Another year, another Super Bowl dream ended one game short.
While many fans are happy that the New York Jets once again drove deep into the NFL playoffs (an accomplishment worthy of admiration), there is some growing concern about the team’s inability to get over that one last hump to glory.
Gang Green started the season with a huge target painted on their backs, courtesy not only of their own growing bravado, but from being the featured team on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” show. Coach Rex Ryan entertained millions with his profanity-laced tirades that were interspersed with a self-deprecating sense of humor. He portrayed the Jets as the team to beat in the entire NFL and opposing squads came motivated to knock them down a peg or two.
The season’s obvious low point came with the 45-3 drubbing suffered at the hands of the rival New England Patriots, a humilation witnessed by millions on Monday Night Football. There was scant sympathy for the Jets as their big mouths set them up for a fall. However, they acheived redemption by knocking the Pats out of the playoffs, proving that revenge, when delayed, can sometimes be even sweeter.
The problem New York faces now is in keeping this team together for another run. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, cornerback Darrelle Revis and other important pieces of the future are locked up, but tough decisons loom in terms of whether or not Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie and LaDainian Tomlinson will return.
For all the success they had, there were still major problems with the Jets’ gameplan. Their defense, while a strong unit, still failed to dominate in the mold of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Part of this could be attributed to the early season loss of NT Kris Jenkins (for the second straight year) and Revis being hampered by a hamstring injury. However, the fact remains that, too often, the Jets failed to make the important stops this year.
Another key question is whether or not Sanchez can continue to make forward strides in his development. While he certainly matured quite a bit this season, he still suffered unaccountably bad performances and has not proven himself in the mold of a leader as of yet. An awful lot of the Jets future hinges upon him, an uncomfortable situation to be sure.
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Written by Frank Mazzola