Mr. Woody Johnson, Mr. Rex Ryan, members of the Jets Insider staff, the distinguished guests of the Landing Strip, the lovely ladies of the Flight Crew and fellow citizens of Jets Nation.
Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the New York Jets on the successful endeavors of their season thus far. And as we mark this occasion, the first ever JetsInsider.com State of the Nation address, I would also like to be mindful of those endeavors that have been considered a failure. It is with high hopes that citizens of Jets Nation wish the team learns from these failures and use them to continue their guarantee of bringing the Lombardi Trophy through the Canyon of Champions.
It’s no secret that this 2011-12 team has had its share of adversity to overcome. The debates have been endless; Mark Sanchez or Brian Schottenheimer, the offensive line or the running game, Bart Scott or the safeties. Many fingers have been pointed, names called out and blood boiling in the pressure cooker of the Big Apple. But, my friends, all those are the ingredients of a hard-nosed, battle-tested, championship-ready team. I ask you, how many wars were won without adversity? How many achievements reached without an obstacle to hurdle? That’s what makes being a winner so satisfying — vanquishing hardships to end up more resolute and stoic.
And it is on the day after Thanksgiving — a day that symbolizes family, unity and togetherness — that the State of the Nation address is to be given; to remind those who have forgotten that team’s are not defined by half of their work. They are defined by their entire season, one that has currently yet to be played out. It has happened far too often in recent history for us to continue to remain pessimistic. In 2009, at 4-6 with a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach, the Jets rattled off a 5-1 record to propel their way into the playoffs for a run to the AFC Championship game. In 2010, they lost two straight following Thanksgiving only to beat Pittsburgh and Buffalo to get the last wild card spot.
“I absolutely believe this team is capable of doing [going on another late season run],” Ryan said.” We’ve done it [before]. You go back to the recent history that we’ve had. We, generally, play our best at the end of the year. And [now] we have to. I think the ability to run the football and protect the quarterback, especially this time of the year, is critical. There is no doubt. I think that, moving forward, we’re going to be just fine in those two areas. I feel good about it.”
Currently they rank 26th in rushing yards (966) and tenth in sacks allowed with 26, one more than their total from 2009. But Shonn Greene has average 4.7 yards per carry over his last four games with Joe McKnight getting a shot on offense last week, totaling 121 yards. And while the offensive line has given up eight sacks in the last two games, guard Matt Slauson said the unit was getting too “tight in the middle” which put extra pressure on the tackles. In a report from the New York Daily News, he said the unit has abandoned that logic and hopes that will fix the holes on the problems with protecting Sanchez.
A combined 7-4 over the last two season after Thanksgiving, the Jets have been down this road before. Wavering supporters step aside, for we have heard the cries of their inept offensive coordinator before. We have seen the struggles of an offense yet to find their stride. We have seen the defense take a few shots on the chin. Adversity is nothing new for this team — a self-proclaimed team of destiny.
They are poised for progress. Two years of sneaking in through the back door only to be a stone’s throw away from football’s Holy Grail. While champions are measured by rings and wins it’s not only what defines them. They are defined by guts, grit and their response to the unforeseen.
That’s the project of the New York Jets. And for the citizens of Jets Nation, in Fireman Ed we trust.