If this downtrend continues, Mark Sanchez's days as the Jets' starting quarterback could be numbered. Not only has Sanchez struggled with his accuracy in the pocket, but the fourth-year gunslinger has made the same fundamental mistakes that fans witnessed during his rookie year. Whether it's overthrowing open receivers or forcing the football into double coverage, Sanchez has looked like an NFL neophyte throughout stretches of the season. Coming up short on potential game-winning drives against Houston and New England, Sanchez squandered an opportunity to silence his critics and rally the Jets' fan base around him. If the Jets' season continues to spiral out of control, their seldom-used Wildcat specialist, Tim Tebow, could take the reins of the offense in just a matter of weeks.
Shonn Greene stumbled out of the gate, but has picked up his play the past three games. Sanchez will need the Jets' ground game to excel in order for the play action game to produce big yardage plays. With Greene cemented as New York's feature back Bilal Powell's separated shoulder has opened the door for Joe McKnight to assume the third-down running back role. A perfect mix of speed and power, the combination of Greene and McKnight could be exactly what the Jets need to make a serious playoff push in the second half.
The Jets have been a revolving door at wide receiver with injuries befalling the team beginning in training camp. Sanchez has missed Santonio Holmes' playmaking ability, but second-year wideout Jeremy Kerley is relishing his playing time and has been the Jets' offensive MVP at the midway point of the season. Chaz Schilens has been a major disappointment and rookie Stephen Hill has struggled with dropped passes and injury concerns. Clyde Gates and Jason Hill could be x-factors for Gang Green, while tight end Dustin Keller has been nagged by hamstring issues throughout the year.
This unit was the media's punching bag during training camp and while it hasn't been as disastrous as many had anticipated, opposing defenses have been able to breach New York's offensive front. Sanchez hasn't been under pressure the way he was last season, but the offensive line hasn't exactly been impenetrable by any stretch. The Jets haven't created sizeable running lanes for their ball carriers, failing to win the battle at the point of attack and form the dominating ground and pound Rex Ryan desires.
Supposedly the Jets' greatest strength entering the regular season, their defensive line has failed to deliver on lofty expectations. Top draft choice Quinton Coples has made a minimal impact, still adjusting to life in the NFL. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has been somewhat of a disappointment after the coaching staff expected a breakout year from the second-year lineman. New York has been victimized by the running game ranking No. 29 in the league surrendering over 141 yards per game. Touted as the premier group on Gang Green's defense, the line has been anything but through the midway point of the year.
While the Jets have been solid in pass coverage, their linebackers have been unable to produce pressure on the quarterback or stuff the running lanes for opposing ballcarriers. Bart Scott's turf toe injury snapped his 119 consecutive games streak, while Aaron Maybin has yet to tally a sack for the Green and White. David Harris is leading the team in tackles with 65, while Calvin Pace and Garrett McIntyre are tied with two sacks apiece.
In the absence of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie has raised his game to an elite level hauling in three interceptions and returning one for a score. Cornerback Kyle Wilson has been solid in coverage save a few deep passes he surrendered last Sunday against Miami. Isiah Trufant is in the midst of his best season as a pro, with Ryan entrusting the diminutive and speedy defensive back to lock down wideout Wes Welker in the Jets' 26-23 overtime loss to the Patriots.
Mike Westhoff's crew was once again on top of its game prior to the past two weeks against New England and Miami. Uncharactertically the Jets yielded a 104 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Patriots' cornerback Devin McCourty and allowed the Dolphins to block a punt for a touchdown, recover an onside kick and block a field goal. Nick Folk is 12-of-13 on field goal attempts, while Joe McKnight registered a kickoff return for a touchdown against the Houston Texans and Jeremy Kerley returned a punt for a touchdown in New York's opener against Buffalo.
With their best offensive weapon, Holmes, and best defensive force, Revis, both out of the picture the coaching staff has been to adjust without two major playmakers on each side of the football. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's playcalling has been perplexing as he refuses to let Tebow put his talents to full use. The Jets cost themselves a victory in Week 8 against the Patriots by conservative playcalling down the stretch and prevent defense at the wrong time. The guys with headsets will need to figure out a way to maximize the effectiveness of their stagnant dual quarterback system.