Easy therapy for flight anxiety with the Jets

Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass as Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Adolphus Washington (92) rushes during the second half at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass as Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Adolphus Washington (92) rushes during the second half at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

New York Jets fans are suffering. They have flight anxiety. Don’t give in to your anxiety Jets fans. We can beat this, together.

Flight anxiety is a real thing. The sufferer begins a flight with, perhaps, some focus words or phrases to help them make it through. On takeoff, their grip closes a little tighter around the arms of the seat. This turns to a white knuckle grip accompanied by fervent prayer once a turbulent five hundred foot dip hits. Sweat trickles down the forehead into an eye. One desperately wants to land safely; one has no control over the outcome. This is pretty much life at the current moment for fans of the New York Jets.

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This experience aptly describes the Jets fan after watching New England dismantle Houston and the Jets get Andy Reided in Arrowhead. It doesn’t help that they’re playing the Seahawks and their Legion of Boom, later on, today.

Let this article, then, serve as therapy.

The first element to any decent talk therapy is to validate the feelings of the patient. Jets fans, you are right to be concerned.

We can begin with New England. For a football connoisseur, this was a terrible game—something like ordering a high priced wine and getting swill. For a Jets fan who was hoping the Texans would take the air out of New England, it was maddening. Is New England so good that it doesn’t matter who their quarterback is?

Then came Arrowhead. Wow! Has any team ever been so unraveled by the Chiefs? I mean, at least in the modern era?

However, to begin to feel better, we will need to gain some distance from the problems of last week, to look at them objectively, as if we are not fans and these are not our pains but exist somewhere outside of us.

To help us do this, we need an objective scale to measure what our anxiety level ought to be. Perhaps an old voice can help, Voltaire and his little novel Candide. There we find the phrase, “the best of all possible worlds.” True, it is used ironically, but we will use it to mark the positive extreme of our scale.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for over 300 yards and Matt Forte punching in three touchdowns: Best of all possible worlds. Come Friday, you feel optimistic, perhaps whistle a little as you make your way to work. Buy your staff donuts; heck, throw in some coffee.

Candide has another term we can use for the opposite end of our spectrum, namely, “disembowelment.” Sadly any number of people get disemboweled in Candide.

Fitzpatrick throws six interceptions; the Jets fumble twice more: disembowelment. You are grumpy to loved ones, curt with colleagues and perhaps like Scrooge resist all incitements for pleasant human interaction or generous feeling.

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So, the ends of our spectrum: Best of all possible worlds; disembowelment.

Watching the Patriots decimate the Texans on Thursday night certainly could raise anxiety levels. The primary cause of anxiety is their execution of fundamentals. It is nearly flawless.

On an important play against Houston, New England ran a pull with the right guard going left. The center got a good push; the Houston linebacker was late and high getting to the gap.

By the time he arrived, the New England guard had a full head of steam, stunned the linebacker and drove him back about five yards. Running back LeGarrette Blount scooted through a gaping hole for a first down.

Later in the same game, Blount runs left then up the field for a 41-yard touchdown. The blocking from all players, including the lead fullback and the wide receivers, was sensational.

As football fans, we should admire these plays. They are things of beauty. A combination of speed, intelligence, and precision. If you put the New England performance to music, it will look like heavyweight ballet (does Ballet have weight categories?).

As a Jets fan, you’ve been disemboweled.

Another play that should concern Jets fans was one of the plays that missed, but only because New England was playing their third string quarterback, Jacoby Brissett. This is a play we have seen many times from New England.

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Sep 22, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) makes an adjustment at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The entire line blocks right as if the play is a run. It looks exactly like other New England run plays. The timing is exquisite with the feet of the linemen in near perfect sync: up, pivot right, down, lean into block move right (watch it in slow motion). But it is not a run play. Instead, wide receiver Chris Hogan slips out and runs deep right to left. The run fake sells like water in the dessert. On this occasion, however, Brissett misses his target long. Brady does not miss this pass.

Jets fan: eviscerated but smiling at the missed attempt.

Now let’s get a little relief, shall we? Part of what the Patriots noticed about Houston was that they are undersized along their defensive line. Sure, they have talent, but mainly at the first level and the outside.

This is a perfect match for the Patriots’ offensive line. The Jets’ defensive line is no such perfect match for the Patriots. Too much beef and too many different players who will remain fresh. It also helps that the Jets have seen the Patriots’ fake run play a thousand times by now. They should not be fooled.

