New York Jets

Sure the New York Jets have lost two games in a row while looking terrible this past Sunday, but don’t hit that panic button just yet.

By Jeff Jarboe

Heading into last week’s game versus New England, the New York Jets were one of the hottest teams in the NFL and were considered to be serious contenders for the AFC East title.

Chris Ivory ranked top five in rushing, Brandon Marshall ranked top five in receiving, Ryan Fitzpatrick was earning serious MVP consideration, and the defense ranked number one in the league.

Fast forward two weeks and New York has lost two straight games on the road, Ivory has averaged 1.8 YPC in those loses, the defense has allowed 64 points in those loses, and the following players were injured:

All of this may make the average Jets fan want to hit the panic button and deem this season a failure, but with nine games remaining there’s still plenty of time for Bowles and company to right the ship.

But how do they do that?

Of course it starts with each one of the key players listed above getting healthy again, but aside from that the number one area that Bowles and his coaching staff need to address is the pass rush.

Through the first five games of the season the Jets defense was dominant, bringing constant pressure from the defensive line and backing it up with outstanding coverage in the secondary.

In the last two games however, the Jets defense has sacked the quarterback only three times, all three of which came against New England’s beaten up offensive line. They had zero sacks against Oakland.

This defense relies on pressuring the quarterback to force throws into the secondary, where Revis and company can come away with turnovers. When the pass rush isn’t there, the rest of the defense struggles.

This showed on Sunday against Oakland – the defensive line failed to pressure Carr and he had all day to throw to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.

Through seven games this season the Jets have racked up a total of 11 sacks, good enough for 28th in the league. Muhammad Wilkerson leads the team with five sacks, and after him no other Jets player has more than two sacks.

As they get set to take on the new and improved Jacksonville Jaguars and other pass-heavy offenses like the Giants, Cowboys and Patriots, Bowles and the Jets are going to have to improve on this number if they want to compete in the AFC.

Offensively, the only thing this team has to worry about is making sure their top guys get healthy and it starts with number 14.

When Fitzpatrick was injured on the first drive against Oakland it became painfully obvious that this offense could not succeed without him at the helm.

Geno Smith may have a stronger arm than Fitz, but he has nowhere near the pocket presence or the mental capability to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage like the Harvard man can.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Fitzpatrick is going to need surgery “at some point” to repair the ligament damage on his left thumb, but for now he’s day-to-day.

Aside from Fitz, Nick Mangold remains sidelined with the neck injury that he suffered against New England–though he’s expected to be ready for Sunday–and Brandon Marshall is questionable with a foot injury that he suffered late against Oakland.

There’s nothing more frustrating as a fan than when your top guys start dropping like flies due to injuries, but that’s the NFL–people get banged up every week, that doesn’t mean it’s time to hit the panic button.

Marshall and Mangold will be fine, and Fitzpatrick is too tough to let a thumb injury ruin his pro bowl season. As long as those guys show up on Sunday and the defense starts getting to the quarterback, the New York Jets will be just fine.

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I'm a senior journalism and communications major at THE University of Connecticut, as well as a die hard Jets and Knicks fan. College football and basketball have their place in my heart, but the NFL is my pride and joy.