What’s wrong with the New York Jets? It’s a question that draws laughs from many casual fans, as the Jets are perceived to be the one of the least talented teams and worst run organizations in the NFL. However, this belief is more an effect from the absurd amount of negative coverage directed at the team (cough, ESPN, cough) than the actual reality of the roster.
In spite of all the things you may hear, the truth is that this team is not as bad as it’s made out to be. The Jets have a defense that ranked 8th in the league last season and a rushing attack that ranked 12th. Those are not the ranks of elite teams, but they are not the ranks of a laughingstock either. What is really wrong with Jets is their 30th ranked passing game.
The problem with having a weak passing attack is that today’s NFL is a passing league. The best teams in the league are teams such as the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, all of whom rip teams apart through the air. Even rushing based teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are still more than capable of throwing when they want, which is the key attribute the Jets lack.
Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong for the Jets aerial attack last season. Mark Sanchez finished 2nd in the NFL in interceptions despite ranking just 22nd in pass attempts. He was 25th in touchdowns, 26th in yards, and the Jets ranked 27th in sacks allowed.
It doesn’t look any better for the receivers. Jeremy Kerley led the team with 56 receptions for 827 yards, numbers that ranked 52nd and 35th respectively. Jeff Cumberland and Stephen Hill tied for the team lead with three receiving touchdowns, a mark reached by over 100 other players.
How does one fix such a huge problem? For starters, the Jets went out and hired offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg who will install a West Coast offense the team believes will suit Sanchez much better. They also drafted Geno Smith, who may not be the starting quarterback when the season opens but will certainly take over the job at some point in 2013. The Jets also believe that Kerley, Hill and Cumberland will develop into top notch players, and all of them have looked good this preseason.
The return of Santonio Holmes from injury should be a boost to the Jets’ passing attack as well. When healthy and motivated he is clearly the best receiver on the team, and he should fit this offense very well.
However, Sanchez and Holmes will almost certainly be gone after this season, meaning the Jets should focus on young players. Don’t expect the team’s passing attack to improve that much this season, as neither quarterback has shown any indication that they are capable of playing at a high level this season.
That being said, the team believes that a core of Smith, Kerley, Hill and Cumberland will give them an excellent foundation for their passing game heading forward. Development from those players could save the team this season as well as give fans hope for the future.
For now, though, the Jets’ biggest weakness is and will remain the passing game, and it will be the downfall of the team yet again this season.