Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Little Critique
By Ben Valentine

Today, in the tradition of the boys at Fire Joe Morgan, I’ve provided a little critique. Normally I reserve my rips on established media to the crew at WFAN, since they’re usually the most outspoken bunch around. I was going to get on an old favorite of mine, Joe Beningo, for his ridiculous comments today about wanting Herman Edwards and Terry Bradway fired, but instead, I’ll launch into a criticism of an article Beningo cited today on air. It’s a New York Post piece by Mike Vaccaro, who claims to have had enough hearing about the Jets excuses about injuries this season. Needless to say, I wasn’t all that impressed by it.

AROUND the Jets there seems to have grown a strange, silent treaty that everyone's been granted a do-over, from players to coaches to front-office folks. Apparently, the whole organization became vested on that wicked September afternoon when Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler left the stadium clutching their shoulders.

Comment: You mean the Jets should be held to the same standards and expectations after losing their top two QBs? Interesting. Well Mike you are certainly a harsh adjudicator. Glad you’re not my boss.

As soon as that happened, accountability became an option.
And the rubbish we've gotten from the Jets the past few weeks - and what we're likely to get the rest of the year - became the new standard. It isn't clear how this theory became law. But it's there. Just watch them, if you can stand it. Just listen to them, if you can stomach it.

It's worse than a bad team playing out the string, because this is a team that saw its Super Bowl ambitions derailed in the third week of the season and decided the remaining 13 games simply weren't worth the effort. Or the time.

Comment: I watched the last few weeks and stomached it. I saw the Jets D make Mike Vick look like a bad college QB. I saw them play hard in a tough environment in Buffalo. I saw them trot out a third string QB against one of the most feared defenses in the league. I saw them in all of those games. Not one was a blowout. Where exactly does Vaccaro get this idea the Jets quit? Because they lost games where they were outclassed talent wise, on the road or both? Geez, like I said, glad he’s not my boss.

"These guys fought, and they didn't give up. I'm proud of them" is the way Herman Edwards, chief enabler, described it after the dreary 31-26 defeat the San Diego Chargers laid on them yesterday at the Meadowlands. "They gave themselves a chance to win in the end, and I think that says a lot."

Comment: Chief enabler? What do you want Herm to say? “My guys didn’t beat the hottest team in football with our third and fourth string QBs, our starting TE, center out etc… We stink.” Come on.

It does. It says the Jets were so disinterested in playing football yesterday that they dug themselves a quick 14-0 hole and a late 28-13 deficit. It says that even though the Chargers tried mightily to double the size of Marty Schottenheimer's ulcer by handing the Jets a first-and-goal at the 4 with under two minutes left, the Jets have neither the play-calling acumen nor the on-field guile to cash in on the gift.

Comment: I guess the NFL on the whole is just disinterested when playing the Chargers. I mean LT and Antonio Gates are just scrubs with no talent who killed a defense who clearly had quit. Hell, let’s fire Tom Coughlin too. The Giants are 6-2, but did you see what the Chargers did to them in San Diego back in week 3? And hey, that’s when the Bolts were reeling at 0-2! Newsflash Mike, LT leads the NFL in TDs. That probably means this isn’t the first week he’s gone off against a defense.

It says the Jets should start offering refunds for the remaining games on their schedule. And that Woody Johnson should do himself a favor and see if he really wants to automatically renew the scholarships of the men chiefly responsible for this morass, Edwards and Terry Bradway.

Comment: And should the Colts double their ticket prices because they’re undefeated and just spanked the Patriots in Foxboro? Statements like that Mike are appealing to the lowest common denominator in fans. And what exactly have that duo done to cause this? I must have missed the part when Herm ripped Chad’s shoulder off or when Bradway did the same to Fiedler. I mean, isn’t Bradway the guy who was smart enough to realize that Pennington could be an injury liability and brought in Fiedler in the first place? Oh wait, that fool didn’t look into his crystal ball and predict they’d both go down! The bastard! Fire him now!

If you wanted to look for an honest appraisal of where the Jets are right now, all you had to do was stand by linebacker Jonathan Vilma's locker when it was over. Vilma still hasn't forgotten the lessons learned at Miami, where a culture of winning supersedes whatever else may go wrong, and so he is one Jet who always earns his paycheck.

"You can talk Xs and Os until you're blue in the face," Vilma said after a day in which he made 11 tackles, recovered the fumble that gave the Jets that last-ditch opportunity, and was one of only a handful of Jets that got the memo that kickoff was at 1:02 p.m. yesterday, not 2:30.

"They wanted it," he said. "We didn't. And that's sad."

Comment: Vilma is great. But as he said, “WE didn’t.” That includes him. I love how somehow Vaccaro has determined Vilma showed up while everyone else didn’t. How exactly can he say that again? Was he watching all 11 guys on D on every play? By the way, who caused that fumble? John Abraham, a guy who has been accused of quitting in the past. Guess he decided to show up just for that one play huh?

