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200 Miles From the Citi


September 28, 2009 4:01 AM

JETS 24, TITANS 17

Another great win by the Jets against another very good opponent. They're 3-0. Almost more importantly, they're 3 conference wins, including 1 division win, in a season that is sure to come down to some sort of tiebreaker.

So I'm feeling good about the Jets....for the most part.

Instead of really celebrating the third win, though, I want to spend a bit of time looking at a couple of the Jets' flaws...because I'm sure other teams are starting to notice.

1) With a lead late, the Jets seem more than willing to let their defense run out the clock rather than the offense. A normal team leading by a touchdown with 9 minutes or so left in the game might milk the clock and try to limit the other team's possessions. The Jets don't seem to care about giving the ball back quickly and putting their defense back on the field. I understand the idea that it's their stronger unit, but at some point that unit is going to be tired, and the end of the game is where it's going to show the most. I'm going to start to get a little uncomfortable with opponents getting 3 or 4 chances to tie the game late in the game, as the Patriots and Titans have now had in consecutive weeks.

2) The offense hasn't exactly been lighting things up. If Tom Brady had connected on a few passes last week and the Titans hadn't played a terrible opening 10 minutes on Sunday, the Jets could easily be 1-2. They're 3-0, which is great, but Mark Sanchez can only be effective if the Jets have a running game...and they had no such thing on Sunday. It was a weird game for Tennessee - they showed why they are 0-3 in those first 10 minutes, but after that they showed flashes of the team that opened last year 10-0...and the Jets couldn't do much against that latter version. So I'm sure there's a book being written on Mark Sanchez, and the first chapter deals with stopping the run and putting some pressure on him to make throws. He looked the worst this week of his small three-game sample.

3) Thomas Jones is not playing well. Don't be fooled by the numbers Jones put up in that first game against Houston. Remember, he only scored two touchdowns because he spelled Leon Washington at the goal line and then ran all over a tired defense in fourth quarter garbage time. After that it was 14 carries for 54 yards against the Patriots and 14 carries for 20 yards against Tennessee. Yes, numbers 2 and 3 here go hand in hand. And Thomas Jones needs to help set that running game tone...and if he doesn't do it soon, it might be all Leon Washington all the time.

Those are the big issues I see with the Jets. Mostly it's been positive - they're winning, which comes ahead of anything. And they've won these three games without the suspended Calvin Pace, so they will only get stronger on defense. And they've already benefitted once from a Buffalo near-upset - playing New England after the Bills almost beat them. Now they get New Orleans next week after they struggled most of their game against Buffalo. So thanks again, Bills, for helping show the Jets the way. I have a feeling, though, that Drew Brees will present the Jets with their biggest challenge against an opposing quarterback so far this season.

MORE GOOD NEWS: Hall of Famer Gary Carter's Long Island Ducks will play a deciding fifth game Tuesday night in their playoff series after winning Sunday night to tie the series at 2. All the credit to the manager.

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