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The knives are starting to come out for the Jets.
There's an inevitability to the news cycle following wins and losses in an NFL season. The Giants were the dreck of the Earth after Week One and now they're the toast of the town because they beat the Eagles.
The Jets are in the down part of that cycle right now and the greatest player in franchise history has decided to add his two cents. Joe Namath went on the radio with Michael Kay Monday and took direct aim at Rex Ryan for the loss.
"It’s rather alarming," Namath said. "It starts at the top. Coach Rex Ryan, he’s been doing a great job, getting us to two conference championship games, but there’s one thing about the athlete: You keep telling him how good he is, he’s going to start believing it to the point that he may not be preparing quite the way he should. He may be losing some respect for the other team."
"I think these guys might be believing that they’re better than they are. Rex has been the only coach that we know, in maybe the history of the game that I’m familiar with, that keeps continually telling his guys how good they are. And they have been pretty good -- pretty good -- but they haven’t won a championship yet. I think they’ve got to remember that there’s room for improvement."
It is hard to argue with Namath's final point. The Jets do need to improve if they are going to take the next step and win a title, but it is hard to find too much to like about the timing.
If Ryan is pumping these players up too much when they lose, then he has to be doing it when they win games as well. If there's no criticism at that point, then it rings fairly hollow when you decide that one bad game outweighs all of the good ones.
Ryan's response was fairly measured, saying that Namath isn't around the team enough to know what really goes on and that he has an invitation to come down to practice if he wants to see what's really going on.
Measured responses aren't going to make the sniper fire following Sunday's loss go away, though.
It's not like the Jets haven't faced a massive backlash after a bad loss in Ryan's first two seasons, but this one is a lot different because it has nothing to do with Mark Sanchez. Every other bad loss could be pinned to the quarterback and explained away as part of the learning process that comes with playing the position.
But Sanchez was the best thing about Sunday's game and the places the Jets struggled -- offensive line and defense -- were the places that Ryan had always pegged as the biggest strengths of the team. The Jets looked a step slow all day against the Raiders, something that might have to do with preparation or it could speak to a roster that's less talented than it was in the last two years.
We all knew that this day was going to come at some point during Ryan's tenure as Jets coach. No one really expected it to come in Week Three of this season, but that doesn't change the fact that Ryan is now faced with the prospect of finding answers that he's never had to find in the past.
One bad loss can be erased easily. A few in a short period of time becomes something different, though, and if they come it will make Namath's criticisms look like the smallest potatoes you've ever encountered.