Hey Rex, It's Not About the Fans

The Jets have to take control of their season

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Jets kick off the second half of their schedule against the Jaguars on Sunday, and Rex Ryan wants the crowd at the Meadowlands to be a big part of the game. For the second time this season he implored Jets fans to make life miserable for the opposition, a strategy that paid off when the Patriots picked up four delay-of-game penalties in the second game of the season.

    "We need a great effort this week, so I am challenging our fans.  I know they’re going to challenge me, and rightfully so, but it’s my job to get this team ready to go.  Be prideful that this is your football team and we can accomplish everything we set out to do and I think when we get that energy from our crowd, that might be the difference this week."

    If the crowd is the difference between the Jets winning and losing a game, it's going to be a pretty depressing end of the season for the Jets. 

    There's nothing wrong with engaging the fans. It's good PR and it's nice to recognize the people who spend their money supporting the team, but the last thing Ryan needs to worry about is Jets fans showing up. This is a group of people that have survived Rich Kotite, Browning Nagle, the fake spike and a million other indignities without losing their interest in the team. They'll show up for the game on Sunday and they'll cheer, so long as there's something to cheer for. 

    They were there and cheering against Buffalo on a cold and rainy afternoon, only to have their cheers silenced on five occasions by Mark Sanchez interceptions. Two weeks later, they were there and cheering against the Dolphins, and continued cheering even after the Jets gave up 21 points on boneheaded plays during the third quarter. That's a pretty good indication that they'll show up on Sunday. 

    Funnily enough, Ryan's cheerleading could wind up being the only thing that assures that they don't keep showing up and making noise. It's not enough to inspire fans with words, not at this point in the season. The Jets need to do it by playing hard, smart football, and this weekend is as good a time to start as any. The Jaguars are 4-4 and on the fringes of the playoff mix, just like the Jets. They are exactly the kind of team the Jets need to beat if there's going to be a reason to take them seriously.

    It's also exactly the kind of team that the Jets have made a habit of losing to by shooting themselves in the foot. If they keep doing that and Ryan keeps begging the fans to bring the love, he'll wind up sounding like a politician who was just caught in bed with a dead hooker.

    Those guys get voted out of office because they've abused the relationship with the voters, and Ryan won't do any better by putting the onus on the fans when it should be on his players.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.