New York Jets: 6 Adjustments That Must Be Made To Clinch a Postseason Berth
Champions make the difficult decisions necessary to right a ship that has gone off course. World champions possess the humility to know when their best-laid plans have gone awry. For the New York Jets, the time has certainly come for their schematic GPS to recalculate. The chalkboard erasures that Rex Ryan and Company dare to make in the coming days may very well determine the fate of the Jets' 2011 campaign.
Finding themselves on the business end of two consecutive morale-compromising losses, Gang Green has been left scratching their collective heads while they search for an identity that was once so certain. Defiantly fundamental, the Jets have exhausted themselves on a crusade to be the last remaining disciple of a traditional formula. Their rush-centric offense and life-saving defense has deteriorated into nothing more than an aged system that a majority of schematic experts in the sport believe has become the thing of antiquity.
Undoubtedly, there are thousands if not hundreds of thousands of Monday morning armchair quarterbacks who believe they possess a higher football IQ than the Jets brain trust and believe they could easily repair what is broken at Met Life Stadium. I have a unique proposal to change the current Jets' course destined for postseason purgatory.
I am of the minority that believes that the true answer, the new course to salvation, is hidden within these six quotes made by Rex himself in his best-selling 2011 biography, Play Like You Mean It.
Attack! Attack! Attack! And Then...ATTACK!
I want 11 guys who will run to the football, bottom line. Actually, they better haul…to the football. That’s what I want on every single play, every single down. (Chapter 2, page 15)
Plain and simple, the Jets have misplaced their animal instinct. While I am confident that it is far from completely evaporated, every Jets fan on earth questioned their team’s machismo as we sat, jaws dropped, as quarterback Tim Tebow performed what could have been the most nauseating one-man offense to the New York Jets since Richie Kotite.
Hordes of Jets faithful averted their eyes in horror with 4:56 remaining in the fourth quarter as Eric Smith carried out what may be the worst-executed blitz in NFL history. All who had the capability rewound to see if the atrocity that was Antonio Cromartie’s ferocious patty-cake session with Denver receiver Eric Decker was, in fact, as real a thing as they thought they had seen.
I sincerely hope that these two players received the film-review lambasting they most certainly deserve for their roles in the frame-by-frame case study in how the once-vaunted Jets defense has lost its bloodlust, something they severely need to regain.
We're Not Home: Gone QB Hunting
If you don’t have guys in the front (defensive) four who can get to the quarterback on their own, you better find other guys who can get there. (Chapter 3, page 42)
A page quite literally taken from his father, Rex has shown an enormous ability to compensate for personnel deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball. When you consider that he has not had the consensus star lineman on any of his New York defensive lines that he was afforded years ago in Baltimore, it stands as something of a rare accomplishment that Rex has still assembled a defensive unit that performs to the high level they have over these three seasons.
That being said, one could argue that the primary engine behind this renewed success has been Rex’s ability to bring supplemental pressure against offenses by his exotic blitz schemes. Whether it is a complicated run-stopping attack or a stifling pass rush scheme, the Jets have always been the team to initiate contact. It is grossly apparent over these last few games that the Jets have begun to fall back more often, becoming more of the bend-but-don’t-break defense that lesser defenses are forced to compromise to.
Perhaps a visit from the often-horizontal Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 12 is just what the doctor ordered to awaken Rex’s inner Ryan.
Meeting of the Minds
You have to have everybody pulling the same direction in this game. It’s just too hard to have it any other way. You can have great coaches, but if one guy isn’t doing everything he can, you can fall short. (Chapter 4, page 53)
I have to confess. I will not be contributing to the fan club of Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer anytime soon. In my opinion, his pedigree and body of work speaks for itself. I cannot help but question the role of nepotism in his entry into the league as an offensive coordinator.
