There's an awful lot to dislike about the Jets in the wake of Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Lions.
The running game has lost its way, the team remains undisciplined to the extreme and the defense -- the swagger-filled defense designed in the image of Rex Ryan -- seemed to be back on its heels for much of a game against a fairly nonthreatening offense. If not for Darrelle Revis's total domination of Calvin Johnson, there's probably no chance for the Jets to come up with late-game heroics.
Those shortcomings come on the heels of terrible performances against Denver and Green Bay that have made it hard to reconcile the last 180-plus minutes of Jets football with the fact that the team has the best record in the AFC right now. There have been mistakes, a stunning lack of discipline and a distinct odor of overconfidence in all phases of the game. To say that they've been lucky to win two of those three games is an understatement.
It is also, at the end of the day, all that matters going forward. As poorly as the Jets have played, it hasn't cost them anything significant in the standings. They are in first place in the AFC East, they are tied for the best record in football and all the moaning and groaning in the world about how they got there doesn't much matter. You'd much rather be the Jets at this hour than the Patriots, for example. They played a bad football game and couldn't find a way to come away with the victory that the Jets stole in Detroit.
Coming away with that win, and the one in Denver, says a lot about where this football team is as they prepare for the second half of the 2010 season. They take their punches in the mouth, spill a little bit of blood and then, as Ryan says, win games in the championship rounds. Good teams need to win games when they aren't at their best and the Jets have proven capable of doing that so far this season.
Taking the lessons learned over the first eight games, especially the one about how the offense works better when allowed to run full throttle, and applying them will be a major benefit as the season unfolds. The Jets can feel good about that and they can feel good about knowing that they are just scratching the surface of what Revis and Santonio Holmes will bring to the team this season.
Perhaps the greatest sign of better days to come is the way Mark Sanchez led the team back on Sunday because, as every Jets fan is sick of hearing, he is almost certainly the guy who will ultimately make or break them this season. He's done both already this year, but more of the former and that's a significant difference about this team than the one we saw last season.