It's not often a 6-2 team gets labeled an enigma, but the New York Jets are just that. Are they lucky or opportunistic? Is their ability to win ugly a sign of maturity and resourcefulness or is it a warning flare of impending collapse?
That's a tough one to answer because there is plenty of evidence to support both sides. They're 5-2 when it's a one-possession game after three quarters (margin, eight points or less), suggesting all the right things -- mental toughness, proper conditioning, smart coaching and clutch playmaking.
But this is also a team that has 14 fumbles, ranks 28th in penalties and misuses its timeouts, sloppy stuff that championship-caliber teams don't do. You could make the argument the Jets are two plays away from being 4-4. (Thank you, Jim Schwartz and Renaldo Hill.)
In the end, the bottom line is the record, and the Jets reached their midpoint tied for the best mark in the NFL. If you're a half-full Jets fan (are there any out there?), this is what you should be thinking: Compile wins now, improve later.
In other words, the Jets have positioned themselves for a high seed in the playoffs while recognizing they still have the room -- and the time -- to start a late-season peak toward January football.
"The best is yet to come," Darrelle Revis said.
Jets' midseason awards
Offensive MVP: Tomlinson.
Defensive MVP: Cromartie.
Special teams MVP: Folk.
Most improved: Sanchez.
Least improved: Greene.
Biggest surprise: Slauson.
Biggest disappointment: Wilson.
Best rookie: Conner.
Best offseason acquisition: Tomlinson.
Worst offseason acquisition: Taylor.
Best-kept secret: Lance Laury, special teams.
Best coaching move: Tailoring the pass defense around Cromartie during Revis' injury.
Worst coaching move: Putting the shackles on Sanchez in the season-opening loss to Baltimore.
Biggest concern: Depth at cornerback; Jets will struggle against wide-open passing teams.
Key to the second half: More consistency on offense; ain't good enough right now.
Game to watch: Jets at New England, Dec. 6, with the AFC East title possibly at stake.
Jets will win the division if: The pass defense returns to previous shutdown status.
Only way they miss the playoffs: Sanchez reverts to the '09 Sanchez.
Player ready emerge: Greene.
Least likely to return in '11: Taylor.