By Tyson Rauch
The New York Jets head into the bye week as one of the biggest surprises of the NFL season. Gang Green has compiled a 5-4 record with a chance to make a run at a playoff berth. As with every young team, there were players that rose to the occasion through the first nine games, while others did not live up to expectations.
Stars on offense:
The Pro Bowl center has become the eyes and ears for rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Mangold has helped the rookie identify formations and protections and once again has galvanized an offensive line that was incorporating two new starters.
Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell
The Jets running back duo has allowed the team to return to some of their ground and pound roots. Powell started off very strong for Gang Green with Ivory emerging as the season progressed (he ran for over 100 yards in two of the last three games).
The Jets offensive coordinator has done a tremendous job of developing effective game plans while dealing with a rookie quarterback and a revolving door at the wide receiver position. Mornhinweg has not been scared to throw the ball in a big spot while instilling a physical presence when necessary. It has been a while since the Jets playcalling has actually taken advantage of mismatches.
Duds on offense:
The Jets second round pick in 2010 was given a chance to start at left guard but soon lost his job to rookie Brian Winters. Vlad has become an extra blocker in jumbo formations.
The second-year wide receiver has become an enigma for Gang Green, as Hill just cannot get his game together. Stephen remains inconsistent with his hands and route running and tends to vanish in games.
No one truly knew what to expect from wide receiver Santonio Holmes as he was recovering from a serious leg injury. Holmes did his best to return to the lineup, but was re-injured after playing only four games. Santonio is expected to return after the bye and will be expected to fill a major void on offense.
Mo Wilkerson has taken his game to the next level as he has eight sacks on the season including one in each of the last five games. Wilkerson has become a dominating defensive force and one of the best players in the NFL.
The veteran linebacker is having a tremendous bounce back year making plays sideline to sideline. Harris has flourished behind an aggressive defensive line and has returned to his ferocious tackling ways.
A fan favorite with the nickname of "Snacks" has emerged as a force in the middle of the Jets defense. Harrison is a high-energy guy that has done a great job of getting penetration at the line of scrimmage.
The Jets rookie defensive end is an explosive force that displays tremendous athletic ability. Richardson has a non-stop motor and will be in the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.
Duds on defense:
The Jets first round pick in 2012 has been struggling with injury issues and a change in position. Through nine games Coples has one sack and one forced fumble.
Gang Green's first round pick in 2013 has been thrown to the wolves and the results have not been pretty. Milliner has struggled in coverage with teams going right after the rookie.
The expectations were very high for Cromartie following a brilliant 2012 season, but the veteran defensive back has had a pedestrian first half of the season. Some of Cromartie's issues could be due to a nagging hip but Rex Ryan and his defense need the former Pro-Bowler to step up his game.
The Jets kicker is 23/23 on the season and has been clutch with the game on the line. Can't ask for more than that.
For more Jets news and updates, visit Jets Central.
Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
for more features.