The future version of Jets coach Rex Ryan may be warning his past self to get ready. Despite the loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game following the 2010 season, he may be experiencing head-set-tossing emotions frequently in the next four seasons.
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown snared a Ben Roethlisberger pass to move the chains one last time, clinching the team's third trip to the Super Bowl in the last six seasons, giving that group a chance at its third title.
Neither the Jets nor the Steelers would win a playoff game in the three seasons that followed. The Steelers had a slanted 2011 campaign in which they finished 12-4, having beaten several teams that finished in the bottom 10 of the league that year, but lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. They haven't finished above .500 since then.
That's one less season than the Jets' current streak of mediocrity.
The Steelers' offensive line had perhaps its best day ever in pass protection in Week 8 vs. the Colts.
Ryan turned from favorite coach to embattled coach, who is one more loss away from setting the franchise record with nine consecutive losses. A loss Sunday to the same (vastly different) Steelers team would also ensure their fourth consecutive sub-.500 season. All of these traits and more have made the notion of Ryan, one of the longer tenured coaches in the NFL, losing his job after the season less a conversation and more a future plan of action.
The Steelers lost to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV, lost to the Broncos the following year and haven't been back. Rex's headset spike serves as the point of recognition for this team's last playoff win. The Steelers are better off today than they were at this point last year, or really at any midway point of the last four seasons. The Steelers are creeping in on turning that playoff corner while the Jets are mired in what could end up being one of the worst Jets teams of all time. They finished 1-15 in 1996. Ryan won't be tossing head sets at the end of a one-win season, if that's his fate, because he'll know that equipment isn't his to abuse anymore.