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

By Jason Klein 

Originally Written For – 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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Hard Knock Jets Get Knocked Out in AFC Title Game…Again.

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/25/11

His eyes were bleary.  His voice was filled with uncertainty.  The New York Jets had just fallen to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and Jason Taylor was addressing the media.

Taylor and his Jets teammates had the rug pulled out from under their magic carpet ride towards a Super Bowl appearance, and he was discussing the harsh reality that awaited them in the offseason.

“This team as you see it tonight will never be together again,” he said. “Whether Jason Taylor’s back, or anybody else is back, it will not be the same football team again.  It just can’t be.  It’s sad in its own right.”

The Jets will huddle up this offseason to regroup for a 2011 Super Bowl run.

It’s sad, but that’s life in today’s National Football League.  Teams looking to maintain a certain level of success each year must contend with factors like expiring contracts, salary caps, injuries, and age – all of which play a role in shaping a roster.

The 2010 Jets were built to win now.  They acquired veterans entering the final year of their contract, and although their hand was stacked, they folded in Pittsburgh.  Now they must deal with the ramifications after pushing all their chips to the center of the table.

Tough decisions will have to be made on key free agents like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Cromartie, Brad Smith, Shaun Ellis, and David Harris, among others.  Both kicker Nick Folk and punter Steve Weatherford are free agents too.  Gang Green will also have to reach a verdict on the futures of aging superstars Ladainian Tomlinson and the aforementioned Taylor.

The Jets were presented with an opportunity in 2010, a once-in-a-lifetime shot to play for a Lombardi trophy.  So what will it take for the Jets to get this chance again?  It starts with another draft, mini camp, and grueling training camp two-a-days.  They must endure another four-game pre-season and sixteen-game regular season.  Along the way, they have to avoid potential pitfalls like key injuries, treacherous weather conditions, and any off-the-field issues that could prevent a player from performing.

If they manage to surface with a playoff-worthy record in January 2012, they’ll have to win at least one postseason game (at most two) just to get back to the same exact position they already had on Sunday morning.

It’s possible.  After all, they’ve now done it two years in a row.  They have a young, and now experienced quarterback in Mark Sanchez, and a passionate Head Coach in Ryan. One would have to believe they are set up well in those two key areas for years to come.  As long as Ryan is leading the Jets, the mission statement won’t change either.  He expects the Jets to be chasing a Super Bowl every season, starting with 2011.

In truth though, chances like the one the Jets just had are rare.  Just ask Taylor.  It took him fourteen seasons to get to this point, and he had to join the hated rival of his former Dolphins to do so.  Taylor gave it everything he had, invested in Rex Ryan’s scheme, and believed his career would come to an end with him hoisting the Lombardi trophy in a green and white uniform.

Long-time suffering Jets fans also had dreams of green and white confetti raining from above.  It will be 43 years and counting since Joe Namath led the Jets to glory in Super Bowl III, the franchise’s only appearance on the big stage.  After all the hype, the free agent additions, Hard Knocks, Ryan’s bluster, the 11-5 record, and road playoff victories over Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the fans believed this 2010 Jets team would be the one special enough to end the drought.

The Steelers had other ideas.  The sobering reality left Taylor, his teammates, his head coach, and all fans bleary-eyed, filled with uncertainty, and forced to accept that this team, as constituted, will never be together again.  It just can’t be.

A missed opportunity.  It’s sad, in its own right.

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Same Old Jets Advance to AFC Title Game…Again!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/18/11

Just End The Suffering.

The always-candid Head Coach of the New York Jets stood at the podium Sunday night in Foxborough, MA.  His team had just knocked off the top-seeded New England Patriots 28-21, earning them a spot in the AFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season.  Rex Ryan looked out at the throng of reporters before him and punctuated the evening with his usual bravado, giving positive meaning to a phrase once dripping with negativity.

Sanchez Celebrates in Foxborough, Now 1 Win From the Super Bowl.

“Same old Jets,” he said, “Back to the AFC Championship Game.  The only difference is, this time we plan on winning.”

It’s rare in sports that a team gets a shot at a do-over, but that’s exactly what awaits Gang Green this Sunday in Pittsburgh.  Just twelve months removed from their last shot at an AFC crown, the Jets defied the odds, backed up all the talk, and are once again just sixty minutes away from the Super Bowl.

It’s only the fourth time in their, at times, tortured past, that the Jets have advanced this deep into the playoffs.  They have only won the Conference Championship once, the same season they won their only Super Bowl, in January 1969.

