By Jason Keidel
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The Jets’ family foibles have devolved from comedic to cancerous. After the drubbing the Jets suffered against San Francisco — at home, no less — the game against Houston on Monday night is now a three-pronged referendum on the entire apparatus, from the shampoo owner to the general manager to the newly svelte and silent head coach.
This week a caller told WFAN’s Mike Francesa that the Jets’ biggest problem is the fragmented bond between owner, general manager and head coach. He’s right.
Woody Johnson, whose foot-in-mouth malady includes a recent comment about Mitt Romney (I have no interest in either candidate), now refers to Mark Sanchez as “the starting quarterback” — which reminds us of Bill Parcells’ moniker for Terrell Owens (“I don’t know the player that well”). And we know how well that relationship ended.
The fissure between Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan is so pronounced that it has slid from sidebar to spotlight. Ryan somehow lost his native hubris and, along with his missing girth, he literally looks like a coaching carcass at the dais. His defense is bleeding and his offense is missing. Now, myriad reports suggest that Johnson will soon bypass Tannenbaum and order Ryan to start Tim Tebow.
And why not?
Forgetting the poor aesthetics of skipping rank, it’s not the worst concept we’ve ever heard. That’s not to say it will work. (I was, for the record, against the trade for Tebow.) But can it get worse? For all his failings as a pocket passer, Tebow is a leader of men, as trite as that sounds. His presence, aura, (or whatever metaphysical noun you prefer), rubs off on players. Just look how spellbound violent veterans like Brian Dawkins were in his wake last year.
And since Sanchez has lost his football mojo, why not bench him for a spell? Even if Tebow bombs, Sanchez will have a moment to reflect and regroup for revenge, making him a martyr upon his return. He will be a victim of circumstance, the latest to fall to the bloodlust of myopic New York fans and media. He’ll be able to flash the sympathy card at all public appearances, and dance Gangnam Style back to the huddle if Tebow tanks.
Seeing an athlete on the hot seat is not new in New York. Now, with the messiah on the bench, the finish line seems very palpable for No. 6, who will find far more comfort in the manicured hands of Eva Longoria than anything he’ll hear from his bosses or the drunk, rabid throng surrounding him at MetLife Stadium, his “home.”
Tannenbaum traded upward, leapfrogging teams to get their franchise quarterback, yet he built no franchise around his beloved Sanchise. Besides Nick Mangold, name one marquee player protecting, running or receiving the ball from Sanchez.
Tannenbaum started like a savant, plucking studs like Mangold and Darrelle Revis from the draft, yet he’s since plunged in personnel moves over the last few years. Perhaps it’s the curse of Vernon Gholston.
It’s nearly impossible to feel sorry for a 26-year-old man who’s movie-star handsome, rich, famous, lives in New York City and plays quarterback for the Jets. But he has gotten the shaft. As I’ve said in this spot, you can’t go from savior to stiff in 18 months in a vacuum.
It’s quite understandable if the former golden boy has one eye on the play clock and the other on the countdown to his replacement. As a very wise man once told me, “Handle your business, or someone will be appointed to handle it for you.”
That is true in all ways. Sanchez, despite the inherent handicap of a talent-starved offense, had to do more.
Monday is a quintessential trap game for Houston. I don’t buy that the Texans are suddenly a Super Bowl lock after years of disappointment. (And Matt Schaub’s next big playoff game will be his first.) The Texans are a nice team, and certainly superior to the Jets, but talent can be conquered by temerity. That’s what the Jets need Monday. And if Sanchez doesn’t have it, maybe Tebow does.
Who is most to blame for where the Jets are sitting right now? Woody, Mr. T or Rex? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…