It Aint Over Till It's Over
By Mark Cannizzaro
JetsInsider.com Head Writer
October 28th, 2005
Edwards made the right decision.
The Jets are 2-5 as they heal their minds and bodies and ponder their immediate future during their bye week. As weekend play begins Sunday, the Jets, as disjointed as this fractured season has been and as poorly as they've played at times, found themselves merely 1½ games out of first place.
A New England win over the Bills Sunday would make the Patriots 4-3 and leave the Jets just two games out of first place with nine games still to play.
A New England win would also leave Buffalo at 3-5, only a half game ahead of the Jets and a Miami loss to the Saints would leave the Dolphins at 2-5 and tied for last place with the Jets.
Conversely, a Buffalo win over the Patriots would make the Bills 4-4 and alone in first place, a mere 1½ games ahead of the Jets.
The point is, despite how bad it's looked through seven games for the Jets, there is still a lot of season to be played out before this thing is decided.
Remember how hopeless it looked in 2002 when the Jets were 2-5 and going to play the 6-1 Chargers in San Diego?
A 44-13 win later, along with new energy provided by a young quarterback named Chad Pennington, and the Jets were en route to a 9-7 record and an AFC East title.
Will that happen again? Probably not.
But don't rule anything out. After all, the injury-decimated Jets still have Curtis Martin and a defense that, if the offense could keep possession of the ball a little bit, is playoff-caliber.
Back to Testaverde. He's not the ideal choice, but he gives the Jets their best chance to win right now. As long as his lower right calf/Achilles' injury is properly healed, Testaverde gives the Jets a better chance to win than Brooks Bollinger does.
There's been some Bollinger sentiment out there, and rightfully so. He's a gamer who has shown marked improvement in his three NFL playing experiences.
From Arizona last season to his start in Baltimore earlier this year to his relief of the injured Testaverde on Monday night in Atlanta, Bollinger has shown improvement.
He played well enough to keep the Jets from losing against the Cardinals. He played tight and nervously against the Ravens and never really gave the Jets any hope or chance to win. Against the Falcons, though, Bollinger gave the Jets some hope by moving the team a little bit, albeit falling short in the end.
"I feel better,'' Bollinger said of his game. "I thought the Baltimore game helped me to feel more comfortable and develop as a player a little bit. I think I took another step (in Atlanta). Obviously, it's still disappointing because of a play here and there, we'd be right back in the game late and who'd know what could happen.
"I'm still disappointed in losing the game, but for me personally, I made another step as far as feeling more comfortable and I hope the guys took a step in feeling comfortable with me in that situation presents itself again.''
Bollinger's time is not up. He's going to get another chance. It could come as soon as the Chargers game next week.
Testaverde, who's led the team to only 24 points in the last two games and a total of 38 in his three games, is on a short leash. If he's unable to move the team or continues to have trouble holding onto the football, the Jets' coaching staff will not be afraid to insert Bollinger.
And, even if Bollinger doesn't play against the Chargers, should the Jets lose to San Diego and then fall in Carolina to a 2-7 record, if Jay Fiedler isn't ready from his shoulder injury, the Jets would likely give Bollinger some starts to get him experience with the playoffs out of reach.
"It's a bit disappointing (not to be starting, but I just try to tell myself that this isn't the end of it,'' Bollinger said. "It wasn't a one-time deal and then you're out of there. A lot can still happen. It's still a long year. I just tried to take the positive out of (his experiences), learn from the negative, and be ready if that chance comes again.''
INSIDER EXTRA POINTS
While all seems lost at 2-5, consider the job the defense has done at times.
It shouldn't be forgotten that the Jets' defense came within a play or two from stifling Falcons' star quarterback and human highlight film Michael Vick on Monday night.
In fact, had you told Herman Edwards before the game that Vick would complete 11 of 26 passes, throw three interceptions, have a passer rating of 16.3 and run for only 18 rushing yards on nine carries, Edwards would have signed up for it and figured on a Jets' win.
The problem, aside from the Jets' own offensive ineptitude, is that two of those Vick runs went for one-yard touchdowns, the first of which featured three missed tackles along the way.
The Jets have 10 interceptions, which is third-best in the AFC and fourth-best in the NFL.
Ty Law is tied for second in the AFC with four interceptions. Interestingly, New England, which opted not to bring Law back to its secondary, has an NFL-low one interception all season.
Curtis Martin, despite the colossal struggle it's been to run the ball this season _ the Jets are ranked 31st in rushing offense _ is remarkably still on a pace to become the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 or more yards in his first 11 seasons. He and Barry Sanders are tied with the NFL record of 10 seasons right now.
Martin, who has only one 100-yard rushing performance this season, has 461 yards on 137 carries for a 3.4-yard average and is on a pace to rush for 1,054 yards.
His rushing touchdown in Atlanta Monday night was the 89th of Martin's career to go along with 10 receiving touchdowns. His next score will be Martin's 100th career touchdown.
Every player was weighed on Thursday before he departed for the four-day bye week respite and each player will weigh in on Monday upon their return. Anyone as much as a pound over his Thursday weight will be fined, according to Edwards.
"Yeah, they have to maintain their weight,'' Edwards said. "You work so hard to get to where you are at, you don't want to spend three or four days (away) all of a sudden and come back Monday and you are 10 pounds overweight. That doesn't do you any good.''
Compliments are due to Pete Kendall, who took over for the injured Kevin Mawae at center when Mawae was lost for the season and proceeded to play perhaps the worst game of his career.
Kendall blamed himself for all three early-game fumbles in Atlanta and said the loss to the Falcons was his fault. He said he short-armed the snap on a fumbled exchange with Testaverde. He said he made a wrong protection call on a sack of Testaverde that forced a fumble. And then he said he missed an audible from Testaverde on the third fumble, which was recovered and run back for a touchdown.
Kendall stood tall in the locker room and calmly stated his flaws in the game and took the blame. Fact is, Kendall had plenty of help from teammates in that loss. He was hardly the only culprit on either side of the ball. His mistakes merely happened to be the most glaring to the naked eye.
Rarely do you find any athlete in any sport who is as stand-up as Kendall was after that game. Refreshing is the best word that comes to mind when you hear someone being that accountable.
"He's just being a pro,'' Testaverde said of Kendall. "That's what pros do. They take the blame when things go wrong and share the credit when or give the credit to other players when things go good. That's the kind of player he is.
"He takes a lot of pride in what he does, but it's not all him. He needs to know that. And the other thing he needs to know is that it's behind us now and we need to move forward and try our best not to let it happen again. He's got a good head on his shoulders.''
Kendall joked on Thursday that, "They didn't have to put me in a room without a balcony or anything. I have a little perspective.''
The game, though, still eats at him.
"It's tremendously disappointing and hard for me to be in the locker room knowing what I cost the guys Monday night,'' he said. "But everybody at some point or another is going to go something similar to this. I hope it's not as widely broadcast as my failures were. But I think the other guys in here recognize that on any given night that could be them.''