By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) -- As expected, mass hysteria has taken over Jets Nation. The team loses one game and all hell has broken loose. This time, though, the source of the madness is someone you'd expect to know better.
Is over-reaction to losses simply a product of life in the NFL? Is it because the Jets have ridiculous expectations and nothing short of a Patriots-like season will be accepted? Or is it more about Joe Namath needing to inject himself into the stream of conversation and criticism because he's got little else to do?
Probably a little bit of all three.
The only thing that's not open to debate right now is the cold, hard fact that the Jets got their heads handed to them out in Oakland on Sunday. Everything else is a matter of opinion, and from where I'm standing it's all very silly.
Namath seems to believe the Jets are overconfident. He said so in a recent interview. He seems to think Rex Ryan actually coddles his players too much by telling them how good they are all the time. Namath seems like he would be having the Jets running for hours through the streets of Florham Park as punishment for their putrid effort in the 34-24 loss to the Raiders. He'd be grabbing face masks, telling guys they suck, dumping over Gatorade buckets and running five-a-days in practice as a further reminder to the Jets that they haven't won a damn thing yet.
Well, that's certainly one approach. But it's one we've seen before. I'm not sure it works anymore.
My guess is Ryan would be taking a far more subtle look at the situation. He'd be watching hours of film on his horrible defense. He'd be discussing with coordinator Mike Pettine how to fix said defense in time for this Sunday night's clash with the high-powered Ravens down in Baltimore. He'd be working with his offensive coaches to fix this banged up and, as a result, highly ineffective offensive line. He'd be instilling confidence in his skill position players, assuring them that this run-blocking and pass-blocking mess will be fixed and that they should stay frosty.
I kind of prefer the Rex method a tad more than the assumed Broadway Joe method.
Namath needs to relax. He knows nothing of what it takes to coach an NFL team. I would have hoped this guy would know by now how to take a loss in stride, considering he was part of more than his fair share of them as a player. How is it possible, in his opinion, that suddenly Ryan's core approach to the game is wrong after just one loss? I don't get it. The same approach that has basically rescued this franchise from sports oblivion and made it one of the more attractive destinations anywhere is now suddenly antiquated? The mere fact that by using this method the entire culture of Jets football has done a 180 is now meaningless?
C'mon man. It's one loss for crying out loud.
Now it's nice that Namath decided to join up with the Jets and use his knowledge to help make Mark Sanchez a better quarterback. I'm sure much of what he taught the third-year signal caller has been taken to heart and employed out on the field. But this notion that Namath knows more than Ryan does about motivating an entire team is pretty funny.
Namath is a revered figure, obviously, and much of what he says will hit home with many of the older Jets fans, the guys who had season tickets back at Shea and could really do without the trash-talking, pump-yourself-up nature Ryan has brought to this team. But to many others, when Namath opens his mouth these days it becomes a cautionary tale on what not to say. He often spews some really strange things and has become, in a way, sort of that crazy uncle that you try to avoid at family reunions.
Don't get me wrong. The guy was a great player as far as the annals of Jets history are concerned, but he doesn't really have the pulse of this franchise anymore and it shows in his comments.
Namath, like many others, really hasn't been paying attention since the lockout ended. The Jets have actually been rather humble by their lofty standards. I haven't heard one diatribe from Bart Scott, the team's king mouthpiece, very little from trash-talker extraordinaire Antonio Cromartie -- and I'm talking before he embarrassed himself on national television on Sunday -- and basically little to nothing from everyone else.
Even Rex, for his part, has been far less bombastic than usual.
The Jets haven't really carried themselves this season as a group of guys that know who the hell they are, which is odd and may be part of the reason why they seem to lack that obvious edge when they take the field. Everyone else seems to think they are the same team, but reality is the public still sees the Jets as the loud-mouth group from last season, not the somewhat muted version of the same group they are this season.
To hear Namath criticize Ryan's coaching methods is also funny because this is the same guy who shot his mouth off prior to Super Bowl III, saying that his 18-point underdog Jets would beat the mighty Colts. So I guess since Namath made good on his boast he now has license to thumb his nose at the franchise's current emotional leader, forgetting of course that Ryan has hardly been Patrick Ewing in the prediction department. Better teams than the 2009 and 2010 Jets have lost conference championship games.
Maybe Namath is just bored or still craves the spotlight to a degree. Regardless, it just seems like his words don't carry the same weight they once did. Does he really think he can be a master motivator from a distance? Now he's George Steinbrenner firing off missives? Will the Jets suddenly show up at practice fearing for their jobs because a guy who won a ring four decades ago disapproves of aspects of what the franchise currently represents? Is he trying some deranged form of reverse psychology, sitting back and whispering to himself "Yeah, that should light a fire under them," with the same air of confidence he wore like a badge of honor in the late 1960s?
The Jets are who they are as individuals. It's part of their allure. Like it or not it's their charm. It's often maddening, but it's largely effective and the vast majority of fans love every second of it. All the Joe Namaths shouting from the highest mountain tops on Earth won't change that or alter perception.
The bottom line is as a team the Jets have some issues to iron out right now, many that words cannot fix. Let the guys worried about personnel and Xs and Os do their jobs. Leave the armchair quarterbacking to the true experts, the fine people of Twitter and Facebook whose passion for the team's success rivals anyone's, including that of a legend's.
Namath needs to be above the Michael Strahans of the world. He needs to be a party elder, not a cheap-shot artist.
And Rex needs to keep being Rex. I guarantee you the day he sells out and becomes what the high and mighty few desire this franchise will once again go in the toilet.
He'll win more than his fair share of damn games -- and he'll do it by hell or high water with his proven methods.
And never while wearing a mink coat.
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