Time to Build a Program

The Jets are not going to the playoffs. I told you that before the season.

Now just look at the standings and the math doesn't look good. The Jets best post-season shot might be to win the division. Beating the Patriots this Sunday in Foxboro would complete the season sweep and give the Jets the all-important tie-breaker.

Rex Ryan's club would still have to play well for six more weeks. That's a long shot based on how they've played for the last six weeks. The Jets display the hallmarks of a mediocre team: one week it's the offense that screws up, the next week it's the defense, then the week after that you can blame the special teams. If only they could put it all together! Well, they don't. And that's what mediocre teams are all about.

But as frustrating as the recent losses have been, as distant a memory the 3-0 start now seems, criticisms of the Jets from some fans and media have been out of touch with reality. Since when was this season supposed to be a big season? When the Jets decided to start a ROOKIE QB?

Why are some commentators going bonkers like 2009 is the be-all, end-all campaign? The "Same Old Jets" mantra is out of control! Why can't QB Mark Sanchez and his coach even get one full season under their belts before we start lamenting that the Jets are cursed, will never win, or can't shake their past? Enough!

Ryan and some players deserve a bit of blame for raising unrealistic expectations with their big talk early on. But that's old news now. The Jets are 4-5, have a rookie QB (this can't be repeated enough), lack elite pass rushers, and have suffered some devastating injuries. It's time to build a program. The Jets will play 16 more games next season. Trust me.

Set aside Ryan's tears, Sanchez' hot dog and his post-game notes. They are all irrelevant. The next seven games are about continuing to establish a program. The season's not over if the Patriots win on Sunday. The rest of the season will be very important. The idea is for Sanchez to continue to develop, the offense to further establish an identity, and Ryan to figure out who are the keepers for his "organized chaos" defense.

Don't get me wrong. I haven't failed to understand why so many Jets fans are despondent these days. Many games were within reach—and so many mistakes seemed inexcusable. Ryan has shown poor game management skills. There's no guarantee he will improve.

While Sanchez has never played QB at this level, Ryan has coached at this level for a long time, albeit as an assistant coach. But there's no excuse for mistakes that cost the Jets invaluable second half timeouts, like in the Jacksonville game.

Moreover, Ryan ripped into his team the week before the Jags' game. Then the Jets admittedly came out flat despite everything said about the game's importance. That's a bad sign. RB Maurice Jones-Drew had something to do with it, but in the second half the Jets woke up and totally shut down the Jaguars' offense (until the final drive).

That last Jacksonville drive, punctuated by QB David Garrard's killer completion to TE Marcedes Lewis, demonstrated the Jets pass rush problems (and a secondary folly).

When Gang Green doesn't fool the offense, there's no pressure on the quarterback. A club can only scheme its way to the QB for so long. LB Calvin Pace is about the only pass rusher who beats his man occasionally, but his best game came against the Raiders and a right tackle who had just made the switch from left tackle.

So let's take a deep breath. Let's re-introduce ourselves to the word ‘perspective.' It's tough for fans to concede the playoffs. You just may have to. But this season, in my view, always has been about next season and the season beyond. 2009 wasn't supposed to be a Super Bowl year for the Jets. 2009 is about building a program.

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