That year, the legendary Joe Namath guaranteed they would win the Super Bowl, Ryan has repeatedly predicted the same outcome for this year’s squad.  Is there any reason to doubt him anymore?

In two seasons with the Jets, Ryan has transformed the culture within the organization and the mindset of its fan base.  His confidence is contagious, his personality is infectious.  He has delivered on every single thing he has promised to date, except one thing – a Super Bowl.

He can take another step towards cashing that check on Sunday at frosty Heinz Field.  It’s something this team shouldn’t take lightly, despite their overwhelming confidence.  Though it only took them one season to get back to the Title Game, there is no assurance they will ever return again.  Plus, with labor unrest, and a potential work stoppage in 2011, now is the time for Ryan to end the misery and capture the team’s first Lombardi Trophy in 42 years.

In order to get to Dallas, home of Super Bowl XLV,  the Jets will have to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the second time in a month.  It’s a tall task, but it’s a game they must win.  There are no moral victories for just getting back to the Title Game – not when your mission statement is a Super Bowl victory or bust.

Make no mistake about it, defeating the Patriots on Sunday was a great accomplishment, but there is no relief for Jets fans.  That won’t come until Mark Sanchez is picking green and white confetti out of his curly mane.

Back in August, during the first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, Ryan announced their goal in 2010 was to win the Super Bowl.  He then famously bellowed, “I want to lead the league in wins.”  Two more victories would accomplish both goals, a Title and a 15-5 overall record – good for most wins in the NFL this year.

Before then, the Same Old Jets are headed back to the AFC Championship Game.  The only difference is, this time they plan on winning.

It’s been 42 years in the making.  Get it done.

Just End The Suffering.

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Like Namath, Rex Ryan Intends To Keep His Promise

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/12/11

Joe Namath once guaranteed Super Bowl triumph, and delivered.

Rex Ryan pledged the same thing two years ago.  His quest continues Sunday in Foxboro against the Patriots in their AFC Divisional Playoff Game.

Rex Ryan Looks To Deliver a Title for the Jets

Forty-two years ago today, January 12, 1969, “Joe Willie” made good on his promise, defeating the Baltimore Colts16-7 in Super Bowl III.  Not since then have the Jets had a personality quite as colorful or brash.

Since his arrival in New York, prior to the 2009 season, Rex Ryan hasn’t been coy with his intentions.  He doesn’t just want to win a Super Bowl.  He plans on it.

During his introductory press conference, he assured Jets Nation of a pending trip to the White House following a title run.  This summer, he even hand signed an ESPN Tour Bus with an inscription of, “Soon to be Champs.” Ryan is ultra-confident and doesn’t care who he offends.

“I’m not apologizing,” he said this past August.  “I just know what’s going to happen.  My crystal ball, I’m seeing a Super Bowl trophy in there.  I could be wrong, but that’s what I see.  But every time I go to work, that’s what I look at.”

Ryan can thank Namath for the trophy he ogles over each day in Florham Park.  For forty-two years, that Lombardi Trophy has stood alone.  Ryan insists he is the green & white Messiah to add another to the collection.

He faces, perhaps, his biggest challenge this weekend.  Coming off of an embarrassing 45-3 Monday Night Football thrashing last month, Ryan knows this rematch with New England will not be easy.  However, he’ll tell anyone who will listen of his plans to pull off the upset and even out-coach the former HC of the NYJ, Bill Belichick.

His bluster might seem dumb, or even reckless on the surface, but Rex Haters must understand one thing:  he just doesn’t spew anything without purpose.

Right or wrong, and always controversial, Rex Ryan takes calculated risks with each bold statement he dangles to the media.  His intentions are almost always targeted at taking pressure off his players and coaches, and putting it squarely on his own shoulders.

It’s hard to argue with the results.  In two years, Ryan has posted an impressive 20-12 regular season record, made an appearance in the AFC Championship Game, and won a total of 3 playoff games (so far), more than any other Jets Head Coach in history.

Love him or hate him, Rex Ryan delivers.  If he can pull three more victories out of his Jets cap this year, and make good on his promise, he’ll own New York.

Just like “Joe Willie” did, forty-two years ago today.

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Jokers? Or Do Jets Have Ace Up Sleeve?

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/5/11

The New York Jets pushed all their chips to the center of the table this season.

It’s time for them to show their hand.

One year ago, a 5th seeded, 9-7 Jets team was playing with house money, only thirty minutes away from the Super Bowl.  Unable to protect a halftime lead, against the Colts, in the AFC Championship Game, the Jets were sent home to ponder what might have been and begin preparation for another run in 2010.

