New York sportswriters are infamous for being extremely hard on their sports figures and it appears that a few Jets players are the ones taking the brunt of the criticism for yesterday's Chiefs humiliation of the Jets. Will they give the Chiefs any credit or will they put all of the blame on the loss to Chad Pennington? Will they credit the revamped Chiefs defense for almost shutting out the Jets or blame the Jets offense? "From the Stables" reviews what the Big Apple scribes say about yesterday's game.
DATELINE NEWSDAY (Bob Glauber)
So it turns out there really isn't anything wrong with Chad Pennington's shoulder after all. It's actually much worse than that. It's his head. The Jets quarterback, renowned for his cerebral command of all things X's and O's, looked as befuddled as a rookie yesterday in his debut in new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's offense. It was about as ugly a performance as we've ever seen out of Pennington, with the possible exception of his five-interception clunker against the Pats two years ago. As Bill Parcells might say when seeing something like this, Pennington looked like a ball in tall grass. Lost.
Parcells usually ascribes that saying to rookies struggling in their first training camp, not a six-year quarterback who speaks openly about having a chance to win a Super Bowl. But Pennington is in many ways a rookie again, struggling with the intricacies of Heimerdinger's new down-the-field offense, a system diametrically opposed to the dink-and-dunk of predecessor Paul Hackett, who was run out of town to the applause of Jets fans everywhere.
Wonder what they're thinking now? We know we self-destructed," a subdued Pennington said afterward. "We give credit to Kansas City for winning the game, but at the same time, we know that if we wouldn't have self-destructed, we'd have at least given ourselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter. That's what you hope for on the road." Instead, the Jets looked as bad as they have at any time in the Herman Edwards era. It reminded you of another opening day for the Jets' coach, a 45-24 loss to the Colts in 2001. But at least Edwards had an excuse on that day. It was his first game on the Jets' sideline.
"Opening day, I'm not shocked at anything," Edwards said. "I've been around for 26 years of opening days, and a lot can happen. We didn't handle it very well. They did a better job of coaching, and they played better." No argument there. Edwards didn't have his team ready. Pennington was abysmal. Laveranues Coles dropped a sure touchdown pass that would have cut the deficit to 17-7 in the third quarter, then dropped another long pass on the very next play. The defense was shredded for 198 rushing yards. The offensive line's blocking was putrid, as indicated by Curtis Martin's 57 yards on 20 attempts, and the constant pressure Pennington endured. Don't blame the departure of right tackle Kareem McKenzie; veterans such as Mawae, Pete Kendall and Jason Fabini were all culpable.
But of all the key players and coaches, Pennington's performance was the most troubling. He was not the poised, move-the-chains dart-thrower we've become accustomed to seeing. Clearly, Heimerdinger has a long way to go with his new pupil, starting with the shotgun formation. "We snapped it over his head one time in the 'gun,' and things like that make you look like we're really bad," said Heimerdinger, who abandoned the formation in the second half. "We had chances for big plays, but we didn't make them. Laveranues dropped them, and we make some ugly plays." A change at quarterback? Preposterous. You don't dump Pennington for Jay Fiedler after one bad game. Pennington is the guy, and it stays that way until further notice. And don't think the Jets can't recover from yesterday's embarrassment. They made the playoffs after the Colts' blowout loss in Edwards' first season. But after what happened yesterday, there is surely cause for concern.
Somewhere in Tampa, a Buccaneers offensive assistant who goes by the name of Hackett must be chuckling to himself. As bad as things got during Hackett's four-year run with the Jets, it was almost never this bad.
From the Stables - OK, I know he's writing to the New York audience, but how about at least some mention of the Chiefs yesterday? I mean we all know how the Jets "self-destructed" and were "out-coached and out-played", but how about giving just a little credit to the team they were playing yesterday. I mean it would have been nice to have given some credit to the Chiefs "new" defense just a little bit wouldn't it have Bob?
We all know the Jets just "gave" the game to the Chiefs yesterday right, but how about even mentioning the Chiefs one time? I guess it's more important to sell newspapers then give credit where credit is due.
