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Clyde Gates: Is It Time to Send a Message?

Jared Wickerham

Since the hiring of John Idzik, "competition" has been a big buzzword around the Jets organization. The idea seems to be that nobody's job is safe. Everybody needs to prove themselves every day. Obviously there are limits. Nick Mangold won't lose his job as starting center if he has a rough game, but it seems sound in theory at least on a rebuilding team without a ton of established players to make people earn their keep. Some in the media have jumped on the Jets for saying the quarterback competition isn't closed and simply naming Geno Smith the starter. I don't see the issue.

Many have been frustrated in recent years with underperformers being allowed to stick on this team and continuing to start long past their due date. There was a frustrating lack of accountability in the Jets organization late in the Mike Tannenbaum Era. Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan seemed to get to a point where they were so caught up in themselves that they could not admit mistakes. The idea of "competition" is a nice change, but it's easy to get caught up in words.

The Jets have an interesting opportunity in front of them. Clyde Gates might have been the biggest reason the Jets lost the game last night, not coming up with four balls he really should have had. One of them would have been a touchdown. Another would have at least put the Jets into field goal range. Gates can easily be cut before Week 3. The Jets can afford to lose his salary. He also appears to be a very low upside player.

You might think this is drastic, but it really isn't. Good teams in the NFL send messages like this all the time. Back during their dynasty in the 1990's, something as simple as laughing on the sidelines late in a loss was sufficient to get you cut from the Dallas Cowboys. That sent a clear message as to what was acceptable. Cutting Gates would put players on notice. If you don't do your job, the Jets will look for somebody else who can. It is of course impossible to quantify the actual impact it would have, but cutting ties with Gates would send an unmistakable message to the guys in the locker room that a lack of performance will end your career with this team.