The NFL is a ruthless, physically demanding league that does not give credence to past accomplishments, nor does it let one skate by based upon personal accolades. The 2011 New York Jets learned this lesson the hard way.
Although head coach Rex Ryan guaranteed a Super Bowl victory for Gang Green, the team followed up its promising 2009 and 2010 campaigns with a clunker in 2011. The Jets posted an 8-8 record, while dropping their final three games and failing to secure a playoff berth.
To make matters worse, their crosstown rival New York Giants went on to win their second Super Bowl in five years. In short, 2011 was a humbling experience for Jets players, coaches and fans alike. In fact, the Jets created more questions than answers with their overall performance last season.
The Jets are coming to a crossroads in 2012.
There is an immense amount of pressure on several players to improve upon the mediocre performances they turned in last year. If this becomes the second failed season in as many years, there is a good chance there will be wholesale changes throughout the organization next offseason.
However, many people forget that, just a year ago, this team was being talked about as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. There are talented players all over the field who are capable of putting the team on their back during any given week. The only question is whether several other key players will step up and become more productive.
The 2012 season is a make-or-break year for the Jets as a whole. However, there are several individuals who are nearing the point in their respective careers in which they are either going to have to prove themselves as productive NFL players, or they are going to be out of a job in the near future.
Let's examine six players on the Jets roster who must show improvement throughout next season if they want to remain key components of the team’s future.