Big questions about New York Jets circus
Being the ringleader of this circus can't be easy.
The crazy New York Jets circus.
For six weeks, dozens of Big Apple and North American media have peppered head coach Rex Ryan every day -- and not just with questions about He Who Shall Always Be Named (Tim Tebow).
There are plenty of questions about the club's other high-wire acts, fire-breathers and sword-swallowers who seem to be becoming a permanent part of this club's identity.
Yet the Jets' three-ring extravaganza exists precisely because ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and children of all ages want to know about Tebow. And Santonio. And Sanchez. And Revis. And Rex. And all their death-defying acts.
Hey, have we stretched this analogy too far yet? We sure have, Ryan told reporters at his Thursday morning briefing, three days before the team's season opener at home against their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills.
"The circus thing is kind of a little old for me. But, again, if that's the way it is ..." Ryan said, without completing the thought.
Yes, that's just the way it is. Some things will never change. (We'll kill the Bruce Hornsby spinoff metaphors right now.)
All the hoopla and breathless reporting on Tebow has only magnified scrutiny of the struggles the Jets offence endured during the pre-season. No matter which players were in there, the New York offence failed to score a single touchdown until the past game, when reserves were in.
In the first three pre-season games, embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez and the offensive starters never so much as advanced the ball into the red zone. It was that bad.
Ryan has heard and read the criticisms of his offence. And all the others.
That Sanchez is a dud quarterback.
That Tebow is a joke of a backup, no matter what his value might be in whatever specially tailored alternate offence they spring on the league. That his offensive line is a joke.
That the locker room still hasn't healed from last year.
That the league's best cornerback, Darrelle Revis, is too preoccupied with himself and yet another renegotiated contract for the team's good.
And that star wide receiver Santonio Holmes remains a bad influence -- that his stint as a 2011 team captain was so disastrous, as longtime New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers put it, Holmes was "one of the worst captains in the history of professional sports before losing the 'C' on his jersey this year."
But Jets players all swear they're getting along just fabulously now, thanks. Really. Never mind the scuffles that occurred in practice throughout the pre-season.
"Last season is in the past," linebacker David Harris told me at training camp in Cortland, N.Y. "You guys reported things like we'd be having wrestling matches in the locker room every day, but it was nothing like that.
"We've got good chemistry, and we're just trying to stay together as a team."
During his daily juggling act with the press, Ryan is always fast to heap praise on his players, on his coaches and, yeah, on himself.
But this week, he seems to be rising to his team's defence even more than usual.
"I just think we're a better football team than people give us credit for," he said Thursday. "I also think our organization's a lot better than people give us credit for ... I think we've done a tremendous job of drafting players, of developing young talent.
"Like I said before, and I'm not afraid to say it. I think this is going to be an outstanding football team -- the best team that I've had since I've been here. How that reflects on the record, I'm not sure. But I think this team, and this organization, is heading in the right direction. And I don't know if that's the national perspective, but it's my perspective."
When a reporter suggested it sounded as though Ryan wanted his team to be taken more seriously, the brashness in Rex -- which is just about all of Rex -- gladly took the bait.
"We'll see," he said. "I promise you, our opponent will take us seriously, regardless of who it is."
So step right this way, folks. Buy a box of popcorn, and enjoy the show for the next 17 weeks.
RYAN KEEPS IT IN THE PRESENT
Football coaches try to convince the world that inside their locker room, the focus is on only the here and now.
Not on next week, or next month. Those worries are for another day.
Want proof? New York Jets coach Rex Ryan looked surprised Thursday when a reporter brought up the Jets' Week 3 game, at the Dolphins.
"I never knew we were at Miami, quite honestly. I thought they were coming here," Ryan told reporters. "So that will tell you how far I have looked ahead. But I knew our first two opponents, without question (vs. Buffalo, at Pittsburgh).
"And that's about as far as I got."