Archive for August, 2012

JETS SCORE TOUCHDOWN; LOSE TO EAGLES 28-10

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, P.A. — The Jets touchdown woes are over. You may now exhale and, slowly, remove your hand from the panic button. After three games, 13 quarters, 37 offensive drives, 201 minutes, 199 plays the team’s third-string quarterback, Greg McElroy, found the rookie Terrance Ganaway six yards out for the first score of the preseason.

“Now I just want more of them,” Rex Ryan said when asked about his team ending their touchdown drought at halftime.

McElroy jumped in jubilation. Mark Sanchez, on the sidelines holding the clipboard, smiled in relief. Tim Tebow, next to Sanchez, had his hands raised to the sky from the moment the ball left the former Crimson Tide quarterback’s hands — either a sign for touchdown or a prayer to his lord.

“We were just so happy for Greg [McElroy]. He’s worked so hard. He earned it. Everyone out there — I’m real happy for them,” Tebow told CBS-2 during Thursday’s game.

The touchdown came at 8:55 in the second quarter on a 14-play, 77 yard drive that lasted over eight minutes.

That would be their last, however, as the Jets were shut out in the second half, and in return shut out in wins on the preseason, as they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 28-10, at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday.

Greg McElroy -- not Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow -- was the first Jets QB to throw a TD in 2012. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

McElroy was 5-of-6 for 33 yards and demonstrated a grasp of the offense that has yet to be seen in preseason play. The staggering number of that drive was the back-up unit converting two of three first downs and a fourth down conversation as well. On the evening he was 12-for-17 for 90 yards and 1 touchdown.

The play of running backs Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell leveled the offensive attack in the first half combined for 53 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. Additionally, the two had four runs of nine or more yards — the type of explosive run plays a ground and pound team expects from their backfield.

Touchdown aside, the Jets offense still had a stagnant residue of the vanilla flavor offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has been spoon-feeding everyone all preseason. They were still 5-of-13 on third downs and had seven punts and seven penalties.

Following a 58-yard field goal by Nick Folk as time expired in the first half, the Eagles’ third and fourth units broke through scoring 14 unanswered points. Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Trent Edwards found Brett Brackett for a seven-yard touchdown grab with 12:13 remaining in the game. Running back Chris Polk closed out the scoring — and the preseason — with a three-yard run up the middle with 2:33 left.

The Eagles took the lead and never looked back after Edwards completed a 31-yard pass to receiver Mardy Gilyard, taking a 14-10 lead late in the first half. Gilyard had a cup of coffee with the Jets last season before eventually getting released.

The newly acquired Jason Smith, the former number 2 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft whom the Jets received in return for Wayne Hunter this week, was supposed to see only a limited amount of plays. The team expected him to get roughly 10 plays in live action just to get the former Rams’ feet wet. He logged 33 snaps in at starting left tackle on the night. It’s presumed Smith will be used predominantly as the team’s sixth lineman/jumbo tight end.

“I was proud of the way he competed, considering he attended only one meeting,” Ryan said.

On the night the offensive line unit gave up five sacks.

First round selection Quinton Coples, who made headlines for his pouting in last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers, had an impact early with one and a half sacks and one pass defended. During his post game press conference last week, Ryan said he was ‘disappointed’ by Coples’ ‘woe is me’ attitude after he was told to stay in when the veterans left the game. Against the Eagles, he played the entire game.

Their loss on against the Panthers last Sunday snapped the Jets 15th consecutive non-losing preseasons. The loss on Thursday marks the first winless Jets preseason in 1994. That team finished 6-10 — good for fifth in the AFC East. The offense, led by Boomer Esiason, was ranked 25th out of 28 teams.

General manager Mike Tannenbaum now has until tomorrow to trim the team down to the final 58 slots reserved for the team and practice squad. Ryan has 10 days to show his hand — whether this team has been pulling the legs of everyone who’s watched them or the Jets offense has yet to be cleared for takeoff.

Sanchez believes the former.

“We got some tricks for everybody. It should be fun to watch. We’re going to play an up-tempo style of football — make plays when we have to and hold on to the ball when it’s not there,” Sanchez said.

