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Is This Anything Like Burying Your Head in the Sand?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 18:20 EST Leave a comment Go to comments

Jets vs. PatriotsModern life offers many methods of escaping from your problems. You can face them head-on and try to solve them, you can pretend they’re no big deal, or you can simply ignore them. Professional sports teams have the same options after a poor performance.

I suppose that after the humiliating defeat the New York Jets suffered at the hands of my New England Patriots last Monday night, you can’t really blame the Jets for trying whatever they can think of, however symbolic, to move on. But this, a move the New York Post refers to as a Rex-orcism, seems just plain goofy.

“[Jets head coach Rex Ryan] told us to go outside and we were all saying, ‘What are we doing? Going on a field trip or something?'” [cornerback Darrelle] Revis said. “The hole was right there, already dug, there with the dirt on the side and he threw the ball in the hole. It was a funeral for a game ball.”

Ooooo-kay. If I were the coach, I might want to have a funeral for my quarterback, he of three interceptions, or the defense, which allowed an almost unbelievable six Pats touchdowns. SIX touchdowns! That’s a low-scoring basketball game. What about the Jets’ supposedly superior defense?

Coming into week 13, the Jets allowed opponents to score an average of 17 points, and that includes their two losses in which opponents scored a meager 10 and 9 points, respectively. The high against them was 27 points by the Houston Texans against the Jets in week 11. But Houston has a losing record against all other opponents, as do six of the other nine teams the Jets have beaten. In fact, taking the Patriots out of the equation, every team the Jets have beaten has fewer than seven wins, and four of those teams have fewer than four wins. The combined record of Jets’ opponents (again, excluding the Pats) against all other teams is 44-66.

Sure, New England has played many of the same lousy teams the Jets have, but the combined record of their opponents against all other teams is slightly better at 47-63, with the Pats having faced and beaten Pittsburgh (9-2 against other opponents). Taking the Jets out of the equation, the Patriots have beaten two teams with seven or more wins against other opponents, to the Jets’ zero.

My point isn’t that the Patriots are all that, but simply that the Jets’ record is more heavily weighted by a low caliber of opponents than New England’s record is. Hell, even when the Jets beat the Patriots back in week 2, it was by two touchdowns, not six.

I’m not nearly knowledgable enough about football to perform analyses beyond what I’ve done above. But I heard plenty of football analysts who know more than I ever will predict that Monday night’s game would be a close one. That it wasn’t suggests Jets weaknesses (or Patriots strengths, or both) that the experts missed. Tune into Boston sports radio and you’ll hear talk upon talk about how Bill Belichick’s goal in the regular season is to get his team into and ready for the playoffs, because the playoffs are a fresh start. How good or bad the team was before is irrelevant; what counts is how good it is in the games where a loss means you go home until next year.

Did Monday night’s blowout showcase a New England team well-prepared for post-season action, and a New York Jets team in disarray? That’s for others to judge and time to tell. All I know is that if the last game was any indication, the Jets need a lot more than a funeral for a game ball, unless they also want to bury their own hopes for this season.

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