I've been quietly watching the performances this year with the feeling that we've been very naive in the way that we have developed this team. I've looked at how we have developed over the last two-three years and how the atmosphere around the team has changed over the past few months. We've lost a lot of experience, we have lost a lot of leadership and we've replaced them with 'work in progress'. I believe that every team needs to go through a transition at some point, but it's only ever right to do that if we have a suitable replacement.
Without Tony Richardson, without Jerricho Cotchery and without players like Alan Faneca and Damian Woody I just don't recognise the same quality through the team that we once had. We were spoiled for years having the same offensive line together, a FB that could and would run through Walls, recognise blitzes and pick up players on the edge. Rex Ryan was today quoted as saying that we built this team to run the football. We certainly did, but we didn't transition it to continue that legacy. I love John Connor, but he's not near T-Rich's standard yet. As good as Slauson has been, as bad as Hunter has been, if we are built to run the football, it doesn't seem as though the offensive coordinator agrees.
Ever since Rex took over from Mangini we have had an identity, we play good defence, we run the football we ask our quarterback to manage the game. That philosophy has taken us to two AFC championship games in a row, lofty heights that we are not accustomed too, maybe we needed to make that shift to be a Superbowl team and not a play-off team but It seems that somewhere in that locker room there is a little confusion. The defence generally still performs and with Rex in charge I don't think that will ever change. However there seems to be a lack of faith in this run game, an abandonment of the principle that has made us so successful in recent years.
I just don't think we have planned for the NFL. Injuries happen but our depth up front in the trenches where games are won and lost has to be questioned. Wayne Hunter was decent last year but we all saw his limitations. He was handed a starting job on the back of 'decent' performances. Our drafting on the line with Vlad looks highly faulty due to him looking completely out of his depth every time he takes the field. As John mentioned recently we can hide Hunters limitations to an extent through misdirection, delayed hand offs and tight end, full back help. Getting Mangold back will help but won't solve the problems we have.
I have seen too many occasions where we have emptied the backfield and spread the field for Sanchez. Every time that happens I'm thinking he better get that ball out quick as this offensive line isn't holding up, and he's probably thinking the same thing. The problem is that I don't believe the trust in Mason is there on those short routes like it was with Cotchery. I remember a number of short passes that Cotchery turned into first downs when we needed it. Although he is hardly doing a thing in Pittsburgh, I still think we miss him more than is being let on.
No this isn't a throw the towel in call it an end, far from it. We still have the potential to be a play-off team. We need our identity back, and no amount of bravado from Rex can capture that. We need to run the rock and get Sanchez back into a management roll until we can replace Hunter through the draft or free agency. Sanchez isn't a quarterback who likes throwing the ball away, he's going to want to make plays and with the pressure we are experiencing at the moment. That's only going to end badly.
We need to get out of this in house finger pointing, Holmes taking a shot at Schotty, Sanchez, Rex at Namath and Namath back at Rex. When Rex joined he brought the Jets together, us against the world but we were going to stick together. It's fractioned but not broken. 2-2 and some tough games out the way. Mangold coming back, McKnight starting to perform and maybe just maybe that speed edge rusher in Maybin that defences have to at least think about.
Problems? Sure there are problems, but let's get back to doing what we do best. Identity, identity, identity.....one shot at us, two back at you. We're coming for you, and we are not stopping, we are ramming it down your throat whether you like it or not. Jets Football!