My biggest fear came true today.
After a beautiful victory over the top notch New Orleans Saints, the Jets had their mid season bye. Time for a little mind and body refresh, and a week and a half to get ready for a team we know well, the Buffalo Bills. Oh, the papers, sports radio, blogs, and twitter were all aglow with “playoff” talk. Everyone I bumped into at the grocery store or work said, “your Jets have an easy schedule and should sail to the Playoffs”. I said STOP!
As a Jet fan forever, I’ve learned not to predict. I’ve been constantly surprised, good and bad, with completely different outcomes than predicted and I refused to fall into that trap. This year, before the season began, with lack of great playmakers at skill positions, rookie QB, 2 new OL, a questionable defensive backfield with changing safeties, new corner and loss of Mike Divito and Bart Scott, wondering if the Jets would win 5-6 games all year.
So the Jets surprised me and the rest of the football world and were 5-4 going into the bye! I should feel pleased and anything beyond is gravy, but I don’t. It’s because it changes every week, w-l-w-l-w-l-w-l-w-l, and we beat the “tough” teams and lose to “easier” ones. And when we lose, it’s a blow-out except for one. They seem to play better when no one thinks they will win, not when the sports world says glowing things about them.
I can always live with a loss, having coached boys and girls basketball, flag football, baseball and swimming. But I can’t live with lack of emotion, intensity, going all out on every play and having a leader not allow his/her teammates to be accountable. Today, with high winds I knew our Offensive Line would be key. Buffalo stuffed the running game and then hit Geno Smith and he never seemed the same after that. He had little time to throw and we just never did a screen or slant or safe short passes to give him confidence.
When a team has a rookie QB and having a tough time, I hoped our defense that’s considered our strength, especially our front 7 would make life miserable for their rookie QB EJ Manuel. But they came out flat as pancakes, with the exception of Big #96, Mo Wilkerson. There was never any pressure on Manuel and he found his receivers beating us, even throwing into the wind. If we could have made some hard hits (legal of course) and caused a fumble or hit the QB and caused an interception, (they had 4 on us), it makes such a difference for the young QB and field position.
Many of the teams that are vying for the last playoff spot we play over the next 6 weeks, so the Jets are far from out of it. But we really need to get focused and up for EVERY game, and show if we are capable or if we need another year of John Idzik’s great drafts, free agency signings, and improvement and maturity of Geno Smith to be realistic in this.
Regardless, the Jets are making this much more exciting this season than I ever anticipated!