EA: No. I don't think we can speak in terms of vindication regarding philosophy considering the Jets have not had a playoff appearance since the 2010 season. The run game was one of the Jets' greatest strengths last season as they finished 6th overall (134.9 YPG) and their 4.4 per carry average was actually better than the 'Hawks 4.3 yards per attempt.
The NFL's New Champion won with balance. Former Jets D-Line coach Dan Quinn led the NFL's best defense and you have to really study the numbers on Seattle's passing game. Yes they ranked just 26th overall (202.2 YPG), but Russell Wilson completed 63% of his passes in the regular season with 26 TDS and just 9 INTs. He also ran the ball for 539 yards.
Pete Carroll's club also ranked T8 overall in scoring at 26.1 points per contest and they upped that to 29.7/game in the playoffs.
The Jets have to score more while improving in the pass game and in the turnover department. This club had little margin for error while ranking 29th in scoring at 18.1 points/contest. Geno Smith turned the ball over 25 times in all and the Jets were outscored by 70 points (106-36) after their 29 giveaways and 15 takeaways. They need more playmakers on the offensive side of the ball.
Percy Harvin was basically lost for the whole year (19 plays) due to injury, but you see why the 'Hawks shipped three draft picks to the Vikings last March as he torched the Broncos for 132 all-purpose yards. You need explosion in this league and you need balance.
As far as vindication, that comes with winning. It should be noted that Jets GM John Idzik was part of the championship building in Seattle and what an excellent job that organization did in the mid-late rounds of the draft: QB Russell Wilson (D3, No. 77), LB K.J. Wright (D4, No. 99), CB Richard Sherman (D5, No. 154) S Kam Chancellor (D5, No. 133) and DT Red Bryant (D4, No. 121)
EA: It is a fascinating subject on a number of levels. Sanchez told me in November that, "All I want is to win here" and "I don't want to go anywhere." But if you are him, you don't view yourself as a backup quarterback. Including the postseason, Sanchez has a 37-31 mark as a starting quarterback and 10 of those regular season* Ws* were of the comeback variety in the 4th Quarter or OT. Sanchez, who thoroughly enjoyed working with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, thought he won the job last summer before getting hurt against the Giants.
John Idzik's mantra is competition and a healthy Sanchez (who has maintained a low profile after undergoing shoulder surgery in October and then a minor knee scope while recovering) would provide just that. Idzik will not be pressured by outside influences in making a decision.
Most pundits believe it is a near certainty that the Jets will either trade or release Sanchez before he is reportedly due a $2 Million roster bonus in March. It would seem improbable that Sanchez would be back under the current deal that reportedly would hit the Jets $13.1 Million on their salary cap in 2014.
Would Sanchez be interested in taking a pay cut to stay with the Jets? That is something that I would be completely guessing on and the only people who can answer that one is Mark and his representation.
EA: Over the weekend, I had the great pleasure of hosting an entertaining Q&A with ESPN's Adam Schefter and Jets QB Geno Smith at Jets House. (A good omen by the way because Schefter participated in two similar Q&As at the previous Super Bowl and they were with Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning.) Schefter mentioned Decker's name a couple of times when asked by fans about potential free agent targets for the Green & White. It sounds as if the Broncos will let Decker test the market and some predict he could receive an offer between $7 Million and $9 Million annually.
Is Decker a true No. 1? Remember he played video game football in Denver working with Peyton Manning and that crew — featuring Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Wes Welker — that nobody had any answers for until Sunday. The 6'3", 214-pound Decker, who will turn 27 on March 15, averaged 86 catches, 1,176 yards and 12 TDs the past two seasons. A productive player for sure and I like Decker's hands and route running, but I think you can have to stay true to the market you set.
Early winners in free agency don't often find themselves celebrating in January and February. I agree with Schefter's analysis that you can really help yourself in the secondary free agent market.
EA: We will jump into free agency here very soon with external names, but let's talk about needs first. You want to improve the roster everywhere, but these would seem to be the targets as March approaches: WR(s), TE. Edge Pass Rusher, CB(s), S, Explosive RB/Return Man.
The Jets have 16 impending UFAs and the ones that jump out at me right now are K Nick Folk, RT Austin Howard, OLB Calvin Pace, G Willie Colon, TE Jeff Cumberland and S Ed Reed.