I don’t think I have ever seen a team believe its own hype more than the New York Jets. It is one thing to walk into camp with Super Bowl aspirations, but the “J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS” are strutting around as if the Lombardi Trophy is already claimed.
Rex Ryan, LaDanian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, and many others, have already gone on record with declarations that they are a Super Bowl bound franchise. While I love the positivity, there is just one problem – it is only week three of the pre-season.
The Jets are walking around with just a little too much bravado, and although many media outlets are hopping on the New York bandwagon, I am going on record right now with my “I told you so” prediction for 2010 – Forget the Super Bowl, the Jets won’t make the playoffs!
Let’s flash back to Sunday, December 20th of 2009. The Jets were walking off of the field after a 10-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, and NOBODY was talking Super Bowl at that time. Instead, folks were doubtful that the Jets would even reach the playoffs.
When you take an HONEST look at the Jets between then and now, what has changed? The short answer is “nothing good!”
Too Much Credit for Not Enough Substance
Sure, the Jets made the AFC championship game last season, but can we REALLY call the 2009 Jets a legitimate Super Bowl contender? I can’t!
The Jets eeked into the playoffs thanks to a schedule where the final two matchups pitted them against teams that already clinched post-season berths, and thus rested the stars. The Jets had the luck to draw a wild card matchup against a one-dimensional Cincinnati Bengals team that so heavily relied on the running game that the running back was simply EXHAUSTED when it came time for playoff football. And if not for some late mistakes by the San Diego Chargers, they would never have made it out of the divisional playoff round.
Now I know what you are thinking – the Jets STILL won their way into the AFC championship game, which is a fact that I cannot deny. I am just pointing out that they were the beneficiaries of very favorable conditions leading up to that AFC championship. As soon as the good luck ran out for New York, and they ran into a playoff seasoned Indianapolis Colts team, they were completely embarrassed in a 30-17 rout.
While the Jets enter the 2010 season after being just one game away from the Super Bowl last season, the result HARDLY matched the output.
Has Mark Sanchez done ANYTHING to convince anyone he can be a great quarterback in the NFL?
Not once last season did he pass for more than 300 yards in a single game. He DID have 14 games where he failed to eclipse the 200 yard mark, though. On the season, his 2,444 total yards ranked as the 23rd worst total in the league, and was almost DOUBLED by the NFL’s best, Matt Schaub.
In 18 games (including the playoffs), he had only one game of 20 completions or more, and his season total of only 196 completions placed him 25th in the league.
He threw for only 12 touchdowns last season (24th in the NFL), but had 20 interceptions (the second HIGHEST total, behind only Jay Cutler of the Bears).
I know that the Jets have brought in Santonio Holmes to give Sanchez another top-level target to throw the ball to, but (once more) has Mark Sanchez done ANYTHING to convince anyone he can be a great quarterback in the NFL?
In a word – NO!
Who Needs a QB Anyway?
So the Jets have a lousy quarterback. It didn’t seem to hurt at all last year, did it? Thomas Jones racked up more than 1,400 rushing yards, leading the Jets to the top rushing offense in the league last season.
That is a GREAT way to compensate for having a bum behind center. And the Jets plan to build off that tremendous rushing performance from last season, right?
In the organization’s infinite wisdom, Thomas Jones was released in favor of unproven Shonn Greene. Now I’m no football genius, but the adage “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” sure would seem to apply in this case.
Releasing Jones was the “head scratching” move of the off-season. The top rushing offense in the league (which arguably was the reason the team had marginal success during the regular season) actually parted ways WILLINGLY with the guy who made them so successful, all so they could rely on a kid with a whopping 108 TOTAL rushing attempts on his resume.
And alongside this unproven kid the organization brings in the soon-to-be washed up LaDanian Tomlinson, who hopes for one more shot at a winner before riding off into the Canton sunset.
What do you get when you mix a highly touted, yet unproven prospect with a once-great NFL record holder who thinks he still has a little gas left in the tank? You get a position battle!
That’s right, in a matter of months the Jets have fallen from having the league’s best rushing offense to not even knowing who the starter is (neither of whom have a PRAYER of producing the way that Thomas Jones did).
But Defense Wins Championships
The New York Jets had the top defense in the NFL in 2009. Led by All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets shut down opposing offenses, giving up only 252.3 yards and 14.8 points per game, no team was stingier when the offense was on the sidelines.
Here’s the problem, though. That superstar leader of the Jets defense, Darrelle Revis, has yet to show up for practice. Because he feels he is bigger than the team he plays for, Revis is foolishly demanding a new contract, and has held out from participating in team activities as his protest.
Without Revis, the Jets defense may not be hapless, but it is certainly not the loaded unit it was last season. And even if Revis and the Jets can come to some sort of an agreement (which today STILL seems unlikely), it is so far into the pre-season that his game-readiness is doubtful.
Wide Egos for Wide Receivers
I will grant only a couple sentences to the least valuable players on the entire Jets roster – Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.
Holmes, who won’t even be on the field for the first four weeks of the season due to suspension, came to the Big Apple after being dealt away from the Pittsburgh Steelers because of yet another legal issue. It doesn’t at all matter what Holmes will do on the field, because he cannot seem to control his personal life.
As for his cross-field counterpart, the only thing that Braylon Edwards seems able to catch is bad press. He can run his mouth, but that pesky little thing called catching the ball seems to trip him up every time.
A Formula for Failure
Last season the Jets capitalized on the element of surprise and relied on a solid running game and a stingy defense to reach the AFC championship game.
Now the teams has drawn as much attention to itself as possible by painting a giant target on its back. The front office has weakened the running game, brought in unreliable receivers to support a quarterback whose performance would have gotten him fired on almost any other team in the league, and the top player is holding out for more money.
Are the Jets REALLY a playoff team?