By Jason Klein
Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/5/11
The New York Jets pushed all their chips to the center of the table this season.
It’s time for them to show their hand.
One year ago, a 5th seeded, 9-7 Jets team was playing with house money, only thirty minutes away from the Super Bowl. Unable to protect a halftime lead, against the Colts, in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets were sent home to ponder what might have been and begin preparation for another run in 2010.
Ever since the blue and white confetti rained on their parade in Indianapolis last January, the Jets have done whatever it takes to get another shot in 2010. With nothing in the NFL guaranteed, and a win-now mentality, the Jets decided to go all in.
For twelve months, Head Coach, Rex Ryan, told anyone who would listen about their pending Super Bowl plans. He insisted his talented roster was better than the other 31 clubs. Now it’s time to ante up.
Viewed as a bunch of jokers by others around the league, they solidified their secondary with aces like Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Poole, upgraded their pass rush with Jason Taylor, and added offensive sparks like Santonio Holmes and Ladianian Tomlinson.
With a bulls-eye on their backs, the team appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks all summer long, and made headlines as often for their off-field shenanigans as they did for their on-field play this season. At times, their performance in both places was not for the faint of heart.
Despite the drama, and non-stop chattiness, the rollercoaster ride netted them an impressive 11-5 record during the regular season – this time, good for a 6-seed in the AFC tournament, and the tall task of winning three straight road games to reach Super Bowl XLV.
Fittingly, the Jets open up the playoffs in the same place their last hand folded, Lucas Oil Stadium, against Indianapolis, the defending AFC king. They will get the rematch they so greatly desired. Will they be able to hold’em this time?
The Jets are going to have to get through a Murderer’s Row of quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and, more than likely, Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC if they want a shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. The Jets believe they have their own stud quarterback in Mark Sanchez.
The Jets must do whatever it takes to cash in on this latest opportunity. With an aging roster and a potential work stoppage in 2011 there is no guarantee they will have this chance again. Now is the time for these Jets.
It’s been 42 years since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl Victory. Rex Ryan’s been guaranteeing one for two straight years now.
The chips are in the center of the table.
Time to show their hand.
Connect With JasonFollow @ByJasonKlein