After the back to back match ups of the most brutal blowout in [very recent] history and the most deflated, excessively covered win, for week 14 the Jets headed to Jacksonville. Of course the biggest story line of the week was that the son of Christ, Tim Tebow would be returning to his hometown. My question is: Why?! If Tebow was playing quarterback, if he even had a chance to play, sure. Knock yourselves out, set up a whole studio show outside his locker and hotel room, report on every time he blows his nose and wipes his ass. But Tebow didn't play. Yes, Tebow was activated over recently beloved, third string, and most importantly, healthy quarterback Greg McElroy, but that's beside the point. We saw that one coming. The winds of change could only blow for so long and sure enough it was back to Mark Sanchez and the Inconsistent Bunch.
The first half was nothing short of horrendous. Bart Scott built us all up as he picked off Jacksonville quarterback, Chad Henne, on his first offensive drive, but the excitement stopped there. No Jets offensive drive would be complete without a Mark Sanchez fumble, which was followed up on the next drive with a Jeremy Kerley bobbled reception that ended up as a Jaguars interception. Miraculously, the garbage play on the field resulted in a Jacksonville lead of only 3-0 at half. The Jets' six first-half drives resulted in 3 three-and-outs, 2 turnovers, and finally a punt. What I recognized is that last week both sides of the ball looked as though they'd rather be anywhere other than Metlife Stadium. In this week's contest, both the Jets and the Jags seemed to be trying their hardest to really fight for that "not-the-worst-team-in-the-NFL" title. Of course, if you read the statistics, you'd recognize that the Jets are in a whole different classification than Jacksonville. The Jags have only two wins. They are ranked last in nearly every category you could possibly rank, (with the exception of quarterback completions or things of that nature, we know that Sanchez holds that special spot in the NFL's heart.) But somehow, our 5-7 team and their 2-10 team made for a rather even match up, especially in the eyes of the media storm. The first half of the game really did no help proving otherwise.
A spark of sorts was lit as the second half started. Following the Jags' three and out, the Jets started on a pretty solid drive down field led by Shonn Greene. As they entered the Red Zone, (they must have felt lost, how often are the Jets ever in the Red Zone on offense?!) a short pass to Kerley, which was thankfully caught and not fumbled, and a few more ground and pound attempts from Greene resulted in an end zone appearance. TOUCHDOWN. It felt like we hadn't heard that word in weeks.
This approach that we were told was the foundation for the Jets' offense for so long, was finally being put to use. The ground and pound was being utilized, and not only that, it was working! Soon the Jets had put 17 unanswered points on the board. A friendly fire helmet-to-helmet hit between Yeremiah Bell and Antonio Cromartie took Cro out of the game temporarily for evaluation in the locker room. A quick drive down field for Chad Henne and the Jaguars brought the game back within reach trailing only 17-10. Thankfully, as the Jags took the field in the final minute of the game, Cromartie was back in action. If there's any part of this team worth placing your faith in, it remains the defense. A few shaky performances cannot take away the fact that they are the only reasons the Jets remain in Wild Card contention. We had a bit of a scare as Henne was able to convert a pair of 4th downs and move down field, however as they entered the Red Zone with seconds remaining, the Jags took a page out of the Jets' playbook, and threw an interception to Ellis Lankster.
Game over, the Jets win. I'm glad my team won, that is not the question. The big question mark in my head is whether that is what's best for the team. Everyone loves this talk of the Jets being within playoff reach. Is that really what we want? Will that better this team in the future? The Jets will not win the Super Bowl this year. I'm so positive of that fact, that when a special project came up at work, I volunteered to work Super Bowl Sunday. I expect the Jets to
reach their signature record of 8-8, potentially make the playoffs, lose in the first round if they do, and end up with a crappy draft pick. After all, it happens that way nearly ever year, doesn't it? In the meantime, I'll take the win. I'm proud that through the negativity, the injury, and the scrutiny, that the Jets were able to pull this off on the road - and back to back at that! Beating Jacksonville is no big feat, but it is big for Sanchez and the rest of Gang Green's confidence. Games in Tennessee, home against San Diego, and in Buffalo remain, and the quest for mediocrity continues.