Regardless of my viewpoint on the man as a coach, the fact is that the Jets are stuck with him at least for the time being. By all appearances, there is a complete lack of communication between Rex and Schottenheimer to the length that you would think the two sides of the ball play on separate teams. While it is not completely clear who is solely responsible for the lack of offensive productivity again by the Jets this season, one thing is certainly clear: It would not pain me as a Jets fan to see a television broadcast cut to a shot of Rex and Brian standing near each other during a game, at least once.
Rex recounts his father’s failure as a former head coach to include offense in his planning focus and how it negatively affected the end result of those Philadelphia teams. One can only hope that Rex does not repeat history.
Just Play Football..and Have Fun Doing It
In order to succeed in the NFL, you have to have fun. You have to live by your love of this game. It’s like I tell our players: Remember back to the first time you put on the equipment, the first time you put on the uniform. (Chapter 7, page 89)
After every incomplete pass, after every stopped run, after every missed field goal, watch the number of eyes rolling through green facemasks. Note the number of shrugged shoulders and rampant frown lines on the Jets sideline. This Jets team has become one that now expects at least some form of disappointment on a weekly basis, not one that dictates its own enjoyment of the game.
The 300-plus-pound coach who stampeded his way down to the end zone to celebrate with his team in the 2010 playoffs against New England seems to be one of ancient history. It is heartbreaking to see a team with so much fervent color, so much exuding personality, now resemble a sickly child with the flu.
Perhaps never before in the history of the National Football League (surely in the history of the New York Jets) has there been a team more vulnerable to its emotional swings than these 2011 Jets.
A Legacy of Leadership Begins Here
Players feed off the energy of the coaches. That’s just how it is. They get the mood going. They turn on the engine for those players. (Chapter 10, page 138)
I have never been so confident to be in a minority about a subject. I believe I might be the only person in the entire free football-loving world who believes the one thing that could spark a Jets renaissance is more...Rex…Ryan!
All of the talking heads who lament over all of Rex’s sound bites proclaiming this, that and the other have yet to sync these epic quotes with a calendar.
Since the 2011 season began, very few of Rex’s press conferences or newspaper clippings included any bombastic declaration of dominance or any mutually assured ascent to the Lombardi Trophy. If anything, the tone has been one of shaky pseudo-confidence as Rex speaks of a Jets team that is good regardless of how they perform on the field. This is a far cry from the world-beating anthem that has been synonymous with the Ryan regime since his arrival in Metropolis.
The swagger of the New York Jets rests solely in the hip pocket of their leader. The regaining of their confidence that lofting a world championship is not an unattainable impossibility rests on his shoulders.
The Kid Must Become a Star
Who wouldn’t want to be responsible for making Mark a Jet? There isn’t a single person in this franchise who doesn’t respect him as a person and as a player. Honestly, the kid is unbelievable. He has all the intangibles: talent, charisma, intellect, and leadership abilities. I believe Mark is going to be extraordinary in the NFL. (Chapter 11, page 139)
You knew it was coming. I figured I would be ironic and make him the subject of my sixth proposal to turn this Jets season around because in all truth, any movement to alter the Jets' present course is improbable without Mark Sanchez. Unlike most of the Jets fandom though, I may be willing to pull our franchise quarterback from under the tank treads.
The consensus opinion on Mark Sanchez this season is that he has clearly regressed, forcing errors with brutal frequency while not making the game-saving plays that have historically offset his mistakes over the past two seasons.
Yet statistics just do not support any of this. Sanchez’s 57.1 percent completion rate, while not All-Pro material, is the best of his three-year career. He is on pace to throw 40 more pass attempts than his 507 attempts from the past year and has thrown three fewer interceptions than in 2010. His quarterback rating has steadily increased each season and is on pace to throw at least three more touchdown passes than either of his past two AFC Championship game years.
It has become clear that given the injuries to the Jets offensive backfield and the inconsistent performance of the typically dependable offensive line, the fortunes of the New York Jets' on-field play rest in the hands of Mark Sanchez. Win, lose or draw, just as many of the gunslinging quarterbacks that have come before him, the marquee face of the New York Jets must start living up to the task.
He must evolve into the superstar so many believe he can be, and do so in a hurry.