Palladino: Sideline Emotions Show Jets’ Fight
‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
Rex Ryan knows from intra-squad sideline altercations.
His old man, Buddy, once tried to deck current Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride when both were Houston Oiler assistants.
What allegedly happened Sunday between tight end Matt Mulligan and Jets running backs coach Anthony Lynn didn’t rise to that kind of violence, according to Ryan. Though it’s still murky as to what triggered Mulligan’s show of emotion after he was flagged for a false start in Sunday’s 34-19 victory over the Redskins, we do know one thing.
It was a sign of competitiveness. And if it continues to spread throughout the team, the Jets may yet resurrect themselves into a playoff team.
They’re not there yet. With Oakland and Denver battling it out in the West at 7-5, both teams hold tiebreakers over the Jets. And either AFC North leader Baltimore or second-place Pittsburgh, both two games ahead of the Jets at 9-3, would appear to have the first wild card locked unless they completely fold in the final month.
Whatever the case, the Jets remain on the outside looking in at present. But if the fire that ignited Mulligan’s sideline rant continues, the Jets might just be able to jump right back into the thick of the postseason picture.
“I know how competitive everybody is and a lot of things happen in between the white lines on game day,” Ryan said Monday. “It‘s never a personal thing, even if things do happen. It’s not like getting punched in the face or something.
“Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s forgotten by now, even if there was. I don’t really know what went on, but I can tell you this: this football team, we’re focused, and we’ll be ready to play next week.”
The mini-fracas, broken up by tight end Dustin Keller and offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse, probably wasn’t a bad thing at all. The Jets were down 13-10 at the time — not a big margin, certainly, but enough to cause typical worry of a big green collapse.
But then the Jets found a way to get it done. Down 16-13 in the fourth, the Jets ripped off two touchdowns in a minute and seven seconds, starting with Santonio Holmes’ 30-yard touchdown catch and following with Shonn Greene’s 9-yard Wildcat run that followed Aaron Maybin’s strip-sack and Calvin Pace’s recovery at the Washington 9.
Mark Sanchez was energized. The defense was energized.
Even the special teams, which recorded its fourth fumbled kick in four games, was energized as Antonio Cromartie returned the Redskins’ onside kick for 17 yards to set up Greene’s final 25-yard touchdown run.
Who knows whether Mulligan’s sideline rant had anything to do with the second-half fire the Jets showed. After all, Mark Sanchez has a habit of bringing his team back late, as he showed against Buffalo last week.
But to quote Thomas Jefferson as he opined about a farmer’s uprising in Massachusetts, “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.”
It could be a good thing for the Jets, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. It’s hard to believe Ryan will allow it to.
Better that it creates a seething competitiveness throughout the ranks, coaches and players alike, as they head into a four-game season where every game becomes a must-win, starting with Kansas City on Sunday.
After all, it’s not like Mulligan tried to punch somebody in the nose.
What do you make of the Mulligan-Lynn mini fracas? Is “a little rebellion now and then” good for the Jets? Sound off below…