Super Bowl XLVI aka “The Jets Fan’s Nightmare Bowl”

I think I’m finally starting to believe in the infamous Broadway Joe curse (some say Joe Namath made a pact with the devil to win SB III, in return guaranteeing that the Jets would never win another one).  There’s just no other way I can explain what has happened since the Jets’ season imploded.  Every week comes new allegations and chronicles of the dysfunction inside the locker room.  This week, it was Darrelle Revis‘ turn to speak out.

But the icing on the cake has to be next week’s Super Bowl.  I mean, are there 2 other teams in the Super Bowl you would rather see less than the Giants and the Patriots? (ESPN’s Jane McManus sums it up really well here)  For starters, there is just no way you can cheer on the Patsies, aka the Jets’ nemesis aka the Evil Empire aka the most bland, boring team to read about and listen to.  Bill Belichick is pure evil, and Tom Brady, is well, perfect.  They are basically one big cliché after another when talking to the media (my favorite quote from Brady this week: “We aren’t preparing to win the Super Bowl, we are simply preparing to beat the Giants.”  Puh-lease.  Come on.  And frankly, is anyone outside of New England excited to see them in the big game again?

And then on the other side, you have the Giants.  Now, most Jets fans, including myself, don’t hate the Giants.  This is not Mets-Yankees or Isles-Rangers for that matter.  These teams play each other once every 4 years or so in the regular season so to call it a rivalry, would be a stretch – despite Rex’s efforts in doing so this past year.  The Giants, like the Pats, have also been to the SB numerous times in the past decade, including one of the biggest upsets ever in SB history when they beat the Pats just 4 years ago (all us Jets fans are asking for is our first crack at the big game since1969).  The Giants embody a lot of things the Jets hope to be – a classy, steady, respected organization with a history of winning.  But as a Jets fan, it still pains you to cheer on the team that you share a stadium with, a team that makes getting to the SB look easy (the Giants were not even supposed to make the playoffs this year, let alone make the SB), a team that basically used a victory against the Jets to propel them on this Super Bowl run (if we had only tackled Victor Cruz….).

So that’s where we us Jets fans find ourselves.  Caught between a rock and a hard place. Choosing between the lesser of two evils.  But a choice has to be made. So, on Sunday Feb. 4th, I’ll be all in for Big Blue.

Go G-Men!  (I feel dirty).

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Welcome to the Florham Park Zoo

So, anything happen in Jetsville this week?  I mean, can it get any more ridiculous.  Let’s quickly review what’s happened:

  • As predicted, Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian “Schotty” Schottenheimer “resigned” from his post as Jets OC.  Offensive line coach Bill Callahan also bolted for Dallas
  • The Jets quickly hired Tony Sparano (not to be confused with Tony Soprano) to be their new OC

    Him

    Not Him

    Not Him

  • A number of unnamed Jets ripped Mark Sanchez in the media, and openly lobbied for Peyton Manning
  • Numerous Jets, including Nick Mangold and owner Woody Johnson, refuted that article and defended Sanchez’s work ethic, committment and talent

Did I miss anything?

Clearly Schotty had to go, although I don’t believe for a second that he resigned.  I’m sure he made out just fine financially, and he already has interviews lined up.  I like the Sparano hiring.  For starters – as the former Dolphins Head Coach, he knows the division.  He’ll know how to attack the Pats, Bills and Dolphins, and he’ll know how opposing defenses attack the Jets.  He’s a no-nonsense, back-to-basics coach who will focus on the run and protecting Sanchez.  He won’t take any BS, and will easily put people like Holmes back in their place.  And he wears sunglasses, day or night.  Sick.

The article trashing Sanchez was sad for so many reasons.  For starters, it was not only embarrassing that players would trash their teammate like that, but even worse, they weren’t man enough to share their names – pathetic.  Second, the comments were just plain wrong.  Numerous Jets and even the owner have come to Sanchez’ defense, citing his incredibly strong work ethic and dedication.  He’s a first in, last out kind of guy.  He’s clearly less than perfect, but the things mentioned in that article were just plain wrong.  And as far as Peyton Manning goes…that’s just a dream, folks.  Why would he come here?  What’s to gain?  Sorry, I don’t buy it.  And finally – the New York press should be called out for another example of irresponsible reporting.  Only in New York is it acceptable to publish an article filled with half-truths and anonymous quotes.  That article is just another example of why so many players don’t want to play in New York.

It’s amazing to me that in the run-up to the divisional week of the playoffs, the Jets are somehow front-page news, and even the lead story on SportsCenter yesterday.  It shows how polarizing Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez are, and just how much New York teams are always under the spotlight.  The Giants are not even getting as much press!

