If the season ended today, the final team in the AFC playoffs would be none other than the New York Jets. After being left for dead prior to the season by most experts, and some other folks that can’t quite be considered experts (such as myself), the Jets have put themselves in position to make a run into the postseason.
It hasn’t been an easy route to this point either. The ever present circus brought on by the combination of Tim Tebow’s presence and Mark Sanchez’s pathetic level of play produced an atmosphere in which only the most talented teams in the league could succeed. As we quickly found out a season ago, the Jets are not one of the NFL’s most talented squads.
Still, the new regime headed by general manager John Idzik dealt with the past regime’s problems quickly and efficiently. Tim Tebow was cut loose, allowing Mark Sanchez to compete directly with rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Sure, an injury made the decision to start Geno Smith more of a compulsive action, but it also allowed the Jets to move quickly past the Mark Sanchez era.
Now, Geno Smith is doing well. He’s even putting the Jets in position to win most of their games, something no one would have expected at the beginning of the season.
In preseason action, Geno Smith was erratic at best. Smith routinely made poor decisions that resulted in far too many turnovers. In fact, the quarterback job was Mark Sanchez’s to claim, but as we know, Sanchez just wasn’t good enough to get the job done.
Despite the Jets recent success, Geno Smith has a lot of ground to cover before the Jets are legitimate contenders. Smith is completing less than 60% of his passes and throwing more interceptions (13) than touchdowns (8).
The Jets have found a simple winning formula by ditching the circus act and embracing simplicity within their game plans. By limiting mistakes and allowing their defense to win games, the Jets are in the playoffs, but only barely. If, however, they can keep improving week to week, other teams will have a difficult time passing the Jets in the wildcard race.
Are the Jets a true Super Bowl contender? No, not just yet, but they could make some noise in the show if they get that far, and taking into account the state of the AFC playoff picture, the Jets are in great position to make a late-season run into the postseason.