Remember when Rex Ryan, the first-year coach of the Jets, was the hottest name in the biz? Come on, it was just three weeks ago. Everyone gushed about his bravado and his swagger and how being unable to keep your mouth shut was awesome and how it had clearly rubbed off on the Jets, who ran their mouths repeatedly before each of their first three games and won all of them?
Now, three losses later, each worse than the last and their best defensive player now out for the season, Ryan just looks like a guy who swallowed a Prius . He has a rookie quarterback who is struggling immensely (see below) and a defense that was superb early on but is now banged up and more than a little exposed. And he also has second place, having been usurped for first by the Patriots, who he had a leg up on early thanks to the Week 2 Super Bowl at the Meadowlands when the Jets won, 16-9.
The point to all of this is simple. Ryan is not a great coach. He is not a terrible coach (yet). He is simply an unconventional character thrust into a huge spotlight. His team is decent but not great, as evidenced by the way it lost the past two weeks, first by allowing a late, game-winning march to the Dolphins and their virtual rookie quarterback, then by repeatedly shooting itself in the foot against a Bills team on the verge of total collapse. I just find it amusing that even after the Jets won so impressively in the season’s first three weeks, that no one of note had the foresight to expect things would get tough sooner than later. Hell, my football expertise is gleaned solely from sitting on my couch with a beer and watching on TV. The way the blow-everything-completely-out-of-proportion media was covering things, someone who didn’t know any better may have actually believed they indeed won the Super Bowl back in Week 2.
I hate the Jets, there’s no sense in pretending otherwise. To me, they are always doormats, even when they are decent, especially over the past 10 years. But I can see what Ryan was trying to do by attempting to instill a bit of a cultural change in the organization. The only problem is some seemed to misconstrue that into meaning that the Jets were a great team, which they are clearly not. Great expectations are hard enough to live up to when they aren’t irrationally created out of thin air by a team’s own coach. It will be interesting to see what the Jets can do when they learn to shut up or stop blaming their own practice squad when they lose or when Ryan can make it through a post-loss press conference without telling reporters he though about yanking Mark Sanchez, or what have you. Maybe they should just play football and let the results do the talking.
This Week’s Five Best Teams
1. New Orleans: Coming off a bye and facing the previously No. 1 ranked defense in the league in the Giants, all the Saints did was run up 493 yards and 48 points, 35 of them in the first half. It remains to be seen what may happen if New Orleans has to play any meaningful games outdoors in lousy weather down the stretch, but if it keeps waxing teams like it did the Giants, all NFC playoff games will be going through the Superdome.
2. Indianapolis: Doesn’t really matter that the Colts had last week off; they’re close to unstoppable right now, and have St. Louis and home games against San Francisco and Houston on tap leading up to a Sunday night showdown with the Patriots come mid-November.
3. Denver: In addition to having an air-tight offense and a defense that has allowed exactly three second half points since Week 1, now the amazing Broncos can point to their special teams, which netted them two TD returns against the Chargers last week, the difference in the 34-23 final score.
4. Minnesota: Another big week for the Favre-suckers, some of whom are now lauding his holiness for MVP (over Drew Brees and Peyton Manning among others). He played great – again – in the Vikes’ thrilling win over the Ravens but I wonder if his minions will still be calling Minnesota “his team” and referring to Adrian Peterson as his “sidekick” when he breaks down in the second half of the season, a la last year.
5. New York Giants: Thoroughly annihilated by the Saints in every which way, then having their credentials (wins over Washington, Kansas City, Tampa and Oakland) called into question afterward. I still think the Giants are awesome and have as good a shot to go to the Super Bowl as anyone in the NFC. But they clearly have some work to do beginning this week at home against Arizona.
This Week’s Five Worst Teams
1. Washington: The Skins may have two wins more than a few of the other teams on this list. But for sheer embarrassment on every level starting right at the top with clueless, moronic owner Daniel Snyder, they take the prize.
2. Tennessee: Someone actually called the radio on Monday and said he didn’t think the Titans quit last Sunday at snowy Gillette, they just got beat by a much better team. Part of that is true (the beat by a much better tea part). But if they hadn’t given up, the final would have been something like 35-10 or 34-13. NOT 59-0!!!!
