Green Lantern: Everyone In Jets Nation Needs To Relax Just A Little Bit

As If On Cue, The Bravado Returns, But One Half Doesn't Make A Season

By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/

NEW YORK (WFAN) — Oh Lord, here we go again.

This was inevitable. It really was. The blinders are back on and the good ship Rex has regained its earlier altitude.

Depending on whichever section of the cabin you sit, the Jets are either back on a collision course with destiny or infamy. The next 10 weeks are going to be as crazy as the previous seven, provided this past Sunday wasn’t an aberration. I don’t know about you, but I’m still a bit skeptical about what’s to come.

In 30 frantic minutes on Sunday the Jets managed, at least in their own eyes, to put the vast majority of their troubles aside. Their Super Bowl-caliber second half against the Chargers brought thousands of fans in from the ledge.

But you’d think more than just a handful would continue to at least dangle a toe out there.

Nope. An overwhelming percentage of the Nation thinks this team is back, and as usual it is taking its cues from the players and coaches, who have basked in the glory since beating up a perennial underachiever. Indianapolis, the host of this season’s Super Bowl, is now no longer in the rearview, they all say. The GPS is locked and only an earthquake will prevent this team from making good on its repeated boasts.

Why am I cringing right now?

While I’m not about to totally rain on the parade that’s broken out since Sunday’s 27-21 win over San Diego, a team which most everyone going in picked to win, I’m not sold on anything. My uneasiness remains intact.

And if you ask anyone, that’s really not my style. I try to keep it positive by focusing on the belief in the roster, coaching staff and front office, because, after all, there’s no question on paper the Jets are right there with anyone in the AFC.

I just haven’t seen anywhere near enough to warrant my participating in the type of Mardi Gras that’s enveloped the fan base over the last few days. The Jets have played, by my estimation, one exceptional half of football this season. In a “what have you done for me lately?” world, sure, the Jets have done a course correction, but have they really righted all their wrongs? Are they now truly worthy of that higher calling they so desperately want to believe is their birthright?

Again, I ain’t seen nothing yet.

The positives on Sunday were many. The Jets sliced and diced the Bolts for 162 yards on the ground, averaging 5.2 yards per serving. Plaxico Burress emerged from semi-seclusion to catch three touchdowns. The defense adhered to halftime adjustments in posting a shutout  in the second half. Darrelle Revis took another step toward winning his first NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. I could go on, but you were there. You saw.

The Jets finally got fed up with themselves and put forth the type of effort we’ve been clamoring for since the second half of last season’s AFC Championship game.

But it was nowhere near enough to justify the sudden re-emergence of this kick-ass-and-take-names bravado that’s permeated the fans and players since the clock ran out on Sunday.

I guess I should know better than to single out Antonio Cromartie when it comes to trash talking, but he said something following Sunday’s game that was at least a little amusing. He referred to the Chargers as “a team that can’t finish.” My first inclination was to say the Jets have barely been able to get started at times this season, but I ultimately took it as Antonio being Antonio because he later paid homage to the Jets’ next two opponents, Buffalo and New England. He also broke from character and showed some leadership, reiterating the need for his own teammates to bottle whatever it was they were drinking in the second half on Sunday and bring it with them from now on.

But you just know for every ounce of respect given to an opponent the rest of the way there will also be gallons of the same old same old. You can basically mark it down. Rex will say something absurd and it will be a thing for a few days. Then someone will go on a radio show and things will get out of hand. Or someone will call someone else out and later refuse to back down. The fact that something will happen is written in stone. Who, how and when? Well, that’s why we do office pools. Hell, I’m just waiting for a coach to trip someone again or for a mysterious video to appear on YouTube.

In all seriousness, be happy the Jets saved their season Sunday. Be thrilled they have entered their bye week 4-3 and right in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt. Be happy no one of importance is out for the season. Be excited that the running game is starting to really click and that the defense seems to finally have a clue again.

But also be aware of the fact that this team has yet to win a game on the road this season — and that’s exactly where the Jets will be five more times this season. I’d bet my paycheck the Bills hang 30-40 points on the Redskins this weekend. That’s a scary offensive football team, especially in their own building. Past history suggests the Steelers have absolutely no chance Sunday night against the Patriots, even though the game is at Heinz.

So the Jets could very well be looking at a scenario where they are one game back of the Bills when they travel to Western New York on Nov. 6 and possibly two or more behind when they welcome in the Patriots the following Sunday night. Buffalo is currently unbeaten in the division. New England has just one loss. In the ultra-competitive AFC, the Jets’ season for all intents and purposes could be over by the time the clock hits midnight on Nov. 14.

But that said, the Jets have shown warning signs that the nuisance on the field is making a cameo. They have transitioned from a team flirting with an “Air Coryell” persona back to their bread and butter. Mark Sanchez may very well be a better quarterback now than he was last season, but I’d be shocked if you see him truly show it. Not because he can’t, but because Rex and his staff finally woke up and opted to go back to this team’s strength. Shonn Greene is the key to this offense and he’s getting his act in gear. A year wiser Sanchez is actually better suited to be Plan B and his numbers by the end of the season will prove that. The kid will put up career highs in every important statistical category, but he’ll do it in the role best suited to fit this cast — as a glorified understudy.

All that said, there’s plenty to like here, but you have to keep your enthusiasm within reason. Despite the Rex Magic 8 Ball giving some encouraging answers, the bottom line is the Jets have played a single signature half, not yet a full 60 minutes this season.

Do I think they are at least on their way to something special? I need to see more. Believe me when I tell you that you need to see more, too.

