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BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 02:  Wide Receiver Derrick Mason #85 of the New York Jets has a long gain against the Baltimore Ravens when the Baltimore Ravens host the New York Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Ravens defeated the Jets 34-17.  (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)

Jets Didn’t Stop Being Fun: They’re Just Losing

We've been trying to get everyone to relax a little bit about the Jets. Sure, they've lost three in a row, but they were losses to good teams, on the road, and the schedule only gets easier from here. But the narrative arc on these things requires an Icarus storyline, so that's what's happening now: The Jets and Rex Ryan had too much success, too fast, and now they're being taken down by hubris. It's not really true, but it is a narrative, and it's more fun to deal with narratives than simply take dispassionate looks at the schedule.

One of the Jets' "bigger" off-season moves was to bring in veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason. Mason has been a solid, productive player for many years, but now he is quite old: He will be 38 in three months. Thirty-eight is old for a kicker; for a wide receiver, it's rigor mortis. This year, Mason has finally shown his liver spots, catching only thirteen balls for 115 yards. He also was reportedly the leader of a group of receivers who complained about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's play-calling. When you put those two things together, you get traded or cut. Mason got traded, to the Texans, for a seventh-round pick. This is the NFL. It happens.

But now everyone's seeing conspiracy or the Jets as bullies, getting rid of a dissenting voice rather than — what everyone really wants, what they're really talking about — firing the offensive coordinator.

The Jets keep looking dumber and dumber on this, denying the existence or impact of events that surely influence their decision-making process. Ryan, as much as he hates to admit it, turns out to be like most other pro football coaches when the temperature flares. He has his limits. And the Jets are not so very different from the other members of the No Fun League after all, despite the happy talk and the be-yourself rhetoric.

Well, maybe. Or maybe the Jets recognized a preseason mistake — Mason was never quite the right fit in the first place, it's now clear — and are correcting it, a process made easier because Mason is openly complaining about his role in the offense. Sure, the other wide receivers might be a bit taken aback, briefly, but they'll get over it. We'd be pretty surprised if we saw Plaxico Burress suddenly claiming the Jets don't respect him. (That guy is lucky to be here, and he knows it.) Rex Ryan is still Rex Ryan, beloved by his players. Brian Schottenheimer isn't — and he's even less beloved by Jets fans — but the Jets are hardly in a position to change offensive coordinators in the middle of the season. They need a better offense: The quickest way to do that, even outside of the troubles he was (probably not really) causing, was to trade their worst wide receiver.

Fact is, the Jets have lost three tough road-games in a row, and everyone's angry and frustrated. They have a home game against Miami this Monday night. If they lose that, it's time to panic. But they're not going to lose that. This is just what happens during a losing streak. It'll be over soon. Relax.

Photo: Al Pereira/2011 Al Pereira