After a week filled with ridiculous circus-like sideshow drama, the Jets bizarre traveling show lands in St Louis for another must win Sunday. As the 3-6 Jets look to avoid another nail in the coffin in a season currently on life support, only Rex Ryan can reel in a team that is now being portrayed as jugglers, tricksters, and liars again. To do so, he must forget relying on a pre game speech, and go dominate offensive coordinator and current Rams OC, Brian Schottenheimer instead.
Since the Jets last left us on an actual playing field in Seattle, Jets fans have been privy to yet another uncanny weekday soap opera. One that has included, unnamed sources bashing Tim Tebow, one former Jet (Ladainian Tomlinson, now of the NFL Network) guessing aloud who the anonymous quotes belonged to (Antonio Cromartie and Bart Scott, both who deny the charge from their former teammate) an owner calling for a press conference to justify the signing of Tebow as a football decision (not one to sell jerseys, a theory most Jets fans have especially when considering how little Tebow has been implemented despite the shroud of secrecy his Wildcat package was treated with during the summer), a running back (Shonn Greene) backtracking hours after his own statement that a QB change might be a good thing, and a team that now believes the original “sources” were contrived by the Daily News simply for a story.
Those Gang Green sideshows are growing again. So are the shadowy voices. Both of whom combined to bring the Jets unity down in 2011. In a year that Ryan admitted after the final game, was one where he lost a feel for the locker room.
With self implosion staring the undermanned (and you can blame that on injuries, Mike Tannenbaum, the coaching staff’s inability to develop talent, or all of the above) Jets in the face, it is down to one man now. Rex Ryan. A coach with Jet bloodlines (father Buddy was architect of the Jets Super Bowl III defense) who upon taking over the team with the shattered psyche, one that starved for acceptance and an identity, single handedly changed the attitude of a franchise wallowing in self pity, from top to bottom in his first two seasons at the helm.
Ryan can continue to search for a leader to join him in Florham Park, but he will have a hard time finding it these days. Especially in QB Mark Sanchez, who is often times too busy moping on a sideline bench, daydreaming of a whole new WR corps, or a run game that can mask his spotty mechanics and decision making. Ryan can also rule out the recently emerging locker room force Cromartie (the defacto leader of the defense with Darrelle Revis out), now that “Cro” is embroiled in “Terrible Tim Gate.”
GM Mike Tannenbaum? After refusing to add veteran depth at receiver or RB, the strategy for Tanny lately has been “Hide, Deny, and Deflect.” Forget him for the time being too, Rex. Woody Johnson is tied up too we’re afraid. Fresh off of dropping millions of dollars and countless time spent on the unsuccessful Mitt Romney Presidential campaign, the Jets owner is too busy calling for press conferences that insure the signing of Tebow was done solely to improve the team. An ironic notion when you consider that Tebow, the only possible leader of men Ryan COULD call upon right now, barely plays at all.
Ryan has to simply look in the mirror. The only leader this team has, will be staring right back at him. Rex should kick things off in this final attempt to salvage the team by guiding it, through showing that the decision to show Brian Schottenheimer the door, was the right one. Not an easy trick to pull when you yourself (Jets) are the 30th ranked offense in football. Schottenheimer has taken a Rams offense that averaged 12 points a game an has helped to increase it to 18. However, this scoring “surge” hardly leaves St Loo in any “high powered”category.
The Jets defense showed last weekend, even in defeat (28-7 to the Seahawks), that it can slow down a great running back (Marshawn Lynch) and shake down a non elite quarterback (Russell Wilson). Ryan, a defensive genius in the eyes of many around the league, has to take the Rams Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson Daryl Roichardson RB tandem by the horns in the same way as Lynch and Wilson were treated for much of last week’s game.. Anything less, may shine an even greater circus spotlight on the current Jets mess and the notion that OC Tony Sparano was a better fit for the job.
Talk is cheap. You’d figure that the Jets would have learned that by now. Yet just last weeek Cromartie called the club a playoff team. Ryan later echoed his cornerback’s statement. Ryan will of course roll out the “us against the media” rallying speech before the game but in truth, the real statement must start on the field. Led by Ryan in out foxing Schotty, Jets Nation’s old friend and nemesis. Who while in New York, often times called plays that many diehards saw as more detrimental to the Jets than purposeful.
Leadership starts with action. Ryan’s is the final card in the deck the Jets can play before the house of cards crumbles, and he knows it.