Perhaps the market makes the New York Jets conducive to exceptional amounts of exaggeration surrounding their team. Maybe it is their coach. Their history. The media. Or their fans. Most likely it is a combination of all the above.
Whatever it is, there is no middle ground with this team. They are either world beaters or the sky is falling. You would swear from the conversations this past week that they went 3-13 this past season, not 8-8 and a handful of plays away from a playoff spot.
This season was a disappointment, without question. Yet, everybody is ready with the punchline that Rex Ryan will be on Inside The NFL instead of a NFL sideline by this time next year instead of a sideline as a head coach, when they forget a year ago he was being lauded for completely undressing Bill Belichick in a playoff game.
You have heard it all: Mark Sanchez is a hopeless failure the Jets can’t win with as a starter. By the way, his career record as a starter is 27-20. The defense is old and slow. The offensive line is awful. The receivers can’t get open and are plagued with the cancer of Santonio Holmes. The running backs are average. There is no depth throughout the entire roster.
All of the above concerns are very valid but they are frequently overstated. This isn’t the St. Louis Rams or the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is a quality base of talent on this team and they are a productive off-season away from being one of the AFC’s elite teams, which isn’t saying much these days in a conference that is suddenly watered down and wide open.
How about looking at the 2011 New York Jets like this? They underachieved and despite a toxic locker room, erratic quarterback play and playcalling, along with let-down seasons from about half the starters, they still managed to win 8 games. Imagine a little chemistry comes back to that locker room? Imagine a group of the starters respond with better seasons and the rest who struggled last year are replaced?
The Jets have money to spend this off-season and finally have a draft pick in every single round. They have already made the right choice by letting go of Brian Schottenheimer and bringing in a new offensive staff, led by Tony Sparano. Mike Tannenbaum is in need of a bounce-back year and if he could respond with a solid off-season there is a good chance Rex Ryan will be back to being adored by the same media members who tear him to pieces right now. The criticism of Mark Sanchez will subside and all of the sudden the roster, which still has players like Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Dustin Keller, and Brandon Moore won’t suddenly be so pathetic and talentless.
Step back from the cliff Jets fans, the Giants and Patriots season will hopefully soon be over and you will have an active off-season to look forward to. This team isn’t rebuilding and is closer to 11-5 than 5-11. And if that can’t cheer you up, remember this was only a year ago…