Volume 93, Issue 16
Friday, September 24, 1999
Falcons and Jets, better luck next year
Another week of National Football League football and another week of injuries. This week's victim was runningback Jamal Anderson of the Atlanta Falcons who is gone for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
This year has now seen two big impact players go down in separate weeks. Anderson and Vinny Testaverde of the New York Jets have both gone down with similar injuries, leaving their team's with big shoes to fill.
Both players had breakthrough years last season and were the reasons their teams did so well. Ironically, they will also be the reasons their teams will do so poorly this year.
Arguments can be made that Testaverde had a lucky year or that Anderson was able to run so well because no one expected him to play with such intensity, but the fact remains the Jets and Falcons just loss all Super Bowl hopes because of these injuries.
Reflect back to two years ago when the Jets had a starting quarterback by the name of Neil O'Donnell and were last in the American Football Conference eastern division. Along comes Testaverde, who until last year had several forgettable NFL seasons. Amazingly, the Jets are able to go deep into the NFL playoffs.
Without Testaverde, the Jets are stuck with Rick Mirer. Does the name sound familiar? He was the player picked after Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots in the 1993 entry draft. The question to be answered now is will Mirer do what Testaverde did last year and turn his career around?
The answer is no.
Mirer has played with losing teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears his whole career. Unlike Bledsoe, Mirer never came close to having the impact he was supposed to have on the league. Now, in New York, he will lead the Jets to another losing season.
Take Mirer, who has no confidence in his playing ability, add it to the pressures of playing in New York the toughest city in which to play professional sports in the world and it equals a quarterback who will be eaten up and spit out, just like he was in Chicago and Seattle.
Now we look at the fate of the Falcons. It was bad enough in the first week when the Falcons lost quarterback Chris Chandler, but now they have lost the reason why they made it to the Super Bowl last year Jamal Anderson. Anderson had more offensive touches than anyone else last year and ran the Falcons through the playoffs.
Can you name the starting runningback who played before Anderson? The Falcons didn't have a running game at all until Anderson broke out last year and had the best season of his career. He changed a primarily passing team into a balanced club who could run the ball as well, or better, than they could pass.
Much like the Jets, the Falcons now have no chance of duplicating last year's results. Without Anderson the team will not be able to run and consequently, has no chance at producing an effective passing attack. What is left for the Falcons? An 8-8 season if Chandler can return from his injury. What a difference a running game can make.
The results of the season for the Falcons and Jets will not be great, but hopefully next season they will return to their former glories. This season the two teams can dream about what could have been if they had Testaverde and Anderson. Who knows, maybe Mirer will have a breakthrough season, but realistically the only records he will likely break will be his career lows.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999