After being 6-7 and looking like they could make a run at one of the final AFC playoff spots, the New York Jets have dropped their last two games – in miserable fashion – and seem destined for a shake up this off-season.
But what will be shaken up?
Will the flamboyant head of the circus be gone? I mean, we’ve heard Rex Ryan do and say all the “right” things, we’ve also heard him say all the “wrong” things. We’ve seen him cry, we’ve seen him deflect blame from his players (which he should do because he’s to blame as well), we’ve even seen him pronounce his team as champions without actually winning anything significant. What haven’t we seen him do?
Besides fix the problems in his locker room, that is.
On the flip side, we heard rumors last weekend that Tim Tebow is a lock to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars this off-season, and we’re also hearing that general manager Mike Tannenbaum will be removed from his position, although he may be kept around the organization for a financial consultant position. But what if that isn’t exactly the direction that owner Woody Johnson wants to take his franchise?
It seems beyond clear that Johnson was the only member of the Jets organization – literally, the ONLY one – that wanted to bring in Tebow. So how do we know that Johnson’s love affair for Tebow, and attention (either positive or negative), won’t outweigh his appreciation for the coach that made “Play Like a Jet” a saying (a dumb, meaningless one at that).
How do we know that Johnson doesn’t prefer a season in the spotlight, when they didn’t even have to field a good team or win many games, over a coach who mustered up back-to-back AFC Championship appearances?
And most importantly, how do we know that Johnson doesn’t believe – which is a keyword – that Tebow can be more than a marketable athlete, but a winning athlete?
One thing’s for sure, the Jets are in a less than desirable position. If you thought things were ugly at the end of last season, they seem to be every bit as ugly, and worse, this season. Mark Sanchez is guaranteed over 8 million dollars next season, and he’s done everything in his power to prove he doesn’t deserve to take snaps for the team that gave up more than enough to make him their franchise quarterback. Playing for a coach who values ground-and-pound and protecting the rock, Sanchez has the most turnovers in the NFL over the last two seasons, and has very seemingly regressed when he was supposed to be taking that leap to the next level of quarterbacks – regardless of the talent that is or isn’t around him.
If the organization hasn’t gone about getting Sanchez more weapons – he blatantly needed a new right tackle and a running back who could make plays out of the backfield heading into this season (a wide out who can catch the ball wouldn’t have hurt either) – what’s to think they will now? Wouldn’t it be easier to continue in their mold, keep Tebow, and try to change the culture in the locker room?
It seems they have two polarizing figures to choose from: the positive, enthralling, I work hard to set an example for everyone else and stay positive no matter what Tebow. Or the I make wild predictions, talk a lot of smack, and don’t hold my players or coaches accountable for their poor behavior/performance Ryan.
Ryan seems to be on less than steady ground, and with the ship sinking further and further by the day even, what’s to stop Johnson from cleaning house? Are we really supposed to believe that Sanchez will be brought back for another season just because he’s nearly impossible to get rid of because of his contract? If Ryan and Sanchez are gone, is there anyone out there to replace Ryan that might actually want to coach the less than groomed quarterback that is Tebow?
Yes. And he’s every bit as desirable as anyone could be to Johnson because he’s a part of Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s staff.
Nobody in NFL history - Bill Romanowski doesn’t count – has had as big of a crush on Tebow as Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who traded three draft picks to take the Wildcat commander back in 2010, and the two really hit it off from the get-go.
“I was jacked leaving that room,” said an enthusiastic (as always) Tebow after first meeting with McDaniels – then the head coach of the Denver Broncos – back in April of 2010. “I didn’t even want to visit another room. It was not enough time. We were excited, we were enthusiastic. There was passion. It was just intense, and it was ball, and it was juice. The juice level in that room was high, and it was awesome.”
Ball, and juice. If it’s not one gimmick for the Jets it’s another, and while I don’t think it makes sense to build your team around Tebow if you’re trying to win in the NFL in 2013 – and moving forward – Johnson is a stubborn man who has proven himself to be more concerned with other things than winning football games.
Also, if the Ryan regime is trending downwards, what’s to say trying something new isn’t a better idea than hoping a guy who’s more famous for saying “let’s get a snack” than he is for cleaning up his clubhouses problems, can actually turn things around?
We saw Tebow win, albeit under John Fox, with the Broncos in 2011, and you have to believe that Johnson was absolutely enamored by “Tebowmania” because there wasn’t another team in the league biting on what Denver was trying to sell them.
The Jets aren’t going to land a Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden, and as delusional as Johnson sesms to be at times, he has to know who will, and won’t be able to choose from to replace Ryan in what seems like the inevitable near future.
Whether it’s this season, or next season after another failed Ryan/Sanchez experiment, the writing seems to be on the wall.
The Jets have a lot of BIG decisions to make this off-season, and they’ve shown an incapability to make the right ones the past couple of years. We’ll see if that changes in 2013.
For hoops, hip-hop and other random sports and pop culture commentary, follow Jared Mintz on Twitter @JaredMintzTruth