No announcement yet.

[Jets] Verge of collapse

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • [Jets] Verge of collapse

    Doubts start to creep in for reeling Chad and Jets


    Chad Pennington has no answers on Sunday, but still faced the press yesterday.

    The only things missing yesterday at Weeb Ewbank Hall were a shrink and a leather couch in the middle of the Jets' locker room.

    "It's like waking up from a bad dream," said Chad Pennington, describing the psyche of the team. "You wake up and you just don't believe that it happened."

    Oh, it happened all right, a 23-7 meltdown against the Patriots, putting the Jets in a familiar back-to-the-wall scenario for the season finale Sunday in St. Louis. For Pennington, it was his second personal nightmare in three weeks and it seemed to hit him hard.

    For the first time in his mostly successful tenure as the starting quarterback, Pennington expressed self-doubt. In a candid self-evaluation, he acknowledged that his recent struggles have caused him to wonder if his on-the-field demeanor has changed from 2002, the year he led the NFL in passing.

    His conclusion: No, he hasn't changed. But a Monday morning Freud might say it was telling that the question crossed his mind. "Am I different than I was, say, in '02? I don't think so," said Pennington, who has compiled a poor touchdown-interception (28-21) ratio since 2002. "I think the difference between '02 and these last two years is that everything didn't go smooth coming back from an injury.

    "I feel like my demeanor is good," he continued. "Obviously, ask my teammates and see how they feel, but I feel like they feed off me. It's just a matter of ... I don't know, I can't explain it right now. I'm looking for answers and I've got to find them quick because time is running out."

    It's a one-game season for the Jets (10-5). If they beat the Rams, they clinch a wild-card berth and the fifth seed in the playoffs. If they lose, and the Bills and Broncos (both 9-6) win their final games, the Jets will miss the playoffs in what would be one of the biggest collapses in recent memory.

    Some players admitted the offense lacks the necessary confidence to beat elite teams, which could be perceived as a dig at Pennington, who prides himself on being the sparkplug.

    On Sunday, all eyes will be on Pennington, who has played miserably in the Jets' three biggest games. In two games against the Patriots and one against the Steelers, he has only one touchdown pass, five interceptions, two touchdown drives and an 0-3 record. Since returning from a strained rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder, which likely will require off-season surgery, Pennington is 2-2. Against the Steelers and Patriots, he made bad decisions and floated some passes.

    Is his shoulder bothering him more than he's letting on? Pennington, more forthcoming than usual, said, "It's not an injury, it's an aggravation." He added, "Last year, it was my left hand. This is a central part of what I do. It's a pain in the butt, no doubt, but (the mistakes) have been mental."

    Pennington, perhaps affected by the cold and windy conditions at Giants Stadium, completed only three passes to his wideouts in the first three quarters on Sunday. Said Justin McCareins, "It was a windy game and (the Patriots) knew it would be tough to throw a lot of passes outside the numbers. They stuck us inside pretty good."

    Trying to explain what went wrong, Pennington managed a smile and said to reporters, "Go back and look at your notes from the Pittsburgh game. ... It's déjà vu. It's a bad dream. There's no explanation. There are no excuses. It just has to get better." Herman Edwards stood behind his $64 million quarterback, although he wondered if the spate of turnovers has caused Pennington to become a little gun-shy.

    "(The turnovers) might affect him a little bit," Edwards said. "But he's going through a learning process and he'll learn from it."

    For the Jets' sake, he'd better learn by Sunday.

    Originally published on December 28, 2004

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Suddenly shaky Pennington
    by DJRamFan
    Chad Pennington quickly has reached a defining moment in his career.

    He will either guide the Jets into the playoffs with a big game against a bad Rams team or, after presiding over their first 5-0 start, be held accountable for the biggest collapse/choke in team history.

    "I'm like a volcano inside," Pennington said yesterday. "Sunday can't get here fast enough."

