Just after the first 2012 presidential debate between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney was reduced to a ridiculous comment about "Big Bird," I flipped channels and found myself amongst the NFL pundits wondering how it was possible to conclude the Columbus Day holiday weekend with the National Football League's New England Patriots and New York Jets separated by merely one game in the NFL's AFC East ladder.
How could that be, and, how on earth can I find some comparison between a presidential election and the NFL standings? How is it possible for a supposedly educated American public to reduce 90 minutes of heated discussion on the future of the United States of America to an ill-timed remark about balancing the federal deficit by cutting funding to Public Broadcasting?
Just the same, how is it possible for a Super Bowl, juggernaut, power-house team like the Patriots to begin last weekend tied with a team that is going nowhere fast, going south, going backwards rather than forward? The Jets are a team that has no leadership at QB or at head coach, has no running game and is so downright dysfunctional they make the Sopranos look like the Swiss Family Robinson.
The distance between the two teams is nearly as far as the gap in Michael Strahan's two front teeth. The Patriots, with Tom Brady at QB and Bill Belichick as patriarch and head coach are about as far apart from J-E-T-S quarterback Mark Sanchez and know-it-all, blow-it-all NY Jets coach Rex Ryan as Obama is from Romney.
Ah, there is the comparison. The Patriots are to the Jets as Obama is to Romney.
One is based in fact, the other in Fantasyland. One deals with real issues and tries to solve problems while the other lives in a land of vague proclamations while paving a road to an unknown future, stemming from untested plans (Tim Tebow at QB), no foundation (no running game) and suspect foreign policy (defensive unit in disarray). Now, the J-E-T-S surely are reeling from the loss of Darrelle Shavar Revis, undoubtedly amongst the very best defensive backs in the game.
The Teterboro Jets started off 2-1 over the first three weeks of NFL action with victories against the Buffalo Bills (48-28) and the Miami Dolphins (23-20) and a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (27-10). They came back to earth and "Played Like a Jet" when the Revis-less club fell victim to the SF 49ers to the tune of 0-34, with a very telling box score to analyze attached to that contest.
The line-item basics of those stats included the fact Sanchez threw for 103 yards (13-of-29), Shonn Greene ran for a mere 34 yards and wide-out Chaz Schilens led the team in receiving yards with a whopping 45 yards, 22 of which came on one play. Meanwhile, Santonio Holmes, who caught four passes for 29 yards against the Niners, was declared out for the year with a left foot Lisfranc injury which, in layman's terms, is a crushed top of the left foot. The loss of Revis, Holmes and the dismantling by the 49ers became the writing on the wall for the 2012 -- let's hear it - J-E-T-S.
After the 49ers game, Ryan summed it up quite succinctly: "I was going to say we got our butt kicked, but really, we got our ass kicked," said Ryan. "There's no two ways, ins or outs about it and here's the recipe for getting your ass kicked, all right? Two-for-thirteen on third down, that's 15 percent, four turnovers, a blocked punt when they rush one guy and giving up 245 yards rushing. How's that for a recipe?"
On Monday night, the Jets gave the Houston Texans a decent run for their money, losing 23-17 and making it respectable against one of the AFC title contenders along with the Patriots, Baltimore Ravens and a small handful of others such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and, Norv Turner-forbid, the San Diego Chargers. Only a miracle will keep the tie atop the AFC East standings.
The distance will increase as the season rolls on, as NY/NJ faces an emotionally charged Indianapolis Colts team this Sunday while the Patriots travel to the land of the Puget Sound to face the "always tough at home" Seattle Seahawks.
Terry Lyons pens columns for Huffington Post and Foxboro Blog, including his weekly look at "what keeps us up at night" as we watch the NFL season progress. Lyons is publisher and editor-in-chief at Boston-based DigitalSportsDesk - http://www.digitalsportsdesk.com - where he writes on football, pro and college basketball, baseball, hockey and all current events in sports, media and entertainment.