I’ve waited a few days to write this recap, and I’m glad I did. The last few days have been ridiculous – finger-pointing, backstabbing, complaining. It’s sad, really. Each day, the Jets seem to find new ways to be humiliated. First, it was the whole Santonio Holmes incident – enough has been written about that already. Then, it was Bart Scott flipping the bird to a reporter (he was fined $10k by the Jets today).
Yesterday, the Jets and Sanchez were absolutely ripped apart by former Jets QB, and Strong Island native, Boomer Esiason. If you haven’t heard about it, read this: http://tinyurl.com/87z85es. This, coming from a man who in his 3rd season as a starter, was 3-9, throwing 19 INTs and posting a 73.1 QB rating. The same man who had 2 career playoff wins (yes, he went to a Super Bowl, but lost) – 2 less than Mark Sanchez. Sit down and shut up Boomer and show a little support for your former team.
But it gets worse. Today, 2011 7th round (that’s the last round of the draft, people) draft pick, and 4th string QB (most teams have 3 strings) Greg McElroy, goes on an Alabama radio station and airs some dirty laundry, stating that the Jets locker room had been “corrupt” all year, and it’s going to take “a lot” for the team to come together next year. Really, Greg McElroy? Really? Throw a pass in a regular season NFL game and then talk. Until then, please sit down and shut up. http://tinyurl.com/8x4xpvk
What’s next – Mayor Bloomberg rips the Jets? Leon Hess rises from the grave and gives his 2 cents? Or maybe Rich Kotite will resurface and mention that his team that went 1-15 never had these issues. This stuff only happens to the Jets…
But alas, we are going to look past that, and more importantly, look to the future. Below is my summary of what went wrong, and what I think needs to change. I’d love your thoughts & feedback too – challenge these recommendations and share some of your own. God knows that Rex and Tannenbaum need all the help they can get….
- Keep Sanchez, but bring in a real back-up: This was supposed to be the year that Sanchez took a giant leap forward. He did not. He showed glimpses of brilliance, toughness and the ability to come back, but this was not the year we had hoped. A lot has been written about how other Super Bowl winning QBs had terrible 3rd years – Brees, Eli Manning, etc. – so it’s too early to give up (last time I checked, he still has more playoff victories than Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco & Josh Freeman). He has the skills and ability, and the thick skin you need to survive in New York- he’s a natural leader too. Let’s not forget that only had 16 starts in College – he is still young. But next year is critical, and if Sanchez doesn’t advance, they need to make a change quickly. There are some very solid back-up QBs who will be Free Agents (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell). The Jets should and will bring one of these guys in. Mark Brunell, at age 41, was never a threat to Sanchez. That needs to change.
- Fire Schotty, but keep the system– The Patriots have proved that it’s not the coordinator that really matters, but the system. Every time you bring in a new
offensive system, it’s like turning your QB into a rookie all over again. System continuity is so key in the NFL – look at the perennial contenders – Pats, Steelers, Saints, Colts – they have all had the same offensive system for years (yes, great QBs as well. Or is it just a great system?…). If the Jets fire Schotty (and they should, although I don’t think they will), they need to keep the same system. You can add new wrinkles and open up the offense more, but don’t scrap what you’ve built.
- Ground and Pound – Get back to what you know and what you are good at. When the Jets were at their best in 2011, it was when they were running the ball well, and using the run to set up the pass. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen enough. 64 passes in the Giants game – ridiculous. Next year, whoever is running the offense needs to remember what this team was built upon. Establish an identity and run the damn ball, a lot.
- Re-vamp the Linebackers and Secondary – The defense looked very old and slow in the 2nd half. Bart Scott was reduced to a run-stopping role. Bryan Thomas was hurt. Calvin Pace just wasn’t very good. In the secondary, Eric Smith was atrocious – how many times did we see him chasing after a Tight End who blew by him? Brodney Pool is just sub-par and Jim Leonard couldn’t finish the season, again. All 3 should and probably will be gone, although Leonard could come back for no other reason that his leadership abilities. Revis, Cromartie & Wilson will all be back.
- Keep Santonio Holmes, dump Burress– Controversial, I know. There is no great solution here. But let’s not forget that Santonio won about 4 games for the Jets in
2010 – he was their MVP. When he’s on, he’s one of the best. Is he a stand-up guy? No. But can he co-exist in the locker room and be a productive player. Definitely. They will need to mend some serious fences, but that’s Rex’s job. With his contract, they are stuck with him. Make it work. Burress on the other hand -well, it was a nice story, but he’s too slow for what they need, and he had a very low “catch” percentage of balls thrown his way. Replace him with a young and eager burner who can stretch the defense.
- Draft Speed, especially on defense – Look at the impact that Jason Pierre-Paul has had for the Giants – he’s a beast. The Jets need another DE or LB who can get to the QB and disrupt things. Wilkerson showed promise, but he’s sitll fairly raw. Let’s go get another playmaker followed by a strong Offensive Lineman in the 2nd round. The games are won in the trenches as they say…we need to rebuild ours.
- Tame Rex – This is owner Woody Johnson’s job. I don’t want an emasculated Rex, but just a Rex that is a bit more humble and in control. The confidence is great, the lack of understanding reality and lack of discipline is not. Man up Rex. Control your team. Coach. Lead. Win. Then talk.
This offseason is going to be huge for the Jets. The team is built to win now. You have an All-Pro Center (Mangold) and an All-World Cornerback. You have a former Super Bowl MVP at WR, a solid running game, and a young QB with a ton of promise. You have one of the best Inside Linebackers in the game (Harris). You have a new stadium, with some of the most expensive seats in the NFL (oh yeah, PSLs too. Thanks, Woody). There is no dominant team in the AFC at the moment. The time is now.
It will be tough watching the playoffs this year. I’m pulling for the Lions or the 49ers. Although I think it’s the Packers year once again. That offense is scary.
No matter what, there will be plenty of time to reflect on what could have been and what hopefully will be. In some ways, this was the most disappointing season since I’ve been a Jets fan, including the 1-15 season. Expectations were high and the talent level was even higher. The last week has only added insult to injury.
I’ll post here and there when there is Jets-relevant news to discuss. Until then…only 47 days until Mets Pitchers and Catchers Report!
Wow. I need to find some new teams…