The Great JET Crash

Mike SullivanContributor IDecember 30, 2008

The New York Jets' season started on Aug. 7, 2008. This was the day the legendary gun-slinger Brett Favre arrived at Hofstra. After earlier signings to beef up a 4-12 team, Mike Tannenbaum sent the aircraft out of the hanger and onto the runway.

Woody Johnson shelled out the money for needed improvements and this was to be the season to contend against the Patriots.

The year was to be an 10-6 or 11-5 season. Well they fell short of those marks. Who is to blame? An aging, future Hall of Fame quarterback, a rebuilt offensive line, or maybe the run defense?

It comes down to a collective sum with the majority going to the coaching staff. Most would like to pass the buck to the coach shown the door, but it would be unfair. I had called earlier in the season for Bill Cowher to replace him next year anyway.

I still believe he fits this team. The Bill Belichick system does not go fit a group of all pro free agents that are proven commodities. You need a fire-bellied coach to keep them in check.

The coaching was not good this year. Many Jet nation fans were left scratching their heads on many play calls and in game decisions. I like Mike Westhoff, but in the end, the punt return was invisible.

Sure, Leon Washington had a great all-purpose year, but the last five games he was either fair catching or running away to watch a ball downed inside the 10-yard line. The inability to hold off punt coverages put the Jets' offense in a hole a lot in the second half of the season.

The offense was to start slow and mesh with Favre and finish big. Well it started slow and progressed only to finish stale. A big running attack was eventually slowed down once teams began to realize that the Jets had no real deep threat.

Coles and Cotchery are good receivers but they are the same. Both had trouble off the line. Favre was used to throwing the ball and a receiver running under the ball. This year he waited and waited until they got clear, and it cost Favre.

Most of the time, he was throwing on the run, off his back foot, or getting hit as he released the ball. The Jets have not had a burner since they got Coles back. Santana Moss was missed this year.

Teams began to stuff the line and tighten up over the middle with single coverage on the outside. It was easier to run while ahead. When forced to pass while behind, they failed miserably.

The defense started off the year as a unit that was going to get better as the year went on, like the Steelers did. They went in the opposite direction. Jenkins ran out of gas, Ellis was rarely effective. The linebackers seemed out of place in the schemes.

The secondary became exposed when teams began to run first and pass when the Jets committed to the run.

Many of the payers were not put in places to succeed. Some of the players had to play into a system that did not necessarily fit their strengths. Again, this falls on poor coaching.

The season broken down was to start slow and tread water awaiting Brett Favre to bring it all together. That seemed to go as planned going 2-2.

The second quarter of the season was to be a soft part where they were to lick their chops on subpar teams. They did well, stumbling on one of those games all good teams fall on, which was a loss to the Raiders. Those games happen and did not lose a season for them. Going 3-1 set them up for the test part of the season.

Here was the measuring stick for the Jets. The Patriots and the unbeaten Titans. Where would they stand after these games. Well, they left with high hopes. All across the nation, they were now looked at as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Possibly the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

The Bronco game was a game to forget. The monsoon that they played in was not an easy game to play in. They still were in good shape at this point.

Ahh, the home stretch, was to be a time to lock up the division and a top seeding. This is where it went terribly wrong. Any well-coached team would have never lost a second straight game after losing at home and going to a team that was in midseason disarray.

This was the wound that would seal their fate—the wound that stays open and refuses to close. They let the 49er's walk over them. They should have lost to the Bills. They let the Seahawks control them and had nothing left for the Dolphins.

This is why they are are watching and not playing the rest of the year!

Looking ahead to next year we need some changes. Starting with Cowher, give this man what he wants and get him here. You can go two ways after that. Go for it next year and bring Favre back or build short term and bring in a new QB.

Shaun Ellis needs to go. This is a move the good coaches make. He is a good player but his head is not there. With his off-the-field issues and also throwing snowballs at fans in Seattle, he is not a team player.

Letting him go would send the message. Parcells, Belichick, and the other great coaches all seam to release one to send that message its my way or the highway.

The last part is the most crucial in my eyes. Go get a speed-burner wide receiver. By getting this missing link, it will change the offense dramatically. The trick plays were cute, but too many times to the well, it runs dry. A true home-run threat helps out Jones and Washington and the quarterback, who ever he may be.

So the season is over but there is not a lot to rebuild here. It can be done for next year. This is not a bad team that needs the overhaul. It is a good team that needs the chef and a spice or two to bring out a Super Bowl contending dish!!