Florham Park, N.J.– They say winning cures everything and they’re absolutely correct, but like anything else the cure is hardly permanent. After a week of stories about locker room turmoil and dysfunction among the ranks all that quickly fades to the background following the win over the Dolphins. The bickering and finger pointing has stopped, for now at least, and the players are once again feeling good about themselves after earning a hard fought victory, but some serious issues remain a thorn in the Jets side and need to be fixed somehow, someway.
There are many issues to choose from, some old, some new, but problems just the same. Slow starts, third down efficiency, inconsistent quarterback play are all problems that have plagued this team for three years now, but even worse there are other problems popping up that are proving to be just as troublesome. The offensive line, which had been the foundation of this team the past two years has been shaky all season long, and although they did just put together their best performance of the season it’s still a fair question to wonder if they can right themselves before the season is over. With the offensive line having problems, not only is Sanchez negatively impacted, but so is the running game, which has been another staple of a Rex Ryan coached Jets team. And to top it all off the Jets defense is giving up far too many big rushing plays as the team is having trouble setting the edge and stopping running backs from beating them around the perimeter of the lines.
“Whatever it is, we’re seeing some different types of formations and other things, but we have to do a better job of stopping the perimeter.” Rex Ryan said, “I’m sure San Diego, when they look at us, they’re going to talk about attacking us on the perimeter.”
One reason for this is the rookie Muhammad Wilkerson, it’s not that Wilkerson has played bad because he’s been impressively solid for a rookie starting defensive end, but a rookie just the same. Last week Mike Tannenbaum admitted inserting Wilkerson into the starting lineup immediately was a “leap of faith,” one that will likely pay off down the road, but the Jets may be paying for now. In any line of work there are tricks of the trade and all rookies need time to learn said tricks, but with opposing teams often choosing to run directly at Wilkerson this season’s Jets don’t have much more time to wait.
The Chargers run an air it out and air it often style of offense, but they won’t hesitate to run the ball with power runner, Mike Tolbert or their shifty second year running back Ryan Matthews. If the Chargers can find a way to pick up big chunks of yards early the Jets could spend the rest of the day trying to catch up with the passing game.
Speaking of playing catch up, one thing the Jets have to find a way to avoid is in fact playing catch up. The slow starts have grown into a three year old problem at this point and as tiresome as the stories repeating this problem have become the danger of not finding a solution continues to grow more damaging with each and every passing week.
“Whatever it takes, and not to get too caught up in it, that’s the other thing. Don’t tell ourselves, ‘We start slow.’ Just think fast. Think fast. We know our plays. Prepare fast. Start every practice off fast, start every drill off fast. Don’t take time to warm up, just go. That’s kind of been my mentality.” Sanchez said, “The big thing this past week was third downs. We ended up hitting 40-percent and we gave them one on the third and long, we just ran the ball, trying to run out the clock. The big thing about starting fast is sustaining drives, and we’ve got to convert on those third downs early. If we don’t hit them early, we’ve got to hit a bunch late and we did, so it all worked out.”
The Jets got a well deserved win on Monday night, but they know their mission is far from over and in order to meet their own standards this win has to be the beginning of a sustained turnaround. The tension has calmed, but weaknesses are still exposed. If these weaknesses can not be fixed the team will find themselves right back in turmoil all through the bye week.
As they say winning cures everything, until the next loss.
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