Tough day for the Jets. New York City is picking up confetti from the Giants’ victory parade. The Jets? Well, they're still picking up the pieces from a shattered season.
But, hey, life is a learning experience, and the Jets can learn plenty from Super Bowl XLVI. Six things they can take away from it:
1. You need a franchise quarterback. There are rare exceptions, of course, but the reality is you need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl. Unless they’re lying through their teeth, the Jets believe they have that guy in Mark Sanchez. We’ll find out the truth in about a month, when Peyton Manning is expected to become available.
2. Pass rush is important. Because it's a passing league, you need to have the ability to put the quarterback on the ground. Once again, the Giants proved that it’s vital to have pressure players. Instead of trying to manufacture a pass rush with scheme, the Jets need to bring in some horses. They've ignored this for too long.
3. Chemistry is key. The prevailing theme in the Giants’ locker room late Sunday night was team unity, how their belief in one another helped them navigate a turbulent season. The Giants were 7-7, and everybody wanted Tom Coughlin’s head on a platter, but the team never succumbed to the adversity. The Jets, who did, have a lot of work to do in this area.
4. Depth isn’t a luxury, it’s a must. Both the Giants and Patriots suffered a number of injuries throughout the season, but they kept it together, in many cases with no-name players. The Jets, now paying for having traded away so many draft choices over the years, have depth issues at quarterback, offensive line, wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker and safety.
5. Continuity is big. Eli Manning has been in the same offensive system his entire career. For the most part, so has Tom Brady. Both teams have a system that works, and they know how to find players to fit the system. The Jets have that on defense, but not on offense – and they won’t anytime soon. They’re starting over with a new coordinator, Tony Sparano, and a new system.
6. Strong leadership is essential. You may not like their styles, but Coughlin and Bill Belichick have a style, an unwavering philosophy on how to lead their respective teams. Rex Ryan still is finding himself, conceding he needs to tweak his approach. Ryan deserves some slack because he’s a lot less experienced than Coughlin and Belichick, both of whom are in their second head-coaching job, but it’s time for Ryan to settle in and chart a course for the Jets.