Every year, I always have that one game with the big red circle around it on the wall calendar. Usually itís New England or the Dolphins or the annual trip to the Black Hole, but ever since the schedule was announced this year, Iíve had September 4th highlighted with an asterisk, a couple of exclamation marks and a big smiley face Ė a Thursday night battle with the latest enemy Ė the Washington ďJetskinsĒ.
This rivalry will probably die quickly because itís a non-conference game against a team the Jets probably wonít play again any time soon, and I can resume my business of hating Miami and Belichick. But for this one night, the Jets need to walk away with a W. In fact, even though itís the first game of the season, they MUST win.
Itís a must win because the Jets need to show Laveranues Coles that he may be able to pick up the lunch check for the next couple of years with that $13.5 mill, but heíll never pick up a Super Bowl ring in DC with Patrick Ramsey throwing him the rock.
He can deny it as much as he wants, but he was better off here. Yes, the Jets blew it by low-balling the first offer and not tendering him at the highest level. But they certainly did not further damage an already bad situation by matching that ridiculous offer. Heís talented, but heís being paid like one of the Top 3 receivers in the NFL. Heís not even in the Top 10.
This guy was a perfect fit with the Jets and he had great chemistry with Pennington. He would have eventually gotten the money he wanted here. He seems to have forgotten no one wanted Laveranues Coles in the draft due to off the field issues, but the Jets took a chance. Fast forward three seasons and one monster payday later, he hates the Jets and will stare down the coaching staff like any other team that passed him up in the draft. Thatís really a shame considering what Herman Edwards and the coaching staff did for him.
Itís a must win because Napoleon Snyder raided the Jets like no team has ever been raided before and he needs to be embarrassed on national TV (I cannot ever recall four players making the move to one team in the same off-season.) It would be oh so sweet to put the smack down on both Snyder and his partner in arrogance Steve Spurrier in primetime.
Itís a must win because the NFL needs to see that the Jets can be a real contender, even with a 40 year old QB.
Itís a must win because winning a game like this in front of the entire NFL viewing audience will do wonders for the psyche of the team.
But besides winning, it would be great if there were a few more bonuses thrown in that would sweeten the victory. And so, with apologies to David Letterman, from the home office in Hempstead, NY, The Top Ten Things I Would Love To See Happen On Thursday, Besides A Win (any one of the 10 will be fine) Ė cue drum roll:
Number 10: A blocked John Hall kick Ė how many blocked field goal attempts did Hall have as a Jet? I lost count. I sit right in one of the endzones at the Stadium for home games and I swear that some of his kicks barely made it over the long-snapperís head. It would be quite fitting to finally have the Jets knock one down in his face.
Number 9: Curtis Martin gaining at least 100 yards and a TD Ė all the critics seem to be down on Curtis and claim the loss of Randy Thomas will kill the running game. Letís see. Randy Thomas was great, but guards are replaceable in the NFL. Besides, the Skins are categorically pathetic against the run so C-Mart should run circles around them.
Number 8: A Jets special teams TD. If Coles became enemy number one, then Chad Morton is enemy number two. The funniest thing Iíve read all week was that Spurrier is still ďundecidedĒ about Chad Mortonís role in the offense. Gee, it seems like only yesterday I was reading numerous quotes from Chad about how the Redskins are going to really incorporate him into the offense and make him more than just a kick returner.
Number 7: Coles getting leveled in a Garnes/McGraw safety sandwich trying to catch an errant Patrick Ramsey pass over the middle - a thing of beauty that will remind Laveranues where he resides now. And while weíre on the topic of receivers, how about Ö
Number 6: A Curtis Conway TD. Welcome to the team.
Number 5: Having Dewayne Robertson do something to bust up a play Ė heís young and raw, so no one should not expecting Warren Sapp yet. But I would love to see Robertson break through the line and cause some havoc in the backfield - basically demonstrate what the Skins gave us with that extra draft pick.
Number 4: At least one John Madden comment on "The Jets do not appear to have missed a beat with Vinny Testaverde at QBÖĒ
Number 3: Hold the ĎSkins rushing game to under 50 yards. Show Uncle Steve that the Fun ín Gun does not work in the NFL and you need a quality running back to win games. They had one of the best in Stephen Davis but decided not to keep him. Big mistake. And by the way, if Trung Canidate is in the backfield Thursday night, every Jet should remember how this guy torched the Jets D in 2001. Half his career rushing stats came from that one game and itís time for payback.
And finally: (these two are of equal value to me):
Number 2: A fourth quarter on camera look of disgust from Steve Spurrier on the sidelines, after yet another 'Skins mental error and:
Number 1: A fourth quarter on camera look of disgust from Dan Snyder in the luxury box, after yet another 'Skins mental error. Both self-explanatory.
Look, I want a complete pasting of Washington, but Iíll settle for a win. Either way, Iím expecting smiles in the Jets lockeroom late Thursday night.
I always feel like a kid on Christmas Eve the week before the NFL Season starts Ė I expect something nice under the tree this Thursday.