Lover. Hater. Pallbearer.
The last we heard from The Likely Lad he unleashed a borderline psychotic post about how everything that happened in the 2011 season would make him "happy." Not surprisngly, we haven't heard from him since. Many of us thought that would be his final public appearance, a Jimmy "The Greek" non-racist-public-rant into the sunset.
Until today, we were right.
But now he's back and making less sense than ever! Well kinda. What he gives us today walks a fine line between sheer brilliance and incoherent word scramble. At times he reminds you of Shakespeare, and at others, well, The Likely Lad. You be the judge.
Oh, and he wants me to tell you not to confuse this for poetry. It's an "adapted soliloquy." That's right: an adapted soliloquy burying Mark Sachez's Jets career.
Got that? You don't? Yeah, neither do I.
He Came, We Saw Him Conquered
By The Likely Lad (feat. Billy Shakespeare)
Friends, Fireman, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Mark Sanchez, not to praise him.
The contract extensions that men do live after them;
The good is oft interred with their past playoff performances;
So let it be with Sanchez. The noble Ray Lucas
Hath told you Sanchez was CRAP:
If it is so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Sanchez answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Lucas and Steve Young and Rich Cimini and the rest—
For Lucas is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men, except Cimini—
Come I to speak in Sanchez's Jets funeral.
He was my quarterback, poised, at once, and just to me:
But Lucas says he was CRAP;
And Lucas is an honourable man.
He hath brought 2 AFC Championship Game appearances
Whose ransoms did our dark, fan-hearts fill:
Did this in Sanchez seem CRAP?
When that the offensive line hath vanished and running game broken, Sanchez hath been picked
Quarterbacks should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Lucas says he was CRAP;
And Lucas is an honourable man.
You all did see that at Foxborough on Jan. 16, 2011
He twice threw us close to a kingly crown
Which his teammates did twice refuse: was this CRAP?
Yet Lucas says he is CRAP;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I amend not to disprove what Lucas spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love Mark Sanchez once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! O talking heads! thou art fled to brutish beasts, like Adam Schein
And puttering pundits have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Sanchez,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
This one ended far worse than last night...
Following last season’s Super Bowl I wrote an article detailing “Ten Reasons It’s Great to be a Jets Fan Right Now.” It was part hyperbole, part truth. Seeing the Giants win another Super Bowl forced me to convince myself I hadn’t made a catastrophic error picking the Jets as my NFL team. Much to my surprise, the list was pretty strong. I didn’t feel there were any stretches.
Now, only numbers ten and one ring true: We’re Championship Virgins and We Need The Eggs (see: Annie Hall).
The Rex Sanchez era came to an end Monday night in Nashville. There’s simply no way the Jets start the 2013 season with both Mark Sanchez as its quarterback and Rex Ryan as its head coach. Accordingly, this will likely be my penultimate post on this blog. I promised the website would be put to bed when one of its two namesakes changed teams, and as Ralph Fiennes said in In Bruges: “You’ve got to stick to your principles.”
(See what I did there? I’m like the Homeland writers with Brody. I now have an out to not come back but I can always change my mind because hey, wouldn’t that be a fun, nonlinear twist??)
Anyway, I came here to write that last night’s game was, in my 17-year Jets career, the single most embarrassing loss. Not the most painful or demoralizing, but the most embarrassing. There were people loudly laughing at me at work. They were LOLZing, people! LOLZING!
The world can laugh at us, but we all know that they’re just jealous of us. After all, we have the Butt Fumble and they don’t.
In conclusion, here are my Ten Worst Regular Season Jets Losses Since 1995. Enjoy.
(Asterisk denotes I toiled in the stadium that day.)
10. Week 16 vs. Eagles (1996)
Fourth Quarter Collapse/Rich Kotite
9. Week 6 vs. Bills (2009)
Sanchez’s First Stinker
8. Week 16 vs. Bills (2001) *
Herm’s Clock Management
7. Week 8 vs. Browns (2002) *
You Play To Win The Game!
6. Week 7 at Patriots (2012)
5. Week 15 at Titans (2012)
The End of The Sanchize
4. Week 17 at Ravens (2000) *
Let’s Stop Running The Hurry-Up Offense That Has Up 14-0
3. Week 16 vs. Lions (2000) *
2. Week 17 at Lions (1997)
Leon Johnson/Ray Lucas
1. Week 1 vs. Patriots (1999)
(Who knew the Lions were such a traumatizing opponent?)no comments
The Butt Fumble.
One year and 309 days ago---less than two years ago!---the Jets were playing for a place in the Super Bowl. They lost on that day, 24-19, to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a game they could have easily won if not for some Schotty goal line play-calling and Walter Payton reincarnating as Rashard Mendenhall. Now, on Nov. 27, 2012---less than two years later!!---they are playing for a draft position, with the possibility of entering the 2013 season with a new quarterback, head coach, and God willing, a new general manager.
The general manager. Let's start with him, because in my opinion, it ends with him. You can argue Rex has been a negative influence on Mike Tannebaum's decision-making---his track record pre-Rex is much better---but ultimately Tannenbaum pulls the trigger on every personnel decision, and his post-2010 AFC Championship Game roster moves have brought this team to, yes, The Butt Fumble.
How did we get here? Let's take a look. Oh, and grab a vomit bag while you're at it.
Actually, watch this first. Sometimes I love how trashy Jets fans are.
We're going to focus on post-2010 personnel decisions, but let's not forget these post-2009 roster moves, as the 2010 squad would have been far stronger if not for these missteps.
Joe McKnight for Leon Washington
McKnight's NFL legacy will be puking during his rookie training camp. Leon's legacy will be the all-time leader in kickoff returns for a touchdown (8), half of which came after Mr. T decided Leon was washed up and injury-prone.
