Where do the New York Jets go from here?
After losing five of their last eight games to end the 2011 season in a tailspin, the Jets have lost five of their first eight games to start the 2012 season, and they take that 3-5 record into their bye week here in Week 9.
Last season, the Jets were blindsided by their failure to make the NFL playoffs for the first time under head coach Rex Ryan, and it caused a rift in the locker room that the Jets knew they needed to fix.
The primary scapegoat was offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, along with a few players like Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, among others, who the Jets couldn’t wait to ship out of town.
In response, they hired Tony Sparano to run the offense and revamped their receiving corps with some younger players, in an attempt to give more stability to an offense that imploded down the stretch.
One area they haven’t changed, however, is the starting quarterback spot.
Mark Sanchez, a big-time playoff performer his first two seasons, has been maddeningly inconsistent in his career, and his failure to find consistent solid play is a big reason the Jets are where they are.
The Jets are staring mediocrity in the face as the calendar turns to November, a position they’ve really never been in before during Ryan’s tenure. But All-Pro center Nick Mangold knows that they can’t afford to lose focus now.
“I think we learned last year that pointing fingers and being disgruntled doesn’t help anybody,” Mangold said. “It’s not going to help anybody. We’ve got a pretty good locker room that we all understand it comes down to execution.”
Mangold is one of the best players in all of football, and one of the best players the Jets have ever drafted. He leads by example, and when he speaks up, people listen.
The four-time Pro Bowler understands that, while it’s obvious that the Jets are in need of better quarterback play, everybody needs to look at themselves first before they assign blame elsewhere.
“We’re going to keep the finger pointing away from our locker room,” Mangold said.
The coaches need to put the players in the best possible position to succeed, and the players need to execute the plays that are called efficiently and effectively for the Jets to really take flight.
“It doesn’t matter if we have Joe Namath back there,” Mangold said. “If we don’t execute it’s not going to work.”
While those outside the organization will be talking about a potential quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, Nick Mangold isn’t worried about that speculation becoming a distraction for the team.
“I don’t know if it’s a distraction,” he said. “I guess it gives us questions to answer and that’s kind of where we’ve been. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of handling that … outside influence.”
As for what the solution is for Gang Green? The All-Pro center says it’s pretty simple.
“We’ve got to play better,” Mangold said. “I think if we play better as an offense it quiets that. At the end of the day we have to do better as an offense on the field.”
The Jets have a chance to regroup now, as they don’t play their next game until November 10th. They better hope for their sake that they’ve got some answers by then. The margin for error is practically non-existant anymore.