It’s hard to imagine that after two straight trips to the AFC Championship game, the New York Jets season ended the way it did this past year, with a mediocre 8-8 record and a loss to the Miami Dolphins in the regular season finale in Miami on New Year’s Day. This past season was a disaster in the eyes of the Jets organization, from the office of owner Woody Johnson all the way down to the key players of this organization like Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis.
Even Rex Ryan admitted after the season that “he lost the respect of the locker room.” That’s hard to imagine for any Jets fan, myself included. The depth of the Jets collapse really became clear when Santonio Holmes called out the Jets offensive line, complaining about how they need to do a better job protecting Mark Sanchez when he drops back to pass. Holmes, who received a five year, $50 million extension before last season, was a big problem in the locker room. Hopefully Holmes and the Jets can find a way to coexist next year.
Last season is in the past and it’s time to get ready for the 2012 season, and the Jets have made a lot of noise in the offseason. First, they gave Mark Sanchez a contract extension for three years, $58.25 million. Sanchez’s old contract had two years remaining, but had no guaranteed money. General manager Mike Tannenbaum explained the reason behind the contract extension, saying, “We’ve won a lot of football games with Mark as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets and that’s what really concerned us.”
So clearly Tannenbaum and the rest of the Jets organization believe in Sanchez as their starting quarterback for the next few years, which makes their next off season move that much more shocking. On March 21st, the Jets traded a fourth round and sixth round draft pick for Tim Tebow and a seventh round draft pick. It will be exciting to see Tebow run the Wildcat offense for the Jets, put together by offensive coordinator Tony Sparano who brought the Wildcat to the NFL, and he is a tremendous locker room presence.
But the Jets are going to have to learn how to deal with the “Tebow-mania” that comes along with him. Sanchez will start the season as the Jets starting quarterback, and Tebow will be the backup and run specific packages during the game. But only time will tell how well Sanchez and Tebow can coexist. If Sanchez starts playing inconsistently like he has been in the past, some Jets fans will be pushing hard for Tebow to get more snaps, which could further divide an already divided locker room.
Another move that the Jets made this offseason that went relatively unnoticed was the signing of former Redskins safety LaRon Landry. Landry was signed to a one-year, $4 million contract on March 19th. The only concern with Landry is that he has been injury prone the last couple of seasons (he missed fifteen games over the last two season because of Achilles tendon problems). The Jets needed a playmaker at safety and they received a good one with Landry, who has six forced fumbles and five and a half sacks for his career. Landry was very optimistic when he talked with reporters, saying that “With the family oriented demeanor, it just felt like home. They have a top notch support staff and facility and I feel like I can prosper here.”
The Jets have added some good players on both sides of the ball, and we’ll have to wait and see if their presence helps to unite the locker room, or if there continues to be a divided locker room. Ultimately, it is up to Rex Ryan to get the team all buying into the same vision, and if the Jets can come together as a team, maybe they can steal the headlines back from the Giants with a Super Bowl victory of their own.
By Jake Spriggs