Many questions still remain, with the Sanchise’s future as the biggest.  Rich Cimini, my favorite Jets beat writer, posted a well thought out and balanced analysis of what it will take to salvage his future.  A must-read.

Just another boring week in Jetsville…

BREAKING: Rex Commits To Sanchez…

For 2011.  The Onion once again adds levity to an embarrassing situation.

The Saints were just scary last night.  I think they will comfortably win next week setting up an epic playoff battle against GB.

And congrats to the Texans on their first playoff victory – well deserved, especially with a rookie 3rd string QB.

As long as the Pats don’t win the Super Bowl, I will be happy.  I mean, does anyone out there really want to see Belichick raise another Lombardi trophy?

2011 Season Recap: The Jets Hit a New Low

I’ve waited a few days to write this recap, and I’m glad I did.  The last few days have been ridiculous – finger-pointing, backstabbing, complaining.  It’s sad, really.  Each day, the Jets seem to find new ways to be humiliated.  First, it was the whole Santonio Holmes incident – enough has been written about that already. Then, it was Bart Scott flipping the bird to a reporter (he was fined $10k by the Jets today).

Yesterday, the Jets and Sanchez were absolutely ripped apart by former Jets QB, and Strong Island native, Boomer Esiason.  If you haven’t heard about it, read this: http://tinyurl.com/87z85es.  This, coming from a man who in his 3rd season as a starter, was 3-9, throwing 19 INTs and posting a 73.1 QB rating.  The same man who had 2 career playoff wins (yes, he went to a Super Bowl, but lost) – 2 less than Mark Sanchez. Sit down and shut up Boomer and show a little support for your former team.

Yes. Yes, He Can

But it gets worse.  Today, 2011 7th round (that’s the last round of the draft, people) draft pick, and 4th string QB (most teams have 3 strings) Greg McElroy, goes on an Alabama radio station and airs some dirty laundry, stating that the Jets locker room had been “corrupt” all year, and it’s going to take “a lot” for the team to come together next year.  Really, Greg McElroy?  Really?  Throw a pass in a regular season NFL game and then talk.  Until then, please sit down and shut up.  http://tinyurl.com/8x4xpvk

What’s next – Mayor Bloomberg rips the Jets?  Leon Hess rises from the grave and gives his 2 cents?  Or maybe Rich Kotite will resurface and mention that his team that went 1-15 never had these issues.  This stuff only happens to the Jets…

But alas, we are going to look past that, and more importantly, look to the future.  Below is my summary of what went wrong, and what I think needs to change.  I’d love your thoughts & feedback too – challenge these recommendations and share some of your own.  God knows that Rex and Tannenbaum need all the help they can get….

  1. Keep Sanchez, but bring in a real back-up:  This was supposed to be the year that Sanchez took a giant leap forward.  He did not.  He showed glimpses of brilliance, toughness and the ability to come back, but this was not the year we had hoped.  A lot has been written about how other Super Bowl winning QBs had terrible 3rd years – Brees, Eli Manning, etc. – so it’s too early to give up (last time I checked, he still has more playoff victories than Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco & Josh Freeman).  He has the skills and ability, and the thick skin you need to survive in New York- he’s a natural leader too.  Let’s not forget that only had 16 starts in College – he is still young.  But next year is critical, and if Sanchez doesn’t advance, they need to make a change quickly.  There are some very solid back-up QBs who will be Free Agents (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell).  The Jets should and will bring one of these guys in.  Mark Brunell, at age 41, was never a threat to Sanchez.  That needs to change.
  2. Fire Schotty, but keep the system– The Patriots have proved that it’s not the coordinator that really matters, but the system.  Every time you bring in a new

    Bye

    offensive system, it’s like turning your QB into a rookie all over again.  System continuity is so key in the NFL – look at the perennial contenders – Pats, Steelers, Saints, Colts – they have all had the same offensive system for years (yes, great QBs as well.  Or is it just a great system?…).  If the Jets fire Schotty (and they should, although I don’t think they will), they need to keep the same system.  You can add new wrinkles and open up the offense more, but don’t scrap what you’ve built.

  3. Ground and Pound – Get back to what you know and what you are good at.  When the Jets were at their best in 2011, it was when they were running the ball well, and using the run to set up the pass.  Unfortunately, this didn’t happen enough.  64 passes in the Giants game – ridiculous.  Next year, whoever is running the offense needs to remember what this team was built upon.  Establish an identity and run the damn ball, a lot.
  4. Re-vamp the Linebackers and Secondary – The defense looked very old and slow in the 2nd half.  Bart Scott was reduced to a run-stopping role.  Bryan Thomas was hurt.  Calvin Pace just wasn’t very good.  In the secondary, Eric Smith was atrocious – how many times did we see him chasing after a Tight End who blew by him?   Brodney Pool is just sub-par and Jim Leonard couldn’t finish the season, again.  All 3 should and probably will be gone, although Leonard could come back for no other reason that his leadership abilities.   Revis, Cromartie & Wilson will all be back.
  5. Keep Santonio Holmes, dump Burress– Controversial, I know.  There is no great solution here.  But let’s not forget that Santonio won about 4 games for the Jets in

    Our Captain!

