As Bryan pointed out, him and I have been failing miserably at posting regularly on this blog for basically the entire 2010 calendar year excluding January. To put it in perspective (I’m not real sure why I’m drawing attention to this) for the first six months of this year we have averaged about 20.2 posts per months. That’s 121 total posts, 36 of which came from January. Compared that to the previous 20 months (the first 20 full months of this site’s existence) when we averaged 27.7 posts per month -or 554 total- that’s pretty bad. We could list all sorts of reasons and excuses for our slackerness (I’m so much of a slacker, that instead of coming up with a real word to put here, I just made up my own) but I don’t want to bore you and/or waste your time. Plus, most of them have been documented at some point or another on this website.
Also as Bryan mentioned, as much as we would like to say otherwise, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Bryan becomes a husband on Saturday and I’m the Best Man at his wedding. After that he will be off on his honeymoon and I will be (and currently am) out of town until the end of July. At that point I will be returning to The Night City (aka: Knoxville) and will be back at my normal setup and ready to post. For me, that conveniently coincides with when football season will be getting ready to kick off. Yes, I realize that neither the college nor the pro seasons actually start ’til September, but for me August is when the heat gets cranked up with training camps and preseason games. Either way, come August I have a whole lot in store for all of our readers. It’ll be like an injection of epinephrine for our website or maybe a boost from a defibrillator or hopefully both… though now that I think about it, that may actually be a bad thing. I have no idea, I’m not a doctor.
With that said, I feel I should now address the fact that, yes, I know the semifinals of the World Cup are being played today and tomorrow. Yes, I know we’re in the heart of baseball season, and I should care about my the Orioles managerial search. Yes, I know that in the past month the NHL and NBA Champions were both decided and hardly anything -if anything at all- was written about either on this site; the Blackhawks and Lakers won each respectively (neither was the team I was cheering for in their respective sport) in case you didn’t know already. Yes, I know the 2010 NBA Draft happened and we do love drafts around here, but once again, none of my Tennessee boys were taken, though Wayne Chism does have Summer League contracts with a couple teams right now. Yes, I know that Tiger Woods has failed to win a single event since his return. Yes, I know there was a bunch of conference realignment talk and barely anything came out of it and I never shared my thoughts on it. And yes, I know that my Vols have six recruits committed for the 2011 Freshman class, and that the BasketVols already have two 4-star recruits lined up for their 2011 Freshman class. So yes, I know I could have written a post about any one of those things and it would have made a whole lot more since than one of my typical NFL posts, but at this point I figure getting anything posted at all is better than nothing. Plus I want to write about the NFL, so I’m going to write about the NFL.
The shocking part is that I’m writing about the NFL and it’s not about my Colts. That’s right, pick yourself up off the floor, and read it again: this post is not about the Colts. Go ahead, take a glance back at the title again. I promise it hasn’t changed. It still headlines this post as my Super Bowl XLV favorite. And yes, in case you’re bad with Roman Numerals, that is indeed this upcoming season’s Super Bowl. Though if you want to talk about Super Bowl XLVI, that one goes to my Colts. Either way, you’ll see which team this post is about after the jump.
The New York Jets are currently my pick to win Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Yes, I know that there are currently seven teams that, according to the Vegas Odds, have a better chance of taking home the Lombardi Trophy next year (in fact, my Indianapolis Colts top that list) but the Jets are the team that I predicted to win it back in April when I made my first 2010 NFL predictions and I’m sticking with that now. When I made that prediction I received some skepticism both on and off this site. So I thought that I would give the Jets their own post explaining and defending my stance on this team.
First of all this team only won four games in 2007, and failed to make the playoffs both that year and in 2008. In each of those two seasons they had a defense that allowed 355 and 356 points respectively. That’s bad. Rex Ryan came in and in his first year as a head coach he got Gang Green to the playoffs and had the hands-down best defense in the league, allowing 236 points and leading the league in points allowed, yards allowed and passing yards allowed, and was one of only eight teams to allow less than 100 rushing yards per game. That is a HUGE turnaround for a first year coach AND he did it all with a rookie quarterback. This team had a rough start to the 2009 season, which is expected when there’s a coaching change, but once everyone got on the same page they finished the season winning five of their last six regular season games and dropped two hot teams in the playoffs.
In less than two months (November 29 – January 17) this team proved that they can win in the regular season, that they can win in the post season and that they can play with both a chip on their shoulder and also with some swagger. Then they proved they can draft well and make quality acquisitions in free agency. They went and scooped up Jason Taylor (2006 Defensive Player of the Year), Santonio Holmes (Super Bowl XLIII MVP), LaDanian Tomlinson (2006 MVP and 2007 ESPY winner for best male athlete) and Antonio Cromartie (one of the best corners in the league) who will be teaming up with Darrelle Revis (THE best corner in the league) and Kyle Wilson (who I think is the best corner from this year’s draft) and speaking of the draft they also got Vladimir Ducasse, the guard from UMass, who should help keep second year quarterback Mark Sanchez off the ground. The Jets only had four draft picks but they used them all very well. They have Holmes joining Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery to make a studly trio of receivers. Add to that Dustin Keller, who I think will end up being one of the best tight ends in league history and this team is loaded on both sides of the ball.
