CLEVELAND, OH -
Re-signing #34 should be a top Jets priority. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
First-and-10 at their own 38, enter Lamont Jordan. Boom, six hard yards with Kevin Mawae pushing the pile. Second down; bang eight more behind guard Brandon Moore.
Move the chains.
Jordan and the Jets trail 10-7 late in the fourth quarter. With Curtis Martin nursing his knee it was time for Jordan to redeem himself for the infamous halfback option that could end up costing the Jets a key tie-breaker with the Ravens in a wildcard battle.
First-and-ten; he is stuffed in the backfield but thanks to legs that resemble tree trunks and an upper body as thick as a dump truck, Jordan blasts through a would-be-tackler and gains eight. Encroachment on Cleveland. First down Jets.
Jordan managed six more yards on his next carry but that would be it for the drive. His work was done. He single handedly moves the Jets to the 34-yard line before Quincy Carter would hit Justin McCareins on a touchdown pass giving the 7-3 Jets a 10-7 lead they refused to surrender.
But Jordan wasnít done yet.
He has been cranky for months begging for more carries in his contract year.
With 3:40 left, he got his wish. Runs of 11, four, and nine allowed the Jets to ice the clock and escape Cleveland with one of the ugliest wins you will ever seen. But unlike Jordanís stats that read a modest 18 carries, for 73 yards and no scores. You wonít find anything called an ďugly win.Ē
This isnít the first time Jordan bailed out a sluggish offense. He was a second half spark plug in a win against lowly San Francisco.
Slowly his carries are getting up there. He has 43. But for 253 rough yards. None rougher than the 73 he ran for in the triumph over the Browns. Jets lose to Cleveland, goodbye season. The playoff race is too close to blow games to inferior teams.
Everyone knows where Martins career will end. In Canton, of course. But no one knows whether it will be sooner or later. Letís face it 31-year old running backs donít hang around forever. And if it is sooner and the Jets let Jordan fly via free agency at the end of the year it will be a mistake that will haunt them for a long time.
Using this season as a barometer, it might be easy to let Jordan go .But what a shame it would be if the 25-year old caught on with another team and became an all-pro. Judging by the flex of his right arm after he put Sundayís game away, he knows he will be a star.
"I would love to be here, but at the same time, I would love to play," Jordan told New York Newsday. "I think they have some decisions to make, whether they would want Curtis to be the featured back or whether they would want me to be the featured back. It'll be a touchy situation, but I'm not really worrying about it."
Chances are with a ton of money headed the way of John Abraham, who is on his way to being defensive player of the year, Jordan wonít be on top of the Jets off-season priority list.
But he shouldnít be very far behind.
The Jets are crazy to even offer Anthony Becht a contract and most likely heís all but gone after the season. He has 80 receiving yards through 10 games and is useless as a pass catcher.
Weighing their priorities, OT Kareem McKenzie and DE Shaun Ellis are a notch below Jordan. Reportedly, both have already turned down extensions. And the way Ellis has played this year, it will end up hitting him where it hurts the most, right square in the wallet.
In last yearís draft, Jets GM Terry Bradway nabbed a pair of tackles in Adrian Jones and
Marko Cavka as insurance for a possible McKenzie departure. They could explore brining in a more economical veteran while they groom the aforementioned rookies the same way G Dave Szott was signed after Randy Thomas departed to Washington two seasons ago.
The team drafted DE Bryan Thomas for a reason To add depth and possibly replace Abraham or Ellis once their contract is up. He has shown little promise over the past 2-plus years but has come on of late. As long as they sign free agent defensive tackle Jason Ferguson, the front seven can survive without Ellis.
But the offense can not survive without Jordan.
Not last week, not this week, and not next year. Not even if Martin is still breaking records with every touch.
Jordan will be an impact player wherever he goes. He has been this year. Without him the Jets have two less wins. And say what you will about the halfback option in the Ravensí game, but he didnít call they play. Yes, he made a bad decision by tossing it right to Ed Reed, but he should never be put in that position.
Division rival Miami has no running back and would likely be hot for Jordan. First, because he is a great player. Second, because they will rob a team that they hate of a potential star.
Donít push Martin out the door. For all he has done for the team that would be ludicrous. But what is wrong with sharing the load like they did Sunday. Jordan ran it 18 times and the ageless Martin17.
Whatís wrong with having a change of pace?
Whatís wrong with having a fresh Martin is December?
Whatís wrong with the Jets if they let this guy walk?