New York Jets: Woody Johnson Failing to Address the Real Problem
The only comparable object to the New York Jets organizational collapse over the past two seasons is also located in New Jersey.
That would be a roller coaster named Kingda Ka.
It has a 418-foot drop in a matter of seconds which is essentially what has happened to the Jets since Ben Roethlisberger converted that 3rd-and-6 in the final minutes of the AFC Championship game two years ago.
Since that time, the team has lost a number of veteran leaders—such as Jerricho Cotchery, Damien Woody, Jim Leonard and Tony Richardson— to free agency or retiring.
Additionally, they have been wrong in assessing the talents of other players who were meant to play significant roles on the team.
Draft picks have failed to pan out as expected (looking at you Vlad Ducasse and Kendrick Ellis); injuries to elite talents piled up and they just didn't receive the type of luck from which they benefited greatly during the the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
The biggest issue, however, is something more glaring.
While teams such as the New York Giants, New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are able to avoid full-blown collapses because of their elite quarterback play and an authoritative figure as a head coach, the Jets have done just the opposite.
How did the Patriots weather the storm while their best playmaker, Rob Gronkowski, was out due to a broken arm?
They have a system in place that allows virtually any type of player to succeed, especially with three-time Super Bowl winning QB Tom Brady under center.
The Jets have a system that relied on a third-year RB that averaged 3.9 yards per carry and has a career-long run of 36 yards.
The NFL that has seen a QB eclipse 4,900 yards passing eight times since 2008 and during that time the Jets failed to acquire a proven pass-catcher to assist an offense that was led in receiving yards by a tight end with 815.
That is not to lessen the burden on Mark Sanchez.
Can Mark Sanchez revive his career?
In fact, it's hard to make any case to defend him aside from his win-loss record in his first two seasons.
Any fan that has spent even a minimal amount of time watching the Jets play understood that Sanchez had a very limited role in that offense.
His best season to date was in 2010 in which he averaged just 205.7 yards per game and threw 17 TDs despite having a trio of receivers—Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery—that were capable of overwhelming most secondaries in the league.
Even then, Sanchez was never trusted to win a game single-handedly, rarely being asked to throw the ball more than 30 times per game or in critical situations.
To think, that was his high point.
Since then he has appeared to resemble nothing close to an NFL-caliber QB. The Jets will not regain their form of two years ago until they get better play from the position. He has only remained a starter thanks to the incompetency of the back-up QBs, and the loyalty of the head coach.
Which brings me to the next point.
Rex Ryan originally brought a brazen attitude to East Rutherford that had not been seen in a long time. The fact that he was following Eric Mangini—who is cut from the cloth of Bill Belichick in terms of personality—endeared himself even more to fans.
When he led the Jets to the AFC Championship while having the top-ranked defense and rushing attack in the NFL in 2009, it appeared he could do no wrong.
That only enhanced when he again coached them to the AFC title game the next year.
Since then, he has made a number of costly coaching mistakes. He has talked up players that have not produced such as John Conner, Eric Smith and Calvin Pace.
He has not beaten the Patriots since their divisional round game game in January 2011, either.
Off the field, Rex has changed the perception of the team into a clown act quicker than he solidified their legitimacy three years ago.
His bold predictions have disappeared, but he has failed to make the team appear the way he has proclaimed they will.
In his book, "Play Like You Mean It", Rex stated that the Jets are not the "second banana" in NY and will win a Super Bowl during his tenure.
Not only are they nowhere near fulfilling the Super Bowl prophecy but the Giants buried the Jets with a 29-14 defeat on Christmas Eve 2011 which the Jets have never recovered from.
To add insult to injury, they defeated Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl later that season.
I was a fan of Rex's brash attitude during his first and second year, as most Jets fans were, but the Jets need to go in another direction. It seems most people, aside from their owner Woody Johnson, recognize that.
By firing the QB coach, offensive coordinator and allowing the defensive coordinator to interview for other jobs, it sends the message that everyone EXCEPT for the head coach and QB are responsible.
In reality, Tony Sparano was handcuffed by his putrid offensive personnel, and Sanchez played a huge role in that.
Rather than trying to appear in more back page headlines than the Giants, the Jets should copy them. They should acquire a QB who is capable of leading a team to the Super Bowl and hire a coach who is concerned with the end results as opposed to appearing in TMZ.
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