Matt Slauson for Alan Faneca
While Slauson has improved from train wreck to below average, Tannenbaum decided to remove an integral part of the Jets Ground-And-Pound operation, and the result was the team's rushing offense going from a 2,756 yard-21 touchdown-4.5 yards per carry clip, to a less impressive 2,374 yards-14 toucdowns-4.4 yards per carry clip.
LaDainian Tomlinson for Thomas Jones
Their 2010 stats were virtually identical, but Tannenbaum decided to remove a locker room leader and fan favorite for a player who notoriously came up small in playoff games, was on the downside of his career, and who has now become a professional Jets troll.
Ignoring the trend of a two-tight end league, Tannenbaum opted not to surround his franchise quarterback with a new target, but rather unproven college talents. Each of those tight ends---all Pro Bowlers and two likely future Hall of Famers, were picked shortly after---just one pick in Hernandez's case---the Jets took a trio of players who have contributed absolutely nothing to the team in three seasons.
Wayne Hunter for Damien Woody
The rest is history.
Plaxico Burress for Braylon Edwards
The one receiver whom Sanchez had developed a real chemistry with in his first two seasons, and who had made countless big catches, was not re-signed because he was asking for too much money. (He later signed a 1-year contract with the 49ers for a base salary of $1 million.) Mr. T, in his infinite, pompous wisdom, decided it'd be smart to sign an ex-convict who had spent the past two years in prison to a 1-year deal worth $3,000,017. The 17 was for Plaxico's number. Isn't that cute? And if you watched Hard Knocks this season, you know it wasn't Rex's decision, as Braylon still lists him as the one NFL coach who would vouch for him under any circumstance (even to a division rival's GM).
Derrick Mason for Jerricho Cotchery
Again, a veteran wide receiver that Sanchez had a real connection with was let go in favor of one of the worst dudes to ever inhabit the Jets locker room. So bad that Mr. T had to cut his losses and release him after five games. Do you know how big a jerk-off you have to be for the Jets, THE JETS!, to release you because of character issues? Cotchery, on the other hand, was quickly gobbled up by one of the most respected franchises in the NFL, the Steelers.
After just one season, The Flight Boys, a group of receivers Sanchez genuinely trusted, was dismantled.
Eric Smith for Kerry Rhodes
The problem with this move was not letting Kerry Rhodes walk, that was fine, but rather allowing Eric Smith to assume the starting safety role with very little competition (see: Brodney Pool). It's really hard and painful to remember every play Smith blew in the secondary last season, but the enduring image of his Jets career and the 2011 season will always be him chasing Victor Cruz down the sideline on that 99-yard touchdown.
T.J. Conley for Steve Weatherford
T.J. "I've Learned What It Means To Be A Pro" Conley is out of the NFL and Steve Weatherford played a crucial role on a Super Bowl winning team and is now one of the highest paid punters in league history. This one probably falls on Westhoff's shoulders, too. Actually, no, I'm sorry. He's the GREATEST. He NEVER makes mistakes. (Fraud.)
John Conner for Tony Richardson
Yet another example of Tannebaum letting a locker room leader and fan favorite go in favor of an unproven backup who only earned the chance to play because HBO producers included him in their show. Conner, like Conley, is now out of football.
Tim Tebow for Drew Stanton for Mark Brunell
This is not an indictment of Tebow. I actually like him as a person more than I thought I would, and the Jets have grossly misused whatever talent he has. This instead falls on Tannebaum's shoulders, as for the fourth straight season he failed to provide a reliable backup quarterback who Rex could go to when Sanchez shits the bed.Stephen Hill for Plaxico Burress
This is not a compliment of Plax. Instead, it is Tannebaum deciding that an unproven college talent could assume the role of a No. 2 receiver in the NFL. The Jets brass themselves said after the draft Hill was a "raw talent." If you know anything about sports and scouting prospects, you know "raw talent" is an euphemism for "shitty player who could be good someday." The Jets decided a "raw talent" would be a starting wide receiver in 2012.
No one for Bart Scott; No one for Calvin Pace; No one for Santonio Holmes
These three annoy me for so many reasons. Many of the idiotic moves listed above were made under the guise the Jets were trying to stay young and cut their losses on veteran players before they became washed up and overpaid. This offseason the Jets had a chance to cut two aging, ineffective linebackers---a position that actually needed fresh legs---and save a boatload of money, but Tannenabum instead chose to keep them, going back on his entire philosophy of In With The New, Out With The Old. As for Holmes, the Jets had a chance to get out from under his albatross of a contract (the Jets gave him $45 million when the Steelers were happy to get rid him of for a fifth-round pick), but Tannenbaum decided to keep him and give him almost all of his guaranteed money because he knew he had no other options at wide receiver. This was after a season in which he absolutely poisoned the locker room and the team's franchise quarterback, and saw his receptions and receiving yards decline.
The overall message here, which I hope you've been able to discern from the past 1,300 words, is that general manger Mike Tannenbaum must be fired at season's end. His pompous, inconsistent, and downright moronic personnel decisions have doomed a once promising franchise. If Rex gets caught in the crossfire because he's a Tannebaum appointee, then so be it; he probably had a say in a number of these moves, as well.
I can't believe I just typed that. It was all so different less than two years ago.no comments
It's hard to look at something so beautiful...
