Giant Fixation Haunts Jealous Jets

As if Lin-sanity wasn’t overhyped enough, here comes Tim-sanity.

Or, if you prefer, Tebowmania. Whatever it’s labeled and however it’s packaged, there’s a good chance that the New York Jets’ latest attempt to make a big splash will once again result in New York’s second-class football team ending up all wet.

Until the Jets finally end their 43-year-old drought and reach another Super Bowl – let alone win one, or even multiple National Football League titles, like their MetLife Stadium co-tenants, the New York Giants – they’ll continue to suffer from their unmanageable inferiority complex.

Only now, the big difference from the past is that the Jets’ overwhelming insecurity when it comes to continually trying – and failing – to outdo the Giants is adversely affecting their player personnel moves.

So, the rare signing of a backup quarterback who is undeservedly more popular (based on his football exploits) than the more accomplished starter in front of him, shouldn’t come as a shock considering it’s the Jets who made it happen.

Last week’s trade by the Jets with the Denver Broncos for quarterback Tim Tebow however, signals a whole new type of alarming red flag for Jet fans.

Prior to adding Tebow and the undeniable circus that comes with him, the break from the Same Old Jets, as they were often called for decades, was a refreshing and progressive change.

It didn’t matter that the Jets, with a lone Super Bowl appearance and a single NFL title more than four decades ago brazenly declared that they were about to take over New York City from the now four-time Super Bowl champion Giants.

Or that, the shiny new Meadowlands stadium that the Jets partnered with the Giants to build was – according to the little brother of New York’s sibling football rivalry – to be nicknamed JetLife, when the Jets were to have taken the building over with their supposed great success at a level that has actually been achieved only by the current defending Super Bowl champion Giants since the stadium opened.

The recurring Super Bowl guarantees of Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan were also laughed off, even after the Jets repeatedly came up short of backing Ryan’s overly brash and shameless words each time.

And, the ridiculously petty, juvenile, and classless move of the Jets covering up the painted logos signifying the Giants’ first three Super Bowl titles before the Giants beat the Jets (as the designated home team) last Christmas eve, in a game that provided the trigger to send each team in completely opposite directions – the Jets, from playoff contender to finishing last season at .500 and missing the postseason, and the Giants, embarking on what would become a season-ending six-game winning streak, culminating with a fourth Super Bowl championship logo for the Jets to want to cover up? No, not even that cried for as much attention as what they Jets are doing with Tebow now.

None of that mattered much because from where the Jets had come, through so many long and tough years, they were at least back on the map – especially as they appeared in consecutive conference title games in Ryan’s first two seasons in New York while the Giants missed the playoffs in each of those years.

The Jets were the talk of the town.

Even if they have since dressed up the rest of their appearance as an organization with a big red nose and floppy shoes, at least they had finally put a face back on the franchise.

But, they never won a championship during their recent resurgence. Not a division title, not a conference title, and certainly not the ultimate prize, like the 2007 Giants captured just prior to Ryan’s 2009 arrival in New York and again last year, after Ryan wrote yet another blank check that his big mouth couldn’t cash.

It’s quite obvious to most – even to the majority of true, hardcore Jet fans – that trading for Tebow represents a brand new level of jealousy and self-doubt like we hadn’t yet seen from the Jets (isn’t it always the ones who tell you how great they are who truly lack substance; and like the Giants, isn’t it normally the quiet ones who lead by example, and who actually achieve the greatest successes?).

Only this time, it’s not Ryan putting unnecessary pressure on his team to perform with hollow promises, agreeing to participate in other needless distractions like an HBO “Hard Knocks” special, or creating the environment for a turmoil-filled locker room that behind the scenes was anything but the type of cohesive unit that Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin fostered.

Much worse, it’s now messing with the roster in favor of stealing the back pages of New York newspapers and selling more personal seat licenses and merchandise (there were already Jet fans spotted in Manhattan wearing Tebow jerseys within a few hours of Tebow simply being rumored of signing with the Jets, though the deal wasn’t yet official).

In fact, the Jets were in such a hurry to get the trade done for all of the wrong reasons, they didn’t even read all of the terms of the contract, and were unpleasantly surprised when they realized they were to pay $5 million (they later split the difference with the Broncos) to consummate the deal.

And, that’s where Jet fans become suddenly and directly involved.

From owner Woody Johnson to general manager Mike Tannenbaum, to Ryan, those steering the direction of the Jets’ franchise seem to need a roadmap to get back on course after once charting what seemed to be a fast lane to success.

