Monday, October 03, 2005

Let Brooks Play!
By Ben Valentine

Okay that was an ugly football game. The Ravens aren’t a very good team. Honestly, they might be worse than the Dolphins. So losing to them isn’t a good sign of things to come for the Jets. Still I’m trying to look at the positive here. That positive has to be Brooks Bollinger at this point.

No his stats weren’t impressive. But he looked far better in the second half when the Jets finally started letting him throw the ball. Secondly, he had quite a few drops from his wide-outs, the worst being Justin McCariens’ one of a long seam pattern early in the third quarter. And remember people, Bollinger was going up against the Baltimore Ravens defense here; arguably the toughest unit in the league.

Early on, I was a little worried by his pocket presence. It has always been a fault of his whenever I’ve seen him in a pro game. He showed some hesitancy to let go of the ball on the few chances he had early, but that could have been because he wasn’t allowed to get into a rhythm. The blame for that goes to the Ravens D and the Jets overly conservative play calling which had them throw the ball once in the first quarter. Herm didn’t want Bollinger to cost him the game and played it not to lose. To say what I think of that mentality, I’ll turn to a now legendary line.

“You play to win the game. If you’re not playing to win the game, then you might as well retire.”

I had to use my favorite Herm quote here to make the point. Bollinger isn’t Chad, nor is he Vinny. Today’s play calling was designed for a classic drop back quarterback. The Jets needed to play to their quarterback’s strength. They failed to get him outside of the pocket, where he could do the most damage. Bollinger also is not a tall QB, topping out at six feet at most. Getting him outside the pocket would allow him to see the field better. It would also potentially make his mobility a weapon. But one would gather Herm feared that would force Bollinger into decision making, which he doesn’t look to have much faith in.

Today it was clear Bollinger was a good soldier. He didn’t scramble at all and was content to throw the ball away if nothing was there. Herm wanted him to play conservative and that’s what the former Wisconsin Badger did. And that type of play isn’t going to win the Jets many games.

So next week, hopefully Bollinger does get the start against a very tough Tampa Bay defense. And I certainly hope Herm doesn’t repeat his “play not to lose” play calling. At home, without a hostile crowd making play calling difficult, I feel it would be the perfect time to open up the offense some. It’s clear the Jets run game has stagnated. The only way that will change is if they prove they can throw the ball. So get Bollinger outside the pocket, let him air it out. Give him safety valves he can hit in Jerald Sowell, Chris Baker and C- Mart, but also stretch the field with McCariens and Coles. If I were the Jets, I would throw the ball at least 40 times next week. It sounds crazy, but I think Bollinger could be effective using the short passing game as a substitute for the run.

But then this is most likely all moot. Vinny will probably end up starting next week. And if that happens, I hope he has some aspirin cause I think Tampa’s defensive tackles move faster than he does at this point.

All I can say is that Bollinger went into a hostile environment against a top defense with one measly week of practice with the first team under his belt and didn’t kill the Jets. That at least warrants another chance against the Bucs next week.

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