Those of us who are grasping at straws to explain why the Jets looked so awful against the Patriots at home yesterday get thrown a life preserver from Scout.com's Dan Leberfeld.
According to a Meadowlands source, a member of the Patriots organization, with a credential issued by the team, was spotted by Jets security chief Steve Yarnell shooting near the New York bench.
And according to the stadium source, when questioned by Yarnell, the unnamed individual said that he was put up to it by the Patriots. The cameraman was reportedly accused by Yarnell of shooting the Jets' signals that were being sent by the coaches from the sidelines.
The source says that the NFL is being made aware of this accusation. If this is true, the Patriots could be subject to a serious punishment from the league office.
I don't know what to make of this. On the one hand if the Patriots were doing what's being accused they could pick up something that would help them prepare for such-and-such defensive set or so-and-so audible and would react to it quicker than they normal. They certainly played like they knew just what the Jets were going to do on each and every down. Especially in the second half when a 14-7 game became a full-on rout. You can't really put anything past the Hooded Casanova when it comes to besting his portly protege, either.
On the other hand several of the key plays of the game - the Hobbs kick return and the Moss touchdown come to mind - the Jets just got flat out beat on the field. There didn't appear to be the slightest bit of chicanery going on during those second-half plays nor would any defensive coordinator worth his salt need an Enigma machine to figure out what the Jets were doing on offense. For the record, though, when Eric Mangini orders the penne arrabiata at Nuovo Vesuvio the Jets are running the counter trap.
Leberfeld doesn't say what the punishment would be if the Pats were found guilty of sign-stealing but short of the rematch being the football equivalent of an open book exam for the Jets what could the league do to make it right? I guess they could strip New England of draft picks or fine them but it wouldn't make up for anything that happened on Sunday. Whatever conclusions are drawn by Roger Goodell's goon squad this situation is sure to elevate hostilities between the two franchises.