By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork.com
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — In case you haven’t noticed, I really enjoy writing this column. It fills me with a sense of purpose professionally that goes beyond what I do when I’m in the office. The beauty of writing about the Jets from home is my distraction level is often quite manageable.
Not today, though, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the seemingly never ending requests for juice.
I should have written this column on Monday. I had planned to do it for weeks, but the fans’ momentum was rolling along like an 18-wheeler carrying fireworks and I didn’t want to accidentally light a fuse that would cause irreparable harm to both my reputation and the fan base’s utter — and baseless — joy of being 0-0 with four-plus months of football to play. I figured I’d take a wait-and-see approach.
Well, that didn’t take long.
I, like the 80,000 at the new Meadowlands Stadium and the millions watching around the globe, waited patiently Monday night for the Jets to do something. What I ended up seeing wasn’t overly surprising.
But don’t tell that to the thousands of so-called “fans” in the stadium, and on Twitter, Facebook and various news sites.
Did you honestly think this season was going to be a walk in the park? What joker among you really was convinced the Jets were going 16-0?
Did you not see the preseason?
Weeks ago I wanted to write that no matter what the Jets do in 2010 the season will NEVER live up to the advanced hype, even if the team somehow wins the Super Bowl. There’s no way it can. The expectations are so ridiculous, so outlandish, it’s like thousands of people have become instantly brainwashed into believing the Jets are the 1985 Chicago Bears.
As you now know, they aren’t.
This thing got way out of control the second the Jets were chosen for HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” Now, don’t get me wrong, I was in favor of the Jets getting their own show. I liked the idea of them truly emerging from the Giants’ shadow, if only for the sake of partially scripted cheap thrills on a high definition television.
But what I didn’t like was the false sense of security the show created. It’s as if a good percentage of people saw the show for five weeks and figured this thing was in the bag. They became enamored with the Hollywood-esque sex appeal and forgot that at the end of the day all of the ratings in the world would not, under any circumstances, correlate to wins on the field.
Then the Jets finally played a game that mattered — and, of course, lost, 10-9 to the Baltimore Ravens.
What followed was the type of reaction that further cemented in my mind why the rest of the fans across the NFL think Jets Nation is an absolute joke, a collection of misfits who incessantly whine about everything.
The stupidity was endless. I saw tweets comparing Rex Ryan to Rich Kotite, Mark Sanchez to Browning Nagle, Shonn Greene to Blair Thomas and I suspect stupidity like that will continue all week.
You can’t make it up.
Suddenly, this team held in such high regard by scores of people just three hours earlier, was, of course, destined to be 7-9. It’s laughable. It screams of no faith. It causes the true faithful to hide under their desks and does nothing but fuel the haters.
On that subject, every Jets fan alive right now is going to have to take their medicine for the duration. You have no choice. Many screamed day in and day out how the Jets needed to “walk the walk” now that they have “talked the talk.” Well, look in the mirror. Many of you bought into the nonsense hook, line and sinker. And to those of you who kept an even keel, I feel for you because you are now guilty by association. That stinks, but them’s the breaks.
I am being careful here not to paint the weak minded with the same brush. I do realize in many instances frustration was talking and I do know the Jets’ bandwagon has more members than Justin Bieber’s Twitter legion. But a lot of people I have grown to respect over the last year were guilty Monday night and early Tuesday morning of throwing their common sense and, worse, their allegiance, out the window. Many of the same people who had nothing but positive things to say about the Jets’ prospects for 2010 did the type of heel turn that would make fans of Hulk Hogan circa the NWO days sit there in astonishment.
Now, did the Jets lay an egg? That depends on your perspective, which in this case, for a lot of you, is suspect at best.
I like to believe the Jets were beaten by a better team Monday night, a team with a more seasoned quarterback and one that is now and has always been more disciplined. The Ravens are simply further along in the process. They have been a winning franchise for years, not just a team coming off a 9-7 season filled with more gifts than a baby shower.
The Jets like to talk about their individuality and how it adds to the team dynamic, but Ryan has to take a hit here because there was simply no excuse for Greene, among others, not showing up focused. Should he have been benched? Yes, but only after he dropped that screen pass with the whole field in front of him in the second half. That screamed complacency. I mean, everyone fumbles from time to time.
Dustin Keller had a game to forget as well. Put out of your mind for a second the fact that Ray Lewis knocked him back to his infancy and focus instead on Keller running a short route on fourth down during a possession that still, even after all that we witnessed, could have ended with a Jets win. How many times have we seen that? Too many to count.
But other than the failed exploits of Greene and Keller, the players as a whole shouldn’t take a bullet for this one. Ryan and his coaches did a terrible job of mentally preparing this team and failed to have the least bit of faith in certain philosophies, especially when things really started to go south.
For example, everyone, and I mean everyone, fears Mark Sanchez on some level. Well, on Monday night you didn’t have to worry about him at all because offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer slapped on the reins. How many shots did he take down field against what was a battered and bruised Ravens secondary? I think you could count on a Martian’s hand. “Checkdown” Mark was in full glory. Now not having Santonio Holmes out there certainly disrupted the flow of what the Jets see as the blueprint for the future, but Schottenheimer has been under fire for this type of play-calling before.
The Jets’ defense was shot by the fourth quarter because the offense mustered just six first downs. I realize “ground and pound” is this team’s MO, but there was no attempt to attain balance. Only LaDainian Tomlinson showed up on offense. This fact is indisputable.
Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine deserve the vast majority of the blame for the 14 penalties for 125 yards. Though it will be successful, they have made their own bed with this relentless blitzing scheme. Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie were picked apart by Joe Flacco. The flags on third down were extremely crucial because they not only allowed the Ravens to keep the ball, they kept Sanchez and Co. from developing any cohesiveness on offense. They simply couldn’t get on the damn field. I mean, the Ravens owned a 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession.
Back to the fans. I read countless comments on how the smashmouth Ravens offense is nothing like what the Jets will see down the road. This may be true. The Patriots may force Wilson and Cromartie into early retirement on Sunday. But know this about the Ravens: Flacco has been spoken of as a quarterback on the cusp of greatness. You see some of those back-shoulder throws? Most any defensive back not named Darrelle Revis would have had trouble stopping him.
In addition, these Ravens receivers are not the nameless and faceless of the past. Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are savvy veterans with serious ability, especially against single coverage, as was the case all Monday night because the Jets kept bringing the house.
But a good percentage of the fans failed to acknowledge these facts. They instead turned around and said, “Hey Rex, how’s that goddamed snack tasting right about now?” You’d think they never rooted for this team in the first place.
Many fans have abandoned ship, but because there is no checks and balances system in fandom will be allowed to jump back on at any time without fear of reprisal. There should be a law against this. In fact, I think I’ll make one and enforce it on Twitter. You know who you are so be warned.
The Jets still have 15 games to play, and I suspect they will win at least 10 of them. You call yourself a fan? Well, it’s time you start behaving like one. The rest of us can live with angst and agita. It’s only natural to get annoyed, but do so within reason.
I realize it’s an alien concept for many, but think things through before you tweet. You’re giving the rest of us a headache.
And you are embarrassing yourselves.