Rex Ryan and the Jets have a bright future ahead
The New York Jets never cease to amaze their fan base from bonehead draft decisions to heartbreaking playoff losses and exhilarating wins. The Jets organization has experienced a complete makeover the past two seasons and have become a legitimate contender in the AFC.
Rex Ryan has replaced the straight-laced quiet attitude that was present throughout the Eric Mangini era with a bombastic and larger than life approach which has put the Jets on the national stage.
The 2010 season started for the Jets with HBO's Hard Knocks, a weekly look into the zoo that was Cortland, N.Y. while the New York Jets invaded the suburb during the summer.
Ryan stressed throughout the preseason that the one and only goal for this team was a Super Bowl and the same should apply for any respectable franchise in any other sport. The Jets added several key players in an attempt to get over the hump and reach the Super Bowl, the ultimate goal.
The Jets had a roller-coaster regular season, but they defined themselves towards the end of the season with a key win in Pittsburgh against the hard-nosed Steelers. On Sunday, they were back at Heinz Field, only this time the two teams fought for a chance to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately for the Jets, a 24-19 defeat marked the second straight season in which they go down in the AFC championship game. Last season it was hard to argue the Jets were the better team against the powerful Colts, but in 2010, the Jets may have been the better team that just didn't show up to play in the first half.
What killed the Jets more on Sunday?
One thing has been consistent in the adventurous 2010 season, the Jets were able to stop the run and run the football effectively. In the first half of Sunday's game, the Jets did neither of the things they do best.
During the regular season, only one rusher rushed for more than 100 yards in a game against the Jets. Rashard Mendenhall comfortably eclipsed that mark in the breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and running well after contact. Ian Redman averaged 6.8 yards per carry in his four carries against the Jets defense.
The poor job of stopping the run occurred mostly due to missed tackles by the Jets linebackers and secondary. The effectiveness of the running game not only enabled the Steelers to score often and early but also take some vital time off the clock which was a big factor towards the end of the game.
The Jets took a step back in the running game from a year ago and were not as consistent as they were in 2009. However, the "Ground and Pound" was effective in both the Wild Card and Divisional Rounds. The seemed like they were not intending to establish the run against the Steelers and most of the running plays in the first half were marginally effective.
Veteran LaDanian Tomlinson averaged a poor 1.8 yards per carry in his nine carries and the Jets did not give Shonn Greene enough touches as he ran for a respectable 52 yards in his nine carries.
In a critical situation in the fourth quarter, the Jets had the ball at the Steeler's two-yard line after a long and effective drive which combined the run and pass. This was a turning point in the game as the Jets failed to get any points and turned the ball over on downs.
Brian Schottenheimer, the Jets offensive coordinator, called for two passing plays on second and third down instead of pounding it in with Shonn Greene. The Jets were in four-down territory at that point in the game and "Schotty" called an expected run to the struggling Tomlinson that failed to score.
While the Jets seemed like they could be out of the game down by 21 points at halftime, some key decisions and lack of execution on both defense and offense kept them from making a historic comeback in Pittsburgh.
The Jets will likely face another eventful offseason as many of their key contributors have expiring contracts and the Jets will look to remain strong and improve over this season's disappointing finish.
As Jets fans, we can only reminisce on the enjoyable season we had and once again hope that "next year is our year," an annual battle-cry shared by the 31 other teams who ultimately come up short and don't get a chance to hold the Lombardi trophy.
One thing for certain is that the Jets never cease to amaze their fan base which has been chasing a Super Bowl since 1968.
Let's not forget that the future is bright for the Jets, they have managed to get the city of New York on their back and they have a confident and inspiring head coach to go along with an up-and-coming star at quarterback. A Super Bowl crown may not be too far away Jets fans, just "wait until next year."
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