Same Old Jets? Not This Time…I think.

By Jason Klein

Same Old Jets?

This time was different.

Bowles

Jets Head Coach, Todd Bowles

Blaming Sunday’s excruciating loss on a “well, that’s just the way it is” mantra is silly. I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of it in the past. I’ve been consuming the same old nonsense for over thirty years. It never gets any easier.

Growing up as a Jets fan, the terms “would have,” “could have,” and “should have” were a part of my daily vernacular. I would pepper grade school friends with them trying to defend my team’s yearly failures. Now I plead my case to my wife and children.

But “Same Old Jets?” Not this time.

Like the previous 46 Jets seasons, this one ended without a trophy. Not since Joe Willie waggled that finger back in January of 1969 has this team finished on top. Sunday’s season-ender was disappointing, frustrating, mind-boggling, and typical, but something did feel different about it.

The Jets now have a competent General Manager, a level-headed Coach, a dynamic Wide Receiver tandem, a top defensive unit, and a ton of confidence. By re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick, they’ll also have an intelligent and physically capable Quarterback who commands the respect of his locker room.

I’m not naïve. None of that guarantees a shot at Super Bowl run. In the NFL, luck is sometimes more important than talent and preparation. One minute you’re primed for a title run, and the next minute your scraping Vinny Testaverde off the turf with a torn Achilles.

It’s very possible, the Jets as presently constituted will never get another opportunity like the one they just lost. They took advantage of a soft schedule, and could have had a very realistic path to Super Bowl 50 in an anemic AFC. Next year could be completely different. Things fall apart quickly in the NFL – just ask Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez.

But I do know one thing. Heading into next season, I trust the people making decisions, and I believe in the process. Something I couldn’t always say about previous regimes.

So, no, I don’t think this is a case of the “Same Old Jets.” I may feel differently one day, looking back on it the same spiteful way I view Leon Johnson’s option pass in Detroit, Doug Brien’s missed field goals in Pittsburgh, or any other of the wacky and seemingly unfathomable ways I’ve seen Jets seasons mercilessly end.

But for now, I choose to view it differently. I choose to be hopeful instead of hopeless.

That kind of positive thinking will help get me through the next nine months.

That’s when I’ll pull out my green and white jersey again, take a deep breath, and put myself through the Same Old Thing all over again.

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Dear Mr. Woody Johnson

By Jason Klein

Dear Mr. Woody Johnson,

I’m not angry. Really! I’m not.

No, I’ve long accepted that I root for a team allergic to success.

Instead, the 2014 New York Jets have left me feeling something much more damning:

Indifferent.

Jets Owner, Woody Johnson.

Jets Owner, Woody Johnson.

I believe it’s the final stage of coping with your team’s inadequacies.

I’m a life-long Jets fan and season ticket holder, but my Football Sundays are no longer filled with anticipation, pageantry, or hope. I just go through the motions, devoid of any passion. You know, sort of like your Head Coach during press conferences these days.

I don’t blame Rex though. No, I’d probably be relegated to a comatose puppet too if I had an incapable GM pulling all my strings. I can only imagine how difficult Rex’s job must be after his best player was traded, his franchise quarterback was bamboozled, his personality was muzzled and defense was handcuffed without the necessary tools to succeed.

Phil Jackson has the Knicks running “The Triangle” offense. Rex is forced to run “The Circle” defense.

No corners!

Rex’s stomach may be stapled, but it was clearly in knots when he called this now 2-11 season “a joke.”

He’s right. It’s a bad joke. The punch line is a punch to the gut each Sunday.

The other thirty-one teams are the ones laughing too. They look at your inept, incompetent, impossibly ineffective franchise and can’t help but giggle. Not long ago, you were the one chuckling…all the way to two consecutive AFC Championship Games. Back then, your coach was cocky, your quarterback showed promise, and your fan base believed success was inevitable.

Now, we look on in horror as flames slowly burn through your wretched green and white dumpster fire.

It’s ok though! I’m not mad. I’ve moved well beyond any feelings of fury. Instead, I’ll robotically meander through the next three weeks of meaningless football with the expectation that this offseason, you’ll emerge from your season long hibernation and finally get things right.

By now, I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t hear from you before then. Rather than reassure your disgruntled fans, mid-disaster, you prefer to cowardly duck the media and wait until season’s end. I’d prefer you be more proactive like Titans owner, Tommy Smith, though. Last week, he publically pledged to his fans that he is “committed to making this thing right” and that he’s “going to build a team that…the fans can be proud of.”

His team is 2-11. So is yours.

