Jets Look Like Clowns as Tebow Circus Comes To Town

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For JetsTwit.com – 3/22/12

Tim Tebow can’t pass.  As it turns out, neither can Woody Johnson.

Rex Ryan, always talks about “chasing Super Bowls.”  Woody only chases headlines.  He can’t help himself.  Green with envy after watching the cross-stadium rival Giants win another Super Bowl last month, Johnson needed to make his New York Jets relevant again.  What better way to do so than trade for the most polarizing player in professional sports, Tim Tebow.

Congratulations, Woody.  Once again you own the back page, but not the city.

With Tebow, Johnson Right Where He Wants – In Spotlight

The Tebow acquisition will sell a ton of jerseys, maybe even a few of the PSL’s Brett Favre couldn’t in 2008, but will it win games, or titles?  Sometimes, Jets fans have to wonder if that’s even a concern of their attention-seeking, PSL-obsessed owner.

If Tebow is such an important piece, why were the Jets and the attendance-deprived Jacksonville Jaguars the only two teams interested in his services?  Why was John Elway so quick to ship him out of Denver?

Now he comes to a city where a fickle fan base will be chanting his name the first time incumbent quarterback, Mark Sanchez throws an incomplete pass on third and long.  It will be difficult for Sanchez to move forward when he’s consistently forced to look back, over his shoulder, at Tebow.

The Jets say they brought Tebow in to serve as a backup and run Tony Sparano’s Wildcat formation.  They continue to pledge their allegiance to Sanchez.  They will also tell you about the positive impact Tebow will have on their dysfunctional locker room.

Here Comes The Circus

It’s all nonsense.

Having Tebow on the roster inherently creates a quarterback controversy on the field, and adds another distraction off of it.  How will the overly religious Tebow react the first time he hears his head coach drop the Lord’s name in vain, followed by a flurry of expletives?

I doubt the two will discuss it over a God Damn Snack.

Frustrated Jets fans pray that this new “Meadowlands Messiah” can figure out a way to fit in and help win the franchise their first Super Bowl Trophy since man walked on the moon.

Though, just by signing him, Rex and the Jets finally get their ring.  Three rings, in fact.

Welcome to the circus.

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Classy Sanchez Rises Above Unnamed Teammates, Gets Extension

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For JetsTwit.com – 3/11/12

Everyone got their swings in.  For three months, Mark Sanchez was repeatedly beaten like a piñata.  After developmentally taking a step back in 2011, Sanchez was strung up and hung from a tree, allowing anyone with an opinion to take their cuts.

No one was able to break him open, but we still found out what’s inside.

Sanchez Defies Critics, Gets New Deal

Class.

Despite taking more hits in the press than he did on the field, Sanchez remained strong and dignified.  He withstood the verbal thrashing, refused to get into a war of words, and respectfully allowed things to play out.

He weathered the storm – mostly hot air blown by Santanio Holmes and a handful of unnamed teammates – and survived the Peyton Manning rumors.  He remained quiet for three months, then loudly resurfaced last night.

That’s when the New York Jets left little doubt about where their loyalties rest.  They made Sanchez one of the highest-paid players at his position with a three-year contract extension that included $40.5 million in “new money,” according to ESPN.

Sanchez took the opportunity to respectfully break his silence, and reiterate his dedication to the organization that drafted him in 2009.

“I’m going to be their starting quarterback for the next few years here and that’s exciting,” he said.  “I’m the leader of this team and I’m excited to get back.”

Surely, this was the perfect opportunity for Sanchez to take a few swings of his own at those skeptical unnamed players…right?  Wrong.  As he usually does, Sanchez took the high road.

“If you’re an unnamed source, you don’t speak for yourself and therefore you don’t really speak for the team,” he said.  “So, I didn’t really pay any mind.”

Neither did Jets brass.

There was no panic in Florham Park.  Even after it became apparent that Peyton was not their “Mann,” the Jets felt confident enough in Sanchez to make a statement, and lock him up.

