Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jets in Disarray: What's the Next Step?

(Photo courtesy of

Nobody questioned Greg McElroy's comments last week about the "corrupt mindset" and "selfish individuals" within the New York Jets locker room. The only thing that was in question was whether he had the right to say it.

Right or wrong, McElroy hit the nail on the head and Manish Mehta's article in the New York Daily News proves it. The Jets who criticized Mark Sanchez under the cloak of anonymity are the definition of selfish.

Some of the things said in the article may be true, such as, "'We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice,' said one player. 'He’s lazy and content because he knows he’s not going to be benched.'”

Without a credential for Jets practices, I know nothing of Sanchez's work ethic. However, it's hard to disagree that the team needs to bring in a quarterback that is actually a threat to Sanchez's job; something Mark Brunell never was. It will only be a positive for Sanchez's development.

What's easy to disagree with is the way some of Sanchez's teammates went about criticizing him. If you have something to say, so be it, but don't hide behind your comments. That's gutless and cowardly, as Nick Mangold tweeted this morning:
"@nickmangold: This (story) by @TheJetsStream is false. If "unnamed sources" want to attack Mark, man up and put your name to it #JETS"
Right on, Nick, right on. If people want to talk about a lack of leadership on the Jets, maybe they should look again at the team's All-Pro center. He's more deserving of the captaincy than either Sanchez or Santonio Holmes were this season.

An unnamed source in Mehta's report also said the organization coddles Sanchez and that his "lack of mental toughness" is apparent because he unfollowed all the Jets beat writers on Twitter. Really? What kind of a joke is that?

If I was quarterbacking the Jets, I wouldn't want to log onto my Twitter account and see nothing but people screaming for my job. It's hard to blame Sanchez for unfollowing the writers but hey, cowards will look for any way to legitimize the hypocrisy of anonymously bashing their quarterback in the media.

It's obvious that this Jets team has a lot of issues and frankly, I'm not sure how they're going to get past them. For Sanchez to come under fire from the media is one thing but when your teammates attack you as well, there are big-time issues.

There is a three-step solution to this problem. The first thing that needs to happen is Rex Ryan holding a public press conference to say that this anonymous finger-pointing won't be tolerated. Ryan has always been a talker but now that's seeping through to this team; he needs to set a standard that only he gets to speak out.

Ryan has also had his name attached to each and every one of his brash comments and he puts the blame on himself when the Jets lose. This self-accountability is what the Jets players should emulate in Ryan, not his unabashed talk. Ryan may need to tone it down a bit as well; his words aren't helping the team fly under the radar like they did in his first two seasons.

Secondly, the Jets need to bring in a competent veteran that can still play, but also work with Sanchez like Mark Brunell attempted to do. Competition fuels desire and success and without it, Sanchez may be doomed to repeat his mistakes of the past few seasons. A full offseason may also benefit the young quarterback, a luxury he was not afforded in preparing for 2011 after the lockout.

The third and final step? Sanchez himself needs to step up next season and put all these issues to rest with his play on the field. He claimed recently that the recent criticism didn't bother him, but that was when it was the media talking. How will he handle his own teammates doubting him?

Sanchez will come into next season with a new coaching staff and a proverbial fresh start from the handcuffing ways of Brian Schottenheimer. If he can't quiet the media critics and selfish locker-room cowards, their doubts will be legitimized and this team will crumble on his and Ryan's watch.

Maybe this motivation is just what Sanchez needs to get his up-and-down career back on track. Or maybe it will be his eventual downfall as an NFL starter. Only time will tell.

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