We hear and see the complaints every day. From Twitter, to sports talk radio, to general conversations on the street: These Jets, despite two straight trips to the AFC championship game and a fast start in 2011, are still seen by some Jets fans with the glass half empty. A distinction must be made though, between being angry about a miserable football team and concerned over the details that turn a very good team into great.
The current NY Jets are not a flawless football team. They are a very good one, with some great players and units that can knock opponents out given the matchup. The Jets of today are a far cry from their predecessors. Guys who let windy days in Shea Stadium swirl wins into inexplicable losses. They are not the Jets of Giants stadium either, ones who turned hope by exit 16W into tragic endings that ruined once promising seasons.
Nowadays, Jets fans seem to be most unhappy with the fact that third year QB Mark Sanchez is not Tom Brady yet. That Shonn Greene has not become Walter Payton. That the Jets don’t score enough, or early enough. That the front four is not the Steel Curtain. What is missing from many of these arguments is the inclusion of one simple fact. The one that acknowledges that Rex’s Jets win. They win the trap games that the Same Old Jets would lose. They win on the road. They win in the playoffs. They come from behind. They win games they shouldn’t win, not vice versa. Yes, the Sanchez’s and Greene’s must improve, but they don’t have to wind up in Canton in order for the Jets to get where they want to go.
Sunday’s 32-3 win over Jacksonville was the perfect example of how some fans and media experts now expect artistry, not just W’s. The Jets led 15-3 at the half. During the halftime show, CBS’s Boomer Esiason noted first and foremost that Sanchez needed to pick up his play. An opinion that summed up much of what we read from Jets fans using social media at that time.
Boomer was right that Sanchez had made a few poor decisions, ruining some drives and overall field position. However, the score at the half wasn’t even THAT close. In fact, aside from the fear of a long Maurice Jones Drew run or two in the second half, or an unforgivable mistake by the Jets, the Jaguars lacked the firepower to win that game. A notion that was obvious from the start for those who dedicate Sundays to watching football. By the third quarter when the lead ballooned to 29-3, it should have come as no surprise to anyone.
The Jets are not perfect. In fact they are beatable, should certain elements combine within a game that leave them too far back to pull of a comeback that many now wait around expecting, as if it is some birthright. If you’ve lived through the tough times of the early 70’s, the late 80’s and the Kotite era though, you might see all of the critical talk that surrounds the Jets lately as overkill. If so, it would be hard to argue with you.
Being perfect is not a championship requirement. Winning consistently is. A Super Bowl can be won as a result of many different key strengths. Some have done it through the air. Others on the ground, or with a smothering defense. In the modern day NFL, the Jets and GM Mike Tannenbaum are doing THEIR winning via late game toughness, a plethora of All Pro players, and a flexible scheme based defense. That’s the Jet way. Their own way.
In the very least, the Jets have finally achieved what they have failed to do in the past as a franchise. They’ve put themselves in position to compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy on a yearly basis. They’ve also become interesting. This thanks to Rex Ryan.
The bar on the field has been raised, especially by Rex himself who links the notion of “Super Bowl ” and the “Jets” every chance he gets. His players have in turn, fed off his energy. Some have even become outspoken themselves. Owner Woody Johnson sees the theater in allowing players to express themselves and has chosen not to edit them as a result.
If Ryan’s boasting about titles, and the Jets new brash demeanor has helped cause expectations for the Jets to soar nationwide, it can at least be taken with a grain of salt by the fan base. Ryan has from the start, been part entertainer, part salesman ,while spending the majority of his time leading his teams to wins. The players love playing for him and speak openly about how much they love being a Jet. Imagine that.
We bet if you were to travel in a time machine back to ask fans of the past with bags over their heads if they’d be ok with the chance to win it all given the current culture of the Jets, they’d take it in a second. No, they’d take it in a nanosecond.
This Jets team has to be better. There is no question about it. We write about who must pick it up on the Jet Report page on a weekly basis. Still, the disapproval by many who bleed Green and White for what is happening now, and has transpired here over the past two years, is hard to understand. Maybe for those who are unhappy with HOW games are WON, it’s simply a case of forgetting truly how far this franchise, once a laughingstock, has come.
2-0 is a record that many talented Jets teams of the past would have failed to achieve. Something somehow, would have simply gotten in the way for those Jets clubs. Games that were supposed to be won on paper like Sunday’s matchup against the Jags, would have slipped away. Not for the “New” Jets though. When push comes to shove, they take care of business most of the time now. There is no reason to settle for being almost Super, but let’s not forget the fact that things have been pretty great around here lately either.