The 2012 New York Jets are Relevant in December: Who Would Have Thought?


Dec 9, 2012; Jacksonville FL, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan during the first quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Thursday morning, and week 15 is just a few days away. On Monday night, the Jets take on the Titans. We know all of the problems with this team. The injuries have been a major problem. Even with the addition of Braylon Edwards, the Jets offense is not exactly chock full of weapons. The quarterback situation is anything but settled as we head towards the end of the 2012 campaign. We have spent the entire year going through “Tee-bow! Tee-bow!”, and all of the controversy and noise that comes with that. Despite all of that, the Jets could end Monday night with a share of 6th place and the final Wild Card spot in the AFC.

Who would have believed it?

This team has had losses of 34-0, 30-9, and 49-19. The 2012 New York Jets have been accused of quitting on two occasions. Talking about injuries, this team lost its best players on either side of the football. The Jets have been rolling out players on offense that you wouldn’t have heard of unless you spend your time trolling the NFL practice squads. Over 6 games this year, the Jets averaged 5.5 points per game. For a time, this defense, to quote Bart Scott, “couldn’t stop a nose bleed”, ranking at or near the bottom of the league in run defense. Despite all of that, the Jets are right in the thick of it. The Jets are relevant.

Who would have believed it?

For all of his doubter, coach Rex Ryan deserves a heck of a lot of credit here.  Is he perfect?  Of course not.  Far from it.  He has a lot to learn about working with an offense, specifically, how to coach it.  He really doesn’t have much of an idea of what goes on with that side of the football.  For everything he knows about the defensive side, he becomes pretty silent and clueless about the offense, and that needs to change.  He needs to have his hands on everything as the head coach.  We all know the issues he has had in dealing with the media as well.  If anyone every needed a speech writer, it’s Rex Ryan.

But one thing he HAS done, is he has learned from his mistakes in the past year.

Dec. 2, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) on the bench against the Arizona Cardinals during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Jets won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

This team was a broken team in 2011. Egos were running rampant in that locker room, and that spilled over to the play on the field, culminating week 17 in Miami. Rex Ryan admitted that he did not have the handle on the team that he thought he did. But he has learned from that in 2012. This is a team that is not going away, that is NOT quitting on him. This team was 3-6, ladies and gentlemen. In 2011, the team would have gone in the tank. We would have heard more and more about the griping, and how the team was breaking apart from the inside. Not this year. The Jets have won 2 in a row, and 3 of their last 4. This is a team, no matter the flaws. This is a team. They are still relevant. At 3-6….

Who would have believed it?

One reason for the improvement has been the steady improvement of the offensive line. Nick Mangold has been his omni-present top center self. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, looking like he lost a little in 2011, has had a strong bounceback season in 2012. Vladimr Ducasse, albeit in a part-time role, has figured out how to block somebody, and they may have just filled their right tackle void with Austin Howard. If you have seen the running game the last couple of weeks, you have seen the fruition of “Ground and Pound”. Despite the long odds, this team has kept fighting, and is still in the playoff hunt, after all the problems.

Who woulhd have believed it?

The defense, which “couldn’t stop a nose bleed” early on, is playing like a Rex Ryan defense again. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when Rex said his defense could still be top five? Well, it almost is. Very quietly, the Jets defense has fought its way back to 8th overall. 8th! Surprising, huh? This team has kept fighting, despite playing a defensive backfield with Ellis Lankster and Kyle Wilson playing much bigger roles than expected. Guys like Antonio Cromartie have stepped up to fill the Darrelle Revis void. Mo Wilkerson has become a beast of a lineman right before our very eyes. This defense has fought and fought to keep this team in games, and here we sit, 6-7, one game behind the final spot.

Who would have believed it?

This New York Jets team is flawed. It’s actually pretty seriously flawed. They need weapons on the offensive side, and they need someone to rush the passer from the outside linebacker spot, among other things. This is not the team that we envisioned, that’s for sure. But you can say a lot about this team, but they are fighters. They have fought, and fought, and here we are, very relevant as we come to week 15.

Who would have believed it?