The Jets' Key? Start Fast, for Starters

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Do you want to know if this is really going to be the Jets' year? Here's your clue. It's not whether they beat the Jacksonville Jags this Sunday. It's not even whether or not they beat the point spread — 9½ as we go to press, which strikes us as a lot for any NFL team.

What is the real test as to whether the Jets are on the fast track to the Super Bowl or simply to sit glumly in front of their lockers after the AFC championship game for a third consecutive year wondering why they didn't get started a little sooner?

The real test is whether or not the Jets can get started sooner. By sooner, we mean the first quarter.

Do you know how many points the Jets have scored in the first quarter of their last 13 regular season games (including last Sunday's victory over the Cowboys) and three playoff games? Exactly 16.

Let's put it another way: From October 10, 2010, till now, the Jets scored 309 points in the last three quarters and two overtimes. For the math-deficient or for Giants fans, that averages out to about 100 points per quarter for the last three quarters and exactly one point for the first quarter.

Why does this keep happening? The question Rex Ryan needs to ask himself when he looks in the mirror the morning of game day is: Why don't we show up in the first quarter of these games? Why do we have to keep winning games in overtime that we should have put away before halftime?

Why did the Jets need to make late nail-biting comebacks against the Steelers in the AFC championship game (in a loss) or against the Cowboys last Sunday night (in the most thrilling win in two seasons), when they might have put the games away in the first quarter?

The Jets have, by consensus, one of the best teams in the NFL. The best teams are supposed to score early and use their great defense and running games to hold the other team down. But the Jets don't do it that way. They come out of the tunnel in some kind of mental fog that seems to last at least 15 minutes in football time. Week after week they spot the other team a lead and scramble like mad to catch up. Most of the time they do come back, but why do they have to? Why shouldn't they be trying to force the other team to come back?

I don't know. I don't care. All I want is for the Jets to score the first touchdown — make that the first two touchdowns — against the Jags on Sunday and show us that, finally, they're coming to the game ready to play.

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Go to the Voice's Runnin' Scared for more Jockbeat by Allen Barra.


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