Commentary

Gang Green looks like Team Extreme

Does brash precede the crash? We'll see as Jets embrace camp, season in spotlight

Updated: July 31, 2010, 2:22 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

It could end six months from now with a triumphant "I told you so." Or it could end in disaster. There's a lot of room in between, but considering the Jets' star-crossed history, you get the feeling it's going to be an extreme season.

Extremely memorable or … well, extremely memorable for the wrong reasons.

Rex in the Summer, the sequel, begins Monday in tiny Cortland, N.Y., where the Jets will gather for a training camp that promises to be like no other camp in the team's 50-year history. The expectations are enormous, bordering on out of control. Rex Ryan is talking Super Bowl, and his players are parroting the big man's mantra.

"We feel this year is Super Bowl or bust," said cornerback Antonio Cromartie, one of several high-profile additions to the roster.

This isn't the first time the Jets have faced big expectations (see 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008), but what makes this year different is that they're flaunting it. Heck, they invited it.

Exuding a "look-at-us" mentality that is sure to irk teams across the league, the Jets will be preening for HBO's "Hard Knocks" cameras throughout camp. With potential chemistry issues in the locker room, you'd think Ryan would want to isolate his team as much as possible, minimizing the hype with an understated approach.

But that isn't the Ryan way. He doesn't tiptoe into a room; he barges in. You're talking about a coach who is already writing his autobiography, due to be published in the spring.

Most coaches wait until they win a Super Bowl. Not Ryan.

Ryan's brash attitude, combined with an influx of talent, has created a vibe that has spread throughout the team. Guard Brandon Moore compared the feeling to 2008, when Brett Favre joined the Jets.

"It's the 'It' factor," Moore said. "You go out to a game and you have this swagger about you, this confidence. You know, 'We're going to be in this game.' That's the feeling you get."

Favre is long gone, but the Jets acquired two other future Hall of Famers, running back LaDainian Tomlinson and pass-rusher Jason Taylor -- fading stars looking for one last run with glory. They traded for Cromartie and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, Pro Bowl-caliber talents with off-the-field issues.

Typical Jets. They always win the offseason, making the splashiest headlines. It usually leads to disappointment in the fall, but the feeling in the organization is that Ryan, unlike his predecessors, has the leadership skills to mold this cast of characters into a special group.

"Do we expect to go to the Super Bowl? We better, absolutely," quarterback Mark Sanchez told ESPNNewYork.com recently. "That's our goal."

They came close last season, falling to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game. That spawned the 2010 mantra -- 212 degrees.

Borrowing from a motivational book titled "212 Degrees: The Extra Degree," the thinking behind the theme is this: At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212, it boils, creating steam, which can power a train.

The Jets, who created "212" T-shirts for the players, are trying to produce that extra degree. They've been trying for 40-plus years.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com »

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

MORE NFL HEADLINES