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Oh, woe is me. When things are good, they go bad and when they are bad, they get worse. Such is the life of a New York Jets fan.
Yes, I am a standing or sitting testament to the fact that we Jets fans are the rare breed of athletic supporters (pun intended) who will come back for more and more abuse, time and time again because we simply love misery.
Nothing in this world, with perhaps a few exceptions, such as being the heel of a shoe or the seat cushion at a Taco Bell, is as painful as being a fan of Gang Green, the festering boil of my existence and the reason I get out of bed on Sundays.
For those who read this column with any regularity, and there must be a few of you out there, you may recall my optimism about two or so months ago regarding the bright and shiny future of my beloved football team. You might remember my extolling the virtues of Vinny Testeverde and Co., the improved defense, the vaunted running attack and so on.
Well, five weeks into the season, let me declare at the top of my lungs in a big, booming, bellowing voice Phooey!
After a perfect 4-0 preseason, when the Jets scored seemingly at will with their first-team offense against four quality teams in Pittsburgh, Baltimore, the New York Giants and Philadelphia, the Jets are a dismal 1-4, the last four games losses.
What a horrifying state of affairs for those partial to my team, which at one point seemed unable to tackle a blade of grass or complete a pass of more than 10 yards, let alone actually score a touchdown.
The season started well enough, stringing people such as myself along to believe that yes, indeed, the Jets may very well be for real this time.
I am referring to the teams 37-31 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in Week One, a game which featured two kickoff returns by Chad Morton, the second coming on the opening play of the overtime period. It was a dramatic and thrilling win and one helluva way to start the season.
We all know what happened next.
A game that traditionally has been one of the most anticipated on the Jets schedule every year was slated for Week Two, when Gang Green hosted the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichik, the man who should have been coach of the Jets.
It would have been the perfect time to make a positive statement. After all, it was the Jets who made the Patriots Super Bowl possible to begin with, when Mo Lewis de-cleated Drew Bledsoe and opened the door for the then little known back-up Tom Brady.
But what the Jets did, or didnt do, that Sunday was a statement in itself, just not the one I or anyone loyal to the Green wanted to hear. The Patriots thoroughly trounced the Jets, 44-7.
It was humbling, to say the least.
The next week would prove no better, as the Jets soared into Miami to take on the Dolphins, a team that New York had owned for four straight years, winning eight consecutive regular-season meetings, including the Miracle at the Meadowlands when the Jets came from 27 points down in the fourth quarter to win in overtime.
That Monday two years ago I was ready to have Testeverde bronzed for all-time. He was flawless in that fourth quarter, living up to all of our expectations.
But in Week Three of this year, Testeverde and the Jets were mere fish food. Miami trounced New York 30-3, as the Jets offense continued to sputter and doubts of a winning season began to fade quickly.
It was easy to block out the two losses as early season jitters or lack of cohesiveness on an offense that needs just that. I was sure the team would turn it around in Week Four.
Not exactly. The Jets played their second straight Florida opponent, this time in Jacksonville. The result, however, was no better. With Testeverde at the helm, the offense did nothing. Defensively, the Jets could not get a hand on Fred Taylor. In the end, it was a 28-3 loss.
In three straight losses the Jets were outscored 102-13, the worst such stretch of any team bearing the name Jets and the worst for the franchise since they were called the New York Titans.
Coach Herm Edwards finally did something about it last week, benching Testeverde in favor of Chad Pennington. He also promised to start rotating players who had not been seeing much time into the game in favor of those starters who had not been performing up to expectation.
And it worked, sort of. Against Kansas City this past week the Jets played as well as they have all year. Pennington was solid in place of Testeverde, Curtis Martin ran for more than 100 yards for the first time all year and the defense was not blown completely off the field.
Still, even with the improvements, the Jets still managed to lose, 29-25.
Entering Week Six, the Jets mercifully have a bye. Maybe they can build off the improvement they showed against Kansas City. Maybe games against Minnesota and Cleveland are just what the team needs to rebound and salvage what is left of the season.
More than likely, however, something bad will happen. And people like me will have to grin and bear it and wait until next year, again.
Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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