What a miserable season this has been. Outside of the first half of the first game, the 2012 Jets have been a series of heartbreaks and embarrassments, a running unintentional comedy that everyone can laugh at except us. It would take too long to name all the culprits for this debacle of a season, but if you were going to finger one person as the reason this team has failed, it would be general manager Mike Tannenbaum. The Jets have not drafted a plus player since Darrelle Revis in 2007 (no, Dustin Keller is not a plus player). The Jets lack of talent at premium positions (QB, WR, RB, DE, OLB) is appalling. If Woody Johnson cared as much about the Jets winning as he did Mitt Romney winning, Tannenbaum would have been fired months ago. Johnson’s fascination with Tebow and being in the "media business" is terribly misguided, as Johnson has yet to realize no one in said business wants to watch a losing team, and his general manager has assembled exactly that: a losing, unentertaining product.
Tannenbaum's most ineffective, if not worst, offseason move was bringing in Tony Sparano as the team's offensive coordinator. Sparano's play calling ability (if he even has any) is guided around a team who has punishing running backs and a quarterback who can manage a game; the Jets have neither. I would pin Sanchez's regression more on the lack of talent around him than the play calling, but Sparano and his coaches have not put him in a position to succeed either. For a coach who built his reputation on a gimmick offense, Sparano's play calling has been painfully unimaginative, and even worse, when his gameplan for the week is failing, he is unable to make adjustments and instead goes into a conservative shell. It almost makes you yearn for the days of The...
No, wait. I don't really mean that. I'm still convinced Brian Schottenheimer is one of the worst player callers in NFL history. His failure to understand game situations is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen, and quite possibly cost the Jets a trip to the Super Bowl. (WARNING: Reading the play-by-play of the first series of the fourth quarter will make you nauseous.) I will never forgive him for his play calling in that game. It will haunt me in the same way Yadier Molina, Doug Brien and Adam Henrique have all negatively affected my life.
With that said, Schotty has brought us one unalienable morsel of happiness: The Beautiful Mind. For those of unfamiliar with it, TBM wrote a (somewhat) weekly column for us from 2009-11. He explained his baffling decisions from the previous game and would occasionally make us privy to chats with his father and former NFL head coach, Marty. With the Jets set to face-off against their former offensive coordinator this Sunday in St. Louis, we asked TBM if he'd like to make a guest appearance. As always, he obliged.
Hey bitches! What's up? Did you see me this past Sunday in San Francisco? I manufactured a tie! It was great! Take a look at my play calling on the final drive of overtime. We got the ball back with 1:36 left to play, and over the course of the next 96 seconds in a hurry-up offense, spiking the ball not included, we ran only 7 plays, just one of them for more than 9 yards, and got a delay of game penalty! Do you have any idea how difficult is to get a DELAY OF GAME penalty in a hurry-up offense?!? I just wouldn't tell Bradford the play! And let me tell you, Marty was proud. He called me after the game and said...actually, I'll tell you later. He was on a roll. I don't want to get sidetracked.
SO (smiles ear to ear), how's Sparano working for you guys??? (Ray Liotta-Goodfellas-laugh) I loved that hire. Really good stuff from Tannenbaum. Let's bring in a Wildcat coach even though we don't have the personnel for it, bring in a celebrity backup quarterback to run it and distract our mentally fragile starting quarterback, talk about running it the entire offseason, and then never use it! You know why they didn't use it in the preseason? No, not because they wanted to keep it a secret, but because they knew it sucked! I bet you wish you had me patrolling that sideline instead of that sunglasses wearing freak. Did you see the way he celebrated after getting lucky and winning the game in Miami? What a psycho! The only time I ever embraced Rex after a win was the playoff game in San Diego, and that was when Rex was fat and cuddly. Now he's skinny with saggy skin and can't coach for his life. I told him to keep eating. He wouldn't listen.
Really, though. Tell me how you feel about Sparano. At least I wasn't terrified to throw the ball downfield. I may have had Sanchez rollout to the left with Slauson as his lead blocker and have him throw across his body to David Clowney, but I still did it! And I wasn't a coward in the running game either. Sparano is afraid to pound the rock. I would Establish LT no matter what the circumstances were. Down 20? Establish LT. Up 20? Establish LT. Shonn Greene on fire? Establish. L. T. I was a man of conviction. Sparano is afraid to mistakes, and yet he still makes them! I realized early on that Mark was a disgrace to the quarterback position so I decided to have some fun with him, ya know? Screw with the kid. When he has time to think he throws red zone interceptions like he did last weekend. When he's running for his life with Wayne Hunter as the last line of defense between him and death, he's actually halfway decent. I couldn't believe you guys gave us Hunter. I love that guy. We get Arby's every day after practice. He's really a sensitive guy. Big heart.
Anyway, let me tell you about my favorite play calls of this season. You guys will appreciate this. We're in London for the game versus the Patriots. We're down 45-7 in the fourth quarter, I was doing a pretty shitty job but I didn't feel shitty enough. After all, we're in England! The whole world is watching! I needed everyone to see the beauty that inhabits my mind. So I say to Fischer, let's take Sam out of the game and put in Kellen. That's right. Kellen Clemens! I took him to St. Louis with me. Jeff agreed and it was full steam ahead. Two run plays, and then I call a QB sweep for him. That's right: a QB sweep for Kellen Clemens! He gained five yards and was nearly murdered. Great stuff. Next play, he fumbles the snap, recovers it but not before being jumped on by four defensive linemen. Again, almost murdered. Next play, he completes a 39-yard pass. As you can imagine, I was NOT happy. So then two plays later we're down to the New England 15, and I call this terrible pass play that has NO chance of working. He drops back, scans the defense (TBM starts laughing), I shit you not guys, he threw it into QUADRUPLE coverage and was intercepted. It was amazing. I was fist-pumping so hard on the inside. If that NFL-sponsored World League still existed I would have received head coaching offers from every team in Europe. It was fantastic. What a great day.
