The 2010 Most Overrated Team in the NFL Debate… Pride Goeth Before the Fall

August 27, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

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.

Quarterback Concerns

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?

WRONG!

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?

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The 2010 NFL Training Camp Position Battle Debate… New Faces in New York Beg New Questions

July 28, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

Make no mistake about it – the New York Jets have a full fledged position battle at the running back position.

On one hand, the Jets have a bright young prospect in Shonn Greene who is entering only his second season in the NFL. Although his playing time has been brief (only 108 career rushing attempts), he has shown the potential to be a very explosive back who could lead the Jets ground game for many years to come. It was that potential which led the Jets to release last season’s starter, Thomas Jones.

That is a very impressive vote of confidence from the Jets organization, because Thomas Jones was the top rusher on the league’s top rushing team. He accounted for more than 1,400 yards (third most in the NFL) and 14 touchdowns on the ground. But, the Jets decided to go with a relatively unproven kid who has only 540 yards and two touchdowns to his credit.

Do not confuse that vote of confidence with blind faith, though. The Jets are not so foolish as to put all the eggs into one basket. That is why the team signed free agent LaDanian Tomlinson.

Yes, Tomlinson’s numbers were down last season, and he has had injury problems in recent years. But despite one of those injuries last season, and the increased emphasis that the Chargers placed on Philip Rivers and the passing game, Tomlinson still turned in a top-level performance, scoring 12 touchdowns (fifth most in the league) on only 223 rushing attempts. Although guys like Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson may have found the end zone more times than Tomlinson did, they also had as many as 100 more rushing attempts in which to do so.

Nobody is kidding themselves into believing that Tomlinson will continue to perform in 2010 the way he did when he broke the single-season rushing touchdown record back in 2006; but he is a guaranteed future Hall-of-Famer whose performance even in “bad” seasons is still better than what most other running backs in the league hope to achieve in their best years.

Finally, as if that weren’t already enough to grapple with, the Jets added rookie Joe McKnight out of Southern Cal, a player who ran for over 1,000 yards for the Trojans last season.

Although head coach Rex Ryan has publicly stated that he intends to use a by-committee approach to his rushing game plan, there are still questions about how that game plan will be implemented, and which running back will serve which role.

Will snaps be shared evenly among the two (or three) backs, or will one receive the lion’s share? Will one be dubbed the “starter” with the others relegated to a supporting role, or will they be on truly even ground?

Perhaps the biggest question is about which back Ryan will look to in goal line situations. For his part, Greene is a power back who runs straight ahead with a punishing force and could manage to power his way into the end zone. Realistically, there are not many running backs in the history of the game with a better nose for the end zone than Tomlinson.

These are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered, especially considering this dilemma comes on the heels of a season where the Jets boasted the league’s top rushing offense. The best running game, and then the team WILLINGLY parted ways with the two of the three men who get most of the credit for that success. It makes for the single most exciting (and important) position battle of the entire NFL pre-season.

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The 2010 NFL Player on the Hot Seat Debate… Big Expectations in the Big Apple

June 14, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

From a statistical standpoint, Mark Sanchez’s rookie season could hardly be considered a success.

In 2009, Sanchez threw for only 2,444 yards and 12 touchdowns, while giving up 20 interceptions. He had four games in which he threw for three or more interceptions. In those games (each of which the Jets lost), he threw for only two total touchdowns, compared to a combined 15 interceptions.

Compare that number to his AFC Championship counterpart, Peyton Manning, who threw for 4,500 yards and 33 touchdowns against only 16 interceptions. Manning also had only one game with three or more interceptions, and he still managed to toss FOUR touchdowns during that one game (which was still won by a score of 28-16).

Obviously, Peyton Manning is a difficult standard for any quarterback to be compared against. But that is exactly the caliber of quarterback that Sanchez must compete against if he hopes to find himself playing in the Super Bowl.

At the end of the 2009 season we learned that Mark Sanchez was an inconsistent quarterback who tended to make more mistakes than good decisions. A repeat performance this season will NOT warrant the same success for the Jets in 2010, though. That success, however, is nonetheless what the Jets and their fans are expecting.

After reaching the AFC Championship game last season (by virtue of owning the league’s best running game and defense), anything less than a Super Bowl appearance for the Jets will be considered a failure. And while the Jets’ defense remains relatively intact, the offense will look very different this upcoming season, placing increased pressure on Sanchez to get the job done.

Last season the Jets were a run-first offense, but that appears to be changing as we move into 2010.

For starters, Thomas Jones (who last season amassed 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns) is no longer with the Jets after being released in favor of the untested Shonn Green, and the injury-prone (albeit still dangerous) LaDanian Tomlinson. The team then added Santonio Holmes to bolster the receiving corps, in an effort to give Sanchez as many weapons as possible.

With those changes Sanchez MUST begin throwing for more than TEN completions per game (something he failed to do FIVE TIMES last season). He must also achieve more than 200 passing yards per game (something he failed to do 11 times last season), and he must balance out his TD to INT ratio.

Something in 2010 will have to change. Either Sanchez will step up and improve his passing game, or the Jets will find a new quarterback to lead the team to victory. The Jets organization, and its fans, has made their wishes known coming into the 2010 season. Both parties want EXPECT a Super Bowl for their beloved Jets. The responsibility falls to Sanchez alone to the team there.

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