And while my mind occasionally wanders back to Queens, the borough of my birth and the job from which I have taken a temporary siesta, most of the time sports of any kind sans golf have been the last thing on my mind.
Still, there is something stuck in my craw about being down here, the unofficial sixth borough, where there are more native New Yorkers than I dare say there are in all of Flushing. It seems that once these so-called people who call the Big Apple their former home have also taken leave of their senses, not just the greatest city on the planet.
As a sports writer, I have talked and talked pro sports for years, seen countless games and have made covering sports my livelihood, sort of. But never have I heard such delusion as I have in the few days spent here, just north of Fort Lauderdale.
My family down here, God bless them, seems to think that all sports revolve around the greater Miami area. This year, they say, the Dolphins are for real and the Fish are the team to beat in the AFC, the favorites to go all the way to the Super Bowl.
I really shouldnt kid them or get bent out of shape about it. I mean, after all, I call the New York Jets my team. And if any franchise in the NFL is snake bitten, it surely is my Jets. But I have a feeling that this year might be different, that maybe, just maybe, things will fall into place in 2002.
I know I am probably as delusional as all the Dolphin fans scurrying about outside the window behind me, but all the Dolphins seem to have done is to sign a talented running back who tends to get hurt every other week one Ricky Williams while the Jets have improved by leaps and bounds.
The Jets already were a playoff team a season ago, being eliminated in the first round by the Oakland Raiders, but seemed capable of so much more. As always, the team seemed to have a few glaring weaknesses, things for opponents to capitalize on. But with a few key additions in the off-season, the Jets appear to have shored up those holes, making for a better, more potent team all around.
Obviously the centerpiece of this Jets team, as he has been since coming from New England, is running back Curtis Martin. Not only is he as solid a running back as you can find in the NFL, Martin also is one of the most talented. He has run for more than 1,000 yards or more per season every year in the NFL, including more than 1,500 last year.
Martin would make any team a threat, but with the multitalented Jets, his presence can be lethal.
I dont want to get out of hand, either. The Jets arent the St. Louis Rams, not even close. But they are more dangerous on offense this year than last. With Santana Moss healthy (knock wood) Wayne Chrebet and Laveranues Coles, the wide-receiving corps is small, but quick and dangerous.
At tight end, Anthony Becht should continue to improve his numbers as a pass catcher. His work as a blocker has never been in question. The offensive line also seems sturdy, with Kevin Mawae at center, anchoring a respectable bunch with guard Julio Machado as the only question mark.
That leaves quarterback Vinny Testeverde. A native of Elmont, just over the Queens border, Testeverde led the Jets to the AFC championship game in 1999, finally living up to all the potential he showed while in college. And while the Jets came up short against the Denver Broncos in that game, Testeverde endeared himself in the hearts of Jet fans everywhere.
With all that said, I saw Testeverde throwing the ball around the teams training facility at Hofstra a few weeks ago. Hes 38 now, past his prime in all likelihood, and seemed a bit fragile to me from a distance. If Testeverde stays healthy, the Jets have a legitimate shot at going far in the playoffs. If he goes down, as he did two years ago with an Achilles injury, Gang Green could be in for a long year.
Defensively, the Jets were weakest last year right up the middle. Any team, probably even Bayside High School, could run against them. But a few additions to the defensive line and the return of Jesse Ferguson, who missed all of last year, will spell relief. Running on the Jets now will be problematic.
The line-backing crew, which has been the teams strong suit, is again led by Marvin Jones and Mo Lewis, two solid players that can star on any team in the league. Add in defensive end John Abraham, the best pass rusher the team has had since the heyday of Mark Gastineau, and most bases seem to be covered.
In the secondary, which was decimated by the expansion draft, are newcomers Aaron Beasley, Donnie Abraham and Sam Garnes, all proven veteran players.
Its hard not to get excited about this team. I have waited my whole life for the Jets to make it back to the Super Bowl. I hope I will not have to wait much longer.
As for those Dolphins, well, I hope my family can live with disappointment. I have for far too long.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2002 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.