The Jets have plenty of things to think about this summer. Long before the first day of training camp the Jets’ front office, coaching staff, and fans have a plethora of questions bounding around inside their skulls: Is Chad Pennington healthy? Will Vilma suffer a sophomore slump? How will the new offense shape up under Mike Heimerdinger? Is Nugent the real thing? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…
All of these are indeed valid questions but the real focus should be on something else. There should only be two questions in need of immediate attention. How do the Jets secure a first round bye? And if that fails how do they insure themselves a home playoff game?
Let’s face it; the biggest problem with the Jets postseason adventures over the last four seasons under Herman Edwards is that in the three times they have qualified for the playoffs the Jets have only hosted one game. That is not a good recipe for success.
I am not going to oversimplify the issue and state that the only requirement for success in the playoffs is a home game, but it helps. Consider the Jets performance in their only home playoff game during this administration’s reign. The Jets destroyed the Colts. It was probably the second best postseason game the Jets have ever played.
Take last season for example: the Jets were on the road for the entire playoffs. They had back-to-back overtime games. Think about the toll that might take on a player. Play a grueling, hard fought game, take a long flight home, practice all week, fly back out to the next city, lather, rinse, repeat. It has to be exhausting.
What if Doug Brien’s aim was true and the Jets had moved on to the AFC championship game. How do you think they would have fared playing yet another game on the road against the Patriots? Not too well I would surmise.
Think of what it would mean to the players’ mental and physical states if they could get a week off after the season ends. Sleeping in their own beds the night before the game and going home to their families after. Hearing the home crowd roar as they take the field building the players’ adrenaline to even greater heights. Linebackers signaling the stadium to raise the noise level befuddling the opponent’s offensive squad as they strain to hear the quarterback.
Now how do the Jets secure this more appealing playoff scenario over what they have experienced before? Well first on the list is beating the opponents that they should. No more losing games to a team with a 2-9 record. I don’t know if the Jets look beyond these teams or if they play too tight, afraid of falling for the trap game.
The goal for this team should be either 13-3 or 12-4. Either of those two records should secure the division title and at least a second seed in the AFC playoffs.
I am not going to sit here and tell you that getting to the playoffs three out of four years is a meager accomplishment. The Jets’ brass should be pleased with what they have done so far, but now it is time to take it up a notch. The team needs to slip on their ruby colored cleats and repeat three times, “There’s no place like home.”