Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Only One Pig: New York Jets

Colin and I missed a day. The world didn't stop rotating on its axis. At least we're more consistent than Pro Football Talk, who is about three weeks late on their first commitment on season previews. Basically, we were golfing. Alright? Is that what you wanted to hear?

In case anyone cares, I broke 100 for the first time yesterday. That rocks.

Also, El Jefe has a girlfriend now. So the questions can stop.

On to a team that just isn't getting the level of respect I think is due, the New York Jets. By "level of respect" I mean, "isn't the worst team in the NFL yet everyone thinks they are". There are a few reasons why Colin and I didn't put them in the lowest grade.

However, if we were just to look at last season we would disagree with ourselves. The 2005 NY Jets were an unmitigated disaster.

2005 Yds per game: 248.1 (last in AFC)
2005 plays per game: 907 (last in AFC)

I'm not a huge believer, as I think has been stated several times, in the whole "yards per game" statistic as a true predictor of offensive performance. You throw one 60 yard run into the mix and throws everything out of whack. You want to make sure you have a consistent offensive machine. Still, when a team is LAST in the AFC, you have a problem, especially considering how many awful offenses there were in the AFC last season.

Plays per game is a better stat, I think. Ball control is a significant portion of winning an NFL game. You have the ball more, you score more, they score less. Pretty simple equation. So not only did the Jets have the ball for fewer plays than anyone else, let's compare them to Houston, who everyone would agree had an offense similar to a train wreck. Houston had 954 plays, 50 more! The elite teams had almost 200 more plays. This does then come out in the all-important time of possession stat, where the Jets had the ball for 26:37 a game. The offensive line was losing the battle.

To me, the mark of decent coaching is having few penalties (difference between Mike Holmgren and Dennis Erickson). Herm Edwards is not a bad coach, as with this pathetic bunch the Jets were 3rd in the AFC for fewest penalties behind only Indy and Denver. However, he took much of the blame and is now gone.

Now we've established that the offense was bad. So bad, in fact, that just about every defensive statistic is almost meaningless (almost, we'll get to that). When the other team has the ball for 8 more minutes a game, they will score more points, gain more yards, wear the defense down. 8 minutes is a lifetime in an NFL game. Why then, did Colin and I put them in this second bracket?

Namely, they have answers at some important positions that the teams below didn't. First, they have Chad Pennington. Now, the naysayers will question Pennington's health and arm strength. They were doing that while he was putting up consecutive completion percentages of 68.9, 63.6 and 65.4. The guy can move the ball down the field. Now, he's not going to make Brett Favre/Peyton Manning passes. Pennington is who he is, a B-level quarterback, who if he stays healthy is not going to kill a team's offense and will help keep opposing defenses honest. If Pennington is not healthy, then the Jets are in for an interesting year indeed, but at least they have an intriguing option in Kellen Clemens (I'll probably cheer for him to do well, even if he is a Duck) to get reps and experience. At least there's a plan.

Continuing the trend of having a plan, I can't praise the Jets enough for what they did on draft day. Getting a Pro Bowl tackle in D'Brickishaw Ferguson and a Pro Bowl center in Nick Mangold the Jets solidified their line for the next 10 years. There's going to be growing pains, but the improvement fans will see on the o-line is another reason the Jets are going to surprise a few people this year.

So Curtis Martin is about to retire, huh? What exactly does that leave the Jets with... some combination of Cedric Houston and mediocre supporting cast. Not anything special. They'll move the ball at about a 3.5 ypc clip and fans will pray they hold on to the freaking football.

What about the defense?

They were definitely stymied by that TOP gap above, as well as the general inadequacy of the offense. Opposing teams were constantly playing with the lead, therefore they did nothing but run. While the final ypg stat looks bad (136.6), the Jets were run against more than anyone in the AFC (34.6 carries) and actually held teams to an average of 3.9 ypc. Basically, other teams knew if they didn't make mistakes and kept the ball they would win, because the opposing offense sure wasn't going to score. I think we may see some continued improvement out of this unit, especially bringing in a coach like Eric Mangini.

The Jets are unfairly criticized as being an awful team. I see them as surprising quite a few pundits who are writing them off. They have a very good plan and are executing on it. I see them as this year's Miami. In two years (depending on QB situation) the Jets will be in the playoffs again.

posted by Gavin @ 10:32 AM  0 comments


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