Watch Out, NFL: The Jets Aren't a Rebuilding Team

Kevin DeBenedetto@KDebo9Correspondent IApril 21, 2009

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kellen Clemens #11 of the New York Jets throws the ball in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers on September 22, 2008 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Many football fans and experts believe the New York Jets are a team that is rebuilding.

This could be due to a multitude of things: Brett Favre retiring and having two young quarterbacks, the firing of Eric Mangini and placement of new head coach Rex Ryan, and missing the playoffs two years in a row.

With the thought of rebuilding in mind, the Jets are predicted to draft Josh Freeman at pick 17, but that is a draft pick that should not happen under any circumstances.

The Jets are not a rebuilding team. They are a team that should be building now to win a championship.

Concept One: Losing Brett Favre leaves a hole at QB.  The Jets have no one so they must be rebuilding.
VALIDITY: Not true at all

Almost everyone says the Jets don’t have the quarterback of the team's future on their roster and that they should have either traded for Jay Cutler, trade for Brady Quinn, or draft a quarterback.

I do not think that is the truth at all and believe the future is on the roster. His name is Kellen Clemens.

Entering his fourth year, Clemens knows the playbook completely. He has built a chemistry with Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, David Clowney, and Brad Smith, which can not be looked down upon.

Many say he failed when given the shot in 2007, but he should not be judged from that. He was given eight games behind a god-awful offensive line. So, because of that, he should never be a starter again?

Do people forget his fourth-quarter heroics against a Rex Ryan-lead Baltimore defense (which he should have won if Justin McCareins could hold onto a ball)?

Do people forget the ball-controlled offense he ran against Pittsburgh and Washington (which the Jets beat the Steelers and should have beat the Redskins)?

Kellen Clemens has terrific arm strength, great poise in the pocket, good mobility, and has shown great leadership through offseason workouts this year.

When Brett Favre came to New York last year, it signaled the end of the Chad Pennington era. But Brett Favre had to learn the entire playbook for the Jets in under a month. He was basically a rookie with the team, except with a ton of experience elsewhere.

It showed in the field, with the playbook getting smaller and easier for Brett to learn.

Clemens already has learned the entire playbook and is ready to call signals from under center. There was a reason he was the fourth-rated quarterback in the 2006 draft behind Matt Leinart, Vince Young, and Jay Cutler.

Concept Two:
Rex Ryan, as a new coach, will install his own system which will put the franchise back a couple of years.
VALIDITY: True, but to the smallest degree

There are two similarities between Eric Mangini and Rex Ryan that make this concept false: They both run a 3-4 defense and commit to a run-first offense.

The differences work in Ryans favor: he plays to win, not to avoid the loss. He also installs a feared defense and offense, which Mangini does not.

Mangini is a disciple of the great Bill Belichick, who is intelligent at the 3-4 and the presence of a strong run game. Due to this, Mangini has built up both sides of the trenches in his three-year tenure in New York.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Alan Fanaca, Damien Woody, Kris Jenkins are the names that Mangini has drafted/brought over to the Jets these past three years. All of them start. Ryan will be coming to a team that has the offensive line already in place with a great defensive line to boot.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson has really transformed into a great LT, who will protect the blindside of Kellen Clemens this upcoming year. Alan Fanaca has lost a step in his pass protection, but his run game is still one of the best in the league, giving Thomas Jones a career year.

Nick Mangold is one of the best centers in the league today. At such a young age, he will continue to get even better. Brandon Moore was the staple to the running game this year and is by far the best run-blocker on this team.

Damien Woody is the weakest link to this line, but is average at both run-blocking and pass-blocking. His is the only lineman position I can see getting upgraded in the draft.

Ryan has Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, both of whom are great  running backs who can carry the load. He might even draft Chris "Beanie" Wells or Knowshon Moreno in the upcoming draft. He will be able to play his style of offense and keep the pressure of Kellen Clemens.

He will also have one of the best defensive tackles in the game today. Ryan loves mixing up schemes and Jenkins has said he can’t wait to play under Ryan—he has put on 20 pounds and will line up as a DE on some plays (How about as a fullback on some plays?  Who would be able to tackle him?).

Along with being the hardest position to fill for a 3-4, nose tackle is also the most important position. With the position being filled, Ryan can continue to run the 3-4 to become a fierce defense that plays through the whistle.

He has great role players in his new defense too. He has Darrelle Revis, a top-three quarterback in the league today; Kerry Rhodes, a great safety who had an off year last year, but will shine in Ryan’s defense; David Harris, a fearful beast at the ILB position; Calvin Pace, an overall great LB who can cover TEs and blitz.

He also has young Vernon Ghoulston, who Ryan praised. We all know what Ryan did with Terrell Suggs. Along with the members of the defense that were already here, he brought over Bart Scott to make the Jets' ILB core the of the best in the league.  Jim Leonhard also showed last season he is a good asset to have. He will make this defense one of the hardest defenses to play against in the league.

Concept Three: Not making the playoffs these past two seasons show the Jets are not in a position to win.

The Jets record two years ago was 4-12. The Jets' record last season was 9-7.

The Jets didn’t make the playoffs this past season, but people forget the high that this team had. Once considered the best team in the AFC after beating the Patriots at Foxboro to then knock off the undefeated Titans, the Jets looked destined to win the AFC East.

They suffered loss after loss to Denver, San Francisco, and Seattle until Miami put the final dagger in us in week 17. The Jets controlled their own destiny for multiple weeks. If Brett Favre either didn’t injure his shoulder or would have told the Jets so the situation could have been fixed, they most likely would have made the playoffs.

It isn’t like the Jets have came off two consecutive 6-10 or worse seasons. In fact, they were very competitive last year.

So what has changed?

First, I will mention the losses. The Jets lost Laveraneus Coles to the Bengals, Brett Favre retired, and Eric Barton went to the Browns.

The additions were as follows: Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Lito Sheppard, Eric Barton leaving (ok, I kid. But not really).

They have increased our strength on the defensive side of the ball considerably and, truthfully, I think the team will be better off with Clemens as the quarterback instead of Brett Favre due to the reasons stated above.

Rex Ryan will also play to win the game, meaning he won’t go into the prevent defense late in the game like Mangini did. This past offseason actually made the New York Jets a stronger team.

With the reasons I’ve talked about above, the Jets are moving in the right direction to contend for a championship.

Will they be in the Super Bowl this season? Most likely no. But they have been putting the pieces together to make a run and I would not be shocked at all to see them contend for a playoff berth.

Rex Ryan will make this defense the best in the league—a team that protects each other. He said it best when he said, "You take a swipe at one of our guys, and we’ll take a swipe at two of yours."

Watch out, NFL. The Jets are coming and they are charging full speed.


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