Statistics can be tricky things, but more than anything, I believe it’s the amount emphasis that’s placed on them that’s important. Slavishly relying on statistics is a bad thing, just as discounting them altogether. At the end of the day, they’re another tool in the toolkit to help us understand the sport we love.
Over the summer, I asked Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders to talk some about the projections for the Jets this year. Bill said that the Jets defense should be good again, but that the Jets would be as good as last year (or better) would be hard to replicate – even with better personnel at key spots.
While the majority of commenters were reasonable, some didn’t (like this gem) agree. With the full season under our belts, we can see just how the Revis holdout & injury, another knee injury to Kris Jenkins, the loss of Jim Leonhard, and the Jets struggle to get a consistent base pass rush — all factored into this year’s numbers. So, now in retrospect we can see why regression to the mean is a viable phenomenon and Barnwell was justified in his presumptions about the D.
With that said, here’s how some of the Jets key indicators matched up to last year’s team and some of my thoughts about what I’ve seen in the two teams.
Pass Defense: 2010 – 7th // 2009 – 1st
Run Defense: 2010 – 2nd // 2009 – 8th
Pass Offense: 2010 –19th // 2009 – 28th
Run Offense: 2010 – 5th // 2009 – 11th
O-Line Pass Protection: 2010 – 8th 5.4% Sack Rate // 2009 – 23rd 7.7%
O-Line Run Blocking: 2010 – 3rd 4.54 Adj, Line Yards // 2009 – 9th 4.28 ALY
D-Line Pass Pressure: 2010 – 11th 7.0% Sack Rate // 2009 – 14th 6.8%
D-Line Run Stopping: 2010 – 5th 3.61 Adj. Line Yards // 2009 – 2nd 3.55 ALY
Mark Sanchez: DYAR 2010 – 20th // 2009 - 38th
DVOA 2010 – 27th // 2009 – 35th
Shonn Greene: DYAR 2010 – 10th // 2009 – 30th
DOVA 2009 – 12th // 2009 – 19th
So what do some of those statistics mean? You can find out more on their website, but I’ll try and give it a quick rundown.
Defensively, the Jets weren’t as good against the pass, but were better against the run. Last year, teams abandoned the pass because they knew it to be a lost cause with Revis shadowing their top receiver and Ryan baiting the trap. Instead, teams focused on running the ball against the Jets. Sione Pouha was still finding his game and Calvin Pace was lost to the team for the first four games without a replacement like Jason Taylor … a big difference between him and Vernon Gholston or Jamaal Westerman. This year, teams found more success in passing against the Jets, and I think that teams started targeting the Jets third and fourth pass defenders more especially with the loss of Jim Leonhard in early December, often staying away from Cromartie and Revis.
As far as the defensive line. it was about the same as last year, with little improvement in providing pressure on QBs, and holding about the same against the run.
Offensively, and drop in play that the Jets experienced defensively was picked up by the offensive output. Mark Sanchez is still learning the game, but he wasn’t the liability that he was much of the second half of the 2009 season. When Sanchez played within himself, limited the turnovers and avoided bad decisions this year, it propelled the passing game forward by a wide margin. Sanchez’s successes in the passing game translated to the running game as well, which benefitted from teams taking their eight man out of the box to respect Sanchez’s cadre of receivers in Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, not to mention LaDainian Tomlinson as a check-down.
The line and Mark Sanchez’s synchronization with them was better than last year. Sanchez knew his protections, knew when to throw it away, and it showed up with a much lower sack total. That’s more about Sanchez than the line, in my opinion. Also, the line looked better against the run because as we previously stated, teams weren’t expecting the Jets to run the ball as many times during the course of a game.
While Shonn Greene struggled early in the season most notably with two fumbles in the opener against the Ravens, he got better as the season wore on, and will play a vital role again in the Jets postseason run.