The Trivial Continues to Rule at Jets Camp

Training camp fights are all anyone wants to talk about with the Jets

Fights happen at NFL training camps.

The Jets had one of them on Monday and a few on Tuesday that led Rex Ryan to halt practice and make the team run sprints. That point can be forgotten when you read some of the "Won't somebody think of the children" hysteria in coverage of the Jets on Tuesday, but fights are a natural outgrowth of large men fighting for jobs while playing a violent sport.

There were plenty of fights in practice during Ryan's first three seasons, but no one seemed to think it was a sign of the circus coming to town. They were shrugged off, just as every other team gets to shrug them off and everyone moved on without wondering if there was a need for three rings and a tent.

Such nonchalance is not allowed for these Jets. They earned a dysfunctional image last season and now everything gets viewed through that filter.

That's not to say that there aren't problems with the team fighting every day. The problem is that they were told to stop by Ryan and Mark Sanchez on Monday and that they appear to have totally ignored both men.

Making them run is a high school move, but it usually gets the response that coaches want from their players. The issue for the Jets is that their obsession with public image means they'll spend time on this that should be spent on other matters.

Things like building a competent passing offense, for example. Santonio Holmes is expected to be out for at least a week with a rib injury, several other receivers have been injured during camp and they aren't all that talented when healthy.

Last week's big Jets circus story was that cornerback Antonio Cromartie said he was the team's second-best wideout and it was trumpeted as a sign of dysfunction because of the sniping that went on last season. Perhaps that's true, but the response should have been a reckoning that Cromartie might actually be right.

Clearly, that's not a good thing for the offense. The Jets passed on adding vets like Braylon Edwards and Terrell Owens, both of whom wound up in what's got to be an interesting Seahawks camp, and now must sleep in the bed they made or wait for players to fall out of favor elsewhere if they want to upgrade the receiving corps.

That's certainly a possibility, but it would mean trying to catch a newcomer up on the offense in a hurry and that is always a dicey proposition. It seems more likely that the Jets have different plans for the offense.

Mark Sanchez's status as starting quarterback has been promoted at every opportunity by the Jets, but every other move they've made with the offense has pointed to a group that will work best with Tim Tebow. Second-round pick Stephen Hill was the biggest addition to the receiving corps and his two best skills, deep routes and run blocking, both fit with a quarterback whose two best skills are throwing deep and running the football.

Holmes has always been effective catching the ball on quick slants before turning it into a larger gain after the catch and the team has stuck with Wayne Hunter even though he's a major liability any time you drop back in a conventional offense. Dustin Keller's the only player on offense whose presence really wouldn't fit in a Tebow-run offense and the Jets have ignored the impending free agent's desire for a new contract.

It's a lot of circumstantial evidence, especially put against the consistent refrain that Sanchez is the unquestioned starter, but the case feels more compelling every day that goes by without the Jets acquiring offensive pieces that would suggest they have no interest in the kind of offense that Tebow ran last season.

You hear a lot about the possibility of a quarterback controversy between Sanchez and Tebow. It's strange that you hear so little about an offense that seems designed to create no controversy whatsoever because only one Jets quarterback looks equipped to run it.

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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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