    2010 – he was their MVP.  When he’s on, he’s one of the best.  Is he a stand-up guy?  No.  But can he co-exist in the locker room and be a productive player.  Definitely.  They will need to mend some serious fences, but that’s Rex’s job.  With his contract, they are stuck with him.  Make it work.  Burress on the other hand -well, it was a nice story, but he’s too slow for what they need, and he had a very low “catch” percentage of balls thrown his way.  Replace him with a young and eager burner who can stretch the defense.

  6. Draft Speed, especially on defense – Look at the impact that Jason Pierre-Paul has had for the Giants – he’s a beast.  The Jets need another DE or LB who can get to the QB and disrupt things.  Wilkerson showed promise, but he’s sitll fairly raw.  Let’s go get another playmaker followed by a strong Offensive Lineman in the 2nd round.  The games are won in the trenches as they say…we need to rebuild ours.
  7. Tame Rex – This is owner Woody Johnson’s job.  I don’t want an emasculated Rex, but just a Rex that is a bit more humble and in control.  The confidence is great, the lack of understanding reality and lack of discipline is not.  Man up Rex.  Control your team.  Coach.  Lead.  Win.  Then talk.

This offseason is going to be huge for the Jets.  The team is built to win now.  You have an All-Pro Center (Mangold) and an All-World Cornerback.  You have a former Super Bowl MVP at WR, a solid running game, and a young QB with a ton of promise.  You have one of the best Inside Linebackers in the game (Harris). You have a new stadium, with some of the most expensive seats in the NFL (oh yeah, PSLs too. Thanks, Woody).  There is no dominant team in the AFC at the moment. The time is now.

It's All on You, Gents

It will be tough watching the playoffs this year.  I’m pulling for the Lions or the 49ers.  Although I think it’s the Packers year once again.  That offense is scary.

No matter what, there will be plenty of time to reflect on what could have been and what hopefully will be.  In some ways, this was the most disappointing season since I’ve been a Jets fan, including the 1-15 season.  Expectations were high and the talent level was even higher.   The last week has only added insult to injury.

I’ll post here and there when there is Jets-relevant news to discuss.  Until then…only 47 days until Mets Pitchers and Catchers Report!

Wow.  I need to find some new teams…

Week 17 Recap: The Season Ends – Finally – And I’m Happy

Yes, happy.  You read correctly.  Why?  Because the misery is over.  A year that started off with so much promise and so much expectation, fell far short of anything the experts and fans predicted and hoped for.  Each week we expected victories, and each week we were disappointed.  Even the wins were not enjoyable – they were lucky, desperate and unconvincing.  The team was sloppy, undisciplined and poorly coached.  Each week I was fired up to watch the game and each week was a letdown.  But it’s over, thankfully.  And that’s why I’m happy.

The final loss turned out to be moot as the Titans beat the Texans and the Jets would have been eliminated even with a victory.  But this was still not the way we wanted to go out.  Another awful performance by Sanchez – poor decisions and poorly thrown passes throughout, and he folded in the 4th quarter, a time when he has traditionally been at his best. There were no big plays on offense once again (Holmes & Burress combined for TWO catches) and the play calling was inconsistent.  It was just a poorly played game by both sides of the ball – countless penalties, missed tackles, turnovers, etc.  And topping it all off, our captain – our $50MM prized offseason signing – Santonio Holmes – was benched for the last drive of the game because of a shouting match he got into with another player on the field.  Now that is leadership!  For a game that was truly a must win, this was just baffling.  And lost in it all was that LT became the 5th leading rusher of all-time and played what was probably his last game in the NFL.  Probably not the way he wanted to go out…

There will be a lot written about this season in the coming days, and I will do a full analysis of what went wrong and what needs to be fixed.  But as with any sports team, it all starts at the top.  Rex Ryan guaranteed (again) a Super Bowl this year.  He came close the last 2 years and was hailed for that, as he should have been.  But he came up embarrassingly short this year – and no doubt, this year and this team was an embarrassment – and he should be taken to task for that.  He won’t be fired (nor should he be), but he should be held accountable over anyone else.  Changes will be made and that should start with the way Rex coaches, motivates and speaks.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is that it is yet another year without a title. That’s 35 and counting since I’ve had the privilege of being a Jets fan.  Same Old Jets?  Not really, but the result was still the same.  Eh.  As they say…there’s always next year.

Rex Ryan - Full of Hot Air