By Steve Lichtenstein
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Apparently there is a line that the New York Jets won’t cross.
Unemployed wide receiver Terrell Owens has been pitching his services through various media outlets — both traditional and social — with the Jets being his latest target. The Jets have said N-O to T.O.
I can understand why Owens would see the Jets as a perfect fit — here is a team crying out for an experienced receiver. The Jets are in free-fall, hoping to salvage what has been a nightmarish homestand on Sunday versus Indianapolis. Maybe they shouldn’t be so quick to judge.
Santonio Holmes, their only offensive player opponents had to take seriously, is out for the season with a foot injury. Considering how poorly the Jets coaching staff develops young players, I have no faith in the remaining cast, with the limited exception of Jeremy Kerley, who has contributed some big plays but is not an accomplished-enough route runner to be deemed a go-to guy.
Rookie Stephen Hill, who the Jets took in the second round to fill the starter’s role opposite Holmes, has done nothing since the Opening Day victory over Buffalo, sitting out the last two games with a hamstring injury. The Jets saw Hill’s size and speed and thought he could be another Al Toon. The scouting department should have looked closer at his hands and slim transcript from Georgia Tech, and should have been concerned that they were getting another Lam Jones.
The rest of the depth chart has not picked up the slack. Chaz Schilens has been the best of that bunch, but previous injuries seemed to have robbed him of his separation speed. Clyde Gates left Monday night’s loss to Houston with his arm in a sling. And as for Jason Hill, if that ridiculous comment while in Jacksonville last year that cornerback Darrelle Revis was “overhyped” didn’t make him enough of a pariah among Jets Nation, then surely his first-quarter drop of a Tim Tebow bomb on Monday should have converted anyone who had been in doubt.
The receiver situation was so dire on Monday that coach Rex Ryan told cornerback Antonio Cromartie to back up his strong preseason words and take a few snaps on offense. What the heck? Ryan’s already had a quarterback play tight end and a running back play defensive back — what’s another guy playing out of position? I guess Ryan thought Cromartie wasn’t getting enough of a workout chasing Andre Johnson all over the field for more than half the game.
So why are the Jets dismissing Owens so quickly? Are they sure he has nothing left in the tank? If he falters at a tryout, then they could make a reasonable determination.
Most teams would understandably steer clear of the extracurricular nonsense that seems to follow Owens at every stop. But these Jets? The team that brought in Plaxico Burress only a few months removed from the Oneida Correctional Facility? That traded for Braylon Edwards, a headache for authorities both on and off the field? And how about Holmes, whose rap sheet is not exactly clean and who may have quit in last season’s finale in Miami but remains team’s highest-paid offensive player?
No, the Jets under the triumvirate of owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan have courted distractions at every turn. And it’s not just about bringing in players with troubled pasts. They campaigned to be featured on the HBO Hard Knocks series. There were Ryan’s annual guarantees.
And then there was the Tim Tebow trade. Tebow may be a saint off the field, but just about everyone (except me) correctly predicted the mess that would ensue. In a common-sense world, Tebow would just be another backup quarterback, a player with a different skill set that could be useful in the way the Jets employed Ray Lucas and Brad Smith in the past.
Sadly, through no fault of Tebow, that’s just not the case, and the Jets were counting on it. Johnson wanted the publicity, erroneously thinking that this stunt would erase the memory of last season’s horrid finish amidst the New York Giants’ Super Bowl triumph.
Of course, there were consequences. Incumbent Mark Sanchez has not risen to the challenge, creating a quarterback controversy that will continue for the rest of the season or until one of them gets hurt.
So great, the 2-3 Jets — who have been denied a Super Bowl berth for over 40 years — get more ink than the 3-2, four-time Super Bowl Champion Giants. That’ll get the fans into the cars to overpay for parking and fill up those seats when the Jets are 4-8 in December!
So why not go all in? Bring Owens into the circus. Ryan can wear a ringmaster outfit on the sidelines, something the Jets could market in advance of Halloween. Set up three small rings on the sideline. Owens could ride in on a white horse. Sanchez and Tebow could duel for the starting job. Bart Scott could be a mime.
Unfortunately, those are not the rings that Jets fans have been waiting for all these years.
What do you think, Jets fans? Should Gang Green bite the bullet and bring in Terrell Owens? Offer your thoughts and comments in the section below…