That’s ok, though, Woody. Really! I know you’ll address fans when you’re ready. You can take your time. No problem. I’ll be patient, because, I know you’ll finally stop chasing dollars and headlines and go chase that Lombardi Trophy after this kind of a season. Your political agenda should probably take a backseat too. Maybe consider spending less time with Mitt Romney and more time with people who know a little bit about football. It might lead to more victories…you know, if that sort of thing is important to you.

Unfortunately, the man on your staff who knows the most about football will most likely be the one to fall on the sword. Like Mark Sanchez before him, you’ve created an environment so toxic for Rex, it’s best he just moves on to succeed somewhere else – a place where he’ll receive the support he needs and can be his bombastic self again.

Speaking of support, it’s time to stop giving it to your General Manager. Filling your roster with talent and your stadium with fans should be the priority, not filling your wallet with unused cap money. Take this opportunity to start fresh. Bring in a credible, football-minded GM to make smart football decisions. I mean, you do own a football team, right?

After you’ve replaced your GM and Head Coach, please go find a real franchise quarterback. Go get a Duck, instead of somebody who throws them. Do whatever it takes to outfit Marcus Mariota in green and white. The kid is special. He’s professional, polished, confident and exciting. He’s everything your current team is not! He could be the face of your franchise for the next decade.

Those three moves – GM, Coach, QB – should be where you start. If you finally make the right football decisions in those three essential areas, it should provide enough deodorant to mask the stink surrounding your franchise these past few years.

Also, moving forward, try not to “Play like a Jet.” Play like someone else. Someone who wins! Also, no more “Jet decisions.” Make smart decisions! Football-minded decisions! Decisions that are in the best interest of winning football games.

Football-minded moves like these will again fill my Sunday afternoons with hope and begin to dispel any feelings of indifference. I want the Jets to matter again…matter the way they did when Rex first blew into town and made your franchise relevant again!

Change the losing culture around your team, and your fan base.

Right now, Rex is right, it’s “a joke.”

All fans can do is laugh.

Let’s shoot for fewer punch lines.

Just more punch.

Sincerely,

Jason Klein

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Sanchez Bamboozled Again

By Jason Klein

It fits.

You know, Mark Sanchez reportedly losing his job the way he did.

One final indignity for the man continuously bamboozled by his own organization.

Inexplicably thrown to the wolves during his 4th quarter preseason appearance against the Giants, Sanchez was done in, again, by the very team he once led to two AFC Championship Games in a row.  This time, he sustained an injury that could ultimately derail his career in New York.

Once again, Sanchez was done in by his own team.

Once again, Sanchez was done in by his own team.

Bruised Shoulder.

Broken Career.

It’s not shocking, over the last two seasons, that Sanchez has regressed.  It can’t be easy to succeed in the NFL when you have to battle an opponent, and your own team at the same time.

Seemingly on a weekly basis, Sanchez has been given every opportunity to fail.  After his first two successful seasons, Jets decision makers left him with a diluted supporting cast, flirted with Peyton Manning, and publically humiliated him when Woody Johnson told the world “You can never have too much Tebow.”  It was a statement, and a personnel decision, that divided the Jets locker room and fan base.

Then, Tebow left and Geno arrived.

They drafted Geno Smith and privately hoped he’d unseat the incumbent Sanchez.  New GM, John Idzik, ultimately got his secret wish…by default.

When Rex Ryan decided the Snoopy Bowl was more important than the wellbeing of his Week 1 starting quarterback, Sanchez sustained a hit to his throwing shoulder.  He now finds his status with the Jets more questionable than a Miley Cyrus performance.

Bottom line is, they haven’t treated Sanchez like a franchise quarterback, and consequently, he hasn’t played like one either.  He’ll never be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but Sanchez has certainly proven he can win in this league when surrounded by capable talent.  Plus, it’s easily forgotten, he played only one season at USC, and is only 26 years-old.  He’s still a kid.

To be fair, Mark hasn’t done himself any favors either.  In buttfumbling fashion, he’s turned the ball over 52 times over the last 2 seasons and proved to be mistake-prone at the most inopportune times.  Opponents have undressed the inconsistent Sanchez on the field.  Frivolous, camera phone-carrying party girls have undressed him off it.  Poor decisions during, and after, games haven’t helped Sanchez.  Again, he’s still a kid.

If this is the end of his stint in New York, it will mark a stunning fall from grace for the kid from SoCal.

It’s just a shame there was nobody from the Jets organization there to catch him on the way down.

For a team who always seems to handle things with complete ineptitude…it fits.

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Like A-Rod, Sanchez About To Take On The World. Alone.

By Jason Klein

Just four years ago, I compared Mark Sanchez, to Derek Jeter.

Now, he more closely resembles Alex Rodriguez.

It’s a shame, really.

Like a young Jeter, Sanchez once exhibited confidence, poise and passion.  He also found ways to win big games.

