Damn, it feels good to be right.
I’m not often one to be arrogant or shout from the rooftops when I’m correct about something, believe me. But your humble narrator, like everyone else, deserves a chance once in a while to be not so humble.
I reported from New York Jets’ training camp a month ago, less than a month before Sunday’s regular season opener against the Buffalo Bills. The Jets, when I saw them practice that Sunday, August 12, were just coming off a loss in their first preseason game, against the Cincinnati Bengals. They did not score a touchdown in that game, and little did I know at the time that they would not score a touchdown until the preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles (in a losing effort). No starters, nor even Tim Tebow, could find the end zone in the exhibition games for the Jets.
But that is why they’re called exhibition games, my friends.
I reported from New York Jets’ training camp a month ago, and I boldly pointed out that, contrary to popular belief, the Jets’ offense was fine, good, even. I never said they had the explosiveness of the Saints or Packers. But this unit was better than everyone gave them credit for.
“Everyone” included every know-it-all pundit on the Worldwide Leader, every snide talk show host in the metropolitan area, every misinformed listener who either called in to those shows to disseminate further nonsense, or merely collected such nonsense… the list goes on. These are the same people who are surprised, even still today, days after the New York Jets became the first NFL team this season to hit 40 points on the scoreboard in their blowout of their division rivals, the Buffalo Bills, 48-28.
I do not usually gloat about minor personal victories, but allow me to now, dear readers. Surely you understand my past suffering; I deserve the self-indulgence.
The Jets have offensive weapons? Yes, they do. I was trying to tell you about Stephen Hill over the summer. The Jets’ second-round draft pick last April has established himself as the team’s number two receiver with his performance Sunday. He had five catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns. That’s not a bad start to a season – better than Larry Fitzgerald, Randy Moss, Victor Cruz, Marques Colston, DeSean Jackson or Greg Jennings did Week 1 – let alone a career.
Last year, it wasn’t Hill, but Jeremy Kerley who was the rookie receiver in New York. He caught only one touchdown in 2011, but has already matched that stat for 2012 with a receiving touchdown in the Buffalo win, in addition to returning a punt for a touchdown. Kerley was the first man in Jets’ history to score TDs receiving and punt-returning in the same game, and the first Jet to return a punt for a TD since 2002.
Tim Tebow? The ultimate utility player. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t run for many yards or find the end zone – he lined up not only as a Wildcat QB but also as wide receiver and punt protector, as well as recovering a Buffalo onside kick attempt. Tebow doesn’t care what he does to help the team, as long as he helps the team, and he did. And Tebow’s snaps did not shake Mark Sanchez, who had arguably the best game of his career: 19-27, 266 yards, three touchdowns and only one early interception. CBS’s Rich Gannon displayed the size of his ego by pointing out that if he were Sanchez, and had to let Tebow come on for a snap every once in a while, it would “drive him crazy.” It takes a special kind of man, Rich, to put the team ahead of your own individual performance, and I guess you really aren’t that kind of guy.
I’m not a Jets fan overreacting to one great game. I’m a Jets fan supporting my previous points with one great game. Keep in mind the team’s weak schedule; if they did this to Buffalo, imagine what they can do to teams like Miami, Arizona, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, and Miami again, and Buffalo again. (Not to count chickens before they’ve hatched, but that should be eight wins right there.)
And don’t be that guy – or one of those many guys, as I’ve already met plenty – that say, “Easy, Romeo. It was Buffalo.” Buffalo, who had signed star defensive end Mario Williams from Houston in free agency, were pegged as a top ten defense and a potential AFC Wild Card team coming into 2012. So where were you wrong? Underestimating the Jets, over drastically overrating the Bills? Williams (like the rest of the defense) was a non-factor in the game. Meanwhile, the Jets’ D made Ryan Fitzpatrick look silly. Each of their top three cornerbacks – Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson – got a turn to pick off Fitzpatrick.
I know you hate Rex Ryan, whoever you are, despite how likeable he is. One thing I love about that guy is his ability to be completely blatant, even when he’s trying to be roundabout or sly with saying something. People note that he hasn’t guaranteed a Super Bowl this season, the first time in his four-year tenure as head coach in New York. But at the post-game press conference Sunday Ryan said, “We were confident going into the season that we think we’re going to have an outstanding offense. We think we’ll have an outstanding defense, and we think we’ll be outstanding on special teams.” Three-for-three in outstanding units – that makes an outstanding team, and outstanding teams win Super Bowls.
Rex, you sly dog.