7 Reasons the New York Jets Can Right the Ship Under Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson
After a disappointing 6-10 finish to the 2012 season, the New York Jets will look to get things straightened out next year.
The Jets have cleaned house since losing 28-9 to the Buffalo Bills in the season finale. As of Jan. 15, nine coaches and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have either been fired, hired by another team or retired.
Despite plenty of negatives to take away from the season, there are still some positives that the team can build on in the coming year.
Defense Remained Tough Without Revis
Say what you want about Rex Ryan, but the man knows defense.
The defense turned up its level of play in the final weeks of the season to finish at No. 8 in total defense. Despite finishing as Top 10 defense in the NFL, it's the lowest the defense has ranked with Rex Ryan as head coach.
But this year was different.
Despite the loss of the team's best player, the Jets ranked No. 2 in pass defense, allowing just under 190 yards per game. So it's no surprise that the only two representatives from the Jets in the Pro Bowl, safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, are players in the secondary.
The defense also found the ability to stop opponents on third downs late in the season. In a four-game span against the Arizona Cardinals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers, the defense allowed only six conversions on 56 third downs, which is an impressive 10 percent efficiency from opponents.
If Revis can return to form after his ACL tear, this defense can make a tremendous stride in 2013.
Antonio Cromartie Showed He Can Be Dominant
In Revis-like fashion, Antonio Cromartie was able to shut down opposing No. 1 wide receivers on a weekly basis. He may not have been as consistent as Revis, but he still helped lead the No. 2 passing defense in the NFL.
In Week 5, Cromartie held Andre Johnson to one catch for 15 yards in a loss on Monday Night Football.
Until the final week of the season, the Jets secondary had not allowed a receiver to gain more than 100 yards, until Bills' wide receiver Stevie Johnson gained 111 yards in the finale.
The Jets recognized Cromartie as the team's most important player, awarding him the Curtis Martin Team Most Valuable Player for stepping up his game in the absence of arguably the game's best cornerback in Darrelle Revis.
Santonio Holmes Returning from Injury
When the Jets opened up the 2012 campaign, the receiving corps lacked depth and had no definite No. 2 receiver to help Santonio Holmes.
When he went down with a foot injury in Week 4, the team had no go-to receiver, and the most experienced receiver with the Jets was Jeremy Kerley, who was just beginning his second season.
With Holmes in the lineup for the first four games, Sanchez threw five touchdowns to four interceptions. In the remaining 12 games without Holmes, Sanchez threw eight touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
When Holmes returns in 2013, he may be reunited with Braylon Edwards, should the Jets re-sign him.
In the 2010-11 season, Holmes and Edwards were a formidable duo and allowed Sanchez to make strides in his second year. Sanchez threw a career-low 13 interceptions and recorded his best QBR at 48.0, which is definitely because of his chemistry with Holmes and Edwards.
Should the Jets let Edwards leave, again, just having Holmes for a full season would definitely give Sanchez a boost in confidence.
Sanchez had his best statistical season with Santonio Holmes as the team's No. 1 receiver in 2011. He threw a career-high 26 touchdowns and had a career-best completion percentage at 56.7 percent.
Darrelle Revis Also Returning from Injury
Any time a team's best player goes down with injury, chances are the season will not likely be a successful one.
After neither team scored in the first quarter, the Jets looked lost defensively and couldn't stop the San Francisco rushing attack.
What makes Revis so special is that he's not only a great shutdown cornerback, but he's excellent in run support, he's arguably the best open-field tackler on the Jets, and he is able to read offensive packages.
When the Jets lost him for the season, Rex Ryan had to make major changes to the defense. What the Jets would do is have Revis cover the other team's best receiver and make the game 10 on 10. Having one receiver blanketed allows Ryan to send his different blitz packages.
If a coach has to change a game plan he's used for three years, it will definitely take time to adjust.
Jeremy Kerley, Younger Players Can Learn from Last Season
Probably the best thing one can call last season is a learning experience for the younger guys on the roster.
Probably the guy who had the most to gain from the crazy season was Jeremy Kerley, who became the go-to receiver after Santonio Holmes went down.
Kerley was the team's leading receiver, who caught 56 passes for 827 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 14 receptions of 20-plus yards. He also performed at a higher level in the team's losses, as 37 receptions and 578 yards came in a losing effort.
The season had to give him some confidence in his ability to be a threat to defenses around the league.
Guys like running back Bilal Powell, tight end Jeff Cumberland and wide receiver Stephen Hill have all gained significant experience playing through tough losses.
They Had a Chance at a Playoff Berth Until Week 15
The Jets, with a 6-7 record, went into Tennessee in Week 14 for Monday Night Football and could have come out with an even record, and inching closer toward a playoff spot.
Mark Sanchez must have had other ideas as he played an awful game, throwing four interceptions. None was bigger than the fourth, which came at the Tennessee 2-yard line, stalling the Jets' 69-yard drive.
The defense came up big, though, and forced the Titans to punt before the clock ran out.
The punt went off the side of Brett Kern's foot and traveled only 19 yards, setting the Jets up at with excellent field position at the Tennessee 25-yard line.
With 47 seconds left, the Jets miraculously still had a chance to escape with a win, but as fate would have it, Sanchez fumbled the snap and any playoff hope for the Jets for that matter. It was the Jets' third straight drive that ended with a Sanchez turnover.
It was actually a very poetic ending, as the game served as a microcosm for the entire season.
But what one can take away from this game is that despite injuries and an awful offense, the defense proved it could carry the Jets toward playoff contention. But the offense needed to seize the opportunity.
Jets Tend to Play Well the Season After Finishing with a Losing Record
Since the 1996 season, in which the Jets went 1-15, every season that the Jets have had a losing record, they finish he next season with a winning record.
In 1997, Bill Parcells coached the Jets to a 9-7 record, but fell short of playoff contention.
This doesn't guarantee that the Jets will have a winning record next season, but the Jets tend to respond well to a losing season.