The advantage of being a Jets fans has often been hopelessness; no matter what happens, you assume the worst. This year, though, with Brett Favre, other new players, and a big win over New England, most Jets watchers were more optimistic than ever. They shouldn’t have been. The final confirmation: At 10 a.m., the team will fire coach Eric Mangini.
That the Jets’ loss to the Dolphins yesterday was ultimately irrelevant — they would have missed the playoffs even had they won — didn’t make it any more tolerable. Favre had a few bright moments but was mostly awful, giving up three interceptions while Chad Pennington (amazingly, now the One Who Got Away) threw two touchdowns and led a stunning Dolphins team to the AFC East championship. Last week, the Jets seemed to subconsciously plan for this loss. Owner Woody Johnson refused to give Mangini the notorious “vote of confidence,” and Favre, aware of his failings for perhaps the first time, began complaining of phantom pain in his shoulder that might force him to retire. Maybe he was trying to start another guessing game that would last all off-season: Will he, or won’t he? One suspects that this time no one will bother to ask.
The only good news? The Jets’ loss pushed the 11-5 Patriots out of the playoffs. But that’s a small comfort. Mangini gets the ax today, and you can expect Brett Favre to retire within the month. The Jets will officially have start from scratch. Again. The end of this season, though, comes as a relief.