Jets @ The Break: The Grades

They see them at practice, they cover them every game...but this Sunday the staff of GreenAndWhiteReport give an in-depth grade of the Jets at the bye week break.

There were 90 seconds left at Invesco Field and the Jets trailed a weak opponent by three points but had the ball in %%MATCH_42%%'s territory. One minute and thirty seconds later, %%MATCH_20%%, %%MATCH_6%%, LaDanian Tomlinson, %%MATCH_11%% and Broncos safety %%MATCH_15%% conspired to lead the Jets into a fortnight free of football with a NFL-best 5-1 record, tied with %%MATCH_40%% and New England, after the Jets 24-20 win over the Broncos.

In the six months between the AFC Championship loss in Indianapolis and the start of training camp, the Jets spoke their minds about their greatness and their Super plans. Six weeks into their season, even the most ardent critic has to acknowledge that the Jets are, in fact, pretty good.

It is in this atmosphere that we at Green And White Report thought the time was right to grade the Jets. Our genuine hope is that our 2010 %%MATCH_39%% report card generates both private and public discussion.

As always, we look forward to your feedback.

Kristian R. Dyer – GWR site publisher:

Quarterback: One has to be impressed with the work that Mark Sanchez has pieced together this year, going from someone who can manage an offense into a player who can take over a game. Good decisions mark his play so far, though two interceptions in the first half against Denver is worrisome. Grade: B+

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: %%MATCH_4%% isn't dropping balls anymore, %%MATCH_1%% is solid as ever and %%MATCH_10%% has emerged as the best tight end in the league. All this says nothing about Santonio Holmes, who by season's end will be the best receiver in the bunch. Grade: B+

Offensive Line: It has been ups and downs for the line, which has shown better than in terms of pass protection then expected. It is the performance in the ground game, however, that has been spotty at best. Tomlinson is getting his yards out wide but between the tackles, the gains have been much harder to come by. Grade: B

Defensive Line: In the 3-4 scheme, the defensive line is being called upon to take up space and have a presence, opening up things for the linebackers. The line has done well when called upon, especially after the Week 1 loss of %%MATCH_16%%. %%MATCH_27%% has done an admirable job filling in for Jenkins and %%MATCH_25%% has been solid at end. If Trevor Pryce can emerge consistently opposite Ellis, then things will really look up for the Jets. Grade: B

Linebackers: The strength of the team through six weeks has been %%MATCH_29%% and %%MATCH_14%%, the latter who leads the team in tackles. %%MATCH_23%% has been having a solid year and the return to health of %%MATCH_26%% will only help the Jets in getting after the quarterback. This unit should only get better with more snaps. Grade: A

Defensive Backs: Even without %%MATCH_8%% for several games due to a hamstring injury, the secondary has been more than solid. %%MATCH_2%%, even with some penalty issues, has been a great addition to the unit. %%MATCH_19%%, who came with his own baggage from Cleveland , has turned into a solid tackler at safety. While the unit still waits for %%MATCH_28%% to find consistency, %%MATCH_12%% and Dwight Lowery have both stepped up in recent weeks to make plays. And %%MATCH_18%% is solid as ever at safety. Grade: A-

Special Teams: In preseason, the Jets made consistent plays on special teams, blocking a kick or forcing a fumble in each of their first three games. The unit has been overall quiet and we're still looking for that big return. %%MATCH_3%% is booting the ball well and with consistency and %%MATCH_32%%, he who caused all sorts of ulcers for Jets fans in preseason, has been beyond solid. Grade: B

Coaching: Outside of Week 1, the offense has looked good and that is due to coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's willingness to open up the playbook. The defense has done well, especially when blitzing, but has looked tentative at times against %%MATCH_43%% and recently in Denver . Improvements need to be made in the communication of the team and the defense in particular. Grade: B

Overall Grade: This team should be 6-0 and can definitely finish with 12 wins if they go out and perform like they should. Grade: B+

DAN FEUERSTEIN – GWR's host of the weekly podcast:

Quarterback: Since the season opening loss to the %%MATCH_37%%, Mark Sanchez has looked pretty good albeit a bit lucky not to get picked off in his first five games. But he showed plenty of maturity as he brought the Jets to victory in Denver . Grade: B+

Running Backs: I have to split my grade on this one. There is a certain running back that everyone thought was dead in the water but once he came to %%MATCH_33%%'s camp it was the old L.T. in green and white. But the running back that was suppose to lead this team since he came on after Leon Washington's leg injury last year has been a bit slow and only scored one touchdown. LaDainian Tomlinson A+, Shonn Greene B-

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Dustin Keller has been fantastic so far this season with four TD's and some spectacular catches. Braylon Edwards has been sober on the field while having too much to drink on the roads. But I have to say Santonio Holmes has looked great in his first first two games. I have a feeling Jerricho Cotchery is being fazed out a bit, but still the unit is doing their job well. Grade: B

Offensive Line: This has been a very good offensive line for the Jets but what has been lacking is the play of %%MATCH_21%%. The second-year guard continues to get called for holding whether he deserved the flag or not and one can see he was lagging behind a bit. But the last two games he has improved his play and has become stronger and better, which raised the play of the unit. Grade: B+

Defensive Line: I can't complain about the defensive line, even with the injury to ‘Jenks' that might finish his career. They have done a good job stopping the run. Grade: A

Linebackers: Pressure, pressure, pressure is the name of the game and these guys have done a great job trying to disrupt the quarterback. Sometimes too much pressure exposes your secondary, but I have to say that most of the time it's been positive. Grade: B+

Defensive Backs: Darrelle Revis' holdout and subsequent hamstring injuries have been major concerns for the cornerbacks and safeties. Kyle Wilson has played like what the tag on his helmet during camp said: "ROOKIE." But Drew Coleman, Brodney Pool and Antonio Cromartie have done a fantastic job disrupting the pass to the wide receivers. After the bye week the grade will be higher than its current score as I anticipate better play from Revis. Grade: B.

Special Teams: Mike Westhoff has done a fantastic job in getting his special teams players ready to play. %%MATCH_31%% made that big punt block down in Miami . Nick Folk has come out of nowhere and he is booming field goals from distance with regularity. Steve Weatherford has also done a great job putting teams deep into their own end of the field on punts. A

Coaching: If the Baltimore Ravens game wasn't such a debacle, I would give the coaching staff an A. So many things went wrong on the offensive side of the ball that both Rex Ryan And Brian Schottenheimer should've gotten a tongue lashing from %%MATCH_9%% after the first game. But they did re-group and are on this five game winning streak. Grade: B+

Overall Grade: I like what there is to see so far but that loss to Baltimore still stings. At 5-1, this is a better start then even the most optimistic Jets fan had dreams of…wait, did I say optimistic and Jets fan in the same sentence? Grade: B+

DENIS GORMAN – GWR columnist:

Quarterback: The positives are that Sanchez has thrown for 1100 yards and nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. The negatives are that Sanchez still throws cringe-worthy passes and vapor locks onto his receivers. Still, Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are not demanding that the second-year quarterback run a %%MATCH_35%% or %%MATCH_34%%-style offense. Grade: B

Running Backs: Did not understand why the Jets would allow %%MATCH_17%% to leave, and replace him with LaDainian Tomlinson during the off-season. Tomlinson leads the NFL's second-best rushing offense (159.2 yards per game) with 490 yards and five touchdowns. That's why we work in journalism and not in an NFL franchise's football operations department. Shonn Greene has rushed for 323 yards and a score. Tomlinson and Greene have benefited from the holes opened by veteran fullback %%MATCH_7%%, who is tutoring rookie %%MATCH_24%%. Would like to see a short-yardage backfield of Connor and Richardson at some point this season. Grade: A

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: The Jets' vertical passing game is based on the running game bringing defensive backs closer to the line and Sanchez hitting Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes deep. Edwards is second on the team with a 16.3 yards per catch average and the recently reinstated Holmes is fourth with a 12.6 average. Jerricho Cotchery has caught 20 passes for 154 yards. Nine of his catches have resulted in first downs. He and tight end Dustin Keller (24 catches, 343 yards and five touchdowns) provide Sanchez with underneath security blankets, although Keller has more stretch-the-field ability. Grade: B

Offensive Line: Yes, the Jets have talent at the skill positions. So do the %%MATCH_38%%. Dallas is 1-4 and headed to an eyesore of a season. What is the difference? The Jets have an offensive line. The line has done a fantastic job of opening holes for Tomlinson, Greene and option QB %%MATCH_30%%. Mark Sanchez has been sacked nine times this season but that is due to him holding onto the ball too long. Grade: A

Defensive Line: The front three lost nose tackle Kris Jenkins in the season opening loss to Baltimore for the year with a torn ACL. Almost immediately, there were questions whether the Jets' blitz-heavy 3-4 defense could be successful without, arguably, one of the NFL's best nose tackles. The answer is yes. Sione Pouha (25 tackles) stepped in for Jenkins and is playing at a Pro Bowl level. Shaun Ellis (18 tackles and four sacks) and Bryan Thomas (19 tackles and one sack) have done a nice job providing pressure from the edges. Grade: A

Linebackers: The beneficiary of the defensive line's strong work. David Harris (40 tackles), team emotional leader Bart Scott (30 tackles), %%MATCH_5%% (four tackles), Calvin Pace (two sacks) and %%MATCH_22%% (three sacks) have had lanes to opposing quarterbacks and running backs and have more than taken advantage. Grade: A

Defensive Backs: Darrelle Revis is feeling the effects of his 36-day holdout during the summer. Revis does not have an interception but does have three passes defended this season. Teams are avoiding him, opting to try their luck with Antonio Cromartie (two interceptions returned for 66 yards; 11 passes defended) with poor results. First round draft pick Kyle Wilson has looked like a rookie corner adjusting to the NFL. Dwight Lowery has been very good in nickel and dime packages. Jim Leonhard is a vicious hitter at strong safety. Brodney Pool and Eric Smith are solid. Grade: B+

Special Teams: Leonhard, Lowery, Wilson and Brad Smith have not returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown yet, but the quartet is averaging 18.75 yards kick. Nick Folk is 13-for-15 on field goal attempts and 16-for-16 on extra points. Steve Weatherford is averaging 45.5 yards per punt attempt. Special teams coach Mike Westhoff cannot complain about the work his charges have done. Grade: A

Coaching: Rex Ryan is a motivator extraordinaire. He believes in the players and what the coaching staff is getting across to them. What does stand out is that Ryan, for all of his joviality, is unafraid to criticize his team when they have embarrassed the franchise (eating McDonald's before training camp session at Hofstra; the Ines Sainz fiasco). Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has his group playing at a league-leading level. Brian Schottenheimer's offensive unit has struggled in the Jets' last two wins. Grade B+

Overall Grade: The Jets' 5-1 mark is not a fluke as they are able to enforce their will on their opponent. What stands out is that the second unit players are contributing a great deal to the Jets' success. Grade: B+

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