The immediate reaction to news that New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith will miss up to 10 weeks after getting sucker punched by a teammate was, “Oh no.”
Followed quickly by, “That’s so Jets.”
In this, the few blissful weeks of the year in which every NFL team has Super Bowl aspirations and every quarterback is a potential MVP, it should surprise absolutely no one that the Jets are once again putting the “fun” in “dysfunctional.”
That coach, Rex Ryan, was the same one who got as much attention for his ultimately baseless boasts and fondness for his wife’s toes as his football acumen.
No, the utter and complete shock about the latest episode of the Jets being the Jets is that the NFL’s biggest band of misfits somehow still has fans. Seriously. You couldn’t be this inept if you tried.
Year after embarrassing year, millions of New Yorkers put their faith and trust — not to mention their hard-earned cash — in the Jets, convinced that this season will somehow be different. It never is — though you can argue that the Jets might have outdone themselves with this latest debacle.
“Coach addresses that,” Jets president Neil Glat said when asked about the incident at the NFL owners meeting in suburban Chicago.
Now, fights in training camp are hardly a rarity. Why, Cam Newtown scuffled with cornerback Josh Norman on Monday, while Dez Bryant and Tyler Patmon mixed it up last week.
But the dustups almost always take place in the heat of practice, a byproduct of the game’s inherent physicality, and are generally both short-lived and harmless. They don’t happen in the locker room and, in the very rare instances they do, most players are smart enough to realize that doing lasting damage to the starting quarterback is not the way to endear yourself to management.
Can you imagine anyone decking Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady orAndrew Luck? No way.
Smarts, however, are in short supply all around when it comes to the Jets.
Enemkpali, he of the iron fist, was suspended while at Louisiana Tech after punching an off-duty police officer who was working security at a bar. That punch was thrown after Enemkpali was sprayed with pepper spray, according to police reports, so not exactly a brain surgeon that one.
His draft profile included this description: “Flashes shock and violence in his punch. … Keeps battling to the quarterback.” And a story last December by Scout.com was headlined, “IK Enemkpali is Eager to hit a quarterback.”
Yet the Jets saw fit to use a sixth-round draft pick on him in 2014.
NFL teams gamble on problem children all the time — see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Dallas Cowboys — but it’s usually players whose talent and skill make the potential fallout worth it. With his low draft status and three tackles in six games last season, Enemkpali doesn’t exactly fit that description.
But the Jets haven’t made a sensible personnel decision for years now. If they had, no one would have cared that Enemkpali punched Smith because Smith wouldn’t have been the Jets starting quarterback.
Rewind to the Jets’ humiliating season last year — I know, it’s hard to keep track — and pretty much everyone knew Smith was not starting quarterback material, physically or mentally.
He was 3-10 as a starter, throwing as many interceptions as he did touchdowns (13), and lost three fumbles. (None because of his teammate’s backside, however. Small victories.) He also cussed a Jets fan who heckled him after a 24-17 loss to Detroit.
Instead of drafting a top-notch quarterback, however, the Jets in their infinite wisdom decided instead to stick with Smith and take on a project in Bryce Petty in the fourth round. They did sign journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, and it’s further indictment of the entire organization that most people think the Jets are actually improved because of Tuesday’s locker room bust-up.
A third-stringer punches your starting quarterback, and the team actually comes out the better for it. That’s so Jets.
this article was republished with permission from the original author, Nancy Armour, and the original publisher, USA Today.