If you would have told most New York football fans prior to the season starting that there would be a parade marching through the city on February 7th, the majority would have had to concede that it would more likely be the Jets than the Giants walking down the Canyon of Heroes.
Giants fans might disagree with their 20/20 hindsight but they were not an overly confident fanbase heading into the season, coming back off back to back seasons without making the playoffs and an off-season that was being questioned by most. On the other hand, the Jets were off back to back AFC Championship Game appearances and seemed to be ready to take the next step.
I have been quick to point out that the media has been exaggerating the Jets failures this past year. The talk around the team is like they went 2-14, not 8-8. Yet, let’s be honest with ourselves before the season started if somebody would have told you that -
1. The Patriots would sweep the Jets.
2. The Giants would beat the Jets propelled by a ridiculous 99 yard touchdown, that would launch their Super Bowl run.
3. The Jets would miss the playoffs thanks to losses to the Giants and the Dolphins.
4. Santonio Holmes would quit on the team in the final game.
5. Mark Sanchez would have an ugly regression to close the 2011 season.
5. The Giants and Patriots would have a rematch in the Super Bowl, with the Giants winning again.
You probably would have vomited a little in your mouth right?
It is okay to admit this past year sucked on many levels. I didn’t enjoy a second walking to work today through a sea of Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs jerseys, while thinking about how the hell the Jets could here.
So, the question really is what is this team going to do now?
To be clear that I am not one of these flip-flopping convenient fans, who come and go with the Jets depending on their success, I still firmly believe in Rex Ryan as a head coach. Many of his comments look stupid after this season but he has breathed life into a lifeless franchise and can coach a hell of a defense. The failures of this year will serve him well in the long run, as I believe he will be wise enough to learn from his previous mistakes and improve into a better coach. Getting punched in the mouth this past year could very well be the best thing that ever happened to him.
I will not act like I wouldn’t be excited for a healthy Peyton Manning to join this team because if it happens, I will be cautiously excited. That being said, I do not think he is going to play here and I do think Mark Sanchez is the long term answer at quarterback. I am aware that puts me in the minority but take a glance at Eli Manning and Drew Brees first three years in the NFL and tell me it is smart to throw in the towel on Sanchez at this point. I doubt he will ever be a Pro-Bowl quarterback but I don’t doubt that he can win alot of games in the NFL and with the right team can win a Super Bowl.
Mike Tannenbaum has had his ups and downs. He had a bad year last year but he has had enough good years in the past to have some kind of faith in him bouncing back. There is a need for speed on defense, coupled with upgrades at safety and linebacker. An improved right tackle and a split end are also necessities on offense. How the Jets address these needs will go a long way to determining whether they are 8-8 or 11-5 next year.
Heading into 2012, there won’t be any brash predictions for Super Bowls. There will be a knowledge that this a talented team that could cause damage if they get into the playoffs. We learned this past year, like many years before, that all you need to do is get into the tournament and anything can happen.