As I mentioned they already had the best defense in the league last year and it’s only going to get better. When your defense contains the names Shaun Ellis, Bart Scott, Jason Taylor, Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kris Jenkins, who all combine to boast 16 Pro Bowls and the last four (Taylor, Revis, Cromartie and Jenkins) have been named to a total of seven AP All-Pro First-Teams that’s pretty good in itself. Add to that the fact that they have guys like Calvin Pace also on that side of the ball as well as improving youngsters like Vernon Gholston and a studly rookie corner in Kyle Wilson, who will be competing for the #3 cornerback spot with Dwight Lowery (who is no chump corner) and whoever loses that position battle will be far-and-away the best #4 corner in the league and you have a defense that looks like it could potentially rank among the best of all time. All that and I didn’t even mention David Harris, who was the team’s leading tackler last year.
On the offensive side of things this team wasn’t quite as stellar last year, but it was about as much as you could hope for with a first year coach and a rookie quarterback. They didn’t rank in the top half of the league in points scored, total yard or passing yards. They did however rank first in rushing yards, but they lost their leading rusher (Thomas Jones to the Chiefs) and their third leading rusher (Leon Washington to the Seahawks) in free agency. However, they still have #2 from last year (Shonn Greene, who was just a rookie) and picked up LaDanian Tomlinson, who will be a great mentor for Greene, and may even be able to rekindle his career with the change of scene. I also think that a lot of the team’s rushing success last year can be attributed to the offensive line which will return almost completely intact. They lost starting left guard, Alan Faneca, to the Cardinals but they drafted Vladimir Ducasse as I mentioned above, who should be able to step in and start immediately, and should have a smooth transition into the NFL as he has D’Brickashaw Ferguson lining up directly on his left and Nick Mangold directly on his right. Both of them went to the Pro Bowl last year and Mangold was even named to the AP All-Pro First-Team. Plus the right side of the line (Brandon Moore at guard and Damien Woody) is solid as well. This will be Moore’s seventh year as the Jets starter and Woody has two Super Bowl rings and a Pro Bowl as a starter, so those two aren’t exactly slouches. Then you add to that the fact that this team has a three-time Pro Bowl fullback in Tony Richardson, who is one of the greatest fullbacks of this decade.
That line (and with Richardson as the cherry on top) is arguably the best in the league (especially if Ducasse meets the expectations that I have for him) and at the very least they have the coolest grouping of names out of any o-line in the league. Having such a solid group of blockers will help both Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene continue to improve and build on their solid rookie campaigns. Have I mentioned the weapons that Sanchez will have at his disposal this year? Because Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery are all 28 or younger (Cotchery just turned 28 a few weeks ago and the other two are 27 and 26) and all three already have 1,000+ yard seasons under their belts. This is perfect for a young quarterback. They all have enough experience so that they aren’t trying to adjust to the NFL at the same time, but are young enough that they have years in front of them to develop chemistry. And Brad Smith (who I’m primarily mentioning because I know Bryan won’t forgive me if I don’t) isn’t a bad fourth option by any means. Then when you look at their starting tight end, Dustin Keller, who I think will end up being one of the best tight ends in the history of the league (and I’ve had a man-crush on him ever since the 2008 combine) and is only 25 years old, entering his third year in the league, and is going to get better and better. This offense is going to be even better than last year, despite losing a Pro Bowl guard and the team’s leading rusher.
The only weakness I can see with the defense is their safeties. Fortunately with the plethora of talent at the corners the safeties should have a relatively easy job. I’d assume that Jim Leonhard will be starting at safety this year, but who will be starting next to him will be interesting to see. I’m guessing Eric Smith will be the man, but there are a few others on the roster that could steal that starting spot away from Smith. The most likely of those being Brodney Pool who was previously with the Browns, the second name that jumps out at me is Brannon Condren, who I think is rather underrated and could have this be his breakout year if he makes the most of the situation. The only other two players on the roster that have a very slim, outside chance of grabbing a starting spot at safety are James Ihedigbo and JR Reed. The dialectic offensively is that there is the risk that both Sanchez and Greene could have Sophomore slumps, and Ducasse could struggle his rookie year. If only one of those three players struggles, I don’t think it will be a problem. If two do it could be an issue, but if all three have problems (which is highly unlikely) then it could be a big hurdle for the offense to overcome. Conveniently the defense is going to be so good that this might not be much of an issue.
On special teams they have Nick Folk as the kicker, Steve Weatherford as the punter and Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith as return men. None of them are anything special or anything to worry about. They’re all basically right on par with the average for the league. Folk has a ton of potential but needs to bounce back from a bad year in Dallas. Weatherford is good enough to get the job done, as are Cotchery and Smith.
Is this the best team in the league? I think so. This team looked phenomenal when they made their playoff run last year. Barring serious injuries, major slumps, and busts this team should just run over people. Oh and did I mention that since they finished second in the division last year, they don’t have all that tough of a schedule this year? Instead of having to play the Colts and Chargers (like they would have done had they won the division) they instead face the Texans and Broncos. Instead of two very formidable opponents they instead have two games where they can go ahead and pencil in a W. To score on this team you better have four dangerous receivers and damn good tight end (cough cough Colts) and to stop them you better have three starting-caliber corners, good safeties and fast linebackers that are good in coverage (cough cough Colts) so considering how stacked they are and the schedule they have I wouldn’t be surprised to see them have the best record in the league in 2010 and then if they can hold it together through the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win their three postseason games and take home the franchise’s first Super Bowl victory since Super Bowl III with Joe Namath.