Little did anyone know, the Jets would make just as big of a splash by trading up in the third round to take running back Shonn Greene out of Iowa.
Early on, it was really unclear as to what type of impact Greene would have on the Jets in 2009. The Jets already had a tremendous running back in Thomas Jones, and a good complimentary back in Leon Washington. Greene was inactive for the first couple of games this season. Nobody was really sure as to how Greene would fit into the mix, if at all.
But finally, in a Week Seven game against Oakland, something happened that changed the Jets—and Greene's—season. Leon Washington broke his leg, and would be out for the remainder of the season. The loss of Washington was huge, as it seemed that the Jets had lost their big play threat out of the backfield. That day, Greene would have a breakout game where he ran for 144 yards on 19 carries, along with two touchdowns, in a 38-0 Jets victory.
Greene started to see more and more playing time as the season went along. He ended up being the main back in the Jets' 24-14 win over the Bengals in last weekend's wild card game, carrying 21 times for 135 yards with a touchdown—which was a big 39-yard run on a misdirection which got the momentum in the Jets favor.
Now, the Jets travel to San Diego on Sunday, and Greene could very well be the "X-factor" in a possible Jets victory against the Chargers.
An excellent Jets offensive line, along with the running back tandem of Jones and Greene, will be the key to a Jets victory. With the high-powered passing attack that the Chargers possess, it will be very important for the Jets to run the ball, control the clock, and keep Phillip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, and Antonio Gates off the field.
And without a doubt, the Jets clearly have the advantage with the running game. Not only do the Jets have the No. 1 ranked rushing team in the entire NFL, but the Chargers are 20th in the league against the run.
Sure, Mark Sanchez will have to make a few plays here and there, but I certainly don't expect the Jets to be throwing the ball all over the field.
After seeing Sanchez play last week, where he had a very efficient day, completing 12 of 15 passes and two touchdowns, he seemed very comfortable with the offense for the first time since early on in the season.
If Sanchez can manage the game like he did last week and not turn the ball over, the Jets will be in GREAT shape.
Other than a great running game, which the Jets possess and gives them an advantage, the Jets also have a major advantage on defense. The Jets have the No. 1 overall defense, along with the No. 1 passing defense.
The Chargers are known for their ability to win games through the air with Phillip Rivers' arm and have been very unimpressive running the ball this season (LaDainian Tomlinson averaged 3.3 yards per carry).
Then again, the Jets had major problems stopping Cedric Benson last week. You may see the Chargers attempt to take advantage of that.
More than likely, Darrelle Revis will be asked to go up against Vincent Jackson on Sunday. Revis has shut down almost every No. 1 wide receiver that he has faced this season.
People have been waiting for him to have a bad game, but for whatever reason, it just hasn't happened yet. He is the key to a Jets pass defense which has allowed eight (yes, that's right) passing touchdowns this season. When you've got a great offense going up against a great defense, I'll take the great defense every time.
Basically, the key to a Jets victory is for Greene and Jones to run the ball effectively, to not turn the ball over, and to keep the Chargers' offense off of the field. If the Jets' defense can avoid getting into a shootout with the Chargers, the Jets have a tremendous shot to win.
With the Jets running game and defense, it's very likely that a team that nobody felt even belonged in the playoffs could be playing in the AFC Championship Game next week, with a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Same old Jets? Maybe not.