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Separating Jets Fact from Fiction

As long as the pass blocking holds up, Jets can repeat their opening results

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Sep 13, 2012  |  Updated 10:23 AM EDT
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Enough time has passed since the Jets' stunning 48-28 win over the Bills that the sheer glee of it has faded away. 

That means that it is time to take a more critical eye to what went down in Week One. That doesn't mean that we're going to pick apart an unquestionably high level performance, but it does mean that we wonder how many of the good things we saw on Sunday were sustainable. 

The defensive performance, with four takeaways and an overwhelming performance until Darrelle Revis left the game with a concussion, is first up for discussion. As long as Revis is healthy, we're not particularly worried about the Jets' ability to hold up on defense against any opposition. 

We are worried about them holding up well enough to win games if they continue to generate as little pass rush as they generated against the Bills. You aren't going to have the good fortune to play Ryan Fitzpatrick every week and quarterbacks without Lindsay Lohan's decision-making ability are going to take advantage of extra time in the pocket in the coming weeks. 

The Jets are also going to have weeks where their fumble luck abandons them. There were three fumbles in Sunday's win and the Jets recovered them all, something that has mistakenly been attributed to skill in the past. 

That was proved wrong last season when the Jets suddenly couldn't recover all the fumbles they fell on during Rex Ryan's first two years as coach. The skill comes in forcing them, but the recoveries are all about bounces that are sometimes going to go against the Jets. 

Really, though, we're talking about Mark Sanchez when we talk about questions of sustainability for the Jets. Can the quarterback we saw against Buffalo possibly remain that effective over the course of 16 games?

Not to be evasive, but the biggest lesson of Week One was that Sanchez isn't the only person responsible for Sanchez's success. If the offensive line, especially tackles Austin Howard and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, keeps pitching shutouts, then Sanchez is going to have a lot of games like he had against the Bills. 

The rules of the NFL are so slanted in favor of the passing game that even mediocre quarterbacks can put up big numbers when they have the time to throw. Sanchez picked the Bills apart because he had time to wait for receivers to make double moves or to mislead defenders with pump fakes that simply aren't possible when the line is springing leaks like a mesh rowboat. 

It also helps when you've got a receiver like Stephen Hill, whose combination of size, strength and speed make for a very different look in a Jets offense that didn't have anything of his ilk last season. It's what they wanted Plaxico Burress to be, but Burress' days of playing like that were long gone before he joined the Jets and he became a one-dimensional weapon in the red zone. 

Hill's more than that and it will open up all kinds of options for the Jets going forward if defenses start game planning against him. That leaves Sanchez to do nothing more than execute the throws we know that he can make when they present themselves. 

If the Jets sustain that kind of offense, they can keep on winning. And that "if" feels a lot smaller today than it did at this time last week. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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