Balancing the Hype Vs. Hate

Florham Park, N.J.- The Jets have been one of, if not the most talked about teams this offseason and as with anything that gets a lot of exposure, people are getting sick of hearing about them.

Really, it’s only natural. Who hasn’t, at point in their life, heard a song they liked only to grow to inexplicably despise the song after being over exposed to it? At first, you enjoy the song, but before you know it your ready to hit the eject button and send yourself through your sunroof as soon as the song comes on the radio, just so you don’t have to hear that stupid song anymore.

Everyone knows this feeling, and to casual fans of the NFL or any fans of teams besides the Jets, this analogy perfectly sums up their feelings for the Jets.

Rex Ryan say it's him, not his players doing the talking and suggests the pressure is on him.

Dungy criticized Ryan for his vulgar language (vulgar language in an NFL setting being broadcast on HBO after a show about the tawdry sex lives of vampires mind you), Dungy is the NFL’s version of the Dalai Lama, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more respected person in the NFL world. Terry Bradshaw and other members of the media have also attacked the Jets brash style. It’s understandable though, after all this early in the season sometimes they need to generate their own story lines to talk about, but players that are still playing should look themselves, and the league as a whole, in the mirror before talking.

Many active players are criticizing Ryan and his team for talking too much without having done anything yet. Obviously the Jets got a different memo than the rest of the league, you don’t have to have won a Super Bowl to believe you can win a Super Bowl.

Keith Brooking, linebacker of the Cowboys and former Falcon, said, “I’m not a big fan of all that chatter. Obviously you have to have confidence, you have to have a bit of a swagger in this league to be successful, but, I mean, you’ll get humbled real quick in this league talking like that.” Brooking continued saying, “Especially, when, what have you really done in the full scheme of things? — you went to the AFC Championship game. I’m a show-me guy, before you go out there and talk the smack like their talkin’ it. But to each his own; everybody’s got a boat and that boat’s gotta float, I guess, so if that’s the way he wants to do it, that’s fine.”

Okay then. If this came from someone with multiple rings, then fair enough, the point has some merit, but only if the one saying it has some clout. Tom Brady has that clout and he sent some shots the Jets way as well, but first off, he has earned the right just look at his rings, second, all he said was he hates the Jets. Good he should hate the Jets and the Jets hate him right back, just like it should be.

Keith Brooking, well most people had to read his quote and laugh while asking themselves, what exactly has Brooking done to earn the right to decide who can and can’t talk? After all the Cowboys have had their share of high expectations these past few years and all they have is one playoff win in the past decade and he is talking? The crack research team here at JetsInsider.com did some digging and found out something interesting, the conference championship is indeed making it further than a second round playoff loss, add the embarassing way the Cowboys played last night and it’s fairly obvious Brooking should be paying a little more attention to his own team.

And really that’s the theme of this article, people can have opinions on the Jets and how they conduct themselves, after all everyone is entitled to an opinion, no matter how wrong it may or may not be.

Having an opinion is one thing, going out of your way to blast the Jets, that just seems desperate.

If you don’t like them or the way they are conducting themselves fine, but keep it to yourself and worry about your team, unless the Jets are on your upcoming schedule you shouldn’t be thinking about them at all. If they are on your schedule and you believe they are talking too much, then you shouldn’t be trash-talking back, you should be looking to shut them up with your play and if you succeed then you can talk all you want.

Which leads to a perfect segue to talk about the hypocrisy and irony of Ray Lewis’ comments about the Jets. It’s not as if Lewis doesn’t raise somevalid points, it’s the way he delivered those points that was so ironic. To trash-talk a team for trash-talking, seems a bit redundant and honestly confusing.

One of the comments Lewis made, is being made by many others as well, Lewis said, “The only danger it can be is writing the check that you can’t cash. Rex can talk all he wants to. Rex isn’t putting on pads, so that’s pressure on his players. If it’s pressure and his players respond to that then let them respond. At the same time, you put that bulls-eye on your team’s head They’re doing all this talking. They’re in the Super Bowl. Do what you do. Come Monday night no matter what you do, the whistle has got to blow and somebody has to get hit.”

