Jets Show What Should Have Been

Playoffs aren't impossible, just highly improbable

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    Jets fans have gotten used to watching their team lose in maddening fashion over the years. It happens so often that it has given rise to the "Same Old Jets" label that the team has worn all too proudly this season. The truth is, however, it's a better fit on the Monday after a rare victory than its been after any of the losses.

    The Jets won 17-6 against the Panthers on Sunday by focusing on ball control and aggressive defense, two things that should have been the focus of the season from the get-go. It shouldn't have taken six losses in seven games for the Jets to realize the fundamental truths about their team, but it makes sense that the Jets would only learn a lesson through abject pain and suffering meted out in small weekly doses.

    The fact that that formula only led to a win because the Panthers made a Jetsian level of mistakes is only more reason why the team should have been playing this way all along. Great teams can go out an beat their opponents up and down the field in impressive fashion, but there have been plenty of good teams over the years that lived and died by making other teams beat them. By holding onto the ball on offense (yes, they turned the ball over three times but still) and attacking on defense, the Jets created a situation in which the Panthers had to beat them. They couldn't and the Jets won.

    Why did it take so long to figure out this equation? We aren't splitting the atom here, after all. Why, after the debacle against the Bills, did it not become clear that this team was better suited for playing it safe? A split against the Dolphins and Jaguars in the weeks after that loss, and both those games were winnable if the coaching staff had come up with a plan like the one in place against the Panthers, would have the Jets at 6-5 right now and truly in the mix for a playoff spot.

    If this sounds familiar, it should. When the Jets were playing themselves out of the playoffs last season, they were doing it by trying to do too much and losing games against teams they could have beaten. Arrogance or ignorance is the cause, but it's mighty frustrating to see that there's not a single person associated with the team who learned a damn thing from it.

    "Same Old Jets" may have been coined as a way to quickly convey the way that the team lost a winnable game, but it really winds up representing so much more. It stands for their habit of doing everything the hard way, either because they're too stupid or too stubborn to realize that the other way leads to better results.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.