The New York Jets have arrived.
The Jets are for real folks. As I write this article, the Jets have just annihilated the St. Louis Rams, 47-3 at home.
Oddly enough, this story does not begin with the Jets convincing victory at home today, but in Week Eight, when the Jets narrowly escaped an embarrassing loss to the upstart Chiefs.
The close call in Week Eight served as a wake up call for the Jets' players and coaching staff alike. The follies began when Jet quarterback Brett Favre, the "mad heaver," needlessly started chucking the ball all over the field, playing into Kansas City's defensive strength, their secondary, resulting in three interceptions.
This game reminded me of a guy who takes out his new Ferrari, wants to test out all the bells and whistles, and in the process, looses control of the vehicle @ about 160 MPH, jumps the median on the Long Island Expressway, nearly takes out the Lexus SUV and BMW 323i in the oncoming lane, flips the car three times in the air, lands the car on its wheels, and drives off without a scratch.
The life of a Jet fan in the passenger seat of a Ferrari, oh me, oh my.
There had to be some kind of fallout from this kind of mind-numbing, nearly-catastrophic victory? The result: Coach Mangini, (who by the way, has named his latest offspring after Favre) had a sidebar with his veteran QB and told him to cool it and just "manage" the game.
How do you tell a living legend to "cool it?" To be a fly on the wall in that conversation...uhhhhum. Telling Brett Favre to "manage the game" is like telling Brett Favre well, what exactly can you tell Brett Favre not to do anyway.
The Jets immediately got back to basics in Week Nine by taking a fresh, "team first, just win the gosh darn game" attitude and beat the Bills in convincingly unglamourous, smash-mouth fashion. I observed the Jets' offensive line transform itself the third quarter of that game, taking control, gelling together, and dominating the line of scrimmage like two Olympic Russian ice dancers about to take their ninth consecutive gold medal at the winter games. The Jets, for once, looked seamless on offense.
Although Favre threw an almost disastrous pick to Buffalo corner Jabari Greer in the third quarter (Greer proceeded to return the interception for a touchdown to bring the Bills back to within six points), the Jets countered with a "sleeper hold" drive on their next possession.
The Jets offense wasted no time getting down to business after getting the ball back, combining a balanced ground and air attack to successfully counter with a clock eating, eight minute, 41 second, back-breaking drive to wind down the third quarter, which resulted in a 31-yard Jay Feely field goal and put the Jets up 26 -17.
A two-score lead immediately sucked all the air out of Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Jets had turned the corner, and all of a sudden, Gang Green looked like genuine "contendas!"
Yes, yes, yes, Jets, Jets, Jets!!! The $140+ million spent in free agency looks like it's paying off. As projected, it has taken the Jets approximately half the season to get their ship headed in the right direction. And now it's all systems go!!!
The additions of 11th-year veteran, free agent offensive guard Alan Faneca from Pittsburgh ($40 million over five years), and 10th-year veteran, free agent offensive tackle Damian Woody from Detroit ($25.5 million over five years) have solidified an emerging offensive line.
The offensive line has protected Favre by only allowing 16 sacks so far this season and zero sacks today against the Rams. They have also opened up gaping holes for veteran running back Thomas Jones (160 carries, 750 yards, eight touchdowns, this total includes today's game against the Rams).
Jones must feel like a kid in a candy store after only rushing for one, yes one, touchdown last season, and that TD came against the lowly 1-15 Dolphins.
And while we are talking sacks, let's take a look at how the investment on defense has paid off for the Jets as well. The new-look aggressive Jets D has 28 sacks (this includes today's two sacks against the Rams) and has been harassing quarterbacks all season.
Kris Jenkins, an eighth-year free agent defensive tackle acquired from Carolina (five-years, $35 million) has been solid up front, with 27 tackles and 2.5 sacks and consistently stuffing the run. Similarly, Calvin Pace, a sixth-year free-agent linebacker acquired from Arizona (six-years, $45 million) has also been a nice fit in the 3-4 scheme, making 39 tackles and four sacks this season. **Pace also returned a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown this past Sunday against the Rams. His first touchdown since high school.
Fast-forward to this afternoon and the Jets' convincing 47-3 victory over St. Louis. The Jets scored 40 points in the first half and Favre only threw the ball 19 times (14 -19, one touchdown, 0 interceptions) the entire game. Did I say, "smash mouth" before?
Gang Green dominated the Rams on both sides of the ball. Thomas Jones had 26 carries for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Leon Washington chipped in with 59 yards on 12 carries. The offensive line worked as a cohesive unit. Rookie TE Dustin Keller had nine catches for 109 yards and one touchdown.
On defense, the Jets only allowed 80 rushing yards and converted five turnovers (two INTs and three fumbles) into 27 points.
This brings us to right here, right now! JETS!! JETS!! JETS!!! The Jets are now 6-3. Can these Jets take on the 6-3 Patriots for the AFC East crown? You betya!
The Jets play the Patriots this Thursday night in New England, and this contest will be a defining moment in Jets history, for better or worse. A hostile crowd awaits at Gillette Stadium, with an old master at the helm leading the Pats, and you all know who I am talking about. This game will definitely have a playoff atmosphere and a bit of bad blood to boot, so keep your camcorders at home, if you know what I mean!
The grand wizard of Foxboro has figured out a way to cobble together a winning football team, minus the team leader, quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots have also assembled an effective ground game with "no-names," BenJarvis Green-Ellis (26 carries, 105 yards, one touchdown against the Bills today), please stand up!
All in all, the Patriots will be ready for the Jets, and hopefully the Jets will be ready to change the course of history this Thursday night. We shall see.
THIS JUST IN
The Dolphins beat the Seahawks to go 5-4. These fish have barracuda teeth and are lurking more like a tiger shark than a fun-loving porpoise. Looks like "The Chad" has vengeance on his mind and has settled quite nicely in his new Florida digs. The Dolphins' season-ending meeting with the Jets at the Meadowlands on Dec. 28 looks to be more and more important with each passing game.
I can't believe I just wrote a whole article about the NY Jets without focusing on Brett Favre and the passing game. Perhaps a new day has truly arrived in Jets country! Smash-mouth football has arrived in Jets land...Hello, and welcome!! Viva Viva!!!
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