They went from contenders to pretenders to downright a punchline, all by the end of the first quarter of Sunday night’s loss at M&T Bank Stadium.
The 34-17 humiliation in Baltimore — the Jets were down 27-7 at one point midway through the second quarter — emphasized how far the Jets have to go to be an elite team in the NFL. Perhaps disillusioned by consecutive AFC Championship Game appearances and a 4-2 mark in the postseason, the Jets had seemingly joined the upper echelon of NFL teams. But last week’s loss in Oakland and then the horrendous first half against the Ravens only underscored the fact that this team is also a very beatable team.
In other words, there is nothing terribly special, let alone “Super,” about these Jets.
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Against Baltimore, one of those elite teams the Jets have seemingly forever been chasing, the Jets showed they are not there yet.
This was a Ravens team that has made it a tradition to win. The fifth-winningest team in the AFC the previous decade, Baltimore is coming off a 12-4 season last year. Making the postseason is the norm now for the Ravens — with seven playoff appearances since 2000, including four of the last five seasons. During this five-season stretch, they’ve averaged double-digit wins, compiling a 50-30 record.
The Jets have three playoff appearances in the past five seasons and have a 43-37 record with just two double-digit win seasons. A winning team, let alone a winning mentality, can’t be built overnight and the fans in Baltimore bear testament to that fact. The Ravens came to Baltimore in 1996 and didn’t produce a winner until 2000. That year, in their first playoff appearance, the franchise won its first and only Super Bowl. It was the product of years of diligent drafting and building a winner.
No shortcuts are taken in Baltimore — a lesson the Jets could learn.
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has built his team on the draft, something the Jets have eschewed in pursuit of a get-rich-quick mentality. With just a combined 12 selections in the past three NFL Drafts, the Jets have been forced to bring in veteran talent. The Ravens’ 53-man roster has 32 players that were drafted by the organization, dating back to Ray Lewis’s selection in the first round in 1996.
There is a pipeline in Baltimore that breeds success.
There is a foundation where players come into the organization and not only fit the scheme, but also learn it from the onset. That is a far cry from the rent-a-player mindset entrenched in Florham Park, N.J. right now.
The Jets’ big names, all brought in over the past two years to get the team over the hump, disappointed in the Week 4 fiasco. The marquee names who take up so much of the team’s headlines, and even more of the salary cap space, continue to disappoint.
Plaxico Burress was limited to three catches for 33 yards and also had a big facemask penalty to negate a potential first down. Then there was Santonio Holmes, acquired in a trade last spring, who rarely looked in sync with the offense and had just three catches — though he was targeted 12 times — for 33 yards. Veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson had negative yards rushing and just one catch for four yards. He, like nearly everyone else on offense, was a complete non-factor.
That is not the return on investment general manager Mike Tannenbaum had in mind when he went out and made big moves the past two offseasons. These investments are looking less and less likely to pay out any “Super” dividends and more like a Ponzi scheme. Good tickets, however, are still available at MetLife Stadium for most Jets home games. Imagine that.
But as another sellout crowd in Baltimore began celebrating in the fourth quarter of their blowout win, their chants and “Jersey Shore” mock fist-pumps were well deserved. These celebratory moments, now to be expected in Baltimore, have been built on a decade of hard work, not a quick roll of the dice.
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.