It's been a pretty tough month for Rex Ryan's Jets; not only has his team squandered a chance at the playoffs, the team has revealed some serious problems in the locker room that led to a lot of changes on the coaching staff. Mark Sanchez's ability as a leader has been put into question, and rumors about Peyton Manning are not doing anything to help the young quarterback's confidence.
Now, their cross-town rivals and divisional foes are facing off in the Super Bowl, for the second time in four years.
Still, the Jets have only one option, which is to make their team substantially better this off-season on both sides of the ball. Here are the biggest need areas the Jets need to address:
Right Tackle: Despite their problems on the offensive line, the Jets sent three pro bowlers from their offensive line, which is quite indicative of the play of the incumbent Wayne Hunter (although D'Brickashaw Ferguson had his worst year since his rookie season). With offensive line guru Tony Sparano now in charge of the Jets offense, you can bet on the Jets doing something to improve the right tackle spot in the off-season. Getting a good line for Mark Sanchez will go a long way to putting a quick halt to his regression.
Outside Linebacker: The Jets have been missing a bona-fide linebacker since they picked Vernon Gholston with the sixth pick in the 2008 draft. When you look at this defense, they do a lot of things well, except for rush the passer. Aaron Maybin made a few splash plays, but he is too light to be on the field for all three downs. If they can combine the coverage skills of Darrelle Revis with even a decent pass rush, the Jets are going to be a tough team to score on.
Safety: Assuming that Jim Leonard is healthy, they will probably attempt to keep him in free agency, but for now, both saefty spots are an issue. Remember the 99-yard play by Victor Cruz? That was made possible largely because of the ineptness of Eric Smith, who is simply not an adequate starter. They struggled with tight ends all season, and if they want to match up against Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots, they are going to need an upgrade at this position.
Quarterback: The Peyton Manning talk will endure on New York talk radio for months, but at this point, its not a realistic option. For now, Sanchez is the starter, but you can count on GM Mike Tannenbuam to bring in another quarterback to at least challenge Sanchez in practice.
Running Back: Shonn Greene had a decent season, but he is the kind of runner that needs good blocking and a steady amount of carries to be effective. Tomlinson appears to be done in New York, and Joe McKnight is best used as a return specalist. If Trent Richardson slips to 16, it is going to be tough for the Jets to pass on him.
Wide Receiver: It would be an upset if Plaxico Burress returned to the team. The relationship between Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez is beyond broken. The Jets need to get faster and more disciplined at this position.