Why They Didn't Win: Jets and Bills
By Brian Miller
If you travel back in time, back to the start of free agency last year, the New York Jets and not the Buffalo Bills made the biggest splashes. The Jets spent money and the Bills quietly went about their business. You didn’t hear from them, you didn’t really think about them. When the season got underway, the Bills were the team that was lights out and looked like they could lead the division from week 1 to week 17. That didn’t happen of course but because of the Jets and Bills, the AFC East was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish.
So why didn’t they win?
The Buffalo Bills:
After knocking off Seattle and Jacksonville, two playoff teams from the year before the Bills got the attention from the media. 2 weeks later and they had knocked off the Raiders and Rams to improve to 4-0. With Tom Brady down in NE, the Dolphins not expecting to be a contender, and the Jets looking pedestrian at 2-2 with new QB Brett Favre, it was the Bills division to lose.
The Bills went on to lose to Arizona who by now was raising eyebrows of their own, and then beat the reeling Chargers who would go on to win their division. Then, it all fell apart. The Bills would lose 4 straight starting with the Dolphins, they would lose to the Jets and the Patriots as well. Their 5-1 mark was now 5-5. They would rebound with a win against KC but would lose the following week to San Fran starting a string of losses that would end the season with one surprise win against Denver.
The Bills who seemed like they had it all together at the beginning, beat Seattle and Jacksonville, two of this seasons biggest disappointments, Kansas City who won only two games, St. Louis who only won two games, a surprise win vs. Denver, Oakland who just about everyone beat, and the Chargers.
Why didn’t they win the division? They just were not that good. Finishing 7-9 with a weak schedule from start to finish.
The New York Jets:
As the season neared I made a prediction on Finsradio.net. The Jets would not go to the playoffs, their HC would be fired, and they would be a monumental bust considering the money they payed out in contracts. As it stood then, the Jets wrapped up nearly 68 million dollars in guaranteed money on 6 players. They stole free agent LB Calvin Pace out of Miami before the Phins could get a deal done, offering him some 27 million dollars and a large guarantee. They traded for Brett Favre who had come out of retirement and cut Chad Pennington. They threw money at offensive lineman Alan Faneca making him one of the richest lineman in the NFL. They threw money at FA lineman Damien Woody. The Jets spent their money this year, and dipped into the pools for the next two to three years by guaranteeing the contracts. Pay to win now. It didn’t work. Brett Favre is likely done. Eric Mangini has been fired. The Jets are looking for a new Coach and GM Mike Tannenbaum is not guaranteed to stay put. So what went wrong?
The Jets spent a lot of time on the West Coast. They lost to Oakland in California, they lost to Seattle late in the season that took control out of their hands, they lost to San Francisco and San Diego giving them 4 losses. Still, they held the top spot in the division for most of the season and more than once it seemed they were poised to run the table and skate into not only the playoffs, but to some the Super Bowl.
They shut down and destroyed the Tennessee Titans who at the time were unbeaten. They beat NE by 3 the week before and held all the cards. Then, they got manhandled by Denver at home, flew to SF and lost.
They would rebound against the Bills but it was clearly seen that the Bills beat themselves and the Jets literally escaped with the win. They would fold the rest of the season.
Overpaid, underpaid, doesn’t matter. A lot of money went into a team that was expected to challenge the Patriots for the division and the AFC for the Championship. In the end, a worn out aged Brett Favre was no match for a cast-off QB that came from their own team. Money can’t buy you love, and it can’t buy you a championship.