Monday, January 17, 2005

Jets - Steelers: One Last Thing

Brian Bassett (of NY Jets Blog) and I had a little Q&A before Saturday's game, and he was kind enough to send me some of his post-game thoughts -- which says a lot because if Brien had made either of those kicks I probably would've thrown myself under a bus and I'd be writing my comments from the hospital (yeah that's right, the hospital. I have the type of luck that if I actually threw myself under a bus, I wouldn't die, I'd just be maimed). Anyway, here goes:


What a freaking game. As I sit and think about what to write, I am not sure where to start, but I imagine the words will start pouring out.

Coming into the game, I expected a blowout, I wanted the Jets to play well, but I didn't think that they had the stamina to win. I swore last week after the win to the Chargers, I was pleased with the season, and any other wins would be icing on the cake. I still think that is true. To see the Jets play so hard, for so long and hang with one of the premier teams for more than 4 quarters, I am pleased. But to say that I am happy with the way the game turned out, would be a flat out lie.

Immediately after the game, I was adamant that the Jets outplayed the Steelers, but the more I think about it, that seems crazy to say, and sour grapes sentiment at that. The truth is the Jets lost, but I think that the loss was confined to only a few facets of the game:

Offense / Running Game
When the game's final score is 20-17, and 14 points for the losing team comes from special teams and the defense, that can't be a good thing. Even if Brien makes both of the missed kicks, hell, even if one of those kicks was a fake FG pass play for a TD, the offense would have scored less than defense and the special teams. Pennington is good, but he is not the type of QB that can be expected to carry a team on his shoulders, mix that with a West Coast Offense, and it just doesn't work. The Steelers have proven that twice this year. As far as the Offensive Coordinator, I have been saying it all year, Paul Hackett's system is a farce and he needs to get the axe. I will expect to see a move regarding him soon... maybe in the next two weeks.

The other factor that was missing from the offense was LaMont Jordan. For all the speculation and praise about him, he never saw the larger role that could have made the difference in the game. For the whole game, the Jets only ran the ball 27 times for a total of 110 yards. On only 5 carries, LaMont Jordan accounted for about one quarter of that number. I understand that the Jets had to take what the Steelers gave them, but the Jets didn't even try to get LaMont more involved in the game.

Kicking Game
This isn't so much a blame of the kicking game as the decisions that were made to force the Jets into two long kicks in a notoriously hard place to kick. As I think about it more, I do blame Brien for the misses, but not him alone. What I do blame him for was asking to be on the right hash mark and then shanking it waaaaaaaaaaaaaay right. There is a stat... no visiting kicker has hit a FG from more than 46 yards, and the two in question were from 43 and 47. Also, the kneel down play before the kick was beyond my comprehension. I know that 'twan has big play ability, but that was a little ridiculous.

Ryan, thanks for taking the time to swap some insight on the game. I will look forward to seeing what you think about the game as well. As an ambassador of the Jets Nation, I wish Steeler Nation good luck in the rest of the Playoffs (it is always a good excuse to lose to the Champs).

--Brian "Green Badge of Courage" Bassett