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5 Weaknesses the New York Jets Must Improve on After the Bye

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5 Weaknesses the New York Jets Must Improve on After the Bye

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets enjoyed a successful first half of the season, going 5-4 and surprising everyone who believed this would be one of the worst teams in the NFL. The Jets are currently sitting in sixth place in the AFC, good for the final playoff spot. Making the playoffs would be an incredible achievement for this team, and they believe they are capable of reaching that goal.

Despite their positive start to the season, there are still several areas in which the Jets can improve. After all, 5-4 is solid, but far from spectacular. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t have areas to improve on, and the Jets are no exception.

Much of the improvement for this team will center around rookie quarterback Geno Smith and his continued development. Smith has been up and down in his first nine games, which is to be expected of a young, inexperienced quarterback. He has shown his considerable talent, but he has also been extremely turnover prone. The team tends to go as Smith does, and he knows he must get better.

Defensively, the Jets have been solid, but there are still a few areas they need to clean up. Health will make a big difference, as cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner have been banged up all season, which has affected the pass defense.

The Jets still have a lot to work on, and they know they need to continue to improve to become a playoff team. These are the five biggest areas they have to get better in, and if they do, they could find their way into the postseason.

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Sacks Allowed

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have had some major issues keeping Smith upright, and it is something they have to fix in the second half of the season. This is a two part issue. The first, obviously, is the offensive line’s performance. The Jets have a solid line, but the play on the field hasn’t quite been where it needs to be. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is the one player who can make the biggest difference, as he hasn’t been at his normal Pro Bowl level this season.

The other issue is Smith and his tendency to hold to the ball too long. Rookies have that habit, and the amount of injuries to his receiving corps has made his life difficult. Regardless of the cause, Smith must speed up his decision making, without sacrificing accuracy. This is the most challenging improvement for every young quarterback, but Smith needs to develop in this area for the Jets to be a playoff team.

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Production from Playmakers

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Health has more of a problem than anything here, as Santonio Holmes, Jeff Cumberland, Chris Ivory, Mike Goodson, Stephen Hill and now Jeremy Kerley have all missed time with injuries. However, Holmes and Cumberland are returning after the bye week, as is suspended tight end Kellen Winslow.

The Jets have to be able to support Smith, and Ivory and Bilal Powell have given him a strong running game. Holmes gives him his favorite target back, and Cumberland returns his best red zone threat. The loss of Kerley will hurt, but the addition of David Nelson has proven to be a huge boost. The Jets have to be able have big plays to threaten defenses, and their playmakers need to do exactly that.

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Pass Defense

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The injuries to Cromartie and Milliner have been a major problem, and Cromartie’s play has slipped noticeably from last season. This team clearly misses Darrelle Revis, and they need Cromartie and Milliner to get better in the second half of the season. Luckily, there aren’t any top passing attacks left on their schedule.

Despite the easier schedule, the Jets can’t afford to have their pass defense to be their weak link. All it takes is one big play to lose a game, and their secondary can’t make mistakes like that. The playoff race is going to come down to the wire, and the Jets need to have their defense on top of its game.

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Performance in Road Games

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have a significant home/road split, going 4-1 at MetLife Stadium but just 1-3 elsewhere. The Jets play four of their final seven games on the road, including at the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins, two of the challengers for the final AFC Wild Card Spot.

The Jets have to be able to win on the road, because just winning at home won’t get them into the playoffs. 9-7 may very well be good enough to make the playoffs, but that requires at least two road wins. The Jets have to get these victories, or they will be stuck with a losing season.

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This is the biggest area the Jets need to improve. They have been a roller coaster all season, alternating wins and losses in every game. Smith has had wild fluctuations in his play, and the run game and defense have had their own significant swings in performance.

8-8 would exceed all preseason expectations, but the Jets have much higher goals now. They want to be a playoff team, but they are going to need to put together their first winning streak in order to do it. The schedule looks promising for the Jets, but it remains to be seen if they will be as successful they need to be to make the postseason.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google