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The Upside of the Trip Heard Round the World

The longer the Sal Alosi saga drags on, the less the players have to deal with questions about the last two games

By Josh Alper
|  Friday, Dec 17, 2010  |  Updated 6:42 AM EDT
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The Upside of the Trip Heard Round the World

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We're now well into day five of what some are calling Tripgate and there doesn't seem to be any end in sight to the investigation stemming from Jets strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi's decision to trip Nolan Carroll of the Dolphins during Sunday's loss.

Alosi is now suspended indefinitely after admitting to both the trip and an organized effort to have the team's inactive players line up closer to the sideline than permitted by the rules. That admission is leading to more questions about how far up the chain of command the decision making about building the wall went -- just who ordered the Code Red, to borrow a phrase from "A Few Good Men" and Rich Cimini of ESPN New York -- and guarantees another round of questions from reporters on Thursday.

At some point, a point we are well past right now, this all just becomes white noise. Alosi got what he deserved for tripping Carroll while the part about how and exactly where the team lines up on its own sideline seems like digging for a way to make more people pay the price for the act of one man. It's against the rules, but feels a lot more like gamesmanship than an actual attempt to circumvent the rules with the goal of gaining a meaningful advantage.

The continuing attempt to turn Alosi's trip into a story with legs also means that we'll be reading more stories about the lack of any top-down control around the Jets. This is much more meaningful because it plays into everyone's bigges fear about Rex Ryan's coaching style and fits right in alongside years of other evidence that the Jets simply can't run themselves like a professional organization that steers clear of the off-field nonsense that's taken up so much time this season.

That's not good for the long term, but it could work out well in the three-game sprint to the finish. All of the focus on Alosi and his wayward knee has assured the Jets players a relatively hassle-free week as they try to prepare themselves for a game in Pittsburgh. Absent the tripping scandal, you can be sure that the players would be overwhelmed with questions about what's wrong with them and whether they can fix it in time to salvage something of a season that looked so promising less than two weeks ago. 

Ryan's been very good at keeping heat off his players during his tenure as head coach. It's one of the benefits of making yourself such an easy target by running your mouth every time you step in front of a microphone. Alosi has done a better job than Ryan ever could in one of the most uncomfortable moments in a Jets history light on comfortable ones.

Mark Sanchez, in particular, should thank Alosi for stepping into the spotlight because he'd be getting his annual late-season grilling right now if not for the trip. That's not going to make his job any easier against the Steelers defense come Sunday, but it would seem to be easier to prepare without having to worry about getting crushed by questions about his shortcomings.

Plenty of other players can be thankful for the same thing this week. If they don't figure out a way to solve Pittsburgh, however, it will all be for naught because the questions will come with even more fire behind them next time around.

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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