New York Jets: The 5 Biggest Positives to Take Away from Their 2011 Season
The New York Jets' season was mostly forgettable, with a plethora of missed opportunities and a healthy dose of sub-par play.
Their obvious flaws (a turnover-prone offense, too little production from the running backs and spotty quarterback pressure from the front four) have grabbed the majority of the headlines in the wake of their disappointing year.
But, this slideshow will avoid the bad news and instead feature the good news for Gang Green. Here are the top-five reasons for hope from the Jets' 2011 season.
Shonn Greene Showed His Usefulness as a Running Back
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With over 1,000 yards on the season and a healthy 4.2 yards-per-carry average, Shonn Greene showed that he is a tough and steady feature back for the Jets.
LaDanian Tomlinson has clearly lost a step at the age of 32 and is no longer a dynamic option as a third-down back. The Jets should rely on the breakaway threat of Joe McKnight moving forward into 2012. Doing so will enhance Greene's effectiveness.
Greene was a bright spot for an offense that often failed to gain much traction. He will continue to be a force in 2012.
The Jets' Cornerbacks Are Still Top-Shelf, Elite Players
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The Jets' top-two cornerbacks can cover just about anyone. Darelle Revis is spectacular in coverage and Antonio Cromartie is only a tick behind him.
Despite some problems at safety (Eric Smith certainly doesn't seem to be a good answer for the Jets), their secondary was generally stout.
With eight interceptions between them, Cromartie and Revis are opportunistic and speedy enough to stay with even the fastest wide receivers.
Rex Ryan will most likely need to do some retooling to his defense. His linebacking corps is expensive, and a few key free agents probably won't be around next year. But, at least he won't need to worry about his cornerback tandem.
Sione Pouha Was a Revelation at Defensive Tackle
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Sione Pouha used an otherwise lackluster 2011 Jets season to show that he is a true impact player in the middle of the defensive line.
Although he's a seven-year veteran, Pouha has really only shown his capability over the past couple of years. Pouha has a good motor for a dude with a big body and clogs up running lanes nicely.
Even though the Jets couldn't bump themselves above .500 in 2011, Pouha demonstrated his toughness in shoring up the Jets' defensive front.
The Jets Now Know That They Need More Help at Receiver
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The Jets may not have realized how much they'd miss Brad Smith's jack-of-all-trades skill set when they let him sign with the Buffalo Bills during the offseason.
Without a legitimate third receiver, the Jets' passing game struggled to convert third downs. They have a solid tight end in Dustin Keller, but Brian Schottenheimer occasionally seemed to forget about him with his game planning.
Plaxico Burress had some good moments in the red zone, but he can't stretch the field as well as he used to. The kerfuffle that led to Derrick Mason's exit definitely hurt the team as well.
All of these trials at wide receiver in 2011 did help the Jets to discover that they need to have at least a couple more receiving threats in order to develop a formidable passing attack. Adding a tall, speedy receiver to complement Santonio Holmes should be the Jets' No. 1 offseason priority.
The Jets' Special Teams Were Strong All Year
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With the No. 1 kick-return game in the league and an above-average punting unit, the Jets' special teams were a bright spot throughout 2011.
Joe McKnight was the true star of the Jets' special teams, however. His play-making abilities made opposing teams think twice about kicking in his direction.
The Jets can feel confident in their special-teams situation heading into the 2012 season, as it was a definite positive from a season filled with negatives.