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Preseason Ends With Questions About Jets Readiness

The Jets get a touchdown, but not when it counts

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    These guys can't escape unmuddied this time.

    After 201 minutes and 36 unsuccessful drives, the Jets finally found the end zone on Thursday night.

    Greg McElroy, starting at quarterback with the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow circus relegated to the bench, hit rookie Terrance Ganaway for a six-yard touchdown pass. The angels sang out in chorus to celebrate the moment of glory, storm clouds cleared to reveal blinding sunlight and all was finally right in the land.

    Either that or a bunch of guys you've never heard of took the field for the kickoff and a fairly unwatchable football game lurched on for another 40 minutes before it and the preseason mercifully came to an end. Either way, the result for the Jets was the same.

    Thursday night provided the starters with a night off and gave the team one last look at the guys fighting for a handful of spots on the fringes of the roster, but it was just a temporary respite from the harsh light that will resume its position directly over the heads of the Jets on Friday morning. That light has revealed a slew of potential flaws -- the offensive line, the wide receivers, the offensive scheme, the whole offense -- and a dearth of potential solutions.

    For much of the preseason, that light has been cast on guys like Sanchez, Tebow, Wayne Hunter and Santonio Holmes. All of them provided definite reasons for all the attention, but the light won't stay there if the team doesn't improve their results come the regular season.

    The light will go on the guys responsible for putting the team together and for putting the players in position to make their plays. General manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan, in other words.

    Ryan's place in any potential mess is clear and poor results will reflect on him as surely as the early successes were seen as a credit to his style. Tony Sparano may be running the offense, clearly the lesser of the team's two units, but Ryan made it clear that he is the coach of the whole team and Sparano was his choice to install whatever mysterious offense the Jets claim to have in the works for the regular season.

    Tannenbaum's ability to evade any blame for the things that have gone wrong during his tenure is one of the more impressive acts of deflection that the world has ever known. Eric Mangini, Brett Favre, Brian Schottenheimer, Hunter and several others have been Tannenbaum's mistakes, but the G.M. keeps getting to make the choices for the team.

    Part of that has to be because he seems perfectly willing to do anything as long as it satisfies the Jets' insatiable need to be noticed, something that other general managers might avoid in order to focus only on winning. You can't blame a guy for doing whatever it takes to keep his job, although you can certainly blame an organization for wanting those things.

    If the Jets go off the rails this season, Ryan and Tannenbaum have to be held to greater account than they were last year. Steps backward can happen and an 8-8 year is not enough to throw out everything good that the team accomplished under these two, but two years in a row creates a different situation altogether.

    Scapegoats have taken the blame every other time something has gone wrong for the Jets in the Tannenbaum era. There have been so many that there are none left because every player in a key spot and every coach is here because Tannenbaum chose to bring them here.

    At some point, you've got to look at the common thread and that point is on the horizon unless the Jets have a serious course correction.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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