JETS TALK DOESN'T SQUARE WITH REALITY

Let me welcome you inside the locker room of the New York Nonsense. The team is having a great season at 9-2 and their tight end Joe Baloney is conducting an interview.

"So, Joe, what do you think of the team's performance this season?" asks a reporter.

"Well, we're 9-2. Pretty simple, right?" responds Baloney. "We're a bad team; we just haven't played poorly yet."

"Huh?" the stunned scribe blurts out.

"We've been in every game," says Baloney. "We just haven't gotten unlucky yet!"

Now back to reality. We're in the New York Jets locker room a couple days before the Thanksgiving tilt against the Cowboys and tight end Chris Baker is asked about the team's then 2-8 record.

"We know we have a good team. We have been in pretty much every game that we have played but lost them for whatever reason. What we have to do is go out and execute," said Baker.

How many times have you heard this mantra this season?

"We're a good team; we just haven't played well yet." It's been repeated in different ways all season long by Green and White players comparing this season's close losses to last season's razor thin wins.

And it's nonsense. The Jets are not a good team. Yes, they've been in some close games against some very mediocre teams but they've lost just about every single one of them. Such statements are typical of the atmosphere head coach Eric Mangini has fostered in his locker room: speak but say nothing.

No one needs to throw a chair, but Mangini's players should be spitting out their words by now. For his part, the coach continues to offer pablum that he can't expect anyone to truly believe. You've come to expect it by now, though.

Maybe in September you got angry when coach refused to directly answer any question, but by now your senses have been so assaulted it no longer affects you.

Following the pitiful loss to the Cowboys, Mangini was asked whether QB Kellen Clemens has regressed.

"The whole group needs to play better than we did offensively in Dallas," he said. He's right. But the question was about the QUARTERBACK!

Good grief.

Now to Clemens. I'd hate to say "I Told You So," but it's warranted on this occasion. Chad Pennington took so much abuse during his up-and-down performances you would have thought the Jets had Joe Montana waiting to take his place.

As predicted in my column which preceded the Jets-Redskins game, Clemens would need to get playing time so the franchise may determine if he's the future, but the Jets offense would not improve based solely on his performance.

The Jets offense under Clemens has been just as putrid, if not more so, than it was under Chad. New QB, same problems. Leaky pass protection, so-so running game, spotty play at receiver, predictable play-calling, etc., etc.

You should be patient with Clemens. Give him the rest of the season before you decide whether he's a keeper. Against Washington, he looked pretty good. Since then he's been underwhelming if not overwhelmed.

It may be impossible to avoid in sports today, especially in New York, but it's not wise to place any young player under a play-by-play, game-by-game microscope. Pennington endured such microanalysis—and he had been a winner.


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