Monday, January 25, 2010

Rex Ryan Turns His Swag On

I’m upset. I’m not upset because the Jets lost, they played well and lost to a better team. You could not ask for more from a 9-7 team with a rookie quarterback. I’m upset because it’s over.

The term “same-old-Jets” gets thrown around this team so often. For the fans, it has come to mean the Jets will get your hopes up and then just when you think everything is going well they will stab you and lose. You hear it so often. After the 2004 playoff loss to Pittsburgh there were cries of “same-old-Jets.” We heard them in 2008 when the team started out 8-3 and finished 1-4 and missed the playoffs. The reality for Jets fans was quickly becoming the belief that this team would always let us down. But that would all change in January 2009.

Rex Ryan came in as the new Jets Head Coach with swagger and a plan. Ryan came in talking, saying the Jets won’t back down from anyone, saying the Jets were the team to beat, and that the Jets would win a Super Bowl during his tenure as Head Coach. YEA RIGHT!

The first step was getting the players to buy into his system, it didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. The hard part was getting the fans to buy into Rex’s swagger. He said the term “same-old-Jets” didn’t apply anymore, that this was a new team with a new attitude. Why should the fans believe him? We had no reason to believe him, but then the season started.

The Jets were 3-0. More importantly the Jets were fun to watch. Specifically their defense was fun to watch. When was the last time the Jets had a defense that was fun to watch? We had a rookie coach and a rookie quarterback walking around with a swagger; really, the two of them were a match made in heaven.

The Jets started the season 3-0, now all of a sudden they’re 4-6. Sanchez had a hot start, then he started playing like a rookie, and now he was REALLY playing like a rookie. Well it was fun while it lasted but these are the same-old-Jets.

But that’s where Rex Ryan brought his swagger, he didn’t give up, he took a larger role in the offense and the development in his rookie quarterback. More importantly he didn’t let his team stop believing. At this point the Jets were playing ugly football, and watching the games was, well it was like the way watching a Jet game used to be, ugly football and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then the Jets lost an ugly game to Atlanta, they were all but eliminated.

Just when we thought the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs something crazy happened. If four (it actually might have been more I don’t remember) teams lost their games in week 16 the Jets would control their own playoff destiny. Win the last two games, and they’d be in. Miraculously every team the Jets needed to lose lost, now we just had to beat the unbeaten Colts. When we first looked at our schedule back in April we knew there was a chance the Colts would have nothing to play for and may rest their starters, as a nice holiday gift for the Jets, the Colts gave us Curtis Painter who gave us really bad play and a win.

Following the win against the Colts it suddenly started happening. The players had now fully bought into Rex Ryan, and now the fans were too. We believed we would make the playoffs, and then we believed we could make a run in the playoffs. Rex was still running his mouth and saying things that we thought were a little too far fetched, but then he was turning out to be right. Suddenly we all believed what he was saying; the swagger Rex carried was rubbing off on the fans. Suddenly not even Jets fans were throwing around the “same-old-Jets” phrase anymore, we truly believed times were finally changing.

So I’m upset that the run is over. Rex Ryan has made watching Jets games fun again. The games are exciting, the defense is once again fun to watch, not only that but the fans carry the swagger that even though no one believes in us we knew we would win. Rex Ryan has changed the whole outlook of the franchise, there is optimism floating around the Jets for the first time in god only knows how long. It’s upsetting because we can no longer watch this team week in week out.

It’s fitting that we lost to Peyton Manning and the Colts. After the game I got a text from a friend saying “AP Coach of the Year Peyton Manning?” I almost believe Manning should get the award. I honestly believe that of the four teams in conference championship games the Jets were the second best team. I really believe they would beat both the Saints and Vikings. I do not think any coach could have figured a way to beat our defense; therefore we would shut down both the Vikings and Saints. On the other hand, I never doubted that Peyton Manning would be able to figure out our defense. I think he is the only person on the planet that could figure it out. So it’s not so much the sting of losing, we lost to who I believe is the only person who could have beaten us. Peyton Manning, not his coach, not any other coach in the league.

The unfortunate part is that this run is over, but for the first time in a long time Jets fans feel that this run is just going to start right back up again in week 1 next season. We have some improvements to make, but we have the perfect piece at the center of the table. A man who is not only a great football mind, but a man who had the power to bring a swagger to a franchise hasn’t had any in 41 years, and a fan base who thought they were doomed for a lifetime of failure.

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