Why Do You Hate The Jets? AFC South Edition

In our latest edition of Why Do You Hate The Jets? we examine the AFC South to see who, if anyone, has the unconditional right to look down upon the Jets. Spoiler Alert: not one team in this division holds such an honor. Here’s why:

Just Shut Up

Jacksonville Jaguars – Other than the fact that Jacksonville has been 20-28 over the past three seasons, the Jets absolutely dominated them in every facet of their week 2 match up last season. They have a notable lack of talent across the roster, specifically on the offensive side of the ball with the exceptions of Maurice Jones-Drew and Mercedes Lewis. They’ve brought in Mike Mularkey as their new head coach, who has only two seasons of experience at the position, both of which were with the Buffalo Bills, where he compiled a 14-18 overall record. Although Mularkey is certainly a good offensive mind, and helped tremendously in the development of Matt Ryan in Atlanta over the past four seasons, he will surely have his work cut out for him as he attempts to rebuild this team, which has fallen far from grace recently.

New owner Shahid Khan could very much be a breath of fresh air for the franchise and the city, however, like so many new owners, he seems enthralled by the spotlight. Following the start of free agency this year, the Jags signed former Miami Quarterback Chad Henne to back up and possibly compete with the young Blaine Gabbert, who many have unfairly deemed a bust already. Just weeks after the signing, Khan was outbid by the Jets to acquire Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Surely, from a business standpoint, this was a smart move for Khan, as Tebow, a Jacksonville native, would helped ticket sales tremendously, but talk about a swing and a miss. Now the Jaguars are stuck with Gabbert, who not only has to deal with the constant criticism, but also has to live with the idea that his team was willing to give up on him after only one season, where he had virtually no supporting cast to work with. The Jets are often criticized for how they have dealt with the development and psyche of Mark Sanchez, but is this act by Jacksonville really any better?

Jacksonville’s need to blackout home games in order to increase ticket sales, or the constant rumors of relocation could surely be mentioned here as well, but there’s no need to take unnecessary shots below the belt.

Tennessee Titans – Where to begin with Tennessee? This is the same team that spent the third overall selection on Quarterback Vince Young in 2006, only to release him after 5 seasons with the club. Although Young looked somewhat promising early in his career, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, despite throwing only 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, he had a memorable meltdown during his third season, in which he was replaced by the then 35 year-old Kerry Collins. That same season, the Brett Favre led Jets went into Tennessee and handed the 10-0 Titans a 34-13 beating.

When the Young era ended heading into 2011, the Titans made a trade with Seattle for veteran Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to lead the helm and help develop first round pick Jake Locker. Although Hasselbeck fared decently last season (3,571 yards, 18 touchdowns), the Titans struggled all year largely due to the inconsistency of running back Chris Johnson and missed the playoffs after a 9-7 finish.

Speaking of Chris Johnson, Tennessee waited so long to pay the NFL’s leading rusher since 2008, that he entered training camp late, causing his production to drop drastically. After the Titans finally caved and gave the three time Pro Bowler a four year $53.5 million contract extension, Johnson compiled only four 100+ yard games last season. In fact, he did not even reach 65 yards on the ground in any other contest, and went five games without reaching 25 yards. Although you certainly have to question the player for this immense drop in production after receiving his massive payday, something must be said about the Titans management skills in dealing with this situation.

As for their young quarterback, Locker showed great promise in the 5 games he appeared in last season, throwing for 542 yards, and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions, while attaining a 51.5 percent completion percentage. So, how did Tennessee owner Bud Adams express his excitement and confidence in Locker? During the frenzy over Peyton Manning, following the future Hall Of Famer’s release from Indianapolis, Adams publicly declared his desire to land Manning. Even after he chose the Broncos over Tennessee, Adams publicly acknowledged his disappointment.

“I want to thank the whole organization for their efforts in trying to sign Peyton and also to Peyton for the time he put into the process. Peyton called me this morning to inform me of his decision and obviously I am disappointed, because I thought we would be a perfect fit.” –Adams on Manning choosing Denver over Tennessee.

Stay Classy Bud

The naysayers will certainly criticize the Jets for giving Mark Sanchez his contract extension after realizing they were not in the running for Peyton Manning. However, the Jets were smart enough to nip that situation in the bud before having it escalate to where Sanchez was poorly affected by it. Yes, they still brought in Tim Tebow, but Manning would have all but ended Sanchez’s run in New York. With Tebow, Sanchez is rightfully still the starter, until he proves otherwise.