Mark Sanchez & The Jets Face The Colts This Saturday Night.

Ever since the blue and white confetti rained on their parade in Indianapolis last January, the Jets have done whatever it takes to get another shot in 2010.  With nothing in the NFL guaranteed, and a win-now mentality, the Jets decided to go all in.

For twelve months, Head Coach, Rex Ryan, told anyone who would listen about their pending Super Bowl plans.  He insisted his talented roster was better than the other 31 clubs.  Now it’s time to ante up.

Viewed as a bunch of jokers by others around the league, they solidified their secondary with aces like Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Poole, upgraded their pass rush with Jason Taylor, and added offensive sparks like Santonio Holmes and Ladianian Tomlinson.

With a bulls-eye on their backs, the team appeared on HBO’s Hard Knocks all summer long, and made headlines as often for their off-field shenanigans as they did for their on-field play this season.  At times, their performance in both places was not for the faint of heart.

Despite the drama, and non-stop chattiness, the rollercoaster ride netted them an impressive 11-5 record during the regular season – this time, good for a 6-seed in the AFC tournament, and the tall task of winning three straight road games to reach Super Bowl XLV.

Fittingly, the Jets open up the playoffs in the same place their last hand folded, Lucas Oil Stadium, against Indianapolis, the defending AFC king.  They will get the rematch they so greatly desired.  Will they be able to hold’em this time?

The Jets are going to have to get through a Murderer’s Row of quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and, more than likely, Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC if they want a shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.  The Jets believe they have their own stud quarterback in Mark Sanchez.

The Jets must do whatever it takes to cash in on this latest opportunity.  With an aging roster and a potential work stoppage in 2011 there is no guarantee they will have this chance again.  Now is the time for these Jets.

It’s been 42 years since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl Victory.  Rex Ryan’s been guaranteeing one for two straight years now.

The chips are in the center of the table.

Time to show their hand.

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New York Jets Fans Thankful, Hopeful This Holiday Season

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 11/24/10

Jets fans, be thankful, not satisfied.

There is a lot for Jets fans to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.  Gang Green is sitting atop the NFL with an 8-2 record, 3-0 in the AFC East, and possesses a never-say-die attitude.  Their quarterback is proving to be a trustworthy leader, their wide receivers can single-handedly change the outcome of a game, and their head coach has the bravado to lead this team to their first Super Bowl since 1969.

Jets QB, Mark Sanchez, Has High Expectations

As the New York Jets get ready to face the Cincinnati Bengals on Thanksgiving night, there is certainly a lot for Jets fans to be thankful for, but now is not the time for complacency.

Two short seasons ago, the Jets took a similar 8-3 record into the final five weeks of the regular season.  They won only one of those contests, finishing 9-7 and out of the playoff picture.  Last year, a 9-7 record got them all the way to the AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis.  It was an unexpected journey that ended one game prematurely, a missed opportunity.

The National Football League can be sobering for teams enjoying success one season, and fall flat the next.  So many factors affect a team’s ability to win games – injuries, scheduling, weather, off-the-field distractions, etc.  There are no promises a team on the rise will continue ascending towards greatness.

Teams have to take advantage of every situation that presents itself. With nothing guaranteed in the future, the 2010 Jets have an opportunity to make history over the next 2 months…the pieces are all in place.

Not since Joe Namath waggled his finger in the air have the Jets had a quarterback with this much moxie, and this much confidence.  In his sophomore year, Mark Sanchez has earned his “Sanchize” nickname, along with the trust of his teammates and coaches to lead, rather than just manage the offense.

Surrounding Sanchez is a suddenly explosive offense with enough weapons to set off a metal detector.  Imported receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards have been dominating for the Jets, carving up opposing defenses like a Thanksgiving turkey each week.  A two-pronged rushing attack, comprised of Shonn Greene and the legendary Ladainian Tomlinson, has been among the most effective in the league, running behind the most solid offensive line in football.

This holiday season, be thankful for the Jets’ aforementioned offensive talents.  Appreciate their consistently dominant defensive unit and confident head coach.  Be grateful for their last-minute heroics, week after week, producing the kind of heart-pounding adrenaline to snap anyone out of the deepest of tryptophan comas on Turkey Day.

But ask any player on that roster, and they will admit, they haven’t accomplished anything yet.  Players, along with long-suffering Jets fans, dream of the day when green and white confetti will rain from the sky, showering a newly-crowned World Champion Jets team.

The pieces are in place for 2010 to be that special season.  An 8-2 record after ten games is certainly something to be proud of, but don’t be satisfied.  An opportunity like the one that presents itself right now may never come around again.

