By Kristian Dyer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Enough already.
In a promo being run by the NFL Network for their national pre-game coverage this upcoming Sunday, analyst Sterling Sharpe said that “The 49ers head east to take on the dysfunctional New York ‘Football’ Jets.” To call the Jets “dysfunctional” over the past season…or two…or three…might have been accurate. But here and now, the Jets are as idyllic and tranquil as they come. They look nothing like dysfunction.
For sure, the Jets have had their fair share of bumps on the road since head coach Rex Ryan arrived in 2009, mixing in wins with the occasional scandal. There was the arrest of a star wide receiver two years ago, the appearance of a foot-fetish video purportedly involving Ryan and his wife and even a controversial holdout of the team’s star player, Darrelle Revis. Then, of course, there was the locker room splintering apart last season, leaving the Jets in full meltdown mode as they dropped the last three games of 2011 to finish the season 8-8.
But this year, the Jets have not only spoken about moving on from the toxicity of a season ago, but in their actions they’ve done just that.
This is a Jets team that hasn’t turned against each other, hasn’t bickered and hasn’t delved into chaos. There’s no sign of discontent and no rift on the horizon. Instead, this team is supporting each other through the highs of their Week 1 blowout win and the lows of being physically dominated the next week in Pittsburgh. It was a show of character on display in Miami when the Jets went down early and fought back, showing a resilience and tenacity that resulted in a 23-20 overtime win.
And there is nothing “dysfunctional” about the Jets response to losing Revis this week to what is likely a season-ending ACL tear. They talked about playing as a team and how everyone on the roster must chip in to help fill the void left behind by one of the game’s truly great individual players.
This isn’t the manic Jets of last year; not the rowdy “Animal House” team of two and three years ago that seemed always a bit too loose and walked too close to the edge. This is a Jets team on a mission, looking to atone from last year when they became unhinged.
Lessons have been learned from the debacle in 2011, and the Jets have that quiet voice of determination about them. They don’t seem rattled after tough losses like Pittsburgh and they didn’t seem to pump themselves up too much after either of their wins. There’s no inner fighting, no going behind a coach’s back to complain, no negativity about individual roles and no bickering in the media. These aren’t the “dysfunctional” Jets that the NFL Network and some of the media would like to see — the outlandish individuals and circus mentality that makes tremendous back page fodder and lets idiot journalists yap on the television and talk radio about a team run amuck.
The labeling of the Jets as anything but a true football team has to stop until proven otherwise.
This week more than ever, the Jets have banded together in the days after learning of the loss of Revis, the most important player on their team. More than ever, the Jets have talked about picking each other up and carrying on, as any good family would do.
And certainly not a dysfunctional one.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports. He can be followed on Twitter here.
Do you agree with the “dysfunctional” label, or do you think that the media goes after Gang Green unfairly? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…