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Jets aren't done yet, but they're teetering close to the ledge

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- So, here we are again. Talk, talk, talk. Chatter, chatter, blame somebody and talk some more. Me, me, me. Multiple, unfulfilled guarantees. These are your New York Jets: full of potential, won't shut the hell up.

The latest from the Jets is a crazy 24 hours, beginning with tabloid headlines that may or may not be correct, morphing into vehement denials, and finally ending with a 30-21 loss to New England dropping them to a pedestrian 2-3 record. Thus these Jets are either about to embark on mission impossible to save their alleged Super Bowl season or will fracture into finger pointing and anonymous quotes.

Something is going to happen and it's going to be damn entertaining to watch the Jets reach their potential or blow up like a warp core.

Sometimes you don't know whether to pat the Jets on the back or order them tranquilizers and a muzzle. Their game against New England showed the typical good Jets/bad Jets. They showed toughness fighting back from a 17-7 deficit and put a scare into the Patriots. Quarterback Mark Sanchez had his teeth rattled on the first play of the Jets' opening series, yet hung tough. The Jets' defense made the Patriots sweat (a bit), getting to Tom Brady and forcing him into the first red-zone interception of his career.

The bad Jets, however, are always ready to make an appearance. During the week leading up to the game, Antonio Cromartie dared Brady to throw at him and Brady obliged, throwing at Cromartie and every other Jet to the tune of 321 yards and a 100 passer rating. This once almost impenetrable Jets' defense is suddenly highly beatable.

But none of this is the story. The story is how the New York Daily News claimed on Sunday three Jets wide receivers -- Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, and Derrick Mason -- staged what amounted to an insurrection against offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer by complaining about his play calls to head coach Rex Ryan. This is juicy tabloid stuff, the Mutiny in the Meadowlands.

In an extremely awkward moment, the Jets then released a written statement before the game declaring the Daily News story false. And so, Mutiny-gate was born, like a primordial monster from prehistoric sludge.

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A Jets' team source told CBSSports.com that there was absolutely no truth to the story and Burress, Holmes and Mason themselves all vehemently denied it to reporters after the game. I'm not sure what to believe except that when organizations put out statements like the one the Jets did they are usually accurate. Yet there is the undeniable fact that all three players -- big talkers with the accompanying egos -- could have easily done this.

Remember, Holmes and Mason have already been chatty. Both after the loss to Oakland spoke about how the offense failed to make timely adjustments. Holmes ran his yap again after the Jets were demolished by Baltimore saying the line needed to block better and Sanchez needed to be more accurate. Both things are true but it gave the appearance Holmes was throwing teammates under not just a bus but a semi. Mason threw his two cents in claiming there were cracks in the offense.

Mason played sparingly and the coaching staff is clearly irked by him. It wouldn't be a shock if the team totally benched or cut Mason.

Sanchez was so bothered by some of what he heard he called a team meeting so everyone could air their differences. That apparently irked Sanchez, who called the offense together the day after the game and addressed the matter privately with them.

This is going to be a story that won't go away anytime soon. Combine losing with what might be cracks in unity -- despite the team's denial -- and you have a potential disaster brewing for New York.

The key word is potential. It's still early in the season and to bury the 2-3 Jets this soon, a team with a great deal of heart, would be foolish. It's not panic time.

Yet there is definitely something askew with the Jets and it goes beyond the lack of offensive production and a suddenly vulnerable defense. These aren't the Jets that went to two consecutive conference championship games. This is a wrinkled facsimile, a chemistry experiment on the verge of boiling over, and the issue with the receivers is only a symptom.

"Being 2-3 right now is a little different," said tight end Dustin Keller. "I can't recall starting off like this."

That's the problem for the Jets. Look around their immediate vicinity. The Patriots and Bills are cruising, and a start like this leaves little room for error.

So what happens to the Jets now? More talk? More losses? Another great run? Hell, who knows, but it's going to be interesting to watch.


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