Here at Shutdown Corner, we want to help. So once a week, we'll go in and examine a team coming off a bad week, bad month, maybe a bad decade (you're in luck, Cleveland), and see what fixes can be made to turn around the season. So step aside, we've got this. Next under the microscope: your New York Jets.
Where they stand: 5-5, second place in the AFC East, currently holding second AFC wild-card spot.
What's gone right: Well, there's this: no team in NFL history has alternated wins and losses through the first 10 games. That's right, the Jets have no streak longer than one game in either direction. Plus, they've probably got their quarterback settled for just a bit, at least: Geno Smith has been, believe it or not, a roughly comparable statistical quarterback to Colin Kaepernick this season. And Bilalis Ivowell has been the best running back in the league this year. (The fact that Bilalis Ivowell is actually two guys, Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory, is irrelevant.) The running game is decent enough to keep New York in games, but not always good enough to win ... which you probably could have guessed. The defense is stout, ranking at the top of the league against the run.
What's gone wrong: Smith has been far too generous to the opposition; his 16 picks rank second only to fellow New Yawka Eli Manning's 17. Unsurprisingly, as a result the Jets rank near the bottom of the league in passing yardage, and near the top in rushing yardage. An INT-happy QB is a far more risky bet than a grind-it-out ground game. The pass D isn't nearly as strong as the run D, allowing well-armed teams to pick apart the Jets from a distance.
What we'd fix: Over the next six weeks, head coach Rex Ryan is playing for his job. Look, put aside all the extracurriculars involving his wife, his bull-running, his tattoos, whatever ... if Rex is able to put the Jets in the playoffs this year, he's on solid ground, and if he falls apart in a very winnable year, rookie QB or no, he's in some trouble. From that standpoint, then, we'd "fix" Ryan's approach to the game. He's got to figure a way to keep Geno from surrendering the key INT at the worst possible time, while keeping the defense motivated enough to avoid giving up touchdowns by the handful like last week against Buffalo. This is the time to lead, Rex. Put your best foot forward and get that playoff berth.
The road ahead: Who the heck knows? New York could win its last six, could lose its last six, or (most likely) go 3-3. Toughest matchup is Carolina, but the Jets still have two left against Miami and one each against Cleveland, Oakland and Baltimore. In other words, New York could go a long way toward establishing its playoff viability, or could mess the bed and still stumble backwards into a playoff spot. We absolutely do not know.
Is there hope? You bet your flip-flops, mainly because the AFC has only four true quality teams. Now, because two of those teams are in the AFC West, there's realistically only one wild card spot open, but the Jets have as good a shot as anyone at that spot. And boy, if New York is able to get a playoff spot one year after SanchezTebowpalooza, well, stand up and applaud for Rex.
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