Jets' 2010 record: 11-5 (lost AFC title game)
Record under coach Rex Ryan: 20-12 (.625)
Rex Ryan started his Super Bowl predictions as soon as the NFL lockout ended. But if he was truly honest, he’d have mentioned how tough it is for a team that has attended two straight AFC championship games to make it that far a third time.
At some point in a franchise’s cycle of life, it has to take a step backward. And this might be the year.
Here are three things the Jets must do to put off that slide for another season.
Mark Sanchez has been a clutch quarterback, able to make plays at the ends of games to pull his team out of the fire. But a little more consistency will help avoid those situations in the first place. Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will have Sanchez making different types of throws in their effort to move him to the next step of development. The good news is he’ll still have Santonio Holmes to throw at. The bad news is that Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery are gone, and nobody really knows what he’ll get out of end-zone threat Plaxico Burress.
Fend off the Pats
The Jets’ last regular-season experience with Bill Belichick wound up in an horrendous 45-3 setback. But they won their other two meetings, including the AFC divisional round. They’ll need to do at least that much against a New England squad that is again favored to win the AFC East, having restocked a 14-2 squad with talent such as receiver Chad Ochocinco and ex-Jets defensive-line mainstay Shaun Ellis. The Pats had a monumentally good plus-28 turnover ratio last year, but re-signing cornerback Antonio Cromartie to pair with Darrelle Revis could put a dent in that.
Beat the Giants
Believe it or not, this Christmas Eve match could turn the old “bragging rights” tag into a footnote. The Jets might need Game 15 to keep pace with the Pats, especially since season-finale opponent Miami tends to give the Jets a tough time regardless of the kind of year the Dolphins experience. You just know Rex will have his team flying for the first real meeting of the co-tenants in the new stadium — which, coincidentally, also ends a tough string of three NFC East opponents in four weeks.