At the end of it all, the New York Jets need leaders to step up and actually hold those around them accountable for on and off the field issues.
I think by now we would all agree that the season of the New York Jets has officially turned from bad to worse. The Jets lost to the Dolphins in Miami 27-23 this past Sunday, dropping them to 3-6 and making a run at the playoffs nearly impossible. But in a season surrounded by problems at every part of their game, another issue was exposed this Sunday.
One of which puts the Jets’ future in more peril. It honestly seems the team is lacking any sort of leadership on the roster. It is hurting them on all aspects of the ball. In football, a key component that goes unrecognized most of the time is team leadership, which the Jets obviously do not have at the present time.
The first quarter brought an unfamiliar site for Jets’ fans: Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson both did not enter the game. Why? It was eventually announced after the game that both Richardson and Wilkerson were late to a team meeting, forcing Bowles to discipline them and bench them to start the game.
For a team that was 3-5 before this week, you would expect everyone to be motivated to continue the two-game winning streak and embark on a miraculous run to the playoffs. Instead, the players decide to act like children and can’t even get to the practice facility on time. Wilkerson and Richardson, two Pro Bowl defensive players, are not showing any qualities of leadership, and it is hurting the team on defense.
Additionally, there is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The best way to lead a team is by example. And based on performance alone, Fitzpatrick has been debatably the worst quarterback in the league. He has thrown for just 1,982 yards on 56% completion percentage, to go along with just eight touchdowns to his 13 interceptions. Not only has this cost the Jets a remote chance at the playoffs, but it is not helping the younger guys like Bryce Petty to groom them.
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When Aaron Rodgers came into the league, he had Brett Favre as his commander. Fitzpatrick, a man known to be a vocal leader at the very least, ripped the coaching staff during media sessions last week. Fitzpatrick showed a different side, one that was testy and showed zero trust in the coaching staff.
On the same offensive side comes Brandon Marshall. Marshall’s history of practice and in-game scraps dates back to his tenure with the Chicago Bears. Towards the end of his final season with the team, he made headlines by calling out quarterback Jay Cutler and ripping him for his poor performance.
Then, this year’s preseason, he got into a heated altercation with cornerback Darrelle Revis, causing other teammates to intervene, and he got into another one with Richardson during the halftime of the game in Kansas City this year. For a team that has younger receivers trying to learn the game in Jalin Marshall and Robby Anderson, Marshall is not setting a good precedent for these guys to abide by.
History shows that every successful, championship-contending team has a vocal leader to abide by, both by example and vocally. The Cleveland Cavaliers team last year was driven by pure heart and dedication by Lebron James. The Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl winning team three years ago was driven by Richard Sherman and the “Legion of Boom” defensive front. And who could forget the Baltimore Ravens several years ago, driven by Ray Lewis, who got the team absolutely pumped up before heading out on the field?
The Jets play at home this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, another sub-.500 team, and look to give the fans at least something to look forward to. The Jets will then head into their bye week with a lot of discussions ahead. But it remains to be seen which veteran will step up to the plate and become a leader for this team for the future.