Archive for January, 2012

Learning from Big Brother

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Oh no, not another big-and-little brother comparison about the New York Jets and Giants! It’s overused, outplayed, tiresome and, well, just plain cliché. But there’s a reason why clichés get to be so … cliché: because they’re fitting to the scenario that is presented. In this case, the metaphor couldn’t be more apropos when speaking of the two teams that call MetLife Stadium home.

The Giants, equipped with a perfect 5-0 record in conference championship games and three Super Bowl titles to their name, once again find themselves as the smarter and stoic big brother. The Jets, amidst locker room turmoil, finger pointing and frat house antics, have reverted back to flailing their arms frantically while the Giants effortlessly hold their hand to Gang Green’s forehead.

Does Rex Ryan (above) and the Jets need to swallow their pride and look up to the Giants in how they handle adversity? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

When a boisterous Rex Ryan stood atop the Empire State Building shouting that he and his equally braggadocios Jets would paint the town green, the Giants were re-tooling for yet another run to the Super Bowl (notably their second appearance in five years).

What made the Jets so sexy to the American public is what, ultimately, has led to their demise: their brash bravado and absurd open-door policy with the media.

While Santonio Holmes, a captain, was calling out anyone and everyone (but himself, of course) for their lack of performance, Bart Scott was flipping off reporters and “anonymous” sources crying for Mark Sanchez’s head, Ryan – Victor Frankenstein to Gang Green’s media monstrosity – went on a damage control campaign to save face for the organization.

The Giants, on the other hand, kept calm and carried on all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium, where Ryan stood and confidently guaranteed a Super Bowl victory just under a year ago. Amidst turmoil of their own – a rotund four-game losing streak that put their eventual playoff hopes in jeopardy – the Giants did not succumb to the pressure and emerged as polished as a diamond. All that despite Tom Coughlin, perhaps the mirror opposite of Ryan, being reportedly fired for a record five times this season by media pundits and fans alike.

In an article from the New York Times, Giants tight end commends quarterback and leader Eli Manning for his ability in knowing when to be assertive and when to be constructive, something the Jets should take notes on.

“I know that when Victor and I came in, we didn’t know everything and we still don’t. But when we made a mistake, ran the wrong route, he always took the time to help us. That’s what good leaders do. They realized the team’s not just made up of veterans. You have to be willing to accept other people’s mistakes and Eli is great with that, one of the best.”

A far cry from the anonymous report by the New York Daily News, in which the Jets’ source rips his quarterback from everything up to Yo Momma jokes. Even farther from the remarks by LaDanian Tomlinson, who aired-out the locker room’s dirty laundry, filling Showtime’s Inside the NFL in on the Holmes-Sanchez relationship and the deplorable locker room environment calling it “one of the worst he’s even been around”.

While it may be more admirable than anonymously calling out teammates, it certainly shouldn’t be more accepted. Upon losing their final three games, it became clear that continuity was at a premium in Florham Park, NJ.

Even owner Woody Johnson got a few jabs in before ending the media street fight, citing that only “great quarterbacks get coddled” and that Sanchez is “not great”. He continued by stating that while Sanchez is “their guy” they are not ruling out future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning.

The Giants, bound with an albatross of their own, banded together to get over the hump that has haunted the Jets for the last two seasons. The difference? The Giants did not see each other as individuals, rather as one. After all, you spell unity O-N-E.

Want to hear more from Wesley about the Jets and the NFL? Follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/Wesley_Sykes.

Dolphins sink Jets playoff hopes, win 19-17

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

MIAMI, FL — Someone should tell Rex Ryan that karma has a way of coming back around.

After guaranteeing in Indianapolis during the 2011 NFL Combine that his Jets would be back there to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February, the only thing Rex Ryan could guarantee on Sunday was that they’d all be watching Super Bowl XLVI from the comfort of their own homes.

For the third straight year the Jets found themselves fighting for their playoff lives, but against the rivaled Miami Dolphins the Jets couldn’t fight their way out of the corner, losing 19-17 at Sun Life Stadium failing to fulfill their gregarious coach’s guarantee of yet another playoff push.

Captain Santonio Holmes is benched in the final minutes of the Jets 17-19 loss to Miami as some teammates accuse him of quitting.

Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions, the last coming in their own red zone with his team rallying to take the late lead. But after jumping out to a 10-6 lead in the first half the momentum shifted towards the Dolphins way after capitalizing on a demoralizing 21-play, 94-yard drive that chewed up 12 and a half minutes for their only touchdown on the day.

Ryan, who looked defeated and deflated after the game, would not back down from his marked propensity of over-zealousness.

“I’m always going to chase the Super Bowl,” Ryan said. “I know I get criticized for it beyond belief, but if you don’t, then you’re probably a loser, OK? I’m not a loser.”

The Jets (8-8) end the season as losers of three straight games after, seemingly, having control of their own playoff destiny. But in order to reach the playoffs for a third straight year they needed to beat the Dolphins and hope for three other teams, the Bengals, Titans and Raiders, to lose. Instead the loss thwarts any hopes of reaching the AFC Championship game for a third straight year.

An underlying headline of the game occurred on the Jets final drive of the game where receiver and first-year team captain, Santonio Holmes, was benched for the rest of the game after getting into a heated exchanged with an unknown teammate in the huddle. LaDanain Tomlinson, who surpassed Jerome Bettis for fifth all-time on the career rushing list with 13,684 yards, said teammates were displeased with the receiver’s display of effort, demeanor and body language.

“It’s tough for guys to follow a captain that kind of behaves in that manner,” Tomlinson said. “You’ve got to lead by example, and you’ve got to play your tail off until the last play.”

On the day Holmes was targeted only once, drawing a defensive holding penalty. He was held without a catch for the first time in 88-game career.

As a microcosm for the season, the Jets proved to be their biggest foe on Sunday, losing the turnover battle at costly times. Each of Sanchez’s three turnovers led to field goals. For the year the Jets lost the turnover battle, allowing 126 points off turnovers, the worst in the NFL — a very telling stat as to why they missed the playoffs in 2011.

At Miami’s 10-yard line with three minutes left and the Jets trailing 16-10, linebacker Marvin Mitchell stepped in front of an underneath pass intended for Shonn Greene. Mitchell took the interception 55 yards that set up the game-sealing field goal by Dan Carpenter. All three of Sanchez’s interceptions came on check down passes, two intercepted by linemen — a rarity in the NFL. Ryan would later say in his press conference that the interceptions proved to be “back-breakers” for his team.

“You can always work on fundamentals, your footwork and reinforce the good things we did. … It’s just the consistency part that’s got to get better,” Sanchez said of his performance after the game.

On the ensuing drive just 30 seconds later, Jason Taylor picked up a fumble by lineman Matt Slauson and scoring. The play sent the scarce Dolphin faithful in to a frenzy, but would eventually be overturned by a booth review. Taylor, in his 15th and final season of the NFL, spent the 2010-11 season with the Jets and is the NFL’s active leader in sacks.

The Jets scored with just over a minute to go on a 10-yard pass to Patrick Turner, who replaced the malcontent Holmes. But Brandon Marshall secured the following onside kick to secure the victory. Taylor lined up at running back in Miami’s victory formation and was carried off the field as the game came to a close.

The loss caps a season filled with inconsistency and in-house finger-pointing and sets up an off-season that will undoubtedly be filled with reflection, retooling and recalibrating a team topped with turmoil.