There is no valid reason not to believe in Sanchez, despite the numbers he put up in his third season: 16 games started, 3,244 yards passing, 24 TD, 18 INT, 8-8 record.  Oops, those are Eli Manning’s third season stats from 2006!  It’s an easy mistake to make since Sanchez’s 2011 numbers were eerily similar: 16 games started, 3,474 yards passing, 26 TD, 18 INT, 8-8 record.

How did Eli do in his fourth season?  Check his ring finger.

Can Sanchez make the same progression? There will still be critics.  Many will claim this new deal is a PR stunt, another attempt to coddle the young quarterback, or an apology for letting him twist in the wind during the Manning sweepstakes.  All valid questions.  Sanchez won’t pay any attention to them, though.

When you play quarterback in New York, everyone wants to take their cuts, and try to knock you down.

They won’t break him open though.

There’s no need to.  We already know what’s inside.

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Peyton’s Not the Right Manning For New York

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For JetsTwit.com – 2/1/12

New York is only big enough for one Manning.

Baby brother, Eli, has already claimed Gotham as his own while playing for the Giants.  The Jets would be smart to avoid the temptation of signing his older brother, future Hall of Famer, Peyton.

I know, Peyton is a once-in-a-generation type of player, a Super Bowlchampion, and a 4-time league MVP.  He’s perhaps the greatest quarterback any of us will ever see.  It would be an absolute privilege watching him represent the city of New York on the field each week.

The Jets Would Be Wise to Pass on Peyton.

But…the Jets should not sign him.

This Sunday, Eli will lead his Giants in Super Bowl XLVI – his second trip to the big game as Big Blue’s general.  Meanwhile, after a disappointing 8-8 season, Rex Ryan’s Gang is Green with envy over the Giants’ success.  With a locker room in turmoil, and one Giant inferiority complex, Jets owner Woody Johnson might be eager to make a splash this offseason by signing Peyton.

Don’t do it, Woody.

It’s a mistake that could set the franchise back for years.  There is no guarantee the bold move would help the Jets take over anything more than the back pages of the local tabloids.  It would be a circus act reminiscent of Brett Favre’s failed attempt to sell PSLs in 2008.

Let’s be honest, Peyton Manning is 36 years-old and recovering from multiple neck surgeries.  Even if declared healthy enough to play, there is no way to know how he would physically hold up under actual game conditions.  If he did manage to navigate through the season unharmed, at best, he has 2-3 seasons left of service in him.

By contrast, the Jets would prematurely close the book on their 26 year-old franchise quarterback – with his entire career ahead of him – Mark Sanchez.  Yes, the “Sanchize” has taken tremendous heat this offseason for his poor production in 2011.  Media members, frustrated fans, and disgruntled teammates have also been quick to jump off his bandwagon.

Be fair though, he just completed only his third year in the league.  That’s it.  Just three seasons!  In that time, the Jets have won an impressive 28 games and played in back-to-back AFC Championship Games (2009, 2010).

Not bad.

Carrying both Peyton and Sanchez is not a feasible option.  It would be both financially irresponsible and a knock at Sanchez’s bruised ego.  Having Peyton play the role of teacher sounds like a smart plan on the surface, but it’s unlikely Mark would willingly defer his starting role without any lingering animosity towards the franchise.

This week, when asked what he would do if he were running the team, Jets legendary running back, Curtis Martin, declared he would immediately snatch up Peyton.  He called him “one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game,” and as a result, would be “interested in taking that chance” despite his advanced age and questionable health.

Martin should go speak to Jim Irsay.

The Indianapolis Colts Owner told ESPN this week, “Your responsibility is to make sure you’re not making decisions on a sentimental aspect.  This isn’t fantasy football.”  The Colts are expected to cut the face of their franchise before forking over a $28M roster bonus on March 8.