3. St. Louis: Now having lost 16 in a row, it’s easy to feel bad for the Rams, who are trying their damnedest and nearly broke through last week in taking Jacksonville to overtime on the road. They will win at least two games this season; mark it, Dude.
4. Tampa Bay: Another valiant effort by the Bucs went for naught against Carolina last week, but when you give up 267 yards on the ground, unless you’re playing the Jets, you’re probably going to lose. If Laurence Maroney can’t shred the Bucs run D this weekend in London, he may be truly beyond hope.
5. Cleveland: The Browns best player – arguably their only good player – Josh Cribbs, who returns and covers kicks, catches passes, runs the ball and plays quarterback out of the wildcat, wants a contract extension. Naturally, that genius EricMangini won’t give him one. Whenever I feel the least bit despondent over any of my favorite teams, I think about what it must be like to be a Browns fan and instantaneously feel much better.
- Tom Brady, Patriots: 380 yards and six TDs while completing 85 percent of your passes? I know the Titans stopped trying right around when he threw the first of his record five scores in the second quarter, but you still have to pretty good to put up those numbers. It’s not like, oh say, Kerry Collins could have done anything similar.
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: 417 more yards against Cleveland last week. He’s now the No. 2 passer in the AFC and is on pace to throw for nearly 5,000 yards. This guy is really good, as good as he’s ever been, Super Bowl years included. And in his honor, I’ll even take up that stupid TV broadcaster habit and just call him Ben.
- Matt Schaub, Texans: the all QB edition of the What’s Trendy list concludes with Schaub, who ripped the Bengals for 392 yards and four TDs on the road last week. Schaub has now passed for more than three bills four times this season and is completing 65 percent of his passes with a 102.7 passer rating.
- The Redskins: This was my favorite, non-Pats related stat of the weekend. Against the previously winless Chiefs, at home, Washington had more three-and-outs with seven, than it scored points, with six.
- Mark Sanchez, Jets: Five picks will pretty much kill you every week, even when your backs combine for over 300 yards and your playing at home against a JV team like the Bills who have 10 guys on IR and are playing a journeyman QB from (gulp) Harvard. Can’t seem to find any of those articles from the Jets’ 3-0 start that basically called this kid the next Joe Montana. I wonder why? Maybe because he’s thrown one TD against eight INTs with a 25.6 passer rating ever since.
- Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks: Hasselbeck becomes the first player in the illustrious history of this column to be trendy one week and be not the next. This can happen when you follow up a performance like two weeks ago against the Jaguars with one like last week against Arizona in which he was 10-for-29 for 112 yards and a pick while posting a career low passer rating of 32.5.
I figure since I’ve already ripped the Redskins twice in this column, why not go for the trifecta? Look, everyone knows the way owner Daniel Snyder is treating his beleaguered coach Jim Zorn is shameful and that Snyder is a horrible owner who can’t get out his own way and so forth. But to me the question is what’s more important, power or winning?
It seems like he does what he does – trying to play fantasy football with real players, changing coaches every couple of years, completely emasculating his top employees in public over and over again – because he constantly needs to remind everyone that he’s in charge. Dude, we get it! Your team is worth $263 hundred million billion. You are a fantastic businessman. And yes, you are the owner of an NFL franchise. When does that become enough? Hiring a personnel guy who isn’t just your puppet and a good, experienced coach and then allowing them to actually try to build a team properly won’t make anyone forget that you are the boss. Not routinely throwing mega deals at a few guys while letting that bottom third of the roster, aka all of your depth, just rot doesn’t mean you aren’t fully in charge. Continuing to do what you do will lead to nothing but your team becoming more and more like the Raiders every day and trust me, you don’t want that.
I read somewhere this week that Snyder was quoted as saying he felt sorriest about this year’s disgrace for the fans. If that’s true, Dan, then get out of the way, let football people do the football things, sign some checks and give the fans a chance to feel good about their team. You may be surprised at how successful some teams who do such things can be.