As an entertainment job, there aren't many beats better than covering the New York Jets. As a sportswriting job, there aren't many worse.
The records of the Rams (3-5-1) and Jets (3-6) are very similar, but the surrounding storylines couldn't be more different. It’s all about expectations. The Rams' narrative tells of a new coach, a very young team, and a starting quarterback who is starting to shine. The Jets' narrative is basically a weekly review of "Springtime for Hitler," peppered with as many damaging player quotes as you can find.
How much of this is perception and how much is reality, and how closely matched are these two teams? If you're asking, then you're interested in real football talk.
But if you want to talk real football and the Jets, you first have to outshout the likes of professional carnival barkers like Skip Bayless, Darren Rovell, the various New York tabloids, professional fantasy pundits, pretty much all of ESPN, and even Rex Ryan himself. And then, once you've got an audience's attention, the truths you have to tell aren't much prettier than the meta-narratives floating around the broadcast world. They're just more real.
That's life in the trenches for our friend Joe Caporoso, lead writer of the excellent TurnOnTheJets.com. He takes some time out of his busy schedule of media debunking to answer a few of our questions, and give us some real insight to this Jets team.
RamsHerd: The Jets seem to be bottoming out under Rex Ryan, after going to the AFC Championship game twice in his first two seasons. Are you ready to blow this team up at this point, or do you still have hope for a turnaround the season?
TOJ: There won’t be any kind of major turnaround happening this season. From a talent standpoint, this team has the worst group of skill position players in the NFL and I’m not saying that as a hyperbole. On defense they lack a pass rush and remain too slow at the linebacker position. Realistically, they need about 4-5 new starters on both sides of the ball in 2013 so I suppose I do advocate blowing it up.
RamsHerd: The Jets hardly lack for lightning rods, and you have two of them at quarterback in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. How do you handle the two of them for the remainder of the season, and does Greg McElroy enter into the picture?
TOJ: Mark Sanchez is going to start the remainder of the season. The decision to bring in Tim Tebow was pushed on to the coaching staff by Owner Woody Johnson. They very clearly had no desire for him and no plan on how to use him. Tebow will remain a poorly used gimmick. McElroy isn’t a factor at all. There have been desperation calls for him from some Jets fans but he is a 7th round pick with zero experience. Rex will lose the locker room if he hands the job to him with two quarterbacks on his roster who have won playoff games.
In 2013, Sanchez will be back because of how his contract is structured. Tebow will be traded or cut. And the Jets will likely bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job with Sanchez in camp. Maybe a Matt Moore type player.
RamsHerd: Obviously, age and injuries have caught up with this team in a big way. How different is this season if you still have Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes in the starting lineup?
TOJ: Not that different. GM Mike Tannenbaum will use that as an excuse to keep his job this off-season but this team had major problems even with those guys on the field. They are thoroughly mediocre at right tackle, guard, running back, quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker…and that has nothing to do with Holmes or Revis.
[Related from TOJ: Mike Tannenbaum Must Go]
RamsHerd: he Rams rebuilt their team with a sizeable number of Jets castoffs, starting with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Meanwhile, the Jets continue to struggle on offense under Tony Sparano. Would you take Schottenheimer back at this point?
No. Sparano’s incompetence doesn’t cover for Schottenheimer’s incompetence and stubbornness when he was here. I don’t blame Schottenheimer’s struggles on Sanchez either because his offense was poor under Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, and Brett Favre as well.
RamsHerd: Despite the cloud of negative press surrounding the team, the Jets have shown an ability to step up and play good football from time to time (vs Bills, Pats, Colts, and first matchup with Miami). What are their keys to playing well, and can they find success against the Rams?
TOJ: The Jets play well when their defense is stopping the run and forcing turnovers, and their offense is running the ball well opening up a downfield play action passing game…all things they are very inconsistent at.
I think they will play well on defense against the Rams, creating a close, low-scoring game. Ultimately I just don’t have enough faith in their offense to pull a win out though. I’d take the Rams in 16-10, 17-13 type game.
Our thanks to Joe for his responses. You can find my answers to his questions on his site today. And if you're looking for more quality Jets insight, he's a great follow on Twitter as well.