BREAKING NEWS: Jets Trade T Hunter to Rams for OL Smith

Monday, August 27th, 2012

After Jets head coach Rex Ryan announced that Austin Howard had supplanted the incumbent Wayne Hunter at the right tackle position, he said he was ‘excited’ for Hunter’s new role with the offense. His new role was supposed to be the team’s sixth lineman and exclusive jumbo tight end.

Jets fans won't have Wayne Hunter to kick around anymore as the underachieving T is traded to the Rams for former #2 pick T Jason Smith

“The more I went back and looked at where we are at as a football team and getting feedback from coaches and knowing the history of Wayne, the success that Wayne had basically as a sixth man, I have decided that is the way we are going to go,” Ryan said last Thursday.

Hunter, a consummate professional, handled the criticism in stride.

“Everybody knows, the whole New York City knows that I’ve been struggling the last year and the last game I didn’t do much better. So, I wasn’t surprised. I was waiting for it to be honest with you. I knew I was struggling. Everything was kind of going south for me, but at the same time I still wanted to help the team in any way possible. I love the Jets. I love this organization,” Hunter said.

Just four days after he announced Hunter’s new role, it appears the veteran offensive lineman has a new role … with another team. It has been reported that the New York Jets have traded Hunter for former 2009 number two overall draft pick, right tackle Jason Smith from the St. Louis Rams.

The move comes a week after Hunter, who was due to make $2.5 million this season, had a forgettable performance against the New York Giants, allowing 2.5 sacks on the night.

Smith, a former standout from Baylor University, had underachieved in his three seasons in St. Louis. Prior to this season he had agreed to a sixty percent pay cut to $4 million a year. In 2010 he was beaten out for the starting right tackle position by then-rookie Rodger Saffold. During his rookie campaign, Smith suffered a serious concussion in mid-November. He would miss the remainder of the season. Smith called the situation “real serious”.

Prior to his senior year at Baylor, Smith graduated a year early from the school in May 2008, having graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in recreation. As a senior in 2008 he was an All-American selection and a All-Big 12 Conference selection as well. Smith was named Baylor’s co-Most Valuable Player. He was credited by the school with 96 knockdown blocks, which were the most ever by a Baylor offensive lineman. Smith gave up 3½ sacks and was penalized five times.

At the 2009 NFL Combine, Smith recorded the 11th-fastest 40-yard dash (5.09 seconds), tied for the fourth-most repetitions in the bench press (33), and was sixth in the three-cone drill (7.53 seconds) among all offensive linemen who participated. He scored a 23 on the Wonderlic test.

PRESEASON INJURIES: Practice Makes Perfect Sense

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Jets tight end Dedrick Epps had never seen anything like it before.

“I can’t lie that’s rare. That’s as rare as it gets – for the first two guys on the depth chart to go down like that,” he said following his team’s 17-12 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The event Epps was referring to was the first and second string tight ends, Dustin Keller and Josh Baker, leave the game and not return due to injuries within thirty minutes of each other. Keller leaving with a hamstring injury following a 24-yard catch to open the game and Baker after a nasty collision to his knee in the end zone.

That meant the third string — fourth, actually, considering Jeff Cumberland was not active due to a concussion — Epps had to roll with the punches.

“The next man in line has to be ready to step up and perform at or better than the guy in front him. We, as back-ups, have to practice and prepare as if we’re going to be playing the whole game. Today it just so happened to turn out that way,” he said.

For the Jets, yes. But all around the National Football League key players have been bit by the injury bug before their season can get off the ground. Michael Vick has been the most recent and perhaps the most notable player to suffer an injury in a ‘meaningless’ game. This isn’t the first time it’s happened to him either. Vincent Brown suffered a broken ankle when a Cowboys defender—whom he had just beaten for a touchdown—rolled over it in the end zone. LaMichael James hurt his ankle colliding with a teammate. Brandon Jacobs’ knee took a hard hit from the helmet of a Titans tackler.

Of course, these injuries could have occurred in practice. They’ve could’ve occurred in OTAs. Or, in the case of Terrell Suggs, it could’ve (or couldn’t have) happened on the basketball court. Football is a collision sport. And injuries are definitely a part of the sport. As Epps told Jets Insider, “We play football here, man”.

TE Dustin Keller (above) left a preseason game with a hamstring injury. Is preseason worth the hassle? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

But with player salaries beginning to peak at the seven-figure mark and guaranteed money growing by the deal, is it in the league’s best interest to be risking their top products for a few plays in an exhibition game?

