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Doesn't take rookie QB to see Rex is done

Listen to Greg McElroy criticize his Jets teammates
Listen to Greg McElroy criticize his Jets teammates
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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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In the end, it was all done by plan. Rex Ryan’s plan. Rex Ryan’s goal. Rex Ryan’s dream. He built this, and it worked perfectly: New York is now a Jets town. Sure, the Giants are in the playoffs, but what is everyone talking about?

Ryan admitting he lost control as coach. Santonio Holmes melting down. Bart Scott being fined $10,000 for a raised middle finger. What else happened this week with the Jets?

Oh yeah: Rookie quarterback Greg McElroy observed that the team had a “corrupt mindset.’’

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals . . .’’ he said on 97.3 The Zone. “There were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost as long as they ... had good games individually.’’

In the end, all the football talk in New York is about the Jets. And I say “in the end’’ because this is the end for Ryan.

No, he’s not going to be fired. But it’s the end, anyway. Ryan is never going to get this team to win the Super Bowl, never going to regain control.

The Jets finally have found a way to take over the town, but it was by becoming the Bronx Zoo.

How perfect that the analysis came from McElroy, a fourth-string QB. He once was a candidate to be a Rhodes scholar, and you can just imagine him standing there watching his team like a scientist watching mice. He is no dumb jock, which is exactly what Ryan is. McElroy’s words have a deeper truth. He is a bright bulb in a room of dim ones, led by the head coach.

And he just so calmly and accurately described the chaos that Ryan put in place by design. The thing is, every game toward the end of the season, there was talk about Giants coach Tom Coughlin. One more loss and he’s fired. One more loss, no playoffs, and he’s gone.

Instead, Coughlin managed to get them into the playoffs while Ryan’s team imploded.

Being honest: I had preferred Ryan’s approach. It seemed to me that part of the reason some of the less-disciplined, super-talented athletes such as Plaxico Burress and Holmes have trouble is that heavy-handed coaches don’t know how to let them have their freedom. When you squish the personality of a person with special talent, you squish the talent, too.

It’s a freedom that lets talent be talent. That still makes sense to me. But that also was the whole Ryan experiment, and it’s over now.

Coughlin wanted discipline; Ryan was going to let free spirits be free. It turned out that Coughlin — because of the discipline he had insisted on while running things in the more uniform and traditional way — was able to get out of the spot his team was in. Ryan could not because there was no base to build from.

He created a mentality at the Jets, and it failed, and there is no way out of it now. You create the bad boys and the renegade image, and once it all goes wrong there is no way in the world to tell people to get their shoes spit-shined, uniforms pressed, hair cut.

It’s over for Ryan. It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to see.

ROAD TO INDY

The Giants and Patriots will kick off Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. ET in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI. Want more info?

“Quite frankly, if you go down the roster this year, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have made a Super Bowl run,’’ said McElroy, the former Alabama QB who spent the year on injured reserve. “The talent, top to bottom, is pretty remarkable.

“The disappointing thing is . . . it doesn’t matter how much talent you have. If you don’t come together as a group and just figure things out and kind of withstand difficulties of the season, you’re never going to amount to anything.’’

Bronx Zoo-types of teams have won before in all different sports. Raiders. Yankees. Oklahoma Sooners. Plenty more. So maybe it still can work. Maybe the Jets’ problem is centered around a quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who simply isn’t very good.

But I think the whole approach is in question, now more than ever. The incredible access of the modern media adds too much pressure to the mix. When cameras watch everything you do, even from people’s phones in public places, and you tweet every thought, the lack of discipline becomes too public, too big, too noticeable. Nothing is hidden.

As a result, the Jets have become characters and entertainers more than athletes. The Giants are a football team.

So tuck in your shirt, go get a haircut, chalk one up for discipline.

The Giants are in the playoffs Sunday. Or, just keep watching and laughing at the spectacle of New York’s team/circus.

Tagged: Giants, Jets, Greg McElroy

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