New York Jets Are Not Your Standard Wild Card Team

Jayson LoveCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 03:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets celebrates a touchdown by Thomas Jones #20 in the first quarter  against the Cincinnati Bengals at Giants Stadium on January 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

As the Jets make their final preparations for this afternoon's AFC Divisional Round Playoff Game, they do so with many in the football world believing they don't deserve to be on the same field as their opponent, the San Diego Chargers.

I've heard pundits calling for a San Diego blowout of the Jets and still maintaining that the Jets are in the playoffs by virtue of a gift bestowed upon them from the Colts and Bengals.

Despite looking impressive in an opening round win against the AFC North champions the Cincinnati Bengals, no one other than Rex Ryan seems to believe the Jets are going to win today.

Before making your pick today, consider this.  The Jets have played well-enough to win every game this season save for the second Patriot game in November. Their defense has made quality offenses look clueless and the Jets' running game has been more than effective all season.  

The only thing that has held this team back from the NFL's elite has been erratic play from the quarterback Mark Sanchez.  As a rookie quarterback, erratic play is to be expected and the fact that this team was able to win nine games demonstrates the elite level of talent that it has.

Adequate play from its quarterback would have elevated the Jets from the nine wins it secured, to the 11 or 12 win level.  That is why last week's wild card game performance by young Sanchez is very interesting.

If it was an aberration, the lucky results of a well-drawn game plan, then the pundits are right and San Diego will beat the Jets. 

However, if Sanchez has figured it out and is starting to come of age before our eyes, the Jets are a complete football team and a very scary match-up for the Chargers.  

There is one more thing to consider however.  A story which garnered a little attention for a day or so this past week was Jets' Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer turning down the Buffalo Bills offer of an interview for its currently vacant head coaching position.  The interesting thing is, Schottenheimer did not just turn down the opportunity to interview now, but stated that he was not interested in the head coaching job at all!

This is stunning news.  You put in your years as a coordinator or a position coach in order to have the opportunity at any head coaching position.  Before you say, "Who wants the Bills job?", think about this: Jim Fassel openly wrote a letter to Al Davis for the aptly named "Black Hole" of coaching positions, the Raider job.

So why would a young offensive mind like Schottenheimer turn down the opportunity at the Bill's head coaching job?  It's simple, Schottenheimer, whose career is closely tied to the success of Mark Sanchez does not believe that last week's performance was a one game aberration.  He has to believe that on some level, this is the signal of the arrival of the New York Jets "signal caller."

So with that in mind, understand that the Jets are much better now than their regular season record indicates.  They have a very good shot to beat San Diego today.  And if they fall short, believe me, there are even brighter days ahead with this coach, this offensive coordinator and its quarterback, and of course, this defense.