Why the Jets’ Collapse is So Much Fun
These are tough times to be a New York Jets fan. How tough? The team is only favored by three this weekend, at home, against the dreadful Indianapolis Colts. And you know what? I think that line might be too high. But under Rex Ryan, the Jets have accomplished one thing, even if they haven’t reached the Super Bowl that they’re eternally promising they will: people are actually talking about the Jets now. They’re saying mostly bad things, but I think Sexy Rexy subscribes to the “no publicity is bad publicity” philosophy.
Of course, if you go on Hard Knocks and hold bloviating press conferences tooting your own horn every week, people are going to root for your downfall. Under the Ryan regime, the Jets are unflaggingly entertaining, never more so than when they fail. Here’s Rex after the Week 4 thumping at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers: “I apologize for my language because I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but we got our a– kicked,” Ryan said. “There’s no two ways, ins or outs about it.” Come on, that’s funny! Who wouldn’t want to Jets to fail when the result is amusing sound bites like that? Their misery is our gain as football fans.
The Jets are an undeniable car crash, and like the saying goes, it’s impossible to look away from car crashes. The circus started before the season even began: the team brought in Tim Tebow to (officially) run a Wildcat package in their offense, but (unofficially) pressure Mark Sanchez to either play better or get out of dodge. Both coaches and ownership have played on-again/off-again roles in the Tebow v. Sanchez drama, also. Earlier this week, Jets owner Woody Johnson proclaimed that Tebow would be on the Jets for the full three years of his contract, a guarantee that you don’t hear many owners make about any player, let alone a back-up quarterback.
“Are we going to keep Tebow? Absolutely,” Johnson said. “He’ll be with us for three years. … I think he’s going to be a real valuable asset in terms of helping us win games.”
And then on Wednesday this week, Ryan said something very curious indeed about his starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. “I’m telling you right now, he’s our starting quarterback this week,” Ryan told reporters. Just this week, huh, Rex? The plot thickens.
Ultimately, all of this drama and will-they-or-won’t-they back and forth with starting Tim Tebow doesn’t matter. Why? Because the Jets aren’t actually any good. Their two wins this season, a blowout of the Bills in Week 1 and an OT squeaker over Miami in Week 3 that they would have lost if Miami had made one more field goal, are looking less and less impressive with each passing day. They do not have a wide receiver on the roster that I would call a capable NFL player. Shonn Greene may be the most pedestrian running back in all of football. Sure, Mark Sanchez has been playing like crap, but Tim Tebow throws the ball like he’s using his non-dominant hand. Yes, he lead the 8-8 Broncos to a surprise playoff victory over the Steelers last season, but no professional athlete in my lifetime has flunked the eyeball test so badly; he plays football like the really athletic guy in your high school that can play every sport but doesn’t actually know how any of them work.
My point is this: all of the drama around the Jets is fun, but it’s ultimately a lot of empty noise. You know who doesn’t have to stir the pot with the media? Houston. Green Bay. New England. Good teams let the quality of their play speak for itself. The Jets are an entertaining sideshow, but that is all they are.