While looking over the AFC playoff picture, something caught my eyes in the net points column. Most teams in the playoff race are hovering within a couple touchdowns of breaking even in net points, but the New York Jets are an anomaly. At -101 net points, they’re better than only the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Early in the season, the Jets were winning small and losing small as well. Since the middle of October, the Jets have won small and lost huge. They were beaten by the Bengals by 40 points in late October, and they were topped by the Titans by 25 points earlier in September. More recently, the Bills were able to beat the Jets by 23 points.
The Jets have often taken one step forward followed immediately by two steps back. All indications are that the Jets’ young quarterback, Geno Smith, isn’t quite ready for the speed of the NFL, and it’s shown on the field. When he’s playing well, he’s a solid option, but when Smith is off, he buries his own team.
The Jets now find themselves in the middle of a playoff race with no consistent options at quarterback. Now they have to find a way to win enough games to make it into the postseason while protecting their young signal caller from himself. That’s a tall order for any team, especially for a sub .500 squad that is up and down as much as the weather.
The simple answer to the Jets’ problem is to run the football more. The problem with that is the Jets already run the football exceptionally well. New York is ranked eighth in rushing offense and just 31st in passing offense. That being the case, they can’t exactly run the ball any more than they already do.
Now, it may be time to consider a strange alternative, hiding in plain sight.
The Jets, by throwing the football more, could actually cover up some of Geno Smith’s problems. When you run the football as much as the Jets, one negative play can derail an entire drive. By opening up the passing game, the Jets can capitalize on a few big plays when the defense packs the box.
In addition to throwing the football, the Jets can move Geno Smith outside the pocket to get a few easy completions. Not only will those types of plays let Geno Smith stay comfortable throughout the game, but they will catch the defense off guard when Geno Smith comes out throwing. With some easy completions for solid gains early in the game, the Jets could further open up their running game.
The Jets are in a difficult position. They run the ball well, but they need more from their passing game, which all too often buries their chances of winning on Sundays. By allowing Geno Smith to execute more easy passing plays, they may even be able to open up their running game further and give themselves a chance to win enough games to sneak into the postseason.
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