First there was the finger-pointing, then the blame game and finally the trade.
It can all benefit the Jets tonight in their divisional matchup at MetLife Stadium against the Dolphins by taking their mind off their losing streak.
It has been a crazy two weeks for the Jets, who are faced with the tall task of not only righting their 2-3 ship after a loss to archrival New England, while dealing with a locker room ready to splinter.
“Well, it’s funny, because [we’ve] been criticized two years in a row; we have gone to the AFC Championship Game. I understand we have not won it, but there are a lot of teams that will sign up for that,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “So we must be doing something right.”
The attention now turns to Miami, a 0-4 team that Ryan called a “caged animal,” because their talented personnel does not match up to their winless record.
Yet the Jets have to do more than overcome Miami on Monday night, they need to get past themselves. As if it wasn’t bad enough last week, on Wednesday, wide receiver Santonio Holmes piled it on when he called out the offensive line for what he saw as poor play. Holmes had been vocal about the play of quarterback Mark Sanchez in the past, but he’s now cutting his way through the rest of the team.
“Santonio is a very competitive player. He’s a great guy, a good teammate and a lot of times that competitiveness, that drive to do well and do great — it happens,” Mangold said. “It’s just one of those things [where] you move on and don’t worry about it too much.”
But if the Jets are trying to move on, the fans and the media are doing their part to hold them back.
An “Occupy Florham Park” movement was spawned on the internet earlier this month in response to the anemic offense and a play on the “Occupy Wall Street” protests currently bogging down the Financial District. As if the team’s fan base turning on them wasn’t bad enough, the New York Daily News ran on its back cover a picture of Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum, entitled “Dumb & Dumber.” All this after the Jets made consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances for the first time in franchise history last year.
“Well, hey, not everything’s going to be perfect or the way you want it or something like that. But you know, dumb, maybe. But ‘Dumb and Dumber?’ Because that way you can make it either Tannenbaum or myself depending on who you ask. But man, they took a shot at both of us,” Ryan said. “But, hey, you can write or print or do whatever you want. I wish it was ‘Smart and Smarter.’ That would have been a nicer one. But hey, I’ve been here for three years now, I know how it goes.”
But as over the top as the reactions inside and outside the locker room might be, the Jets still face a must-win on Monday night. A loss would drop them to not only 2-4 on the season, but 0-2 in the division. Ryan asked the team to lay the foundation of hard work during practice leading up to Monday night. It might just be that all the distractions are the key to helping the Jets escape the slide they’re currently in.
“It’s been a good week, we put our heads down and went to work. I think one thing we all understand is when you’re in this business, anything can happen — trades, injuries,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “That’s just what we have to do. So we put our heads down this week, and we’re trying to get one win.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.