EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets gestures against the San Diego Chargers at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Thanks largely to one of the NFL's best rushing attacks, the New York Jets - an outfit known for defensive creativity and ball control under Rex Ryan - finished a surprising No. 11 in total offense in 2010. During their 4-3 start to the 2011 season, however, the Jets have struggled running and throwing, and enter Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills with the No. 28 offense in the league.
John Butchko of GangGreenNation.com chalks the Jets' offensive misfortunes up to two issues: offensive line discontinuity and inconsistent play-calling on the part of coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
"Right tackle Wayne Hunter had a rough start to the season," said Butchko. "He has straightened things out the last few weeks. Nick Mangold also missed two-plus games with a high ankle sprain. This was a major issue against the Ravens. The Jets started an undrafted rookie in his place, and the offensive line got eaten alive by Baltimore's front."
"I think the second real issue has been puzzling - at times - play-calling," continued Butchko. "Against New England's suspect pass defense, the Jets never really used their big name receivers to challenge the Pats down the field until it was too late. Inconsistent play-calling like this has been an issue for most of the year."
As Butchko points out, things really bottomed out for the Jets in a Week 4 34-17 loss to Baltimore. In that game, the Jets' defense and special teams scored two touchdowns while the offense accumulated just 150 yards and turned the ball over four times.
Since that game, however, the Jets have slowly started to turn things around. They were badly out-gained by New England, but got 296 yards in a win over Miami, then put up 318 in a Week 7 win over San Diego.
Still, Miami is winless, and San Diego has lost two straight and beaten one team with a winning record. The Jets will have opportunities to make plays against Buffalo's hit-or-miss defense, and their turnaround in the past few weeks has given them more confidence.