If you were writing the script for the Jets 31-23 win over the Dolphins in Miami, you would probably not have conjured up as good a twist as what happened in reality: Braylon Edwards – the guy who got in trouble with a DWI last week – turned in the key performance that helped push the Jets to victory. Instead of sipping an alcoholic beverage through a straw and landing himself in the pokey, Braylon Edwards was the straw that stirred the drink in the Jets win.
Should the Jets and their fans be happy they got out of Miami with a victory? You bet your bottom dollar. There is the other side of the story though, the thing that got away from everyone in the euphoria of victory: Edwards still was caught and arrested for drinking and driving last week with a blood alcohol count of 0.16. How he could even drive like that is beyond imagination, and the fact that no one was seriously hurt or killed is amazing, but there is still the notion of the disciplinary action taken or the lack thereof in last night’s game.
Edwards sat for the first quarter. This is head coach Rex Ryan and team owner Woody Johnson’s version of tough love. You can call it a slap on the wrist, but it’s more like a tap on the finger. What did Edwards learn from his benching last night? More importantly, what the heck did his teammates and all the Jets fans (especially the kids) get out of the whole thing? You go out and get drunk, even get arrested, and we’ll let you sit out for a spell before putting you back in the game. That’s what they got.
That reminds me of my school days when the nuns made us stand against the wall and watch the other kids play as punishment during recess. What did we do? It didn’t matter; that was the blanket punishment. When the five minutes were up, a flick of the wrist told us we could play, and we’d race off into the schoolyard and forget all about our little transgressions and just have fun.
The problem is that Edwards didn’t have a little trangression. He was driving while drunk, but that was all forgotten last night after his brief benching. Edwards went out and had lots of fun as he was involved in three crucial plays in the game: a sixty-seven-yard touchdown, a twenty-yard catch, and he inspired an end-zone pass interference call on Jason Allen, which was followed by LaDainian Tomlinson’s short TD run that put the Jets ahead for good. A big night for the big man indeed!
Could the Jets have won without him? Perhaps not, and maybe that’s the whole point to the light penalty of one quarter on the bench. It’s a case of the Jets wanting to do the right thing in a bad situation, but they didn’t want to give away the game either. Still, you can win the battle and lose the war, and I am sort of wondering if that is the price the Jets will have to pay later this season.
With their defense depleted by injuries to Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace, and Kris Jenkins, Ryan and company probably had big fears going into this game. If they lost lost the game because Edwards was out the whole way, they would hear neverending complaints about a lack of leniency and taking the DWI thing too seriously. But now that they have won the game, with Edwards being an integral part of the victory, there will be others who argue that the Jets put winning before doing what was right. And, of course, they would be totally correct.
A lot of good things happened in last night’s game. QB Mark Sanchez looked great again; the defense didn’t fall apart against the Dolphins, and Edwards made it look like he was indispensible. The problem is that all those good things don’t erase the DWI. It is going to be an albatross hanging around Rex Ryan’s neck for the rest of the season. The question is will he be like the Ancient Mariner and forced to keep telling a story of woe? That would be a losing cause in the long run, but hopefully Ryan will find a way to remove that albatross before it ends up defeating him.