    The tension was evident in the locker room on a day the Jets followed the handbook for teams in crisis and held an obligatory players-only meeting. They've been going at this non-stop since the end of July and now for the fourth time in the last five seasons, their playoff fate will be decided on the season's final day. After not losing until Oct. 24 then sitting in great shape at 9-3, a team meeting to fire each other up was not supposed to be on the agenda. Neither was a potential single-elimination season finale.

    But these are the Jets. So nothing ever comes easy.

    Pennington is only 2-2 since coming back from his shoulder injury. He played horribly in the December losses to Pittsburgh and New England with one touchdown and five interceptions as the Jets scored only 13 points. Suddenly it was appropriate to wonder if he will ever be an elite quarterback.

    "I feel good," he said. "I'm not down on myself. I don't doubt myself at all."

    This has been a difficult few weeks for the $64 million QB. He admits it's been the most "challenging" time of his career. Two years ago, he was Joe Montana coming down the stretch. This year he's been Joe Pisarcik.

    "Every game is a defining moment," Pennington said. "I'm excited about it. But you know what? I can't talk about it. I just got to go do it."

    Reputations are made or destroyed in season-deciding games. Pennington's career was set to take off after he carried the Jets into the playoffs two years ago. But he's since gone backwards. Now, so much is at stake for him in St. Louis.

    "It's a hump game. Get over the hump," he said. "It's a hump game for me to play well in a big situation and perform well and win."

    If the Jets win, they get to 11-5, tying the second-most regular-season victories in their 45 years. If they lose, they still get in the playoffs with a Bills or Broncos loss, but they're out if they lose and the Bills and Broncos win. They don't want to back in.

    So, what happens Sunday? The Jets will beat the Rams and Pennington will play like he did against Seattle.

    It's evident the Jets can't yet play with the big boys of the NFL. The Patriots are better than them. So are the Steelers. Probably the Colts, too. When the Jets step up in class, they can't handle it. But they...
    -12-30-2004, 01:15 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Jets refuel on fiery speeches
    by DJRamFan
    Veterans, then Herm, Ram playoff message


    Herm Edwards delivers stirring address looking to get his Jets off the ground.

    Facing the crucible of a season-defining finale, the Jets turned up the heat yesterday at Weeb Ewbank Hall. Their meeting room became an emotional inferno. Times two.
    Herman Edwards, trying to rally his team from a demoralizing loss to the Patriots, delivered one of his vintage pep talks. Ordinarily, he's the only motivational speaker needed on the premises. But, on this day, the coach was preceded by a rare players-only meeting in which at least three veterans addressed the team, according to several players.

    Before Edwards arrived, Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin and Terrell Buckley spoke. In essence, they tried to convey a sense of urgency and hope, imploring their teammates to forget the New England meltdown and seize the moment. There was some tough talk, too. "There was a lot of fire, and not necessarily all of it came from Herm, either," said LaMont Jordan, summarizing the oratory events of the day. "The players in the locker room have a lot of fire built up in us that we want to let out once we get to St. Louis."

    The Jets (10-5) finish the regular season Sunday in St. Louis, where they meet the Rams (7-8) in a game loaded with playoff implications. The Jets clinch an AFC wild-card berth with a victory; the Rams need a win and some help to claim a spot in the NFC playoffs.

    It didn't have to be this stressful for the Jets, but they blew it on Sunday with a no-show against the Patriots. Martin isn't a speech-giving kind of guy, but he was so galled by the performance that he decided to speak up. "It was much-needed," he said of the players-only meeting. "We had a disgusting game last week. It was so glaringly disgusting that you couldn't just sweep it under the carpet.

    "As a leader, I feel responsible. As leaders, we take ownership of this team. I'm watching film of that game and I'm thinking, 'That's my team out there, playing like that.' I had to say something. I guess Chad felt the same way."

