As difficult as the winter months were for the Jets, enduring their own crash and locker room dramas, as the hated Patriots and “Big Brother” Giants just rolled along, Gang Green should ditch any small minded “G Men” envy, and get out the notepads instead. Rex Ryan said that he reviewed his own performance with a pen and paper this past week while vacationing in Hawaii. The Jets entire organization should do the same. Using a big part of this important break in the action, by studying how the Giants beat their AFC East rival three times in four years. Along the way to adding to more Vince Lombardi hardware to their own collection.
MAKE FINDING SPEED RUSHERS UP FRONT PRIORITY ONE
The way to defeat top five QB’s and fast break passing games in general, is NOT by drafting more cornerbacks to cover receivers as the Jets did by selecting Kyle Wilson two years back. It is by hurrying the decision making and release time of these signal callers by having speed up front. Alot of it.
Draft pass rushers on the outside. Sign them as free agents. Grow them in the basement of Florham Park. Do anything it takes. Just find them.
The Giants have now twice in the Super Bowl, and once in the regular season since 2008, slowed down the Pats passing attack by living close to Tom Brady. Doing it with tipped balls. Sacks. Pressures. Presence.
The names seem endless. Tuck. Osi. JPP. Kiwanuka. Strahan. Not one but an army of attackers who can line up anywhere and who together, allow the other seven to drop back and bolster coverage.
The concept of “rush three drop eight” helped the Jets beat the Colts and Pats in the playoffs last year, but doesn’t STRIKE THE FEAR OF GOD in these touchdown machines who line up under center. Monsters who have taken over the NFL lately. It is time for the Jets to put a scare into these guys. Like the Giants did and have for a number of years now.
As for the Giants latest run to the title, it wasn’t just the great Tom Brady who fell victim to the tsunami caused up front. Big Blue even forced perhaps the game’s best, Aaron Rodgers, to throw less and escape more, by running. This took it’s toll mentally on the Pack. The Giants got to Rodgers just enough that despite the Packers many drops during the NFC divisional round, the feel for Green Bay’s beloved QB in his own pocket went from comfort, to serious concern.
The Jets have to strive to obtain this type of potential defensively on the edge going forward. Period.
WE GET IT REX, BUT NOW BUILD THE RUSH FROM THE OUTSIDE
We spoke to Rex Ryan prior to the 2011 season and he told us that his dad Buddy taught him that defensive lines are built from the inside out. That size inside will flush QB’s outside where ends can clean up.
We don’t have the resume or pedigree to thumb our noses at theories created by the father of the 46 defense. We DO want to remind Rex and GM Mike Tannenbaum however, that it is not 1986 anymore either. QB’s play differently.
The athleticism has changed at the position.
We no longer live in an age of the “five step drop and plant the feet” quarterback. Most can throw on the run out of designed rollouts anyhow. It is forcing receiver routes that are free to roam after five yards to be cut off, that has to be the top priority for defensive units nowadays.
Become ultra fast up front. Crush and close pockets quickly. Make receivers stop and turn back to the ball.
SOLID QB PLAY, WITH A GREAT DEFENSE CAN DO THE TRICK
Second, is the dual need of quality QB play and the fear of owning threats downfield on offense. We all remember how Mark Sanchez struggled this season. Yet how many remember the struggles that elite Eli Manning had in HIS first three seasons? Eli has since calmed down and settled in to becoming one of the best. For Sanchez, the jury is still out, yet patience and understanding that it doesn’t happen out the gates for all QB’s on the Jets part, will be necessary.
No matter how IMPATIENT we as a society, and collection of fan bases who expect instant success, have become.
It took time for the younger Manning brother to become the player he is. Now it is the Jets turn. Any discussion by Jets brass regarding the recent notion of ditching Sanchez, should include a serious review of how and why Eli outgrew his own growing pains .
For the Jets to become a contender year in year out, the front four has to pressure the quarterback. In addition, Sanchez will have to be more than a game manager. The Niners Alex Smith became that type late in 2011 and can be the example for the future upside of Sanchez. A player who even if he never becomes a Canton bound type, has to deliver throws accurately and on time. Has to be able to do the little things well consistently.
Whether the club feels he can or cannot become that player at a high level, is how he must be how he is judged this offseason. Taking into account not just the 8-8 disaster but his prior body of work as well.
DONT BE SCARED OFF FROM OPENING IT UP BECAUSE OF 2011
The Jets 2012 receiving corps must still look to help Sanchez by providing the threat to stretch the field too. Even if they haven’t proven to be as productive as the current Giants crew of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham are. The new NFL calls for the ability to score points quickly at times.
