An 8-8 season in the NFL is nothing to brag about, ever. Yet it might be what the New York Jets needed to put them back on track.
I am all for dialing up my inner Rex Ryan, and saying that the Jets are on the verge of taking over as the top team in Gotham.
Yes, I understand that you have been hearing the “We are the Champions” chant since Rex Ryan took over as head coach of Gang Green in 2009, but it all is falling into place now.
Regardless of repeat losses in the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010 and a 2011 season that crowned the in-stadium rival Giants as Super Bowl champions, a rough year could be all worth it come 2012’s end — that is if all the pieces fall into place correctly.
Sure, last season was vomit-inducing for Gang Green and it ended with the shattering of their locker room being put on public display.
But this season can prove to be different. With the help of some free agent acquisitions, scheme changes and new coaching personnel, the 2012 New York Jets might just be able to return to being the toast of the town.
After holding the reins as the league’s best defense, leading the NFL in points per game in 2009 with 14.8, the Jets slipped down to sixth in 2010 with 19.0 per game and fell all the way to 20th in 2011 surrendering 22.7 points per game.
The Jets were in line for a change, and instead of changing defensive coaches they have reportedly decided to tweak their scheme, preparing to introduce the 4-6 front which was made famous by Ryan’s father Buddy Ryan with the Chicago Bears in the 1980’s.
“To stop a passing game you had to put pressure on it, some teams are good enough do it with a three man rush, but we’re not, in fact I don’t know if we can do it with a four man rush,” said Buddy Ryan in an interview during his time with the Chicago Bears. “If we need to send eight we’ll send eight but we’re not going to let you sit back there and pick us apart all day.”
The 46 defense fits the Jets personnel like a glove. As the Jets are without a go-to pass-rusher that can pressure the opposing QB on a regular basis, and the greatest advantage of the scheme is creates more sack opportunities by sheer volume of blitzers.
What makes it work the best is, the Jets have a league-best secondary which is proven to be capable of quality one-on-one down field coverage, led by Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and safeties that can put their nose to the ball and play an aggressive linebacker-type, heavy-hitting role the defense requires in Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry.
Add that with Jets first round pick defensive end Quinton Coples, who will be able apply pressure on “run downs.”
Coples, a former defensive tackle, can be moved around all across the front seven and is big and strong enough to play on all three downs.
On the other side of the ball, in recent seasons, Mark Sanchez was backed up by Kellen Clemens and Mark Brunell — both never appeared to be serious threats to the first-round draft pick, even though Brunell played in the mentor role aiding in Sanchez’s development.
Going into the 2012 season, Sanchez for the first time in his young career, is being challenged for his starting job as Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum has brought in a viable back up in Tim Tebow.
Tebow, who is capable of stepping up to the plate and knocking one out of the park at a moments notice if Sanchez’s performance falters.
What seems to be the biggest reason on why Tebow is now calling MetLife Stadium his home field is new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
Sparano mastered the Wildcat as head coach in Miami. Tebow is arguably the best candidate in the NFL to run the Wildcat, after WR Jeremy Kerley and RB Joe McKnight were unsuccessful at running it in 2011.
Helping is a strong offensive draft class anchored by second round pick WR Stephen Hill and sixth round RB Terrance Ganaway who are both products of the option style systems on the college level.
So do not let last season fool you, as the Jets have taken a step back from going after the flashy players of last off-season, and are now focused on rebuilding the core of the team, which is a power offense mixed with a complex defense.
In 2012, do you see Gang Green returning to cream of the crop of the NFL or are they still a couple of moves away?