All right, let's quickly talk about this upcoming Sunday before I share my Marty convo with you. How do you see it going? Is the team gonna quit on Rex? Is Sanchez going to cry on the sideline? Is Cro going to punch a fan chanting TEEEE-BOW in the face? (Love that guy.) On our end I'm expecting big things. Don't tell anyone but I have something special cooked up...pun intended (winks awkwardly). I have a feeling Sam may come down with a case of food poisoning. And you know what that means? It's Sanchez! It's Clemens! It's the NFL on CBS! Seriously though, how much would you guys love a Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens matchup? It'd be amazing right? I'd put Wayne Hunter at tight end and have him run skinny posts to the end zone. You guys game for that? Never say I didn't do anything for you Jets fans! Love you assholes! See ya Sunday!
OK, folks. Here's my conversation with my dad, Marty, following Sunday's, 24-24, tie with the 49ers.
TBM: Hey, pa. It's me, Brian.
Marty: Son! I'm so proud of you! A tie? You beautiful sonuvabitch! How'd you pull that off?
TBM: Oh, joy! I was worried you were going to be mad at me! I thought you wanted me to play for a tie versus the Jets next week. I struck too early!
Marty: No, no, no. A tie is a tie no matter who it's against. It's the epitome of conservative play calling. It's a beautiful thing, just like your mind, son.
TBM: Thanks, pa! I wanted to be just like you, though! You know what I mean? Remember back in...
Marty: Of course I remember! That was the highlight of my career! I'll never forget it. Do you mind if I recount that fateful day?
TBM: Sure, dad! You know how much I love story time!
Marty: (Squints eyes, looks off into distance) The date was Nov. 19, 1989. It was a cold, windy afternoon in Cleveland. Are there any others??!? (Squealing laugh) It was my first season with the Chiefs and it was my first game back in Cleveland since they fired me. They thought Bud Carson was a better option than me. Bud Carson! LOL, right? Anyway, I told the team how much I wanted this game. Christian Okoye stood up in the locker room and yelled, "Yes, Coach! We will win this one for you!" My eyes opened wide. I walked up the Nigerian Nightmare and said, "No, Christian. Today, I want a tie." A hush fell over the locker room. Okoye slowly sat down, never losing eye contact with me. I told the team what a tie would mean to me. That it would solidify me as the most conservative coach in the history of big games. You see, Browns brass thought I was too bold handing the ball off to Byner in '87 Championship Game. They wanted a fullback blast with Kevin Mack. I didn't comply. The rest is history. To the team's credit, they fully understood. Okoye pointed at Steve DeBerg and said, "Don't you dare throw a touchdown today!" The team all turned and looked at DeBerg. Steve raised a fist, pointed a finger towards the sky, and proclaimed, "We do this for Marty. No touchdowns today. We play for a 0-0 tie!" Let me tell you, the team went crazy!
TBM: Dad, do you mind if I take a crap while you're talking? It’s literally coming out of my ass.
Marty: What? Yeah, do whatever you want you sick little freak. Anyway, the team gave it their all. They really tried not to score. But then something terrible happened. Down 3-0 in the third quarter, the Browns fumbled at their own 3-yard line and Neil Smith returned it for a touchdown. He ran over to me on the sideline and apologized, explaining he would have been accused of fixing the game if he hadn't gone in for six. I said it was OK. Things went from bad to worse though when Eric Metcalf gave Cleveland a 10-7 lead late in the third. Between quarters I gathered the team at midfield and explained we would play for a 10-10 tie. Neither team had a good offense going that day so I told our kicker Nick Lowery to tie the game, which he did, and then not make another field goal the rest of the day. Son, I don't say this about many people, but I'm forever indebted to that guy. At the end of regulation he missed a field goal to win it but the Browns were called for an offside. He had another chance from 39 yards and missed that one, too. And then finally, with 10 seconds left in overtime, he had a chance in the closed end of the stadium to kick the game-winner from 47 yards and the kick came up 5 yards short! The guy was a long-distance machine. He held the NFL record for field goals of over 50 yards! Anyway, the game ended in a tie and we ran off the field as if we had won the Super Bowl. It was the only tie of my coaching career. It was also the best day of my life.
(Editor's Note: I seriously think these conversations happened. Read the game story from that day. It opens with, "He came. He saw. He tied." It later says, "Schottenheimer suppressed pleasure at the verdict." All the Lowery stuff is true, also. Scary.)
TBM: That's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. (Flushes toilet.) I remember watching with mom. She cried of joy after Lowery missed that last field goal. She said, "See, Brian. He's won the team over. They tied just for him."
Marty: Mom was right. I still have the game ball from that day. It's on a mantle in my office. It reads, "Coach: Thank you for teaching us the meaning of being a p***y and never letting us confuse winning with doing the right thing."
TBM: Dad? (Pitch of voice rises)
Marty: Yes, son. (Pitch of voice deepens)
TBM: If I tie the Jets this weekend and become the first offensive coordinator in the modern era to draw consecutive games, can I have that ball?
Marty: Son, if you tie again this week not only will I give you the ball, I'll give you my thickest pair of glasses. That my boy, will make you a true Schottenheimer!
TBM: You've got a deal!
(Hangs up.)no comments
I remember that guy!
The Likely Lad and I are off to London Town to see our other football team and its closet gingy manager obtain violent and merciless retribution against its inner-city rival and racist, home-wrecking, little-boy haircutted defender. (7:45 a.m. Saturday on ESPN2!) (I'm a company man.)