It’s no secret NFL fans are not fans of the NFL preseason schedule. Every year season ticket holders are forced to buy tickets to two preseason home games to receive the eight regular season home games. For what? To see their star quarterback get up-ended by some third-string scrub the wrong way and implode their Super Bowl ambitions?

Not every team has Kurt Warners or Tom Bradys waiting in the wings.

The league tried to do something about this last year when re-negotiating their collective bargaining agreement, but to no avail. They proposed the same 20-game schedule except with two preseason games and 18 regular season games (versus four preseason games and 16 regular season games). The player’s union shot that down, citing the increase in meaningful game would risk greater injury to the league’s marquee players.

“It is a violent game. The more games you have, the more injuries that are going to happen,” Jets outside linebacker Aaron Maybin said.

Discussions of the a revised 20-game schedule have stalled since the season’s start, however, Commissioner Roger Goodell expects talks to start back up after the season. They shouldn’t. Fans cringe at the sight of the the medic’s cart crossing the white lines in a preseason game. Just imagine how nauseating it’ll feel seeing a similar sight in Week 19 when it happens amidst a playoff positioning struggle.

Running back Shonn Greene is on the fence in his stance on the preseason schedule. “You want to be able to get the reps in and get the time in. But on the other hand the injury risk is there,” he said.

Of course the league is never going to rid themselves of preseason all together — the owners are far too money hungry to lose out on an opportunity to get an extra buck. There is, however, enough supporting evidence out there to warrant a face-lift of sorts that can work for all sides — the owners, the players and the fans.

This season the New England Patriots have participated in two joint practice sessions with teams that there were facing later that week in an official preseason game. The practices were open to public for free admission and drew large crowds in return. If Goodell were to replace two preseason games with two joint practice sessions, and have team’s charge reduced-rate tickets prices in exchange, it could keep the money flowing in the owner’s pockets, fans entertained and the players safe — relatively, that is.

When I proposed this idea to Maybin, he was skeptically intrigued.

“I’ve never participated in something like that before. It could be great, but it could be a ticking time bomb as well. You’re putting guys from opposing teams together and asking them to compete at 75%. Nobody wants to be shown up by opponents – especially in practice. Tempers could flare. We could also potentially be playing these teams down the road, so we don’t want to show them everything,” he said.

Tempers could flare. Maybe players like Maybin will be willing to trade tempers flaring for knees and ankles flaring.

JETS-PANTHERS HALFTIME HIGHLIGHTS

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It may have taken three preseason games, but the Jets offense has finally showed up to the stadium. After averaging 4.3 yards per play over the course of their first two preseason games, the Jets had three plays of 20 or more yards — a sign that the team is moving forward with positive yardage.

Yes, they still have yet to find the end zone.

But it’s a step in the right direction for a new offensive unit looking to find their identity. The pass set up the runs of Shonn Greene (10 attempts) and the offense moved with a flavor more tasty than vanilla.

Get the good/bad/ugly of the Jets first half against the Carolina Panthers.

Despite being down 10-9 at the half, here are some things that stuck out.

  1. TEMPTING TEMPO: The offense came out revved up and ready to go, starting out in a hurry-up style offense. It worked early on. The team picked up big chunks of yards in their opening series, setting the tone for an offensive output that wouldn’t be so, well, offensive. Despite the change of pace, however, it’s still the same old thing for the Jets offensive — still can’t close the deal. A big issue remains their ineffectiveness on third downs (1-for-5).
  2. TWO-MINUTE DRILLED: After getting the ball back with a 1:11 left in second quarter at their 25-yard line, the Jets didn’t run any type of two-minute offense. Perplexing because they came out with a designed up-tempo style to start the game. I know you don’t want to show everything, but the offense has got to have some practice in real-time situations, right?
  3. HOW’S HOWARD?: Had the opportunity to closely watch Austin Howard’s starting debut against the formidable Charles Johnson. He showed the type of solid handwork that Wayne Hunter has been lacking as well impressive lateral foot movement. The offensive line as a whole has been far more productive in protecting the quarterback, allowing only one sack through the first half.
  4. INSULTING INJURIES: There’s a reason why players hate the preseason. Injuries. Nothing deflates a team more than preseason injuries. In a span of 30 minutes the Jets saw three players leave the game with injuries. Tight end Dustin Keller came up grabbing his hamstring following his 24-yard catch to open the game. Inside linebacker David Harris left the game with a knee injury. And tight end Josh Baker left with a knee injury as well. Josh Mauga has assumed Harris’ duties at linebacker and Dedrick Epps is getting the reps at tight end.
  5. STEPHEN’S UP-HILL BATTLE: The rookie wideout from Georgia Tech with 27 receptions to his name last season has been given the tall task of being the number 2 wideout on a team with playoff expectations. On the second-to-last drive of the first half, Sanchez threw two balls in Hill’s direction — one was dropped and the other was tipped for an interception. There were questions surrounding the rookie receiver’s hands.
  6. A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS: By all accounts, Sanchez has been rock solid thus far. The problem is, he’s getting no help from his friends. Through the first half he’s 7-of-14 for 90 yards and 1 INT. He can’t be blamed for all the offense’s problems if they guys he’s throwing the ball to can’t hold on.