If the Jets can capitalize, it would truly be something to be thankful for.

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It’s a Hard Knock Life…For Gang Green

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 3/25/10

Move over Orphan AnnieRex Ryan just registered for summer classes at the school of Hard Knocks.

This August, the New York Jets will be the latest team featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks, a documentary series produced in conjunction with NFL Films.  The novel reality show takes football fans behind closed doors inside an NFL locker room, giving them access to internal coaches meetings, practices, and players’ personal lives away from the field.

This summer, Rex Ryan’s players won’t be the only ones hanging on his every word.

The Jets will be the seventh team featured on the show that first featured aBaltimore Ravensteam, in 2001, with a feisty, loud defensive coach named…Rex Ryan.

This time, Ryan is running the show in New York.  He will most likely run the show on HBO too.  His Big Apple-sized personality is the perfect fit for reality television.  His bluster and quick-witted comments will keep viewers on their toes, plus, his recent lap-band surgery, and the eating challenges that lie ahead, adds a human element sidebar that should add to the intrigue.

Throw in a marketable, second-year franchise QB (Mark Sanchez), a trash-talking veteran linebacker (Bart Scott), arguably the best defensive player in the league – barring an extended holdout, (Darrelle Revis), a young stud running back (Shonn Greene), and a newly acquired, future first-ballot Hall of Famer (Ladainian Tomlinson), and the Jets should be must-see-TV this summer.

In addition, coming off a surprisingly successful run through the AFC Playoffs in 2009, the Jets will have a “Super Bowl or Bust” mentality this season as they leave their old home behind and prepare to open up a new, state-of-the-art Stadium in the Meadowlands.  It remains to be seen whether their inclusion on the show will distract them on the way to reaching their lofty goals.

It will certainly be a learning experience…

From the school of Hard Knocks.

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Script Flipped on Jets in AFC Title Game

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/26/10

Mark Sanchez stood at the podium, his playoff beard finally gone, like the Jets hopes of winning Super Bowl XLIV.  His “Wonderboy” T-Shirt…no where in sight, replaced now with a blank, white one, perhaps symbolic of the clean slate the New York Jets will have the next time they take the field in 2010.

Head Coach Rex Ryan

All the big wins down the stretch, the top ranked defense and running game, the bluster…all just a memory now.  That’s the way it goes in the NFL.  One day you’re playing in the Conference Championship Game, only sixty minutes from Super Sunday, and the next thing you know, you’re staring at a blank page, pen in hand, script unwritten.

Unfortunately for authors like Sanchez, Head Coach, Rex Ryan, and the rest of the Jets organization, it’s often difficult to stick to any script in this league.  There are always so many variables, unforeseen injuries, salary cap calamities, unfavorable schedules, and inclement weather that could get in the way.

Opportunities like the one the Jets just had are rare in the NFL.  Bright futures can dim rather quickly.  Players age, become free agents, or retire, and windows propped open by hope and promise are humbly slammed shut with little notice.

The 2010 Jets should be favored to win their division, and contend for a place in Super Bowl XLV.  It’s exactly what awaited the 1999 Jets after losing to Denver in the AFC Title Game the year prior.  That team, devastated by a week one Achilles tendon injury to quarterback Vinny Testaverde, failed to reach their Super goal.  So have the ten Jets teams since.

It took eleven years to get back to where they were in January 1999 – a halftime lead in the AFC Championship Game, and only thirty minutes from the Super Bowl.  This year, like 1999, they failed to score in the second half as the Indianapolis Colts took the game 30-17, and punched their ticket to Miami at the Jets’ expense.

Make no mistake about it though, the Jets did not lose this game in “Same Old Jets” fashion.  They were beaten by the better team, with the better quarterback.  There is no shame in the way this latest Jets team played.  They were resilient, positive, had great team chemistry, and captured the imaginations of every fan that bleeds green and white.  Ryan made everyone a believer in 2009.

In his final team meeting of the season, Ryan told his players to “wear their Jets stuff and be proud of it.”  Why shouldn’t they?  Ryan has created a new culture within this organization, an environment that players can thrive in, and one that is enticing for prized free agents to come be a part of.

Though there is no assurance of anything in 2010 and beyond, the Jets appear to have all the pieces in place to succeed – in this unpredictable league, that’s the best any franchise can hope for.  Gang Green is set up with a young, star quarterback, a fiery, crafty head coach, a powerful defense and running game, and a brand new stadium – all components that any NFL author would salivate at the chance to write into the script.

