LITTLE EARLY TO GIVE UP, DON'TCHA THINK?By Mike Mazzeo
The New York Jets have lost three straight games and lack an offensive identity, and their goal of reaching the Super Bowl seems outlandish right now.
But it could be worse. Much, much worse.
Just look at the standings. Through five weeks of the regular season, the Jets are in 12th place in the AFC.
But on the bright side, the Cincinnati Bengals occupy the second and final wild-card spot in the conference with a 3-2 mark. So the 2-3 Jets are only a game back. And since there are still 11 games remaining, who cares about tiebreakers?
The point is, despite all their flaws, the Jets are right in the thick of it, and there's still time to get everything fixed and make a playoff run.
They need to figure out fast if they're going to stick with Ground & Pound or become The Flight Men. And their defense can't afford to give up 25 points per game. That is unacceptable, and it needs to change.
The Jets haven't faced this kind of turmoil since 2009, when they lost six of seven to fall to 4-6. Of course, they turned it around that year, winning five of their last six to make the playoffs.
Maybe it seems ridiculous that they'll do it again, but why not?
Losing Derrick Mason hurts a bit. But this was a team that needed a wake-up call, and GM Mike Tannenbaum didn't want to have a 2011 Boston Red Sox situation on his hands.
So now it's up to Rex Ryan to turn it around and shut his critics up. This time, though, he's not going to be able to do it with his mouth.
It's time for his players to do it for him. It's time for them to play with fire and passion.
It's now or never.
So why not now?
THAT'S PRICELESS! WAIT, YOU WEREN'T KIDDING?By Jane McManus
Sweet gracious, can the Jets please win a game before we start throwing that word around like that? Someone's going to lose an eye.
Rex Ryan does invite this kind of premature speculation when he talks so loudly about the Super Bowl, and the Jets reached the AFC title game in the last two years, so they have had the talent and the means to go far.
But if you peer closely at his news conferences, Ryan has toned down the rhetoric, and there may be a very good reason for that: He just doesn't have the personnel this season to back it up on the field.
Look at several key groups and you'll see the Jets have issues. The team sent No. 3 receiver Derrick Mason to Houston on Tuesday in exchange for a box of yellowed "Don't Mess With Texas" stickers and a sympathy card. The offensive line performs adequately when Nick Mangold is in the mix, but the Jets might want to assign a security detail to guard his right ankle during off hours, because there are no adequate backups to the starters on the line.
The Jets' defense in one word: underachieving. The team is 11th in yards allowed. If you look up the NFL defensive standings, there aren't a lot of categories in which they crack the top 10. Forget about being the most feared defense in the league, just don't let the Patriots eat six minutes in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
The Jets are no longer a franchise with the pathetically sad puppy eyes. Ryan has brought success and pride. But this may be a year the team misses the playoffs. Maybe next offseason, Mike Tannenbaum won't get so distracted by the bright, shiny cornerback during free agency that he forgets to shore up other positions.
But even if the Jets don't make the playoffs, their fan base can still thank the NFL for the best consolation prize of all: Miami on New Year's Day. Not a bad way to go out.