Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comWe at TJB love advanced statistics and have long been fans of Football Outsiders. Now that the season is underway, we’re going to take a look at the weekly opponents through the overall and unit rankings through the lens of Football Outsiders. With the Jets on a bye, it is time for some self scouting.
(As a heads up, negative percentages are good on defense, but bad on offense & specials)
Pass Offense: -20.9% (30th)
Rush Offense: -14.0% (25th)
O-Line Ranking: Run 21st / Pass 31st
Analysis: These rankings shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone. Until recently, the Jets have struggled with turnovers on offense and with consistent offensive output. All the talk since last January has been about how the Jets don’t have good skill position players and while that is partially true, it’s not the whole story. Bilal Powell ranks 23rd among running backs and Chris Ivory’s surge has him on Powell’s heels at 28th. Jeremy Kerley’s injuries have made consistency tough, but he’s been in the top half of the league’s starting 64 receivers, ranking 27th overall. Santonio Holmes and David Nelson have been a help to the offense, but their health and time with the team respectively limit their overall production. Jeff Cumberland has been a factor in the passing game, ranking eighth overall. Kellen Winslow had ranked well and will be a help to the team on a per play basis when he returns.
We know the offensive line is a better unit than their ranking appears, but it all begins with the quarterback. Outsiders have Geno ranked 36th overall among quarterbacks. The Jets have been hit more than almost anyone in the league, allowing 62 hits on their quarterback, fourth worst in the league. A lot of that has been due to Geno’s inexperience, but the line is in transition with the two new guards this year. When you compare Geno’s play with the production from players like Cumberland and Kerley, the quarterback’s ranking at 36th shows how much his play can effect the entire team. If Geno can’t get rid of the football and takes sacks due to inexperience, they show up here and the offensive line gets dinged for it. If Geno can’t threaten a defense to keep eight men out of the box, it’s going to make for tough sledding in the running game. Geno’s ups and downs have made the overall offense’s output lag and so in the second half as Geno goes, so will this team.
The good news? The Jets might face some solid defensive (BUF, BAL, CAR, MIA) units, but only two of them rank top ten against the run. Baltimore ranks fourth against the run while Carolina ranks fifth. Run to daylight and the playoffs, Marty Mornhinweg.
Pass Defense: 3.3% (13th)
Rush Defense: -33.1% (1st)
D-Line Ranking: Run 2nd / Pass 15th
Analysis: The Jets run defense and pass rush is the engine that drives this team. That takes no one by surprise. The Jets are making opponents one-dimensional and forcing teams to beat them through the air. Being the 15th best pass rushing team as noted above seems like a deceiving figure. The Jets rank 7th overall in total sacks (27.0) and are tied for sixth in third down conversion (35%) percentage. Third down conversion percentage, not sacks, is the statistic that Rex Ryan most covets. To Ryan, getting his defense off the field is better than racking up sacks. That said, the Jets are getting to the quarterback early and often and even without being on the field all that much, opponents’ inability to run the ball is allowing Mo & Co. to tee off. Beyond ranking top ten in sacks, Mo Wilkerson ranks fourth among defensive ends at hitting the quarterback. Wilkerson is keeping good company as he is only surpassed by JJ Watt (HOU), Robert Quinn (STL) and Jared Allen (MIN) notching a total of 13 hits for the Jets.
Still, not having a player the quality of Revis coupled with some early season injuries to the secondary (most notably to Cromartie and Milliner) has put stress on the secondary. So the likes of Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger and Jake Locker have been able to best the Jets. While the Jets have been inconsistent against opponents’ best receivers, opponents’ second options are the ones that have done damage to the Jets. The Jets will need to get better play out of the team’s second corner spot in November and December to remain contenders and that looks to be Dee Milliner more and more. The Jets efforts against the Patriots and Saints can’t go understated and so the Jets should be able to get healthy and reset their plans for all their opponents after the bye.
Special Teams: 6.3% (4th)
Analysis: Normally it’s been the Jets return games that have been one of the leading aspects of the Jets special teams, but not so in 2013. The Jets are the league’s best team at field goals thanks to Nick Folk’s consistency and Ryan Quigley has proven to be an effective punter for the group. With cold days ahead, the pace that Folk has been on might be hard to keep up based on his track record in past years. While the special teams group is good, injuries have made consistency tough in the return unit. If the Jets can stay healthy in November and December in the return game, the Jets could prove to be a better all-around unit.