Time To Get Angry
By Mark Cannizzaro
JetsInsider.com Head Writer
November 1st, 2005
It's time for anger.
It's time for the Jets to stop feeling sorry for themselves and regain their self respect. Time for them to regain their swagger. Time for them to make the opposition respect them again.
All right, Chad Pennington, franchise quarterback, face of the franchise, leader of the offense, was lost for the season with a blown-out right shoulder.
Sure, his capable backup Jay Fiedler is still weeks away from returning from his shoulder injury.
Yes, Kevin Mawae, the perennial Pro Bowl center and anchor of the offensive line, and Eric Barton, the spirited starting linebacker, are shelved for the season. And Derrick Blaylock, the backup running back and a special teams leader, is also gone indefinitely.
Fine. The Jets have been hit with an inordinate amount of injuries.
Get over it.
The Jets are not alone with this dilemma.
Look at what's happened to the Patriots' lineup this season. The Patriots' defense is so decimated with injuries they played on Sunday night with players who not only hadn't been with them at training camp, but weren't on the roster two weeks ago.
New England has persevered and stands alone in first place in the AFC East.
Look at what the 49ers did last week. They were down to their emergency fourth quarterback, whom they pulled off of their special teams units by way of the rodeo, and they were still able to defeat the heavily-favored Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How about the Jets banding together what they have left in the locker room and persevering?
How about emerging from the tunnel at Giants Stadium Sunday looking and acting like you own the place and plan to dictate to the Chargers how things are going to go Sunday afternoon?
"You can't let your circumstances become a part of what you are,'' Herman Edwards said. "You have to find a way to get out of it. There's no room for error, and we've made a lot of errors that have cost us games, early.''
Edwards' message there was that the "circumstances'' are the Jets' bad luck with injuries, and he doesn't want the Jets to fall into the woe's-me trap of feeling sorry for itself.
"People look at us like we've got a lot of people out; that's the general perception and that's true to a certain extent, but not something you want to harp on or use as an excuse, because we have people,'' Curtis Martin said. "We know that's a fact. Now what are we going to do about it? That's in our hands as players.''
For his part, Edwards has turned tough this week, warning his players that their jobs are surely in jeopardy if their performances aren't up to par.
Asked how he thinks the players will respond regarding possible change, Edwards said, "It's not really about the players. It's about us as a team. We've got to play better as a team. It's not about an individual guy playing good, because when I have guys play good and they think they are playing well, their records are the same as everybody else's _ 2-5.
"So, it's about our team playing better, all three phases, us playing better and doing things correctly, doing it in a manner where you give yourself a chance to win rather than playing behind the eight-ball early in games.''
Edwards' point about the Jets' most persistent problems is this: They are mostly self-inflicted wounds.
For example, the Jets have been outscored 40-7 in the first quarter of games, meaning they're constantly playing from behind. Also, they've already fumbled the ball 22 times and lost nine of them. OF the 22 fumbles, 15 have come from the quarterback position.
"It's not so much what the other teams do to us, but what we do to ourselves early in football games,'' Edwards said. "You can't score seven points in the first quarter. Who are you kidding? Seven games? That's hard to do. You can't do that. You're not going to survive no matter who you are.
"In the first half of football games we've done a lot of things that have damaged our ability to win. It's very, very difficult to win them that way. It's one thing when you make a guy beat you physically, because that happens. That's ball. But it's another thing when mental things break down and you're supposed to do this and you don't do it correctly or you make an error here, another guy makes an error there.
"It's your job as a player: know what to do and do it correctly, repetitively. You've got to keep doing it correctly. You can't do it one play, you've got to do it 60 plays, you've got to do it 60 times. Are you going to do it 60 times in a row? No, but you can't be 50/50, I know that, because it's very hard to win in this league when you do that.
"I was here all (bye week) week. I've watched us. You see it over and over and it's a different guy every other play and you can't function that way in on all three phases.
"We're smarter than that and we're better than that and we've got to start playing like it if we want to win. If you want to give your team a better chance to win, we have to collectively, do it all together as a team. It's not just one guy, it's not just offense, it's not this position, it's everybody, everybody playing the correct way. And what's what we have to do.''
INSIDER EXTRA POINT
Giving both the benefit of the doubt, we're going to politely assume that Jets' owner Woody Johnson and his president Jay Cross mean well but simply just don't know any better.
They cannot seem to get things right sometimes and it's exasperating for those of us who are either involved or merely watching from the outside.
The Jets' hierarchy, which has not had a good year, last week was at it again _ getting it all wrong _ with yet another in an increasingly-long list of public relations gaffes when it sent out a prepared statement from Johnson regarding the death of Giants' owner Wellington Mara.
While we know the Jets and Johnson meant no disrespect whatsoever when writing and issuing the statement, within the statement they made mention of their impending partnership with the Giants in a new stadium deal, which was not only utterly inappropriate but embarrassingly tacky.
Here's how it read:
"Wellington Mara was one of the true fore-fathers of the NFL. I had great admiration for him and his competitive spirit. Wellington's legacy will forever be an integral part of the growth of the NFL, and we are looking forward to our long-term partnership with the Giants. The Mara family has built a great franchise and Wellington's memory will always be etched in football history."
Here's what made this entire issue even more head-scratching: The above statement was a ITALIC revised END ITALIC statement.
The change from the initial statement?
The part about how "we are looking forward to our long-term partnership with the Giants.''
On a day when some of the most dignified presences in the NFL had the most poignant, deep, heart-felt, perspective-rich things to say about Wellington Mara, the Jets giddily threw themselves into a place they had no right being.
Many heads around the league shook with a roll of the eyes when that unfortunate statement appeared.