Media Blame Game
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The sky is falling on the New York Jets. Amidst a three-game losing, the Jets are in a proclaimed “mutiny”; firing shots at one another publicly, calling for the head of their offensive coordinator (what else is new?), and trading away a receiver that is supposed to “send a message” to the team.
At least that’s what the media is proclaiming.
William Randolph Hearst would be proud of his New York predecessors for the amount of gusto in their sensationalism, myself included. Often perceived as the preeminent place for an athlete to be, New York is a double-edge sword. Win and you’ll be treated like a God amongst men; just ask Derek Jeter or Joe Namath. Lose, and, well, just ask Brett Favre, Randy Johnson, or Stephon Marbury about the repercussions.
But let’s take a step back from everything for a moment. At 2-3, the Jets’ season is far from over. Yes, they have lost games to some of the top tier teams in the AFC and a tough road loss to the Raiders, but there are still 11 games to play before everything is decided. It pains me to write this in Week 6, but the Jets still control their own destiny, on the field anyway.
Last week I wrote a piece where I stated the game against the Patriots was the apex of their season: a win would calm the nerves of New Yorkers while a loss would send the fans and, more notably, the team in a tailspin. I might have been a tad preemptive, with the possible apex coming in Week 9 when the Patriots travel to New York.
They welcome an 0-4 Miami Dolphins team to MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football, perhaps the perfect remedy for their road woes. A Rex Ryan-coached team with the spotlight of the whole country on them, facing their bitter rival at home, hungry for a victory. Mark Sanchez believes that the national spotlight brings the best out of them.
“We’re excited to play on a national stage. I feel like most of the time we play our best that way.” He would go on to say that the best identity for this offense is winning. “That’s what New England’s identity is right now, and I think that’s what we’re looking for, just a couple of wins. We rattle off a couple of wins in a row, all the criticism and doubt, that stuff kind of fades away and guys are confident again and ready to play.”
After all, a wise man did say that winning cures everything. It can cure the cries to cut ties with Brian Schottenheimer, end the speculation surrounding ridiculous trade claims while stopping the backlash against Plaxico Burress.
But until that win comes, whether it’s Monday night or next Sunday against the Chargers or whenever, the media is still in control of this team’s destiny. Despite numerous refutes against the accusations regarding in-house mutinies and players clashing, many aren’t convinced otherwise.
The Jets fan base is not too dissimilar from their baseball counterpart in Queens in the sense they are always waiting for the sky to fall. And like their other counterpart in the Bronx, they expect a quick fix involving All-Pro players to stop the bleeding.
As the trade deadline approaches such names as Reggie Wayne, Brandon Lloyd and Robert Mathis have surfaced as the solution to many of the Jets’ fans’ concerns. The problem is, they brought in former All-Pro Burress at receiver while spending a first round draft choice on pass rusher Muhammed Wilkerson in the off season. If either Burress or Wilkerson was unsure of the term “faster than a New York minute”, they should get it by now. Five weeks into the season and people are calling for their heads, after being as big-time additions.
Blame the media for Burress. At 34 and coming off a 2-year prison stint, it’s impossible to expect him to be back at his All-Pro form. Hell, it took Michael Vick — a better all-around athlete — one year to get acclimated to the game again. After a hot start in the preseason, Burress faced an insurmountable wall of expectations here. But hiring mercenaries is not going to help this team get back on the right track.
Neither is making a mid-season coaching change, even if the man making the calls on offense deserves the old heave-ho. In football, change is not always good — especially mid-season changes. Bringing in a new guy with new schemes and new systems will not bode well for this unit or its quarterback.
So, as a member of the media, I send my condolences to you, the fans. For you have put up with this sensationalism for far too long. Do not be caught up in the hoopla of back-page headlines and stories citing “sources close to the team”. Certainly the Jets’ treadmill is on a steady incline to reach their goal of a Super Bowl, but there’s still a long way to go.
Remember what that wise man said, winning is the ultimate cure-all.