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Mason Trade Reveals New Side of Ryan

Ryan's support of his players reaches a limit

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Time to get your game in gear, Sexy Rexy.

    Ever since he took over as head coach before the 2009 season, Rex Ryan has been a staunch supporter of his players.

    No matter how much criticism Mark Sanchez took after poor performances, Ryan was there to say that he was a quarterback who had the support of the franchise and that no one had lost any faith.

    If the defense broke down late in a game, Ryan would stand up to take the blame and deflect any negativity from being heaped onto his players.

    That changed this week when the team traded Derrick Mason. Whether the deal was a reaction to Mason's public complaints about "cracks" in the offense or because of his subpar performance on the field, the act of shipping him out of town for a conditional seventh-round pick was the loudest condemnation we've ever heard of a player since Ryan came to town.

    Not much of that condemnation was verbal as Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum both stuck to the party line that Mason was traded because of his underwhelming production and because the Texans called to make an offer, but no one needed to confirm it.

    The trade wasn't one they had to make to make the team better -- given the lack of depth at receiver, they may have made it worse -- or one that brought them any significant return or savings. It was a trade that sent a message.

    That message -- we aren't putting up with underachieving players who feel comfortable complaining to the press -- is one that should have an effect on the locker room. It makes crystal clear the belief that the team is going in the wrong direction and that a shakeup was needed to remind everyone that there are consequences to that shift in direction.

    This isn't a move without risks. Turning Mason into a scapegoat -- no matter how hard they push the idea of Jeremy Kerley being the reason this happened, no one is missing the subtext -- may not sit well with every player in the locker room.

    But that discomfort had to be part of the plan, a plan that's been in place in plenty of other locker rooms around the NFL over the years.

    It hasn't been Ryan's way, but Ryan's way isn't working right now so he has to try something different to get the results he wants.

    That adaptability is a good sign for the Jets moving forward, even if a roster that still has plenty of non-Mason problems remains a bad sign for the rest of the season.

    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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