Palladino: Jets Need Thicker Skin
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‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
Late in a 17-13 loss to Buffalo on Dec. 15, 1990, Phil Simms lay on the field with what was later determined a broken foot.
For perhaps the first time that season, Simms heard raucous cheers from the Giants Stadium crowd. But he wasn’t uplifted, because the crowd was really yelling for backup Jeff Hostetler, delighted that the struggling Simms was now out of the picture.
We know the rest of the story. Hostetler took them all the way to the Lombardi Trophy with an unlikely win over those same Bills. The point here is that the Giants’ continued success didn’t make the Hostetler cheers that day any more tasteful. To cheer because a player went down remains as disgraceful today as it was back then.
But you know what? Those Giants shook off the fans and went about their business with their mouths closed and eyes focused on the job at hand. They didn’t grip about it. There was no whining, even from the embattled starting quarterback.
All of this brings us to today, as Mark Sanchez’ teammates have rallied around their inconsistent quarterback concerning the “unfair” treatment MetLife Stadium fans have accorded him for, well, being Sanchez.
The message here? Grow up, guys. Sanchez is supposed to be a big boy. Let the fans boo, even in the pre-game introductions as they did last Sunday in prelude to their life-and-death struggle against an undermanned Bills squad. Let them tear the joint down if that’s how they want to react to the dumb interceptions and errant throws their franchise quarterback is so prone to making.
You don’t circle the wagons when that happens. You shut up, concentrate a little more, work a little harder, and get things straightened out.
Sanchez doesn’t need Jim Leonhard to defend him, especially after he nearly proved the crowd right in a perfectly horrible 8-for-20, 66-yard passing effort that was saved only by his first two of a career-high four touchdown passes in the second quarter.
Do that against Washington, and the 4-7 Redskins might just muster enough offense behind career underachiever Rex Grossman to overcome whatever Sanchez does in the second half. Keep in mind, the Redskins average only 16.6 points per game, 28th in the league.
If the Jets blow this one, Sanchez and company will deserve every bit of the booing that will occur when they arrive back home next week for Kansas City.
It’s just life in the big city. But that’s how the Jets have always handled things. Such a difference from their stadium co-inhabitants. When Brandon Jacobs stupidly opened his mouth about mistreatment from the fans, coach Tom Coughlin basically said, “Hey, start making plays and the booing will stop.”
From his teammates? Silence. Appropriate silence.
The only talking came from Antrel Rolle, who admitted he had a private, measured sitdown with Jacobs. Even the emotional, opinionated Rolle knew enough that battling the fans when you’re playing bad football is a no-win situation.
Phil Simms and his championship teammates learned that a few football generations back.
At least Sanchez isn’t hearing it while laying on the field with a busted foot.
Did Sanchez’s teammates start a fight they can’t win? Be heard in the comments below…