Jets could fall victim to expectations they’ve created

The Jets have brought in big names like LaDainian Tomlinson, but will they help?
The Jets have brought in big names like LaDainian Tomlinson, but will they help?

Last year, the Jets dramatically exceeded expectations with a three-game winning streak to start the season. Then, they lost three in a row. They hovered around .500 for a bit, eventually falling to 4-6 before another three-game winning streak pushed them to 7-6. Coach Rex Ryan declared failure (prematurely) after an ugly 10-7 home loss to the Falcons. A Christmas gift from the Colts, back-to-back wins over the overrated Bengals and an upset of the Chargers in the divisional round delivered an unlikely berth in the AFC title game.

Even without a single addition to the roster over the offseason, last year’s success would have created expectations of a return to the postseason, at a minimum. With a string of new, big-name players — Antonio Cromartie, LaDanian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes — joining the team and Jason Taylor possibly being next to sign on the dotted line, the Jets will have supplemented their squad with a 2007 All-Pro cornerback, the 2006 NFL MVP, the Super Bowl 43 MVP and the 2006 NFL defensive player of the year.

So, basically, it will be Super Bowl or bust for the Jets in 2010.

It’s a reality that has been overlooked or deliberately ignored: The Jets have, by all appearances, taken a page from the Daniel Snyder fantasy football playbook. However, as the regular season approaches — and as the team prepares to assume an even higher profile with an appearance on this year’s edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks — the pressure will be mounting. On the first Monday night of the season, in the inaugural primetime game at the new Meadowlands Stadium, the Jets will be expected to win handily.

If they fail, collars will tighten a bit. And then, six days later, the pressure will be even greater to avoid falling to 0-2.

That said, it’s quite possible the Jets will get off to a great start, that quarterback Mark Sanchez will show solid development in his second season, that Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will replace the yardage gained in 2009 by Thomas Jones, whose absence will impact the locker room. Instead of fading from 3-0 to 4-6, they could streak to, say, an 8-2 start and, unlike 2008, not fade down the stretch.

Still, the stakes will be high. Failure will invite intense scrutiny from fans and media. And if the team fails to make the postseason, people will be held accountable.

So who would take the fall? It’s possible no one would lose his job, and that seats simply would be hot in 2011. It depends on how badly the team finishes; an all-out meltdown, albeit unlikely, could prompt owner Woody Johnson to take dramatic action.

And it’s not coach Rex Ryan who’d face the chopping block. Ultimately, a disastrous season could finally claim the position of the man who built the team: GM Mike Tannenbaum.

Though he deserves much credit for putting together the roster that became last year’s AFC finalist, some league insiders already are expressing doubts about an offseason splurge that could result in the addition of two guys with character concerns (Cromartie and Holmes) and two guys who have found a way to cram a capital "I" into "team" (Tomlinson and Taylor). The broader question is whether Tannenbaum has a plan or a philosophy, or whether he’s simply adding recognizable names in the hope of selling tickets, generating buzz and possibly getting people to forget about the misguided decision to draft linebacker Vernon Gholston.

Regardless of how it all turns out, the Jets will be one of the biggest stories of the 2010 season. For a team that has languished behind the Patriots in its division and the Giants in its own stadium, any attention will be considered good attention this year — unless and until the Jets fail to live up to the lofty expectations their quest for publicity has created.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

Sponsored link: Jets tickets available

The Jets have brought in big names like LaDainian Tomlinson, but will they help?
The Jets have brought in big names like LaDainian Tomlinson, but will they help?

Last year, the Jets dramatically exceeded expectations with a three-game winning streak to start the season. Then, they lost three in a row. They hovered around .500 for a bit, eventually falling to 4-6 before another three-game winning streak pushed them to 7-6. Coach Rex Ryan declared failure (prematurely) after an ugly 10-7 home loss to the Falcons. A Christmas gift from the Colts, back-to-back wins over the overrated Bengals and an upset of the Chargers in the divisional round delivered an unlikely berth in the AFC title game.

Even without a single addition to the roster over the offseason, last year’s success would have created expectations of a return to the postseason, at a minimum. With a string of new, big-name players — Antonio Cromartie, LaDanian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes — joining the team and Jason Taylor possibly being next to sign on the dotted line, the Jets will have supplemented their squad with a 2007 All-Pro cornerback, the 2006 NFL MVP, the Super Bowl 43 MVP and the 2006 NFL defensive player of the year.

So, basically, it will be Super Bowl or bust for the Jets in 2010.

It’s a reality that has been overlooked or deliberately ignored: The Jets have, by all appearances, taken a page from the Daniel Snyder fantasy football playbook. However, as the regular season approaches — and as the team prepares to assume an even higher profile with an appearance on this year’s edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks — the pressure will be mounting. On the first Monday night of the season, in the inaugural primetime game at the new Meadowlands Stadium, the Jets will be expected to win handily.

If they fail, collars will tighten a bit. And then, six days later, the pressure will be even greater to avoid falling to 0-2.

That said, it’s quite possible the Jets will get off to a great start, that quarterback Mark Sanchez will show solid development in his second season, that Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson will replace the yardage gained in 2009 by Thomas Jones, whose absence will impact the locker room. Instead of fading from 3-0 to 4-6, they could streak to, say, an 8-2 start and, unlike 2008, not fade down the stretch.

Still, the stakes will be high. Failure will invite intense scrutiny from fans and media. And if the team fails to make the postseason, people will be held accountable.

So who would take the fall? It’s possible no one would lose his job, and that seats simply would be hot in 2011. It depends on how badly the team finishes; an all-out meltdown, albeit unlikely, could prompt owner Woody Johnson to take dramatic action.

And it’s not coach Rex Ryan who’d face the chopping block. Ultimately, a disastrous season could finally claim the position of the man who built the team: GM Mike Tannenbaum.

Though he deserves much credit for putting together the roster that became last year’s AFC finalist, some league insiders already are expressing doubts about an offseason splurge that could result in the addition of two guys with character concerns (Cromartie and Holmes) and two guys who have found a way to cram a capital "I" into "team" (Tomlinson and Taylor). The broader question is whether Tannenbaum has a plan or a philosophy, or whether he’s simply adding recognizable names in the hope of selling tickets, generating buzz and possibly getting people to forget about the misguided decision to draft linebacker Vernon Gholston.

Regardless of how it all turns out, the Jets will be one of the biggest stories of the 2010 season. For a team that has languished behind the Patriots in its division and the Giants in its own stadium, any attention will be considered good attention this year — unless and until the Jets fail to live up to the lofty expectations their quest for publicity has created.

Mike Florio writes and edits ProFootballTalk.com and is a regular contributor to Sporting News. Check out PFT for up-to-the minute NFL news.

Sponsored link: Jets tickets available

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