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COMMENTARY : It's Another Year, but Jets Look the Same

November 20, 1994

The Jets have six games left and, if they cannot win four of them, then it is another season when they cannot get over .500 and it is another season when they are out of the playoffs, and someone else has to be brought in to run the team and quarterback it and maybe even coach it.

The last Jets coach to have a winning season was Joe Walton in 1988. The Jets were 8-7-1 that time. Bruce Coslet never had a winning season, which means Dick Steinberg, the general manager, still hasn't had one either.

There are six NFL teams that have not had a winning season in the '90s: Patriots, Cardinals, Bucs, Browns, Rams--and Jets. If they keep talking about the spot of the ball and weeping about officials, they will be December's doormats again.

The Jets could be 7-3 today. They should make the playoffs even though they are not 7-3. They should be able to win a big game on the road with the playoffs on the line, because they have the defense for it. It is about time the Jets lead the league in something other than could and should. It is about time the Jets are champions of something other than excuses about why they lose so many games like the one they lost to the Packers.

So we are right where we always are with the Jets at this time of year. We wonder if they have it in them to look like a real team for more than 60 minutes at a time. If they can't, if they can't win four of six down the stretch, then there is no reason for Jets fans to believe Pete Carroll is much different from Walton or Coslet, or Boomer Esiason is anything more than the lefty Ken O'Brien.

The Jets lost to the Packers in Green Bay last Sunday because they could not do the job the last time they had the ball. They lost to the Colts a couple of weeks ago because they could not do the job the last time they had the ball.

Against the Colts, they could not make a yard on fourth-and-1 and blamed that one on the refs. Now they are talking about bad calls in Green Bay. One official ruled a touchdown catch for Rob Moore and then another one overruled him. The replays didn't settle anything, so maybe it was a bad call.

And if it was, so what? There have been a million bad calls this season. There were a couple against the Giants a couple of weeks ago, both of them involving Herman Moore of the Lions. Those calls cost the Giants a game. In the Giants-Cardinals game last Sunday at Giants Stadium, Kent Graham was ruled for intentionally grounding the ball even though he never got his arm up. If the officials needed to call anything there, they should have called intentional gravity.

It isn't just the Jets, it is everybody being victimized by hack officials. Anybody who thinks otherwise just engages in loser's talk. But then there is always a lot of talk from the Jets. Usually they are telling us that November and December are going to be real different this time.

The Jets are 5-5 instead of 6-4 because Esiason threw an interception after the Jets recovered a muffed punt in the fourth quarter. The Jets are 5-5 because they couldn't score a touchdown in the second half. Everybody keeps talking about poor Rob Moore slipping on the fourth-down play that would have tied the game for the Jets in the final minute.

The whole game is supposed to be one unlucky play when the Jets had three plays before that with the goal line right in front of them and could not put the ball in the end zone. You are supposed to score there.

It is like a play from the playoffs. Maybe that was the trouble. Always remember that we are talking about a team that has won one playoff game in the last 12 years.

Even Steve Beuerlein made big plays against the Giants and won the game for the Cardinals. The Cardinals have been treated as one of the great jokes of pro football this season. We all have belted Buddy Ryan around because he showed up in Arizona saying, "You've got a winner in town." The Cardinals are one game worse than the Jets today, with a record of 4-6.

There were a lot of injuries for the Jets against the Packers. Ronnie Lott, who perhaps could have been in there if he hadn't tried to use his helmet like a battering ram against the Bills, didn't play, and neither did Aaron Glenn.

Johnny Johnson is hurt. There was trouble on the offensive line. The Jets were up against a terrific Packers defense, and they were on the road. It would have been a tremendous win. It would have been the kind of win that would make this Jets season look different from the second-rate ones that have preceded it.

The Jets had chances to take charge against the Packers after they took the lead, but never did. The Jets were such a terrible team on first down you were amazed they had any kind of chance at the end. There was always a sack or a runner getting caught behind the line of scrimmage or a penalty. It always seemed to be second-and-12 or second-and-15. They had to keep climbing out of holes.

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