Paul Is On The Ball

By Christopher Mayone
Jets Staff Correspondent
December 7th, 2004
Jets QB Chad Pennington is Paul Hackett's biggest fan. (Jets Photo)
Jets QB Chad Pennington is Paul Hackett's biggest fan. (Jets Photo)
HEMPSTEAD, NY - You can call him predictable.

You can even call him conservative.

Whatever you call him, you better call Paul Hackett the offensive coordinator of a 9-3 football team while youíre at it.

If the Jets win, fans wonder ďimagine what this coaching staff would do without Hackett". If they lose, of course itís the offensive coordinatorís fault. Obviously, Hackett is the one who told S Reggie Tongue to stay on the field and get a crucial 12 men on the field call in the loss to New England. Sure, he told Chad Pennington to slide and get hurt in Buffalo. Certainly, he was in charge of the clock in the Ravensí loss. We all saw his poor tackling against the Bills. Letís be levelheaded. Although sometimes Hackettís offensive game plan is as exciting as Sunday Mass the man deserves some credit. His unit has had games in which they scored 31, 34, 41, and most recently 29 against Houston. Of course, Hackett runs the ball a little too often. But what do you want him to do, stop giving the ball to the leagueís leading rusher? Curtis Martin has rushed for over 1,300 yards and that has led the Jets to control the ball each game they play.

What is Hackett supposed to do, stop running because it works?

You better throw it down the field, because the fans are going to scream for your job. That's just foolish.

Face it, this team can be a boring team to watch. But they win. Behind a dominating offensive line, they smack defenses in the jaw by running all over them. Nothing is more demoralizing than having a team stick it down your throat each play.

That's the Jets style. Do you think the Chiefs are happy with their potent offense? You can ask them in January when they are watching the Jets on TV in the playoffs.

Like it or not Jets fans, thatís what they do. Once Martin is done jabbing the defense, a fresh, strong Lamont Jordan comes in for the knockout blow. In the teamís latest win, they ran the ball 37 times. That many handoffs is a sign that a team is dominating and likely winning the game.

Wait, they should stop running because fans might boo?

Itís not like Hackett plans on running the ball that many times. In Sundayís win over the Texans, the first two plays of the game were first down receptions to WRís Justin McCareins and Wayne Chrebet. In the West Coast offense, the first 15 to 20 plays are scripted so obviously Hackett is making an attempt to be more explosive.

In turn, with explosion sometimes it results in turnovers. Hackett is great at controlling the ball. Never did he get credit for calling a brilliant quarterback draw with Quincy Carter setting up a first and goal with 58 seconds left in the loss to the Ravens. Itís not his fault that Carter and company down on the field blew the chance he gave them getting them in position to win.

Not once was he given any kudos for pulling out two wins with a backup quarterback who before coming to the Jets was green on the complicated West Coast Offense. Yes, the defense played a bigger part in those vital wins. But give the man some credit for playing to Carterís strengths. The former Cowboy has had a history of making dumb mistakes and Hackett didnít put him in the position to fail.

Hackett has a franchise quarterback in Chad Pennington who has not been blessed with the tremendous arm strength so he allows him to throw short, high percentage passes chewing up yards and controlling the clock.

The two have a great relationship and the team has all but locked up a playoff spot. Thatís all that should matter. Forget about Hackett being the only person ever fired by Tom Landry, donít worry about Carson Palmer winning a Heisman Trophy after Hackett left USC, and forget about all those third-and-five draws.

In the West Coast offense, the tight end is supposed to be a staple. Think of the 49ers of the 90's and Brent Jones, and even this year in the Falconsí offense with a Alge Crumpler. Thatí a far cry from Anthony Becht who cripples the Jetsí passing game. So give the guy a break. He is playing with an extra lineman because Becht is useless.

Like it or not, when Hackettís contract is up next year, he is not going anywhere. He may not have fan support, but he has Penningtonís and thatís the only person he needs in his corner.

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