Rex Ryan's New York Jets Need More Than Tim Tebow to Contend Again
It is incredible how much the identity of this team has changed since Rex Ryan’s first year as head coach. When the former defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens got his rookie head-coaching gig with New York, he immediately converted the Jets into a defensive powerhouse and a ground-and-pound machine.
Since then, the defense has aged, but remained strong while the running game has withered away, and the offense has regressed to the point where it is one of the worst in the league. The season is only a quarter of the way through, but the Jets currently sit at 28th in the league in total yards per game.
Certainly, the Jets have been unlucky so far this year, losing their best player overall in Darrelle Revis for the season as well as their two top offensive weapons in Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller for the time being due to injury. However, while these injury woes are unfortunate, the Jets might have only barely made the playoffs if these star players were all healthy.
Last year, Holmes, Revis and Keller played in all 16 regular-season games, and New York ended the year with an 8-8 record. Anything is possible in sports, but it would be tough to make a strong case that Rex Ryan’s team would be able to do much better this year, with their major acquisitions of the offseason being LaRon Landy and Yeremiah Bell at safety and Tim Tebow at quarterback.
As for those who think that the Jets just had an off-year last season and still could be a contender at full health, let’s take a look at how the team has regressed in just a couple of years, especially on offense.
First of all, the Jets no longer have the unstoppable running attack that they did in Mark Sanchez’s rookie and sophomore years. Thomas Jones averaged 4.2 yards a carry and Shonn Greene averaged 5.0 yards per rush to help the Jets lead the league in total rushing yards in 2009, and when LaDainian Tomlinson replaced Jones in 2010, the running game barely slowed down. Greene averaged 4.1 yards a carry while Tomlinson had a 4.2 yards per carry average, and the Jets were ranked fourth in the NFL in terms of total rushing.
Now, Shonn Greene’s numbers have fallen off significantly, and he is averaging just 2.8 yards per carry. Thus, Bilal Powell is probably going to take his place as the starting running back since he has been averaging 3.8 yards per rush so far this season.