There was the alumni tent featuring Bruce Harper, Randy Beverly and others getting you psyched-up for the game and the season. Not much was going to dampen the mood and spirit for the 2002 home opener, not even the $15 parking fee, nor the forecast and eventual torrential rainstorm that hit the Meadowlands like the Jets hit the field. In fact, as we walked toward gate "A", we were planning two trips to the lovely hamlet of La Jolla, California this year. These trips were not to see a reincarnation of the Beach Boys, but to see our Boys, the guys in green, Jet Green play the Chargers in November and of course, the Super Bowl in January.
It would be too easy to say, "Same old Jets" after getting caught in the rainstorm walking from the stadium back to the parking lot after the game. The final score, 44-7, in favor of the Patriots, did not make sense. Our offense was supposed to be potent, if not high octane and a real threat. We have Curtis, Laveranues, Wayne, Santana and a youthful Vinny at quarterback. The O-line, already very decent was going to put it all together to make the position players line up for tickets to Honolulu.
The Jet defense, even though there are five new starters, was touted as one of the best around. Off-season acquisitions of veterans made the departed players from last year's playoff team seem expendable. With the emergence of a new threat in Chad Morton and the explosive Santana Moss waiting in the wings, the home opener against the Pats seemed to be the turning point for this franchise. A new beginning arrived. Jet Green was here and no ghosts from the past were going to haunt Giants Stadium.
Unfortunately, the game is played for sixty minutes on the field. Anything can happen, and this week, it did happen.
If you read the article here last week, you would have seen on the field most of the problems that we had highlighted earlier. In fact, we pretty much called what could happen before you had to witness that massacre on Sunday. It was as if the Jets had read our article and done the exact opposite. We were first and foremost out-coached. They threw things at us that we did not expect and we didn't react. We made no halftime adjustments. The press is kind to Herm because he is truly a nice guy, but as Leo the Lip said many years ago "Nice Guys finish last." He has got to take responsibility for what was on the field. We counted 3 separate times when we only had 10 men on the field for our special teams. The offensive line coach is not working these guys into a tight unit. They keep getting pushed around and again on third down (when we are 1out of 12); we do not open a hole for a back but get pushed back on our heels.
The offensive line was so porous that Vinny Testaverde looks as lost as a Ray Lucas. He could not deal with the "soft zone" that Belichek threw at him. We also cannot understand how he could not look off his primary receiver and go downfield. OK, the problem was that his line gave him no time or protection, but Vinny's been around for 17 years. He also must see and recognize that the safety is blitzing and he has to get rid of the ball. Many of his throws were short and he had nothing on that pass to Victor Green in the flat.
Who is J.P. Machado fooling? He was devoured by a defense yesterday that had more former Jets on the front line then ours had returning linemen. Belichek confused and then mangled a line that was supposed to be "more improved than last year." The offensive line looks out of shape and lacked any sort of drive. Kevin Mawae, who just inked a huge contract, looks like all that sleep that he had during the exhibition games has made him weary during the games. He couldn't stop Bobby Hamilton at any point in the game. Jason Fabini made horrible and untimely penalties again.
Paul Hackett doesn't have one creative bone in his body. The West Coast offense does not exist here. Not once did he decide to line up the "speedy" Laveranues Coles or Santana Moss against Otis Smith, as a test just to see if we could burn the 37 year old Smith. Instead of trying a fake, or a creative play, Hackett relied on the 5-yard predictable pass to Richie Anderson on at least 5 different occasions. Hackett and the rest of the coaching staff proved that they did a terrible job in preparing for this match-up and that they better be prepared for the Dolphins next week or you can expect to watch another 44-7 walloping.
The newly implanted defensive line showed almost nothing Sunday. They don't look like they are ready. This no-name line from New England pushed and manhandled everyone on the D-line. The game of football is always to be decided in the trenches, and the Jets seemed to be overrun and pushed around, at will. There was no pressure on Brady, not one sack all game. Josh Evans and John Abraham never seemed to be close to Brady. He seemed untouchable and had plenty of time to pick apart our secondary. The team better step up, but will have an easier time on the injury-plagued Miami Fish. Fiedler may be a more mobile QB than Brady, so Mo Lewis and Marvin better heal fast for the big game next week.
Jets against the Fish in the sun next week will be a better game than Sunday. We must, in spite of the analysis, consider these 2 games as learning experiences. The Jets have a history of rising to the occasion against Miami. Remember that we are still riding an eight game winning streak and that Curtis always likes to run against the Fins. Herm has to learn how to prepare his players for the big game. The lack of enthusiasm when the players walked onto the field was obvious. Things must change before next Sunday. Just chalk up this miserable display of football as just another Jet game. We have to assume that next week in Miami, we will put some of the things that we learned to good use.
It would be too easy to say, "same old Jets". We are only two games into the season and it is very tempting to revert to old sayings and old habits. But, Jeff (optimist) and Dexter (pessimist) do agree that there is plenty of time to improve and still be a playoff team. No need to panic after such a lopsided loss. We do not share seats at home games, (Jeff sect 107, Dexter sect 209), but we have a tradition at half-time where we meet on the "A" ramp to discuss the first half performance. The walk along the ramp can be as entertaining as the game. Beer and dollar bills being tossed over the side to the bottom of the ramp can be as prevalent as Vinny's rushed passes.
After walking through a marijuana-laced atmosphere on Sunday, we vented for fifteen minutes. Jeff says it's only 10-0 and the Jets can score on their first possession to make it 10-7. Dexter the pessimist rants that the O-line is horrible, the defense has been lucky and if the Jets don't wake-up, they'll get blown-out!!
Unlike the home games, we travel together to the away games so we sit next to each other on the road, where it is going to be very tempting to turn to each other at four o'clock on Sunday in Miami and say, "Same Old Jets", or not!!