But don’t expect Peyton to file for unemployment.  Despite the tremendous risk, there will be multiple teams looking to quickly scoop him up.  The Jets ownership will be very tempted to get in the mix and land a Manning of their own.

Proceed with caution.  This town’s already got a Manning, and he has a very big day ahead of him.

Even if healthy, Peyton’s best days are behind.

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Lack of Team Unity, Not Ryan’s Mouth, The Jets Problem

By Jason Klein 

Originally Written For JetsTwit.com – 1/3/12

Rex Ryan needs to keep talking a big game.

Ryan is a lot of things: he’s blusterous, boisterous, and at times, obnoxiously confident.   But, he is not the problem.

The New York Jets sputtered to the end of an underachieving 8-8 season Sunday in Miami, and now a long offseason littered with difficult decisions looms larger than Ryan’s ego.  Their performance down the stretch was uninspired and their lack of team unity was embarrassing, but the blame shouldn’t rest entirely at Ryan’s feet (no pun intended).

Rex Ryan & The Jets Finished at 8-8 in 2011

Sure, as head coach, Ryan is responsible for a lot of what goes on.  He certainly made his share of mistakes in 2011, but his overzealous approach with the media is not one of them.

All NFL coaches believe they are capable of leading their team to a Super Bowl.  Ryan just chooses to consistently communicate it to the world.  What’s wrong with being confident and letting people know about it?

What should he do?  Lie and tell the press that he doesn’t believe in his team and they’d be lucky to win 8 games?

It’s possible that his big mouth pins big expectations on the backs of his players, but the attention he deflects away from them is also invaluable.

In his first two seasons in New York, his methods were successful, allowing the players to just focus on football and get within 30 minutes of the Super Bowl…twice.  There’s no doubt, 2011 was a setback, but it shouldn’t define Ryan, or the Jets.  Instead, how they rebound in 2012 will serve as a better barometer.

Those begging for Ryan to tone it down next year should take a second look at what the real problem is: team unity.  Extracting selfish players like Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie would be a good place to start.

Holmes has been nothing but a liability since signing his 5-year, $45M contract in the offseason, bringing shame upon himself, and the captain’s “C” he wore on his chest this season.  His childish antics on the field, in the locker room, and in front of the media fractured the team, destroying all the harmony built during Ryan’s tenure to date.  His spat with Quarterback, Mark Sanchez in a recent team meeting was also counterproductive and harmful.

Cromartie’s inconsistent play proved detrimental to both the defense and special teams in 2011.   His selfishness as a player, and immaturity as a person also became very apparent with his damning post-game comments on Sunday, openly questioning the efforts of the offense in front of the media.

Santonio Holmes Mopes on the Sideline Sunday

The Jets can do without both Holmes and Cromartie moving forward.  Instead, they need to focus on taking care of true team leaders, respected veteran players who are passionate about their team, their job, and let their play on the field do the talking.  Letting go of former Jets like Kris Jenkins, Tony Richardson, Shaun Ellis, Thomas Jones, and Alan Faneca proved costly.  Current guys like Ladainian Tomlinson, David Harris, and Nick Mangold now fit the bill.

Importing prima donna players like Holmes and Cromartie threatens team unity, creating a dysfunctional group of players rather than a strong unit fighting a common battle together.  Ryan has always prided himself on his ability to coach even the most insubordinate players.  Perhaps it’s time for Ryan to check his ego at the Florham Park doors and build his team around good players with even better backgrounds and attitudes.

Some players are describing the Jets locker room this season as a “zoo.”  It didn’t get that way because of the culture Ryan creates with his rants.  Everyone loves playing for Rex, but not everyone can handle the freedom and player-friendly atmosphere he creates.

Rex Ryan’s mouth is not the problem.  His words are harmless, intended to fire up his players and deflect pressure.  Instead, the Jets must worry about finding more high quality individuals this offseason, guys who will play hard for 60 minutes each week and leave all the talking to their head coach.

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