently have: the Pats rank at the bottom of the league in 1st downs allowed (31st), pass yards allowed (32nd), and yards / attempt (25th).
The New York Jets may be an imperfect, rag-tag, 23rd hour miracle play squad that scrapped their way to deep playoff runs over the past two years. However, one thing the Jets have done without fail is win “must-win games” and take advantage of opponents’ weaknesses when the circumstances were right. We saw a little bit of the Jets resilience this year when the Jets exposed Tony Romo’s propensity for late-game meltdowns by mounting a 10-point comeback against the Cowboys in the 4th quarter of Week 1. It would seem the Patriots have enough weaknesses for the Jets to exploit and find yet another way to scrap up a must-win game at just the right time.