The New York Jets are becoming well known for their Super Bowl guarantees. First, it was QB Joe Namath back in 1969 ensuring the Jets would beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. Most laughed in his face, but Namath’s guarantee came true with a 16-7 victory in Super Bowl III.
Today, New York head coach Rex Ryan does his best Namath impersonation guaranteeing a second Jets Super Bowl every season. But Ryan would be wise to keep his mouth shut in the summer of 2012.
This is a franchise that hasn’t done much winning since that Super Bowl victory, so at first, the attention and hype was great for the New York Jets. It provided life, a certain fire that allowed Ryan to double the Jets’ AFC Championship appearances in his first two seasons. Losing a close game in Pittsburgh last January, had everyone thinking 2011 was the year Ryan’s guarantee would come true.
But now, the Jets are an experienced team. The team won four playoff games in two seasons. Young players like CB Darrelle Revis, C Nick Mangold and OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson grew up and became perennial Pro Bowl players. In addition, Ryan has brought in veterans such as LB Bart Scott, RB LaDainian Tomlinson, and WR Plaxico Burress to help boost the Jets’ roster.
At the end of 2010, the New York Jets sort of lost their underdog identity. It wasn’t their fault; they became a veteran, experienced team. And veteran, experienced teams don’t need extra attention and hype.
Sure, blame can be handed to quarterback Mark Sanchez for his lack of improvement, maybe at offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for his “pass happy” offense, and other players for quitting, crying, or complaining, but it starts with the head coach and the tone he sets at the start the season.
Ryan guaranteed a Super Bowl, not for a team that was a long shot, but for a team a fair amount thought could go to the Super Bowl. They may not have been “the dream team”, and New England can always be a thorn to any team’s side, but for the first time, the Jets were favorites. Ryan’s guarantee ultimately led to the Jets’ demise.
The truth is Ryan’s guarantee doesn’t mean anything. It only tells the NFL that Ryan believes the Jets will win the Super Bowl. What NFL coach doesn’t believe his team will win it all? If Ryan didn’t think that, he doesn’t belong in the coaching business. Where he goes wrong is when he makes his team the target.
Underdogs can make guarantees because they really have nothing to lose. If they win, it becomes an amazing story (aka Joe Namath). If they lose, no one really cares because they weren’t supposed to anyway: they quickly become forgotten. But when a favorite makes a guarantee, they have nothing to gain. They either win, like they were supposed to, or crash and burn like the Jets are doing now.
By all means, Ryan shouldn’t tone down his enthusiasm or fire. Ryan and the Jets should approach every game with a chip on their shoulder, the “We’re taking it to you, come get us” attitude. Ryan and the Jets, however, should keep that attitude to themselves. Otherwise, Ryan might find it very difficult to make that next step and ensure his guarantee comes true.