By Jeff Capellini, WFAN..com
The problems that plague the New York Jets have become much bigger than guys who wear uniforms, blow whistles, sit in secret bunkers and write checks.
I’ve been following this franchise since the late 1970s, and while that may not make me part of the club that can actually sit back and relish the good ‘ole days of Joe Willie, I’ve certainly been on the ground floor with a hard hat on since the team’s other identity was created.
One that forces folks to contemplate other activities on Sundays.
I’ve seen, read and heard a lot in that time — the vast majority of it more than enough of an excuse to hit the bottle with regularity to numb the pain, if that’s your thing. OK, so I would wear one of those goofy beer-dispensing helmets. Hey, whatever works.
It’s in no way, shape or form fun to be a fan of this team. Well, it has been in spurts over the years, but trust me when I say those moments have been few and far between.
These days, supporting the Jets is like admitting that not all chick flicks are without some redeeming qualities. It’s like admitting that, yes, you have sat down with the wife for a few minutes to check out the utter stupidity on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey.” It’s even akin to sneaking a peek at the MTV VMAs or, perhaps, SpongeBob Squarepants, against one’s better judgment.
Supporting the Jets these days makes the man in all of us abandon a lot of our core principles and the woman in us, I would guess, seriously ask why we ever started this affair in the first place. And the majority of the time, regardless of our gender, we’re not even aware we’re doing it.
And Rex Ryan, contrary to popular opinion, is not at fault for all of it. He has morphed from the once lauded star of the show into a largely reviled bit player, perhaps just a catalyst or conduit to an alternate universe that features the Jets apparently doing everything wrong. Once there, the ball is fumbled and picked up, bounced off of someone’s rear end and picked up, and then lateraled repeatedly until it reaches a mythical end zone of doom.
It’s a daily occurrence.
That’s because the Jets’ galaxy is now filled with very angry souls, people without pride but loaded with prejudice. The world is ending daily. Blame must be cast down on someone. There must be a scapegoat. There must be someone who should face some kind of crazy. medieval torture device for their stupidity. Heads must roll. Blood must be spilt. A pound of flesh has to be exacted.
It’s totally cut-throat. It’s pathetic. It’s sad. And I have no idea how anyone puts up with it.
There are three culprits to blame — social media, reporters with agendas and fans not mature enough to realize social media is just a game and that reporters with agendas need to be ignored.
The amount of vile stuff that is uttered daily on Twitter is shocking. It’s like Ryan and others have committed war crimes. It’s utterly ridiculous and has forced people like myself to long for the days of Dick Enberg, Merlin Olsen, Don Criqui and rabbit ears, of reading about what happened the next day in the paper, of not caring about practices or press conferences.
Can I just have the damn injury report on the agate page and be done with it?!?
Lost in all the hatred is a truth: those who blame Rex for everything and want him out of here faster than it would take to hyperloop from Florham Park to East Rutherford have not considered what would happen if he is fired immediately, as one reporter recently demanded, or at the end of the season, as most everyone figures will be the case after the Jets struggle to get 4-5 wins.
Who is the alternative? There is no alternative. And I say this because the hating souls that make up the media and the impatient assassins that dominate the fan base won’t sit still long enough to allow anyone to simply do their jobs.
After last season’s underwhelming 6-10 showing, a lot of folks demanded Rex calm the heck down and just concentrate on coaching. From where I sit, he’s been trying for months to do that. But if certain crazy people fly off the handle over every little thing — in the preseason no less — how the heck is this guy expected to accomplish anything when the games really matter? It’s bad enough this team is 100 percent in rebuilding mode and currently doesn’t have a reliable quarterback at the center of the proceedings. You people, and you know who you are, expect a miracle, and it’s a flatly silly expectation.
Then there are those who miss the fat Rex, the guy who said whatever whenever he pleased. Well, it’s fairly obvious to me that Mad Rex Beyond Thunderdome can’t exactly do the thing he feels most comfortable doing if the Jets aren’t a very good team, which will probably be the case this season. You can’t demand Ryan be boisterous coming off two non-playoff seasons, especially when witnessing the cloak-and-dagger approach of new general manager John Idzik, a man who is harder to read than sanskrit.
And let’s not forget the media’s role in all this. Certain reporters won’t allow Rex to just be. Forget about him being exuberant or, God forbid, reserved.
So, really, this coach can’t win no matter what he does, leaving only what transpires in actual games as his proving ground. To be honest, that’s the only way he should be judged.
Rex was the guy who changed the culture of this downtrodden franchise back in 2009, and for two years the Jets were the NFL’s “it” team. It was a glorious time for their fans. But Ryan, through plenty of fault of his own and that of several others, lost his way.
But now he’s the only one who can restore order. I said before, what’s the alternative? If he’s eventually fired who is going to come here, considering the negativity that permeates every aspect of the new culture? Which modern day legend will be coaxed out of the booth or the fishing boat for millions upon millions of Woody Johnson’s dollars? Better question: considering the aggravation the media and fans cause, is there even a dollar amount that could get it done?
Which hot shot assistant would throw away his first real chance by coming here? Which successful college coach would leave the friendly confines of his university for a blind stab in the dark inside the shark-infested water of this side of New York?
They’d all be insane to even contemplate coaching this team, regardless of the monetary compensation attached
And, sadly, it’s not because this team isn’t fixable. The Jets with a reliable quarterback would challenge for a wild card this season. I honestly believe it.
But all the other nonsense that rules the Jets universe is a major turnoff. If Rex was to go they’d need an act of God to find someone brave enough to take the plunge, which is why Ryan being allowed to do his thing in an attempt to get the Jets back on track is really the only solution to this team’s current sad state.
The media won’t change. Social media will only get worse with the passing of time. More eyes and ears will tune in with each passing day, regardless of the technology used.
Rex has to get it done or the Jets will be doomed for a while. It’s that simple.
It’s no longer the Jets against the world; it’s Rex versus the volcano.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet