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After seven weeks, Jets still a mystery

Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, left, and New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick shake hands after the Patriots’ 30-21 win in an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday afternoon, Oct. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)


We are checking in on every team during their bye week.

We’ve written about the Bucs, Bears and Raiders this week. Now up: The under-the-radar Jets.

Soft on the ground

In theory, the Jets are a tough football team. In reality, they get pushed around on the ground. Jets opponents have out-rushed New York by 241 yards. Only three offenses have a lower yards-per-carry average. Only four teams have given up more rushing touchdowns on defense.

Offensive line changes and an early injury to Nick Mangold were huge factors on offense. New York got the ground game going with Shonn Greene in wins over the Dolphins and Chargers. Still, this offense could really use a dynamic running back. Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson add up to average.

Sanchez’s step back

The Jets passing attack is basic. The team used more three receiver sets early in the year to showcase their new wide receivers, but all it did was make fans miss Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards.

Mark Sanchez isn’t throwing the ball down the field or going through his progressions.

In many ways, Sanchez is no different than when he was a rookie. You don’t know what you are going to get week-to-week. He can look great for short stretches, but rarely for long. He throws well up the seam, but not to the outside.

Secondary leads the way

In a pass-happy league, the Jets have the rare defense that can slow down great quarterbacks. This is the one part of the team the Jets can rely on.

Darrelle Revis should be a Defensive MVP candidate. Second year pro Kyle Wilson is showing signs of life. The safety group is solid. No coach does a better job confusing top-shelf quarterbacks than Rex Ryan.

Ryan has a veteran group that understands how to execute his complex scheme.

Big division stretch

Getting a playoff game at home was Rex Ryan’s big goal this year. That’s what makes their slow start to the year so frustrating. The team is 4-0 at home, but already have three conference losses on the road.

The win over the Chargers was massive, and sets up bigger games in the AFC East over the next four weeks after the bye. The Jets travel to Buffalo, host New England, visit Denver, and host Buffalo.

The Jets need to split with Buffalo and beat New England for any hope in the division. Lose two of the three division games, and the Jets may not get another chance to win a road playoff game this year.