You bet it is. Look, we are all realists here. The Jets' Super Bowl train didn't careen off the tracks when the Pennington/Fiedler massacre occurred, but when they showed in Week 1 in Kansas City that they weren't even close to measuring up to the brutal schedule they were given. The quarterback quinella just gave everyone a user-friendly safety net in which to dive. And the Jets have delighted in using it. Week after week after humiliating week.

Comment: It’s nice to talk about this game in hindsight, but it has little to do with the Jets problems now. For one, the Jets actually moved the ball in that game, but were victims to turnovers. Those were caused from trying to use a brand new system in a very hostile environment. Secondly, it was one game. The Jets won in week 2 and had they either a healthy Pennington or Fielder, probably would have beaten the Jags in week 3. And hey, give me a team that’s going to win consistently with its third string QB. Even if the Jets had used Brooks Bollinger over Vinny, to EXPECT them to win these games is a fantasy that not even the most die hard Jet fan would ever dream of. Thirdly, Vaccaro mentions the “brutal schedule.” Let me get this straight; he’s saying the Jets have quit because with all of their injuries, they have the nerve to lose close games on one of the toughest schedules in the league? Yeah, that makes a LOT of sense.

That starts with Edwards, whose biggest asset - motivating even the most aloof players - has suddenly abandoned him. It extends to Mike Heimerdinger, whose dreadful late-game calls are starting to make Jets fans want to seek confession for all the terrible things they used to say about Paul Hackett.

Comment: Repeat: LT- MVP candidate. Antonio Gates- Best TE in NFL. Jets- beat up at QB and on the line. The Jets fall behind early and everyone expects them to lie down. Yet the Jets lose by five points, with a chance to win late. Yep, Herm clearly didn’t bother to fire his guys up at all. As for the playcalling, I don’t like its conservative nature. But then again, as much as I like Brooks Bollinger, he is Brooks Bollinger, not Peyton Manning.

Edwards and HeimerHackett aren't the only culprits, of course. This is a disease that extends from the head all the way down. You know what you call professional teams who take comfort in making a blowout close? You call them losers. And you start to wonder if they have it in them to turn that description around.

Comment: Funny. There are so many ways I could respond to this one. But instead, I’ll just let Vaccaro contradict himself:

Six years ago, another Jets Super Bowl Express was derailed early in the season, yet somehow there was enough pride in the room that the team finished 8-8 and could feel good about the effort it gave across 16 weeks. The Jets should think about that whenever this 4-12-in-the-making is over. And see how proud they feel then.

Comment: So… you just spent the better part of a column ripping the team for falling behind early and then being proud of making it close late. Then you proceed to hail a team that managed to win a bunch of meaningless games after having Super Bowl aspirations in week one derailed by… wait for it… and INJURY!!. I’m confused. Doesn’t that make them, according to your definition of this Jet team, LOSERS? Guess what, those first 8 weeks with Rick Mirer at QB counted too. And that was a Jet team that lost one player, it’s QB. This team has lost far more than that. And you know what, if 4-12 gets the Jets Reggie Bush next year, then go 4-12. At least Jet fans could hang their hats on something. If you’re going to lose, you might as well do so strategically in your best interests.

It’s funny how you can read over something and pick it apart. I read this over once and didn’t find it so bad, but after reading it a few more times, the holes in Vaccaro’s logic were so obvious it’s disgusting. There are ways to rip the Jets; Vinny being left in as starter, potentially rushing Pennington back before he was ready, tying both of Bollinger’s hands behind his back in Baltimore, but they stem from the same thing, the injuries to Pennington and Fiedler. Like it or not, you lose enough key players and your team is going to suffer. Just ask the 4- 4 Patriots. How are the Eagles doing with an injured Donovan McNabb?

It sells papers to say “a team quit.” You can scream it to the heavens till the cows come home. It doesn’t make it so. You’ll know if and when this team quits. And if they do, after all that’s happened, I honestly won’t be able to get on their cases. But to claim it at this point is baseless, stupid, and just plain wrong.


Blogger Zachary Geballe said...

This is the aspect of New York sports fans and the New York sports media I can't stand. I know it sells papers and gets people to listen to the radio, but the constant attention-grabbing and fanning of the flames is a joke.

Obviously, it's been a disappointing season for the Jets. But considering they're playing without two of their three best offensive players, it shouldn't be a surprise.

The funny thing is, in the wake of yesterday's game, someone could have easily written a completely opposite article praising the Jets for not quitting despite falling behind. Seriously Ben, if I'd told you that the Jets would have the ball first-and-goal against the Chargers with a chance to win the game with a TD, I think you'd have taken it.

10:17 AM  
Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

This team had no business playing the Chargers that close and yet they almost sent the Chargers home with a loss. It's why I think the importance of the QB position can never be underestimated.

1:00 PM  

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