December 22, 2008


What Was Eric Mangini Waiting For? (Josh Curtis, December 22, 2008, NY Observer)

The blame game will doubtless start with an overanalysis of yesterday's humiliating loss to a 3-11 Seattle Seahawks team so ravaged by injury that it was without either its starting quarterback or a single starter on the offensive line. There will be talk of bad calls, missed opportunities, the decision to kick a field goal on fourth down and one from the Seahawks' two-yard line on the game's opening drive, to punt after a five-yard penalty negated a 45-yard Jay Feely kick early in the fourth quarter, the decision to go for it on fourth down and four from their own 20 with 2:21 remaining in the game, and, of course, the Jets' continuing inability to win on the West Coast. These are red herrings. The truth is that the Jets' implosion has had relatively little to do with yesterday's mail-in performance against the Seahawks. This self-destruction has been weeks in the making.

Their wins at New England and Tennessee conclusively established that the Jets have the talent to beat any team in the league. Seven pro-bowl nominations seconded the proposition. But for over a month, the Jets have been sabotaged from within, being glaringly out-coached in nearly every facet of the game. And for over a month, Eric Mangini has been unable or unwilling to stem the tide, choosing instead to stand behind coordinators Brian Schottenheimer and Bob Sutton, both of whom have extracted precious little from relatively talent-laden squads. Their game plans have given the team no strategic advantage in the first half of games, and their halftime adjustments, if there have been any, have changed nothing. More bad run defense, more bad pass defense, more inane, self-defeating offensive play-calling.

As a result, the Jets have been tanking for four weeks. They are 1-3 in their last four games, and only a miraculous end to last week's near-disaster against the Bills has saved them from being 0-4 since their landmark win against the Titans. Four consecutive weeks of pitiful, eerily similar football.

And all the while, Eric Mangini has taken exquisite pains to betray no sense of alarm or urgency. As has been his wont since day one, he has remained the very picture of outward calm, tirelessly repeating his ever-familiar mantra about avoiding mistakes and moving forward. To witness his manicured media persona is to think him as always in control, never given to the whims and folly that mark the behavior of many other coaches around the league. But the bottom line belies the fa├žade. He has fiddled while the Jets have burned.

If they'd kept Chad Pennington they'd be hosting the AFC Championship game.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 22, 2008 3:41 PM
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