Could Billy Volek save the Jets? Maybe it's time for Bradway to make the call. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Brooks Bollinger era of Jet football has begun. Unfortunately for New York, it might have ended as well. In what felt like the 14th game of a lost season, the Jets may have unofficially ended their season with their predictable 13-3 loss to the equally offensively inept Baltimore Ravens. It wasn't all Bollinger's fault. But with Brooks under center, the Jets offense produced only 152 total yards (28 rushing yards; 37 1st half yards) and a meager 8 first downs - the lowest amounts for any Jet team in the Super Bowl era. Let's count the ways Bollinger - and his Jet teammates failed so miserably.
- The offensive line continues to be an unexpected albatross creating no running room whatsoever for Curtis Martin (13 carries -30 yards) and allowing Bollinger to be sacked five times. It doesn't matter who the quarterback is. Chad. Jay. Vinny. Joe Willie. If you don't put a hat on a hat and open some running lanes, no back is going to be able to do any damage. Proof of this poor performance came on the Jets' lone scoring chance of the afternoon.
Down 6-0 midway through the 3rd quarter, the Jets defense gave their anemic offense a chance. LB Victor Hobson returned a Jamal Lewis fumble all the way down to the Ravens one yard line - and the Jets offense couldn't punch the ball in the end zone. Three plays. Minus three yards. In the NFL, every team should be able to cash in on this opportunity. The entire line is accountable for this ridiculous lack of production.
- While the offensive line couldn't handle the Ravens front seven (or eight), Offensive Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger was scared to call anything resembling a forward pass in the first half. The way to beat an aggressive defense with a new QB is to implement some surprises on offense. Did Heimerdinger call one first down pass in the first half? No. Was there one rollout to take advantage of Bollinger's quickness? No. Why didn't the Jets put four WR's out on the field more often, forcing mismatches with the Raven linebackers? The Jets' vanilla game plan played perfectly into the Ravens hands. They knew exactly where every play was going. The Jets had no chance to execute, since the Ravens didn't have to worry about the forward pass. They were never the aggressors, and it showed on the scoreboard.
- When Bollinger did manage to throw some accurate passes - many Jet receivers flat out dropped the ball. TE Doug Jolley, WR Justin McCareins, RB Jerald Sowell and TE Chris Baker were all guilty of crucial drops. Since the defense did an admirable job of holding the Ravens to 13 points, every drop was detrimental. This offense needed all the help it could get, and the receivers were not up to the task.
- Head Coach Herman Edwards set the tone for this game by telling Bollinger, "Any drive that ends with a kick is OK." OK? While it is important for the Jets to win the turnover battle in any game they play, Edwards did not give his quarterback too much confidence by giving Brooks the "OK" to go three and out. If the Jets really do "play to win the game", you would never know it by this pedestrian, scared approach taken by their not-so-fearless leader.
With all of the restrictions and warnings the Jets coaches put on Brooks Bollinger, he did get more comfortable as the game wore on. As the Jets fell behind 13-3, it was finally time for the Jets brass to "let loose" and have Bollinger sling it around. With this new found freedom, Bollinger showed he could throw it effectively in the middle of the field, but did not find success outside the hash marks. The bottom line is the Jets only scored three points. Even Chad with a bum arm - did much better than that.
WHAT DO THE JETS DO NOW?
The Jets find themselves at 1-3. They've got Tampa Bay, Buffalo and Atlanta coming up on the schedule. Staring at 1-6, the Jets need to make a deal for a proven quarterback to have any chance of making the playoffs this season. While soon-to-be 42 year old Vinny Testeverde is the feel-good choice to resurrect this seemingly lost campaign, it is not realistic that he can lead this underachieving offense to a playoff birth. One name that is as obvious as the day is long to do the leading is Billy Volek.
Heimerdinger knows Volek well from his days as the Titans OC and he can make all the throws in this offense. He threw for 300 yards numerous times last year and is comfortable in Heimerdinger's system. Volek has a good amount of NFL experience and has promising upside as a productive starter in this league. Opposing defenses would have to respect the pass - which would open up running lanes and keep them guessing. In short, itís this writerís opinion that Volek is the answer. That is, if the Jets care about 2005.
If the Jets have secretly given up on this season and don't want to sacrifice the first round pick likely needed to secure Volek, that's a flawed strategy. Sacrificing this year - for the greater good of success in future years is commendable, but there's no guarantee that's going to happen. With the Jets fielding a pretty good defense right now - they need to take care of 2005 while they still can. Getting Volek in here and giving this team a shot to get 10 wins and a place in the tournament should be their paramount concern. With Volek here, the Jets would have a legitimate shot at the playoffs this year, and possibly in years to come. Otherwise, Jet fans can expect a lot of empty afternoons like this one - where the once heralded offense operates like a high school outfit - better suited for the gridirons of Great Neck North than the NFL.