Just a few thoughts as we head into the playoffs; here is some of what I wrote about the Jets last week.
“I'd like to see if the Jets' offense can execute a game plan where they get up early by two or three touchdowns and let Brunell and Clemens perform mop up duty in the second half. Maybe give McKnight some live reps. I believe that for this team, keeping all of their starters in their weekly rhythm of preparation and playing is extremely beneficial. They have a bad tendency to start sluggishly after long layoffs.”
Eerily prescient. I couldn’t see the game because it was not carried on network here in Los Angeles, so I had to rely on highlights, postgame, and the internet, but from what I can tell, this was a tremendous game as far as morale building for the Jets. The entire demeanor of the team reminded me of the momentum they had coming off of Hard Knocks: Hopeful and ready to fight.
At first, I was kind of bummed that they drew the Colts as their wild card opponent. On paper, KC would seem to be the easier opponent to defeat. But then I thought this: If you want to fulfill your quest, you must vanquish your opponent. Peyton Manning, by Rex’s own admission, is his Kryptonite. You must beat the Colts or you are not worthy of winning the Lombardi. (I shudder at the murderers’ row they will face after that). But first things first—beat Indy.
Points of note:
QB situation – loved Mark Sanchez playing the first series and then participating from the sideline. His mile-wide grin after Brunell scored was fantastic. Brunell and Clemens playing and both scoring? Terrific. I think it gives the team huge psychological breathing room to know that all is not lost if Sanchez has to sit out a series or two. Of course Sanchez is the undisputed starter, but steady hands at back up are a tremendous asset.
And speaking of which, Sanchez on the bench (not as punishment, but to rest his shoulder) I think serves a great purpose. Hear me out. Besides throwing a game-losing pick, nothing refocuses Sanchez as much as sitting on the sidelines while someone else is under center. He even hates it when Brad Smith comes in to run the wildcat and has said as much. Nothing personal against Smith, of course, but Sanchez likes to be in the middle of the action. Sitting on the sidelines serves to remind him of how precious each and every start is. Wait—make that each and every snap. Quadruple that for a playoff game.
Nothing is guaranteed in the NFL. Nothing. You’re one play away from a season-ending injury. I like this stint on the sideline as much for the rest as for the (hopefully) laser like refocus and avoidance of distractions I hope it gives Mark for the upcoming run.
Joe McKnight! 158 yards and no fumbles! (And in the weirdest bookend of all, Danny Woodhead fumbles in NE for the first time all year!) I love it on a couple of levels. First, the Colts have to game plan for him now. Remember, the Jets ended up losing the AFC championship last year when they lost Strickland at corner early and Shonn Green to an injury in the second half. Both spots are shored up now and have more depth. Best part is, I have to believe that Joe McKnight finally has gotten the message about ball security. If he so much as drops the ball while handing it to the ref after a play is whistled dead, he will find himself on the bench.
All the others who got playing time they normally wouldn’t see—fantastic experience. You never know when you will be called upon.
Starters—rest up, study up, and get your treatment.
This is the second season. Forget 11 and five. You’re 0-0 now. Remember, the Jets run on emotion and it comes straight from the top. Too bad they can’t PPV Rex’s final motivational speech to the team before they take on the Colts. I’d pay top dollar to see that! I think that closing shot of Hard Knocks with Rex Ryan walking by the Lombardi trophy while the Hard Knocks theme music is playing should be on an endless loop in the facility in Florham Park from here on out.
The prize is there. Can you realize the dream?
P.S. Commentors—anything to add by those of you who got to see the entire Jets-Bills game live? Also, you would have thought that Indy had already beaten the Jets by the way the media handled the seedings out here.
Not so fast. Ask the Chargers last year about overlooking the Jets.