By Jason Keidel
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Brian Schottenheimer and Santonio Holmes have become the dual faces of a doomed franchise. Both are popping in the media microwave and have become the dartboards of an ornery fan base since the ghastly collapse was completed in Miami. One man is considered clueless; the other is shameless.
The snow flurries you saw yesterday were the fruit from the rain dance done by the Jets’ brass, praying to the gridiron gods that the offensive coordinator will be hired as a head coach by a desperate owner who doesn’t own any game film of the 2011 Jets. Throw in an algorithm that allows the Jets to drop the guillotine on Holmes with no severe salary cap repercussions…all the better.
Holmes is, well, Holmes. I spent 2010 cursing my beloved black & gold after they essentially handed the former Super Bowl MVP to Gang Green for a MetroCard and two tickets to Lion King. But since the Steelers basically swapped the imploding Holmes for a faster, younger and way humbler Antonio Brown, I don’t feel so badly anymore. In fact, things generally go pretty well in Pittsburgh, where they win at least ten games every year and never show any rust on the chain of command, with just three head coaches since the year I was born (1969). Not so much with the Jets.
As a Jets fan, you have every right to blame Brian Schottenheimer for at least a fraction of the fractured season. The Jets’ offense in 2011 was about as explosive as the Mets’ offense will be in 2012. Despite their abundant health and wealth at their skill positions, the Jets’ offense had no identity, and it’s his responsibility to give them one.
Rex, Mike, and Woody would love to take Holmes and Schottenheimer on the Stugots for an hour or so, loading the boat with the proper accoutrements (chains, blades, cinder blocks, cement shoes, etc.). But we can’t forget who procured and paid these men, and even extended their contracts, making each a vocational anchor (since we’re on boating metaphors) around the entire team. And neither Rex Ryan nor Mike Tannenbaum took the hit for Holmes (whose situation the Jets call an “in-house” matter) or Schotty (whom they’re talking-up like he’s Tom Landry). One (or both) must be jettisoned if the Jets are to actually win one of those regal, Roman numerals Ryan keeps promising.
Then there was the infamous press conference, delivered with all the candor and clarity of a Rip Torn police video.
I couldn’t tell you what Tannenbaum said, because I don’t speak Hieroglyphics. The Jets’ GM, in such spin mode that there was a tornado warning in Northern New Jersey, spoke in nauseating, corporate clichés, and, I think, we’re supposed to believe the Jets made sound personnel picks because of Victor Cruz, who plays for the Giants.
Rex said his major malfeasance was stitching a “C” to the wrong jerseys, most notably to Holmes, who quit on the Jets long before the 2-minute warning in Miami. He said there were three measurements used to scout potential Jets – team, team, and team. Someone didn’t forward the memo to Santonio. Then Rex told us (again) how brilliant Brian Schottenheimer was, is, and will always be.
Would Eric Mangini get a wink and nod for this failure? I think not. And that’s because Mangini was as moody as his mentor, Bill Belichick, sans the Super Bowl rings. (Grumpy, grunting, monosyllabic responses are the prerogative of 13-3 coaches with a fistful of bling and Brady at QB.)
But you like Rex Ryan personally and hence you give him a free pass for his faux pas, taking personality over performance. Indeed, think about the con Rex pulled on the public. He guaranteed three Super Bowl titles, delivered none, and you love it. Since Jets fans expect such ineptitude, just a whiff of a big win smells like Robert Duvall’s Victory…
There were ten teams in the AFL in 1969, the year the Jets reached the Super Bowl, yet the Jets are the only one in the group who haven’t been there since. (The other nine have made a combined 29 appearances.) So perhaps it’s proper to say that Jets fans are so jaded, plunged into the bowels of self-loathing, that just talking a good game is like playing one.
That’s not to say the HC and the GM of the NYJ should be fired. But they’re officially on notice. Reaching two AFC title games bought them enough rope for 2011, but not enough room for a redux in 2012.
Making matters infinitely worse, their co-tenants are contending for a championship, even if for just one week. And if the Giants beat the Falcons this weekend, their season is a success, by any reasonable measure. Unlike Gang Green, Big Blue acts like they’ve been there before, because they have.
Ever notice that the teams (Pittsburgh, Patriots, Packers, etc.) that talk the least win the most? That’s a memo that needs to find its way into The Quotable Rex Ryan.
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