After reaching the AFC Championship game the past two seasons, the New York Jets, and Jet fans, have their eyes dead-set on reaching (and winning) the Super Bowl this year. With a month to go in the 2011 season, New England is enroute to win their 9th AFC East title over the past 11 seasons. Now, the Jets have to adjust their sights and hope the big man (Santa or Rex) can deliver a wild card birth this Christmas.
Mark Sanchez struggled at times throughout his third year as the Jets signal caller – only completing 56.3% of his passes. His lack of performance drew criticism from the New York media. Sanchez expected to take a step forward in his third season and get New York over the hump in their quest for a Super Bowl victory. Last week, Rex Ryan let back-up quarterback Mark Brunell get reps with the first team offense. This sent the message to Sanchez that he needed to step-up. Sanchez responded with one of the best games of his career – throwing for 4 TD’s in the win over Buffalo.
This season, along with Mark Sanchez, the Jets ground game is seriously lacking, only ranking 25th in rushing. Shonn Green is not the guy who can carry the ball 20-25 times a game to wear down an opposing defense, and LaDainian Tomlinson is vastly unproductive and injured, leaving a void in place of New York’s source of strength. Placing more pressure on the shoulders of Mark Sanchez to produce. Which isn’t what Rex Ryan wants to do on a weekly basis. Rex is dedicated to the ground-and-pound approach; winning with his run game and defense.
Even though New York is on the outside looking in at the playoff picture at 6-5, there are reasons to believe they can make a run and secure a wild card spot.
The first of those reasons is the defense. The ground of “ground-and-pound” may be lacking this year, but the pounding defense is one of the better units in the NFL, currently ranked 8th overall. Darrelle Revis had a rough game against this Bills this past week covering Stevie Johnson, but do not think for a second that Revis Island isn’t in effect. Big time players make big time plays, and the Jets defense has a bunch of big time players. Moving into December, look for Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and Revis to have a big impact down the stretch, especially with a playoff birth on the line.
The second reason: The Jets remaining schedule. New York only has one more game against a team who currently has a winning record, that being the New York Giants.
- Week 13 @ Washington 4-7
- Week 14 Kansas City 4-7
- Week 15 @ Philadelphia 4-8
- Week 16 Giants 6-5
- Week 17 @ Miami 3-8
The Jets might be peaking at just the right time. If they can avoid falling victim to trap games, they could be 9-5 heading into their match-up with the rival Giants. Who knows by that point, the Giants might be out of the playoff picture too!
The sky is the limit for the 2011 Jets if they maintain the momentum from the Buffalo game and avoid injuries. Ryan’s Jets always seem to make things interesting. Why would 2011 be any different? New York fans will have to wait and see if Rex and the Jets can make good on their Super aspirations to get back in the New York groove and deliver a wild card birth for Christmas.
-My Christmas gift: Getting tickets for the Jets/Redskins game tomorrow!