Fan-Alysis: We Ain't Dead YET !

There is something different about watching a football game on TV versus seeing it live at the stadium. The warmth of a home heating system versus the bone chilling coldness of an outdoor arena. The roar of the crowd and Fireman Ed versus the dogs barking that they need to go out and your kids yelling at you to calm down.

Shorter lines to relieve yourself without obnoxious drunks standing next to you screaming that the Jets suck.  A more liberal policy for keeping your cap on the Diet Coke and not using the bottle as a weapon not to mention that we did not need clear bags to bring our food inside our home. 


It is not very often that we spend much time during the Jet season in front of a TV, but Monday night was a rare occasion where we didn't have the opportunity to fly to the Bay Area so we settled down in front of our respective TV screens for some Monday Night Football.  And as they say on the tube, we were ready for some football. 


It is crystal clear that being at the game is always a better option.  There is a certain sense of cache, a feeling of being emotionally and spiritually absorbed that cannot be duplicated while sitting on the sofa in your living room.  The half-time tradition of meeting mid-way on the ramp to adjust for the second half, as Herm and the team are doing simultaneously, had to be replaced by a quick phone call to each other.  Without the presence of a bunch of maniacs and lunatics tossing beer and dollar bills into "the hole", half-time was just another commercial break, another trip to the refrigerator and some painstakingly over-analyzed nonsense from the Monday Night crew on channel 7 (save for the Heidi story and seeing number 12 in some highlight films).


There was still a game to be played and prime time national television was really a perfect stage for this now familiar match-up between two of the original American Football League Clubs. 


Unfortunately, the end result could have been as exciting as another Heidi conclusion if somehow the Jets would have managed a heroic march on their last drive to overtake the Raiders.  It was not meant to be.  However, at 6-6 with four games remaining, we still believe that the playoffs and a winning season are in the "hole".  


For the third time in a year the Jets went to the "Black Hole" for a very important game. (When will Oakland come to the Meadowlands?)  We played a good tough game and should have come away with a win. There are few excuses but the reason for the loss can be boiled down to only one significant reason and several less significant ones.


We all can point to Chad Morton as the goat, but the main reason we lost was the unacceptable fragility of Santana Moss.  The Jets in spite of Oakland's total domination of time of possession in the first half had them on the ropes.  When Santana went down on that punt return at the end of the first half, the entire game changed.  Yes, we lost a major weapon on punt returns, but his contribution to the passing game really hurt what kind of plays the Jets could run on offense.  His presence on the field changed Oakland's entire defensive scheme.  Without his blazing speed and the associated threat, Oakland changed everything that they were doing defensively for the second half. The Jets did not have a chance.  Santana was instrumental in the 4-game winning streak by just being healthy.  Last year we drafted and built the offense around him.  Only after we recognized that he was not dependable, did the Jets win.  This year, when he is out, the Jets have no answers to what he can bring.  He MUST get over these nuisance nicks and get back on the field.  He has to understand how important he is to the offense and gut it out.  Monday night there was no excuse for him to sit out the Second Half.


Another issue for our demise includes the disappearance of Dave Szott.  Maybe the knee swelled on the trip to the coast, but J.P. Machado continues to kill us.  Rod Woodson went right by him to block the John Hall field goal attempt that might have cost us the game.  He whiffed on two pass blocks that cost a sack and big hit on Pennington.  The guy has got to GO!!!  In the first half when it was third and one, Jonathan Goodwin was playing in his spot and the Raiders went over him, but he couldn't move his guy and we had to punt.  So he wasn't much better.  We have to give credit to Oakland's two excellent defensive tackles, but that is all the more reason we needed Dave Szott.


Jon McGraw missed Jerry Rice on the crossing pattern for his 26-yard touchdown and he should have batted the ball down on the other touchdown pass thrown right down the middle.  Where was the pass rush?  Barry Sims pushed John Abraham all over the field all night.  All the successful runs were after Sims pushed Abraham out of his area.  Josh Evans was rarely heard from.


But in the end, the defense really did the job "holding" Oakland to only 26 points and giving Pennington enough opportunities to win.  His youth showed Monday night as he looked scared in the first half and made some bad reads.  But it was the loss of Santana Moss that hurt him the most and killed the Jets chances.  They are a good team that showed that for them to win in the NFL, they need all of their players on the field. At this time, they are just NOT good enough with a young QB who does not have all his weapons.


At 6-6 in the AFC this year, it is NOT over.  They must run the table.  All that trite rhetoric applies… "one game at a time"… "focus on Denver"… "don't look ahead".  Anything can happen in the AFC.


A break here and there and we could be playing for a playoff spot after Christmas and just maybe relaxing in the warmth of the southern California sunshine at the every end of the season.  A return trip to San Diego with all of its amenities, including the pre-game wings at Hooters, is something that Santa can deliver in three weeks.


Down the stretch, whatever can happen for the Jets will happen as they focus on the final four games.  These games will be played in the old-fashioned elements against the Broncos, Bears, Patriots and Packers, cold weather teams in the true tradition of the NFL.  Let's turn off the TV for the remainder of the season and get ready to dress warm and be prepared for some hearty football. 


We are still excited and cannot wait to freeze our butts off on Sunday at the Meadowlands. 

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