After a devasting 20-17 overtime loss at top-seeded Pittsburgh in an AFC Divisional Playoff game (link to every story imaginable), it seems the only heated football discussion in this city that remains (other than that between fans of the remaining four out-of-town teams) centers around scapegoating the reasons for the team's failure in what turned out to be quite a winable contest.
Because Gothamist listens to an unhealthy amount of sports talk radio (so much that we recognize Jerry Recco and Larry Hardesty in person even though they are seldom seen), we'll save you some time on the blame game.
Sure, the easiest target by far is placekicker Doug Brien, whose two missed field goals in the final two minutes of regulation might make him look like football's version of a Bill Buckner at least to the local novice fan. But Heinz Field is possibly one of the worst places for any kicker, and Brien has proven to at least be a solid pro - for which you would need a solid replacement, or risk suffering dire consequences. Expect him to stay, and don't mess with his psyche any further. Oh yeah, it was Brien's foot which brought the Jets into this round.
Then there's coach Herm Edwards, whose player-friendly attitude is only counterbalanced by the ineptitude his teams occassionally exhibit when it comes to clock management and things like keeping the right amount of men on the field in certain snap-decision situations. A stand-up guy, he's generally a credit to professional sports (except for that fracas with an assistant coach), a perfect face for a club which wants its very own stadium more than life itself.
Well, it looks like the real most obvious choice - offensive coordinator Paul Hackett will be the first to take a proverbial bullet. To say fans have wanted him out for long time would be an understatement. It seemed that only the loyalty of Chad Pennington and Edwards had kept him from the chopping block a year ago, but not anymore.
At the very least, this was the season in which Jets fans realized that Pennington is simply not a great quarterback. The real question is whether he can lead the team to a championship.
Now, what was that about getting a tight end and re-signing John Abraham and LaMont Jordan? This will be an interesting offseason. And when all is said and done, Curtis Martin may go down as the greatest Jet ever, or at least the second.
Photo by REUTERS, John Hess