By: Ryan Alfieri, Editor
The Jets get a lot of bad publicity for their late-season collapse at the end of 2011, but they were still an 8-8 team that was in the playoff hunt all the way until the end of the season. Rex Ryan’s Jets have yet to have a losing season under his watch, coming just a half of football away from being Super Bowl champs twice in a three-year span.
Going into this season, the Jets are not highly regarded as playoff contenders by most members in the media, but the reality is that the 2012 Jets could be the best team Rex has had to work with.
Here is a comparison between the 2010 Jets, who posted as 11-5 record on their way to the AFC title game, and the 2012 Jets.
Quarterback: Sanchez probably had his best season in 2010 because he was able to limit his turnovers, which will be a huge focal point for the Jets this year. With the Jets making a re-dedication to the running game, Sanchez figures to revert to his more efecient days of 2010.
Offensive Line: Last week, I would have given a clear edge to the 2010 group, but with Jeff Otah in the fold, the 2012 group has the potential to make a massive improvement this year. While guard Matt Slauson is a much better player than he was in his rookie year, Damien Woody was one of the best right tackles in football, which cannot be replicated by a trade for Otah.
Receivers/Tight Ends: The big difference here is the Jets will be rolling with Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley instead of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. While the 2010 group was more proven, the Jets’ current receiving corps is dripping with potential, as they are faster and more athletic. However, they may not be able to produce at the same level as the veterans so short into their career.
Running Backs: In 2010, LaDainian Tomlinson actually took over for Shonn Greene as the starter. Now Greene is given what is likely his last chance to be the lead back, with Joe McKnight spelling him on third downs.
Defensive Line: With the additions of Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, this Jets’ defensive line is as deep as it has been in years, which is a far cry from the group that was desperate enough to add an aging Trevor Pryce and Jason Taylor to the mix.
Linebackers: Both starting groups are virtually the same, but the 2012 team has a wild-card in third-round pick Demario Davis. If Davis can be the sub-package specialist right off the bat, the 2012 Jets will have much more to work with in terms of speed and athleticism on passing downs.
Secondary: Antonio Cromartie has settled in a bit as a man-coverage corner, and Kyle Wilson appears to be making the adaptation to the slot corner position nicely, which is a far cry from his rookie season in which he was benched in favor of Drew Coleman.
Meanwhile, the Jets have a brand-new safety tandem in Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry, who, despite not having a prototypical free safety on the roster, is the most talented and proven group they have had in years.
While the 2012 Jets’ team is based on more potential on offense, there is no question that their depth on defense is exponentially better than the 2010 group at just about every position. While there are certainly many questions that still need to be answered, this is the best Jets team Rex Ryan has had to work with on paper.
Final Verdict: 2012 Jets