DATELINE NEWSDAY (Ken Berger)
It was the worst-case scenario that Herman Edwards had feared, 14-0 before you could say "burnt ends," the mouth-watering barbecue specialty from the renowned local eatery, Arthur Bryant's. At the end of the day, the Jets' vision of being a Super Bowl contender appeared to have gone up in smoke. First the good news: They managed to avoid their first opening-day shutout since 1985 with a garbage-time touchdown. But their 27-7 loss to the Chiefs yesterday was the worst kind of defeat - one that evoked pity from the opposition and one that required apologies. Chad Pennington said, "We know we self-destructed."
Kevin Mawae, involved in four fumbled exchanges with Pennington (three) and Jay Fiedler (one), said it was the worst game he's played in 10 years. Mawae apologized to his teammates and coaches. Laveranues Coles apologized to Pennington for dropping a sure touchdown pass in the third quarter. Mike Nugent couldn't believe he slipped and fell while attempting his first field goal as a Jet, which was blocked. "We got outcoached and outplayed. Put it on me," said Edwards, who is 0-1 for the third time in five seasons.
"That was one of the worst offensive performances that I think we've had since I've been here," said Martin, held to 57 yards on 20 carries. "That's the most embarrassed I've felt since I've been here . . . " Said Martin, "I think we are all ashamed of the way we played today."
"We're not going to hang our heads," Pennington said. "We know it's a 16-round fight, and we lost the first round." It was reasonable to expect Pennington to be rusty, but he played worse than anyone imagined. It wasn't a low point for him statistically - he had five interceptions two years ago against New England - but he'd never looked this intimidated.
From the Stables - How long has it been for Chiefs fans to read comments like this from the opposition? Kansas City Chiefs fans are used to reading about how the opponents offense was running very efficiently and how it seemed everything was working against their defense. It would be nice to get back to hearing about how the victims of the Chiefs defense are embarrassed by their performance or how they "self-destructed" again. Those were the days and it looks like they might have returned Warpaint Nation!
DATELINE NEW YORK POST (Steve Serby)
Chad Pennington played like a rookie yesterday. All the Jets did, and the blame for falls on Herman Edwards, dressed appropriately in black, for that. But as the quarterback goes, the Jets go, and Pennington fumbled Opening Day away. This was supposed to be a humdinger of an offense under new coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, aka The Messiah. Bumdinger is more like it. The shotgun? It blasted Pennington right between the eyes. That sound you hear is Paul Hackett cackling.
Dick Vermeil gave the NFL the blueprint for beating the Jets…Jump on them early, don't let Curtis Martin run, dare Pennington to come back and beat you. It is going to be that way until Pennington rediscovers his poise, presence, command and mastery of the new offense.
It would have been nice if Gang Green, which talks all the time about being a dominant defense, decided to make a stand (34-for-198 rushing) and help its frazzled quarterback. Apparently the boys forgot to pack their swagger in their suitcases, and made life almost as miserable on Pennington as a suspect Chiefs defense that appeared to be harassing Pennington with Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier. "Better go back and figure out how to stop the run," Donnie Henderson said.
It would have been nice if Martin (20-for-57 rushing) could have bludgeoned a defense that lost starting DT Ryan Sims early. But franchise quarterbacks get the big bucks to lift their franchise under duress. Pennington (six fumbles) was no franchise quarterback yesterday. He fumbled after three sacks and lost one of them. "I've got to protect the football anytime I'm in traffic to make sure I got two hands on the football, 'cause defensive players in this league do a great job of trying to strip-sack," Pennington said.
He was victimized by a pair of errant shotgun snaps from Kevin Mawae, a low one that sailed past him, a high one that sailed over him. Heimerdinger, who intends to remain upstairs in the booth, scrapped the shotgun at halftime. Mawae: "For whatever reason, I just choked today." Heimerdinger: "Kevin hasn't had a bad snap all preseason. Never had a bad snap in practice. Where it came from, I have no clue." Pennington: "Neither one of us has been in the shotgun for four years, so something like this happens, I'm disappointed, but I'm not surprised."