Not all that long ago – just three years – the Jets traded all the way up to the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft to land the player they soon touted as “The Sanchise,” their franchise quarterback of the future.

Does Sanchez still have plenty of room to grow and improve? Sure, just like almost any young NFL quarterback who has only been in the league for a short time – especially ones like Tebow, who to this point, has proven a lot less in the NFL than Sanchez has.

But, when you go around telling the entire football world for three straight years that your quarterback will undoubtedly lead you to a Super Bowl victory, perceptions and expectations can change quickly, fairly or not – even after four road playoff wins and consecutive AFC title game appearances in that quarterback’s first two years in the league.

Fast forward to this month, and in a span of a couple of weeks, the dysfunctional Jets’ brass goes from publicly pursuing the legendary Peyton Manning (before he took Tebow’s place in Denver), to giving Sanchez a sizable vote of confidence (with a three-year, $40.5 million contract extension that included $20.5 million in guaranteed money over the next two seasons), to signing Drew Stanton as Sanchez’s viable backup, to letting Stanton go, and finally, to undermining Sanchez with the addition of a more popular yet less skilled backup.

Keeping up with all of that might have been enough to give Sanchez whiplash, that is, if he hadn’t already experienced that from the Jets’ inability to adequately protect him with a subpar offensive line last season.

And, instead of addressing real issues like that, the Jets employ their most recent new-fangled marketing machine following another Giants’ Super Bowl victory.

Just as they brought in Brett Favre immediately after the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII victory, the Jets foolishly and condescendingly think they can distract the New York City area from the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI win with a pseudo-superstar.

However, at least Favre was a future hall of famer with some considerable game left. That move made legitimate football sense.

The Jets can declare all they want how dynamic Tebow could be in their system, but the track record speaks for itself.

Yes, Tebow can be clutch, and yes, he can run, and yes, he plays with the heart and drive that any NFL coach would ask of any player.

However, lacking the same skill level of Sanchez as a legitimate NFL starting quarterback, Tebow’s star status is largely built on hype and propaganda in a new sports media age in which a player no longer needs to accomplish much of significance before being promoted as the next big thing.

While Tebow was taking credit for in fairness, a few remarkable late comeback wins on his part, it was the Broncos’ defense that put him in the position to win low-scoring games after Tebow failed miserably through the first three quarters in almost all of those games.

And then, the pro-Tebow movement was suspiciously quiet while Denver lost its final three games of the regular season last year. Tebow and the Broncos fortunately backed into the playoffs with a mediocre 8-8 record, as 9-7 Tennessee missed the postseason despite beating a playoff team (Houston) on the road in the final week – the same week that Denver lost 7-3 at home, to 7-9 Kansas City, as Tebow went 6-for-22 for just 60 passing yards, only 16 rushing yards on six carries, and no touchdowns, while losing a key red zone fumble and throwing an interception, with the playoffs on the line in the regular season’s final week.

Buyer beware, Jets – especially since the they know firsthand how much Tebow can be stopped.

Like most teams, the Jets relaxed with a late lead against Tebow after stopping him all game long in Denver last season, as Tebow ultimately beat the Jets with a terrific 12-play, 95-yard touchdown drive in Week 11.

Although, if that’s the guy the Jets think they’re getting now, they might want to remember what took place before that drive – nine previous Broncos possessions during which Denver’s Tebow-led offense ran a total of just 29 plays for a total of 57 yards as the Broncos lost a fumble and went three-and-out seven times during a stretch in which they punted eight consecutive times.

Yet, the Jets say Tebow can be used for up to 20 plays a game to enhance their Sanchez-led offense.

Interesting. How many other NFL teams game plan at all for their backup quarterbacks before it would be absolutely necessary, due to something like an injury forcing their starting quarterback out of action?

So much for that new contract affirming that the Jets’ faith in their incumbent quarterback.

This is, after all, the Jets we’re talking about though. So, it’s fitting that they would risk stunting Sanchez’s growth and development for a backup quarterback who arrived in New York on his own private Jet.

The Jets could have learned from the Giants in that regard, and noted that even quarterback Eli Manning underwent the typical growing pains of a young quarterback as late as Week 15 of his fourth NFL season before he became a Super Bowl MVP only weeks later, which sparked him to making great strides in each successive year, leading to another Super Bowl MVP for Manning our years later.

