Lack of Discipline Looms Large Over New York Jets
Article by Double G Sports Jets Writer, Kevin Connor. Big win for Gang Green this week. The Jets hit all the right buttons in a game that held serious repercussions for the rest of the season. Now we can answer all the questions that loomed over the Jets in the early going: Yes, Mark Sanchez can throw the ball downfield; yes, Brian Schottenheimer has a brian in his head; yes, the secondary can handle a prolific passing attack. In short, the Jets have the horses to be the serious contenders we thought they would be. At least, they have that potential.
By: Kevin Connor
Big win for Gang Green this week. The Jets hit all the right buttons in a game that held serious repercussions for the rest of the season. Now we can answer all the questions that loomed over the Jets in the early going: Yes, Mark Sanchez can throw the ball downfield; yes, Brian Schottenheimer has a brian in his head; yes, the secondary can handle a prolific passing attack. In short, the Jets have the horses to be the serious contenders we thought they would be. At least, they have that potential.
Whether the Jets can actually get things done every week is still very much up in the air. We know they have talent. But the NFL in recent years is replete with examples of teams bursting with talent with baffle experts and fans alike year after year – most notably Tony Romo and the Cowboys, who are picked to go to the Super Bowl every year and have not yet come anywhere close. Why is this?
Because talent is a small part of a very large equation. You need execution. You need that old phrase that color commentators mercilessly hammer every week: mistake-free football. The Jets didn’t play it in Week 1 and it killed them. They overcame a few serious gaffes on Sunday to pull out a huge win, but teams that contend seriously always rise above the mistakes when it matters. As for the season unfolds, it’s becoming clear that this is going to be a serious issue for the Jets – one that could cost them dearly. But the killer is that the Jets’ mistakes aren’t really football mistakes. Fumbles, interceptions, missed blocks — these things happen. The Jets seem intent on making their difficulties as difficult as possible with a spate of bonehead, ego-driven errors.
In two games, the Jets have committed 20 penalties totaling 183 yards. Several of those were inexcusable — Edwards for taunting, Eric Smith for helmet-to-helmet, Kyle Wilson committing a preposterous defensive holding penalty on a 3-and-28. Smith’s penalty handed the Pats a touchdown; Wilson handed the Ravens a field goal. And then there are the off-field issues. Cromartie’s child support, Holmes’ suspension, and now Edwards’ DUI. The Jets’ problem is not one of skill; it is one of culture. And the blame lies with the man in charge.
Rex Ryan has proudly touted his smack-talking, ass-kicking, chest-beating brand of football since the day he arrived. So far, all he has done is take a team with low expectations to the AFC Championship Game and revamp them as serious conference contenders in the center spotlight. This, in itself, is not anything to resent. But how far can this bravado take the Jets before it backfires? The team is undisciplined both on the field and off. Ryan’s approach is exciting for us Jet fans who for so long have loomed in the Giants’ shadow, but, like the chess team member who is suddenly dating a cheerleader, we have to look past the excitement and ask: is this really going to work out in the end? How long will it be before Bart Scott is ejected in a key game for punching a running back in the face, and before we lose a wide receiver for a big divisional matchup because of a stupid off-the-field decision(Oh, we already lost two?). The Jets’ swagger is exciting, but it’s not the way to win in the NFL long-term.
Look at the coaches and teams that have won the Super Bowl in the last four years: Sean Payton and the Saints, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers, Tom Coughlin and the Giants, Tony Dungy and the Colts. These are not men known for their sound-bites. They are boring interviews, but their teams play methodical, disciplined football, with the same disposition as their respective coaches. How about all the guys that get picked on for their tirades in the Coors Light commercials? Jim Mora, Dennis Green, and (ugh) Herm Edwards. They’ve never won anything. Mike Singletary will be next on that list.
The Patriots are the dynasty of the 2000’s; is anyone more painfully stoic than Bill Belichick? “Bill, how do you feel about that fan’s attempt to punch your daughter in the face?”….”Well, it wasn’t what we were expecting, but we’ll look at the tape, cover it at practice, and prepare for next week.” That’s Belichick, every week. Can you imagine being this guy’s nephew at the family Christmas? Brutal. But Grumpy Uncle Bill and his sidekick quarterback have resisted the temptation to gloat in public throughout their tenures. They do not fuel the fire; the game does all the talking. How many other teams could quell a fitful Randy Moss so quickly? He spoke out for one week, and then he put it behind him. You think that has nothing to do with Belichick? It has everything to do with Belichick. He has changed personnel constantly in his time as the Pats’ coach, but everyone who comes in learns quickly to avoid dumb mistakes. Belichick even reigned in Rodney Harrison. That’s an accomplishment.
I like Rex Ryan a lot. I think he’s done a great job, but the next time the Jets breathe life into a team by committing a stupid penalty after stuffing them for three downs, it could cost them much more than seven points. Eric Smith’s ridiculous personal foul in yesterday’s game will soon be forgotten because the Jets won. But what if they lost by 4? What if that play cost the Jets a key game against their main divisional rival, and put them in an 0-2 hole? Now they face the AFC East’s 1st-place team without two of their best receivers because each can’t follow very basic off-field rules. Isn’t it time to just shut up and play football?
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