Monday, June 27, 2011

Terrell Owens- could it be curtains?

Late Sunday night, I read on twitter that Terrell Owens tore his ACL. Now I’m not absolutely sure if this is true and if it is I don’t know how it occurred but the alleged injury did inspire this piece.

Owens is 36 and if the ACL tear is true, it’ll be at the least a six month recovery for him. I’m not sure that’ll end his career but it may. Owens has had a great career by all accounts but his personality and his travels have made him one of the NFL’s more polarizing figures in recent memory. It begs the question, “What will Owens legacy be when he ultimately calls it quits? Is he a Hall of Famer?”

There have been many trials and tribulations in Owens career, seemingly starting with that touchdown catch from Steve Young in the 1998 NFC Wild Card game. That seemed to be when the Star of Terrell Owens was born. He had finally broken through that year as he became a top target for Hall of Fame QB Steve Young and that was his signature moment. The catch between three Packer defenders and the tears that streamed from Owens face after he got up with the ball in his hands simply made that moment everything a signature moment is expected to be.

Owens has had many game changing plays. He’s crossed the goalline 153 times in his career, and he has 1,078 catches at 14 yards a catch. The talent was there, the effort was there for the most part. There aren’t many WRs in this era who blocked with the ferocity that Owens does. There aren’t many who fought for every yard like Owens did. There aren’t many who can break a game open the way he did. I don’t think anything negative that is said regarding Owens and his career that is based on his skill.

But for as good as Owens was on the field and in between the lines, his constant need for attention, and him essentially being an NFL nomad for the last four years of his career has soured many people’s lasting thoughts on him. One can make the argument that his attitude is as bad as his production is good. You know that has to be the case where we can debate the legacy of a man who has 1,078 catches, 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns.

Owens has clashed with players (both offensive and defensive), head coaches, offensive coordinators. He clashed with Jeff Garcia which divided that locker room and ultimately led to the demise of the 49ers. He openly questioned Jeff Garcia’s sexuality (the relevance to football is?), and made that relationship uncomfortable. He then got his wish and got a trade to a winning team, the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2004 he helped trigger QB Donovan McNabb’s best season as a pro as he and McNabb lit secondaries up that entire season. In 14 games, Owens had 77 catches for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns and a 15.6 average. Owens and McNabb just clicked. Short, medium deep, screens, hitches, it didn’t matter. Nobody could stop them as the Eagles stomped through the league to the NFC’s best record and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Unfortunately in a relatively meaningless week 15 game, General Horse Collar (S Roy Williams) did his deed and collared Owens breaking his leg. Owens missed five games and came back in the Superbowl. He played on a broken wheel in the Superbowl and still put forth an amazing performance as he caught 9 passes for 122 yards.

I think that performance and the aftermath/chatter following it sum up the public perception regarding Owens. Some of us looked at the performance and said “Man, what a performance,” then others minimized it. And before we could let the performance marinate, Owens is doing situps on his driveway.

Then he eventually forced his way out of Philadelphia as he could get along with no one. He was traded to Dallas, and that ended unceremoniously for him as well as he was released. Then he was banished to Czechoslovakia (Buffalo), for a year then played in Cincinnati. All I could wonder while this was happening is what would have happened had Owens just been a professional. What if he and McNabb could co-exist? Both of their careers might have taken different paths. McNabb might have some jewelry, and Owens might have a better legacy.

How will I remember Owens? I’ll remember him as a game breaking one of a kind talent who was came into the league without much fanfare and will leave the same way. I’ll remember him as the receiver who could do a little bit of everything, and delivered some of the nastiest stiff arms I’ve ever seen on the gridiron. I’ll remember him grabbing nine balls (many of which were very poorly thrown) in the Superbowl on a bad wheel. I’ll remember him for his frank nature in the media, even if it understandably didn’t come across well.

Most of all, I’ll remember him for being a Hall of Fame Caliber FOOTBALL player. At last check the Hall of Fame is about performance. 1,078 catches, 15,934 yards and 153 touchdowns is HALL OF FAMER, no matter how you want to slice it. Like him, love him, have no feelings towards him, the man played and produced like a Hall of Famer. The day it becomes about personality and/or politics should be the day he misses out. But this isn’t a beauty pageant, it is football.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Carmelo Anthony is a New York Knick....finally

Mercifully, the Carmelo Anthony drama has come to an end as the Denver Nuggets traded him to the New York Knicks Monday night. The Knicks sent F Danilo Gallinari, F Wilson Chandler, C Timofey Mozgov, PG Raymond Felton, a 2014 first round draft pick and 2 second round draft picks to the Nuggets in exchange for F Carmelo Anthony, PG Chauncey Billups, F/C Shelden Williams aka Mr. Candace Parker, G Anthony Carter and F Renaldo Balkman. Minnesota also received Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph in the deal while sending F Corey Brewer to the Knicks.

I like Carmelo Anthony as a player. In my eyes he's the best pure scorer in the game, and there isn't a single thing offensively he can't do. I admit I wasn't on board with this trade a week ago, but when I thought about it, I realized that only one of these players really had a long term future with the team (Gallinari), and that put me at ease. I don't think the Knicks handled it as well as they probably should've but given the magnitude of the player at hand, and the uncertainty of the current CBA something had to be done. As much as the tired 'You could have signed him in free agency' card gets played, Anthony wasn't going to pass up $65 million. If the Knicks were going to get him they needed to do so now, and they did exactly that.

The Knicks also upgraded their point guard spot, getting Chauncey Billups to replace Raymond Felton. Felton is a tough guy, a leader, and I enjoyed watching him play but he can't shoot and he wasn't a long term option at PG anyway. I like Felton but at the very least Billups is a lateral move. Billups is also a knock down shooter from three. Neither one of them is going to be here after next season, so that isn't overly significant one way or another, but I think it helps the Knicks in the short term.

Wilson Chandler is a solid player. He can credibly guard three positions, he can shoot it, he can get to the rim and overall is a solid basketball player. Denver got a nice player in Chandler, and his versatility is a weapon for any basketball team. From the Knicks standpoint, Chandler is a restricted free agent and the Knicks had to renounce his rights to open up space down the road. He wasn't going to be a Knick after this season so that loss is minimal. I think the Nuggets made out well as a whole since there was no way Carmelo was going to come back to the team in the offseason.

Danilo Gallinari is the only part of the trade that hurts for me. Gallinari is already a solid, albeit inconsistent, NBA player who can shoot the ball, put the ball on the deck, and is an underrated defender who is a still developing 22 year old. I like Gallinari and am sad to see him go. I think he has a bright future in the NBA and I personally enjoyed his flair for the dramatic as well as his charisma. I also thought, if somehow the Knicks could have kept him, he would've been a nice piece to go along with the current team. But as the old adage goes, "You have to give to get". As sad as I am to see Gallinari go, I'm even more happy to see Carmelo Anthony arrive.

I thought the Knicks should've drawn the line at Mozgov on general principle alone but at the same time how would Donnie Walsh and Mike D'Antoni ever be taken seriously again if their claim to fame was 'We wouldn't trade Timofey Mozgov for Carmelo Anthony?' Answer? They wouldn't be, unless Timofey Mozgov turned into a top center in the NBA.

The rest of the trade isn't even worth discussing (Eddy "I eat a cheeseburger for every million I steal" Curry, Anthony "Splinters" Randolph).

Did the Knicks give up a lot from a "this year" standpoint? Yes, now the Knicks have absolutely no front court depth. Chandler, and Mozgov were both important in that particular regard. But this trade isn't about this year, it's about competing for jewelry in the near future. Whether or not the Knicks will be, we don't know, but they are closer to that ultimate longer term goal now than they were yesterday.

The Knicks started on the "Let's get two superstars" goal, three years ago. Now they completed that goal, with a third superstar in mind. What's to complain about? I think the first time Mr. Anthony drops 45 on 60% shooting while single handedly winning a game, you'll hear a lot of 'Who did we trade again?' sentiments.

One thing we can all agree on, is the relief that this drama is finally over. After long last, Carmelo Anthony is home. Knick fans, rejoice. In the words of Ice Cube, "Today is a Good Day".

Monday, February 7, 2011

Aaron Rodgers is just NOW elite? Really?

Now that the Green Bay Packers have won football’s ultimate prize, I have heard sentiments from many that this cements Aaron Rodgers as one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. And to those sentiments I have to ask, where have you been hiding the last three years? And why is it that a TEAM accomplishment defines what an individual does? Fact of the matter is, Rodgers had elite numbers, and elite ability long before the clock read :00 on Sunday night. People become too wrapped up in championships and comparing people from that standpoint. How many people does it take to win a championship? How about sticking to comparing individuals.

ESPN’s Michael Smith had a great quote on twitter on the other day that pretty much sums up how I feel on the matter of Rodgers’ greatness. “In a team sport I do not define a player's greatness by how many championships his TEAM has won. I WATCH a player and determine if hes great,” Sometimes people become a prisoner to the “rings” argument. While it is certainly relevant, I think it’s far down the list of tools to determine a player’s greatness. Individual productiona and the good old “eye test” should be the biggest determining factors.

Back to Rodgers, in my eyes he’s been elite for the last two years. Here are his last three years (first three years starting in the league, mind you):

2008: 63.6% completion percentage 4038 yards 7.5 YPA 28 TD 13 INT 93.8 QB rating
2009: 64.7% completion percentage 4434 yards 8.2 YPA 30 TD 7 INT 103.2 QB rating
2010: 65.7% completion percentage 3922 yards 8.3 YPA 28 TD 11 INT 101.2 QB rating

We all saw what we did in the postseason this year, and even last year in a losing effort. I can understand not wanting to jump the gun in 2008 when he first came on the scene because many players, regardless of the sport, flame out after a really good initial year. But after putting up 86 touchdowns and 31 interceptions, there are still people out there who needed MORE to be able to call this man an elite quarterback? Really?

As far as his ability, there is nothing Rodgers can’t do. He has excellent pocket presence, he has one of the strongest arms in the sport, he is mobile, he has arguably the quickest release in the sport, is one of the most accurate QBs in the game and is cerebral on top of that. I completely understand not wanting to crown someone too early before they have accomplished too much but Rodgers three year stretch is top of the line comparatively speaking in the history of the league yet NOW he’s elite because his TEAM won a Superbowl? Really? I just believe too many people put far too much stock into team success and thus far late to the punch bowl in situations like this, where a player has been playing at an elite level for three years.

I'm not saying he's the best QB in the league (though I believe it can be argued that he is), or that he'll be the best quarterback ever or anything of the sort. I'm just saying that looking at what he brings to the table, he's been near the top of the league for a couple of years. His last three years are no accident. I personally rank him right there with Peyton Manning as the two best quarterbacks in the league. I'd probably give Manning a slight edge, but it's close. And when it comes to natural passing ability, Rodgers is as gifted a passer as the NFL has to offer.

I hope Rodgers stays healthy and continues on his already torrid pace, and rewrites some of the history books. He’s exciting to watch as he, in my eyes, is the game’s most gifted passer regardless of what his team just accomplished in winning Superbowl 45.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SB XLV Wrap Up

Superbowl XLV wrap up

-Great game. It wasn’t necessarily the most well played game but it delivered when it came to the excitement. It came down to the last possession and you can’t ask for much more out of a Superbowl.

-Before I get started on the game, I’ll talk about the commercials, the anthem and the post game performance. As far as the national anthem, Christina Aguilera completely botched it and it’s a shame. I wonder how that affects the people who bet on how long it would last. As far as the commercials, the only one that I liked was the Kim Kardashian commercial. I think we all know the reasoning behind that one. The Black Eyed Peas halftime performance was absolutely dreadful. Janet Jackson’s “display” in 2004 ruined the Superbowl forever.

-Aaron Rodgers performance was truly magnificent. Mike McCarthy basically put the game on his shoulders, and Rodgers took that responsibility and played a great game. Despite six drops by Packer WRs, Rodgers still put up 300+ yards and 3 touchdowns. I mentioned in my previous entry that the Packers couldn’t be one dimensional but they were and it worked. McCarthy put everything on his best player and he came through big time.

-James Jones drops a 50+ yard touchdown every game it seems. I thought that play would end up making the game a lot closer than it should have been, and it ended up working out as such. Jones isn’t a bad fourth option but he has had several killer drops.

-I thought the Steelers should have kept with the running game more than they did. They did run the ball quite a few times but I thought they should have ran it more considering Green Bay really could not stop them on the ground. Of course, however, when you’re down 18 like the Steelers were it’s easier said than done to remain balanced.

-Where was Troy Polamalu all night? He didn’t make a single impact play. The Packers did a good job of neutralizing him and Polamalu’s incorrect guess on Greg Jennings touchdown catch hurt.

-I felt bad for Charles Woodson. It’s unfortunate he couldn’t finish out the game but I’m glad he got that long awaited ring. He’s been a good player for a long time, and also been a great teammate. Hats off to #21.

-I thought the Packers were too conservative with the pass rush on Ben Roethlisberger. I’m not sure what the splits looked like but it seemed like they had success when they blitzed him. Capers was content in rushing three and four guys repeatedly and Roethlisberger had plenty of time to pass the ball. Had the Packers lost the game I thought that would have been one of the bigger stories.

-I still find it hilarious that NOW people are coming to the realization that Aaron Rodgers is elite, just because he now has a SB ring. The guy has been elite for awhile, but as usual there are a lot of folks that are late to the punch bowl.

-The Steelers are a tough football team, and I have great respect for them. They are never out of a game and though they were down 18 points, they came back and made it a one possession game. Much props to their resiliency, as they could’ve easily folded up tent and got blown out.

-I’m surprised that on the last possession, the Steelers didn’t target Hines Ward once. He’s been their money receiver for years now, and it doesn’t get much bigger than that possession.

-Congratulations to the Green Bay Packers on winning SB XLV. Well deserved.

-Hopefully this isn’t the last football we see for over a year. Let’s pray on that.

SB XLV- Pittsburgh Steelers vs Green Bay Packers

An assortment of thoughts on the game:

-How will the Packers respond to the nature of the game? I’m not a big believer in the experience angle and it being in the favor of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but being there for the first time is bound to lead to some jitters. Will Aaron Rodgers be too charged up early? How will the rest of the Packers respond?

-How will the Steelers respond to the Packers spread sets? The Packers like to use a lot of four and five wide receiver sets. Teams spreading out and throwing short passes give the Steelers some trouble. After halftime of the AFC Championship Game, the Jets had a lot of success with the spread sets as Mark Sanchez warmed up and got everyone involved. I don’t view the Steeler secondary as a strength and if Aaron Rodgers gets time to throw the ball, it could be a long day for them.

-How will the Packers defend Rashard Mendenhall? In the first half of the AFC title game, Mendenhall unleashed fury on the Jets as he nearly rushed for 100 yards in the first half of the game. The Packers, for the all the notoriety their defense gets, are terrible in the art of stopping the run. They were LAST in the league in yards per carry against. The only reason that statistic doesn’t get more play is the fact that only five teams saw less rushing attempts against them than the Packers did. If the Packers let Mendenhall get off, then Pittsburgh gets the sight they want to see the most and that is Aaron Rodgers on the sideline spectating.

-Do the Packers fall too much in love with the pass? I realize that Aaron Rodgers is arguably the most gifted passer in the league and that attacking Steeler defense with a methodical air attack is probably for the best. With that said, you can’t become too one dimensional because those pass rushers will make life hell for the Packers offensive line and subsequently Mr. Rodgers. The Jets did a good job of that in the second half of the Title Game. While they were playing “catch up”, they still mixed in the run to keep the Steelers guessing. You cannot let James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley pin their ears back and give them a green light to see off on Rodgers.

-Does Troy Polamalu make an impact? As great as Polamalu is he hasn’t really had a significant tangible impact on the postseason to date. You would think, given his history and the magnitude of the game at hand, Polamalu will have his hand in a big play or two come Sunday. I believe when it comes to pure “game speed”, Polamalu plays faster than the majority of the players in the league. Obviously his foot speed complements that as well, as he runs like a gazelle. The thing about Polamalu that gives offenses trouble, is his penchant for seemingly being in five places at once. One minute, Polamalu will be at the line of scrimmage bluffing blitz and in the next minute he’s picking off a pass 40 yards down the field. He’s football’s David Blaine and it’s imperative the Packers identify where he is at all times, because if anybody can break the game open in the Steelers favor, it’s #43.

-Mike McCarthy vs Dick Lebeau. Who wins this matchup? As a football geek/enthusiast, this matchup is one of the most exciting this game has to offer. I think McCarthy’s offensive genius is truly overlooked and severely underappreciated. While he may have other issues as a head coach, I believe he’s one of the very best playcallers the sport has to offer. His offenses have always been well oiled machines. Dick LeBeau’s resume in the NFL and his time in Pittsburgh speak for themselves. After all the man is revered in football circles as the inventor of the zone blitz. The INVENTOR! Pittsburgh’s defenses have made life hell on quarterbacks for years on end, and have ranked near the top of the league for the majority of LeBeau’s stay. Does McCarthy attack the Steeler defense with spread sets, and try to exploit a spotty Steeler secondary? If he does, how does LeBeau counter? Does McCarthy run a more traditional offense with balance? What wrinkles will LeBeau have for Aaron Rodgers? It’s truly a football purist’s dream.

-While Dick LeBeau seems to have grabbed most of the headlines in the two week hiatus leading up to Superbowl Sunday, Dom Capers is no slouch. The Packers defense has ranked top five in each of the last two seasons. How will he unleash Matthews? How will he free him up? With the dearth of good CBs the Packers have they can afford to play Charles Woodson in a hybrid CB/S role, hence why he blitzes off the slot more than any player I’ve ever seen in my life. I think Capers will have a solid game plan, and it’s up to the players to go out there and execute it. To their credit, they have up until this point.

-How much damage will Ben Roethlisberger do with his legs? Although Roethlisberger doesn’t necessarily look fast, he’s awfully nimble for a man his size. He always makes plays with his legs, and has a penchant for making men miss. He will break contain every now and then and make a play but can the Packers minimize his affect on the game outside the pocket? Can they minimize the missed tackles?

-How will the Packers secondary handle Mike Wallace? While I realize the Steelers have more weapons, I think it is the most imperative to keep Wallace in check because he is a home run threat from anywhere on the field. He didn’t average 21 yards per catch this by accident. I already made mention of the Packers excellent secondary, and the exotic blitz schemes Capers will bring to the party. Will they do enough to stop arguably the most dangerous player that will suit up in the Superbowl?