Tennessee has been a bit better than Jacksonville over the past three seasons with a 23-25 overall record during that time, however they have not won a post-season game since 2003. The Jets, who have won 4 since 2009, all of which were on the road, have been 28-20 under Rex Ryan during the past three seasons.

Houston Texans – Although the Texans are certainly a franchise on the rise, they have never beaten the Jets since entering the league in 2001. They are very young and talented, and took a huge step in the right direction last season, by winning the AFC South for the first time in franchise history, as well as securing their very first post-season victory by way of a 31-10 rout over Cincinnati in Reliant Stadium. While I absolutely believe they will be a force, not only in the AFC South, but in the NFL for years to come, they still have not even sniffed the recent success of the Jets, and until they snag a W from Gang Green, they have no basis to look down upon them.

Some Room To Talk

Indianapolis Colts – If I were writing this piece three years ago, the Colts would be placed in the Unconditional Bragging Rights category. However, since Ryan has come to New York, Indianapolis really hasn’t been much better than the Jets. Over the past three seasons Indy has compiled a very mediocre 26-22 overall record. Now, obviously this number is a bit misleading due to the fact that arguably the greatest quarterback in league history missed all of last season, leading to a 2-14 record, but the bottom line is that he is just one player. Outside of Manning, if the Colts were truly that much better than the Jets, they would have been able to muster up more than 2 victories in 2011. Last season displayed how poorly the team was actually built, and because of it, both Polians lost their jobs in the Colts’ front office. For as much criticism as the Jets take with Sanchez, it is never argued that if he were to miss playing time, the Jets would be much worse. This is a result of two things. Yes, Manning is that important to a team, and is certainly superior to Sanchez, but also, the Jets have been built better from top to bottom, rather than the top heavy team that Indianapolis was exposed as last season.

One of the biggest knocks on the Jets is that they love being in the spotlight. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and Owner Woody Johnson have been deemed as attention hogs, who are willing to do anything to gain the back page headline in New York. While this notion is certainly exaggerated, if it were in fact the case, the Colts still would have no ground to criticize them for it. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is one of six NFL owners on twitter, but is by far the most active user of his account. Since the saga with Peyton Manning began prior to the start of last season, Irsay has done enough to make himself the center of attention in Indianapolis. He glorifies not only his team, but himself as well, through the media, and especially through social media. Seriously, go look at the guy’s Twitter timeline and tell me he isn’t all about stealing the spotlight. Irsay is far more vain than Woody Johnson and Co. have ever been.

Beyond that, we all know who eliminated the Colts the last time they were in the post season. In the 2011 playoffs, the Jets marched into Indianapolis and avenged their 2010 AFC Championship Game loss by knocking out the Manning led Colts on their home turf on a last second field goal by Nick Folk. Manning’s reaction to Caldwell’s incompetence will forever be remembered as the legendary quarterback’s last moments in a Colts uniform.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

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TOJ’s week 7 edition of the NFL Power Rankings, followed by some general NFL observations…as always feel free to comment on my stupidity

The Top Two

1. New York Jets (5-1) – I am giving them the leap to number one because I believe if they played their best game against Pittsburgh’s best game right now, they’d win in a close one.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) – They should really get rolling now with Ben Rothlisberger under center but didn’t look as dominant as I expected against the Browns who were giving a rookie quarterback his first start.

Just A Cut Below

3. New England Patriots (4-1) – Impressive win against the Baltimore Ravens, who never put them away. Yet if I read one more story about how happy Deion Branch is to be back in New England and how everybody there loves him, I’m going to throw up.

4. Baltimore Ravens (4-2) – You can’t be blowing 20-10 leads that late in the game. Fortunately for them, they have a bye week this week aka they are playing Buffalo.

5. Indiannapolis Colts (4-2) – As long as Peyton Manning is under center, they are the favorite in the AFC South. Austin Collie is having one hell of a year too by the way.

Best Of NFC…I Guess

6. New Orleans Saints (4-2) – If you had to bet on one NFC team going to the Super Bowl right now, it’d probably have to be New Orleans especially if they continue to run the ball like they did last week.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) – The Eagles have a problem that many teams in the NFL wouldn’t mind having. Let’s get see if they can beat a physical Tennessee team to get some momentum going.

8. Atlanta Falcons (4-2) – Laid a complete egg against the Eagles on the road.

9. New York Giants (4-2) – They have a golden opportunity to completely bury the Dallas Cowboys this Monday night.

Looking Like A Playoff Contender

10. Tennessee Titans (4-2) – A physical (dirty) team that can play defense, run the football, and has some weapons in the passing game.

