When the phone first rang at 1:15pm, I (Jeff) thought that the first report (Dexter calling in) was to say that the game had just started and all the demons of the past two weeks would be exorcised by 4:15pm. Unfortunately, it was a quick and ugly call. It was typical Dexter, "It's going to be ugly. They better get their act together immediately or we are going to witness the third straight week of embarrassing football." Taylor beat Beasley on a 72-yard reception and in less than a minute, they were down by seven. The positive spin on the response, it's very early in the game and the team in green will settle down. As usual, we approached the game very differently. We took different angles and different positions. However when the final score was finally transmitted, it was just another tragic game, a 28-3 loss speaks for itself.
We talked in between the first and second quarter. There was still hope, the Jets only trailed 7-0, although Vinny was out and the defense looked lost in another hot and humid afternoon in the sunshine state. As the game progressed, the call would bring updates, but the Jets were never able to unwind a tangled cord, which displayed an inept defense, a turnover prone offense and a lack of passion, desire and commitment to win.
As we discussed last week, numbers and statistics are reality. They set positions and standings and determine who is in the playoffs. It's a sixteen game schedule and statistically, 13-3 is still possible, but only in a far-fetched unrealistic Never-Never Land. The Jets need lots of work, immediately, to turn this season around. Improvement across the board should be the mantra. Winning the division title did not get any more difficult this weekend as the Pats and Dolphins lost, so the Jets are still only two games off the pace. Three upcoming home games can help reverse the direction and put this team back into the competition as a respectable and successful playoff bound team.
There is always criticism following a debacle. There is always a positive spin that you can try and attach to a humiliating loss. There is always that notion that things can't get any worse and the team has reached rock bottom. Things will turn around. It is now crunch time. In a few weeks the positive spin will begin to sound like the old Brooklyn Dodgers of "wait till next year". The problems are obvious. The reasons seem to be clear.
Jacksonville was hotter yesterday than Miami was last week if that was possible. The playing conditions should not be an excuse, but if a team is not in condition, then the extreme heat can be a killer. The Jets were not up to yesterday's challenge for many reasons, most of which we have been hammering away at for the last 3 weeks. But from a fan-alysis perspective, we are crushed. The season was thought to be promising and now all we can do in this column is try to find some silver linings for the team and something to build on for the future. That won't be easy because we are already emotionally spent. The team STINKS. We know that now, without question or doubt. It isn't just the first 4 games. It's not one break here or another there. It is as fundamental a breakdown as you can find in professional sports. As fans we are distraught, disgusted and disappointed.
Fans get revved up for the season. New players bring new hope. Last year we made the playoffs with essentially the same group that Parcells/Groh left us. This year we bought into how we had some cap problems but overall we will be better. Like Steve Phillips of the Mets, almost every move that Terry Bradway made has not panned out. The defense guys that he brought in just do NOT tackle well. They don't make plays. Our cornerbacks aren't covering OR tackling. Our linebackers all got old at the same time. (Wasn't Sam Cowart supposed to make us forget that tackling machine James Farrior?). The defense front 4 couldn't stop the run last year and even with all the changes, they cannot stop it this year either. They cannot even get to the passer.
The other side of the ball is just as devastating. Last week we wanted Doug Marrone's head. Well, this week he tried a few changes, though much of it could have been injury related. Did you see how many times Tony Brackens went around Kareem Mackenzie? On every pass, poor Chad had to step up in the pocket to keep away from him. Mackenzie could have been a major reason Vinny got hurt. He has played as poorly as J.P. Machado has this year. Yesterday they finally pulled Machado, but his replacement was some guy on somebody elses practice squad (We think Green Bay) just 2 weeks ago. Again, we are more than woefully thin up front. At least we saw Chad Pennington for an extended period of time. We know that he only put 3 points on the board, but it is not necessarily his fault.
With all these issues, we are disappointed. Disappointed that we bought into all the hype of improvement. Disappointed that we believed that Terry Bradway, a very nice man and probably a great scout, could function as a General Manager and bring in improved talent. Disappointed that all ready we have to be believe that Herm, also a very nice and well meaning quality person, has lost or never had control of the team. At least with Richie Kotite we had hope. We were quickly disappointed but knew that major changes had and would be made. Now we only have disappointment because the owner and the public is still behind these two guys who have failed miserably.
Where do we go from here? We do not have much talent to build on. The drafts were poor. Santana is never on the field. Lamont fumbles too much. With this year's group, it might be too early to tell, but Bryan Thomas hasn't sacked anyone yet and McGraw looks too slow from our vantage point. The rest do not even dress. So I guess the free agents that we sign every week off of some other team's practice squad are better. Again we only can shake our heads in disappointment. But as fanatical Jet Fans, it is worse because it isn't just another hopeless season, it is football and we put so much of ourselves into this team and plan our lives and our families lives around the Jets and the season that we feel betrayed, upset.
When the phone rang after Pennington's critical interception in the early moments of the third quarter, there wasn't too much to say. The team looked demoralized. Whatever energy and juice was flowing after halftime had just been stymied. Watching and listening via any medium, this was going to be another sorry Sunday afternoon. The team seemed to be in a freefall that has to be stopped now.
The negatives are so obvious. The problems are crystal clear. Over the last three weeks we have highlighted, quite accurately, the state of the teams largess and inadequacies. Football is a team sport. It requires great coordination and teamwork from the front office to the playing field. The physical and mental preparation for a game goes well beyond the normal strategies and routine that most of us go through on a daily basis in our professions. The technical and athletic skills that are required are probably unmatched in any other major sport.
As fans it is easy to point out the problems and debate what needs to be done. As passionate fans that go out of their way to be a part of and root for the team, the personal involvement, unusual circumstances, and situations become overwhelming and rather difficult to bear at times. The Jacksonville loss was just another example of what it takes to be a loyal Jet fan.
No cell phones, alarm clocks or airline flights are necessary for the month of October. October is the month to wake up, answer the ringing phone and make sure that the upcoming planned trip to San Diego in November is going to be worthwhile and exciting because a 1-3 record has been turned around to 4-3 and still holding hope for a playoff spot.
We still have our differences of opinion on this team and its direction. The Parcells/Groh era vs. the current Bradway/Edwards team. The players need to execute and show that the leadership tools and methods are indeed in sync with football and winning. Last year's personnel and playoff team were not part of the new regime. The off-season brought player improvements and Super Bowl hype. The flight took off in Buffalo, but the alarm clock did not ring against the Pats and Dolphins and the phone should have been left off the hook against the Jags. If there is any chance in salvaging this season, and just not playing out the schedule, it begins next week in the Meadowlands. Let the season begin now.