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…and the horse you rode in on

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By Sperm Edwards

Moral victories. This is what I hated about Herm Edwards being here. He would try to find the good parts of a failure. He’d cite meaningless stats of areas that we did well in, as though that meant a hill of beans when the only stat that mattered was the W/L record. “Yeah, we got smacked around pretty badly, but we did sack the quarterback twice and one of our RB’s averaged 5 yards per carry.” Ugh. The “moral victories,” as they are called. The silver lining. The inkling of daylight in a sea of darkness that is supposed to give us comfort; that is supposed to give us satisfaction; that is supposed to give us hope that better things are on the horizon.

So now according to some we were to cheer for this 9-7 season, and why? Because we were 4-12 a year earlier. Because it was a 5-game improvement over last year. We replaced a QB whose picks blew 4 games last year, and replaced him with the savior. The one. The one whose picks blew 4 games this year, and would have blown 3 more if not for the supreme ineptitude of those opponents.

But the end result, so some say, is that we improved 5 games over last year. You know what? That didn’t give me a great feeling. If we hadn’t acquired Kris Jenkins, Alan Faneca, Calvin Pace, Tony Richardson, Damien Woody, #6 overall pick Vernon Gholston, and #29 overall pick Dustin Keller…oh yeah, and Brett Favre…then I could point to the improvement and say it was good.

The reality is that it was dumb friggin’ luck that we didn’t lose to Kansas City. It was dumb luck that we got the coin toss in overtime in the second NE game (as Matt Cassell was man-handling us to the point where it looked like we were only fielding 7 guys on defense). And it was even more ridiculous dumb luck that we didn’t lose that second Buffalo game, thanks to the dumbest method of running out the clock in recent memory courtesy of Dick Jauron. So yes, a win is a win. But is also dumb luck that this magnificent improvement in overall record wasn’t a mere 2-game improvement over that pathetic 4-win season a year ago. That is why so many of us didn’t, and don’t, feel so marvelous about it. That, among other things.

But mostly, it was about an idea that we all had. An idea that the stage was set and the stars were finally aligned. Our years of support and hope were finally going to be rewarded. This was finally going to be the year.

Take a moment to re-read those names of new faces. Add to it a budding star in Darelle Revis now no longer a rookie, and certainly not disappointing. And this on-paper improvement was considered by some to be a success?

Robertson to Jenkins
Clarke to Faneca
Hobson to Pace
Barnes/Kowalewski to Richardson
Clement to Woody
Pennington to Favre
Ryan/Pociask to Keller/Franks
Thomas to Thomas/Gholston

You’ve got to be kidding me.

People (rightly) criticized the playcalling on offense: the under-use of our 5 ypc RB’s as we watched our (probably injured) QB lead the NFL in picks. They criticized the defense that refused to apply pressure or displayed their sloppy excuse for tackling, to say nothing of the sorry coverage skills.

But no teams – even championship teams – are without their weaknesses. So people criticized the men in charge of those units; the ones who promised to get it done. And these coordinators deserved this criticism. But ultimately, the blame and responsibility must lie with their boss. The man who hired them both and kept them both here for three straight seasons. The man we all wanted to believe was the next-coming of the truly great HC he left behind in New England. The man who, albeit for different reasons, was not materially better than the buffoon he replaced.

This was a failure of a season.

If Tom Brady didn’t sustain a season-ending injury in week 1; if the personnel changes were not so swift and significant this off-season; if the schedule hadn’t gotten easier; if we’d totally gone the improve-through-the-draft-only route and we started to see a young team mature as they struggled early-on & finished strong; if there weren’t a whopping seven teams in the AFC that finished at least two games better than our 9-7; if the Dolphins’ idea of improving their QB position wasn’t the guy the Jets discarded; if those same Dolphins didn’t improve by ten games to our five, and win the division by beating us at home in week 17; if we didn’t lose to the Raiders and 49ers and Seahawks and Broncos; if, even in victory, we didn’t almost lose to the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, and Patriots we led 24-6 at one point; if that was not the story of the New York Jets’ 2008 season, then you might have considered it a success.

The reality is that the season is not played in one lump-sum. We didn’t go from 4-12 to 9-7 so much as we went from 4-12 to eke out a 1-2 start; from 1-2 to 8-3; and then from 8-3 to 9-7. They did what the Jets do: they built us up just enough to give us some hope, and then collapsed in classic Jetlike fashion.

The reality is, for this 9-7 season, there is no trophy for finishing third in your division. And there’s a reason for it: those teams that finish 3rd in their division, and 8th in the conference, are losers. And only those with blind love hand out trophies to losers. Parents maybe (because you kind of have to), and Jets fans who say to themselves, “Hey, we finished above .500 this year. Woo-hoo!”

A loser mentality for a loser team.

Always the pretenders rather than the contenders. Always the bridesmaid rather than the bride. Always the chumps rather than the champs. And some actually relish in being the bridesmaid because it’s more of an honor than just being in the congregation, as they find the silver lining in their moral victory for having improved upon an embarrassing 4-win season. Simply pathetic.

It was infuriating. And the fans who don’t lavish praise upon mediocrity deserved better. Even the ones who bitched and moaned and complained week after week. They’ve had their hearts ripped out too many times by this sorry franchise. They’ve had enough of it. They’ve had enough of the man in charge, who made it happen for us.

And apparently, and mercifully, so did Woody Johnson.

Hey, Eric. Your podium criticism of everyone under the sun other than yourself and your coaching staff was not nearly as endearing to the franchise’s fans as you think, and I can’t imagine where you learned that it might be. Take your passing-the-buck rationalizations, your emotionless personality, your passive game instincts, your notebook-only intelligence, and your “Jets core values” and shove it up your ass. You can go shake your head in disappointment for your home video camera from now on. You suck.

Love,
Sperm Edwards

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