To their credit, the Jets recognized this need heading into 2011 and actually tried to force feed a downfield attack early on. The added concept had little time to mesh new faces with old ones and as a whole, never got on the same page. They shouldn’t abandon this extension of the playbook entirely simply because it failed to work out this time around.
A return to the “Ground and Pound” under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano without some semblance of the ability to open it up at all, will not work in a modern day NFL. One that allows receivers to get open and QB’s to often go untouched.The model of balance, efficiency, and mild potency, just has to be executed better. With mutual trust between the players. Which brings up chemistry.
A RETURN TO TOGETHERNESS
The Super Bowl champion Giants were “All In.” The 2009 and 2010 Jets were unified as well. A return to that mindset is essential for the Jets, in overcoming the adversity that a long grinding NFL season carries along with it. Choices made as to who to keep, release, and acquire can’t be graded solely by projected production and numbers, but with “team player” included as a category as well.
This task will be left up to Ryan and Tannenbaum, who must establish ground rules that include consequences for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Maybe the Jets guidelines will always be looser than they are for the Giants or Bill Belichick’s tight lipped troops, but there HAVE TO BE SOME.
PLAYERS MUST PITCH IN: MANGOLD AND REVIS?
Leadership from certain players will also play a big part in aiding Ryan’s attempt to get everyone on the same page. If Rex’s Jets truly choose to go without the ceremonial “captains” they will still need de facto ones.
Often times Justin Tuck speaks eloquently on behalf of his club’s vision often times. Manning does as well. Never throwing a teammate under the bus while doing so. Even if the Jets don’t copy the Giants “leadership council” template that Tom Coughlin has invented for his championship team, it is time for a few “go to” guys to make themselves more available vocally. In a bigger way than they have done in prior years.
Inside and outside of the locker room.
We see Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis, two perennial All Pros, as guys who could become the daily quotable ones. Stars who can provide the public with the temperature taking on behalf of the rest of the team. After all, their play has warranted them the right to take on this important role in setting the big picture tone.
In this scenario, others could then fall in line behind them. Follow their lead. Echo their sentiments which to date, have never included any finger pointing. Do this for now. Until a rhythm is established for what it takes to have each others backs in good times and bad. New leaders can develop based off of this pair’s lead.
Mark Sanchez will have to become part of THAT group in the near future. His position on the field requires it. The “Sanchise” may need a few positive performances in order to regain confidence and a belief in him by his own teammates first. Before this added duty is asked of him.
At this point, Mangold and Revis should be the firestarters.
FORGET ABOUT WHO OWNS NEW YORK CITY
The keys are clear, yet only come after putting an end to the nonsense of caring about who owns the Big Apple. Who cares? There are no trophies awarded to the city’s best, only the league’s best.
Prioritizing a defensive gameplan that chases quarterbacks with the front four, with a QB who must do more than just manage a game, aided by receivers who are threats, on a team that sticks together, is where to start.
TRYING TO BE “KINGS OF NEW YORK” HURT JETS IN WEEK 16
Congratulating the Giants as classy Woody Johnson did on Sunday night was a solid initial step in moving away from a local rivalry that may sell tickets, but derails the vision in “sideshow” like ways. Respecting what good teams like the Giants do well while aiming to set in place solid footing in order to achieve one’s own high standard of consistency, is the path of least resistance. Allowing time for more focus on the important things. Such as clarity.
The idea of 59 pass attempts, the amount of tries the Jets had through the air against the pass rushing monsters on the Giants, was not borne out of a calm thought process. Self inflicted distractions that came from the Jets trying to win the “Battle for New York” played a lethal part in the Jets devastating 29-14 Christmas Eve day loss. A defeat that essentially ended Gang Green’s season, only to kickstart the Giants glory ride in the process.
RESPECT, RECOGNIZE, IDENTIFY, THEN YOU CAN IMPROVE
Recognizing the core principles that helped the Giants to beat New England and slow down the unstoppable Rodgers along the way in 2012, would provide a longer shelf life of a foundation, than goals of “winning the day” in the press can ever do.
The Jets are on the map now. It’s time to quit reminding people of that, and time to start battening down the hatches instead. The 2012 season is underway. Any “Peyton Manning” talk, as well as all other big personnel decisions that are to come, have to be diagnosed under the proper lens and microscope.
Great job Giants. Winning six straight games with your backs against the wall, by capitalizing on opponents mistakes, while getting the job done on long drives after trailing late in games.
Jets, it is now your turn, to assess and identify areas that hopefully only stunted the growth that took place over the first two years of the Ryan era. An exciting time for the men in Green and White, that can be improved upon as long as what happened in 2011 is reviewed by the club with clear minds.
Not emotional ones.