Ryan is aware of this school of thought, but had this to say in response, “My players haven’t made those comments. I’ve made those comments. The pressure is on me and not on our players. I would disagree. It’s on me. If it doesn’t work out the way I think it will work out, then who is it going to be on? It’s going to be on one person and that’s going to be on me, not on our team. I would disagree there. If you want to win, you ought to be man enough to stand up there and say we expect to win. I’ve got news for you – we expect to win this week, next week and every week. Now, does it happen? No, it doesn’t happen all the time, but we expect to win. That’s how we approach every game.”

It seems Ryan also has some valid points. If the Jets don’t live up to their own lofty expectations this year, who is the blame going to fall on? Darrelle Revis and Mark Sanchez aren’t going to get fired within the next couple of years if they don’t win, it will be Ryan falling on the sword. It seems logical that Ryan is actually trying to remove the pressure from his players and put it on his own shoulders, which is something that is usually admired.

Lewis was also critical of Sanchez (the consensus biggest question mark on this Jets team) saying, “We don’t even have to guess. All we have to do is look at the film. He struggles a lot when he has to throw the ball a lot. That’s just not his forte. It’s not their team’s thing. You have to grasp the team concept. If you don’t grasp their team concept (and) worry about Sanchez trying to grow, then they beat you by simply running the ball. You look at both championship games last year, third-down and eight, third-down and nine, they’re running the ball (and) picking up first downs.”

After hearing this comment Braylon Edwards offered this reply, “Maybe if (Ray) was looking at film of Mark from last season he could be onto something, but if he (was) paying attention to this preseason, he’s sadly mistaken.”

Which again segues perfectly into the strengths vs. weaknesses of this Jets team and things to look for, not only tonight, but throughout the entire season. Because after all is said and done, it won’t matter how much the Jets talk or don’t talk it will come down to are they good enough?

Possible Weakness

Let’s start with the obvious and that is, can Sanchez take the leap in his second year to lead this team to the promise land? We’ve seen great defensive teams who can run the ball at will, while having a less than average quarterback win the Super Bowl before, Lewis should be aware of this phenomenon, nobody is expecting Trent Dilfer to get any Hall-of-Fame votes.

Those teams won with their quarterback’s managing the game and limiting turnovers, which of course wasn’t Sanchez’s strong suit last year. Last year once he broke the huddle he, and everyone in the stadium knew where he was throwing the ball as he would stare down his receiver from the snap. This year he seems to grasp the concept of reads and check-downs and the addition of L.T. will make this transition that much easier on him.

Sanchez looked confident and sharp throughout training camp, which yes is just training camp, but ask the coaching staff and they will tell you he is light years ahead of where he was this time last year. Having Edwards for an entire season and offseason and adding L.T. and Santonio Holmes gives Sanchez many more options to work with and he should feel much more comfortable with what is expected of him.

If the Jets’ running game is anywhere near as productive as last year it’s hard to imagine Sanchez not enjoying a more successful year, hard to imagine but not impossible. The sophomore season for a quarterback is often unpredictable and while the tools maybe in place for Sanchez to take that next step, opposing defenses are going to make him prove he can handle it before they back off the run and respect his arm.

Which leads to potential weakness number two. The Jets took some heat for taking the gamble of letting guard Alan Faneca go in the offseason. People questioned removing the multiple All-Pro from one of the best offensive lines in football, but people who watched that line closely last year (You better believe that includes Ryan and Tannenbaum) saw Faneca as the weak link at this stage in his career. Faneca would get beat on plays he never would have got beat on just three years ago and he wasn’t the dominating force that his name has become attached to. So the Jets made the move to get younger (and cheaper of course) and they feel confident Matt Slauson can slide right in and be as productive if not more than Faneca. If the Jets are right, there is no reason to worry, if they are wrong well they will have some explaining to do at seasons end.

Strengths

In case you haven’t heard the Jets’ had the number one ranked defense in the NFL last year and they managed to improve themselves significantly, on paper at least, in the offseason.

Already equipped with a great secondary they traded for former All-Pro corner Antonio Cromartie and spent their first-round draft pick on cornerback Kyle Wilson. That’s three quality cornerback’s who could all be the number one corner of other teams.