11. Houston Texans (4-2) – They are a finesse (soft) team but can put up some points and have found a way to win close games this season.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (3-2) – They lost a couple of tough games in a row but still remain 1 1/2 games up in the AFC West, where nobody wants to win a game.

13. Washington Redskins (3-3) – You would have liked to see Donovan McNabb handle business on that final drive at home against the Colts.

14. Miam Dolphins (3-2) – Never easy to win in Green Bay. We’ll see how legitimate they are this week against the Steelers.

Not As Good As Their Record

15. Seattle Seahawks (3-2) – They actually won a road game. Perhaps with Marshawn Lynch on the roster and Mike Williams playing like he did at USC at receiver, they could find some consistency on offense.

16.. Chicago Bears (4-2) – Never a good sign when you can’t beat a mediocre Seattle team at home.

17. Green Bay Packers (3-3) – A little low? Maybe, but I am not sure they can overcome the mass of injuries they sustained. They are also playing sloppy, inconsistent football.

18. Arizona Cardinals (3-2) – They are right in the thick of things in the NFC West, then again so are the 1-5 49ers.

19. Tampa Bays Bucs (3-2) – As bad as a 3-2 team gets.

20. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3) – As bad as a 3-3 team gets.

Frisky

21. St. Louis Rams (3-3) – Impressive win against San Diego considering how they lost to Detroit the week before.

22. Minnesota Vikings (2-3) – Amazing how much they could be in it, if they can take care of Green Bay this week.

The AFC West Is Brutal…Bengals Aren’t Much Better

23. Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) – A team supposed to built around their defense, that can’t stop anybody and a team that is supposed to have a high power passing attack that has a suddenly crappy quarterback.

24. Denver Broncos (2-4) – Thank you Renaldo Hill.

25. Oakland Raiders (2-4) – Just when you thought you could go an entire season without watching Kyle Boller play.

26. San Diego Chargers (2-4) – Thank you for destroying my three team tease this past weekend…and for LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie.

Bad Football Teams, Still Competitive

27. Dallas Cowboys (1-4) – They always find a way to lose.

28. San Francisco 49ers (1-5) – Still alive in the NFC West, where 7-9 just might equal a division title and home playoff game.

29. Detriot Lions (1-5) – As far as 1-5 teams go, they aren’t half bad.

30. Cleveland Browns (1-5) – Colt McCoy showed there might be hope for the future.

Cover Your Eyes

31. Carolina Panthers (0-5) – Doesn’t matter if Matt Moore or Jimmy Clausen are throwing interceptions and getting sacked.

32. Buffalo Bills (0-5) – They can’t win more than 2 games this season, can they?

PhotobucketAFC East – I think the Jets are going to have a tough time pulling away from the Patriots. The December 6th match-up between the two teams is going to go a long way to determining the division winner. Prior to the season I thought Miami would be the Jets main competition, however I think they are going to catch a beat down from Pittsburgh this week and be a .500 team the rest of the season.

NFC East  – This division couldn’t be anymore wide open. The Giants always beat Dallas and will likely bury them for good this Monday night, leaving them to battle with Philadelphia and Washington. The Eagles seem like the favorite right now, with either Vick or Kolb under center but you’d like to see more consistency on both sides of the ball from them and particularly their offensive line.

AFC North  – It will be fun to watch the Steelers and Ravens slug it out for the division title down the stretch, while the other team will likely land a wild-card. I can’t take the Bengals seriously as a contender because of how bad Carson Palmer has played.  I wonder if Eric Mangini will still be the Browns coach when the Jets come into town.

NFC North – Another wide open division. It feels like the Bears will eventually fall out of it, which leaves the Packers and Vikings to fight it out. 9-7 might be good enough to take this division title.

AFC South – I am more sold on the Titans as the Colts primary competitor for a division title. Houston just isn’t physical enough to win big games in November and December.

NFC South – The Saints and Falcons will be a division race that goes right down to the wire. Tampa Bay isn’t sticking around as a competitor for the division title but could be in the wild-card mix, since you could see a 8-8 team making the playoffs in the NFC.

AFC West – Everybody is still involved in the divisional race here. I wouldn’t be shocked if Denver ended up taking it as a 9-7 team, considering they weathered the tough part of their schedule.

NFC West – Just a bunch of inconsistent, mediocre teams with questions at quarterback. At least the Rams have their franchise guy under center, but he is a rookie so it remains to be seen how he plays down the stretch.

As of right now, it really is a shame that the NFC and AFC West have to send a team to the playoffs. I am having nightmares of a wild card weekend featuring the 8-8 Bears at the 7-9 Rams, followed by the 8-8 Chiefs hosting a playoff game.