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Strike Three...You're Out!
By Chris Pine
Jets Insider.com Fan Contributor
July 1st, 2003
You can bet your bottom dollar that Josh Evans isn't smiling anymore.
You can bet your bottom dollar that Josh Evans isn't smiling anymore.
By now everyone has heard about the inevitable outcome to the latest infringement committed by Josh Evans. The punishment has been levied upon The Jets defensive lineman and now all eyes are squarely focused on the team's front office to see what they will do about their suddenly questionable front line.

For anyone who doesn't know of the events that have transpired over the last few weeks Josh Evans has received an indefinite suspension from the commissioner for his latest violation the league's substance abuse policy. The league's ruling should surprise no one. And now thanks to Evans recent string of try-outs for "Half Baked: The Sequel" he leaves what was one of the few incontrovertible strengths of the team into a big fat question mark.

To be fair it has been rumored that Evans is receiving the suspension for missing an appointment and not actually failing a drug test. If those rumors are true then that is a very unfortunate turn of events for Mr. Evans to lose the privilege to play football due to a technicality in the leagues policy but something that important should have garnered his full attention. If playing the game of football and cleaning up his name meant anything to him he would have been at that appointment.

Now the Jets are left with a much weaker group to man the defensive line than originally projected. The team no longer has the luxury of rotating in three different high quality players. Now instead of having your first round draft pick play behind two accomplished veterans he is thrown into the fire as a starter. Before the Jets lost Evans rookie Dewayne Robertson only had to be good with the potential of becoming great. Now there is no doubt that he must be the best defensive tackle on the team from day one. There is no growth period anymore for "The Dewayne Train". This news should be a little disheartening for Jet fans.

I know that the front office will provide enough spin on this problem to make you dizzy. They will say that they feel confident in Dewayne Robertson's ability to play at the pro level and start. They will talk about the other linemen on the team who will step up to the task. Names like Alan Harper, James Reed will get thrown around as capable alternatives. If these guys were that good wouldn't they have made more noise while playing last year other than the cheers and towel waving they took part in after each Jet victory?

I realize that the outlook of the forthcoming season is not as dim as I may make it out to be but there are definitely some bulbs blowing out in this teams light fixture. I defy you to find me a team official or sports writer who didn't think that the greatest advantage the Jets possessed over most teams was the fact that they had a multitude of options to substitute in and out of the front four. All we heard was how much of a weapon it was to have three capable tackles remaining fresh thanks to the depth at that position. Not anymore.

Suddenly now the other team deficiencies become a little bigger, a little more important. Suddenly all of the other newcomers and rookies need to be a little bit better than we had originally hoped.

Some of you may think that only losing one player can be overcome. Fans have to realize that Josh Evans was arguably the most productive defensive tackle we had. He recorded 6 sacks and 47 tackles last year. He was an outspoken fiery leader for this team. He was the angry voice when the team performed poorly. Now thanks to his hits off the field he is only a spectator.

As Jet fans we have to hope that Dewayne Robertson is ready to make a contribution immediately. We have to hope that the nameless back-ups can provide competent relief for the two starting tackles. We need to hope that Sean Ellis is ready to step up and perform like a first round draft pick. We need John Abraham to remain healthy all season and take the next step to super star on the football field. We need Bryan Thomas to do more than spell Abraham for a play or two. We need all of these questions to be answered because the only answer we had is now up in smoke. Before Evans suspension these expectations placed on the rest of the defense had far less urgency than they do today.

Hopefully something will work out. Hopefully Robertson is ready and up to the task. The pressure is on the rookie to become the driving force behind this teams championship dreams. As a Jet fan you had to have seen this coming. Any answers this team has normally just leads to more questions. Over all of these years the only thing that gets dressed in green and white on a consistent basis is heartache.