As the saying goes: defense wins championships.
While it can be a bit of a cliché (especially because the two teams playing in Super Bowl XLIV are offensive powerhouses), it is fairly obvious that shutdown defenses have a shot to win every single game they play.
The Jets defense has the potential to reach that level, the level of defensive immortality.
An explosive pass rusher added to the already-explosive combo of Bart Scott, David Harris, and Calvin Pace would move the Jets one step closer to being a very special defense.
The only problem is that the CBA essentially garners the acquisition of a big-name/big-money player like Julius Peppers impossible.
Kerry Rhodes is the second hole in the league's top-ranked defense. If you don't watch the Jets weekly, you would think that Kerry Rhodes is a fairly good free safety that is one of the key players in Ryan's defense.
Quite the contrary.
For whatever reason, Rhodes seems frightened of contact (tackling/getting in on piles). I remember a goal-line stand early in the season where Kerry essentially waited for the ball-handler to take a step into the end zone before even beginning to move his body towards the player.
In another game, I watched Kerry stand next to a receiver who was holding the ball, only reaching out his hand to hold the player in place while waiting for Jim Leonhard to make the tackle (I'll note that Kerry then taunted the receiver as if he made the tackle).
I don't expect Rhodes to be on the team next year, but there aren't many viable replacements.
While it may be tough to fill these holes this offseason, the defense can only improve. Getting back to that whole "defense wins championships" thing; the Jets are an offense playmaker or two away from becoming a championship team. With a defense like theirs, the offense doesn't need to put up many points to win games, but the offense could use some assistance.
Mark Sanchez has come extremely close to proving he can play with the best of them. Though his role in the wild-card round and divisional round playoff games was minute, he was able to make plays in the clutch and the Jets came out on top of the Bengals (with Carson Palmer) and the Chargers (with Phillip Rivers).
And if it wasn't for a defensive meltdown against Peyton Manning (also known as the best quarterback ever), Sanchez would've come out on top of Manning and had a shot to out-duel Drew Brees for the championship.
As for that offensive playmaker the team needs to be a championship team; the Jets could use a wide receiver to stretch the field: a real downfield threat.
Braylon Edwards can play this role 50 percent of the time, but cornerbacks and safeties find it hard to take him seriously because of his stone hands. He came up big in the Colts game, but dropped wide-open 50+ yard touchdowns more than once this season.
So that leads me to believe the Jets will draft a wide receiver in the first round if someone of interest drops to 29. I'm hoping that player is Golden Tate.
Tate is a "pro-ready" receiver who made Jimmy Clausen look extremely good this past season on Notre Dame. He is that down-field threat that I mentioned. Tate could really assist this team.
And that leads me to the final piece of the Jets' "winning formula": the league's top run game.
Thomas Jones (but not for much longer).
With Jones likely out of the picture unless he takes a lot less money than his current contract, the RB tandem of Washington and Greene (AKA Hit and Run or the Fast and the Furious) will wreak havoc on opposing defensive lines next year.
The combination of explosive speed from Leon and explosive strength from Greene will make it hard to slow the two down.
The Jets have the best defense in the league, the best run game in the league, and have potential to have an extremely respectable pass game as well.
Everything they did this season was accomplished without the Jets' premier run-stopper (Kris Jenkins) and their best all-around player (Leon Washington).
They can only get better. This Jets team is not very far away from becoming one of the elite franchises in the NFL.
Rex Ryan's attitude and the Jets' high-upside young players will bring this team their first Super Bowl victory in over 40 years. Maybe next year. Maybe the year after. But you heard it here first (wait...maybe Rex beat me to it).