    Pennington said he wanted to remind the team it still has a wonderful opportunity. "It's important, through all the negativity, to understand we still control our own destiny," he said. "Through all the chaos that has surrounded our team, like losing to the elite teams, we still put ourselves in position to make the playoffs and we can still play for the championship."

    Players-only meetings happen maybe once or twice a year. Some players are cynical, saying they have no effect. Jordan said "the difference between this meeting and the other meetings is you could kind of feel the aura in the room - a positive aura."

    But he added, "All this talk,...
    -12-30-2004, 01:14 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Paul could go
    by DJRamFan
    Hackett in firing line if Jets flop
    Jets Insider


    If Paul Hackett (l.) can't get offense in gear for Herman Edwards, Jets fans may get their wish and be rid of embattled coordinator.

    When the Jets' season is over, whether it ends Sunday in St. Louis or somewhere in the playoffs, Herman Edwards will sit down with the brain trust and tackle the one big question that should (and will) occupy their thoughts from January to July:
    What can we do to close the gap with the Patriots?

    Answer: Improve the offense. Duh.

    Their solution: If they don't make the playoffs, hard to fathom for a team that started 5-0, Edwards almost certainly will ask Paul Hackett to hand over his playbook. If the Jets qualify, then lay an egg in the first round, it could be the same outcome.

    Put your ear to the walls at Weeb Ewbank Hall, and you can hear the rumblings. The embattled offensive coordinator is starting to look like the fall guy - if, indeed, they need a fall guy. Publicly, Edwards has remained supportive of Hackett, but the Jets' coach is troubled by the lack of point production.

    Asked Monday if there's a common denominator in their five losses, Edwards listed their point totals in those games: 7, 17, 17, 6 and 7. He rattled them off as if they're ingrained in his brain. They are. "Obviously, we didn't light up the scoreboard against those teams," said Edwards, who almost fired Hackett a year ago.

    Those teams - the Patriots (twice), Ravens, Bills and Steelers - happen to be ranked among the top seven in scoring defense, so it's not like the Jets are failing against a bunch of 98-pound weaklings.

    So how do they fix it? Because nine of the starters are locked into long-term, big-money contracts, the Jets won't have much flexibility in terms of improving personnel. If anything, the talent level could slip, with RT Kareem McKenzie and backup RB LaMont Jordan headed toward free agency. So the question becomes, if you can't change the players, how do you get better? Usually, the team changes the coach.

    A year ago, Edwards got rid of players and coaches on defense, hiring Donnie Henderson to rebuild the unit. How did it work out? Like they say in the beer commercial, "Brilliant!" Henderson's success, no doubt, will factor into Edwards' decision on Hackett.

    Hackett is signed through 2005, meaning his contract will have to be addressed in the offseason. No one wants a lame-duck coordinator. So it will be re-up or cut bait. You could make a decent case in support of Hackett. He has gone the last seven games with Quincy Carter and a banged-up Chad Pennington at quarterback. He doesn't have a threat at tight end. As for those conservative game plans, which seem to emerge every time they play...
    -12-29-2004, 03:00 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Edwards Relishes Jets' Must-Win Situation
    by DJRamFan
    AP Sports Writer

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- The New York Jets could have wrapped up a playoff berth last week with a victory.

    Ah, but these are the Jets, who seem to enjoy doing things the hard way. Now they face their toughest game of the season: They must win at St. Louis, in front of a hostile crowd, against another team playing for a postseason berth.

    A daunting task, indeed. Unless you ask coach Herman Edwards.

    "It's good for you," Edwards said Wednesday. "The harder, the better. Come on. The bigger the bully, the better. Come on. Because life is about a fight. You can't go run in your house and close the door. You're not in your neighborhood, so you'd better go fight. If we do that, we'll be OK."

    There was not much fight in the Jets (10-5) last week in a 23-7 loss to New England. They returned to practice eager to make up for all the mistakes they made against the Patriots - and knowing a victory is the only thing that matters.

