Slim Rex Ryan’s Jets Punch Above Statistical Weight Class

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Oct 22, 2013



Rex Ryan is fit slim and trim, while convicted-killer New York Jets fans are knocking out chicks.

But the team on the field has no problem punching above its statistical weight class, and landing a few heavyweight knock-out blows along the way.

Each year there’s a team in the NFL that defies the statistical odds: the team that has the statistical profile of a lightweight, but hits like a heavyweight.

Last year that team was the Indianapolis Colts. This year it’s the New York Jets.

Rex Ryan may be trimmer than ever, but his team is throwing a lot of weight around, more weight than they show on the stat sheet.

Consider the case of the 2012 Colts. They finished the season No. 18 on the Insider-only Intelligence Index; No. 25 on our Quality Stats Power Rankings; No. 27 in Passer Rating Differential and No. 21 in scoring differential (-30) – each of them tried and true measures of team success that normally move in lockstep with wins and losses.

But the 2012 Colts were the one team that defied their lightweight statistical profile. They went 11-5, including a 3-3 record against Quality Opponents, and reached the playoffs just a year after suffering through 2-14 campaign.

Here in 2013, entering Week 8, the New York Jets are that team. The Jets rank:

Yet the Jets, much like the statistical light-weight Colts a year earlier, are in the thick of the playoff race as we close in on the halfway points of the 2013 season.

They’re 4-3 overall, 2-1 in the AFC East and fresh off a Quality Win in overtime against their longtime nemesis, the division-leading Patriots.

Interesting that the Jets, like the Colts in 2012, are led by a high-profile a rookie quarterback struggling to gain a command of the pro game, but still helping his team pull out wins over seemingly superior teams.

Andrew Luck and the Colts last year finished the season 27th league-wide with a 76.5 passer rating; Luck and the 2012 Colts were also the most inaccurate passing team in the NFL.

Of course, Luck has blossomed this year, and is fresh off his early-career-defining game with the Colts’ 39-33 win over Peyton Manning and the previously unbeaten Broncos.  

Geno Smith has produced a humble 74.3 passer rating, while throwing more interceptions (11) than TDs (8), one of the worst ratios in football.

So how are the Jets 4-3 and the subject of postseason speculation?

Well, we hate to throw out a cliché, but credit sexy Rexy and a little of his beloved “ground and pound” offense paired with a pass defense surviving life without Darrelle Revis fairly well.

The Jets are fifth in rushing attempts (219) and in time of possession (32:07), shortening games and, you might argue, shortening opportunities for Smith to make mistakes.

Meanwhile, the defense is No. 2 on our Defensive Hog Index, No. 1 in run defense (3.14 YPA) and fourth league wide in third down stops (opponents convert just 33.6% of attempts).

The Jets are also fourth in the NFL in Defensive Real Passing YPA: opponents generate just 5.14 yards every time they drop back to pass.

Jets opponents average just 4.56 yards per offensive player, making it the third stingiest defense in the NFL in that indicator.

Put simply: it's hard to move the ball against the Jets.

None of which makes the Jets a Super Bowl contender. The Colts, for example, were summarily bounced with barely a whimper from the wild card round last year. The Jets, if they do make the playoffs, are likely to suffer a similar fate.

But the fact that we’re talking about Jets in the playoff hunt nearly halfway through the season makes them one of the great success stories of the first half of the 2013 season.

Remember, before the start of the season, most fans thought Gang Green would be the worst team in football and that Ryan would not survive the season.

If only some of their light-weight fans could enjoy the good times with something a little more classy than punching out the ladies.


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