By Jason Keidel
» More Columns
For nearly two years the Jets have steadily descended from the high clouds of a playoff perennial to a sour, dour group of blowhards who leave their best on the back page. Rex Ryan started the tradition of tongue teasers, and actually backed it up with consecutive trips to the AFC title game. Now it’s noise, his lost weight becoming an odd microcosm of group with little weight to throw around the NFL.
Antonio Cromartie joined the verbal flatulence, assuring us that Gang Green will make the playoffs. But the Jets are like that lighter you used for months and months, with a dulling flame reduced to just a blue knob that only burns your thumb.
No matter what we think about tone-deaf chorus sung by the Jets, we can agree that this Sunday in Seattle matters. This is a referendum on the power brokers, from Woody to Rex, and the pain the chain of command will feel should they drop this game. And drop it they should. Seattle, a gray, cold, cacophonous dungeon for visiting teams over the years, now has an equally ornery team.
If Mark Sanchez thought teams in the AFC East were tough, wait until he meets the Seahawks and their coma-inducing defense. Pete Carroll and pompoms will be pacing the sideline, holding a mirror up to Gang Green.
Seattle, with an enthusiastic coach who has his players’ ears and a rookie quarterback with a colorful future, reminds the Jets of themselves just four years ago. Amazing how a club with so much promise could crumble so quickly, with calls for the Sanchez’s hide and Mike Tannenbaum’s head. And even Rex Ryan is squeezing into the sights of a fan revolt.
If the Jets lay a dud in the Northwest, then it means Ryan no longer commands the team, and the term “player’s coach” will be a sad euphemism for “soft.” Jimmy Johnson, who has accomplished a lot more in college and the NFL than Ryan ever will, dissected the Dallas Cowboys this week. According to Johnson, the Cowboys, as rudderless as the Jets, have become too comfortable. Johnson says you get the best from your players with fear. And history fortifies the sentiment. Lombardi, Shula, Noll, Landry, and Parcells weren’t the cuddly kind. Neither are Mike Tomlin or Tom Coughlin.
It’s become pretty clear that the Cowboy dynasty of the 1990s was Johnson’s brainchild. Since the primary difference between then and now is the lack of his presence, the world can see that Jerry Jones is hardly Jerry Reese when plucking talent from the draft. Didn’t the Jets perform best when Parcells was cracking the whip? The best teams and the best coaches perform like their jobs depend on it each week. The Jets are too cozy and coddled, with no real threat of reprise after a bad game or a bad season.
The culture is rotten. And it starts at the crown, where the eternally distracted Woody Johnson is busy trading for celebrities and running Romney into the ground. But even the shampoo heir’s hair will spike after a 6-10 season and plunging ticket sales.
Players like Cromartie can run their gums and know Ryan has their back. But who will have Ryan’s back? If his Jets lose on Sunday, the pats could turn into stabs.
Is this Sunday’s game a turning point for Rex Ryan? Let us know below.