One of the over arching themes surrounding the 2012 New York Jets has been the lack of talent assembled by General Manager Mike Tannenbaum. This team lacks the dynamic play makers necessary to be competitive in todays NFL. Having talented players gives any team the opportunity to win games and be successful. But when talent is at a minimum, it’s those teams that possess true Leadership that find a way to prosper.
A scarcity of talent is assuredly a detriment to any team. But what the Jets lack in talent, which can always be acquired, they lacks that much more in leadership. From the coaches, to the players, I’ve struggled to find the leadership "and leader" that inspires this team to play at a level that rarely has anything to do with G-D given talent.
On any successful football team, there is never doubt as to who the leaders are. Leaders are vocal, leaders lead by example; they put the team before themselves. They shoulder the responsibility of holding all others to the same standard.
On this team, it is difficult to identify who that person(s) is. Seldom, if ever, do we see Mark Sanchez take a position of leadership. As the franchise quarterback, Mark has not stepped up, been vocal or lead by example. The leadership qualities that we never question in Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are qualities that we have not seen from Mark Sanchez and quite frankly, I don’t believe he possesses.
One the defensive sides of the ball, some of the veterans that we expect to be leaders have not stepped up either. Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Antonio Cromartie, (not sure if I "expect" it from him) players that have been in this league for a long time, have allowed dysfunction and tomfoolery to become synonymous with Jets football.
Some would say that the head coach ought to be the leader of any team. And to that I would have to agree. I just don’t believe Rex Ryan has been that. Jets players have continuously reflected poorly on their coach and the organization by speaking too freely and giving the sports media free reigns to criticize the discipline of this team. Successful leaders don’t have these issues with their players. Rex Ryan established himself as a players coach and as a result lacks the respect/fear that leaders like Belichick, Parcells and Landry have/had from their players.
This off season, whether it is via the draft or free agency, the Jets should seek out talent of course, but high character players as well. This team desperately needs an identity change and bringing in new faces, with new attitudes, will serve them well.
For 17 years we have watched Ray Lewis epitomize leadership on and off the field. Recently, we have seen other first round picks like Patrick Willis and Brian Cushing change the culture of their franchises, doing exactly the same. This spring, the NFL draft will feature another talented linebacker that embodies all the "Intangibles" that the doctor has prescribed for the 2013 New York Jets.