In my humble opinion the best thing that can happen to the Jets this year is to miss out on the play-offs all together. It won't be half as exciting as the last two years, it won't be a remembered season and it won't end our long wait for something to cheer about, but going forward it may well be the best thing for the franchise.
Over the past 2 months I think we have finally started to see some cracks in this Mike Tannenbaum Rex Ryan partnership, and now that the bravado is the normality instead of the exception, fans are starting to look past this and question decisions rather than brush them under the carpet with a chant of "In Rex/Mike We Trust", so perhaps a 2011 reality check is what the doctor ordered
I don't believe any Jets fan is looking at this team, and saying 'This is a better team than 2009 or 2010', if you are sorry I don't believe you. It's not possible. This team has gaping holes that no amount of bravado can cover, and Rex knows it. Built up frustration leads to incidents like the one Rex has recently been fined for. As much as a coach needs to publically stick by his players, Rex as a defensive genius knows he can not hide the problems we have against the elite or even half decent teams.
As i mentioned in most artciles this year, this Jets team is a Jeckyle & Hyde where one day they can look like a finished article but most of the time the evil pulls rank and they look very beatable with weakness that Paul Hackett could scheme against. My biggest worry is that we scrape into the post season, win a game or maybe even reach the AFC Championship and we start believing we are a team that can win the Superbowl
I think any team that gets to the Championship game has talent, but getting to the AFC Championship game isn't enough. It was in 2009, and perhaps to an extent it was in 2010, but we don't want to be known as a play-off team. We want to be knows as a Championship team and a few things need to happen for us to realise that goal.
First of all I'm not going to get into the Sanchez argument. I like the guy and it has been analysed to death (the first sign that something isnt quite right) but all I will say is when you take a QB in the top 5 you want him to be able to take a game by the scruff of the neck, you don't merely want him to not lose the contest. That in my mind is the interpretation of a top 5 pick. Lets leave it there, as Sanchez is out QB and as long as Rex is here, I don't see that changing.
Now if we miss a post-season berth, the first area of the team that will be analysed will be the coaching staff and you all know what is coming. He who shall not be named must be shown the door, he has lost the confidence of the fanbase and as much as the reports have been denied, I think he has lost the confidence of some of the offensive talent on this football team. You know that i have never been a big hater of Brian, I truly believe that he has a lot of talent but with all the things that have occurred here, its time to move on.
Sanchez is not blossoming in his offence so i see no reason why we can't change up the play-book. This was often used as an excuse to keep Sanchez and Brian together. I'm not saying that Sanchez will turn into an all star but it seems Brian's play-book does not cater to Sanchez's capabilities. Which mostly are in the medium passing game, the 10-25 yard routes which he seems to be able to hit in stride (it's the 5-10 yard ones he struggles with).
Next we will see an assessment of the talent on this football team. At which point the problems will be revealed and hopfully rectified. Those being Eric Smith and Wayne Hunter and the lack of any real pass rush. I can't believe that Eric Smith is a starting safety in this league. He is a Rex Ryan player, he hits hard, he plays hard and he is a real old fashioned defensive player. Unfortunately the game has changed and you can't have a free safety that is as lost in coverage as Eric is. As John mentioned, he is a player to have in sub packages, but as a starting safety, no thanks.
A lot of people commented that Wayne Hunter was improving. In my mind he was at his journeyman status all along, 8 years and never being able to tie down a permanent starting role. It's for good reason, he is highly inconsistent and unrealiable at keeping the QB on his feet. Wayne Hunters few impressive performances are a mirage much like if the Jets were to make the post-season. He needs to be replaced so sacks like the one that happened on Thursday at a critical moment are avoided. He was far too easy to beat on that play.
A self assessment is the most needed eventuality of the 2011 season in my opinion. It won't be a wasted season if we miss the play-offs but manage to plug the gaps that need plugging for the 2012 season. I know it's never much fun to miss the play-offs and have to watch the likes of the Patriots and Steelers fighting for the honours but this team isn't good enough to win a Championship, but it's not a million miles away either. The worst thing to happen to this team is we scrape into the post-season with a 9-7 record, go to the AFC championship game, lose and go home.
The euphoria around a post-season run hides problems with any sports team, and unless you want to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride, missing out will be a saving grace.