Mark Sanchez threw for 20 touchdowns in his NFL rookie season.
I’ll admit I’ve never cared much for the Ryan NFL football family and their loud mouth, arrogant ways. Buddy Ryan could have been knocked on his butt on a weekly basis when he was coaching and that wouldn’t have been good enough for me.
Obviously in terms of boorish and bullying behavior the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree since his son Rex has apparently cornered the market on obnoxious. It must be an East Coast thing and it certainly has to be an acquired taste. But my feelings aside, the second coming of Ryan has been a big hit and has fans on Broadway believing this is the year the Jets unseat the Patriots atop the NFL football AFC East.
Rey Ryan and his Jets were classic overachievers last season. They went 9-7 in the regular season and then won back-to-back playoff games, beating the Bengals and Chargers before falling to the Colts in the AFC title game. In the span of a little more than a year the Jets went from Favre to fabulous and the new darlings of the Big Apple football set.
The Jets' comeback from obscurity began before the '09 season started when they hired Ryan, the former Ravens NFL football defensive coordinator as their new head coach. He became an instant fan favorite after telling a radio host, "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings."
Then, as fate would have it, in the second game of the regular season the Jets held on to beat the Patriots 16-9, their first home victory against New England since 2000. Rex Ryan's popularity soared from that moment on and he’s become a bona fide NY celebrity.
Even with Ryan and his top-ranked defense in place, the Jets were still missing one key ingredient and that was a franchise quarterback, something the Jets hadn’t had since the days of Joe Namath. Chad Pennington was unable to get the Jets to the next level during his seven seasons and Brett Favre couldn’t do it either in his one and only New York campaign.
The Jets needed a guy like Mark Sanchez and, thanks to an assist from former head coach Eric Mangini, they got him.
New York’s draft day trade in 2009 with Mangini, who had since moved on to Cleveland, allowed them to move up 12 spots and select the former USC signal caller with the fifth overall pick. Good fortune continued later in the draft when they traded up to get Iowa running back Shonn Greene who, along with Sanchez, is expected to be the nucleus of an offense the Jets feel will rival that of the Patriots some day.
Ryan’s biggest impact has been felt on the other side of the ball. New York finished first in total defense, passing defense and in fewest points allowed per game (14.8). The Jets have the best defensive back in the league in Darrelle Revis who had six interceptions last season, returning one of those for a touchdown. New York also added Antonio Cromartie to team with Revis as the best CB tandem in the league.
Calvin Pace and David Harris are two of the best linebackers in the NFL football game. Pace missed the first four games of 2009 while serving a league suspension, but still managed a team-high eight sacks. Harris led the Jets in tackles and had 5.5 sacks plus two interceptions. Four-time Pro Bowl tackle Kris Henry, who suffered a season ending knee injury in Week 6, is expected back but no time table has been set for his return.
New York Jets on Offense
Sanchez threw for 2,444 with 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions despite learning on the fly. His completion percentage was just 53.8% and his QB rating ranked among the lowest in the league at 63%, but the Jets are convinced he’s their franchise QB.
Even though Thomas Jones enjoyed a monster 2009 campaign rushing for 1,402 and 14 touchdowns, the Jets cut him loose to save $2 million in bonus money. That means that Greene, who ran for 540 yards and an average of five yards per carry in his rookie campaign, could be ready to take over. If not he’ll likely share the job with or serve as a backup to free-agent acquisition LaDainian Tomlinson.
Real Time Odds
Tomlinson rushed for 12,490 yards in his nine-year Chargers career, but after showing signs of wear and tear in 2009 (730 yards, 3.3 yard per carry) San Diego cut him loose. The Jets were more than happy to pick up the former NFL MVP signing him to a two year, $5.2 million deal.
Jericho Cotchery had 57 catches for 821 yards and three touchdowns last season to become Jets' most reliable receiver. He will be joined at some point by the troubled but talented Santonio Holmes who had 1.248 receiving yards last season in Pittsburgh. Holems will miss the first four games of the season while serving a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Braylon Edwards is another potential playmaker, but that’s just it with Edwards who has always had more potential than productions. He’s never lived up to the hype and had just 45 catches last season while splitting time between the Browns and Jets.
New York Jets 2010 Draft
The Jets had just four picks in the 2010 NFL Draft but made the most of them. They caught a big break when they landed hard-hitting Kyle Wilson of Boise State late in the first round. New York also selected USC running back Joe McKnight who figures to contribute immediately on special teams and perhaps as an additional receiving option out of the backfield.
New York added Kentucky’s John Conner, a 246-pound fullback, and mammoth Massachusetts OT Vladimir Ducasse who is more of a project than a guy who will contribute immediately.
Buh, Buh, Buh Betting and the Jets
The latest NFL Betting numbers have New York listed at 10/1 to win the Super Bowl and 11/2 to take the AFC title. The Jets and Patriots are the co-favorites in the AFC East (+130) and New York’s season win total has been pegged at 9.5.
At first glance it appears the Jets got a nice break from the schedule makers. Excluding division games, they’ll travel to Denver, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Chicago. New York will host Baltimore in the season opener and will also roll out the welcome mat for Minnesota, Green Bay and Houston.
The bottom line is there are a lot of reasons to like the Jets. They’ve got talent, attitude and Woody Johnson’s money. Through trades, free-agent signings and the draft, New York has bolstered a team that came within one game of playing in the Super Bowl.
However, until they dethrone Tom Brady and the Patriots, it’s just a bunch of talk. Something Rex Ryan does well.