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It's All Fun and Games Until the Jets Lose a Game

Laughs won't be so easy to come by if Jets don't start playing together

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Nov 12, 2010  |  Updated 5:08 PM EDT
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If the dressing up like your twin brother and the angry wide receiver weren't enough to keep your mind off of the increasingly disconcerting performances by the Jets, perhaps a round of penalty push-ups will do the trick?

The entire staff of the Jets organization, right up to owner Woody Johnson, gathered after practice this week to do three sets of 10 push-ups after the team committed three penalties during the session. We're not just talking about the players or the coaches. They did the calisthenics, which makes us hopeful that we'll get a look at Rex Ryan in action in some kind of bonus feature on the team's 2010 highlight DVD.

We're talking ticket salesmen, executives and the guy who washes the jock straps. That's a highly unusual way of combating the discipline problems that have contributed mightily to the recent run of poor play, but it's an awfully good way of deflecting attention from the fact that the team can't even get through a workout without running afoul of the rules.  

That kind of misdirection has become a hallmark of the Ryan era. Every time the coach gets up in front of the media to unload his one-liners and bold predictions, it takes the focus off of whatever is ailing his team at that particular moment. It is a plan that has worked out like a charm.

On most other teams, the growing pains of Mark Sanchez or the underperforming defense would dominate the discussion in the week after a third straight dismal outing by a team with high expectations. With the Jets, though, they struggle to find any attention next to Ryan's weekly kabuki theater press conferences. 

For the most part, that's been a good thing for a team that, despite their success, has been in a mostly developmental stage. At some point, though, all the waving of arms and kicking of feet won't be enough to keep people from making this all about the on-field results. Halfway through the second season of the current regime seems like a pretty natural time for that shift to occur, which, unsurprisingly, just happens to be the moment that we reach when the Jets take the field against Cleveland this weekend. 

If they lay another egg against the Browns, there will be questions about more than just the quality of the talent on the roster. There will be questions if all the costume parties and corporate push-ups aren't actually contributing to the problem because they show a lack of seriousness toward adressing the things holding the Jets back from their optimum performance. The connection between the two may be tenuous in reality, but the perception is what will matter.  

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. You can follow him on Twitter.

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