During a week when the entire Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney was reduced to a ridiculous comment about "Big Bird," I find myself amongst the NFL pundits wondering how it was possible to begin this holiday weekend with the National Football League's New England Patriots and New York Jets tied at 2-2 and co-leaders in the NFL's AFC East.
How could that be and can I find some comparison between the two? How is it possible for a supposedly educated public to reduce 90 minutes of heated discussion on the future of the United States of America to a ill-timed remark about balancing the federal deficit by cutting funding to Public Broadcasting?
How is it possible for a Super Bowl, juggernaut, power-house team like the Patriots to be TIED with a team that is going nowhere fast, going south, going backwards rather than forward? The Jets are a team that has no leadership at QB or at head coach, has no running game and is so, downright dysfunctional, they make the Sopranos look like the Swiss Family Robinson.
The distance between the two teams is nearly as far as the gap in Michael Strahan's two front teeth. The Patriots, with Tom Brady at QB and Bill Belichick as patriarch and head coach are about as far apart from J-E-T-S quarterback Mark Sanchez and know-it-all, blow-it-all NY Jets coach Rex Ryan as Obama is from Romney. Ah, there is the comparison. The Patriots are to the Jets as Obama is to Romney.
One is based in fact, the other in Fantasyland. One deals with real issues and tries to solve problems while the other lives in a land of vague proclamations while paving a road to an unknown future, stemming from untested plans (Tim Tebow at QB), no foundation (no running game) and suspect foreign policy (defensive unit in disarray). Now, the J-E-T-S surely are reeling from the loss of Darrelle Shavar Revis, undoubtedly amongst the very best defensive backs in the game. The Teterboro JetSets somehow went 2-1 over the first three weeks of real NFL action with victories against the Buffalo Bills (48-28) and the Miami Dolphins (23-20) and a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (27-10). They came back to earth and “Played Like a Jet” when the Revis-less club fell victim to the SF 49ers to the tune of 0-34, with a very telling box score to analyze attached to that contest.
The line-item basics of those stats included the fact Sanchez threw for 103 yards (13-of-29), Shonn Greene ran for a mere 34 yards and wide-out Chaz Schilens led the team in receiving yards with a whopping 45 yards, 22 of which came on one play. Meanwhile, Santonio Holmes, who caught four passes for 29 yards against the Niners, was declared out for the year with a left foot Lisfranc injury which, in layman's terms, is a crushed top of the left foot. The loss of Revis, Holmes and the dismantling by the 49ers became the writing on the wall for the 2012 – let’s hear it – J-E-T-S.
After his last game, Ryan summed it up quite succinctly: "I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but really, we got our ass kicked," said Ryan. "There's no two ways, ins or outs about it and here's the recipe for getting your ass kicked, all right? Two-for-13 on third down, that's 15 percent, four turnovers, a blocked punt when they rush one guy and giving up 245 yards rushing. How's that for a recipe?"
Tonight, the Jets will be back in the kitchen and right in front of the hot stove as they face the Houston Texans, a very serious AFC title contender along with the Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and a handful of others such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers. Only a miracle will keep the tie atop the AFC East standings. Then after a home game against the Indianapolis Colts, who upset the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, the Jet-setters will head to Gillette Stadium for another chance for an ass-kick at a tail gate on Route 1.
Terry Lyons pens a column on the NFL for Foxboro Blog, including a weekly look at “what keeps us up at night.” Lyons is publisher and editor-in-chief at Boston-based DigitalSportsDesk – http://www.digitalsportsdesk.com – where he writes on football, basketball, baseball and hockey.