Before we do that though, I felt emotionally obligated to breathe life into this aging blog. We're like one of those fruity smelling candles where you put the lid on top to put out the flame, but right as it's about to be extinguished, you rip off the lid and the flame re-ignites. Plus, the Jets play the Patriots this weekend, and as long as Rex Ryan is the Jets head coach it'll always kind of be a big deal when the teams meet.
Anyway, we're going back to an old favorite, a theme that produced two memorable seasons and starred in this site's glory days: Things We Never Knew (About the 2012 Jets)
*OK, here we go. In case you forgot from last season, here is the origin of "Things We Never Knew."
Rex Ryan has a peculiar hitch in his speech, a sort of verbal trope the listener might only notice after a year or so of press conferences. It goes like this: When you would say, "I didn't know," Rex says, "I never knew." When you'd say, "I did not anticipate that happening," Rex would say, "I never anticipated that happening." Basically, the guy always says "never!" He never says "not!" *
1. That Shonn Greene Is Still Alive
Here's a depressing stat: Shonn Greene has not rushed for 100+ yards and a touchdown in a game decided by less than 24 points since, you (probably haven't) guessed it, Jan. 17. 2010, when the Jets beat the Chargers, 17-14, in the AFC Divisional Round (23-128-1). Greene provided the signature moment of that season and perhaps the Rex Sanchez era, when he ran over Eric Weddle en route to a 53-yard touchdown. Just a week later Greene began to show signs of perhaps his most glaring weakness---his lack of durability---when he left the AFC Championship Game with bruised ribs and the Jets leading 17-13. Greene couldn't muster the cojones to finish the game, and an ineffective Thomas Jones (16-42-0) forced the Jets to abandon Ground and Pound and allowed the Colts to take the lead and win the game. (I swear I don't think about these things every day. Just every week.)
Fast-forward nearly three years and we've had Jets fans calling for the likes of Bilal Powell and Jonathan Grimes to usurp Greene as the Jets starting running back. Whether it was a soft Colts defense or the realization his livelihood was at stake, Greene responded with his most impressive performance since that glorious January afternoon, rushing for a career-high 161 yards and three touchdowns in the Jets, 35-9, victory. If Gang Green has any chance of beating the Patriots on Sunday, that same angry, battering Greene must make a return appearance.
2. Antonio Cromartie Has A Second Gear
When Darrelle Revis went down for the season all Jets fans had nightmares of Cro-DontWearA-Magnum covering the opponent's no. 1 wide receiver. The Jets were slated to face the likes of Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne and Larry Fitzgerald. And outside of his all-pro season with the Chargers in 2007 when he led the NFL in interceptions, Cromartie never showed he had the talent to be an elite cornerback in the NFL. Well, through three games, Cromartie has delivered, backing up his inane claim that he was the second-best cornerback in the NFL. He has held Michael Crabtree, Johnson, and Wayne to 8 catches for 109 yards and no touchdowns through three games, stats that would even make Revis blush. This week should be trickier, however, knowing how nefariously the Patriots deploy their wide receivers and tight ends, and due to Brandon Lloyd's freakish skill set.
3. Austin Howard Is A Competent Right Tackle
(Whispering) I know, right?!? You've barely noticed him out there. Brick has been a bigger liability than him! Oh, crap. I think Wilfork and Chandler Jones can hear us. Let's stop talking about this.
4. Dustin Keller Is A Huge...Yeah
I know it's terribly unfair for me or any other Internet blowhard to criticize Keller (or Greene) for not playing through an injury, but it's hard to believe a non-hamstring tear could keep an NFL player out four weeks, let alone in a contract year. Even in the two games he's played, Keller has a grand total of two catches for 13 yards. Moreover, he's not even being targeted by Mark Sanchez, who in seasons past has forced pass after pass to Keller even when he was not open. It's time for Keller to wake up; he's losing money off his next contract every week.
5. Mike Tannenabum Is A Terrible General Manager
JK. Lolz. We already knew that.
If you're going to blame anyone for the inevitable 8-8 finish to this season (the Jets are 11-11 in their last 22 games), it shouldn't be Sanchez (see: NYJ's starting receivers vs. Texans/49ers), it shouldn't be Rex Ryan (I NEVER said he was to blame!), and it shouldn't be Revis and Santonio's injuries (they would have been better off cutting Santonio before the season so his money didn't become guaranteed), it should be Tannenbaum. The pompous asshole of a GM has not added an impact player through the draft or free agency since drafting Revis in 2007. His failure to sign Nnamdi Asomugha crippled the team's offseason in 2011, and he failed to redeem himself this past summer. If anyone pays the price for another failed (non-Super Bowl) season, it should be Tannenbaum.
6. Nick Folk is the Jets Most Reliable Offensive Weapon
What the hell am I doing? Never mind.
(Seriously though, Folk has missed crucial first quarter field goals in two of the last three Jets-Pats games. My money is on him making that three of four on Sunday.)
Prediction: Jets 23, Patriots 22
Prediction Record: 34-25
(For those new readers, I have never predicted the Jets to lose a game on this blog.)no comments
Through all of the chaos of the past four years, through Mangini and Rex, through Favre and Tebow, there has been one constant. One thing Jets fans could take pride in. One thing Jets haters had to concede. One thing that NFL fans universally acknowledged: The Jets had the best defensive player in the sport and arguably the best cornerback in the history of the league. Regardless of the opponent, you knew Darrelle Revis was going to shut down their best wide receiver. It was an honor and a privilege to watch him play every weekend.
Now, that is all gone.
