EAST RUTHERFORD (AP) — The New York Jets will soon get together to learn how to act like real men in a locker room where frat boy hilarity apparently reigns.
After Monday night’s debacle against Baltimore at the $1.6 billion New Meadowlands Stadium, it may be time to teach the team’s offense a few new tricks, too. Acting like real football players would be a good start.
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Good thing “Hard Knocks” has shut down for the season. Not even the most devoted Jets fans would want to relive what happened on a day that was supposed to deliver on Rex Ryan’s promises.
It began with the owner trying to make amends with a female television reporter who was leered at in the locker room. It ended with 78,127 fans filing out of a brand new stadium trying to take something positive out of a miserable night.
Outside of the fact they didn’t get hit by the lightning that forced the opening kick to be delayed, there wasn’t much there.
Yes, the defense will be good, even better when Darrelle Revis gets his legs under him. That’s Ryan’s specialty – other than talking, that is – so it better be good.
But you can’t win with an offense that is barely functional. And you’re certainly not going to win if your best offensive player continues to be – as it was on this night – an aging running back the San Diego Chargers discarded like last week’s trash.
For weeks now, Ryan and his merry band of pranksters had the NFL’s big stage all to themselves. They talked trash, acted big, and dared anyone in their way to do anything about it.
When it came time to actually perform, though, they were undisciplined, unprepared, and unable to do even the simplest things on the offensive side of the ball.
“It wasn’t our best day, but they earned it,” Ryan said. “They beat us probably in every statistical category there is except turnovers.”
Credit the Ravens’ punishing defense for some of that. When Ray Lewis and company come after you, even the most cohesive offenses can suddenly turn shaky.
But, like the new stadium, this team was supposed to be a lot better. Ryan kept promising everyone who would listen they would be, and a lot of people bought into it.
None of them, however, were wearing purple on this night. They knew an act when they saw one.
“I told him that the beast he’s created, he’s got to deal with,” said the Ravens’ Terrell Suggs, who played under Ryan when he was a defense coordinator in Baltimore. “All respect to him. I love him with all my heart, but they got to deal with us this year.”
The Jets also had to deal with a distraction worthy of a “Hard Knocks” episode all by itself. Ines Sainz, of Mexico’s TV Azteca, said on her Twitter account that she felt “very uncomfortable!” on Saturday when she went to the team’s locker room to interview quarterback Mark Sanchez and was greeted by catcalls from players.
By game day, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had gotten involved, and Jets owner Woody Johnson called Sainz to assure her it wouldn’t happen again. There were plans to sit the team down and teach them how to act properly when others were in the locker room, and Ryan had to answer questions about it after the game.
But that doesn’t explain the ineptness of an offense that gained just six first downs. It doesn’t account for Sanchez throwing for a mere 74 yards.
And it’s certainly no excuse for a team playing so undisciplined it was called for 10 penalties in the first half alone.
The penalties can be corrected. Despite all the love given Sanchez by Jets fans, though, the jury is still out on how good a quarterback he will be in only his second year in the NFL.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they now have a short week before facing a New England team that looked a lot like the Patriots of old in its opener. If they can’t fix their mistakes, they will suddenly be 0-2 with their next two games on the road.
Ryan understands there is a sense of urgency in a season that lasts only 16 games. He has to be concerned about the offense.
He said after the game that he has confidence in every man in the locker room. But this is a coach who apparently can’t even keep his players under control in the locker room.
Good things may eventually happen for the Jets. Good times may eventually come.
Suggs, though, was right. Ryan created the beast and he’s ultimately responsible for what becomes of it.
One thing is for sure after the events of the last few days: Now is the time to whip it into shape.
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