Archive for November, 2008

The SB Bomb

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

So I was listening to the Jets game on the radio Sunday on my way to Philadelphia, and as I cruised west on the Belt Parking Lot something grabbed my attention. The Jets were up 14 and moving the ball, thanks in part to pass interference flags against Laveranues Coles. I was slightly surprised to know the Jets were winning by 14 and about to do something none of the 10 teams prior to them could do-beat the unbeaten Titans.

I wasn’t all that surprised about that though, as I had watched much of the first half on TV. I was surprised when Mangini had his guys go for it on 4th down, a call that I explained to my girlfriend would either make the coach a genius or an idiot. (The Jets converted and later scored… Mangenius.)

What grabbed my attention more than anything was when the radio announcer dropped the bomb, the one with the words “super” and “bowl” in it. Yeah, that one.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the Jets are capable of, and lately it seems every week they’re proving their doubters wrong and playing better and better. Seriously, who predicted wins at New England and Tennessee? Even with a loss or two there, they wouldn’t be in godawful shape, but with two big road wins, the Jets are looking like the team to beat in the AFC.

The conversation has gone from playoff appearance, division champion, to bye in the first round. What’s more surprising about this is that I don’t think we’re getting ahead of ourselves to be throwing around such terminology.

Let’s face it, there are big expectations in New York. Newsday’s Bob Glauber had a column about the Giants and Jets meeting in Tampa this February in that big game. You know, the Super Bowl.

He figured the Giants had a big edge over Gang Green, but not so fast. Keep in mind the Browns beat Big Blue. Certainly the Jets are better than the Browns, but ok, that doesn’t mean much when going head-to-head, especially in this the National Football League. Regardless, and I’ve been saying it all along, even before Brett Favre came to town, I like the Jets’ chances.

Favre is doing what they brought him here to do, but he hardly gets all the credit. His offensive line has stepped up largely for him, but he’s not the only one affected by the blocks made by Mangold, Faneca, Woody, Moore, and Ferguson, not to mention FB Tony Richardson. Thomas Jones and Leon Washington both had big games against the Titans, and long-gone are the questions about this offense lacking an identity. For the record, I read something somewhere about it still lacking, but c’mon people. This offensive knows what it is and what it needs to do. It has its you-know-what together.

Defensively, the secondary still has some work to do, but if it can get by riding the coattails of the front seven, it will come together with such talented athletes like Darrelle Revis, Kerry Rhodes, Ty Law and Dwight Lowery. They’re far from in shambles, and with the likes of Kris Jenkins in opposing quarterbacks’ faces, trust me, don’t worry ’bout it.

But that bomb the radio announcer dropped. The one with the words “super” and “bowl” in it. Could this be? I can’t wait to find out.

Toppling the Beast

Saturday, November 15th, 2008

When the New York Jets woke up Friday morning after beating the Patriots in overtime the night before, they probably thought for a moment or two.

“Wait a minute, I went to bed really excited, what was th- Oh yeah!”

You know that feeling, when you wake up and know you have something to be excited about, but since it’s not something physical, you forget for a minute.

That was Kerrry Rhodes Friday morning, and Sean Ellis. Brett Favre had to be feeling good, but it’s a little different for the guys that have been tormented by the Pats for so long.

Yeah, their breakfast probably tasted pretty nice that morning, whether they’re the same old Jets or not, they finally got a giant monkey off their backs, much bigger than Rhodes’ first pick, which came against St. Louis, much bigger than Calvin Pace’s first touchdown, also registered against the lowly Rams.

Coming into this one, it was trendy to doubt New York. Having just beaten the 2-7 Rams, Gang Green was definitely clicking, having won three straight and five of their last six, but as ever, people were still uneasy about New York’s second fiddle.

Whatever doubt was looming over Jets fans had to be at least close to erased when they took the first drive of the game downfield in 10 plays, setting up a 7-yard touchdown pass from Favre to Leon Washington, who was superb as a dual threat. Thomas Jones reached 100 yards, but only because of the extra period. He certainly did it silently, as most of the third-down conversions were made when Favre did what they brought him in to do.

Oh yeah, there was a lot of talk about that too. How this game was the reason Woody Johnson opened up his wallet to the tune of $140 million, or 160, whatever, a big spending spree regardless. Any way you look at it, it paid off as the Jets won despite nearly squandering a 24-6 second-quarter lead.

Matt Cassell did his best Brady impersonation, and it worked when Randy Moss managed to keep his feet inbounds and catch the game-tying touchdown, but in the NFL-and it’s a damn shame-as the overtime coin flip goes so goes the game more often than not.