The Jets won the game Sunday in Miami, yes, but if you consider how poorly they played, and that the franchise's best player since Joe Namath's knees fully functioned suffered what may be a career-debilitating injury, it was undoubtedly the worst win in the team's 52-year history. Darrelle Revis is out for the season, and even the most optimistic Jets fan must admit the season is over. Was this team going to win the Super Bowl? No. Were they going to make the playoffs? Probably not. Does it suck beyond comprehension to see your best player's knee explode on a non-contact play? Yes, yes it does.
Having spoke realistically and honestly about what Revis' injury means to the Jets and their playoff hopes, let's pretend the season isn't over. How do they recover? Well, as The Likely Lad tweeted today, "What the Jets lack in depth they make up for in incompetent starters." That means general manager Mike Tannenbaum will have to get off his fat, lazy, condescending, pompous arse and make a trade for not just a cornerback---that's obvious---but a wide receiver, as well. You could have argued (incorrectly) that the Jets would have survived with their offense had they had a healthy defense and moreover, a healthy Revis, but with what is now an incredibly average defense the Jets will need to score far more points. (That's how important Revis is to the Jets. The offense suffers by having him injured.) Yes, Sanchez missed a host of open receivers and threw a mind-boggling interception in the end zone on Sunday, but the Jets receivers outside of Santonio Holmes are not NFL-caliber players. Stephen Hill is a raw talent with hands of stone, Chaz Schillens can barely get on the field, and Clyde Gates looks utterly lost---not lost like he was overmatched, lost like he was playing the wrong sport and wasn't sure how he got to the stadium. Dustin Keller's eventual return will help, but if you're going to sport an ordinary offensive line with a quarterback who needs a strong supporting cast, the Jets will need to add a wide receiver (and preferably one without a pending court case).
Defensively, and perhaps for the team on the whole, the most disappointing part of this season has been the lack of a pass rush. I should have known better than to put stock in the preseason, but I really thought the trio of Maybin, Wilkerson and Coples was going to be a destructive force in the backfield. Instead, the Jets have barely laid a hand on the quarterback this season (3 sacks and 10 QB hits in three games), and their rush defense has gotten significantly worse (149 yards per game!). Is that only the defensive line's fault? No, it's not. The linebackers are old and slow and do not have playmaking ability. With that said, the three aforementioned names must step up their games if the Jets defense is going to survive Revis' absence. The secondary has gone from one of the league's elite units to one in desperate need of help. LaRon Landry has been fantastic for the most part and Yeremiah Bell has acquitted himself well, but with Cromartie moving to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart and Kyle Wilson taking over a starting role (fighting back tears), the Jets need to add a cornerback. I hate to break bad news to the naive among us, but Ellis Lankster cannot be the team's top nickelback. Actually, let me rephrase that. Ellis Lankster cannot be the Jets nickelback if they are going to win more than four games this season.
I know it's a bit unfair to ask an NFL general manager to bring in difference makers on offense and defense in Week Four of an NFL season, but Tannenbaum must redeem himself for back-to-lost offseasons and a series of poor draft picks. Their schedule is weak enough (although those NFC West games don't seem as easy anymore) where they can stay in playoff contention if the right guys are brought in. They weren't going to win either of the next two games even if Revis was healthy, so by the time the Jets take the field against the Colts in Week Six, there must be new personnel on both sides of the ball. If there's not, the light will be extinguished on another Jets season.
First place has never seemed so dark.
Those of you who know me know I am utterly obsessed with sports history. I take some sort of perverted pleasure in knowing every Super Bowl winner, MVP, the score of the game and where it was played. That manic fixation has one father: Steve Sabol.
The first sports tape (a VHS) I ever owned was a Super Bowl highlight video feauturing NFL Films recaps of Super Bowls I through XXIII. I must have watched that tape 100 times, often with my brother on the catch in our living room, memorizing its most beautifully written lines. To this day both he and I can recite on command John Facenda's spine-tingling prose about Super Bowl V (Colts-Cowboys), the famous phrase, "...fiercely fought but frightfully flawed," as a montage of the game's 11 turnovers played in the background. Each game was told in its own beautiful way, with the appropriate music---a trademark of NFL Films (my favorite is "Heroes of War;" it's on my iPod)---playing behind Facenda's voice.
I remember waking up on cold January mornings when I was in elementary school to watch the annual Super Bowl highlight shows on ESPN2. Each episode began with Sabol sitting in a film storage room surrounded by the company's millions upon millions of film rolls. Sabol's opening essay for each game was a perfect description of what transpired, and left you thoroughly engrossed in what was to come. It was a wonderful way to start the day.
As I grew older Sabol's company, founded by his father Ed in 1962, grew to be what it is recognized today as: the greatest film company in the history of sports. As revenues and resources increased, NFL Films embarked upon projects that were more and more insightful, giving you a look into the world of football that made it feel like you were watching a movie. After all, how else would they get Bill Walsh to have his weekly team meetings videotaped? It didn't seem possible. For a profession with some of the most paranoid people in the world, every NFL coach---Bill Belichick included, allowed Sabol to infiltrate his maximum security lair so he could show fans what went on behind closed doors.
For me, the greatest thing NFL Films has ever done, and quite possibly my favorite thing ever produced for television, is the NFL Network's America's Game series, which highlights each of the 46 Super Bowl champions. The episodes are all narrated by a different celebrity, with three or four of the team's star players sharing their memories of the season and all the trials and tribulations that had to be overcome for the team to reach the pinnacle of the sport. I bought the entire collection in 2005 (I through XL), and have watched every new episode since.
For me, Sabol's enduring legacy will be this: He romanticized a sport that is played by overweight men and characterized by unimaginable violence. He made it poetic and beautiful, and told a story that no human being could tell through words. His unmatched storytelling illustrated what so many die-hard sports fans know, that while sports is trivial in nature, it can tell you more about a person than you could ever learn speaking to them. It reveals character. It shows how people respond to adversity, how they deal with success, whether or not they are leaders, and ultimately, how they work in a team. Sabol, through his revolutionary decision to tell game stories through slow-motion, tight, dramatic shots, changed sports history and made this blogger into an NFL fan for life.
