Clown-car Jets can upgrade to VIP ride like Giants did
They don't much like the image they've crafted for themselves through their hijinks and their low comedy, through their coachıs over-the-top confidence contrasted with their intramural rival's under-the-radar style.
"We are professionals," Darrelle Revis said not long ago, standing inside the Jets' locker room at their practice facility. "This isnıt some fraternity house.
We conduct serious business in here."
Revis does. Most of them do, despite the occasional bursts of buffoonery that make their way out of the locker room and onto the back page. The Jets' daily outfit of choice really does involve helmets and shoulder pads and mouth guards and cleats; it only seems to comprise of floppy shoes and red noses and funny hats and water-squirting carnations.
They want to change that perception. The good news? They have perfect role models to emulate, headquartered half an hour north of them in New Jersey, based just a few yards up the hallway at MetLife Stadium, because if any group can provide a perfect blueprint for how to alter the conversation surrounding themselves, it's the Giants.
The team in blue may never have been quite so outlandish as the one in green, but for a good long while they were also choked by conventional wisdom: The quarterback was too passive to ever be championship caliber, missing the family chromosome that made his big brother a Big Winner. The coach was too demanding, too aloof, too old-school to reach modern players. The GM was too low-key, the organization too stodgy, the whole operation too much of another time.
Only, the Giants found the best way to blow up that bogus blueprint. They won a title. And then they won another one. Along the way, Eli Manning has emerged as the brother with the championship jewel for either ring finger, Tom Coughlin has evolved into a virtual Hall of Fame lock and proof that you can reinvent yourself on the fly, Jerry Reese has blossomed into the very model of the modern football executive and the Mara-Tisch partnership has grown to define pitch-perfect management not only for the NFL but for any pro organization with steep aspirations and deep ambitions.
Proving you arenıt tied to your reputation. Or to perception. Or to history.
You can change. You can improve your lot. Your reach really can exceed your grasp.
"I think the character of this team was such that we were able to embrace the things -- the sacrifices, the work -- that [go] into winning a championship even before we were maybe good enough to win one," says Justin Tuck, a cornerstone of both parades the Giants have earned for themselves across the past five years. "And maybe that meant that when we were ready to win, and we had a real opportunity, we were able to take advantage of it."
The Giants are evidence everything every franchise covets is available to you if you are willing to make hard choices and harder sacrifices, and that is why this flashless, dashless operation now cruises in style, the top down and the motor purring.
The Jets? Yes, there is reason for concern beyond last yearıs penchant for piling into clown cars at the worst possible moments. The offense was historically inept by preseason standards, and projects to be something between pop gun and two-headed pathetic. Rex Ryan, everyoneıs darling for two years, suddenly seems more ringmaster than taskmaster. Some wonder if Mike Tannenbaum spent the offseason playing Song Pop and Words With Friends instead of having a gander at his razor-thin roster.
All fair questions. All legitimate concerns. All understandable reasons why you can ask if Woody Johnson owns the team, or Pagliacci. And all fixable.
If they truly want to be fixed. The model is there for them. Ryan can study how Coughlin today is a clear 2.0 version of what we saw before 2007.
San-Bow (or is it Te-chez?) may not have the inherent quarterbacking skill of Eli, but both halves of that partnership have done plenty of winning at the position. And for everyone who classifies Tannenbaum as inert well, go back and see what people were saying about Reese a year ago today.
You can't go from jalopy to Jaguar just by wishing it to be so. But you can get there. The Giants have proven it. Can the Jets?