Please read more columns by Jeff Capellini

Have the Jets turned the corner? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.


One Comment

  1. Jon says:

    Let me ask you a question. Did you think that the Jets were going to go 16-0 this season? I’ll assume the answer is “no”. So, assuming they were going to be a more mortal 12-4, which 4 games did you chalk up as losses? Personally, I had road games against Baltimore and NE as guaranteed L’s. Yet when they lose those 2 games as predicted, suddenly the sky is falling? They’ve beaten 2 pretty good teams (Dallas & SD) and won comfortably against 2 bad teams (Miami & Jax). They were a last minute Tom Brady drive away from beating NE, and played their first game sans Mangold vs. B’more, where an undrafted rookie center, who wasn’t even in their training camp, caused massive problems for their line. Despite that, if Sanchez doesn’t throw a pick 6 with Ngata drilling him from behind, and they don’t uncharacteristically allow L.Webb to return a kick for another, they are in that game. Now you think Buffalo is going to put up almost 40 against a pretty good Skins defense? Not only will I take that bet, but I’ll also wager that the Bills don’t win more than 9 games this year, and miss the playoffs. With the chance for everyone to get healthy on this bye week, I haven’t seen anything to make me change my preseason prediction.

  2. Surfin Bird says:

    Jets all the way

  3. Terry says:

    It really doesnt matter, if the Jets make it to the super bowl, we wont win. I say that because Shotty is the OC and thats the main issue for this team. Forget lapses and all the other things you mentioned. A gd sound, creative offensive strategy will have the Jets beating any team in the NFL. Unfortunately for them, they dont have a OC that can do that. 1-2-3 and out is the main and really the only issue the Jets have, if they solve that they win. And it doesnt have to do with execution alone, it has to do with the creativity and strategic planning of the plays being called.

    1. Lantern says:

      Terry, thanks for the response. You make a fair point, but just keep in mind this team is nowhere near a finished product yet. A lot can happen between now and January. Will Schotty always be Schotty? History suggests yes, but there’s no denying Sanchez is better. If he makes plays and the D holds up its end, anything is possible.

      1. Terry says:

        Yes I agree Lantern, anything is possible. I just know if all goes well in any big game, Shotty will do what he always does, and thats go into a shell. He banks on the defense more than he should and its not fair because the def has heart, they just see it as they have to do better. What we saw this past weekend from the defense in the second half is directly related to the energy the def received from the good offensive play. As long as Shotty allows Mark to freaking play football and release his strangle hold on the boy, good things will happen. Allowing him to see the field in the passing sets(plays) called was probably a breath of fresh air for Mark. Mark anticipation throw is getting much better and thats a good sign.

  4. Jonathan says:

    I haven’t heard anyone discuss the issue of the chemistry of the offensive line play of the Jets. It is my opinion that all great teams have solid offensive line play and that chemistry is a combination of talent and time spent on the field putting blocking schemes together and learning how to pass block as a unit. The Jets lost two fifths of this vital unit of their team after last season and training camp was shortened by the lockout. On top of that, Mangold missed two games. I see the offensive line finally rounding into shape in terms of their unified ability to execute. Think back a couple of years and you may remember how this team would “ground and pound” through the first half and show poor offensive production, but in the second half of many games the opposition’s defense would be worn down and Shonne Green would replace whoever was featured in the first have and things would start to click for the Jets. With the ground game in gear, Sanchez has time to find receivers downfield and the whole flow of the game changes. I see this talented and vital offensive line rounding into game shape as we near mid-season and I look forward to them bulldozing their way through most of the remaining schedule just as they have done the past few years.

    1. Lantern says:

      Jonathan, an astute observation on your part. I wrote earlier how the offensive line was clearly the key to everything and that jumping the gun and destroying Schottenheimer’s play-calling was too much knee-jerk this season. You are beginning to see what the line was last season and I suspect as a unit it will only get better. The onus,however, is still on Schotty to not be too predictable. He still must take shots down the field. 2nd and 1, go deep.Keep the opposition honest. But then again, we’ve been saying this since be came on board in 2006.

  5. Seth G says:

    In reference to not winning a road game and “that’s exactly where the Jets will be their next two games”. Unless every schedule I’m reading is wrong the Jets. v. Pats game is @ Metlife Stadium. And living in upstate NY I can speak to the Bills recent success. While they do have some talented offensive players they are winning a bunch of games on unsustainably high turnover ratios. I understand that good teams create turnovers, but there is no history with there defense to support the fact they are getting 2.67 turnovers per game.

    1. Lantern says:

      Seth, thanks for pointing out the error. This is what happens when you write at 7 a.m. Anyway, the turnover battle will be a huge aspect of Sunday’s matchup. If Sanchez continually gives the Bills a short field to work with things could get out of hand. I see this potentially as a shootout, which is not what you want if you’re a Jets fan.But, again, if Jets D plays like it did in second half Sunday, it can stop anyone in the AFC.

  6. Andrew F says:

    Bottomline is the jets have rarely played a complete game under Rex Ryan, the only game that comes to mind is the patriots playoff game. They were knocked out of the afc championship game for the same reason they won last week against San Diego. This team has lapses of focus and usually comes out flat on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball. There always is a tale of two halves for this team.

    1. Lantern says:

      Thanks for the response Andrew. Yes, the lack of consistent 60-minute efforts has hurt the Jets under Ryan. They tend to fly by the seat of their pants a little. Sooner or later they have to come to realize that nothing short of a complete game will beat the upper echelon teams during the regular season and set them up to actually host some playoff games. Maybe the second half Sunday was a sign. Who knows?

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