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The True Identity of the Jets Remains a Secret Entering Week 17

As Pete Townsend once asked, "Who are you?"

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    In the history of football, there has rarely, if ever, been a more concerted effort to create a brand than the one the Jets engaged in leading up to this season.

    They went after more stars than the biggest groupie on Hollywood Boulevard in an attempt to stamp themselves as an attraction worthy of the Big Apple. They wound up with a cast worthy of "Ocean's Fourteen," and the additions on both sides of the ball were enough to make everyone think there was going to be a better offense and defense than the ones that went to the AFC Championship Game last year

    On top of all that, they were led by a coach who made it clear anytime he got in front of a microphone that their team would be one that beat teams with an unrelenting running game and defense. All of that was enough to get them their own television show and a lot of preseason buzz, but, 15 games later, it all appears to have been as mythical a creation as anything dreamed up by the ancient Greeks. 

    The Jets might have bigger names than they had last season, but it's hard to say that they are any better on either side of the ball than they were last season. The defense has been a massive disappointment. Antonio Cromartie has had his moments and he's better than Lito Sheppard, but the team still struggles to stop any receiver that isn't guarded by Darrelle Revis. The pass rush is mostly an illusion, which certainly doesn't help the defensive backs and adds to the feeling that whatever menace they had at this time last year simply disappeared.

    As for the offense, it still lives and dies with Mark Sanchez. That was bound to happen to a certain extent, but they don't have a running game to carry them this season that has appeared on a consistent enough basis to make Rex Ryan's continual pledge to ground and pound teams into submission seem nearly as genuine as his regard for his wife's feet. 

    All Ryan's talk of overwhelming the opposition has resulted in a team that's outscored their opponents by a whopping total of 34 points. Ten wins and a playoff spot is nothing to scoff at, but the simple truth is that the Jets have underperformed expectations. Even worse, they've underperformed the team that they've shown themselves to be at their best moments of the season.

    Outside of a long playoff run, there's no positive spin to put on these facts or on the fact that the Jets have failed to walk the walk they talked up all offseason.

    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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