Big playoff games.

Both Sanchez & A-Rod will face hostile crowds, for different reasons.

Both Sanchez & A-Rod will face hostile crowds, for different reasons.

Now, like A-Rod, he’s all alone.

He has the majority of his own fan base, and people within his own organization seemly rooting against him.   He’s saddled his team with an immovable contract, been involved in controversial plays on the field, and controversial situations off it.

Yet, Sanchez takes the field tonight in Detroit looking to prove all doubters and dissenters wrong.

Sanchez against the World.

A-Rod begins a similar fight tonight in the Bronx, but for much different reasons, obviously.

A-Rod cheated his organization.  Sanchez was simply cheated by his.

A-Rod made his own poor decisions.  Sanchez was a victim of those made by others.

A-Rod deserves the ridicule.  Sanchez deserves a fair shot to prove he can win again with proper support.

Tonight, two well-paid, and well-famed New York athletes will take center stage.  Both are polarizing figures.  Both will be booed by their home crowd.  At 38 years-old, A-Rod is simply playing out the string.  At 26 years-old, Sanchez potentially has his best years ahead of him.

If he’s going to spend them playing in New York, the kid from SoCal needs to be confident, poised, and passionate again.  He’s got to find ways to win big games again.

He’s got to be more like the face of the Yankees.

Less like the face of Biogenesis.

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Dear Mr. Woody Johnson

By Jason Klein

Dear Mr. Woody Johnson,

I needed an escape.

I’m a life-long fan, and season ticket holder, and typically, the New York Jets are my escape.  While I can’t escape the inclement weather inside your inexplicably roofless stadium, I do rely on your team to help me seek refuge from life’s everyday stresses, drama and nonsense.  Unfortunately, this season, your team stressed me out with a lot of its own excess drama and nonsense.

So, I needed an escape from my escape.

I wanted to personally thank you for providing me that retreat.  By going into hiding for nine days, you’ve given me the much-needed opportunity to cleanse my mind of the filth that was the 2012 New York Jets.  When you resurface, Tuesday morning, I hope you begin to show some accountability.  On the field, your team was bad.  Off the field, they were worse.

Just two short years after reaching back-to-back AFC Championship Games, your club has become an attention-seeking, controversy-creating, butt-fumbling disaster of a franchise.  Following some questionable offseason decisions, this season was dead on arrival.  With every day that passed, the stench of a decaying Jets carcass seemed to intensify.

Your roster was filled with no-name players and your staff was filled with unnamed sources.  When Peyton Manning passed, you couldn’t pass on a quarterback that can’t pass.  Hey, “you can never have too much Tebow,” right?

Your staff single-handedly sabotaged the season by bringing in, and then misusing, Tim Tebow.  It was a distraction that divided your locker room, and your fan base.  Things got so ugly in the stands, iconic super fan, “Fireman” Ed Anzalone, hung up his fireman’s hat and “retired” as the symbolic head of Jets nation.

I know Coach Rex Ryan’s stomach is stapled, but it was clearly in knots all season long as he uncomfortably answered Tebow questions each week.  He looked tired and beaten during his weekly pressers and did everything he could to avoid answering questions directly.  Tebow certainly has all the character in the world, but he was obviously the wrong character to play the role of “back up” quarterback for your club.

Constantly looking over his shoulder at a cult figure, Mark Sanchez regressed and seemingly lost all the confidence he had shown early on in his career.  I guess that was to be expected, considering he was provided the necessary tools to fail.

Your offense was “grounded” during the pre-season and “pounded” during the regular season.  You lost your best defensive and offensive players to injury, and Coach Ryan became defensive when offensive players anonymously ripped your “back up” quarterback.

I left a table full of warm turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving to sit in your cold stadium, and watch your Turkeys get stuffed by the Patriots.  Then, amid an uncomfortable and mismanaged quarterback carousel, I watched your team lose their last three games in embarrassing fashion, finishing up at 6-10.

You disrespectfully relieved your General Manager of 16-years by releasing a lame memo to the media and then let your Offensive Coordinator twist in the blustery Meadowlands wind.  Then, you allowed Coach Ryan to flee to the Bahamas, to reveal his ridiculous Sanchez tattoo, and leave an irate, confused and abused fan base left in his wake.

To top it all, it was apparent to every devoted Jets fan that you would have rather seen Mitt Romney elected President of the United States than see your football team hoist a Lombardi Trophy.  How do we know this?  Well, you told us, live, on Bloomberg TV in October.

Please, don’t mistake my harsh words for those of a Jets-hater.  I am a glutton for Jets punishment each and every Sunday.  I’ve been doing it since birth.  I’ve just reached a point of uncharted frustration, the depths of which Rich Kotite didn’t even navigate towards.

