EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - SEPTEMBER 19: (FILE PHOTO) Braylon Edwards #17 of the New York Jets scores a two point conversion against Terrence Wheatley #22 of the New England Patriots during their game on September 19 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford New Jersey. It was reported that wide receiver Braylon Edwards of the New York Jets was pulled over and then arrested for allegedly driving while intoxicated early in the morning on September 21 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
The Jets Super Bowl talent and depth is starting to shine through
One of the common things that is seemingly being forgotten on the Jets "Mission Impossible" run to the Super Bowl is exactly how much talent they have on both sides of the football. This is a Super Bowl caliber team and has been since the day the 2010 NFL season started. Their 11 wins during the regular season and two recent road playoff victories have only emphasized that.
On offense, Shonn Greene's output hasn't been what was anticipated but that has been supplemented by better than expected play from LaDainian Tomlinson, giving the Jets a reliable one-two punch in the backfield all season. No, the Jets didn't have a 1,000 yard back this year but having two players who combined for nearly 1700 yards in 15 games (both were inactive in week 17) is still solid. Brad Smith also became a de-facto #3 running back this year, finishing with 300 yards rushing, primarily out of the Wildcat formation.
Another player whose numbers don't jump off the page but who has put together a hugeyear is wide receiver Braylon Edwards. He has been a consistent big play threat and been unbelievably clutch all season. Anybody who questions his hands hasn't followed the Jets in 2010. He doesn't have the gaudy numbers because he is splitting receptions with Santonio Holmes, who is an elite big play receiver in the NFL and has amassed two seasons worth of highlight reel plays in 3/4 of a season. Beyond that, just when people were ready to write off Jerricho Cotchery as a key part of the Jets offense, he reminds everybody how good he can be with 5 receptions for 96 yards in the biggest game of the year.
Dustin Keller faded down the stretch after a monster start but saw decreased targets because of the return of Holmes and the consistent production from Edwards. He still is a match-up nightmare for any defense and a weapon in the play action passing game.
The Jets were questioned for letting Alan Faneca walk this off-season but have been vindicated by a strong season from replacement Matt Slauson. Their depth has also proven to be better expected thanks to a strong showing from Wayne Hunter in Damien Woody's absence and contributions from Robert Turner all season long as a fill-in and an extra tight end. Tony Richardson and Ben Hartsock also fly under radar but both are terrific blockers and essential parts of the Jets running game.
On defense, the Jets really don't have the star power of the remaining teams in the playoffs. However, what they do have is tremendous depth and coaching. Darrelle Revis is an elite player and David Harris is a cut below elite. Jason Taylor, Antonio Cromartie, Calvin Pace, and Bart Scott are familiar names around the NFL but none have put together big seasons. They have had their moments but the Jets have found success this year thanks to unexpectedly strong seasons from the players without big names on defense.
Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito may not get after the quarterback but have been excellent in run support all year, racking up impressive tackle totals for defensive lineman. Shaun Ellis still provides an occasional pass rush and showed he can rise up in the big spot with a career effort last week. Drew Coleman, who has frequently been ridiculed by me, turned into one of the Jets biggest playmakers on defense in 2010. The smallest guy on the defense had 4 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and an interception.
Dwight Lowery...2 interceptions and 2 sacks. James Ihedigbo...3 sacks, 21 tackles. Eric Smith and Brodney Pool picking up their play after the Jim Leonhard injury. The contributions have come from all over the place on defense.
Despite a weak effort last week, the Jets special teams have been strong as usual under Mike Westhoff. Nick Folk has been inconsistent but is yet (keep fingers crossed) to cost this team a game. Steve Weatheford had a surprisingly strong year and Brad Smith and Antonio Cromartie are both dangerous kick returners.
People get caught up with quotes from Rex Ryan, his weight, and his wife's YouTube videos but forget he is a damn good football coach. I am not just talking about motivating his players. He is on par with any defensive coach in the league when it comes to Xs and Os.
This is a very good football team, from top to bottom and they are more than equipped to complete their journey through the AFC gauntlet this Sunday.