In the 10 plus years that I have been watching the Jets, I have seen the same thing over and over. Since the last biggest hype to come into New York by way of Chad Pennington, the Jets have had two seasons where they started 3-3. They proceeded to win their next game and finished the season with the identical record, 10-6.
So what makes this year different? I have listened to all the hype, all the build up, and come to a miserable conclusion: there is a huge difference and it is on the sidelines in the form of Eric Mangini.
In the seasons prior, the Jets had a coach that made a team think, albeit maybe not the most conventional, but look at Tom Coughlin. The Jets had that in Herm Edwards. He mixed things up and he utilized all of the resources handed to him and always found a way to keep fighting.
As a Jet fan, watching the games in the stands or on television, even when the Jets were down, they kept me on the edge of my seat. They wouldn’t let me even think of getting up, because in the back of my mind, Edwards would always try something different, keep the defense on their toes, and that’s why after two seasons starting at 3-3, they went on to finish 7-3.
In those years, the coach wasn’t afraid to use Pennington and all of his abilities. This year, the Jets pulled off an amazing 11th hour trade for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Brett Favre and have failed to use him to the best of his abilities. I look back to the game this past Sunday, in the black hole of Oakland, home to the lowly Raiders.
After two nice wins over low lying teams, I had all the hopes in the world this game would be another easy one. Instead, it turned into a game that the Jets didn’t want. One, they should have been able to put on the cruise control with Favre and pick the Raider defense apart. Instead, it took a fourth quarter two attempt field goal (thanks to the time out called by the Raiders as Feely was about to kick) to just tie the game and send it into overtime.
Then, what happened after, baffled me. I watched as the Jets took all the momentum in the world into that overtime period, won the coin toss, and then watched a scared coach call basically all running plays, which let the Raiders get THREE possessions and finally win the game on a field goal.
How could that happen? This is Brett Favre and company!! The all time leader in almost every offensive category for a QB and he’s handing the ball off? It was at that moment that I shook my head and realized this wasn’t like every other season, as everyone said.
But, it wasn’t for the reasons that they said. It’s because of a coach, who is more like a turtle, scared to peak his head out of his shell, rather than a man who has all the talent in the world at his fingertips and wants to use it.
Yet, when I look at the standings through week seven, the Jets are still in the thick of playoff contention, but a team looking to make it past the final week of December needs to pick apart these types of teams. The bottom-feeders, the teams that can’t get out of their own way, not play like them.
Every Jet fan has seen this before. All the preseason hype and talk that this is the year where the Jets show who they are. This year was no different, especially not with Brett Favre behind center. This is an unholy union that is probably a one-year venture. Favre is 39 and whether he thinks it or not, he is not getting any younger.
We all know he can still sling the ball like he always did and still move a team down field in such quick, swift fashion, defenses cant get out of their own way, but when will that be allowed to happen? When will I, as Jets fans, not have to worry what might have been and see what is?
This is the 40th anniversary of the lone championship for the Jets. At that point, they had arguably the best QB in the game. Again they have the best QB in the game. I am not nearly 40 years old, so I don’t even know what it’s like for the Jets to make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. This could still be the season, maybe.
The Jets still have time to right the ship though. They still have 10 games to show what kind of team they really are. Are they the team that runs all over the field for 56 points, or the team that needs to race down field with less than two minutes just to send the game to overtime against a team who can’t buy a win?
Only time will tell, but the season is short, with two games before the halfway mark and the Jets could be looking up at the standings wondering what might have been. If they don’t want to have that aspect on the season, then they need to beat up on lowly teams, such the Chiefs this week.
They also need to surprise a team like the Bills or Titans to show they are for real. If not, the Brett Favre experiment will have been a huge bust, just like Mangini, who needs to stick his head out of his shell and not be afraid to take chances.
Let’s hope this season really isn’t different at this point, because if it is, we are all in for a long, head scratching winter.