Fan-Alysis: Week #3

Everyone was pumped up. The excitement permeated the air at this local Sunrise, Florida sports bar called Krazy Wings. Dan Leberfeld and Jets Confidential hosted a gathering for die-hard and dedicated Jet fans on the Saturday afternoon before the game. Wesley Walker, the great Jet receiver, was a special guest and mingled with the crowd.



 Dan held a trivia contest and he signed copies of his new Jet book and everyone, including the great Miami running back, Jim Kiick was just waiting for Sunday's kick-off.


The excitement and fun lasted for two hours.  Throughout the afternoon those gathered would cheer in unison, J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.  Eight in a row!  Bring on the Fins!!  It was agreed amongst the Jet faithful, as the afternoon turned into an early evening of optimism that last week's Patriots loss was not truly indicative of Gang Green.  They were indeed a team that was heading back to the play-offs and hopefully to the Super Bowl. 


We had a different feeling.  We agreed that this team has a lot of work to do and we were not convinced that the crowd at Krazy Wings was being objective.  We agreed that the offensive line was not helping Curtis or Lamont spring for big gains.  In fact, it was rather depressing to witness the running backs struggle on 3rd and short too many times.  Vinny was being pressured and forced into too many turnovers.  Whatever happened to the great receivers?  Defense was also questionable, from the front line right to the secondary.  The team was 1-1, but not playing really well or even up to their potential and pre-season hype. 


After munching on some great chicken wings, we left Krazy Wings and headed for a near-by Walgreen's drug store to purchase an alarm clock.  The clock was needed to ensure that we wouldn't be late for Sunday's showdown against the Dolphins at Pro-Player Stadium. 


The alarm clock worked well Sunday morning and we made it to the game on time.  It was a hot and humid day at Pro-Player.  The Dolphin fans were rabid and anxious to take on the Jets… J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!!  They adapted their own version of our cheer, which is JE-T-S, Suck, Suck, Suck!!  Unfortunately, on this particular September afternoon, they did indeed suck.  The final score of 30-3 said it all.  In fact, they played so poorly, we have decided to give them the Walgreen's alarm clock because this team needs a wake-up call desperately, and when it rings, they need to answer it. 


Here are some of the reasons why if they don't listen to the alarm clock next week against Jacksonville, the remaining twelve games may not hold the interest and excitement that the 2002 season was supposed to be all about. 


Necessary Changes


Where do we begin to fan-alyze?  The unacceptable number of BAD penalties.  How about the total lack of third down conversions?  Let's start at the snap!!  Always in the trenches is where we view the real battle.  The offensive line continues to struggle and look terrible.  We have mentioned this aspect first here after every game.  The line is getting beat soundly at the point of attack by every team, and then their backups.  J.P. Machado can't handle anyone, as he whiffed on Tim Bowens. Kevin Mawae looks awful.  Kareem Mackenzie still needs some work especially against speed rushers, and Jason Fabini, after all the money thrown at him can't push Jason Taylor aside.  Every Sunday, they look weak, out of shape, and don't fire off the ball.  What does all this mean?  Who is to blame?  Well, in our opinion, you have to go right for the jugular.  Fire Doug Marrone!!!  He is the new offensive line coach, who seems to have already lost the confidence of his players.  Give the job to someone else who might have an idea of how to coach these mammoths.  The job of blocking is not being done.  At least, we have to be as good as the line was last year.  Only then you might see Randy Thomas blowing Tim Bowens off the line, and opening holes for Curtis to run.  The trickle-down aspect of the poor line play is that this has probably cost Vinny his confidence.  He now looks shell-shocked and fears for his life.  This leads us to our next constructive observation.


Chad! Chad! Chad!  Can you hear those chants coming from the sidelines?  We did.  You may be thinking it's only week 3.  We still have a long season ahead of us, and let's not get carried away.  Well, if you saw the game on Sunday, you might be thinking that the team looked bad again, and that we can rebound.  We honestly try to believe that.  But when Vinny Testaverde looks like he is nervous about stepping up in the pocket, or doesn't want to attempt the long ball because he might be intercepted, or that his line is not going to hold off the pass rush, the team feeds off that and goes downhill from there.  The New York Jets need some sort of shot in the arm.  They need a spark.  Curtis coming back didn't do it.  Herm doesn't scare anyone.  He is no Bill Parcells trying to intimidate the players into performing well.  After the drubbing against New England, how could a team possibly be more embarrassed?  Well after crumbling again before our eyes in Miami, it looks that way.  Chad Pennington, no matter how young, inexperienced, and unproven, might be more athletic and mobile than our beloved but aging starter.  Chad could be a shot in the arm.  A jolt from the bench.  At this point, without panicking, something fresh is worth considering.  Chad would have nothing to lose now. He knows that he might not really ever get the shot at being number one if he doesn't do something soon.  He saw limited action at the end of the game, but it was mostly from Jay Williams helmet, the defensive end of the Dolphins.  Going against a team like Jacksonville, where there should be some margin for mistakes, Chad should get the start.  He can work with the first team and maybe make something happen with our woeful offense under Vinny.  If it doesn't work out, then put Vinny in late in the game to try and win it.  Nothing seems to be waking up the team, and maybe something as drastic as this would.  As Yogi would say, it gets late pretty early.


As Jets fans, we have been through a lot.  When Rich Kotite ran this team and the score was 24-7 in favor of the other team and the Jets were only 1-12, the Jets appeared to us to still play harder than the team that was out there on Sunday in the last couple of minutes.  There was no need for the score to reach 30 points.  The Jets could have held the Fish to only 16 points, and made the loss less painful.  If only the defensive linemen and linebackers didn't just give up like the way they did, then you wouldn't have to make an issue of it.  What we saw was a team that was deflated and tired from being on the field so much and decided that they didn't care that Ricky Williams and Travis Minor were running wild on them.  The D needs to learn how to tackle, or else, when we see Ricky again, we might see 5 or 6 missed tackles each run, instead of the 3 or 4 every time he touched the ball.  This was a must-win game, but the team really failed to respond.


Neither of us are M.I.T. graduates or hold Harvard M.B.A's, but according to the numbers, a 14-2 season is still possible.  However, if we listen to our hearts, a 10-6 season will be a blessing after the combined blowouts of the last two weeks.  If we open our eyes and watch what has happened on the field in a 74-10 two-week fiasco, then we may be looking at an 8-8 season at best. 


The Jets are really only one game behind our predicted 2-1 start, which at 1-2 after their first three games is not that bad on paper.  If they rebound this week against Jacksonville and then turn around and win October (all 3 games at home against KC, Minnesota and Cleveland) and head west November 4th to San Diego with a 5-2 record, then we won't cancel the second San Diego trip scheduled for late January. 


The Jets must answer some tough questions this week and make some difficult personnel decisions and possibly make some radical changes.  Improvements are needed all over the field.  Better execution on 3rd down conversions.  Stopping the running game.  Tackling better (turning point and eventual let-down against Dolphins in the 4th quarter).  Reducing turnovers and penalties.  It's time to wake up. 


We have the Walgreen's alarm clock and it worked well for us this past weekend.  The Jets need to set their alarm for this week before it is too late.  Time is running out and the alarm is set, the Jets need to answer this week's wake-up call against Jacksonville, before they oversleep and miss the rest of the season. 



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