Final thoughts and Prediction: I can’t really get excited for this game because of how close the Jets came to being in it. Also, I have a strong distaste for “Steeler nation” but that’s neither here nor there. I’ll still watch the game and stuff my face like I always do.

As far as the game itself, Aaron Rodgers has been red hot since the Week 16 game against the New York Giants. Ben Roehlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers will be a tough obstacle for the Packers to get over but I think the Packers win as the Steelers have issues stopping the plethora of weapons the Packers bring to the table.

Score: Packers 27 Steelers 24

Happy Superbowl Sunday!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

As the Melo Turns

First of all, let me say that I am dog tired of this whole drama involving Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony. This is worse than the whole LeBron James free agency extravaganza that took place in the summer. With James, it was the summer and there was no basketball going on and he was arguably the biggest free agent ever. This is going on during the season and every day something different comes about, then you hear the obvious things that everyone knew already. Then Anthony was close to being traded how many times now? It's the NBA's version of 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf'. The 'he said, she said', this source, that source crap gets old. All of that aside, I do have an interest in it because of the magnitude of the player and because the Knicks are within the heart of the rumors.

It's a complicated situation that doesn't seem to be near to a close. There are so many questions that still need to be answered on Anthony's end, on the Nuggets end, and on the end of whichever team (looking more and more like the New Jersey Nets) is willing to trade for him. Is Denver trying to openly spite Anthony? Is Anthony willing to sign an extension with the Nets? Is Anthony 'all in' on eventually being a New York Knick? There is no way to accurately gauge what is going on within the trade rumors, especially when there is a plethora of different rumors every single day.

I'm not particularly sure why Anthony would want to sign his future off to New Jersey when they currently are a poor team who wouldn't stand to get much better with the trade. Of course though, there is the sticky issue of a new CBA agreement, and the money Anthony would potentially pass up by foregoing an extension now.

Of course I'm somewhat biased here as I'm a Knicks fan but I think his best bet going forward would be playing for the New York Knicks. Given the fact that the Knicks are in a somewhat tricky cap situation in this coming offseason, mostly due to Wilson Chandler's cap hold, the Knicks almost have to trade for him if they want him. Ultimately, if the Knicks trade for him they might clear their pantry of role players but the trio of PG Raymond Felton, PF/C Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony would be a force for years to come.

If I had to make a prediction now on where Carmelo will end up, I'd say he'll be a Knick. Of course, I also swore LeBron would be a Knick. I'm tempered in my thoughts this time as I saw a similar situation play out last summer. Who knows what Melo wants? Does Melo even know what he wants? Who knows anything involving Melo at this stage that isn't speculative? Nobody knows anything. But I know this, tomorrow features another episode of 'As the Melo Turns'.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For the Jets this showdown may be "business", but for me it's personal

As anyone who knows anything about me is well aware of, I'm a diehard football fan. Most of all, I'm a diehard Jets fan. I'm not going to sit here and act like I've been a fan of the Jets since football was invented. I'm a young guy, 'only' 23 years old. That doesn't change the fact that I absolutely love this team, and the fact that I cannot possibly be more emotionally invested in this team. The Jets are my favorite professional sports franchise, and I ride with them to the very end. I watch every second of Jets football I can watch, no matter what. 1-15 Jets? I'll watch. Kliff Kingsbury is starting because 4 QBs on your team are hurt? I'll watch. Chad Pennington's shoulder is spaghetti? I'll watch. My passion for this team is simply off the charts. Through everything, I stick with the team I grew up loving.

The last two seasons for the team have been among the best Jet memories I've had. I am fully aware that I'm not saying much with that statement given what the Jets have done for the last 15 years. Since the hire of head coach Rex Ryan, the culture of the team has changed. The team is far more physical than it was under the previous regime. The team in its entirety is more about physicality and beating you straight forward as opposed to the finesse, the smoke and mirrors that marred the Eric Mangini era.

Ryan definitely has his flaws, both on the field and off it. On the field, sometimes his clock management can be spotty. Sometimes, I think Rex's bravado and general overconfidence can have an adverse affect on a game (see: fake punt in Week 16 for prime example). And sometimes all the talking he does gets absolutely old, but overall the Jets are 23-13 as the Jets coach with two straight playoff appearances and three road playoff wins. I'm extremely appreciative of Rex Ryan and what he has done for my team, as far as the culture and obviously the record. I'm encouraged with the direction the team is headed. Now there are quite a few tough decisions for the offseason but this isn't the time for that. Once the season is over, I can talk about the offseason.

The Jets defeated the Colts last week on a "walk off" field goal, setting up Round Three of New England Patriots vs New York Jets. Round One was a decisive Jets victory backed by an impressive performance from QB Mark Sanchez and saw the defense pitch a second half shutout. Game Two, which pretty much decided the division, saw the Patriots take the Jets behind the woodshed behind Woodhead.

Now it's time for Round Three between the rivals. Ryan has talked all year about what he believes his team is capable of, and how anything short of a Superbowl is a failure. He's mentioned how he isn't here to kiss Belichick's rings and his particular distaste for the Patriots. Well it's safe to say that he certainly isn't alone with that particular sentiment. I'm sure many of the other Jets players, coaches, and staff members feel that way too.

More than anyone though, I feel the Jets fanbase HATES the New England Patriots and everything about them. I'm not going to speak for them, as I can only speak for myself. And on my end, I absolutely despise the Patriots. Obviously the fact that they are winning is a small part of the hatred, but everything about that team rubs me the wrong way. From the smug arrogant owner to the QB who whines whenever he gets touched, down to the coach who left us at the 12th hour to go to New England and has won three championships since then (while we've been through four head coaches), everything about them rubs me the wrong way. The fact that this incredible run they have been on for the last 10 years basically started with a fateful hit by Jets MLB Mo Lewis makes it all the more nauseating. Lewis took out then Patriot QB Drew Bledsoe, and Tom Brady took over. And from there, the story tells itself.

I can respect those guys because of how they seemingly ease into any and everything seamlessly. They are a winning franchise, with a winning coach and a winning QB. So while I do hate them with a passion, I'm not a blind fan. I recognize what they have done and why they are a model franchise. And as a result, the exposure they get makes my stomach turn. I'm not trying to say they don’t deserve the admiration and respect they get, far from it. They've been the model of consistency for years now, but the weasel head coach, and the whiny QB, along with the fact that all of this is taking place for a bitter rival in Massachusetts make it difficult to stomach.

Honestly, it hurts. And over the ten year period of dominance all they have done is beat the Jets like they stole something repeatedly. They have owned us for the better part of this decade, and I'm tired of it. The Jets have been a fairly successful franchise over the past ten years, as they have appeared in the playoffs six times. The Jets also have had one home playoff game in that time span, mostly because the Patriots have dominated the AFC East.

Rock bottom for me as a football came during week 13 of this NFL season, as I watched the Patriots run roughshod all over the Jets to the tune of 45-3. I have never been so embarrassed as a Jets fan. As well documented at the top, I’ve seen quite a bit of negative as a Jet fan. There is practically nothing negative as a football fan that I've never experienced. When they say that being a Jets fan "builds character", it's the truth. I can attest to that one.

Honestly that game was the most painful to endure as a Jets fan. I was in a bar full of Jets fans, and midway through the second quarter the game was all but decided, and everyone was dejected. The Jets were tied for the division lead going into the game, and it was probably the biggest regular season game the Jets have ever played in since I became a fan back in 1996. The fact that they lost wasn't the hard part because the Patriots are a damn good team. The fact that they embarrassed themselves, and basically no showed on National television cut deep. It stung like no other loss I've ever experienced, with the possible exception of the 1998 AFC Title Game.

Bottom line, I give the Patriots respect because for all they have represented over the last ten years (even with the cheating scandal and the weasel head coach), as they are epitome of winning. Even with the respect, comes a hatred not matched by any other sports franchises.

All the talk all year from everyone within the team was how the goal was Superbowl or Bust. Go out there and take it. The second step is walking out of Foxboro victorious. Go out there and do the "impossible". Do it for yourselves, do it for the man next to you and do it for me. I'm ready for Sunday, and at 4:30 Sunday we'll see if the Jets are too.

So to the New York Jets players, coaching staff, and everyone who is involved with the team---have the game of your lives. Make yourselves, your fellow employees, the millions of Jets fans in the world and the city proud. Go out there and shock the world. Beat the New England Patriots, and knock the smirk off Tom Brady's face. Make sure he'll hate us even more than he already does. Make sure the fourth quarter of this game won't be a Patriot trash talking fest like it probably was during the week 13 massacre.

For the Jet players, coaches and the like, this may be more business and football than anything else. For me, and a legion of other Jets fans, it's personal. Let's get it. Go Jets.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thoughts on Wild Card Weekend

-Though I didn't think much of the Seahawks, and actually laughed (and still do laugh) at the idea of a 7-9 team hosting a playoff game, I ate my crow with ketchup. I like it when a team no one expects to do anything ends up shocking the world. I thought the outrage of them making the playoffs was a bit ridiculous. Yes they were basically the skinniest kid at fat camp but the fact of the matter is they won their division. I think the outrage was a bit much honestly. Good for them.

-The Saints defense is terrible. Besides the ridiculous Marshawn Lynch run, one play was a microcosm of their performance. That long touchdown from QB Matt Hasselbeck to WR Brandon Stokley, where Stokley ran down the field unimpeded as four guys chased helplessly while he waltzed into the endzone summed it up.

-Is Reggie Bush really that bad at the running the ball to the point where he can't beat out Julius Jones. It's the worst kept secret in the history of the world that I don't think much of him as a player, but it really makes you wonder about him, where the Saints find the need to give the ball to Jones more than him. Can he really be that bad a runner?

- That Marshawn Lynch run was perhaps the best run I've ever seen in my life when you take all the factors into account. The man broke eight tackles on one play, and made the Saints defense look like a pee wee defense. And Tracy Porter, all I have to say about you is 'C'mon man'. I think he's still flying from that stiff arm.

-Reggie Wayne. 1 catch, 1 yard. Does anyone STILL not believe Darrelle Revis isn't the best DB in the sport? If you don't, there's no point of return for you. I think Kanye West and Jay-Z put forth the track 'Monster' with Revis in mind, because that's exactly what he is--a monster.

-I thought the offensive playcalling for the Colts was particularly bizarre. Do I realize the Jets basically dared the Colts to run the ball all night? Yes. The Jets dared the Colts, and particularly Peyton Manning to be patient and I believe they were too patient the entire night. I was surprised that Rex Ryan was so patient and conservative with his playcalling and I was just as surprised that Peyton Manning was SO patient. The Colts can't run the ball, and couldn't run the ball despite the Jets giving the run game to them all night. When they passed the ball, the Jets rarely ever touched Manning, so why they didn't pass more I'll never know. I'm glad they didn't.

-The timeout that Colts coach Jim Caldwell called on the last drive was befuddling. You weren't going to get the ball back. The Jets had control of the clock. The Jets were at the 32 yard line, so the field goal isn't exactly a chip shot. In essence, all the timeout did was give the Jets extra time to think about what play they were going to run. Then Caldwell's explanation after the game made even less sense than the timeout itself. It was something to the effect of "We wanted them to run more plays,". Uh, what?

-Out of any quarterback with good numbers, QB Matt Cassel is probably by far the most unimpressive I've ever seen. Honestly, I expected the Chiefs would get blown out simply because I thought their body of work was unimpressive. I thought the Chiefs were the worst AFC team coming into the playoffs. They beat nobody all year asides from the Chargers, who didn't even make the postseason. The Ravens are simply on a different level. Back on Cassel, the guy just doesn't look like a good quarterback. I've seen some of the Chiefs this year and I've never sat there and thought, "Man, this guy is good," He didn't even crack 100 yards and threw three interceptions on Sunday. He looked like a high school quarterback for the majority of the game. Color me unsurprised.

-I will never understand for the life of me why HB Jamaal Charles doesn't get more carries. This isn't so much about yesterday as it is the just generally speaking with the Chiefs. I understand that the guy is less than 200 LBs, but the man averaged more than SIX yards per carry. He had only nine carries yesterday, and in the last two seasons he has only had 400 carries. I understand you don't want to burn him out but the guy has to get more touches. He's far too explosive to 'spare'. They have to use that guy more.

-I like Andy Reid. I think he's one of the brightest offensive minds in football, and I think his resume backs that claim. However, why is it that in EVERY short yardage situation Reid just HAS to try and get cute. I completely understand that the Eagles don't exactly have the ideal short yardage package. The interior of their line is shoddy and with the loss of Leonard Weaver they don't have anything that even looks like a short yardage back. Even so, at some point when do you just run the ball up the middle with your running back? 2nd and short, 3rd and short you run back to back QB draws with your 180 LB QB? Really? That wasn't a big deal in the game (they did score on that drive) but every time I see that I wonder if Andy Reid is trying to win a beauty pageant or a football game.

-QB Mike Vick going for the jugular on the last play of the game throwing to WR Riley Cooper was a little puzzling. Now if the throw was just a tad deeper, this part of the entry might have a different tint, but why not go with what got you there? WR Desean Jackson, WR Jeremy Maclin, HB LeSean McCoy and TE Brent Celek are the Eagles best skill players. Vick has all of those guys, yet with the season on the line he's throwing jump balls to.....Riley Cooper? Really?

-I'm glad Aaron Rodgers got his first playoff victory. He played a really good game, and I don't think the guy gets credit for how good he is for the simple fact that he doesn't have the playoff success others have. Well, in time he'll get his. He continues to impress.

-The Eagles offensive line should all thank the heavens that Mike Vick is their quarterback. Otherwise, they'd give up an immense number of sacks. They need some tinkering, especially on the interior of the line.

-All in all, three good games and a bad one this weekend. It was a pretty good weekend of football and hopefully next week brings us the same.

Friday, January 7, 2011

NFC Wildcard Game- (5) New Orleans Saints @ ("4") Seattle Seahawks

I really wish I could summon the energy to type out some serious analysis on the game but the fact of the matter is, this game is as one sided as it gets. You have an under .500 team going up against the defending Superbowl Champions who happen to be led by one of the very best quarterbacks in the sport. Regular season record is not necessarily everything when it comes to a playoff team, as there are other factors like how the team ends the season, health, and matchups among other things.

That aside, this Seattle Seahawk team is putrid. They were outscored by 97 points in the regular season. In order to fill this out a little bit, I'll look at some things to watch for this game.

-Does New Orleans play tight? New Orleans is nearly two touchdown favorites, and it is pretty much world renown how they should have no problem winning this game. In this situation, sometimes teams either underestimate their opponent or flat out play tight and keep the opponent in the game. It'll be interesting to see how New Orleans deals with this.

-While the Saints have one of the best passers in the business, their top two running backs (Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory) are out for this game, leaving them down to Reggie Bush and Julius Jones. That is a very uninspiring duo, but given the fact that the Seahawks defend against the pass and the run equally poorly, it probably won't matter.

-The Saints need to throttle the Seahawks early. As poor as the Seahawks are, in a game of this magnitude, the crowd can be the great equalizer. The Seahawks boast one of the best "12th men" in the league. Unfortunately they are stuck with the first eleven men they have on both sides of the football

-If the Seahawks are to stand a chance, they must play the game of their life. If that is to happen, they must show something they haven't all year. They must show they have the ability to play like a good team.

Final Thoughts and Prediction:

This is a major mismatch, and the Saints will show why it is with a blowout win.

Saints 34 Seahawks 14

WIldcard Weekend- (6) New York Jets @ (3) Indianapolis Colts

I prayed as hard as imaginable to avoid a situation where my New York Jets would face Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, all that praying didn't work, and the Jets will see the NFL player that scares me the most. As the Tennesee Titans were driving last week, I was feeling good as I thought the Titans were on their way to sending the Jets to Kansas City. Unfortunately Kerry Collins did his best Rex Grossman and fumbled the snap, and thus the game away to the Colts.

Regardless, before I break into the same rage I was in last week watching it, I will talk about the game itself.

It has been an interesting season for the New York Jets to say the least. Exploits both on the field and off have made for the most interesting season in recent memory for the Jets. Dramatic wins in the last minute of games, the Boston massacre at the hands of the Patriots, "tripgate", and "footgate" have contributed to a wild Jets season.

The Colts have struggled by their standards this season as they needed to win the last four games of the season to get into the postseason, winning the AFC South at 10-6. The Colts have suffered through several key injuries, namely to offensive skill players TE Dallas Clark, WR Austin Collie and RB Joseph Addai.

While Peyton Manning threw for 4,700 yards and 33 touchdowns he also threw 17 interceptions, 11 of them coming in a rough three game stretch against the Cowboys, Patriots, and Chargers where the Colts lost three straight and nearly compromised their playoff chances in the process. This season was probably the most trying season for the Colts in some time, as they dealt with more adversity than they usually do. Normally they have the AFC South division wrapped up by the beginning of December, but clinched in week 17 this season. Peyton Manning went through the worst three game stretch of his career and the Colts dealt with several key injuries. Despite all of that the Colts still made the postseason, and come into the postseason on a four game win streak.

Thoughts on the game:

-Can the Jets offense step up? Can they sustain drives long enough to help themselves and their defense? The Jet offense has been highly inconsistent all season long, but they have been better in recent weeks with good showings in road games against the Steelers and Bears. The Jets have the skill players to get it done, but often times disjointed playcalling from OC Brian Schotteinheimer and inconsistency from second year QB Mark Sanchez adversely affect the offense's production.

-The Jets have lacked a pass rush for the majority of the season as quarterbacks often sat in the pocket with an eternity to throw the ball. Fortunately for the team, they have arguably the best CB tandem in the NFL featuring all world CB Darrelle Revis and CB Antonio Cromartie which have been a significant help in masking the deficiencies in the front seven.

-How often will the Colts exploit the Jets LBs and nickel/dime backs in coverage? That has been a weak point of the Jets defense all year, as teams have consistently gone to that well and the middle of the field has been open 24/7. Dallas Clark being out there would cause major problems as he's an All Pro tight end, but Jacob Tamme has been solid in his absence. He's built in a similar mold, as he's a pass catching tight end with wide receiver like qualities. The Jets have nobody who can handle him in coverage, and nobody is better at exploiting a mismatch than Peyton Manning.

Final thoughts and prediction:

While I truly believe the Jets are the better overall team, the Colts have Peyton Manning, and I don't feel the Jets team is well enough equipped to deal with him.

Colts 27 Jets 23