Jets Finish 4-12; Many Questions Heading into Offseason
One year following a 10-win and a playoff berth in his rookie season, Jets head coach Eric Mangini has to now accept that he may not the 'Man-Genius' that everyone was totting him to be. Finishing 4-12 will do that to you, especially in a town like New York. But he is staunch in standing behind his team, regardless of the disappointing outcome.
"I've been very happy with the way these guys have been consistent," Mangini said. "It's easy to when things aren't going well to come in and not approach things the same way that you normally would. These guys have been consistent in the way that they have studied, with weights, practice, the way that they prepare.
"We've all been focused on the same thing which is improving our execution and making progress," Mangini continued. "Overall the group has done an outstanding job in some very difficult situations."
One of those difficult situations has been the inconsistency and many questions surrounding the most important position on the team. Kellen Clemens, the second-year quarterback, once again did not impress, although he did lead the Jets to a 13-10 overtime victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the final game of the season.
It was a brutal game, not only in weather conditions, but also for the people that chose to come out and witness it in person, or even on television. The Chiefs wrapped up their own horrible season, finishing with the same record as the Jets after making the playoffs themselves last season.
Part of that brutality was Clemens, who did not even throw the biggest pass of the day. That came from running back Leon Washington, who hit Wallace Wright on a 36-yard heave off a direct snap, setting up Gang Green's only touchdown. Clemens did not throw an interception, but finished with a weak 13 for 25 for only 115 yards.
For what it is worth, Clemens did see some progress in his season. "There has been progress," he said in the locker room after the game. "There are some areas where I need to improve. In my position, you are evaluated on one thing and that is winning.
"Unfortunately, this year we lost more than we won," Clemens followed up with. "There is plenty of work to be done. We will look at all the tapes and find the areas where we need to focus on the most and get to work."
Another question will be if Chad Pennington returns. The reigning NFL Comeback Player of the Year was benched in favor of Clemens, and it will be up to the coaching staff and general manager Mike Tannenbaum if he will be suiting up at Hofstra next year. If the staff has enough faith in Clemens, it is speculated that Pennington will be moved.
"We'll have to look at all the different games together and view it as a whole body of work as opposed to just this game or any of the individual games that he played in," Mangini said in his post game press conference in response to a question about Clemens' status heading into the offseason.
The draft will decide where the Jets address many of their holes, and they will select in the sixth spot this coming April. The experts are calling this a quarterback-heavy draft, so perhaps the Jets can look to find one in the mid to later rounds.
Clemens may be a 'hold-down-the-fort' quarterback, but did not show enough in ample time to prove that he is the long term answer. A weak offensive line did not help his play, but he did seem to hold onto the ball too long, causing sacks, turnovers and penalties committed by his teammates.
If the Jets do decide to pick a quarterback, keep one name in mind - Colt Brennan. The University of Hawaii graduate finished third in this year's Heisman Trophy Award voting and is a NCAA record holder. Because he played a run-and-shoot offense in college, he is not looked at as a 'can't-miss' in the pros. That may cause him to fall down to a late first or early second round pick. The Jets may be able to acquire another pick with the rumor that linebacker Jonathan Vilma may be dealt away, and the possibility of Pennington being dealt away.
However the team addresses the position, expect changes to be made. They cannot go into 2008 with the same tandem and expect better results.