Favre moved the ball downfield, hitting Laveranues Coles and Dustin Keller en route to Jay Feely’s game-winning 34-yard field goal. Keller was huge, making a big catch on 3rd-and-15 on that very drive, and racking up 87 yards on five catches and a touchdown. Favre has said Keller doesn’t know how good he can be, and I believe him. Keller has been big lately and is going to continue to grow.

Kris Jenkins registered one of the defense’s three sacks. CJ Mosley got another, and the third was shared between Sione Pouha and David Bowens. Okay, so the defense wasn’t huge, but it didn’t have to be. I knew coming into this one that the last team to have possession was going to win. It could be said that New England didn’t lose, they just ran out of time, anybody complain?

Of course they are complaining up in Massachusetts. Who wouldn’t be? The Patriots are suffering from a slew of injuries. The Bill Belichick “plug ‘em in and keep going” winning machine is suffering the kind of setbacks that would adversely affect any team-even these proud Patriots.

Could this be the end of a dynasty? That remains to be seen, but things are certainly changing in the AFC, especially the East division.

My dad-a Jets fan-was saying even after the New England game how he didn’t expect to see the Jets in the Super Bowl. I was quick to point out that he probably wasn’t predicting the Jets to be 7-3 at this point, with sole possession of first place. He laughed and said, “Yeah, they should be 8-2.” It’s what my dad does when I make a good point in sports discussions. Covers it up with a fact, but something that is what it is.

Yeah, that Oakland game… Seems like a while since then, eh?

Can New York Stand Up to the Bully?

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Wednesday’s practice was closed to the media as the team just did a run-through in sweats.

Around the locker room the mood was light, but there was something in the air, a palpable focus of sorts. While Mangini and the Jets do it week in and week out, it’s pretty hard to downplay this Thursday’s showdown at New England.

Laveranues Coles was his usual self to reporters, being stand-offish and short.

“We won more games, that’s about it,” Coles said when asked how his team has changed since week two. “We’re 6-3.”

While Coles makes a good point, he is certainly downplaying what has happened since September 14. How about the game he and Favre had against Arizona? Or the road win at Buffalo, followed by a no-let up effort against a hapless St. Louis team that Gang Green easily could have overlooked with New England on the hrozion just four short days away?

There is a lot of buzz surrounding this game, and mind you, it is buzzing because of what New York has done since they last played New England. They have put themselves in position to take control of a playground bullied by the Patriots. They have come together, playing more consistently and have begun to form an identity that was clearly lacking against Oakland, Cincinnati, and New England the first time. Hell, even the Kansas City win had critics doubting the “same old” Jets.

But make no mistake about it, they’re not the “same old” Jets. At this point last season, the Jets were 1-8 and on a six-game skid heading into the bye week. The fact that terms like “division lead” and “playoffs” are being thrown around the locker room says a lot, and that isn’t going unnoticed.

A newcomer to the AFC East, Calvin Pace said it’s not just about first place but simply the rivalry in itself, but let’s face it, what is this rivalry without playoff implications? It’s just a throwaway game, something the Jets palyed a lot of last season.

I was talking with some friends about this game against New England, and something I found funny was the way they used Brett Favre as a crux for whatever argument they were trying to make.

When I said about how well Favre has been playing lately since getting more and more comfortable with his new offense, someone said about how many interceptions he has thrown and how prone he is to making mistakes.

Later in the discussion I said about how it’s tough to believe that the Jets are 6-3 right now, playing for the division lead against New England when they finished 4-12 last season. My buddy responded by saying, “Well yeah, I mean they have Favre.” Holy contradiction! It’s funny how while one player can be credited for a team’s success, he can just as easily be blamed for its failure.

Favre is that kind of player, one that can keep you in a game just as easily as he can take you out of one, but let’s face it, who doesn’t want him on their roster? I know I sure do, especially heading into New England Thursday during primetime. You need a quarterback that is used to big games and can handle the pressure. You need a playmaker, one that isn’t afraid of taking chances.

Brett aside though, the new-look Jets have several different weapons that are all a part of this turnaround. When asked about any extra pressure knowing this game is why the Jets brought him here, Favre was comical.

“That may be true,” he said. “Then again, it may not be. That may have been why we brought Kris Jenkins in. Let’s put it off on Kris,” Favre said with his signature smile. It’s that familiar Favre-smile, the one that has likely gotten him out of many-a-jam.

Will he be smiling as he leaves Gillette Stadium, or will he be answering questions about the “same old” Jets? Only time will tell, but you gotta like their chances.