Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
After back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game, the always-interesting New York Jets were an 8-8 team in 2011.
But instead of rebounding this past season, injuries (wideout Santonio Holmes and cornerback Darrelle Revis, to name a few) and inconsistency combined to hand the Green and White their first losing season since 2007, as well as the first sub .500 showing in the four-year Rex Ryan Era.
With a bevy of changes on both sides of the football, the Jets hope to get back into challenging the New England Patriots for the AFC East title, rather than finishing with the same record as the last-place Buffalo Bills.
And the New York Jets will be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2010…
If: Much-maligned Mark Sanchez can shake the kind of consistency that causes a team to sign a veteran quarterback (David Garrard) to push you for your job. The Jets' signal-caller has turned over the football exactly 26 times in each of the last two seasons, one of the reasons New York was tied for the dubious league lead in that category (37) in 2012. New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has a tall task ahead.
And: The Jets get back to the style of football that got them within a game of the Super Bowl in 2009 and 2010. Those first two seasons with Ryan as head coach saw the club finish first and fourth, respectively, in the league in rushing offense. That ranking dipped to 22nd in 2011 but did jump back up to 12th in the NFL this past season. But we will see some new faces pounding the rock, what with the free agent departure of Shonn Greene (Titans).
But: What to make of all of the changes on this roster this offseason? There's the trade of Revis to the Buccaneers and the release of linebacker Bart Scott. There's also the free agent departures of Greene, tight end Dustin Keller (Dolphins), safeties LaRon Landry (Colts) and Yeremiah Bell (Cardinals) and defensive tackle Mike DeVito (Chiefs), to name a few. The team has brought in running back Mike Goodson (Raiders) and guard Willie Colon (Steelers), as well as Garrard, but this team has put the make in makeover.
So what do you think? It's been hard to get a grasp on this offseason for New York, other than the departure of numerous familiar faces. There's some young talent on the defensive side of the football but there are more questions than answers on offense. Are the Jets headed for another long year, or does Ryan have something up his sleeve?
Russell S. Baxter has spent the last 40-plus years watching football. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country, can be heard on Yahoo! Sports Radio and many other networks and was blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.
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