Rex Ryan's team has a bad reputation. Credit: Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
There has been plenty of Jets coverage this offseason. As bob pointed out yesterday, outsiders seem to have a negative impression on the team. Mike Lupica refers to the team as clowns, Brian Baldinger calls the new offense a joke, Turf Show Times - fans of the team that just hired Brian Schottenheimer - believe the team is falling apart, Niners Nation thinks all the coverage may be a form of trolling, and so on and so on.
I believe we here at Gang Green Nation know better. We know that Cortland has been a great team building experience in the past; it resulted in back-to-back AFC Championship Games. We know that Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes have worked out their differences, working out together in Florida and California. We know how things can get overblown regarding this team. We know that training camp fights happen, from Rob Turner vs. Vernon Gholston to James Ihedigbo vs. Thomas Jones to the Herman Edwards speech about acting like professionals instead of some guys on the street.
As far as I know, there have been 0 arrests with the Jets this offseason. (Muhammad Wilkerson was involved in a car accident and Kenrick Ellis served time for an incident prior to his NFL days.) There have been 0 holdouts. There have been 0 players who have not passed their conditioning test. (Jeff Otah failed, but he was never officially a Jet.)
When Rex Ryan came to the Jets in 2009, he turned the defense into a physical team, and players like Bart Scott let the world know that they would hit hard. In my opinion, this seemed to lead into some ticky-tacky calls that went against the Jets. This happened in games refereed by experienced officials. Later that year and in the following seasons, this seemed to be less frequent in my opinion. (This still happens, of course, but not as bad as early 2009, in my opinion.)
With these experienced officials locked out, and with newcomer replacements who are not only outsiders to the Jets but to the NFL in general, what will the reaction be when Gang Green hits the field tonight? We've already seen examples of terrible officiating this offseason.
Mike Freeman reports that players in the Hall of Fame game "were laughing on the sidelines at how clueless they were." Last night, one referee referred to the wrong team. There was also an incident when the play was stopped because the chains weren't moved. They are being booed by fans (though that's not necessarily new). And more and more people seem to be agreeing that having replacements "strongly compromises the integrity of the game". Mike Florio explains that these replacements come from the third tier or lower because Division I officials are not allowed to also work for the NFL.
How the replacements react to the Jets tonight can further add to the negative reputation if they make calls like the unsportsmanlike conduct for a benign sack celebration by the Green Bay Packers' Nick Perry last night. In addition, I don't want them missing holding calls on our offensive lineman because they need to be able to play well without getting away with bad play. Likewise, I don't want them calling phantom holding calls when our defense is on the field.
I will not only be watching the players tonight. I will be keeping an eye on the offiicals.