Last season was a big frustration for the New York Jets, as the team came up well short of expectations after back-to-back trips to the AFC Championship Game. They struggled on both sides of the ball at times, and there was significant discord in the locker room. What do they need to do differently to put together a serious run in 2012? Here’s the top ten ways they can make a serious playoff run.
#10 The Jets need to commit a lot fewer defensive penalties. Last season, they committed 110 penalties, which resulted in the opposing team getting 966 yards. The Jets were ranked in the bottom 10 in the league for each category. The Jets need to limit the number of defensive penalties, which is giving opposing offenses free yards, to limit the oppositions chances to score.
#9 The Jets offensive line needs to do a better job protecting Mark Sanchez. Last season, Sanchez was sacked 39 times for 243 yards plus he lost eight fumbles, which ranked him in the bottom ten among quarterbacks. If the offensive line can do a better job protecting Sanchez, then Sanchez could put up better offensive numbers.
#8 The Jets need better offensive production. Last season, they were ranked in the bottom ten in virtually every significant offensive category such as yards per game, passing yards per game and rushing yards per game. There is no way the Jets will make the playoffs this season if they put the same kind of dreadful offensive statistics as they did last season.
#7 Mark Sanchez has to make smarter decisions in the pocket. Last season, Sanchez threw 18 interception, lost eight fumbles and completed 56.7 percent of his passes, which ranked him in the bottom five among quarterbacks. Sanchez needs to make smarter decisions in the pocket in order for the Jets to win games.
#6 The Jets need to give up fewer points. Last season, the Jets gave up 22.7 points per game (while scoring 23.6 points per game), putting them in the bottom half of the league.
#5 The Jets need to do a better job against the run. Last season, they gave up 17 rushing touchdowns and 11 rushes of 20 or more yards, which ranked them in the bottom half of the league. If the Jets can limit this opposing rushing production, then the defense will be able to force more three and outs.
#4 The Jets need to continue to excel at passing defense. Last season, they gave up 201 passing yards a game, which was good enough for fifth best. The NFL is becoming more of a passing league and the Jets excelled against the pass last season. This was one of the few areas of strength, and they need to maintain what they accomplished in 2011.
#3 The Jets need to avoid a Tim Tebow-Sanchez quarterback controversy. The Denver Broncos had to deal with a similar kind of controversy for the past two seasons because Tebow is such a fan favorite around the league. The Jets must stick with Sanchez as the starting quarterback in order to avoid chaos among the players.
#2 The Jets need to go win at least four of their six divisional games. The Jets have to play four teams that made the playoffs, which are not in the division, Steelers, Chargers, 49ers and Texans. This list does not include their division rivals – the Patriots, who made it to the Super Bowl last season, and the much improved Bills.
#1 The Jets need Darrelle Revis to play this season. Revis is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL and he is a big reason why the Jets had the fifth best passing defense last season. Revis is threatening to hold out for a better contract. If Revis does not play this season, then the Jets will most likely be in contention for the worst record in the NFL.
While that is a long list, if they Jets can improve in all of those areas, they have an excellent chance of making the playoffs. They have sufficient talent on both sides of the ball to play with any team in the league, but they need to do a better job of putting it all together.