The New York Jets flipped the script from self-pitying losers to Super Bowl contenders during Rex Ryan’s first two seasons. As the 2012 season has slipped into oblivion, though, warm fuzzy feelings related to how the honeymoon originally felt, have become harder to conjure up. It has become fashionable nowadays, as the 6-9 Jets close their season on Sunday, to question whether the club is better off now than it was four years ago. When Woody Johnson replaced Eric Mangini and Brett Favre with Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Three major issues still plague the Jets. What type of head coaching persona best fits the team going forward, who the QB should be, and how the Patriots can be toppled.
Many people forget that Mangini was once perceived as the “Mangenius.” A brilliant Bill Belichick disciple during his first season (in 2006 when the 10-6 Jets returned to the playoffs after a 4-12 year under Herm Edwards in 2005) whose rigid, secretive, and stoic ways only became a detriment when the Jets crashed late in 2008.
Ryan then came barrelling through the doors in 2009 as the loud, brash, AFC Championship-level coach. A made for media character seemingly prepared to lead the organization out of it’s “Same Old Jets” mentality permanently. His present-day state as the humbled, neutered uber-loyal figurehead, has some diehards who all once loved him, wondering if he is the right man for the job going forward.
With reports surfacing now that the Jets are already searching for a new GM to replace Mike Tannenbaum, the Jets will once again be staring down a predicament they faced in early ’09 regarding the HC postion: What type of mindset, X’s and 0’s approach and personal skills best fit a model that aims for long-term success.
In 2008 out of nowhere, Brett Favre replaced Chad Pennington at quarterback in training camp. The shotgun wedding with the future hall of famer started out beautifully, but ended in disaster. As the 8-3 Jets fell victim to a stubborn Favre. Whose undisclosed arm injury left the club (that eventually fell to 9-7) hostage to a consecutive game streak that Favre refused to relinquish.
The Jets were happy after that late season crash to let Favre head to Minnesota. Mark Sanchez then became the franchise quarterback and instant starter after being selected in 2009. After a modest yet victorious start that began with a 4-2 playoff record in just two seasons, Sanchez’s career has gone from promising to second string.
With or without a new GM calling the shots, the Jets, as they did following the Favre experiment, appear ready to finally give up on the notion that Sanchez can guide them without challenge for years upon end. A new starter for the Jets in 2013 almost seems like an inevitability at this point.
Then there are the Patriots. In ‘08 the Dolphins shocked many by winning the AFC East. This thanks ironically both to Pennington’s guidance as the new Miami QB, and something the innovative Dolphins called the Wildcat formation. That anomaly of a year aside, the Pats have been the NFL’s most successful regular season team for over a decade. As well as the biggest thorn in the Jets side. Having won the division in ten of the last twelve years.
They are 11-4 this year. With a legendary head coach in Belichick who is as motivated to win as he was when he first left Bill Parcells and the Jets at the podium in back 2000, in order to rejoin Robert Kraft in Foxboro.
The Jets and Ryan believed that by now, they would be the ones in the penthouse. So much for wishful thinking. Soon the Jets will again assume the unenviable role of having to view their own their parts based on what it will take to overtake Brady and Co.
After the Buffalo game ends, the GM question is answered, and the Tim Tebow error is dealt with, the Jets will have to answer the same three key problems they had hoped to solve in January of 2009. “What type of coaching style best suits us now, who should be the quarterback, and how do we finally take down the Patriots? “