By Jason Perl
Jets Insider.com Contributing Writer
September 12th, 2005
Also, the summary of the Jets opening game against Kansas City.
If you had any - aspirations for the 2005 New York Jets to get to the Super Bowl or even make the playoffs - you may want to temper those expectations... just a bit.
From the Chiefs’ ridiculously easy three-play drive to start the game - to the meaningless garbage-time touchdown the Jets scored to end the game - these 2005 Jets were completely manhandled 27-7 by a previously defenseless Chief team.
What made this drubbing different from the ones the Jets used to take in the Kotite era - is that these Jets supposedly have talent. You wouldn't have known it by what you witnessed. Unbelievably, Ben Graham - the new Australian punter – was the Jets' best performer on Sunday. When your punter is your best player, there is no choice but to speak candidly, openly and scathingly about the imposters wearing Jet green. A performance like this calls for finger pointing ... and some venting. Let's start from the top...
COACH HERMAN EDWARDS: Do you think the Jets were a little ill-prepared for this game? We never had a chance to test Edwards' time management skills, because the Jets never got the game close enough where it really mattered. The Jets on Sunday lacked fire, enthusiasm, discipline (8 penalties) and football intelligence.
From the get go - they didn't belong on the same field as Kansas City. This falls squarely on the head coach. Eight months to prepare for this game - and the Jets were listless bystanders. Frankly, it was an embarrassing scene for Edwards and the whole team - who seemed so far removed from last year's solid playoff outfit.
QB CHAD PENNINGTON: Is this the same enigmatic, decisive, level-headed quarterback who's led the Jets to the playoffs in three of the past four years? You can't blame Paul Hackett now for Pennington's inexplicable SIX fumbles (two lost), one interception, and numerous inaccurate and underthrown passes. Also, it's not like Pennington never used the shotgun before. I mean, you don't forget how to ride a bike, do you?
The Jets were in the Chiefs’ red zone six times and could only manage a late game gimme touchdown. Pennington wasn't even in the game when Jay Fielder found Chris Baker to break the shutout.
In the past, the one thing you could always count on with Pennington was his confidence and knowledge of reading defenses. While mentally he may have seen what he wanted to do on the field, he didn't get it done. Why? The truth is tough. But right now, Pennington has no velocity on his throws. The Jets will never admit it, but how can they trust Chad to make all the throws when Chad doesn't trust himself? He looks tentative and very rarely did his balls have any zip on them. Is this just a one-game problem or will Pennington's arm strength issue rear its' ugly head all season? Will teams look to stop the short and intermediate routes because Pennington really can't throw deep and outside the hashes?
From what transpired yesterday, we can only ascertain that Pennington simply has no speed on his throws. He never was a fire thrower to begin with, but if his passes continue to float around, this Jets team has no shot of reaching the post-season.
WR LAVERANUES COLES: A Redskin fan friend of mine reminded me of the feast or famine nature of L.C.'s receiving skills. While Coles has the flair for making the spectacular catch, he has troubles catching the easy ones on a consistent basis. This was never more apparent when Coles blatantly dropped THREE touchdown passes on Sunday.
The first ball was one of the few perfectly thrown Pennington passes on a wide open post route. Another was a sideline throw with no defenders around him. The third was a late game pass that hit Coles in the hands. There is no excuse for this. The Jets didn't pay Coles millions to perform like he did yesterday.
Afterwards, he acknowledged his horrible game and apologized to the team for him performance. Forget the apologies, LC…just play better.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Does the term jailbreak apply? Is the revamped Kansas City defense that good or was the defection of Kareem McKenzie this detrimental to the Jets line play?
Maybe, a combination of both.
Curtis Martin rarely found running room in this game and Pennington was consistently under siege after getting sacked three times and knocked down after throwing many more times. Even if Jets’ OC Mike Heimerdinger is an offensive genius, it means nothing if the guys up front don't do their job.
Obviously, Kevin Mawae, who was guilty several mis-snaps and shotgun snap that Manute Bol couldn’t have handled may have had his worse game as a NY Jet.
Last year, the offensive line propelled Martin to the league rushing title. If the line replicates its first game effort, Martin won't even make it to 1,000 yards - or through the season.
Next week, things should get better against the Dolphins, despite their opening day win. The Jets offensive line owned the Dolphins last year - so it will be a true test to see where they stand in this young season.
FIRST QUARTER DEFENSE: The entire defense probably thought the game started at 1:45 EST, as they sleepwalked through the first quarter.
Jets’ Defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson must have been exploding as Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson ran around, through and all over the Jets defense with ease on the first drive and relative ease on the second. To be fair, the Chiefs do this to mostly everyone (I'd be curious to see if they can do this to the Patriots).
One bright note is that the D did improve their play over the final three quarters - especially considering the turnovers and ridiculously precarious positions the offense put them in. However, doesn't this trend look familiar? The Jets miraculously only gave up 34 first quarter points last season, but their second half defense (Seven 2nd half shutouts last year) was consistently better than their first half defense in 2004. Why can't the Jets D duplicate their 2nd half defensive play for the whole game?
Right now, the offense needs all the help it can get. Henderson must get the defense to play with intensity immediately; at the start of games. The Jets need to not play from behind, so they can run Curtis and all the play action goodies that come from that. It's up to the defense to show up earlier to make sure that happens.
CB DAVID BARRETT: The addition of shutdown cornerback Ty Law just makes it more apparent how weak Barrett really is as a cover corner, as all balls will now go his way. Do good cover corners usually play ten yards off the ball on a consistent basis if they weren't hiding some cover deficiencies?
If the Jets were more confident in Barrett, they would have him pressing the receiver on the line, but they didn't against KC. They didn't want to expose Barrett to the deep throw so the Chiefs smartly opted to complete every pass they wanted to in front of him. It was the same scenario last year and I don't understand why more teams didn't take advantage of it - or why Barrett was handed the corner job in pre-season?
Assuming Law plays like his old self , the Jets will need to get some pressure on the QB to help Barrett out. With John Abraham getting some reps in along with Sean Ellis - the Jets may be able to hide Barrett's flaws and win more battles on the defensive side.
K MIKE NUGENT: All the agony of Doug Brien's playoff misses. Who will come to the rescue? All the promise of sure footed Mike Nugent fell flat on his butt - literally - on his first field goal attempt in the NFL. It was almost laughable as Nugent inexplicably slipped on the apparently slippery turf at Arrowhead on his first and only field goal attempt in the third quarter.
A comical side note in what was a riot of a day for the green and white. Nugent did make an extra point so there is hope that all his future field goal attempts will not land him on the ground.
ANY POSITIVES? TE Chris Baker had the game of his life with seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Opposing defenses will now actually cover Baker, so it remains to be seen if he can be consistent. CB Ty Law had a nifty interception in the end zone to thwart a Chiefs drive and Ben Graham's punts boomed off his foot all afternoon. That was about it.
So, is this a complete disaster? Is it a one game aberration or a sign of things to come? Let me remind you of opening day 2003. The New England Patriots go up to play the Buffalo Bills and get shellacked 31-0. That same season they won the Super Bowl. While it's incredulous to think that these Jets have that Super look in them, it was only one game. This team has far too much talent to consistently lay an egg. One win this coming Sunday against the Dolphins will ease the pain. Already, it is a must win, as every other AFC East team won this opening weekend. The Jets need to forget this horrible performance and get back the confidence, swagger and fortitude they had in last year's playoff run. If they do that, this first week loss may be a footnote in an otherwise special season.