The N.Y. Jets finished the 2010 season 11-5 which earned them a trip to the playoffs. Rex Ryan’s bold Super Bowl predictions prior to the 2011 season, set the bar a bit too high for the over-achieving Jets and the pressure seemed to get the best of them as Mark Sanchez and his band of merry men regressed and finished with an 8-8 season, keeping them out of the playoffs. However, and just hear me out on this, their 2012 schedule is really a Jet-friendly one, if you were to analyze some of it’s components. It’s one that I feel will surely get them another playoff birth at season’s end.
Here is how the schedule helps them and also what they must do in order to increase their chances for success in 2012.
For starters, after looking at the quarterbacks on their opposing teams, there are only five Pro-Bowl caliber QB’s to be found: Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Matt Schaub, and Alex Smith. Although not a perennial Pro-Bowl type quarterback, I threw Smith into the mix by virtue of last season’s performance where he led the 49ers to a 13-3 season; one very much improved over the previous campaign when they were 6-10.
Of course, this does not guarantee that the Jets will win all the other games because the quality of their opponent’s quarterbacks are not as good; it just means their chances of success increases. Especially if they hope to return to the days when rushing the passer was their number one priority on defense. In 2010, when the Jets went 11-5, they had 40 sacks, just 7 behind the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers who led the league that year.
The other glaring note of interest in the Jets 2012 schedule is that they will only face two teams on the road that made it to the playoffs last year. The Jets went 6-2 on the road in 2010 and 2-6 last season. The two playoff teams that they’ll face on the road this season are the Steelers and the Patriots.
Putting their schedule aside, the first thing that the Jets need to consider doing as they prepare for the NFL draft that begins on Thursday, is to find a way to trade up and get a shot at the best RB in the draft-Trent Richardson. Before you shake you head and roll your eyes, consider this..the Jets have had a marked propensity for and a history of trading up in order to grab top notch players in drafts. They traded up in order to get Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, and Mark Sanchez, for example, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility for them to go after Richardson.. Improbable? Maybe. Impossible? No.
They need someone to compliment their very pedestrian RB Shonn Greene. Now that Schottenheimer is gone, Rex has said that he will return to the days of his ground and pound offense. Having Tim Tebow will help as Denver, thanks in part to Tebow, had more rushing yards than any team in the league last year. But they need to go after someone else. If Richardson is off the board, LaMichael James, who led the Oregon Ducks with 2,000 all purpose yards and 19 TD last season is probably one of the best of the rest. Although it wouldn’t be disappointing if the speedster Lamar Miller out of Miami or even the very strong, and agile Doug Martin out of Boise St. who has also been adept in returning kicks with blazing speed, were also on the Jets short list next week.
Besides adding another running back, they also need to explore the draft in search of another WR and pass rusher. If they can score some decent players at these positions, if Tim Tebow’s presence is not an overwhelming distraction, if Mark Sanchez can learn to coexist with Tebow, and if Rex Ryan can duct tape his mouth shut, I think the Jets, mainly because of their schedule, will have a season that will surprise most.
1. You meant Brian Schottenheimer, right?
2. Talent may be an issue, but team cohesion and stable leadership in the front office and from the head coach ARE at least as big for the Jets, no?
I just don’t think Rex can keep his mouth shut, and the Te-chez battle will be a distraction, if for no other reason than the NY Post and Daily News will stir that pot every day between now and next year’s Super Bowl.
1. You’re correct and the change I made still hadn’t gone through I guess. But thanks for catching that!
2. Good point! Team cohesion is necessary on every team. Probably more so with this bunch but remember, they clearly had enough ‘cohesion’ and leadership to take them pretty far in ’10 and ’09. It’s still the same coach and and same front office as it was then…
3. On this point I would have to agree with you, which is why I said that Rex’s mouth needs to be duct taped shut. He’s their own worst enemy at times. And I said IF Tebow & Sanchez can ‘coexist’. A lot of ifs, I know, but all I was saying was given their upcoming schedule, together with some key pick ups, they should make it to the playoffs this season.
Thanks for some great comments (and for being such an able proofreader… :)
Wow!! Good points made, man. It will surely be interesting to see how the whole Tebow situation affects this projection, but, looking at their overall schedule, I can’t help but agree with you.
Thanks Sam! Another New York team that has a similar situation as far as the scheduling is concerned are the Buffalo Bills; an AFC sleeper team in ’12.
By the way, when are you going to have your next podcast?