The New York Jets 2008 season has been over for a few weeks, and most of us are still running through the gamut of emotions. The dramatic turn of events was heart-wrenching, humiliating, and—worst of all—confusing.
Where did it all go so terribly wrong?
When looking for the answers, you will find yourself overwhelmed. Taking a look back at the 2008 season, you will discover how daunting of a task it is to pinpoint where the entire operation failed.
There are easy answers. Trading for Brett Favre, cutting Chad Pennington, and letting Mangini handcuff the entire team all dwell in the forefront of our minds.
But they’re not the only answers. As is anything with the New York Jets, there’s no one place where the majority of the blame can be reasonably placed.
There’s not one glaring mistake which trumps all others. The 2008 season was a collection of failures. It’s unreasonable to list them off in article filled with quick blurbs and cynical remarks.
They deserve proper attention.
New York Should Have Remained Lawless
It was November of 2008 and the Jets had administered a beating of biblical proportions upon the St. Louis Rams. Waiting in the coming days were the the New England Patriots and sole control of the AFC East.
The pass coverage was clearly becoming a liability as every quarterback the Jets faced was John Elway reincarnate. So the Jets did what they believed was necessary. They signed a 34-year old cornerback off his couch and expected his Pro Bowl and Super Bowl experience to be the difference.
Ty Law was thrown into the mix immediately against New England. He didn’t look terrible for a guy seeing his first NFL action in over 10 months. But he did play soft coverage on Randy Moss, allowing the elite veteran to make a spectacular touchdown catch to send the game into overtime.
New York won the game, so the blunder was forgiven and Law received a pass. Unfortunately, so did every receiver he covered in the weeks after that.
Ty Law was an absolute non-factor in New York. His experience was supposed to be the difference between what Law can do and the inexperienced Dwight Lowery—the promising rookie he supplanted from the starting lineup.
Yet New York still ranked 26th against the pass—a laughable statistic, but only in a cynical way.
And Justin Miller Sped Off to Oakland
One of the biggest problem with the Law signing was who had to be released to free up roster space. The only Pro Bowl player the Jets drafted in recent years was set free after being conspicuously absent for most of the 2008 season.
Justin Miller went to Hawaii as a kick returner, yet he struggled to find the field for unknown reasons. He was hampered by injuries, but according to reports he was fully recovered. The only logical assumption fans could make was that Miller was in Mangini’s infamous doghouse.
And many fans failed to bat an eyelash.
A second-round draft pick was dismissed while non-factors like safety Eric Smith and cornerback Drew Coleman, and “Oh, I forgot about him” players like Ahmad Carroll and James Ihedigbo continued to wear Jets’ colors weekly.
Miller may have never developed into the kind of defensive back the coaches would have hoped. But it was his strength as a kick returner that made him so critical to the Jets.
Leon Washington is dangerous as a return man, but he was also the only other running back behind Thomas Jones. If Washington or Jones were to sustain an injury, where would that leave New York with depth?
Instead, New York rolled the dice.
And Miller returned two kicks for touchdowns in as many weeks with the Oakland Raiders while Ty Law allowed aerial chaos to reign supreme in the defensive secondary.
Same. Old. Jets.
It should have been clear that Ty Law was an omen of death for any Jets team believed to be on the cusp of contention. After all, it was such a circumstance that validated the Jets decision to sign Ty Law the first time a few weeks before the 2005 regular season.
New York was fresh off a two-game playoff run in January when it became abundantly clear that the secondary needed to be bolstered for any future shots in the postseason.
Law was signed halfway through the preseason to a one-year deal, and was expected to be an immediate difference for New York if a repeat to the playoffs were a reality.
No fans like hearing the “same old Jets” expression, but what’s left when New York keeps making the same mistakes under similar circumstances?
It’s tired already.