There was no storybook ending this year, and there is no guarantee there ever will be.  But the future appears bright and Jets fans will have to wait at least one more season for the next chapter in Jets history to be written.

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Jets Fans: No Time To Just Settle, Be Super!

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 1/19/10

The “house money” is all spent.  Moral victories no longer exist.  No, that’s all over now.  Complacency expired with the clock in San Diego.

Jets 17, Chargers 14.

Mark Sanchez Turf Collage

Get greedy Jets fans.  Gang Green is in the final four.  They are about to play in a game the franchise has only seen on three other occasions, 1968, 1982, and 1998.  The New York Jets…say it with me…are going to the AFC Championship Game and are only 60 minutes away from Super Bowl XLIV.  Believe it.

With that said, every fan who bleeds green and white should be thinking big, thinking about getting two more victories and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy amid a green and white confetti rain.  Reaching the AFC Title Game is a great achievement…no doubt.  But don’t settle here.  Don’t be satisfied with just a “great” season.  Dream of a “Super” season.  It’s now within reach.

Opportunities like these are so rare.  Teams come so close, fall just short, and then prepare for a future that may never come.  One season a franchise makes it to the Championship Game, and the next season their balloon of hopes and dreams pop like their quarterback’s Achilles tendon in week one (see Vinny & the Jets circa 1999).

There are so many variables in the NFL.  Teams battle devastating injuries, unfavorable schedules, inclement weather, a salary cap, and have to peak at the right time just to have a shot at a January run.  There are no guarantees in the NFL…well…other than Joe Willie’s pledge prior to Super Bowl III.

Namath’s magic occurred a generation ago, the 2009 Jets are trying to exorcise the demons and do something that no Jets team has done since that unforgettable day in January 1969.

This is no longer just a feel good story.  The Jets are in way too deep for that.  An appearance in the AFC Championship Game officially qualifies as “serious business.”  It’s an opportunity that may never come around again.  The New York Jets head into Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning and the Colts on Sunday at 3:00 PM.  A trip to Miami, and a place in history hangs in the balance.

No time like the present.  No guarantees for the future.  No turning back now.

Get greedy Jets fans.

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Torch in Sanchez’s Hands Now

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For The Official Steiner Sports Blog – 9/15/09

The torch has been passed.  Now, let’s see how far the kid can run with it.

Prior to making his first professional start, New York Jets rookie Quarterback, Mark Sanchez met up with the only man to ever lead the franchise to a Super Bowl – Joe Namath.  For over forty years now, long-time suffering Jets fans have savored Joe Willie’s performance in Super Bowl III, speaking glowingly about the iconic figure and his positive contribution to an otherwise abysmal team history.  Sunday at Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX, Namath informed Sanchez that it’s time to move on.

“…this isn’t about me anymore.  It’s about you,” he told Sanchez.

With that, a new era of New York Jets football began.  Jets 24, Texans 7.

Sanchez was confident and efficient, throwing for 272 yards including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chanci Stuckey.  He was masterful under pressure, converting 10 of 18 third downs.  He exhibited great mobility in the pocket, and excellent decision making throughout.  Sanchez’s play, coupled with a pair of big runs from Thomas Jones, and Rex Ryan’s“Ravenous” defensive scheme, left Jets fans giddy at what the future might bring.  His quick start was reminiscent of the way another former New York rookie began his storied career.

Thirteen years ago, with similar poise and passion to what Sanchez displayed yesterday, Derek Jeter wrote the first chapter of his legendary career.  Now the all-time Yankees hits leader, Derek Jeter began his 1996 rookie season in Cleveland with a home run and a pair of dazzling plays at short stop.  The sky was the limit that day, and for over a decade, Jeter has been as good as advertised.

He further solidified his legacy on Friday night by passing Lou Gehrig’s hits total.  On Sunday, the fiery kid from SoCal began writing his own legacy, chasing Broadway Joe along the way.

One game into “Matinee” Mark’s career, he looks up for the challenge…even if it was only one game.

“It isn’t fair to anyone to judge a young quarterback after one game,” Namath said.  “Even if it was a really good game…what I saw was a kid who was ready.”

The kid was ready, and so are Jets fans.

In 1996, the Yankees, with a new manager (Torre) and a new leader(Jeter), built on chemistry carried over from the previous regime to capture the team’s first title in 18 years.  It’s been over forty years without a Jets Super Bowl victory.  Could a new coach (Ryan) and a new leader (Sanchez) do the trick for Gang Green too?  Jets faithful burn for another title run – time will tell if Sanchez can light that fire with his new torch.

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