By Jason Keidel
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After the abomination that was at MetLife, an event that masqueraded as an NFL game, Jets coach Todd Bowles broke records for regurgitating the term, “a– kicked.”
And why not? There aren’t any pleasant ways to describe a team that sleepwalked onto their home turf and allowed two quick touchdowns to a tight end who’s available on almost every fantasy league on the planet.
The Jets made Dwayne Allen look like John Mackey. The wholly mediocre tight end had four catches, including three for touchdowns. Allen entered the game with just 24 receptions and two scores all season.
And it spoke to Bowles’ furious brevity. Indeed. The Jets did get their a– kicked. They didn’t lose on a technicality, a blown call, a fumble, pick, or perfect play by the Colts. They simply got their a– kicked.
Most games require more elaborate assessments, some X or O gone awry. But Gang Green is gangrenous. Dead. Muerto. Where’s John McKay when you need him? Had he, not Bowles, provided this gridiron autopsy, he would have said something like, “We didn’t run or pass the ball well. But we made up for it by not playing any defense.”
There are reasons and excuses. You will find neither in the carnage left behind in the Colts’ 41-10 drubbing of the Jets before an army of disgusted fans that shrunk by the quarter, if not by the play.
The Jets’ soporific, horrific effort makes you do more than scratch your head. Craig Carton said the game cost Bowles his job. And while yours truly believes the second-year head coach has earned the headset for one more season, it’s impossible to defend the collective apathy you saw on Monday night. Carton’s radio partner, Boomer Esiason, properly asserted that the best tackle during the game came when some shirtless drunk ran onto the field and got smoked by a New Jersey State Trooper. Last time we saw that kind of legal violence also came on Monday Night Football, when, coincidentally, a Colt (Mike Curtis) leveled another inebriated fan who thought he was Lynn Swann.
At the very least, players should be scrambling to keep their jobs, to make those final film room impressions in December — a tackle here, a block there, that makes the coach notice. You can understand, if not defend, a poor performance. But not indifference.
How do you eulogize a team that was dead before the game started? Or before the season started? At what point do the paper bags come out? Could the Jets have won the Big Ten this year? Would the Jets be favored against Alabama? How do you gaze hopefully into the team’s future when it doesn’t have one? How do you trade on its past when it doesn’t have one? How do you develop future stars when the Jets don’t have any?
Toward the end of the game, Jon Gruden played a montage of the defensive line rushing the quarterback, with “rushing” used in a most liberal sense. After bumping into an offensive linemen, they simply surrendered, flailing away in pathetic attempts to swat the ball.
Louis Riddick, former NFL executive and friend of Bowles, is not a man not given to hyperbole. But even the laconic ESPN analyst said the Jets were clearly, already “cleaning out their lockers” with four games left. And, when referring to Bowles, Riddick said “this good man deserves better than his team quitting on him.”
Maybe. But the players respond to, or are inspired by, the coach. If Bowles isn’t squirming on the hot seat, he’s got to be glaring at the rearview mirror. As we’ve learned over the years, a good man doesn’t always make a great coach.
The Jets waved the white flag in the third quarter by doing what they should have done weeks ago. They benched Ryan Fitzpatrick to give Bryce Petty a fresh look. Well, they did that already, then went back to Fitzpatrick, before finally and forever settling on Petty. Their handling of the quarterback position has been atrocious. Dropping Petty into that game was akin to trotting a starting pitcher into the fifth inning of a 12-2 baseball game. It served no purpose and could not have benefited the very player the Jets plan to develop. Thankfully, the only injuries he suffered were metaphysical.
Watching a commercial during the Boomer & Carton program on CBS Sports Network, a promo popped up for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Even that felt more appealing than that faux football game on Monday night. At least bull riders are paid to get their a– kicked.
And, like with the Jets, you’ll see tons of bull s—.
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel