Today started a little slower than usual. The phones were not as pestering as normal. The usual messages were piling up, but the one at the top was different. Call Terry Bradway as soon as you can!! Whoa!! We both scrambled to get on a conference call. We speculated that Terry, who we always said nice things about personally, but not so nice things about his talent judgment, must have been calling about this column. We are sure on Mondays that he is busy calling all over America to bring in guys for Tuesday's tryouts or sign the weekly free agent off of someone else's practice squad. We concluded that he must have some HOT news for this column.
After exchanging pleasantries, Terry flat out offered us contracts. Not as cub reporters or press release front office guys, but any role on the Jets defense. Why would he select us, whose life-long dream was to heroically wear the green and white? Why two 50-ish, Jewish football junkies who haven't got hit in 30 years except by their wives? The answer that he gave us made sense. We have exhibited a good knowledge of the game and we've got to do better than the group that was out there on Sunday!!
So Bradway tells us on the phone that he would like to give us a chance, because we've got to be better than the current group of the over-the-hill, overpaid athletes that he has. Bradway, of course, always the gentleman, assured us the Jets offer would be very attractive; well-worth our time and investment. We said that we understood how the Jets have and will continue to have major salary cap problems and we would work to help make these much-needed signings possible.
It's all about teamwork. It's all about playing together on both sides of the ball. It's about picking up for your teammates when they are not playing their best. It's the formula for winning.
Going into the Kansas City game, the entire team wasn't focused or playing well and was more readily labeled prime meat for a Kansas BBQ joint then they were capable opponents for a mediocre Chiefs football team. There were no facets of the Jet game that seemed positive. They were just being out-played, out-coached and their 1-3 record reflected their dismal performance.
In fact, who would have imagined "way back in early September" that the 2002 Jets football team would be underdogs against the Chiefs in week five and only have a 1-3 record. The likelihood of having poor bar-b-que at Arthur Bryant's on Brooklyn Avenue in KC was just as unimaginable (they do have the best ribs in the US).
A quick reality check let us know that the Chiefs game was not going to be easy. It was going to be a critical game that would determine if this football team would be able to turn the year around and make a true push for the play-off spot that we all so eagerly anticipated during the off-season personnel moves and the 4-0 pre-season hype. It was a true moment for the coaches and players to come together on both sides of the ball in front of the home crowd.
As the 4:05 kick-off rolled around, it was obvious that Fireman Ed and the entire Meadowlands crowd were quite intense. Ed led the stadium cheers of J.E.T.S, Jets, Jets, Jets. They were powerful, emotional and frenzied. The fans were hyped and pumped for a victory.
The move to let Chad Pennington lead the offense was right. We like Vinny and believe that he has done quite a bit in his career. His time with the Jets has been wonderful and exciting but now it seemed like the right time to make a move and really look to the future. After an initial breakdown by the special teams on the opening kick-off, the team seemed to settle down and play the type of football that we looked for during the previous three weeks. The Jets three point lead, 15-12 at half time was no reason to think Super-Bowl, but we did have a feeling that the team's performance was a reversal of the three previous embarrassments. No one was ready to say that Pennington to Coles was the next great duo in line to follow in the steps of Namath to Maynard, O'Brien to Walker, or even Testeverde to Chrebet, but things did look bright and the young players on offense were beginning to show signs of promise.
The halftime mood on Ramp "A" at the break was festive. Even the weirdo's throwing beer and dollar bills into the "circle" at the bottom were happy with the clubs performance. The team was turning around. You could hear the chatter of drunk, obnoxious, but loyal and dedicated Jet fans feeling good about this team. With the offensive line playing a better game, Curtis Martin playing like the All--Pro we have come to expect and a defense that held a potent offense to only twelve points in the first half we started to believe that the Jets were the best 1-3 team in the league. The key to the second-half performance and a possible victory was that the defense had to hold the Chiefs on their first possession and not have another collapse in the 3rd quarter. As the Chiefs only managed a field goal on the initial drive of the second half to tie the score at 15-15 we felt that the Jets were looking good and the defense had done their job.
The defense was looking good at least for a while, then the rest, as they say, is history. Or as a long-time Jet fan would say, the same old Jets. They fell apart in the waning moments of a very exciting game to lose 29-25.
Poor Terry!! How can he fix all the problems? Obviously, one game when you are 1-4 does not foretell the future or the next decade, but at least the offense with Chad at the helm and maybe Santana to finally help Laverneous have something to build on. But ohhhh the defense built to win now at great Cap expense.
Where do you go from HERE? The corners have been thrashed and destroyed. Sam Garnes continues to get paid for having the best place to watch a game in Giants/Jets Stadium. Terry admits that there must have been a reason why all those teams let these guys go. Wellington Mara is still laughing at Woody. A team with Damien Robinson as the best in your defense backfield has real trouble. And the three overpaid, over-the-hill linebackers should all be going to the Social Security office today. All of them were constantly being blownout and could not fight off the blocks to even get near the Priest. You would have thought that they would be praying for their Salvation. And the Front Four has to take full responsibility for allowing Trent Green to sit back in the pocket all day, especially on the final drive, without any pressure. Is Shaun Ellis still on the team? Didn't you, Terry, waste a first round pick on a pass-rusher? Thank goodness for John Abraham, but you can see that he still has knee problems and is a lot slower than last year.
These major issues will now take years to rebuild. Ted Cottrell isn't up for the job. Herm was thought to be a great defense and especially defensive backfield coach. That area has totally fallen apart. But you have got to blame the players for not getting it done. Sam Garnes said after the game that he felt sorry for the offense because they played well. Maybe if he was concentrating more, he might have slowed Priest Holmes down once or twice. It is truly a sorry group.
As for us, it's only a game and passion as there are real jobs, commitments and obligations each and every day. The Jets help breakup our reality for three hours on 16 Fall Sundays during the NFL season. But wait, maybe that reality check and job commitment can really take a new turn and a new twist if the Jets front office take the necessary and appropriate steps to improve this team.
As we have said in this column many times, the Jets are a team that needs much work. They are a team in disarray. We are only kidding ourselves at this point in believing that this is the nucleus for a Super Bowl team. Even if Terry did succumb to outside pressure and was able to sign the two of us, his club would still need much work in putting together a solid defensive secondary and line. The offense seems to at least have the ability to step up and turn this year around as witnessed Sunday by key performances from a young and refreshing group led by Chad, Laverneous and Santana. If Curtis continues to perform above the 100-yard mark, and with Wayne returning against the Vikings, you must believe that the 1-4 Jets are ready to beat the 0-5 Vikings as they set the table for the playoff run. Three other clubs have started 1-4 in the past and landed in the playoffs via a division title. So it is not over just yet. The Jets can do it. They need a lot of wins the rest of the way to join the '83 Lions, the '92 Chargers and the '93 Oilers. If they cannot run the table, then at least they can set it for us as we enjoy some great Bar-B-Que from Kansas City while we organize ourselves for our traditional Super Bowl party in January, which once again will not feature the NY Jets, but Arthur Bryant's Ribs!
If anyone else out there wants to hire us or contact us about our views or our fan-alysis, please e-mail us at dexlev123@AOL.com.