Before Week 15, there were eight victims of the NFL grind, and with arguable exceptions, they were all declared 'dead men walking' quite some time ago.
After Week 15's slate of games, there would be another quartet of lifeless masses heaped upon the Football Nation Morgue, all with just a smidgen more optimism than that original group of tagged-and-bagged cases.
As these final weeks play out, the air of frustration surrounding the final batch of departed souls will be thick enough to cut with a Ginsu knife, as that group will have collapsed at a critical pass.
Quite a stark contrast to the first few to get wheeled in here.
As for this week's collection of cadavers, they fell somewhere in the middle: optimistic at times, but never with blinders.
And speaking of blind, maybe a few of em checked off the 'eyes' box on their organ donor cards....
Subject: New York Jets
Date of Death: December 17, 2012
Record at Time of Death: 6-8
Contributing Factors to Death:
1. The Regression of Mark Sanchez
Despite the up-and-down nature of the 2011 season, in which the Jets went 8-8 and lost their last 3, Mark Sanchez posted the best numbers of his young career.
A rating of 78.2 isn't anything spectacular, but "The Sanchize" threw 26 touchdowns against 18 picks, for 3474 yards, and a career high completion percentage of 56.7.
Considering he's never had above 55 percent in any other year, including this one, that's enough to anoint him into Canton on some kind of a bell curve.
Plaxico Burress was a big part of that success, nabbing 8 of those touchdowns, and proving to still be a talented puzzle piece at his age. Another 8 scores went to Santonio Holmes, and Dustin Keller had 5 of his own.
Fast forward a year. Plaxico Burress remained a free agent until well into the season, when Pittsburgh picked him up. His $3M pricetag made him less tempting, it seemed. Holmes would play only 4 games before succumbing to injury, and Keller's wrestled with pain as well, missing 6 games.
Now forced to rely heavily on Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland (No. 2 in receiving yards with 323), Chaz Schilens, and Stephen Hill, Sanchez's numbers have fallen horribly.
Current stat line: 54.8 percent completions, 13 TD, 17 INT, 2678 yards in 14 games.
2. Can't Win Offensively in Trenches
When offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo openly says that it wasn't his decision to play Vladimir Ducasse at left guard, but rather somebody above him (speculation pointed at GM Mike Tannenbaum, although Rex Ryan takes credit/blame), signs point at all not being well in the hangar.
Tony Sparano's play-calling has been questioned openly, Sanchez has made many comical errors, and the team ranks fifth from the bottom in scoring, having been held to 10 points or less 6 times.
The Jets have the third most turnovers in the league, a whopping 33 of them. 16 of them are lost fumbles, which is also the third highest total in the NFL.
The team has given up 35 sacks (2 to Tim Tebow). Whatever Sanchez has been able to get out of his hand while under pressure stands a good chance of wobbly flying out of play, or being picked off.
There's also the 3.89 yards-per-carry average, mostly precipitated by Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell. Though they've combined for 10 touchdowns and over 1300 yards, they've needed a combined 338 carries to do it.
3. Can't Win Defensively in Trenches
It's like watching Linsday Lohan age.
In 2009, the Jets were first in the NFL in least pointed allowed (14.8). In 2010, they fell to sixth (19.0). The last two seasons, they've been twentieth in each (22.7 and 22.9 respectively).
Of course, to the defense's credit, "Butt Fumble", and other Keystone Kops-like errors weren't their fault.
It's also not their fault that Darrelle Revis had his island shut down this year via injury, robbing New York of the league's premier cover-corner. Though it needs to be said that Antonio Cromartie has playing exceptionally well shouldering more of the load.
But sacks have been a hard commodity to come by, garnering just 26 as a team. Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, 4.0 each, are the only defensive lineman to each have more than one.
The team has also struggled in stopping the run, allowing 4.47 YPA. That's the ninth worst percentage in the league.
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