I am still reporting from the Bad Place, as Huck called it. I watched the Miami Dolphins fail to come back against the Ravens in the Wild Card, but it had only a minimal effect. I struggled with a desire to see Chad Pennington do well. Even Phil Simms struggled with instinctively saying "this Jets offense" when he talks about Chad Pennington's team. My wife made a sound when she saw Chad brooding over a second half turnover deep in Baltimore territory. Poor Chad. I am sure that the weary and senseless troubles in Gaza are a better example of what constitutes Hell, but as train-set miniature versions go, being a Jets fan sucks.
One person with whom I work suggested that the Jets' circumstances aren't really hell by definition but are more apropos of "Insanity."
"You know what the definition of insanity is, don't you, Marty?" my colleague asked.
Many discussions I've had lately seem to begin with that question. Maybe its predominance is the product of discussions concerning the failure of the Big Three, or the Detroit Lions.
"It's doing the same dumb thing that doesn't work over and over and expecting a different result?" I offer.
He nods his head as if I haven't said anything. "It's doing the same dumb thing that doesn't work over and over and expecting a different result."
But I shake my head. I disagree. The point was that the Jets were hoping to avoid insanity with Chad at quarterback. Chad's lob throws, his limited efficacy in the clutch, his jittery motions in the pocket, his spent body - all of this was going to be history. The Jets had unburdened themselves of a lot of money on a better offense and defense. They needed someone else at the helm of the offense. And now we still do, though don't mistake our current surroundings with an asylum. We are in Hell. On Hockey Night in Canada, Peter King said he had spoken to Brett Favre "for about a half an hour" and King got the sense that Favre will retire for good now. (Peter King always always characterizes his discussion with football players as if they are counseling sessions. He always says things like, "...and we agreed that..." as if the player needed King's input on an important decision.) At the beginning of the season, we had Mangini and Favre. Now we have Kellen Clemens and a coach to be named later. Yep. Happy New Year. From Hell.
Now that you and I have already taken the Inferno tour of our past head coaches, recall that the last time the Jets gave total control of their field and front office operations to a head coach was when Bill Parcells helped us to win the AFC East with the best record in franchise history before and since. Before then, Leon Hess insisted on having a "football man" alongside his coaches, like the late Dick Steinberg who advised Bruce Coslet. Then there were the geniuses advising Rich Kotite. The constant flurry of last summer was exactly the kind of thing three different people nosing themselves into the decision might have come up with. If Eric Mangini had been coach and GM would we have been Favre-less? If the Jets now offered coach and GM in the one job offer, then maybe it would be more appealing to Bill Cowher, Mike Shanahan or (one would presume, God help us) Bill Parcells. Or Tony Dungy, if he's looking.
Is the idea to find the next Mike Smith or Tony Sparano (each of whom lost in the first round of the playoffs)? Was Eric Mangini supposed to be that guy? So who's next? Mike Westhoff or Brian Schottenheimer? Heavens. The spectacle of seeing Westhoff prowling the sidelines next season is rather cinematic but terrible all the same. According to Jay Glazer, the Jets are the franchise sending candidates through the heaviest battery of interviews, all in anticipation of finding the best fit for their boss, Robert Wood Johnson. (I don't call him "Woody"). Personally, I want Steve Spagnuolo; my wife's been helping me practice saying his name since she also has a Sicilian surname with a silent g. He also does not carry the taint of the Jets' failure of this past season.
But in Hell, you have no right to dictate your terms of punishment. It is delivered to you. Raised as I was as a devoutly religious child, I subconsciously hold onto a sense of being a sinner in the hands of a proud and angry God. The retribution dispensed to us for last summer's pride is to sit here now in this circle of the Bad Place. We'll pick somebody who will still be struggling to lead us out of this self-imposed darkness just as Cowher, Dungy, Shanahan, and everyone else who demands front office and field control become available again.