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A History Of Doom

By Mark Cannizzaro
December 9th, 2005
The Jets latest slide began in Pittsburgh Last January. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
The Jets latest slide began in Pittsburgh Last January. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Everywhere you turn in the Jets' locker room you hear some form of the same bewildered statements. They are always words of disbelief.

Herman Edwards continues to say he's never been through a year like this in his 27 years in the league as a player, coach or scout.

On Thursday, when Jay Fiedler learned he'd be having Friday surgery and would be the 11th player on the Jets placed on the injured reserve list this season, said, "Nothing has gone like we hoped it would.''

Fiedler was speaking about his own bad-luck circumstances, but he might as well have been talking about the entire team's 2005 tale of woe.

Vinny Testaverde remembered watching the Jets in the postseason last season on TV. Specifically, he recalled watching the Jets' divisional playoff game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, where the Jets entered the game as nine-point underdogs and came within tow Doug Brien missed field goals in the final two minutes of advancing to the AFC Championship.

"As they were playing the game, I was thinking, 'Hey, these guys are going to the Championship game,' Testaverde recalled. "And then when they lost, I was thinking back to when we were there.''

Testaverde was referring to the 1998 season when he helped lead the Jets to a 10-0 lead on the Broncos in the AFC title game at Denver on as frigid, windy afternoon at Mile High.

The Jets, as we all know, would lose that game, come back the next season with high hopes of taking the next step and they promptly lost Testaverde to a ruptured Achilles' tendon in the season opener, dooming the Jets' 1999 season.

This has been déjà vu for Testaverde.

"It's a long road back,'' he said. "There are no guarantees, obviously. Here, we are in this situation a long way away from what the team accomplished last year.''

Curtis Martin remembers those feelings of both ill-fated seasons.

"I think we all thought that, yet we didn't take it for grated, we tasted it, and we were like, 'We're right there, we're right there, we just have to take that extra step.'

"This year, everything that could be wrong or happen has happened.''

Testaverde, who was summoned from his couch to try to help the Jets overcome the injury losses of Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler, said he truly believed he could lead the Jets to the playoffs when he got here.

"Sure, from my perspective, I know Chad (Pennington) was hurt and Jay (Fiedler) was hurt, but for me, I was stepping in so there was nobody was hurt,'' Testaverde said. "I'm looking at everything and saying, 'Hey, we still have the same team,' and everyone else is looking at it as, 'We just lost our leader, the No. 1 quarterback and our number two guy.'

"Obviously, they looked at it different, but I didn't, which made me believe we could've had a successful season, but luck just didn't go our way with injuries.''

The Testaverde experiment, of course, didn't work as he played in four games, didn't throw a touchdown pass and turned the ball over 12 times.

Asked if this is definitely it for him after the season, Testaverde said, "I just don't think about it right now. Honestly, if I entertain that thought (retirement), that means I've should've done it already. To me, it's out of my mind and when the year is over I'll look back and ask, 'How did I feel? What can I do to help and what are their needs?' ''

Asked if he'd play for someone else, Testaverde said, "This is home, man. This is my last and only stop.''

According to Herman Edwards, Testaverde will play again this season. It's likely Edwards will play Testaverde against either the Patriots, in a Dec. 26 Monday night game at home, or the Bills, in the season finale at home to give him a proper send off before retirement.

Testaverde, too, needs one TD pass to set an NFL record by becoming the first player in NFL history to throw at least one TD pass in 19 consecutive seasons.

INSIDER EXTRA POINTS

Speaking of quarterbacks, Fiedler, who many were looking forward to seeing play before the end of this season, has little chance of staying with the Jets after this season.

Herman Edwards didn't want to address the future, but highly-placed team sources say there's no way the team can go into the 2006 season with two quarterbacks fresh off shoulder surgery.

By all accounts, Pennington is going to be given every opportunity to retain his starting job, but still the Jets plan to bring in an experienced veteran to compete for the job. That leaves no room for Fiedler, particularly if the Jets draft a quarterback of the future type in April.

The Jets would most likely cut Fiedler before March, when he's due a $250,000 roster bonus. He probably won't even be throwing by then.

Fiedler, who turns 34 on Dec. 29, played in only two games as a Jet, completing 8-of-13 for 107 yards and a touchdown. Those will certainly remain as his career Jets stats.

It's a shame, because Fiedler is a good guy and was the perfect dependable backup for the injury-prone Pennington, having won games as a starter in this league and led the Dolphins to the postseason.

He gets screwed for trying to rehab and return rather than having the surgery right away, because all that does is delay the time that he can actually throw again.

What a mess.

****

Things to look for in Sunday's game: A kicking duel between Jets' rookie Mike Nugent, who's still waiting to boot his first game-winning field goal, and Raiders' kicker Sebastian Janikowski, a former first-roud draft pick who's having a bad season.

After converting 96-of-114 field-goal attempts from 2001-04 (84.2 percent), Janikowski has made just 18 of 25 this season, with his 72-percent conversion rate ranking 29th in the league. This after missing only three attempts each of the previous two seasons.

The Raiders could have selected any of the following players in the 2000 draft before they picked Janikowski: RB Shaun Alexander (No. 19 overall pick, Seahawks), LB Ian Gold (No. 40, Broncos), LB Marcus Washington (No. 59, Colts), WR/returner Dante Hall (No. 153, Chiefs) ... QB Tom Brady (No. 199, Patriots).

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