Throwback Thursday is a feature at Turn On The Jets, where we take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about great Jets games in the past against their upcoming opponent. (Word to not take seriously in that last sentence: “great”)
So yeah, the Jets’ quarterback situation is a mess. Where we’re at right now, with Greg McElroy starting in Week 15, Mark Sanchez likely never taking a meaningful snap for this team again and Tim Tebow standing on the sideline with his fists on his hips while a nation wonders how a professional sports team could be so mean and unfair to a professional athlete…well, the disaster didn’t start this season. It didn’t start last season. When something is this much of a mess, it’s origins can be traced far back. We can probably go even further back than we will today, but let’s head on back to 2008.
The Jets just came off a 4-12 season with an iffy quarterback situation going forward (When has that EVER happened to the Jets?!) Chad Pennington was all sorts injured, and Kellen Clemens didn’t show a ton in his second season. But likely, the Jets were going to head into the 2008 season, coach Eric Mangini’s third, with Pennington and Clemens battling it out in training camp for the job. That is, until owner Woody Johnson said “The Giants just won the Super Bowl, we need to make a splash”. Enter the spokesman for Wrangler Jeans, the Pride of Gulfport, Mississippi, Brett Lorenzo Favre.
/Gives up on life when realizing Brett Favre’s middle name is Lorenzo
So the Jets crapped on Pennington right before training camp (funny how there weren’t people all up in arms about the Jets’ treatment of one of their best QBs in team history, yet, they somehow owe the country an explanation for why Tim Tebow hasn’t been given a shot), and handed the keys to Favre. The early returns were okay, the Jets won their opener in Miami before falling at home to the Matt Cassel-led Patriots. In Week 3, the Jets visited the San Diego Chargers.
At the time…
Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S. – “Whatever You Like” by T.I. This song had three different multi-week stints atop the charts, which is an incredible accomplishment for a song built around a hook that sounds like a slogan for a fast foot chain.
No. 1 Movie in the U.S. – “Lakeview Terrace” starring Samuel L. Jackson. The IMDB description reads: “An LAPD officer will stop at nothing to force out the interracial couple who just moved in next door.” Well, then.
Jets’ Record Before: 1-1
Chargers’ Record before: 1-1
The Jets couldn’t have asked for a better start, as David Barrett intercepted Philip Rivers on the Chargers’ third play from scrimmage and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to put the Jets up 7-0. San Diego came right back and got three points back, and Thomas Jones coughed the ball up on the ensuing possession to give the Chargers good field position. A few plays later, Rivers hit mike Tolbert from a yard out, 10-7 Chargers. And then Brett Favre went and reminded Jets fans why they should temper their excitement just a tiny bit.
On the first play of the second quarter, with the Jets at midfield, Favre tossed one out towards the sideline that was caught and ran in for a touchdown by Antonio Cromartie. In September of 2008, Antonio Cromartie played for the San Diego Chargers. 17-7. The rout probably would have been on if not for Leon Washington, who returned the kickoff to the Chargers’ six yard line. Favre found Laveranues Coles and the Jets had life down just 17-14 despite not taking very much care of the ball.
Sensing the wild nature of the game and rightly taking advantage of it, the Chargers went for a surprise onside kick and recovered it. Five plays later, Chris Chambers caught a 27-yard score. But fear not Jets fans! You’re never out of a game when Favre is your quarterback! Except for those NOT RARE times when he throws the ball up for grabs and it’s picked off, which is what happened on the Jets’ next possession. San Diego took a 31-14 lead into the halftime break on Antonio Gates’ 6-yard TD catch with under three minutes left.
If the Jets had any chance they needed a stop right out of the gate in the second half, but that’s not what they got. The Chargers went 79 yards in seven plays capped off by a short touchdown run by future Jet LaDainian Tomlinson to make it 38-14. That was about it for the meaningful action, although Favre kept throwing and throwing and throwing. He finished with a classic Brett Favre statline: 30-of-42 for 271 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs. After all was told, it ended 48-29 Chargers.
I’ll say this for the one-year Favre Jets. At the very least, they were exciting. If you’re going to lose games, I’d rather lose them like the way the Jets lost this game. At least they were putting up some points early and things were actually, you know, happening on offense. Unlike this year’s Jets, who make you wonder if you weren’t paying attention and the NFL decided to all of a sudden play games on a field half the size.
Of course, what happened during the 2008 season and beyond was classic Jets. They were a Super Bowl favorite at 8-3 only to collapse and finish 9-7 while Pennington led the Dolphins to the Division title. After the season, Favre announced his retirement only to un-retire again and have an MVP-like season for the Minnesota Vikings. So, Pennington leaves the Jets and succeeds, Favre leaves the Jets and succeeds, so what do the Jets do? Trade up for Mark Sanchez, of course.
And when we look back on the Mark Sanchez Era, there is no doubt that the 2009 and 2010 seasons will be the one silver lining. A lot of people believe those Jets teams won in spite Sanchez, but they didn’t win in spite of Favre in 2008. Instead of building on the early success of Sanchez, the Jets bungled the operation completely, and on top of that Sanchez played like trash for two years, playing himself out of a career.
So as the Jets embark on another quarterback journey this Sunday as McElroy makes his first career start, I can only wait with bated breath to see how the Jets can screw up another quarterback. And if they don’t screw McElroy up in this short remainder of the season, based on past history one can only think it’s only time until they do. Or, for that matter, ruin whoever else ends up taking snaps next season.