Deja Vu All Over Again: Same Old Jets Set For Another End Of The Year Meltdown
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Here we go again? Maybe.
Once again the New York Jets are on the precipice of completing another second half collapse to cost the team any hope of making the playoffs.
The Jets put together a heartless, punch-less, ineffective performance against the Miami Dolphins, losing to their division rival 10-6. It was the third straight season that the boys from South Beach came to New Jersey and delivered a huge blow to the Jets season.
Two years ago the Dolphins and Chad Pennington were the ones who danced over Brett Favre and the Jets, as New York watched an 8-3 season fall to a 9-7 finish and missed the playoffs. Looks like Sunday's game will have similar repercussions.
No matter how you slice it, the Jets will miss the playoffs in 2010, and I will explain how a little later.
First, let's recap what went wrong Sunday.
When Mark Sanchez was nearly picked off on the third play of the game, it was clear that this would not be the Jets best day. Gang Green struggled to move the football all day, as Sanchez starred as its court jester. The bumbling second year quarterback completed 17-44 passes for 216 yards, was sacked six times, threw an interception and fumbled twice.
He wasn't the only one to blame; there was plenty to go around. Santonio Holmes dropped a sure touchdown that would have be a game winning score just before halftime. Then Brian Schottenheimer put together one of the most conservative game plans of the season, rushing the ball on consecutive downs to force the Jets into third and longs all day.
Will the Jets miss the playoffs?
Then there is Rex Ryan.
Coach Ryan, why are you going for it on fourth and two at the Dolphins 32 yard line, when you can kick a field goal and get on the scoreboard? Why are you going for it on fourth and five at the Dolphins 36 when you could have punted and pinned the Dolphins down inside their own territory?
Last week Ryan's overly aggressive coaching cost the Jets dearly when he decided to challenge a third and one on a Sanchez quarterback sneak. The play didn't have enough evidence to overturn it and give the Jets a first down, yet Ryan felt it was a good idea to waste a challenge and a time out that he could have needed later in the game.
Later on that same drive, when the Jets stalled at the Patriots 43, Ryan decided to kick the field goal into the wind with one of the worst kickers on the planet, Nick Folk. Of course Folk missed it, giving the Pats great field position, and they went on to score to make it 10-0.
But this is what we have grown accustomed to as Jet fans. Every time the Jets come close to either making the playoffs, or clinching home field advantage, they find a way to choke. They are Lucy and Charlie Brown playing football, with Lucy pulling the ball out from underneath Charlie at the last minute.
Jets choke jobs are a sign of the season. Christmas bells, Santa Claus, mistletoe, New Years celebrations and another Same Ole' Jets finish!
However, this collapse might beat out the choke jobs of 1986 and 2008. In fact, this collapse is looking very similar to the New York Mets in 2007.
I know they are engaged in different sports, but let's look at the comparisons.
The 2006 Mets went to the NLCS and looked like they were on the way to the World Series until Yadier Molina cracked a home run into the visitors bullpen to give the Cardinals the lead. Game 7 then ended with the indelible memory of Carlos Beltran looking at strike three.
The 2009 Jets went all the way to the AFC Championship game. They held a stunning 17-6 lead on the Colts and had made things very hard on Peyton Manning in the first half. However, Manning made his adjustments and led the Colts to a huge second half comeback; Indy won, going away, 30-17.
The 2007 Mets were 7 1/2 games ahead in the NL East with 17 to play. They then went on to lose 12 of those 17 games to blow the division lead and miss out on the playoffs.
The 2010 Jets were 9-2 and held a head-to-head lead over the New England Patriots going into their match-up in Foxboro last week. A win and the Jets would have basically won the division, and inched closer to the number one seed in the playoffs. Instead, the Jets lost 45-3, and have lost 10-6 to Miami, and now find themselves struggling to stay alive at 9-4.
Scary, isn't it?
I don't expect the Jets to beat either the Steelers or Bears in the next two weeks, not when this offense has failed to score an offensive touchdown in eight quarters! I can imagine Troy Polomalu and Brian Urlacher licking their chops.
Here are the playoff scenarios for the next few weeks:
First, the Jets would lose any head to head tie-breaker against the Baltimore Ravens, meaning, the Jets would be the sixth seed if they make the playoffs, and would have to travel to either Kansas City or San Diego for the wild card game.
Here is where it gets interesting. The Jets are now competing with the Chargers (7-6), Chiefs (8-5), Colts (7-6) and Jaguars (8-5) for that final playoff seed.
If the Jets should lose the next two games to the Steelers and Bears, and beat the Bills to finish at 10-6, while the Chargers, Chiefs, and either the Colts or Jaguars all win out, the Jets will be out of the playoffs.
Take a look at this link for Playoff Scenarios via Yahoo sports!
The Chargers have the 49ers, Bengals and Broncos remaining on their schedule. I expect the Bolts to win all of those games. The Chiefs have St. Louis, Tennessee and Oakland—a slightly tougher road than San Diego, but not impossible, especially if they get Matt Cassell back.
Then there are the Colts and Jags. Both teams will play each other in a game that will determine the winner in the AFC South. If the Jags lose, they will have to hope that either the Jets, Chiefs or Chargers fall to them for the wild card. If the Colts lose, they are done.
The key for the Jets will be the western division teams of San Diego and Kansas City.
If the Chiefs should lose one more game, it will open the back door for the Jets, even at 10-6. If Kansas City wins out and finishes 11-5, New York is in trouble.
San Diego is in the postseason either as a division winner or wild card if they win all of their games - destiny is in their hands. The Jets can get in at 10-6, if the Chargers finish at 9-7.
If the Jets should collapse and miss the playoffs what will this mean for the future of this franchise?
Will Woody Johnson put Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum on the short leash the way the Wilpons put Willie Randolph, Jerry Manuel after him and Omar Minaya after their legendary collapses?
Will fans chant for Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden on January 2, when the Jets host the Bills?
We shall see, but no matter how the season ends, several things have to happen:
1) Brian Schottenheimer has to be fired! His conservative play calls with an offense containing as much talent as the Jets is mind boggling.
2) Nick Folk has to go. There is always a scapegoat and this lousy kicker is as good as any.
3) The Jets have a lot of expiring contracts on this roster from Santonio Holmes to Braylon Edwards to David Harris.
The Jets have to keep some of this talent around. With the CBA negotiations threatening to cancel the 2011 season, it will be interesting to see how much money the the new agreement allows teams to budget for their salary caps.
4) The Jets have to sign a reliable veteran quarterback. Mark Brunell is 40-years-old and Kellen Clemens is a joke. Neither quarterback is a reliable backup for Mark Sanchez, and the Jets will have to go out and find someone who can come in and win games for this team if Sanchez remains ineffective.
Nonetheless, the biggest of Jets fans will tell you after reading this that there is still hope. But let's face it, the season should never have come to this.
But you know what? It just doesn't matter, because the Jets have to go out and win their games, even if it means they are grasping at straws.
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