The Jets have been under criticism all season. It seems that gang-green has become America's punchline. Every single action the Jets make is subject to criticism and negative reception. Other story lines have stayed in their home base media markets. Let's face it... New York is the "mecca" of sports and media. The Big Apple calls for big attention.
Take a look around the league. Other teams are worse off than the Jets. Many teams are in similar situations such as the Jets. AFC East rival Buffalo is stuck with mediocre quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick signed a six-year $59 million contract, with a $10 million signing bonus. All this was because of a fairly strong start to 2011. Fitzpatrick finished 2011 with 23 interceptions and 24 touchdowns. Fitzpatrick currently has 13 interceptions and 21 touchdowns, on a Bills team that hasn't lived up to pre-season hopes.
In 2011 Sanchez had 26 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions. Sanchez signed a contract extension that guaranteed a little over $20 million dollars. Sanchez did earn his contract in a sense... he took the Jets to two AFC championship games. What did Fitzpatrick do? Sanchez also has 13 interceptions this season paired with 12 touchdowns (11 fumbles also). He has been atrocious at times, but other teams are also facing quarterback catastrophes (Arizona.... Thanks Ryan Lindley for winning a game for the Jets).
Mark Sanchez is a New York quarterback. With that comes high expectations and extreme criticism. The quarterback position is already one that warrants criticism, however playing in New York magnifies it times 10. Sure the majority of his play is inexcusable, but it becomes a national issue because of where he plays.
Many teams have not played to their potential. Everybody jumped on the Lions bandwagon last year, claiming that they would be the favorite in the NFC North for years to come. They were a team on the brink. This season the Lions find themselves at 4-9. Their coach has been lackluster and boneheaded at times (like Rex Ryan). Schwartz lacks control over his players. Little national attention has been brought upon the Lions collapse. Maybe last year was a wonder year and the Lions are the same Lions, but outside of the Detroit media market little is said about the struggles of the Lions. Stafford has thrown for over 4,000 yards, but he also has 12 picks and only 17 touchdowns.
The Jets are 6-7, with a chance (slight chance) to make the playoffs. Many teams wish they were in this situation. The Jets shouldn't be complacent with 6-7, nor should any team, but they could be worse off. The chances to win out the next three games are high, however the Jets are still under fire from all media outlets due to their performance against weaker opponents.
It is easy to pass judgements about Sanchez's play, but no one can question his toughness...both mentally and physically. Simply put, Sanchez is a beaten man. Outside of coach support and some players, Sanchez is despised by many. The media is constantly portraying him in mocking cartoons (e.g. Clown picture in NY POST). He is a viral joke for his "butt fumble". The man dates Eva Longoria and even gets disrespected and questioned for that. It is fair to judge play, but every aspect of Sanchez is under scrutiny. Sanchez has handled the negative cries with grace, but some things he says tend to back fire. For instance, after beating the Jaguars Sanchez claimed the Jets were "catching fire". Let's get real Mark. The statements are made open for national jokesters to pick at.
Tim Tebow has created a frenzy. The man is genuinely a good person, but even that is mocked by New York media. ESPN has full out hours dedicated to the man making him even more polarizing. Stephen A. Smith mocked Tebow for saying how "excited" he is to be a Jet. Tebow is a normal person. He has emotions, but he does what is best for the team. His scenario is not the best, but he deals with it. Just because he isn't doing any miracle plays, doesn't mean he isn't worthy. New York media digs for something to get the good guy. Journalists found players (which has been questioned by players like Greg McElroy) to rip on Tebow anonymously. It is foolish to take a jab at a guy who has little impact because he rarely sees the field.
An influx of judgements and stories will flood sports media outlets throughout the week questioning the re-signing of Braylon Edwards. The Jets claimed Edwards off waivers from the Seahawks. Edwards had a solid career with the Jets. In 2010 he had 904 yards and 7 touchdown catches. He has chemistry with Sanchez. Earlier in the month, Edwards gained notoriety for tweets defending Sanchez and calling the Jets "idiots" (he recently apologized). Many will question the Jets integrity and low blow them for this move. It should be looked at in one way... the receiving core is decimated. This is a low risk move.
Fans have the right to be upset by poor play. Their judgements are fair and just for the most part. It is hard to be in a city with two teams. One is glorified, the other is a punch-line often referred to as "Little Brother". With the Giants recent success, anything short of a Super Bowl is not worthy by New York standards for the Jets. Jets fans deserve a lot, but also set expectations high. It's a rivalry to try to best the Giants, but there needs to be a balance where the teams can live in harmony. With media constantly covering both teams, harmony probably will never be reached. The Jets don't want to be the Giants (maybe take some Super Bowl wins), but constantly are compared to them. The systems are different.
It's a tough city to play in, but someone's gotta do it. New York is the hub of culture....be it sports, music, or art. With low brow media sources (New York Post) and high brow sources like The New York Times, people are bound to get different opinions. Some are educational and valid, while others are attention grabbers. A domino effect is created and the news topples down domino by domino, state by state until the whole nation is aware of what is going on in the city that never sleeps. The Jets miscues have been well documented, but across the nation other teams face similar issues. Unfortunately for gang-green they're the NEW YORK Jets, not the Winnipeg Jets.