New York Jets: 5 Reasons Gang Green Can Win the Super Bowl
As the 2011 NFL season is drawing closer, each team has optimism. For the New York Jets, fans are eagerly awaiting the year the Jets break through and lift the Lombardi Trophy. The Jets have been close to the Super Bowl, but, like all naive Jets fans, I believe this is the year.
The New York Jets have had recent success that has rejuvenated the fan base. After Rex Ryan was hired as head coach in 2009, he brought a bravado and arrogance the Jets have never seen. While he may be controversial, he believes in his team and has predicted a Super Bowl or two in his coaching tenure.
The Jets are searching for their first Super Bowl since 1969, and the fans are optimistic that the next Super Bowl victory is on the horizon. Jets fans have reasons to be optimistic about the future and the future may be now.
While this article may be optimistic, the Jets are one of the best teams in the AFC and will battle with the Patriots for the AFC East crown. The Jets start the season with only one goal in mind, and that is to win the Super Bowl.
Here are five reasons the Jets have a chance to lift the Lombardi Trophy at the end of this season.
An Improved Mark Sanchez
Mark Sanchez was drafted by the Jets to bring them that elusive Lombardi Trophy. He has struggled at times of his first two years at quarterback for the Jets, but this is a critical year for his development. The third year for a player is usually the "put up or shut up" time in a career.
Sanchez has struggled in both regular seasons that he has played in the NFL. An argument could be made that he has held the Jets back in each of the past two seasons. He sometimes looks lost on the field with his decision-making, but he seems to be clutch at big points in games.
Let's be fair to Sanchez—something has to be said about winning four playoff games in two years as a quarterback. Yes, he has had one of the best defenses in those two years, but a quarterback still needs to manage the game. Sanchez has excelled in the playoffs, limiting his turnovers and giving the Jets a chance to win.
Sanchez should improve this year to a level where offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer can rely on Sanchez more. If Sanchez is up to the challenge, the Jets will have a more balanced offensive attack, which can only make them more dangerous.
Emergence of Shonn Greene as an Every-Down Running Back
The Jets' running game was lucky last year that they signed another running back to back-up Shonn Greene. After cutting Thomas Jones last season, the Jets signed LaDainian Tomlinson. They caught lightning in a bottle with Tomlinson. They also traded Leon Washington for a draft pick, which they used on Joe McKnight. He failed in his first season with the Jets.
Shonn Greene was a huge disappointment last season. After emerging in 2009 as a legitimate No. 1 running back, he took a step back in 2010, fumbling too often and proving ineffective as a No. 2 back behind Tomlinson.
This season, Greene should be the No. 1 running back for the Jets, and expect him to return to 2009 form. If Greene can stay healthy and give the running game a boost, the Jets should be one of the top running teams in the NFL again.
The Jets had the No. 1 defense in 2009 and the No. 3 defense in 2010. Last season the Jets failed to get a pass rush for most of the year. Even though they got a lot of sacks, this was because of the amount the Jets blitz. The inability to rush the passer with three linemen will hurt the Jets again if Muhammad Wilkerson does not be a difference-maker.
The secondary is one of the best in the NFL. Darelle Revis is as good of a shutdown cornerback as any other in the NFL. Antonio Cromartie is a reliable No. 2 cornerback who sometimes covers the No. 1 wide receiver because of his arm length. Jim Leonhard is the quarterback of the defense and plays an outstanding safety position. He was really missed last season after he broke his leg before the Monday Night Massacre.
Kyle Wilson was the Jets' No. 1 draft pick in 2010 and has yet to shine. He will be the No. 3 cornerback.
The linebackers are among the best in the business. With Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas on the outside, David Harris and Bart Scott on the inside, the Jets have a formidable linebacking corps.
The Tough Schedule
The Jets do not have a cupcake schedule this year. In addition to playing the Patriots twice, the Jets also have to face Dallas, San Diego, the Giants, Philadelphia, Denver (three days after playing the Patriots), Baltimore and Kansas City.
The Jets were influenced by their schedule last year in the playoffs. The Texans, Lions and Browns all gave the Jets all they could handle and the Jets beat them either in overtime or in the last minute. This influenced the winning drive in Indianapolis in the playoffs, as well as the toughness to beat New England.
This schedule should prepare the Jets well for a postseason run when they will have to face Pittsburgh, New England and whoever else comes across their path.
First, the Jets have to beat some of these teams just to qualify for the postseason.
Built for the Postseason
The Jets are the opposite of the past two Super Bowl champions. The Saints have a prolific passing game that mixes in the run as well and the Packers were a passing team led by one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers.
The Jets are among the top running games and defenses in the NFL. These two categories led the Jets to back-to-back AFC Championship games. The Jets are built for the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the running game sets the tempo of the game, while also running out clock. The more a team successfully holds on to the ball by running it, the less time the other quarterback has the ball in his hand. In the playoff game against the Colts in the Wild Card round last year, the Jets held the ball for 33 minutes compared to only 27 for Peyton Manning. Sometimes the best defense a team can play is keeping him off the field.
The defense can limit the damage of the opposing offense. Defenses are not going to shut down Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning—they can only limit the amount of damage done. The Jets' defense has done that successfully in the playoffs in their wins, but not so well in their losses.
If the Jets' defense can limit the great quarterbacks and the running game excels throughout the playoffs the Jets will be the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Remember Shonn Greene got hurt in the 2009 AFC Championship game at Indianapolis. Last season, the Jets' running game was ineffective in the first half, which allowed the Jets to go into halftime with a huge deficit.
The Jets are capable of winning the Super Bowl. That is a fact that cannot be denied. With a head coach who pushes his players to their potential, he has brought this team to the brink of stardom.
The Jets are not the best team in the AFC on paper—they might not even crack the top five teams in the AFC. Having said this, the Jets' style of football is one where on any given Sunday they can win and pull an upset over a more talented team such as New England or Pittsburgh. On paper, the Jets are a wild card team who should get knocked out in one of the early rounds of the playoffs.
But don't tell the Jets that, because the game isn't played on paper. They will tell you they have the team that can win the Super Bowl. Hey, after winning four playoff games in two years, maybe they are on to something here. The Jets may finally get over the hump this season, and they have the pieces in place to do it.
As a Jets fan, I hope they are right.
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