The more things change, the more they stay the same. The New York Jets started their season on a sweltering, humid Florida day against the Miami Dolphins. And the regular season looks to end on a frigidly cold one this upcoming Sunday.
When the Jets last faced the Dolphins, it was Week One of the season, Brett Favre was New York’s shiny new toy, and Chad Pennington was on the other side of the field trying to prove a point.
And he nearly succeeded. Miami played New York close for the entire game and nearly won it if not for a Darrelle Revis interception in the corner of the end zone.
The entire game was a sloppy affair on New York’s part. There were too many new bells and whistles for New York and they were still trying to learn how to use them.
In Week 17, New York is still playing sloppy football but in a completely different way. The rush defense—once an area of brilliance—has regressed significantly.
And things aren’t falling for Brett Favre like they did in September. Back then, Favre could sneak away from pressure on a fourth-down play, throw the ball up, and have it fall nicely into the waiting arms of Chansi Stuckey for a touchdown.
Last Sunday, a fourth-down ball right to Laveranues Coles’ chest fell to the snowy grounds at Qwest Field.
While New York looks to be the same team they were in Week One, the Dolphins have emerged as a team head-and-shoulders better than they were nearly four months ago.
They’re Called Pro Bowlers—Use Them!
Leon Washington is going to Honolulu as a kick returner. That’s awesome! Did you forget that he also leads the league in plays over 40 yards long? Keeping the ball out of his hands has led New York to the position their in.
For the entire season, Washington has been the spark plug the Jets needed. He’ll return some great kicks, but he’s also the guy that will snap off a 60-yard run right between the tackles. He’s the guy that can take a screen-pass all the way down to field goal range.
Miami remembers that play on Monday night a few years back, right?
When he doesn’t get a chance to touch the ball, New York isn’t going to have a chance to win. It’s that simple.
Thomas Jones leads the AFC in rushing yards and owns Jets’ touchdown records with no help from his coaching staff. If Jones can break off for five or six yards on a first-down carry, why would the Jets call for two straight passing plays after that?
Honestly, who gives a workhorse back less than 20 carries a game?
Smarten up, Schott.
Any Chance the Defense is Playing this Week?
Pardon the sarcasm, but it’s a legitimate question. Will New York be sending their defense in to do anything?
Apparently Kris Jenkins is a bit nicked up. It’s later in the season and it appears his 360 pounds are starting to weigh him down. He’s referenced his age and the fact that he’s learning a new position as primary causes for his drop in play. Aside from that, more teams are devising specific schemes to stop him.
Good thing there are 10 other guys on the field, right?
While Jenkins is double-teamed and taken out of plays, the entire defense seems to collapse.
There are no impressive stops. When New York needs to force a punt, they don’t. Seneca Wallace converted crucial third-downs against New York to keep the ball in their hands.
Should I write that line again?
New York needs to learn what a blitz is again—the three and four man rush isn’t working. The secondary is going to get scorched no matter what. Why bother sending linebackers into coverage? Did Calvin Pace receive a $42M contract to chase tight ends?
Playoffs? P…playoffs? You Kiddin’ Me? Playoffs?
The playoff scenarious are complicated. To an extent the Jets still control their own destiny, but they need help.
New York must defeat the Dolphins to even have a chance at the playoffs.
First, they need Buffalo to finally win a divisional game and knock down the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium. If that happens, New York wins the AFC East and receives the three-seed in January.
Yeah, that’s the same thing I’m thinking.
In the next unlikely scenario, the Jets need Jacksonville to pull off an upset in Baltimore. If that happens, New York receives the six-seed.
If either happens, the chances of New York being one-and-done in the postseason are high. We all know that the playoffs are like the start of a new season. Over the last few years a sixth-seed has gone on to do impressive things.
But will New York have that kind of momentum after such a tumultuous season?
The only thing working in New York’s favor is that they’ve managed to beat the good teams. New York has struggled against bottom-feeders. So if regular season logic applies, if the chips fall in New York’s favor, they could make noise in the playoffs.
Sorry, people—my glass is always half-full.
Oh, How It Stings…
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. There are plenty of excuses to be made, but none of them matter.
Chad Pennington has made the entire New York Jets’ organization look extremely foolish. The New York Jets believed they were a win-now organization, and required the services of a legendary quarterback who would help them get over their hump.
That veteran quarterback is riding one of the worst cold-streaks of his career while the man he replaces has all the momentum and incentive to crush New York’s playoff hopes.
It hurts…a lot.
New York’s decision to release Pennington came from the best information they had. He was benched in 2007, was having difficulties proving himself as the better quarterback over Kellen Clemens, and his previous injuries appeared to be obstacles he’d never overcome.
It wasn’t personal.
Now it looks like he wasn’t properly utilized. Brett Favre was turned into the Pennington of yesteryear while Chad has an offensive coordinator that plays to his strengths.
Poetic and painful.
Angel Navedo covers the New York Jets for Examiner.com. His work can also be found on NYJetsFan.com, where he is the Head Writer, and on MyGridironSpace.com—a premier social networking site built exclusively for NFL fans.
He is also a Senior Writer at the Bleacher Report, where he is one of the New York Jets Community Leaders.