Over the next few months, as Jets fans, like myself, look to escape the carnival-like atmosphere surrounding your team, I hope you re-dedicate yourself, and your resources, towards building a winning product.  Go chase Super Bowls, not headlines!  The best way to sell through your precious PSL’s and win the back page is to win football games.  Win a lot of them!

Please, no more controversies, no more half-truths, and no more circus attractions to grab eyeballs and credit cards.

No more stress, no more drama, and no more nonsense.

Just give me a football team I can be proud of, not embarrassed by.

Give me an escape.

Sincerely,

Jason Klein

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Five Four a Perfect Fit For Emerging Athletes

By Jason Klein 

As Seen in In New York Magazine  – 4/26/12

When 22 year-old Michael Floyd marches across the Radio City Music Hall stage during tonight’s NFL Draft, he will officially shed his amateur status and transition towards life as a professional athlete.  The wide receiver out of Notre Dame – expected to go early in the first round – will hold up his new jersey, flash a smile and pose for pictures with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.  He’ll do all of this while sporting a designer suit, custom made for the big event.

After all the pomp and circumstance, he’ll slip into something a little more comfortable – something tailor-made for his personal lifestyle rather than tonight’s gaudy Broadway spectacle.  Like many of today’s athletes, Floyd will throw on some clothing from Five Four.

NY Jets QB, Mark Sanchez, Wearing Five Four

It’s the hottest line of apparel you’ve likely never heard of.  Its reach covers a wide variety of entertainers, celebrities and athletes.  Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Zac Efron and Larry King have all been spotted rocking Five Four.  Top players like Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Troy Polomalu and Mark Sanchez wear it too.

Their garb is everywhere, especially in the sports world.  I wanted to know why?  Why Five Four?  Why not Nike, Adidas, or some designer label?  When I asked Five Four Co-CEO/Founder Andres Izquieta, his response was simple.

“Our stuff is just cool,” says Izquieta.  “Athletes love our brand because it fits comfortably, no matter what size you are, its stylish, and it perfectly represents an athlete’s lifestyle.”

Izquieta and Dee Murthy started Five Four as 21 year-old students at the University of Southern California in 2002.  Since its inception, the modern, yet classic-looking “Lifestyle Brand” has been all about setting goals, dreaming big, passion, winning and success – all core values shared by up-and-coming athletes looking to make it on a professional stage.

“Athletes transitioning to the NFL are great ambassadors of the brand,” says Izquieta.  “They work so hard their entire life to get rewarded and take the next step.  That’s the kind of passion and drive we have at Five Four.”

It’s the reason Izquieta and Murthy teamed up with California-based football agency, Athletes First to create The Graduating Class.  It’s a 108-page book profiling twelve NFL prospects entering the 2011 Draft, and their transition from college to the NFL.  According to Izquieta, the book gives a stunningly personal look into each athlete, “chronicling their journey through fashion, art, and photography, while they are in the pursuit of achieving their lifelong dream.”

The book is filled with motivational phrases, philosophies, and great photography.  There are even hand-written bios from each player, revealing their fears, inspirations, and career goals.  Of course, I also noticed each athlete is draped in Five Four.  According to Izquieta, they wear the clothes “not because they have to, but because they truly want to.”

Often portrayed as superheroes in the media, The Graduating Classdelicately humanizes each player, peeking in on their insecurities and anxiety leading up to the biggest day of their lives – draft day.  Casually decorated in Five Four, each player comes off as a “regular guy” – a concept that helps readers relate to these larger-than-life figures.

The Graduating Class.

Notable members of The Graduating Class 2011 include Von Miller (Broncos), Jake Locker (Titans), and Scotty McKnight (Jets).  Five Four will feature twelve players from tonight’s draft, including Floyd, as part of the project’s second run – this time, packaged as part of an online campaign.  Other highlighted players include: Keenan Robinson (Texas), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Kellen Moore and Doug Martin (Boise State), Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma), Keleche Osemele (Iowa State), Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick (Nebraska), Harrison Smith (Notre Dame), Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M)

Though Five Four is primarily a West Coast brand – their one retail location is in Los Angeles – their product is carried in over 400 stores nation-wide and is worn by athletes and celebrities everywhere.  This May, they will introduce Five Four Club, a men’s subscription service that will serve as a personal stylist for men.  They also plan to introduce a line of footwear this June.

Like many of the young players drafted tonight, you may have never heard of Five Four Clothing.  Projects like The Graduating Class are helping to spread the word, and expose it as a brand of choice among many athletes.

Especially players like Michael Floyd, a man who will realize his dream tonight.

When he does, his life will change forever.

His Five Four wardrobe won’t.

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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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