By Jason Keidel
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No weekend could serve as a better microcosm than Thanksgiving just did, italicizing the clashing narratives of our local teams.
The Jets played New England like they couldn’t wait to hit Best Buy for Black Friday sales. The Giants played Green Bay like the football franchise nonpareil they have been the last few years.
All the calls of the Giants’ demise were wildly premature, as were the amateur diagnoses of Eli Manning, from dead arm to wet brain.
When the Giants are on their game, they are the best team on the planet. Ask Green Bay. Ask San Francisco. Ask New England. (My beloved black and gold, who can’t beat Cleveland, somehow stole a win from MetLife. But that was an aberration.)
The variable for the Giants is their devotion to dominance beyond the inherent hurdles of complacency, injury, and being equal parts predator and prey as defending champs, winning is a habitual endeavor, despite their two jagged paths to the Super Bowl since 2007.
Squeaking into the playoffs and getting white-hot in January is not a template the Giants should follow this year, particularly with the NFC chest-deep in talent. The Falcons, 49ers, Bears, and even the Packers could wind up with better records than the Giants. To ask Big Blue to once again whack through the forest to the Super Bowl on the road, doesn’t spell repeat champions.
Thus the Giants must finish this season strong, with at least 11 wins and a home game or two to grease their path to a fifth Lombardi Trophy.
Mike Francesa, among many, has said that the Jets’ wretched performance at home, with the nation watching in horror while regurgitating turkey from ocean to ocean, is the kind of game that gets folks fired. Agreed.
But it won’t, which speaks to the collective incompetence infecting the Jets, a systemic sickness to which I referred in a column last week. Woody Johnson, despite his recent assertions that he lives and dies each week with wins and losses, has repeatedly acted like an owner with one eye on QB ratings and the other on Q ratings.
And the Jets have gotten exponentially worse since their surprising run to consecutive AFC title games – which, it’s essential to note, was done largely with players not picked by Rex Ryan. Since the hefty, haughty head coach began to pick his personnel, the talent pool has shriveled into a puddle. And despite the tornadic debate over Tim Tebow’s impact on the team – which has been exaggerated by both sides of the argument – Ryan could appease an appalled fan base with one swift decision.
Start the man. If not this weekend, then whenever his tender ribs warrant.
Alex Smith had the 49ers a whisker from winning the NFC last year, yet Jim Harbaugh had no problem benching him for a younger, faster QB with a howitzer for an arm. But Rex Ryan, who crashed into New York City like an asteroid, with declarations of dominance and promises of a grip-and-grin with Barack Obama, doesn’t have the stones to start Tim Tebow. Cracked ribs pale in comparison to Mark Sanchez’s ruptured soul.
Promoting Tebow would serve several positive purposes. First, it’s a change of pace for a team that is decidedly descending. Second, It could sell some of the swaths of empty seats the Jets have been so desperate to unload. Third, it’s interesting to see how the team will react to a man who has never lacked confidence, a commodity Mark Sanchez has in very low supply. Fourth, it would be fascinating to find out how the cowardly, anonymous snipers who called Tebow terrible will play for the very man they trashed. Even selfishly, it feeds Gang Green’s hunger for back-page eminence.
For a team that for too long has found solace in second place, inserting someone of Tebow’s cultural gravitas is pretty facile and fetches the bold ink the owner covets. So why hasn’t it happened? Simply, some dysfunctions are inexplicable and incurable. Nothing is assured around the Jets except losing. It’s only a matter of how, not how long.
It is quite startling that two teams can share a sport, a state, and even a building and still be so different, so divergent. They can change the name from Giants Stadium to MetLife, but the building is Big Blue’s domain. And there’s no reason or season in sight that will change the altitude or attitude of our two football clubs.
Feel free to email me: Keidel.Jason@gmail.com
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