The Jets are 4-7, but their problems run much deeper than their disappointing record. There's dissension among the ranks, and that includes the fan ranks.
Over the weekend, de facto team cheerleader Ed Anzalone, known to Jet diehards as Fireman Ed, turned in his homemade Jets fire hat and called it a day. Anzalone announced that while he would remain a backer of the team, he was done going to Jet games. The fans, he said, had grown against him, angry that he chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey during what was perhaps the worst game of the young quarterback's career.
Ed used the New York Metro to tell New Yorkers that enough was enough.
“I decided to leave Thursday, because the confrontations with other Jets fans have become more common, even though most Jets fans are fantastic,” he said.
Ed claims that Jet fans have stepped up their verbal assaults on him at games, which is an unfortunate turn of events. A losing season shouldn't also mar the identity of the team's loyal fan base.
In Jet land however, Ed's departure is emblematic of a team turned on its side. No one's quite sure what to do about the quarterback controversy. Mark Sanchez has indeed struggled, but he's the team's multimillion-dollar man, entrenched in the position because of the implicit trust his new contract supposedly guaranteed.
But how much longer can Sanchez survive?
Fans, of course, are clamoring for the team to give Tim Tebow a shot. Luckily for management, the dilemma is stalled at the moment, due to Tebow's rib injury. But when Tebow returns, it seems almost inevitable that the Jets will give him a real shot to lead the offense and not to just run a few series.
The 49ers, who are having a much better season than the Jets, recently made a quarterback switch. Alex Smith, who led the team to six wins, was replaced by Colin Kaepernick when he went down with a concussion. Even with Smith healthy, however, the Niners are sticking with Kaepernick, who's explosive on his feet and has a cannon for an arm. Overall, team management and coach Jim Harbaugh feel Kapernick is the guy who's going to get the team to the Super Bowl and not just the divisional playoffs.
The jury is still out on whether Tim Tebow is a “big game quarterback,” but that shouldn't matter for the Jets right now. At 4-7, they have the unwanted legroom to experiment at the position. There isn't a ton to lose. After his pitiful second quarter against New England this past week, Mark Sanchez gave detractors the fodder they needed to demand his ousting. Soon, the Jets front office may have to listen to the fans who so unceremoniously booted Fireman Ed.
Head coach Rex Ryan, it's reported, is likely to survive the Jets 2012 firestorm. With a slew of injuries and a weak roster after that, it's tough to pin the failure on Ryan alone. With or without Tebow, expect a new look for the Jets next season -- different coordinators and a new system. How many times have we heard that from the Jets though?