Cromartie’s play slipped the last few years in San Diego because of injuries and a switch in defensive schemes that didn’t allow him to utilize his unique skill set in the best way possible. Ryan’s defensive game-planning is based off of what unique skills each player on the field has, and with Cromartie having to cover the other teams number two receiver quarterbacks are going to learn to shy away from throwing the ball anywhere near those freak spider length arms of his.

Out is safety Kerry Rhodes, who played great as a rookie, but it seemed he got too caught-up in his own Hollywood image to play consistent and aggressive. Enter Brodney Pool a player Ryan targeted specifically for his aggressive nature.

Kris Jenkins is back and healthy. That should be enough in itself, but add to the fact he has lost a noticeable amount of weight and is moving faster and as strong as ever, combined with the improvements he has made with his technique and as Ryan said, “Watch-out.”

The only real weakness for the defense last year was a lack of a pass-rush, at first glance it doesn’t seem that there has been a huge improvement in that area, but that’s only at first glance. The Jets signed Jason Taylor, if this was five-years ago that would have solved that problem easily. Taylor could be a force in this defense with so much talent surrounding him, but at this stage in his career it’s more of a gamble than something you’d write in permanent marker.

The additions at corner and Pool, combined with the ability to move players like Dwight Lowery and Eric Smith all over the field means the quarterback pressure could be coming from anywhere so the ball better leave the quaterback’s hand fast if he doesn’t want to get sacked.

Common Misconceptions

All offseason people have been talking about how the Jets were taking a huge risk with the players they sent packing and who they brought in.

“Too many leaders from last year’s team are gone and they keep bringing in question mark, chemistry risk, players.” That’s what people have been saying.

Nonsense is what the Jets would say and for good reason. Anyone who has spent anytime around this team during the offseason knows at least two things. One, this team is extremely close, the chemistry is fine there have been no trouble-makers or divas, just intense competition, friendly trash-talking and more jokes being told than a Chris Rock comedy show, with just as much profanity. Two, every thought they have is rooted from their desire to win the Super Bowl.

The other misconception being tossed around is Shonn Greene can’t handle the load of being the number one back. Granted Greene has some injury history, and his style of play would lead one to believe he might have to sit out a game or two with an injury, but he is not the lone running back and will not be asked to carry the ball 500 plus times. L.T. will play a significant role as well and if needed Chauncey Washington can step in an provide relief for Greene in short spans.

The idea that L.T. is washed up is slowly dying down as people have seen how impressive he has looked so far this year, but still if you dig a little deeper you can see why L.T.’s production slipped the last couple of year’s in San Diego. It started with a change in offensive philosophy, a different running scheme, which again didn’t utilize his skill set and a commitment to throw the ball more with Rivers growing as a quarterback. Add to that the demise of what went from one of the best to worst offensive lines in football combined with some nagging injuries and it makes sense why L.T.’s numbers dropped so drastically.

There is no doubt he is not the same L.T. of five to eight-years ago, but keep in mind that he won’t be the main guy, he has one of, if not the best offensive lines in football in front of him and maybe most importantly he is back under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offensive scheme, the same scheme that L.T. enjoyed his career years in.

Where the Scale Balances Out

Hype vs. hate, or hype equals hate, or maybe it’s hype creates hate (which is it the chicken or the egg) either way it’s obvious you can’t have one without the other.

In life the phrase is, “talk is cheap,” in the NFL, “talk is completely worthless.”

Sure the Jets have been talking, and talking a lot, but if you listen all they are talking about is themselves and their own expectations. They aren’t disrespecting other teams or players, they are simply voicing their confidence.

How can they be blamed for feeling confident? If they don’t believe they can win the Super Bowl, who will and how can they ever hope to?

Be clear, the Jets know they have created a stir with their brash talk, but that is not their goal, it’s the confidence in that goal that has people in an uproar. So for teams that are tired of the Jets talking, when you get your chance try and shut them up, because if you don’t they will keep talking.

What will ultimately determine where the scale evens out is exactly what Ryan had to say, “We’re just going to be ourselves. (If) We go out and play our game, we think, at the end of the day, that will be good enough.”

Tonight the theorizing and debating takes a break as it’s time for the Jets and the Ravens to take the field and determine a winner, not with words, but with their play.

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