The New York Jets saw their three-game winning streak come to a close last weekend against the New England Patriots. But the 3-3 Jets have still exceeded expectations as the halfway point of the 2017 season approaches.
There’s a relative split among fans regarding New York’s surprising start. Those hoping the Jets would be lousy enough to land a top pick in a quarterback heralded 2018 NFL Draft class are probably sorely disappointed. Meanwhile, fans hoping for a competitive season must be elated.
Sure, the Jets have been handed a couple of wins against the Jaguars and Browns. But they also played the defending champs tough and might have taken them to overtime if not for the worst call of the season going against them.
Sure, the Jets haven’t looked great often this season, but mediocre might be enough this season. Just look at the AFC standings, which is a log jam. The Broncos, Bills and Dolphins each sit at 3-2. The Jets and five other teams sit at 3-3. Only the Browns seem to be completely out of the running at 0-6.
The Jets might look like a contender in the standings, but do they resemble one on the field? The stats aren’t exactly in their favor six weeks into the season.
The Jets rank 21st in total offense, averaging 318.7 total yards per game. They rank 26th in points per game, 22nd in passing yards per game and 18th in average rushing yards. Josh McCown certainly hasn’t been bad and he’s been pretty good on occasion. But he hasn’t posted many gaudy numbers outside of last week’s 354-yard outburst against New England. Before that, his highest single-game total was only 249 yards. It’s also worth noting that New England has allowed every quarterback it has faced to surpass the 300-yard mark.
New York’s offense also doesn’t possess many reputable weapons. Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Jeremy Kerley have all had moments in the passing game, but possibly only Kearse or Seferian-Jenkins would start on most teams. Kearse is New York’s leading receiver with 26 receptions for 299 yards and three touchdowns, but he ranks 33rd league-wide in yardage.
The running game has been hit or miss and it’s mostly been dependent on the offensive line. The Jets could have an interesting committee featuring Matt Forte, Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire once all three are healthy. Powell and McGuire have had moments, while Forte just returned from a turf toe injury that hampered him through the first quarter of the season.
The Jets have been rather underwhelming defensively. They rank 25th in total defense, allowing 358 total yards. They’ve been egregious against the run for the first time in years. New York has allowed 158.8 rushing yards per game. Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson have been among the team’s greatest disappointments. Neither has recorded a sack this season, Williams is ranked 71st among interior defenders by Pro Football Focus and Wilkerson is ranked 113th. The Jets will need far more from these two stars going forward.
Anything can happen in the NFL, especially the way this season has transpired. But the Jets still feel more like the team nobody thought much of than a sudden contender. We’ll see if Gang Green proves that assertion wrong.