New York Jets Fans – No Middle Ground?

Scott Mason on the lack of rational thinking among New York Jets fans heading into the 2017 season

I hear voices. No, not voices in my head like a schizophrenic, but voice yelling and screaming about the 2017 New York Jets.

On one end, I am bombarded with people who think everything is a catastrophe.  Hackenberg sucks, Maccagnan is an idiot, Woody must sell, Bowles is worse than Kotite, season tickets cost too much, Sam Darnold is going to stay in school to avoid the Jets.

You get the idea.

Then, on the other side, I hear nothing but endless positivity.  We must see the process out, Hackenberg will shine, the wide receivers are all better than you think, Bowles isn’t getting a fair shake.

You see where I’m going with this, I’m sure.

Essentially, we have a large percentage of Jets fans divided into two camps, the Joe Benigno “Oh the Pain!” camp, where nothing is ever positive (this is, after all, a man who once complained when the Mets were in the World Series that he couldn’t fully enjoy it because the Wilpons would one day be too cheap to pay the Mets’ young pitchers) and the Joey Harrington “What?  Everything is great” camp.

And I’m starting to feel like the protagonist in Gerry Rafferty’s most famous tune, “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.

Here’s the problem: Both camps are crazy.

It is ok to want Christian Hackenberg to succeed but acknowledge that given the litany of bad tape that exists, success is unlikely. It is ok to note that the Jets offense is beyond anemic, with no proven playmakers, and a chance to be the worst in the NFL. It is ok to think that, given how little the current decision makers have proven thus far, the “plan” may not exactly be foolproof, and as a result, there is a strong possibility the Jets are not in the right hands to steer the ship in the right direction over the long haul.

It’s even ok to believe it would be best if – given the current circumstances – the Jets just “tank” the season and hope the team will be in position to land difference makers in the draft as a result.

This does not make you too negative, or not a real fan, it simply makes you somebody who understands reality.

Likewise, it is ok to believe that Maccagnan should be given patience, that some of the young players like McGuire, Hansen, Stewart, and Peake may develop into quality pieces, that Hackenberg can’t be eliminated until given a chance, or that rooting for your team to lose – even for supposedly positive reasons – is unnatural and that anything other than wanting your team to do as well as possible no matter what goes against everything a fan allegedly believes in.

This does not make you too positive, or delusional, rather, it makes you a fan who has faith and is willing to give the team a chance, even if they have had their hearts broken many times in the past by other players and regimes.

To be honest, I’m still not exactly sure how we got to the point where this has become so contentious.  I’ve seen people fighting over the idea of “tanking” as if everybody who takes the opposite position is a moron.  I’ve seen people going off on the media for pointing out obvious flaws of the Jets roster – flaws that any reasonable person can agree exist – as “bashing” the team. It’s all so silly and unnecessary.

Here’s the sad truth: As Jets fans, we are all stuck in this foxhole together, whether we like it or not.  Nobody has a monopoly on how to be a fan, and nobody should be delusional in a positive or negative direction. The Jets have a roster that is full of young, unproven players and the unit is likely to be very bad this season. It isn’t unreasonable to point this out.

Nor is it unreasonable to have some optimism about those young players and the long term rebuild plan. It may work, it may not. I have my own opinion on the most likely scenario. But being willing to see the plan through without constantly being negative about every single move the Jets make for no reason other than to just be negative doesn’t make you nuts.

It is fine to criticize the Jets when it is warranted, just as long as you praise them when they earn it.  It is also ok to be positive about the team, as long as you understand they have several legitimate weaknesses, and people who point those out aren’t always just being negative for negativity sake.

Or, you could just do what I’m doing: expect the worst, hope for the best, and just enjoy as much of the season as we can for as long as we have it.

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