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Rex Ryan has got to be the most entertaining coach in the NFL today, but he’s also proven he can, you know, coach pretty well, too. His quarterback, Mark Sanchez, has been fairly mediocre the past two seasons (he ranked 16th last season in passing yards, 19th in touchdowns, 27th in passer rating and 29th in completion percentage . . . but No. 1 in rumored romances with 17-year-olds!) and he was entering the season with a RB in LaDainian Tomlinson that had been left for dead by San Diego and another RB in Shonn Greene that only had 108 carries in his career.
While the offense didn’t finish in the top-10, though the running game was No. 4, the defense was, once again, spectacular. Yes, there were some disastrous games in there – ahem, the 45-3 destruction of New York by the Patriots after Ryan had talked all kinds of trash to coach Bill Belichick – but for the second-straight season, the Jets made the AFC championship game.
That’s not a terrible place to be.
Obviously, the quarterback position needs better production. Sanchez is barely passable in this position (get it?!), and he’s lucky he has such a strong run game and a defense that can make his win-loss percentage look pretty outstanding. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Jets could win a Super Bowl with Sanchez in charge, it just seems much more likely if he could develop into a top-10 QB.
So, how does Nnamdi Asomugha sound in that spot? Fantastic, but pretty unlikely, I think. Antonio Cromartie possibly could return to the squad and he was more than solid for much of the year (he did have a couple awful performances, though), especially when Revis was injured. Perhaps, Kyle Wilson – the first-round pick from 2010 – will be ready to take his place after a relatively anonymous rookie year. But Revis really wants Cromartie to return, and he doesn’t seem to have great confidence in Wilson.
2. Defensive Line
A few days ago, an ESPN analyst ripped the front-three of the Jets and said the defensive success the past few years was “smoke and mirrors” and “bells and whistles.” We think that’s pretty unfair to a guy like Mike DeVito, coming off the best year of his career. But NT Sione Pouha is 32 years old, Shaun Ellis is 33 and the Jets already released Kris Jenkins and Jason Taylor. In Ryan’s defense, the nose tackle is one of the most important positions on the field, meaning he’ll have to find somebody who can compete against Pouha for the starting job and, barring that, can at least provide more depth.
3. Right Tackle
Apparently the Jets feel good enough about Vladimir Ducasse at right tackle, because they (sort of surprisingly) cut Damien Woody. It’s hard to tell how New York got to that analysis of Ducasse, who admitted that he struggled to learn the playbook last year and couldn’t win the left guard spot at the beginning of the season.
Ryan already has said the Jets will win the Super Bowl next year, and considering they’ve fallen only a game short the past two years, anything less than an appearance in Indianapolis next season will be a real disappointment. Assuming the Jets defense remains a top-five unit – and they probably should – Sanchez continues to improve and Ryan keeps his team stocked with g------ snacks, expect another deep playoff run. And, quite possibly, a Super Bowl appearance.
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