Florham Park, N.J.– With a record of 6-2 the Jets are tied with a bunch of teams for the best record in the NFL, but seeing as how they have struggled and often looked out of synch in their last three games people are starting to wonder are the Jets really good or are they just really lucky?
The short answer of course, is a little bit of both and that’s how it has to be because it’s impossible to succeed in the NFL based on talent (ask the Cowboys) and execution alone, luck will always play a part in any teams’ success.
Before last week’s shellacking against the Browns, the team the Jets fly to Cleveland to play this week, many Patriots fans where really excited that this Patriots team was resembling the Patriots teams of old.
Well not that old, more like the Pats of not too long ago when they stormed through each regular season and won themselves a few Super Bowls, but as good as those teams were, they were also extremely lucky and that’s what the Patriots fans I knew were most happy to see during this last winning streak. It seemed like all the bounces were going their way, ‘just like they used to when we ran ….(no need to complete that sentence)’ they would say.
It’s hard to dispute that logic, remember the ‘Tuck-Rule’? Even during the Patriots perfect 2007 season, before it was destroyed by the Giants in the Super Bowl to the delight of everyone not from the New England area, they had a great deal of luck.
Remember their 12th game of the season, a Monday night game in Baltimore, when the Ravens stopped the Pats on fourth-down to end the game, only the Ravens had called a timeout just before the snap. Then they had another fourth-down stop that was turned into a first-down on a questionable defensive holding penalty, followed by some personal foul calls for an irate Ravens defender kicking a penalty flag. You know what happened next, the Patriots go on to win the game and finish the regular season undefeated, but they needed plenty of luck along the way and this was just one example.
Then there is a flip side of that coin, yeah the Pats got lucky at times to go undefeated all the way to the Super Bowl, but I’m sure they didn’t feel so lucky when Eli Manning miraculously escaped from what seemed to be a certain sack (also kind of questionable as to how long the refs were going to wait to blow the play dead) and launched a deep bomb that magically implanted itself into David Tyree’s helmet allowing the Giants to shock everyone and not only hand the Patriots their first lose, but win the Super Bowl for themselves.
When it comes down to it though, all that matters is that the Patriots won all those games. Of course there was some luck involved, but no one ever wins a game on luck alone, you still have to make plays. After the ‘tuck-rule,’ after the penalties on the Ravens, the Pats still had to finish the game off by making plays to win it. The game wasn’t over after those plays, they also had to make plays beforehand to put themselves in that position to use the luck to win the games.
Same goes for the Giants in that game, sure there is no denying that was one of the luckiest plays in the history of sports, but the game wasn’t over. They still had to score a touchdown and then they still had to stop the deadly combination of the now extinct beast that was Brady and Moss.
Which all leads me to this 2010 Jets team. Many critics of this Jets team say the Jets have been extremely lucky to get their last two wins and could very well be 4-4, right now instead of 6-2. Yeah and the Steelers were lucky to win the game against the Dolphins when Big Ben fumbled before scoring and the Dolphins clearly recovered, but since the whistle was blown dead and it was ruled a touchdown, only the spot was able to be overturned since change of possession couldn’t be challenged. The Patriots were lucky the Ravens went ultra conservative to allow them to steal a game from them and so on and so on.
Of course they are playing the classic game of ‘what if?’ I love that game and can play it as well as anyone (literally ANYONE can be the best at ‘what if?’) so I’ll play along.
What if the Jets wide receivers catch, not all, just one or two of all those passes they dropped against Green Bay? What if the refs never made those two baffling interception calls? Then all of a sudden the Jets offense comes out looking halfway decent at worst and the Jets most likely win that game.
What if that highly questionable pass interference call against Kyle Wilson, that set up the Ravens only touchdown by placing the ball at the one, wasn’t called? Then maybe the Jets win that game as well and now all of a sudden in my game of ‘what if,’ the Jets could be 8-0. There I win, see I told you I’m really good at, ‘what if.’
“What if,’ can be an entertaining game, but mostly it’s just an exercise in futility used to give the talking heads a topic to eat up air time. Look at the concept of the ‘Power Rankings, as if the NFL had some type of BCS nonsense needed to determine a champion. Last week the Patriots were ranked number one, now look at them.
There is no doubt the Jets have been lucky, no matter how many times I watch that Denver game I still have no idea how they managed to hang around in that game despite all their mistakes, but in the end they had to make plays, not everything is luck and sometimes what seems like luck can just be a result of a superior team putting it all together just in time.
Were the Jets lucky Lions coach Jim Schwartz called a pass play on that third-down?
No doubt, but the Jets still had to drive down the field with no timeouts to tie the game, then make yet another drive in overtime to win the game, that’s more than luck. So is the fact that despite how badly they played through the first 55 minutes they were still within striking distance with just enough time.
I refuse to call the pass interference penalty that Santonio Holmes drew in the game against Denver lucky. Was Sanchez lucky on the play? Yeah, that’s what he was going for. He chucked it and was hoping for a jump ball or pass interference call and he got it, but take a look at that play again. Yes, Sanchez under threw it, but if Renaldo Hill doesn’t grab Holmes facemask Holmes almost certainly makes that catch, I mean he almost caught it with his helmet turned sideways.
So as lucky as it seems the Jets have been at times, they have still had to make the plays to win those games and that’s what they did, they hung around and waited for the better team to emerge victorious. They might not have been sure exactly how it was going to happen, but they needed to do whatever to make it happen.
Conversely if you go back and watch every Jets game over again, you can easily find just as many, if not more, times when the Jets were unlucky and that doesn’t seem to get a lot of focus. Breaks come and breaks go, these things tend to even itself out over time, this is an ‘Any Given Sunday,’ league, but by the Super Bowl regardless of how luck factors in, it’s usually the two best football teams squaring off for the championship.
The Jets are every bit as good as they have shown at times and not nearly as bad as they have looked at other times, the thing holding this team back is themselves. It’s the penalties, the drops, the picks and probably most disturbingly (slightly edging the penalties) is the amount of fumbles.
The fumbles and picks were problems the Jets suffered from last year, but the picks have gone down and it was Sanchez doing all the fumbling last year, not his WRs. The penalties are unexplainable and inexcusable with a team this talented and well coached, but they keep getting called for dumb penalties at the worst times.
If the Jets can iron these issues out (and I assume they will as it seems they are all still learning how to run this offense in the smoothest way possible) then luck will no longer be a topic of conversation.
Of course luck will play a role, it always does there is no avoiding it, but you can’t count on luck and if the Jets heal their own self-inflicted wounds then they will always be in position to either overcome bad luck or use good luck to their advantage.
If they can’t stop beating themselves then the rest of the NFL will be lucky that this roster loaded with talent and led by an excellent coach couldn’t live up to it’s potential.
Now that’s the sign of a really good team.
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