5 Keys For The Jets To Make The Playoffs
By Sean Grogan
As bad as the New York Jets have played the last two weeks, it has as much of a chance of claiming the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs as any team, mathematically speaking. Judging on the team’s play recently, that seems like a long shot.
New York, Miami, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and San Diego are all 5-6 on the season. Currently, the Titans hold the tie breaker and would have the final spot if the season ended today.
If New York is to put a run together and claim the Wild Card, here are five points of emphasis for the remaining five games:
1. Continue to ride Ivory and Powell. Chris Ivory suffered a sprained ankle on his first carry during Sunday’s loss to Baltimore.Despite the injury, Ivory carried nine times and averaged nearly four yards per rush, a testament to his toughness.His health will be crucial to the team going forward. The one-two punch of Ivory and Bilal Powell has been the lone bright spot of the Jets’ offense recently.
2. Pose a threat in the passing game. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith will remain the starter following two miserable performances. He has thrown no touchdowns and seven interceptions in his last four games.Head coach Rex Ryan said Smith still gives the team the best chance to win. Ryan has been loyal to a fault with players in the past, but he understands that he is coaching for his job in the coming weeks. This shows his lack of confidence in Matt Simms. The blame for the abysmal passing game goes deeper than Smith. The pass protection must improve.Smith has also been throwing to arguably the worst group of receivers in the NFL.David Nelson and Santonio Holmes both dropped passes against the Ravens.Stephen Hill has vanished from the offense.The second-year receiver has not caught a pass this month. Baltimore constantly packed nine defenders in the box, showing no fear of Smith throwing deep. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s play calling has posed no threat of New York attacking through the air.Let Smith air it out a couple times to keep the opposing defense honest.
3. Defend the deep ball. The Jets’ secondary continued to struggle on Sunday. Ryan’s loyalty to his players showed yet again in Ed Reed’s playing time. The 35-year-old allowed a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones.He looked lost on the play and actually seemed to prevent Dee Milliner from being able to make a play on the ball. Reed has started both games and played nearly every snap since being signed. This has taken second-year safety Antonio Allen, who had been playing well, off the field. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie aggravated his hip in the game and is uncertain for Sunday’s game against Miami.
4. Continue stopping the run. New York has the league’s best run defense. The unit played well again Sunday against Ray Rice and the Ravens. This play needs to continue against Miami.
5. These games are winnable. It is possible to finish 8-8 and reach the playoffs this year, but it looks like New York will have to win at least four out of five. Playing at Carolina on December 15 will be a tough task.But other than the Panthers, the rest of New York’s opponents have losing records. Three of the remaining five games are at home, where the Jets at 4-1. Sunday’s game against AFC East rival Miami looks to be a must win. Both teams are 5-6 and coming off of a loss. Both teams will be fighting for their playoff lives against a divisional opponent.