He was asked whether Pennington, whose singular triumph was coming back gallantly from rotator cuff surgery, was rusty. "I'm not trying to dodge it; I don't know," Heimerdinger said. "He made some good plays, and we dropped balls, and then he made some ugly plays." One of those ugly plays came when Pennington (21-34, 264 yards) fumbled away the traditional center snap to Kavika Mitchell, and soon it was 20-0. "I tried to make a late call; I think I pulled it up a little short and didn't give Chad a chance to get it," Mawae said. By then, it didn't matter that Pennington would have had a 34-yard TD pass had Laveranues Coles not dropped one wide open at the 10.
The good news: Jay Fiedler (the seventh Jet fumble) and the Jets dominated Garbage Time. "It starts with the head coach," Edwards said. Of course it does. His team wasn't ready to start the season. His franchise quarterback wasn't ready to rescue everyone else.
From the Stables - Didn't anyone enjoy the Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier comment as much as I did? It did appear that he saw a few weapons released on the defensive side of the ball. He might not be DT, but DJ isn't going to be far behind. Pat Surtain was everything we expected and more. Let's hope he can get back on the field for next Sunday's match up with Randy Moss and the Raiders.
DATELINE NEW YORK POST (Mark Cannizzaro)
Well, so much for high expectations. The Jets were so sloppy, inept and, quite frankly, embarrassing at times in their 27-7 loss to the Chiefs yesterday at Arrowhead Stadium, it left you wondering if they'll manage to win a single game before this season of promise is over. They looked as far from the team so many thought would make a run at the Patriots' stranglehold of power in the AFC East as they used to look from being a contender at all during the Rich Kotite era. The Jets got beat every which way. They really never looked as if they were a challenge to the Chiefs en route to 0-1 while the rest of the AFC East has started at 1-0.
"They took us out to the wood shed and whooped us," Herman Edwards said. "That was an [butt]-kicking," Jets' LG Pete Kendall said. The Jets' offensive line, with four of five starters returning from 2004 when Martin led the NFL in rushing, was overwhelmed by a revamped Kansas City defense. Martin (20-for-57) had nowhere to run. Chad Pennington was harassed all day. Their defense — particularly CB David Barrett, who was absolutely charred by the Kansas City game passing early — was ravaged for 17 points on the Chiefs' first three possessions of the game, completely unable to stop the run.
Before scoring their garbage-time TD — a Jay Fiedler pass to TE Chris Baker with 29 seconds left — the Jets' offense moved the ball into Kansas City territory seven times, including three times into the red zone, and could not score a point. This was the Chiefs' opening drive of the game: Priest Holmes (22-for-85, 1 TD) for five yards. Holmes for 35 yards. And then Larry Johnson (9-for-110, 2 TD's) for 35 yards and a TD. Last season, the Jets allowed an average of 97.9 yards rushing per game, ranking their defense fifth in the NFL defending the run.
After one series, the Jets had allowed 75 yards on three carries, leaving stunned defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson to say, "This will make me go back and evaluate myself as a defensive coordinator and what I'm asking the guys to get done."
The Jets started 5-0 last season. When they were last together on the field in a game that mattered, they were in Pittsburgh last January, one successful Doug Brien field goal away from the AFC Championship. Where they go after this debacle is anyone's guess, but Edwards has a lot of work to do resurrecting this group this week.
Miami, which looked on paper to be the worst of the AFC East, waxed Denver yesterday, and the Dolphins have to be licking their chops.
From the Stables - You gotta love the "overwhelmed by the revamped Chiefs defense line right? One more of my favorites is the "Pennington was harassed all day". Again, how long as it been Chiefs fans when you could open the morning paper and read such things being said about the Chiefs defense? I know all of these guys are writing to a New York crowd, but how about a little credit to the defensive players, Gunther Cunningham, Dick Vermeil or Carl Peterson? These are the guys who played, coached & put together this revamped defense. I'm sure the Jets will get back on track next week and this game will be considered a fluke by the national scribes or pundits, but I, like most of the Warpaint Nation believes this is just the first step on the road to Detroit!
Stay tuned for more "From the Stables" as this is Raiders Week and we all know what that means! I'm sure there might be a national story or two this week about the Chiefs and I'll do my best to give Warpaint Nation the breakdown of those stories.
FROM THE STABLES: Chiefs Not Getting Respect
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