It all makes sense now.
As I watched Mark Sanchez give his post-game press conference in the aftermath of Sunday’s sloppy but exhilarating win over Buffalo, the third-year Jets quarterback never once even came close to cracking a smile. After such an emotional and important win, the quarterback exuded zero positive energy. He said, stone-faced, that he was “thrilled” with the win, but his body language suggested otherwise.
Sanchez was certainly being self-critical, as he was well aware that outside of two drives, he didn’t play well. But I also think he was still bristling, with a bruised ego, at the lack of support he and his teammates received from their supposed home crowd.
Jim Leonhard revealed today in an interview on WFAN that he and presumably a good number of his Jets teammates were miffed at the fact that their starting quarterback was booed by the MetLife Stadium faithful. No, not during the game (though that happened too). BEFORE the game. During pre-game introductions; the organized theatrics that are designed for the sole purpose of pumping up both the team and the fans for an important game.
And come to think of it, did Sanchez celebrate any one of his 4 touchdown passes on the day? There was an article earlier today noting that Sanchez was actually caught on camera in a noticeable rage after the go-ahead score, screaming at an unidentified coach/teammate.
It’s hard to articulate how infuriating, stupid, shortsighted, classless and wholly “Same Old Jets” this situation is. Yeah, I just dropped those three words.
Because this is what Jets fans did BEFORE Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the change of culture that those two men have brought about. Before Rex, the media and fans surrounding the Jets couldn’t wait for their athletes and coaches to fail so they could release the hounds. Unlike any other fan base in sports, it seems that Jets fans particularly relish these moments.
Most notably and recently, they did it to Chad Pennington, who was guilty only of playing hard and playing hurt. Congratulations, Jets fans. You ran Chad out of town (he went and won the division the next year, by the way). And in return, you got Kellen Clemens and Brett Favre.
But I digress. The point is that those days were supposed to be over. Those days are over. But that doesn’t mean the Jets are an invincible force. This year, they’re just another team scrapping for a playoff spot. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially after making it to two consecutive AFC Championship games.
So why are we not proud of this team? Why not revel in the excitement of meaningful football in November and December? Why not cheer as loud as possible to give the Jets a boost rather than kick them while they’re down?
Why do we show up at MetLife Stadium (about 50% of us at least 15 or 20 minutes late) and boo the starting quarterback before the game starts? What does this accomplish? And what does this say about the franchise?
Perhaps because of Rex’s blustery personality and endless Super Bowl guarantees, Jets fans expect the team to go 16-0 every year. Those are unreasonable expectations. As are the expectations that Mark Sanchez will become Peyton Manning overnight just because this is supposed to be the Magical Third NFL Season. Keep in mind that Ryan and Sanchez are probably the two biggest reasons that 2009-2011 have been three of the most successful years in Jets history, even in the midst of all the most recent struggles.
The bottom line is that Jets fans need to change their attitude, or they’re going to be at least partly responsible for returning that all too familiar toxic, losing atmosphere to East Rutherford, NJ.