If you follow the Jets, you sometimes wonder which team will show up. Will it be the team with a tight defense or one that can lose games up the middle? Will it be an offense led by a quick thinking Mark Sanchez, or the one that can only seem to score points on Nick Folk field goals?
Head coach Rex Ryan should be thanking his lucky stars (as well as those Jaguars for losing to the Redskins in OT) because despite getting a mixed bag (Sanchez looked good; the defense looked bad) from his team and losing the game, he is heading for the playoffs for the second straight year.
Sanchez and Chicago’s quarterback Jay Cutler were in a back and forth routine of trying to score and stay ahead of the other guy. Cutler had an amazing game (throwing three TDs), but Sanchez was no slouch either going 24 for 37 with 269 yards and one touchdown. However, with the game on the line at the end he threw an interception that sealed the team’s fate. The Jets (10-5) have now lost three of their last four games.
Everyone was worried about Sanchez’s health going into this game, but he looked strong and seemed in command this week (unlike the past few weeks when he looked almost lost at times on the field). Unfortunately, this defense looked lost this week, especially with Antonio Cromartie getting beaten (and looking bad) by Johnny Knox for two touchdowns.
Now that Ryan knows his team has backed its way into the playoffs, will he change his tune? After the game Ryan seemed relieved that Jacksonville lost, and he indicated that some players will rest next week (including Mark Sanchez) in the now meaningless season finale against the Buffalo Bills at home.
I am sure that most Jets fans feel like I do; we are glad to see them get into the playoffs, but this is not the way we had hoped it would be. Our early season thoughts of taking the division now seem ludicrous at best, with the New England Patriots clearly being the dominant force in the division and the league. Reality has to sink in eventually even for the most green-blooded of the faithful.
We are lucky to make the playoffs again this year, but how far Gang Green will go depends on which team shows up. Judging from what we have been seeing in recent weeks, it doesn’t seem likely that the postseason dance will be a long one for the Jets and their fans.