Who is to Blame for Jets “Circus” Reputation?


August 30, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan watches on the sidelines against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

Coach Rex Ryan has a chip on his shoulder heading into the 2012 opener on Sunday. It has nothing to do with making guarantees, it has to do with the outside perception of the New York Jets. Specificially, he is getting tired of the “circus” reputation that the team has. Here is what he had to say on the subject at yesterday’s press conference:

I just think we’re a better football team than people give us credit for. I also think our organization is a lot better than people give us credit for. The circus thing is kind of a little old for me, but if that’s the way it is, I think our record shows otherwise in the three years we’ve been together. I think we’ve done a tremendous job of drafting players (and) developing young talent. I’m not afraid to say it, I think this is going to be an outstanding football team, the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here. How that reflects on our record, I’m not sure, but I think this team, this organization, is headed in the right direction and I don’t know if that’s the national perspective, but it’s my perspective.

Rex is right to be frustrated, because lately, the circus reputation is not of his doing. Oh, the Jets have had the problems in the past, especially in 2011. We have been over and over the locker room situation, but that is in the past. The Jets have shown they are past it, and seem bonded as a team, but yet they still have the reputation. Who’s responsible?

Jan.1, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Jets Woody Johnson before a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

No matter how much Woody Johnson wants to complain about the reputation, he can not be absolved of blame. Whether you like Tim Tebow or not, acquiring him added to the circus reputation. You don’t bring in the most popular backup quarterback in the league, and then wonder why your team is viewed as a circus. He wanted that. Woody had his team schedule a welcome press conference for Tebow. No team ever schedules a welcome press conference for a backup QB. That adds to the perception.

Woody also wanted “Hard Knocks” back in Jets camp, when everyone else, including his GM and coach, knew that it would be disruptive. Woody wanted all of that attention. You can’t try to get all of that type of attention, and then be annoyed that your team is viewed as a circus. Sorry, Mr. Johnson, you are partially to blame.

Why else is the team viewed as a “circus”? The media! That’s why. First of all, the term “circus” was obviously not started by the Jets. The media coined that term. Then, the media writes all the headlines out of Rex’s press conference “Rex is tired of circus reputation”? You think? Of course he is tired of it. Maybe if the media stopped reporting that perception, the perception would die away.

Let’s look at other ways that the media has continued that perception.

Aug 26, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes (10) during warmups for their game against the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

This guy, for instance. Santonio Holmes had his well-documented troubles with the team in 2011. We are not going to review them, we have talked about them enough. The point is, when he has misbehaved, we have all been correct in pointing it out. But, the media focuses on what could be negative, rather than taking a positive outlook. Let me show you.

Santonio Holmes made the following comment about Sanchez’s reaction to the Tim Tebow trade:

I think since day one it was a focus that kind of rattled him a little. And I use that word only to say, ‘Wow, how did this happen?’ And those were words that came out of his mouth.

Based on that comment alone, all the headlines came out about how Mark Sanchez was “rattled” by the trade. All of the mainstream media was talking about it, and coach Ryan was asked about it yesterday. Coach disagreed, but that is not the point. The point is that it was focused on. Nobody focuses on the answer about how Santonio helped Mark, take a look:

He talked to me and I basically told him that this is his team, you’re the starting quarterback, Tebow is here to help. From the words that came from Coach Ryan, he told me that Tebow’s going to help us keep the drives going, keep the ball, score touchdowns, and win ball games. Those were the exact words I gave to Mark, to give him that sense of security that he’s our starting quarterback and that Tebow is here to help us win as many games as he can.

Whether he was rattled or not, who cares? It’s natural to be rattled in that type of situation. Wouldn’t any of us be rattled, if our employers brought it a very popular performer at our job, in the same job as we have? Of course we would. Mark Sanchez is human, the fact that he was rattled is natural, not headlines.

Nobody took the positive angle, talking about how Santonio helped his quarterback get past his feeling of being rattled. No, that wouldn’t add to the perception. The Jets are a “circus”, in the mainstream media’s mind, so all headlines have to reflect that.

October 17, 2011; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) talks to ESPN sideline reporter Suzy Kolber after the Jets win over the Miami Dolphins at the New Meadowlands Stadium. The Jets defeated the Dolphins 24-6. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

Don’t forget about ESPN. It might just as well have been “Hard Knocks”, the way ESPN was camped out at Cortland every day, making a big deal out of every move anybody makes. During those fights at camp, they received more analysis than a heavyweight title bout. The Patriots had so many fights at one point, that Bill Belicheck had the team run “gassers” before the Jets ever did. Did that receive media coverage? No, God forbid we portray problems with the sainted Patriots. Nope, instead, we have to keep covering the every move of the New York Jets. Overanalysis gives the impression of a circus.

Finally, it spilled over into a New York paper yesterday. The New York Post ran their NFL preview, and on the cover, was a picture of coach Rex Ryan looking just like a circus clown, riding in a clown car. How can the Jets shed that perception, when a paper in the New York area is feeding directly into it with pictures? It’s just not right

Rex Ryan should be annoyed about the “circus” reputation. The reason? All of these other factors are contributing to the creation of that reputation.