Is it just me or does this year's New York Jets ballclub bear a striking resemblance to the "Luv Ya Blue" Houston Oilers?
For those unfamiliar with that team, the Oilers were built around a highly charismatic and quotable head coach (Bum Phillips), a strong defense and a powerful running game.
Houston used this formula to reach the 1978 and 1979 AFC Championship games, only to lose both contests to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Heading into the 1980 season, Phillips said the previous two years Houston had knocked on the door, then pounded on the door, and this was the year they were finally going to kick the door in.
It didn't happen that way, as the limits of Phillips' formula finally became clear when the Oilers lost to Oakland in the 1980 AFC wild-card game. As beloved a coach as he was, Phillips' guarantee of sorts ended up costing him his job, as the Oilers fired him shortly after that loss.
The Rex Ryan Jets have utilized much of Phillips' formula (albeit with a bit more boisterousness from their coach, a stronger defense and a weaker running game) and to this point that blueprint has yielded similar results in two consecutive AFC Championship Game losses.
Ryan responded to the second loss in the same way Phillips did, by predicting that the next season would end up being the breakout campaign.
Unfortunately for Ryan, after doing a detailed game tape and metric review of the 2011 Jets season, it's clear that this formula is almost certain to come up just as short in the playoffs as Phillips did. The reason is quite simple: Ryan's vaunted defense just isn't what it used to be.
It starts on the ground. Check out how New York's overall rushing defense totals compare for the last two seasons: