I’m going to miss the Jets in the playoffs this January. And you should, too.
No Rex Ryan building his team up as finally being Super Bowl worthy. No Bart Scott blowups at the opponent after the game like his epic against Bill Belichick in the playoff upset last January. No Mark Sanchez ill-timed center snap fumbles leading to easy points. No Santonio Holmes meltdowns when the New York spotlight gets too hot.
Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly why they didn’t make it to begin with.
But I’m here to tell you I’m going to miss that, starting this weekend.
Look, no disrespect to the Texans, who are a neat little story with a third-string quarterback coming back from injury to lead the team to its first division title and playoff appearance in franchise history.
And certainly not to belittle what the Bengals have done in going from a 4-12 joke in 2010 to 9-7 wild card a year later with a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton and wide receiver in A.J. Green, who should share the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Many Patriots fans were telling me two weeks ago how great it would be if the Jets made the playoffs, only to have their butts kicked by Brady & Co. in an epic playoff payback.
Still, the Jets' meltdown this week gave us something.
They have proven to be far more compelling than the uplifting stories of Drew Brees beginning his playoff run, the Lions in the postseason three seasons after 0-16, the Texans in the playoffs for the first time or Cincy’s rookie Batman and Robin act that have led the Bengals to the postseason.
There was Scott flipping the bird to a photographer on his way out on “baggie” day on Monday, when players clean out their lockers.
There was Holmes being escorted out by Jets PR officials, not speaking to the media to address the “quitting” allegations of a day before.
Then there was third-string quarterback Greg McElroy taking this shot at his teammates and the organization on an Alabama sports radio station on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely not a fun place to be, I can assure you,” McElroy said of the Jets’ locker room. “It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals. And I think that’s maybe the nature of the NFL. But there were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost as long as they got theirs, they had a good game individually. And that’s the disappointing thing.
“It’s going to take a lot to kind of come together next year,” McElroy added. “I think the fact that we struggled at times this year really led to a really corrupt mindset within the locker room. But I think we’re going to regroup and I know that we’ll be a better team because of the trials and tribulations this year.”
And that was from a quarterback who spent the entire season on injured reserve after a nasty thumb injury in the preseason finale in September.
No one enjoyed the meltdown in Florham Park, N.J., more than their neighbors 200 miles to the northeast -- and rightfully so.
This week on Dennis & Callahan, Tom Brady admitted he paid attention to how the Jets came apart at the seams.
“Yeah, there’s a few websites I like where they have all the New York papers,” Brady admitted. “I read a few of those articles. I would be remiss not to.
"They had a tough year. I’m glad we beat them twice. That was a huge key to our season, that win against the Jets in the Meadowlands. We’ll see them next year. They’re not going anywhere. I’m sure they’ll come back with just as much confidence next year.”
And that -- Jets players and coaches -- is how you handle the complete and utter unraveling of your bitterest rival.
You say, “Aw, shucks, it sure would be great to see them do better, and they’ll be back next year.” Then hang up the phone and laugh to your heart’s content. But the Jets have long acted like the NFL -- and to a lesser extent, the Patriots -- owed them something.
They thought they surely would have earned that after last season when they eliminated the big, bad Patriots on their home turf. But that’s not how it works.
The 2011 season -- if nothing else -- is proof positive of that. Keep your mouth shut until you at least get to the title game of the sport, then maybe win one.
1969 was such a long time ago.
This from Twitter:
@ThatBaseballGuy @Trags the nfl playoffs will b quieter w/o rex and co. running their mouths
Yes, yes it will. The focus will actually be on some intriguing matchups, not personalities, just the way the Patriots like it.
@missedgehead @Trags Hey, if O'Brien accepts the Penn State job, what will the Pats do as far as offensive coordinator?
Josh McDaniels seems to be the clear, odds-on favorite for this gig. As Peter King and Albert Breer reported Friday, the Rams have given their permission to allow McDaniels to interview and take the chance to return to the place where he helped Brady and the Patriots put up pinball numbers in 2007. The Patriots will definitely speak with him. Only logical.
Which got me to thinking… Who would you like to see as the new man in charge of the offense, after of course Tom Brady himself.
The responses from Twitter nation:
@RSN80 @Trags Peyton Manning
@tomwatsonpats @Trags @missedgehead Bring back Josh McDaniels, and let him be the successor to BB when TB12 and BB leave together.
@spirocks @Trags brady in no huddle has been the teams best OC for the last 9 weeks.
@RossKrazz @Trags They should look at Les Miles. Has a successful program at LSU and may be heading toward NFL. Pats might be a good fit for him.
And, my personal favorite …
@JCLedge @Trags Maybe Josh comes back to BB and pulls a Happy Gilmore coming back to Chubbs. "I'm stupid, you're smart. I was wrong, you were right.
Will O’Brien’s departure be a distraction this week?
Easy: No freaking way.
This team has been through far worse in terms of distractions before. Was there any more spotlight or distraction possible than a 16-0 regular season in 2007? I was in the media workroom for the daily camera count that would approach 25 every single day.
That mob would move its way into the locker room. There were reporters asking the “undefeated” questions day after day.
This team’s coach and quarterback have even been through coordinators leaving for other jobs in the middle of a playoff run before. Remember 2004? That’s when Charlie Weis left his offensive coordinator’s job to accept the job at Notre Dame. At the same time, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel interviewed for, was offered and accepted the head coaching gig with the Browns.
That playoff run ended with the third Super Bowl title in four years.
On Friday, there was one measly news-side reporter in a hollow and quiet locker room asking Julian Edelman and Nick McDonald -- yes that Nick McDonald -- about distractions.
I wanted to burst out my best Jim Mora or Allen Iverson (I’m more of a Philly guy) and laugh out loud, “Distractions?! You talking about distractions?!” But I decided my credential and respect were more important than working on an improv routine. So, I refrained.
But you get the idea. The Patriots are going to be fine this coming week. There’s more than enough ammo in the offensive artillery they’re taking into the playoffs. Brady, Gronk, Welker (assuming his ribs are OK) and Hernandez lead the charge.
These Patriots have a huge point to prove and they know they need to be firing on all cylinders. Bill O’Brien shouldn’t need to raise his voice too much this week.
He can save that for next fall in Happy Valley.
My fearless predictions for wild card weekend:
Bengals 20, Texans 19: This time it's Andy Dalton - not T.J. Yates - leading a last-second victory. Their reward, a trip to Foxboro and a date with the top-seed Patriots next Saturday night at Gillette.
Saints 56, Lions 55: Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford each throw eight TD passes. Lions miss the PAT that would force OT.
Giants 17, Falcons 14: Eli Manning hits an open Mario Manningham on a fade pattern to the corner with 36 seconds left in the fourth when he's stunned there's no safety giving help. (Yeah, I know, cheap shot).
Steelers 13, Broncos 8: Big Ben hobbles into the end zone in the final 30 seconds and Tebows, capping a miraculous comeback in the ugliest playoff game in NFL history.