Complete and utter dismay.
That's the feeling Jets fans felt as the clock ticked down to zero in last year's AFC Championship game. Rex Ryan's facial expression in this photo makes my eyes water and my stomach churn.
The players wearing white and green headed to the locker room full of disappointment and regret. The players wearing black and yellow headed to the locker room full of excitement and anticipation. Ben Roethlisberger on the other hand, headed to the closest restroom that had a stall with a glory hole.
Even if the Jets did win that game, It would be difficult to make a compelling case that they would've went on to defeat a Green Bay Packers team that had the momentum of an impulsive avalanche.
The Jets go into the 2011 season with the same young core they've had the last 2 years - Sanchez, Revis, Harris, Mangold, Ferguson, Keller, and for better or worse, Coach Schottenheimer. They lost Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Damien Woody, Shaun Ellis, and Tony Richardson (for now). New to the team are Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Rookies Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Jeremy Kerley.
For the most part, anything that the Jets lost, they've replaced. You can argue that their defensive line has more youth and depth. They've also added longtime Colts offensive coordinator, Tom Moore to help expedite Sanchize's progress.
So what has been holding the New York Jets back the last two years? What are the weak areas that need to be addressed? Here are 3 not-so-obvious improvements the Jets need to make in order to take the next step this season.
1st Quarter Scoring - When I scrolled down this page on Team Rankings, I started to sweat and convulse like fat white person in a hip-hop dance contest. The Jets were DEAD LAST in 1st Quarter scoring in 2010. This probably doesn't surprise Santonio Holmes as he had to save the day in the 4th Quarter or overtime of seemingly every win last year. Sanchez just doesn't have the same intensity in the beginning of the game as he does at the end of the game and it FRUSTRATES every Jets fan. Schottenheimer is also to blame for this early offensive impotence. The conservative play calling doesn't allow the QB and receivers to get into a rhythm which subsequently bottlenecks the Ground and Pound strategy, Rex's true drink of choice.
Screen Play Vulnerability - We saw it in the 3rd preseason game against the Giants, we saw it against the Patriots and traitor Danny Woodhead during the three Pats games last year, and we saw it when Rashard Mendenhall had 32 receiving yards in the AFC chip game - The Jets consistently get killed by the oppositions screen plays. The main source for this weakness is also a Jets strength - Blitzing. Rex and Coach Pettine are predictable when it comes to 3rd and long plays. If a team has agile offensive lineman and backs with sticky hands then it usually comes back to haunt the Defense. A change in philosophy isn't what I'm requesting, but rather a cognizant approach to how other teams will adjust to the teams aggressive defensive schemes.
Penalties - Of the 12 teams that made the playoffs last year, the Jets were the second worst in terms of penalties incurred. Only the Philadelphia Eagles accumulated more. I know its boring to read about how about how a team needs to be disciplined or how they need to abide by the rules more diligently. Trust me, I don't want to sound like your nagging mother asking you to take the trash out or to stop bringing skanks home. You can bring home who/whatever you want. IT'S YOUR LIFE. It's almost as boring to write about it as it is to read but it doesn't mean that we should overlook how these penalties are negatively impacting the teams overall performance. Now go get your mother the chardonnay outta the fridge then take the trash out.
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