This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, particularly as I watch the Jets 2010 season. If Jets and Giants swapped divisions (ignoring history, rivalries, and whatnot) during Rex's tenure? Would we have a division title and possibly a Superbowl berth/title? Would Rex be judged differently?
Just for a quick background, since 2002, the years we've qualified for the playoffs we were 10-6 wildcard teams. Were we in the NFC East, we may very well have been tied for the division with the Eagles in 2006 (both finished 10-6, but Eagles won division in NFC East while we were two games back of 12-4 Patriots). Since 2009, the NFC East champion finished with records of: 11-5(09), 10-6(10), 9-7(11), 10-6(12), 10-6(12). Jets have finished in that same span 9-7, 11-5, 8-8, 6-10, and 8-8. In all but 2012, the Jets would have been at most two games back of the division and would have won the division in 2010. Just for comparison's sake, in same span Patriots have finished 10-6, 14-2, 13-3, 12-4, and 12-4.
Now, obviously there are a lot of assumptions that'd go into this post (assuming that we'd have similar success against the NFC, assuming similar success inside of the division). However, it is easy to see that there is a lot more parity in the NFC East than the AFC East. Rex has caught a lot of flack (some of it justified) over the last three years for not caring about the offense, not helping Sanchez out, and so on. However, I honestly think that were we in the NFC East, we would have won at least one division title (if not more) and probably would have been more likely to have a Superbowl berth in 2010. The quality of play in the NFC East is usually pretty even, and there really isn't any one QB that consistently breaks away from the pack year in and year out. During Rex's tenure Rex Grossman, Romo, Vick, Foles, Manning, RGIII, and Donovan McNabb have all started games for the NFC East. While there are some good QBs in there, none put up consistent and record breaking numbers like Brady does in the AFC East. I think Rex's defense could handle those quarterbacks, and I think our offense would be more proficient against some of these defenses (as well as a fair amount in the NFC). With a division with more parity between the teams, the Jets could have had a home playoff game (in 2010 especially) and made a serious run for the Superbowl, playing 2 road games instead of 3. Rex's legacy would be completely different and he'd vault into the top 10 ranks of head coaches.
Before you judge Rex too harshly on not having getting us to the Superbowl or not winning a division title, just keep in mind how little parity there is in the AFC East and how difficult it is for any team to win a division when the other team is winning 12-14 games on average. The Jets are a middle tier to above average team, but we are looked down upon by some because we are in a division with no parity that is often decided by Week 13 instead of Week 17.
Thanks for reading! As always, give me feedback and feel free to add your own thoughts.