This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
Expectations were sky high for the 2011 Jets, and why not? They were coming off two straight appearances in the AFC Championship Game, after all. With a third-year franchise quarterback (in name, anyway) and a feared defense featuring perhaps the best cover corner in the game, New York had everyone's attention as the fresh campaign got under way.
The actual season turned into a massive bomb, as the Jets skidded to an 8-8 record, punctuated by three straight losses at the end of the year. The most humiliating moment? That's open to debate. Perhaps it was the 45-19 beatdown at Philly in Week 15, or the 29-14 loss to the Giants in Week 16 (highlighted by Victor Cruz's 99-yard dash across New Jersey), or the ennui-filled 19-17 loss to Miami in the finale.
The 2011 Jets didn't make any greater sense on the stat page. The club finished 13th in points scored despite a mediocre ranking (25th) in offensive yards. You'd be happy to take the overlay, but not so fast, Gang Green: the New York defense finished 20th in points allowed despite a lofty ranking (fifth) in yardage allowed. The simple explanation is that the offense was sharper in the red zone than most realized, while the defense had a nasty habit of collapsing at precisely the wrong time (or getting sold out by the offense's mistakes). But you know the moving parts of the NFL: the truer explanations cover more players, stats and