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The New York Jets: Weeks 14, 15, and 16

06/01/2011

It is almost too much to take three games at once. And yet, the narrative problem of football comes nicely to the fore when you do. A game may be a single event, but it throws its implications both forward and backward. A gutsy win after a difficult loss makes the loss look better, promises, maybe, to redeem a whole season. A terrible loss to a below average team can, even after a great victory, sully that victory and bring a sense of preordained foreboding to the course of an entire season.

The truth is ever shifting as a football season progresses. The truth is ever mercurial, protean. You want the season to mean something, to show itself as always having been about x or y. Instead, it continues to elude the grasp as a series of wins and losses warp the fabric of your understanding. What is happening, what is going to happen? We think of the job that Socrates did on Euthyphro in the famous dialogue that bears the latter’s name. Poor Euthyphro thinks he knows something about the Gods, about what it means to be holy. Then he runs into Socrates in the market place. He tells Socrates that he has a perfect understanding of piety. Oh brother, you think, now he’s going to get it. And he does get it. Socrates runs him around in circles until poor Euthyphro couldn’t tell his ass from his mouth. Then the final insult. Socrates calls Euthyphro the protean one, the shape shifting sea God whom Menelaus once wrestled in The Odyssey. Socrates accuses Euthyphro of changing his mind and making all things relative. That is when you start to suspect that Socrates really is an asshole. Who knows, maybe Euthyphro knew a thing or two about piety after all.

But I digress. The fact is that there may simply be no “true” Jets this season. There are a number of possible Jets teams that appear and disappear upon the field of play with utter unpredictability. You might have expected a chastened but firm team to emerge after the terrible loss to The Patriots, taking out their vengeance on the Jurassic foes from Miami. Instead, the Jets stumbled over themselves in error and confusion. The offensive line had been zombified. They took no joy in the normally joyful process of hiking the ball and pushing at the meaty defenders rushing toward them. They ignored the snap count. They brooked all rules. The wide receivers ran their routes with lazy indifference. The defense played hard, admittedly, but with no desire for the football. There was no joy against Miami. It was a game in which sleepwalkers were mauled by dinosaurs in a slow-motion ballet with no music.

Then came Pittsburgh and the snow. Suddenly the Jets seemed sharp again. The bracing icy wind at Three Rivers had done something inside them. Or maybe it was simply time. Time and forgetting and the capacity for the human spirit to move forward even after so much disappointment. It is said that Rex Ryan made an impassioned speech to the team before that game. It is said that Rex Ryan knows the heart of his team. Perhaps that is true. Do you know the signal that the refs use when a team has scored a safety? They swing their hands up above their head and bring them together like the ending of some Balinese dance. Well, the Jets scored a safety in the final minutes of the game in Pittsburgh. It didn’t end the game, officially, but it ended it emotionally. Jason Taylor grabbed Pittsburgh running back Mewelde Moore by the scruff and threw him to the ground. Suddenly all the Jets erupted into Balinese dance. Rex Ryan and all the coaches were doing the moves of a Balinese dance. Everyone’s hands were held high in prayer to Rangda. Couldn’t you hear the gamelan?

From Pittsburgh to Chicago the Jets moved even further into the winter embrace of the Midwest. Somehow, an offense that could barely move the ball forward half the field around Thanksgiving was in full motor. LT would scoot forward for five yards. A quick out to one of the wide receivers would net another seven. Perhaps a seam route to Dustin for a bigger gain here and there. This is offense, offense. We remember it. And then the defense collapses. Fie! Fie on’t! The defense was finally to have its wretched day. The secondary was finally to be exposed as unable to handle that extra crossing route through the middle of the field. Some say they expected it. But how could they? How could anyone know that Jay Cutler would outperform our sainted Revis? Jay Cutler was born to throw interceptions, and Darrell Revis was born to be the smiling recipient of the interceptions that Cutler was born to throw. And still none of this borning and fatedness ever came to pass. No one is born for anything. Take your piety to the law courts all you like, Euthyphro, there is no justice, no rewards to be found in heaven or on earth.

This brings us to the final subject that must be addressed. Our coach, our Assisi, our Rex Ryan has a foot fetish. Or his wife has a foot fetish and Rex merely does the necessary camera work. The two seem to have posted videos of their fetish on the internet, which is where fetish videos are, after all, supposed to go. Rex refuses to either confirm or deny the story, which the world has taken more or less as a confirmation, a position with which I am entirely comfortable. It is appropriate for a Franciscan like Ryan to be a fetishist. Assisi was given to high highs and low lows, a manic depressive saint, I suppose. But his love, when he felt it, was extraordinary and knew no bounds. I mean no base puns here, but to worship the foot, as a football coach, strikes me as a brilliant bit of literalism. It is all about the feet, after all. That Rex should find such joy, even erotic outlet, in the feet of his own wife, is an inspiration really. It is a story that people should tell their children, that should be narrated on the stained glass windows of the churches of the future. The holy, blessed feet of Mrs. Ryan. She’s not an unattractive woman. She has, in fact, beautiful feet.

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Morgan Meis has been observing the NY Jets the whole season through. Read his previous game reports here >>

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