Think about it, without Steve Sabol and NFL Films, we may never have seen Namath wag that finger.
Rest in Peace, Steve. You will be missed.
Sorry for the delay, all. Here's our Q & A with The Blitzburgh Blog and its guy Bam Morris.
(NOTE: This was done before Revis, Keller, Thomas, Polamalu and Harrison were all ruled out. It's certainly advantage Steelers because the best player on either roster is not playing, but no Polamalu is HUGE for the Jets (DEEP analysis here). Sanchez is totally mind fucked by No. 43, so that's a big plus.)
Q: How much do you take out of last week's loss in Denver? Is the offensive line that bad? Is the Steelers pass D that poor? Or was it just a bad matchup in a tough stadium and key guys were missing?
A: The offensive line isn't really any worse than usual. The past several years, the line hasn't been strong and with 1st-round pick David DeCastro on IR, that trend doesn't look to be changing this year. It's worth remembering that a patchwork line led the Steelers to a Super Bowl title in '08, so having a weakened line isn't the death knell it's perceived to be by some people. It certainly doesn't help that Denver's front 7 is exceptional across the board. When you have the kind of talent up front that they do and an underrated football mind in Jack Del Rio running the show on defense, you're going to make some plays.
The pass defense, however, is a legitimate concern. The Steelers have never put a premium on super-talented cornerbacks, as they rely on the pressure from the linebackers to really serve as their pass defense. With James Harrison out, and with a generally poor showing by LaMarr Woodley, the DBs were exposed. Then again, factor in the idea that the opposing QB is probably the best of all time, and you can see where some things might have gone wrong for the black and gold. Having Ryan Clark out especially hurt, because he covers so much of Polamalu's daredevil play. Troy couldn't make the plays he's known for in large part because his partner and safety net can't play in the Denver altitude.
Q: What's your running back situation? It seemed like Redman was the guy in the preseason, then Dwyer after Week One, but now Mendenhall is practicing? Who do you expect to get the majority of carries on Sunday?
A: Well let's keep one thing in mind: Rashard Mendenhall is THE GUY. He's still rehabbing ACL surgery, however, so that's why the Steelers are relying on their lesser-known backs for the moment. Redman has established himself as a good #2, but he was just totally shut down against the Broncos. Jon Dwyer made some plays, and the coaches appear to simply be favoring the hot hand. Sounds to me like Dwyer will see a bigger load than he has before, but the Steelers have long been loath to really change things up as far as the running game goes.
Q: I've heard mixed expectations on the Steelers prospects this season. All of my Yinzer brethren from Penn State still expect to make the playoffs, but a lot of the national media sees a .500 (or worse, see: Bill Simmons) team. Where do you stand?
A: As a current Pitt student, I an inclined to disagree with your Penn State brethren, but in this case they're right. I have no idea why someone would pick the Steelers to have an awful season (oh no, they lost to one of the most complete teams in the NFL in a close game opening weekend! The sky is surely falling!) but would you really want to bet on a perennial division champion/contender to finish with a losing record? I wouldn't.
I'm actually kind of surprised anyone in the national media stopped talking about Tim Tebow long enough to make a prediction for another NFL team in the first place. (Editor's Note: Ouch, bro.)
Q: I could be totally wrong and completely jinxing the Jets, but has Troy Polamalu lost a step? He's in his 10th year now and his body has taken a massive beating. (Editor's Note: I'm clairvoyant!) Is he on the decline or is he still an elite playmaker in your mind?
A: Can he be both? Troy is no spring chicken; it's true. But he's still the most talented player on the defense. As I mentioned, he was invisible against Denver because 1) Ryan Clark didn't play and 2) Peyton Manning was the opposing quarterback. But his age and durability are a legitimate concern, as is the lack of depth at his position. If he and Clark are both healthy, you can expect Troy to keep making big plays. And with all due respect, in regards to Sunday, Mark Sanchez is no Peyton Manning. I expect him to get fooled more than once by the defense.
Q: As for Sunday, the Steelers' greatest strength and weakness on defense is...
A: Their strength is hard to judge after one week, because the front 7 had trouble staying fresh in Denver, which made everyone look bad. But in recent summers, the Steelers have loaded up with youth in that group, especially with two first-round picks on the defensive line in Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward. At home, with the crowd behind them, and with James Harrison apparently back in the fold (Editor's Note: JINX!), the Jets' offense is going to be facing heavy pressure early and often.
The weakness has to be the defensive backs though, specifically at corner. Ike Taylor is a supremely underrated cover corner (having spatulas for hands makes it tough to get interceptions, and by extension, name recognition), but he's on the back nine of his career. The opposite CB hasn't even really been settled yet, as there are a number of young guys fighting for the position. That's both good and bad, because they have depth, but none of that depth has emerged as a go-to guy, leaving a weakness in the secondary.
Q: On offense...
A: Strength: The tight end position; Heath Miller is awesome. Seriously though, we're still trying to figure out what we have in Todd Haley's new offense. The impression we gathered Sunday night from fans on Twitter is that everyone hates Todd Haley's offense and he sucks and he's going to ruin the team. This is, of course, extremely reactionary, and the jury is still out. What we know we have is a franchise quarterback who is going to win games for us. We're going to ride or die with Ben Roethlisberger.