This is not the best of all possible worlds for sure. However, Jets fans need not worry about their internal organs. Save the prayers for those who need them and lighten the grip on that seat.

At the opposite end of our scale, the Jets game against Buffalo showed the real strengths of this team. As my colleague at The Jet Press has noted, the rise of Quincy Enunwa makes this offense very difficult to defend. Double or bracket coverage on receivers Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall will leave a third receiver with ample room to operate. Enunwa scorched the Bills.

In addition to Enunwa, the Jets unleashed Forte in the Buffalo game. Many fans have complained about offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s abandonment of the run too early in the Kansas City game. True, they struggled to get yards, but there is something to this complaint. Forte had some chunk plays and more use of him and Powell would have kept the defensive backs a bit more honest. Instead, they read Fitzpatrick’s eyes all day.

Against Buffalo, Forte brought the best of all possible worlds. He gained one hundred yards with three touchdowns.

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Sep 15, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets running back Matt Forte (22) runs for a touchdown as Buffalo Bills strong safety Aaron Williams (23) pursues during the second half at New Era Field. The Jets beat the Bills 37-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

But Jets fans are right to wonder exactly what this offense will look like. In addition, when the Jets offense dominates the way they did against the Bills, they should run away with the game. However, the defense played badly against a few deep throws and allowed Buffalo to stay close. This was reminiscent of the Bengals game which they still should have won.

So, overall a nice, all-inclusive resort, but not the best of all possible worlds.

Obviously, Jets fans have some real concerns. But we should notice some of the oddities—other than the horrendous schedule—that have affected their season thus far.

First, a missed PAT and a blocked twenty-two-yard field goal in the Cincinnati game. This will not happen often.

Second, while the game against the Chiefs was awful, it is nonetheless true that Kansas City failed to score an offensive point in the second half. Zero. For all their domination, they only scored seventeen offensive points all game. The Jets’ defense adjusted and made some solid plays.

Third, the Jets rookie linebackers were susceptible to Reid’s offense. His offense attacked the linebacker corps all night. That they did much better in the second half suggests they are learning and will get better.

And let’s look at that team they lost to. Is this a uniquely bad beating the Jets took here? It would seem so. After all, they gave up the ball eight times. It’s a wonder the score wasn’t worse.

However, if memory serves, another team suffered an even worse loss, also fairly early in the season (Week 4). Yes, yes, that’s right. It was 2014 and a team from Foxborough came to Arrowhead. Now I remember. That team, headed by Tom Brady in fact, left Arrowhead with their tails between their legs after a 41-14 disembowelment, evisceration and perhaps even a lobotomy for the ages.

In case you think the loss was not as bad as the Jets’ last week, feel free to look at the 2014 press. The Pats gave up over 300 yards in the first half! They scored zero points through the first thirty minutes. Tight end Travis Kelce had 93 yards and a touchdown while the Kansas City running attack destroyed New England’s defense. The game was so bad and over so early, the Pats pulled Brady. He had two interceptions (one a pick-six) and a lost fumble with 159 yards passing.

The following day, Bleacher report filed this eulogy: “Embarrassing MNF Blowout Loss to Chiefs Sounds Death Knell for Patriots Dynasty.” Noting that Brady might have suffered his first performance-related benching in this game, author Ty Schalter also had it that “Brady is no longer a difference-making quarterback.” Additionally, the prediction of Schalter was that the Patriots would struggle to finish over .500.

Now this is not to mock the writer. Many shared these sentiments after this game. Watching the game, it was difficult to think anything else. And if the season was judged after the fourth game, it would have been accurate. Alas, it is not. There is a lot more season to go.

Of course, the kicker: as much as it pains me to recall, the washed up dynasty won the Super Bowl that year.

Why does this happen in Arrowhead?

The short answer: I don’t know.

What I do know is that when Reid coaches against the AFC East, bad things happen to them. He has now won his last nine games against AFC East teams. Most but not all of these were in Arrowhead.

What all of this adds up to is some anxiety relief. The season is young. The Jets will improve as the season goes on and they get used to playing with one another. The Jets have not been eviscerated; they are still alive and well. We can hope that they will soon begin to play like a true contender. I am not sure this will happen this week, but I do believe that by season’s end, this will be a very good team—a playoff team.

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Some anxiety will remain Jets fans. We may need more sessions in the future. But take heart (and perhaps a Dramamine). This team is well-coached, well-managed and will only get better as the season progresses.

And remember, flying is really fun!