    Whether or not this is a good situation come Sunday remains to be seen.

    "I don't know why but we always play our best when our backs are completely against the wall," veteran receiver Wayne Chrebet said. "We could have had it locked up and go looking forward to the playoffs this week instead of sweating it out, but ... I think we'll see a different team out there last week."

    It better be. But that will not be easy.

    The Rams have won 13 straight regular-season home games in December and January dating to 1998. The Rams last lost late in the season at home on Dec. 14, 1997, when they fell 13-10 to Chicago.

    St. Louis (7-8) also is alive for a shot at the NFC West title or an NFC wild card with a victory, thanks to a 20-7 victory over Philadelphia on Monday night.

    "It's great," Edwards said. "It will be loud; it's a playoff atmosphere. It's everything you can ask for as a coach and as a player. I love it, that's why you do this. You want these moments for your football team."

    He has gone through these moments before, in 2001 and 2002, when the Jets needed to win their final game for a playoff berth. They did just that both times, beating Oakland on the road in '01 and Green Bay at home in '02.

    Perhaps that is why Edwards and his team are not panicking.

    "Maybe we are a drama-filled team," running back LaMont Jordan said. "Maybe we like those exciting finishes. I am quite sure it gives some fans some heart attacks, and I am pretty sure there have been a couple of TVs in New York City thrown out some windows. But everything that has happened from Week 1 to Week 16 would be forgotten if we make the playoffs."

    That means...
    -01-01-2005, 03:11 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Jets] Edwards knows it's one or Gang's done
    by DJRamFan
    Herm Edwards certainly isn't coaching for his job on Sunday, or for a championship. But this will be his early signature game at St. Louis, the sort of contest that will define his first four seasons here in New York.

    It's simple, really, and Edwards keeps saying so. The Jets win against a flawed defensive unit and they will be 11-5, a playoff team for the third time in four years. Maybe they aren't an elite club yet or haven't set the world on fire since November. Maybe their quarterback is still searching for the old magic, nursing a sore arm and fiddling clumsily with his public posture.

    But the franchise has never before been to the postseason three of four times, and if Edwards pulls this off then the reservoir of good will spills over the banks. Everybody likes Edwards: His owner, who gave him a two-year extension last year through 2007. His players. The fans. The media.

    He is the anti-Coughlin in this way. Everybody is lined up, always hoping he succeeds. But Edwards needs to add some consistent winning to the resume, or he will never be Bill Parcells or Joe Torre around here. The Jets must show they can go out and win an important game, again, the way they did at the end of the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

    Again, this is no great trade secret. Edwards met with the team yesterday, showed them a few ugly highlights from Sunday's game, and then told them they've run out of time and excuses. They can't hope that Denver or Buffalo loses this weekend, against opponents who don't care. Even if it turns out that way, the Jets shouldn't sneak into the playoffs through the side door.

    "We don't need charity," Edwards insisted yesterday. "You want to win going into the playoffs."

    That was about it, though, with the speeches. Edwards said he wasn't going to "rant and rave." No pep rally. He wouldn't dwell on the disheartening, systemic failure against New England. He applied football's famous 24-hour rule, the law that says anything more than a day old doesn't mean a thing.

    The NFL is about immediate gratification. Edwards knows what this next Sunday is about. If the Jets lose in the dome, if they don't even make the playoffs, then this season officially will have become a mess.

    The Jets can talk all they want about the 10 victories, about double digits, about being in a tough conference and in a division with the Patriots. If they lose this game on Sunday, they will have thrown away a 5-0 start that was built on fragile victories of eight points or less. They surely will fire their offensive coordinator, Paul Hackett, who may be a goner anyway.

    Hackett's offense is supposed to be terribly predictable against some teams, the good ones. Funny thing about that: Most offensive coordinators have problems with these very same defenses.

    But there are problems, that's clear. There have...
    -12-28-2004, 09:58 AM