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Mark Sanchez is Having a Good Season, Too Bad the Jets' Defense is in Shambles

Rex Ryan, for perhaps the second time since he became head coach of the Jets, was left speechless after the Jets lost to the Raiders 34-24. (The first time, I believe, was the 45-3 beat down at the hands of the Patriots in the regular season last year.) Ryan is perplexed that the defense – 1st in the league in 2009, 6th in 2010 – has been savaged against pro teams (Jacksonville is like a college team) in 2011:

Dallas: 390 total yards, 3 turnovers, 326 yards passing. The Jets did sack Tony Romo four times. (One terrible Romo pick, one bad Romo fumble.)
Oakland: 383 total yards, 0 turnovers, 234 yards rushing. The Jets only sacked Jason Campbell once. (Only good news: Oakland was 0-8 on 3rd down.)

Watching the Jets, clearly, the defense struggles to: a) defend tight ends (Witten: six catches for 110 yards), b) defend No. 2 WRs (because Antonio Cromartie has been awful in two of three games). The safties take questionable angles against the run (see video below). The linebackers (particularly Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas) appear slow and seem to miss a lot of tackles.

Why is this bad news? Baltimore and New England are up next. Ray Rice and the Ravens have the eighth best running game in the league. The Patriots have the No. 1 passing attack in the NFL. Both games are on the road.

If the Jets can’t win either of those, they’re looking at 2-3 heading into a home game against Miami. It doesn’t get any easier after that: San Diego, Buffalo, New England (combined record: 7-2). The Jets will certainly have an uphill climb to the playoffs this year, especially with the Raiders being a threat in the West and the Bills looking like a playoff team (so far) in the East.

But there’s a glimmer of good news for the Jets: Mark Sanchez is playing well. It’s only three games, but with a shaky offensive line, two new receivers and the 25th-ranked running game in the league …

Mark Sanchez 70-111 (63%) 886 yards, 8.0 YPA, 6 TDs, 4 INTs, 1 lost fumble
Matt Ryan       74-122 (60%) 844 yards, 6.9 YPA, 5 TDs, 4 INTs, 3 lost fumbles

Ryan has better skill players, too. His WRs, RB and Hall of Fame tight end trump all of the Jets’ offensive skill players. Both offensive lines are struggling; I’d say that’s a push (Sanchez has been sacked nine times, Ryan 13).

I’m kind of indifferent on the decision to go for it on 4th and goal with a minute left instead of kicking a field goal and then opting for an onside kick. You needed a touchdown, and Sanchez was only inches short. Even if you make the FG, you still have to get the onside kick and then (with no timeouts), get in the end zone.

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