As for a weakness, the running game is questionable right now. With the injury bug hanging around the position and the Week 1 match-up against an extremely tough run defense, no one is really sure what to expect. One of the reasons Todd Haley was brought in was to advance the Steelers' run game, so that we could rely on our backs to convert 3rd & 2. We have yet to really see any changes take place, but in time those will surely come.
Q: Final score and why?
A: 21-17 Steelers. I'm sure it was exciting to watch the Jets hang up 48 on Buffalo last week, but I am far from sold on the Jets' offense. Pittsburgh needs a bounce-back and New York is primed for a let-down. I think the Steelers get it done at home and avoid an 0-2 start to the year.
RS Prediction: Jets 19, Steelers 17 no comments
It's OK, Jets fans. SMILE! This might actually be fun.
I'm trying to be realistic this season. No, not with my post-Week One expectations (SUPER BOWL!!!!!), but rather with how much I'm going to write this season. Last year I thought I could keep up my college era production. Instead, the harsh reality of being a real person quickly drained me of my creative energy. This year, I'm giving myself more reasonable expectations. I'm hoping for two posts a week---one a Q and A with the opposing team's blogger---and the other a non-game recap (I work Sundays) or a patented situational comedy involving one of the players (a Tebow "Beautiful Mind" series would probably offend too many people; Bart Scott is in the lead at the moment).
This week, in honor of Sunday's shocking, disorienting and probably wildly misleading offensive outburst, here are 34 Thoughts on the 2012 New York Jets (we're not counting special teams and defensive scores).
1. What are the chances Woody Johnson was disappointed with the Week One result? Not only did the Jets win, but Sanchez played well! And to top it off, Tebow was booed! Careful Jets fans, we're in a media business, don't forget. Woody could cut Sanchez at any moment. THAT would sell newspapers!
2. The Jets still have no running game, mainly because Shonn Greene is not an elite running back. There's a reason he was a third round pick.
3. I grow increasingly more uncomfortable with Skinny Rex every week.
4. The Jets punter only had two attempts last week, but both were absolute beauties, including a 55-yarder that landed inside the Bills five-yard line. I'll learn his name next week.
5. I greatly regret committing to 34 thoughts.
6. The Steelers are very beatable. On a neutral site or at home I'd guarantee a win, but in Pittsburgh it's hard not to call the Steelers the favorite.
7. I still have not regained feeling in one of my toes from the 2010 AFC Championship Game.
8. Stephen Hill will undoubtedly cost the Jets a game with a big drop, but he showed the potential to be an elite receiver against the Bills.
9. Need a cold shower? (I'm convinced Cimini openly roots against the Jets in the press box. Can anyone confirm or deny this?)
10. Bart Scott was the worst Jet on the field Sunday, so his postgame comments only made him look like more of an ass. He truly is a clown.
11. Jeff Cumberland actually looked like a reliable tight end on Sunday. This can't make Dustin Keller happy in a contract season.
12. Muhammad Wilkerson will be the second best player on the Jets defense by the end of the season.
13. How many times have the Jets waived Patrick Turner in the past three seasons? At least four? His enduring legacy will be breaking Jim Leonhard's leg in practice (and probably costing the Jets a Super Bowl).
14. It's so annoying playing in the same division as the Patriots.
15. The Jets will need 'Tone Time to win on Sunday.
16. While Sanchez did play splendidly versus the Bills, his inability to get a play off after spiking the ball during the two-minute drill before halftime was very disconcerting.
17. I still think Jeremy Kerley is a showboat and will cost the Jets a game by muffing a punt.
18. The Rams are starting Robert Turner at center and Wayne Hunter at right tackle on Sunday versus the Redskins. SCHOTTY! (I give any Rams blogger permission to continue The Beautiful Mind series.)
19. It may sound righteous, but Cro high-stepping it into the end zone from the 10-yard line on kind of spoiled the whole play for me.
20. Ryan Fitzpatrick's contract! (That's the joke....and the punchline.)
21. Watching Darrelle Revis play football brings me great joy.
22. I caught my 58-year old father nodding his head to Flo Rida's "Low" after the Jets took a 41-7 lead early in the third quarter. Sports is a powerful thing.
23. If the Jets can split their next four games (PIT, MIA, SF, HOU), I will feel mighty good heading into the Colts game at home in Week 6.
24. I genuinely wonder what Tim Tebow must have thought when he was booed by the home crowd. He has to regret not selecting Jacksonville as his trade destination, right?
25. If Sanchez continues playing this well and the Jets win the Super Bowl, Eva Longoria deserves a place in the Kate Hudson Hall of Fame.
26. Is there anything more annoying than the siren they randomly play at home games? Don't they know people associate sirens with panic and fear? Especially two days before the anniversary of 9/11?
27. I've never been more unsure of what to make of a player than with Austin Howard. You don't shut down Mario Williams by accident, but you also don't become an undrafted free agent by accident. I could see him going either way, more likely towards sucking, of course.
28. John Conner is so overrated.
29. LaRon Landry is an assassin. And his pit bull's name is Trauma. I may or may not buy his jersey by Week 4. (The dog's, not Landry's.)
30. Jets fans are insatiable. Even at 41-7, a fan in my section burst into profanity after C.J. Spiller broke off a big run. You would have thought the defense had just allowed the winning touchdown.
31. I could definitely see the Jets and Steelers fighting for a wild card spot come December. Don't underestimate the importance of Sunday determining the head-to-head tiebreaker.
32. Despite all the optimism, can't you envision seeing a stat after Week 5 that reads, "The Jets scored more points in Week One than they have the past four weeks combined?" Unlikely, but you did give it some thought.
33. Over/Under 33 times Roethlisberger avoids a sack to throw a completion or scramble for a gain on Sunday?
34. At least we can't go 0-16! no comments