Why bother with that however, when you can be reactionary to the Giants’ success and impulsively go after a money-making gimmick?

It’s the perfect fit (not in terms of a football move of course, but purely from a business standpoint) – Tebow going to a team known as Gang Green, to play in a uniform color that’s most closely associated with money (which is what Tebow’s signing is all about for the Jets), to play for a franchise that’s green-eyed and envious of what the Giants have won.

According to those running the show with the Jets though, Tebow’s signing is all about making the Jets’ offense tougher to stop.

Well, if the Jets wanted to accomplish that, they could have avoided another impulsive move that didn’t make sense back in January, when they impetuously and imprudently brought in Tony Sparano from Miami as their new offensive coordinator just a few days before they could have waited to spend more for Joe Philbin, the architect of the league’s leading offense in Green Bay. Instead, Sparano and the Jets now have to deal twice a year, within their own division, with beating Philbin, who was hired as the Dolphins’ head coach nine says after the Jets hired Sparano.

So now, Sparano will apparently try to use Tebow to work his wildcat (which has stopped working as NFL defenses have caught up to it) into a Jets offense that would have been served greater by filling holes at other offensive positions and simply allowing Sanchez the chance to improve in his fourth year in the NFL without giving away snaps to Tebow, and without the disruptions that having Tebow on the roster will surely provide.

Adding Tebow to the mix could push Sanchez to perform better than he did last season, but more likely, it will serve to disrupt things for the Jets, especially if Sanchez struggles early next season and Tebow Nation is pushing for their guy to get his shot.

That’s no way to run an offense in the NFL. Entering an NFL season with the quarterback position being a question mark is usually a recipe for failure, and yet, the Jets – the only team that would do it – actually traded themselves into a quarterback controversy, something that every NFL team tries to avoid at all costs, even when that circumstance happens on its own.

Even Tebow himself could be negatively affected by what he’s getting himself into.

What NFL franchise other than the Jets holds a press conference for a backup quarterback, as the Jets did on Monday?

But then, what NFL franchise shares a stadium and the biggest media market with one of the league’s oldest franchises which has four Super Bowl titles, including one last season and two in the past five seasons?

Always obsessed with trying to slice into the Giants’ New York City area market share, the Jets, to a damaging fault, lose sight of chasing after far more meaningful pursuits, ones that if they spent more time focusing on, they could ironically be a better team and cut into that market share naturally, by winning.

Obviously, there was no press conference for Stanton, nor was there one held by the Giants when Manning’s backup David Carr, was re-signed by the Giants last week.

That alone speaks volumes about the real reason$ (yes, that’s an intentional dollar sign in that word, representing Tebow’s vast marketability) the Jets traded for Tebow.

Being trotted out for Monday’s ridiculous spectacle was something Tebow could have done without if given the choice.

It’s all part of the misguided plan. To take over the city, whether the Jets win or not.

Perhaps the Jets figure that from a marketing perspective, Tebow adds something the Jets’ locker room lacked – a needed “good guy” presence after wide receiver Santonio Holmes and others made the team divisive, even bickering in the huddle during the fourth quarter of a loss in their final game last season – one that at the time, might have clinched playoff berth but which ended up in a loss to Sparano’s Dolphins.

What the Jets miss is that real Jet fans just want to see their team win, and even the most ardent supporters of Tebow, the wildcat, or those who still have complete faith in Ryan and the Jets’ front office have to look in the mirror and honestly ask themselves:

Had the Jets reached a third straight AFC title game instead of missing the playoffs last season, and had the Giants missed the postseason instead of collecting another Super Bowl championship last year, would Tebow still be a Jet right now, or would he have instead landed in a place like his home town of Jacksonville, for a team that truly needs the Tebow marketing machine – not the average-at-best quarterback – a lot more than the Jets do?

About the Author

Jon Wagner

Jon has been a credentialed writer with New York Sports Day since 2009, primarily covering the New York Knicks and Hofstra men's basketball. He has also occasionally covered other college basketball and New York's pro teams including the Mets, Giants, Jets, Islanders, Rangers and Cosmos (including their three most recent championship seasons).Jon is former Yahoo Sports contributor who previously covered various sports for the Queens Ledger. He's a proud alum of Hofstra University and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting (which he attended on a full scholarship).He remains convinced to this day that John Starks would have won the Knicks a championship in 1994 had Hakeem Olajuwon not blocked Starks' shot in Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals.

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