Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas
You have to be around New York City this week to believe the hype that the Jets-Patriots game is getting for Thursday night. But the Jet fans have it all wrong. They have to win this game because the Patriots are a shell of the team that they were even AFTER Tom Brady got hurt. The notion that the Jets are “better” than the Patriots is absurd (although the Jets are better “on paper,” whatever that means). The Patriots beat the Jets 19-10 at the Meadowlands in Week 2 in what was viewed, at the time, to be the great opportunity for the Jets since Brady had gone down in Week 1.
When Brady was injured, I wrote an article (see Kallas Remarks, 9/13/08) saying that the Patriots would still be 11-5. While I won’t back off that now, since Brady was hurt, the Patriots have lost enough big-time players as to have made them questionable for a deep playoff run even if Brady had NOT been injured in Game 1.
INJURIES, INJURIES, INJURIES
Give this a little thought: The Patriots were LOADED at running back with Lawrence Maroney off a very good year in 2007, Sammy Morris, a quality back, Lamont Jordan, viewed a few years ago by Jet fans to be so good that he should have replaced Curtis Martin, and the ever-present, Troy Brown-like (in this writer’s opinion) Kevin Faulk.
But a funny thing happened on the way to having an excellent running game – other than Faulk, a third-down back, they all got hurt. Not one, not two, but three quality backs. The Patriots are starting with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, a guy you never heard of before the season.
But it gets worse than that. In addition to losing the right side of their line (Nick Kaczur and Stephen Neal) for a few games, the Patriots have now lost the heart of their secondary, Rodney Harrison, for the season. Big-time linebacker Adalius Thomas is also down, probably for the season.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
With Harrison out, you can’t name three guys in their defensive backfield (Ellis Hobbs and who else?). Yet they held the Colts to 18 points in a tough defeat on the road (and while their coach was correctly criticized for a few things, the critics couldn’t see the forest for the trees – it was a near-miracle that the Patriots almost won that game).
Frankly, even the back-ups in the secondary are hurt. Terrence Wheatley won’t play against the Jets and it’s unclear whether Lewis Sanders will play (and don’t confuse him with safety James Sanders, who will play).
The point is, the Patriots have done it with smoke and mirrors (and a still very good defensive front seven) this year in a miracle coaching job by Bill Belichick.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THE JETS?
Well, if you believe the hype, this is the year for the New York Jets. That’s hard to believe, but, despite one New York radio “expert” saying this game could start the “changing of the guard” (yes, that’s a quote) in the AFC East, the reality is that this is a very brief window of opportunity for the Jets. The Brett Favre experiment has been OK to good, nothing more to date, and, if Tom Brady comes back anywhere near what he was before, the AFC East will be a cakewalk for the Patriots next season.
So, if there is a “changing of the guard,” it’s a 10-week thing, not a multi-year thing.
IS THIS ARMAGEDDON FOR THE JETS?
Well, yeah. If they lose this game, with the Patriots down their All-World QB and about seven other guys who are really good, it’s all downhill for the Jets, even if they have a really easy schedule the rest of the year (after the Titans). The real question is, how can they lose this game? And the answer, as usual, is Bill Belichick.
But with the Patriots coming back to very good, not great, status this season, this is the only chance the Jets will have to make some noise. Can they lose to the Patriots and the Titans and still make the playoffs. Yes, but what does that mean? It says here not very much.
The reality is that, if the Jets beat the Patriots, it’s something that’s a nice stepping- stone for this season only. If they don’t, it’s a terrible loss because this will be the weakest the Patriots will be for years to come (think how good they’ll be next year).
For the New York Jets, the future is now. For the New England Patriots, they’re showing the league how to overcome great adversity even AFTER their great QB was lost for the season.
© Copyright 2008 by Steve Kallas. All rights reserved.