The “coulda-shoulda-woulda” of burnout teams.
The prime time lights will illuminate LP Field for a matchup between two teams who have fallen short of expectations. That being said, we will likely see them at their best simply because they are on the world’s biggest stage for football (Americano at least) on Monday Night Football.
Late in the season, especially with playoff hopes diminishing for teams with 7+ losses, it’s rare to see a desire for playmaking -- unless it’s going to land a player that has already checked out -- on the Top 10 plays. There is a lot of arm-tackling, holding, and hilariously poor efforts by wide receivers to block on running plays.
Regardless, Monday Night is going to feature a 6-7 Jets team, living on a prayer that they can win out and voodoo curse a few other teams to lose a couple to sneak into the playoffs. Their opponent will be a patchwork Titans squad that has been trying to reinvent the wheel all year changing personnel everywhere in the organization. Though the Jets will have a lot more to play for, the Titans will likely show a little play-maker flair as they have proven to be a proud team of misfits that simply lack direction. In a league where most people look towards the future, one can’t help but look into the past to explain why these teams are where they are today.
The Jets are a confusing club, they almost seem masochistic playing in front of the most cutthroat and unforgiving market in the country. After yet another disappointing season last year the Jet’s decided to beat the dead horse that is Mark Sanchez. The USC California dreamer made a little noise as a rookie and even a sophomore in the NFL, but has since fizzled and more importantly has shown that he is defiant and standoffish to public scrutiny off the field, yet vulnerable as a teenage girl to the “boos” in the stadium on the field.
In the draft they chose Quenton Coples a defensive end that I agree will likely pan out as a great choice, but the organization then decided to draft one Stephen Hill a Yellow Jacket receiver that is known as a deep threat but lacks the possession receiver skill set that Sanchez can work with. They “coulda” drafted Weeden, Wilson, or even Foles at a bargain instead of putting their stock in Sanchez, McElroy, or even Timmy. At the very least they could have gotten Alshon Jeffrey to catch the balls that Sanchez hangs his receivers out to dry with.
The Titans are run by some boring good ol’ boys. After plenty of success with Jeff Fisher who really only needed some risks to be taken in the draft or in trades, they fired him and replaced him with offensive line grunt Mike Munchak. Not to say that Munchak doesn’t know the game, especially the Titans/Oilers game, but to make such a conservative move really killed the 2011-2012 seasons. The Titans have plenty of talent, and though a lot of such talent has gotten injured this year, they should have improved on last year’s mediocrity. They “coulda” courted some better coaching talent, and though Ken-Doll Wright has shown some promise, they could have drafted some offensive line help to give their moneybag star Chris Johnson the tiny holes he needs to start a footrace.
The Jets have been hearing all year that they should have started Tim Tebow, The offseason news that the miracle worker was headed to New York sparked comments like,
“Now with Tebow they can run the WildCat and have a running back that can actually thr…oh wait nevermind.”
“Now we can win the Super Bowl!”
I’m not sure anyone said the second one, not even Fireman Ed who has fallen to the grief his Jets has caused him and hung up his hardhat in retirement. Tim Tebow isn’t the answer, McElroy is likely to be a run of the mill QB at best as he now faces NFL talent on his NFL team the Jets, instead of facing NCAA talent on his NFL team the Crimson Tide. However, anyone but Sanchez is an answer if not THE answer to the Jets problems. Sanchez has talent, he’s like a thoroughbred that the trainers beat and screamed at before every race. A quarterbacks psyche is a volatile thing, sometimes delicate, sometimes rock solid, it can be the difference between finding an open receiver, or throwing a ball 2 inches behind your tight end and into the hands of a linebacker. Sanchez is ruined, and New York is to blame, as former teammate (now resurrected) Braylon Edwards (yet another ruined psyche) tweeted that Sanchez was never given the “proper chance” to make his mark in the NFL.
The Titans should have gotten their defense together before drafting an offense and sleeping on free agents. The only games they can even have a shot at are ones that they don’t let get away from them early. Receivers are happy to face them, instead of being annoyed at having to line up across from Cortland “Burn me twice but I’ll get you a personal foul once” Finnegan. Lineman are happy to face the Titans with a now leaderless d-line in the absence of old man KVB and his slow-motion swim moves.
The Jets would have at least faced a media and fan presence that shared in the blame of a mediocre season if they had started a new QB. They likely would have the same record, if not worse, but the fans and New York pundits would at least get to see that they don’t know everything about football.
The Titans would have at least been more fun to watch with a more modern NFL offense and could feel a little more like they are getting at least half of their money’s worth in Chris Johnson with a different coaching staff. Even changing their offensive coordinator has moved them from being a team that brings a knife to a gun fight to a team that brings a bat to a gun fight. Jake Locker is wiry, and would have at least brought in the young QB noise that the NFL has seen this year, and a little PAC-12 funk if they had a more interesting, and less predictable offense.
What to expect:
Tonight’s going to be a good Monday Night Football if you are a Jets fan. The Jets defense will swallow the Titans offense (save a 50 yard+ run from Johnson that will make his season look less mediocre), and be able to move the ball the way Rex Ryan has told you he can all year. The Jets will win the field position battle and control the clock on the way to a 27-13 win against Titans that will likely see some acrobatic plays on both sides of the ball…so long as the camera is right on them.