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N.Y. Jets at Seattle Seahawks preview: A dishonest, mediocre season continues

jetslogo111709_optBY SAM HITCHCOCK
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

"Sanchez’s main problem is when there’s any hint of a defender close he goes to pieces." – ProFootball Focus.

In related news, the New York Jets’ opponent this week is the Seattle Seahawks, in Seattle. This hardnosed squad from the Pacific Northwest plays out of CenturyLink Field, considered by many to be the hardest place in the NFL to play because of the raucous fans (affectionately dubbed their “12th man”).

The Seahawks are 4-0 at home, and in their four road losses this season, each game has been decided by a touchdown or less. According to PFF, Seattle has the best pass rush in the NFL, the ninth best pass coverage, and 12th best rush defense. So this could be tough sledding for the Jets.

In the spirit of Democracy and the 2012 election that was held this past week, here are the questions looming over all others for the Jets. When does the lying stop (sound familiar American public)? When do head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum drop the surreptitious act and quit the machinations they are trying to pull over their fans and the National Football League and admit it is time for Plan B? How do Ryan and Tannenbaum avoid joining the U.S. unemployment ranks?

There does not seem to be any pragmatic approach for the Jets changing their fortunes, as the best solution anyone is suggesting at this stage is either Tim Tebow deputizing Mark Sanchez’s quarterback role or Tebow replacing Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight as the change-of-pace running back. The logic behind this being “the offense might not be better, but at least it won’t look worse.”

The reality is that the Jets suffered injuries to their No. 1 receiving option (Santonio Holmes) and best player (Darrelle Revis), and like nearly any NFL team the effect from those losses is catastrophic. Without Holmes and Revis, and because of poor appraisals of some of the key cogs on offense, this team cannot do anything above average.

There is a considerate answer, but I’m not sure either Ryan or Tannenbaum are humble enough to accept it. Sports fans these days are smarter and more informed than ever, thanks to a surfeit of information out there available at the touch of a button (or movement of a finger). Jets fans have watched some gruesome defeats, but get splashed with Ryan’s detached optimism, ultimately coming away even more annoyed at management’s refusal to accept the reality of what they see and read.

The Jets are not a very good football team, and failure to acknowledge this further alienates fans. (Maybe the best example was Ryan holding off on Revis for IR in the case they made the Super Bowl.) If the Jets lose this week, then Ryan and Tannebaum should speak candidly with Gang Green fans about the state of the franchise.

Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan did just this when his own team lost last Sunday, putting them at 3-6. Shanahan took the initial backlash of criticism (being forthright in the 21st century comes at a cost), but Washington fans know they have RGIII and their time will come.

Ryan and Tannenbaum should explain that they were crippled by the Revis and Holmes injuries, and while that is not excusing failure, it helped bring about disappointment. The next seven games will be “tryouts” to determine who has a long-term place with this franchise (specifically for Sanchez, Greene, the linebacker corps, and any receiving target other than Jeremy Kerely, etc.). If Ryan truly believes that Sanchez can be a franchise quarterback, that the Jets have the right horses to run a “ground and pound,” and that they have the correct personnel to rush the passer, then those players need to start producing results.

The NFL is not the NBA. A franchise does not need to land a superstar or blue-chip stud to have a bright future (although a very good quarterback helps tremendously). Parity is rampant because 22 players are on the field at one time instead of 10. Cleaning house would be acknowledging failure, but it is the only way that the Jets can emerge from sinking further in quicksand. Put more simply, if the key players in place are not the answer, a search for new players needs to begin.

On the other side of the ledger, the Seahawks seem to have found their centerpiece for the future. Quarterback Russell Wilson has eight touchdowns and two picks over his last four starts, and is showing an adeptness at escaping pressure and extending plays out of the pocket with his legs and finding the open target downfield.

They have a tough, grinding running game led by Marshawn Lynch, and an emerging receiving corps that has rallied around their rookie signal-caller. They have excellent speedy pass-rushers, and a secondary that bruises and punishes receivers. Seattle is a team that has an identity, an identity eerily similar to the one the Jets wanted to develop.

The Jets are no closer to becoming a complete team than they were at the beginning of the season, but after another political season filled with artful dodges from both candidates, a calculated risk of accepting failure would ultimately bring appreciation from fans after an offseason and half-season full of dishonesty. There is no paucity of talent in the NFL on both sides of the ball; the key is assembling the pieces. After Sunday, it will be time to hit the RESET button.

Seahawks 24, Jets 10

 

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