REX RYAN BRINGS OLD-TIME FOOTBALL BACK TO THE NFL

                                                                                           Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Over the last decade or so, the game of football has drastically changed. Once upon a time, it was establish the run to set up the pass. Over the last five to ten years, however, rule changes helping the offense, changes in offensive philosophy, the emergence of superstar quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to name just two), empty backfields, five-wides, etc. have made some offenses pass first, run later scoring machines.

THE REX RYAN TIME MACHINE

Now here comes Rex Ryan, son of defensive genius Buddy Ryan (creator of the mid-80s Bears stunning 46-defense). Rex was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens before he got his head coaching chance with the Jets and the Ravens were an intelligent, maniacal defense for many years.

Rex Ryan brought that intensity to New York and focused on defense and running the football – the way it was done, with rare exception, for pretty much all of the 20th Century. The fact that he had a rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, with only one season as a starter in college probably made his decision easier – after a decent start, Sanchez became a turnover machine who had to be scaled way back for the Jets to make their run to the AFC Championship Game.

Suddenly, it’s the run setting up easy and productive passes for Mark Sanchez against the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. His 12-15 was helped greatly by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling – there were very few difficult throws for Sanchez to make.

ROOKIE COACH, ROOKIE QB, ROOKIE RUNNING BACK?

Nobody saw the emergence of a star coming in running back Shone Greene, a rookie from Iowa, in these playoffs. He had a solid rookie year (108 carries for 540 yards and two TDs) as a back-up. While Thomas Jones had a superb year (1402 rushing yards, 14 rushing TDs), he’s been bothered lately by a sore knee.

Greene simply stepped in and starred, rushing for 135 yards and a TD against the Bengals and 128 yards and that game-breaking 53-yard TD in the fourth quarter against the stunned Chargers.

With an excellent offensive line (Future Hall-of Famer Faneca, Mangold and Ferguson are all going to the Pro Bowl), the Jets now see that they can run it with Thomas Jones or Shone Greene (and, don’t forget, they’ve done all of this without Leon Washington).

Yes, they were very lucky to make the playoffs (see Kallas Remarks, 1/9/10). But under the old axiom “anything can happen once you’re in,” the Jets have taken full advantage of their opportunity. It is borderline miraculous what they’ve done. With defensive excellence against both the Bengals and the high-powered Chargers, the Jets are a team to be reckoned with now and in the future.

DOES A LOT DEPEND ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THEIR QB?

Well, of course it does. Sanchez has a way to go and the Jets have done a good job protecting him both with their offensive schemes and their offensive line. But the Jets can win a lot of games and make a lot of noise with this defense and running game. The only reason Darrelle Revis wasn’t the NFL Defensive Player of the Year is probably because hardly anyone knew who he was the first half of the season. If he had a “name” or a “rep,” he would have been the hands-down winner. Over on the other side, Lito Sheppard has shown quiet but important leadership and has had a heckuva year himself.

And with blitz packages galore, the Jets have fooled many a quarterback and had back-to-back picks against Philip Rivers in the biggest (to date) of games.

Don’t forget that, defensively, they’ve done all of this without Kris Jenkins, a monster in the middle.

The Jets hope that Mark Sanchez will mature quickly. But, even if he doesn’t, it says here that the Jets can be a Ravens-like team for years to come. Sanchez will wind up better than Trent Dilfer (and, hopefully, much more) and you Jet (and Giant) fans know that Dilfer is a Super Bowl-winning QB.

BUT IT ALL GOES BACK TO REX

While he can act like a buffoon at times, Rex Ryan has changed the culture and the mindset of the Jets after just one season. With additional, intelligent drafting, the Jets can become a force to be reckoned with quicker than most thought. Can they beat the Patriots next year in the AFC East? A fascinating question since nobody knows how badly Tom Brady was hurt this season (or how Wes Welker will come back or what the Pats will do about that defense). While it says here that beating the Pats will still be a tall order, in the NFL they have that thing called a wild card.

But just the fact that it’s at least a discussion as to who’s better, the Jets or the Pats, shows how far Rex Ryan has brought his team in one season.

Rex Ryan isn’t the Coach of the Year, but just the fact that his name has to be mentioned in the conversation shows you how far the Jets have come.

The future is now for the New York Jets. Amazing.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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