GAME PREVIEW: PANTHERS AT JETS

Friday, August 24th, 2012

After failing to score a touchdown in their second preseason game, the only team in the NFL to not reach the end zone thus far, Jets head coach Rex Ryan re-assured everyone that it was not time to panic — yet.  With a sudden changing of the guard to the team’s offensive line, switching  starting right tackle Wayne Hunter for Austin Howard, all eyes will be on the offense  –  whether it’s Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow at the helm — this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.

Under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s system, the Jets have not looked like the efficiently discipline unit that has become synonymous with his system. Aside from the offensive line’s rather offensive 12-sack preseason performance, the offense as a whole simply has not been able to move the ball. Thus far, the Jets offense is 5-26 on third down conversions.

To put that number in perspective, Joe Flacco — who is often compared to Sanchez — completed seven third down conversions in three-quarters worth of play in the Ravens 48-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday. Good news for the offense will be the expected return of star receiver Santonio Holmes (ribs) for the first time this preseason. Additionally, Ryan stated that he was “hopeful” that second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) will be in action as well.

Tony Sparano (above) must take a "show me now" mentality with his offense heading in to their third preseason game. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

It won’t just be the offense that we’ll have our eye on, however, as the defense will have their hands full with dual-threat Panthers quarterback and reigning offensive Rookie of the Year, Cam Newton. Facing a player with his skill set will prove to be an excellent test against an area of the defense that has been labeled as a weak spot.

Preseason games don’t matter, of course, but they do carry meaning. If the Jets come away with a loss on Sunday it will break a streak of fifteen straight seasons where they haven’t had a losing preseason. In that span they have come away with a losing regular season only three times. They’ve reached the playoffs, including three trips to the AFC Championship game, seven times.

Here are a few areas to focus in on as the Jets hope to avoid their first losing preseason since 1996.

  • AUSTIN HOWARD/OFFENSIVE LINE: This continues to be the biggest weakness on a unit that is still continuing to find cohesion. Howard, a journeyman of sorts, does not have the same task of facing the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Carlos Dunlap. Dealing with Charles Johnson’s 31 career sacks will be formidable for the third-year tackle’s debut performance. So much has been made about Sanchez maintaining confidence throughout the season, protecting him in the preseason while everyone is learning the new offense on the fly is a great start.
  • WAYNE HUNTER @ JUMBO TE: Ryan stated how effective Hunter was as the team’s utility lineman and jumbo tight end. Our very own Chris Nimbley highlighted the lack of an efficient blocking tight end becoming a looming issue with this team. The team looked very effective when the ran the ball behind Howard, who played the jumbo tight end role, last Sunday.
  • SANTONIO HOLMES & WRs: As the team’s number one receiving threat, ‘Tone sets the tone for the young receiving unit. Thus far, he has yet to see the field for a preseason game. Getting continued work and repetitions with Sanchez and perfecting timing of his routes will be the main area of focus. Stretching the field will be important factor as well. Jets quarterbacks have been efficient, but have yet to stretch the field. A big part of that has to do with the liabilities on the offensive line. But presumably with this ground and pound mentality, the Jets should be able to stretch the field with the defense playing the run in the box. Additionally, the shear presence of Holmes forces opposing defenses to roll coverage his way — freeing up younger guys like Stephen Hill and Jordan White.
  • INTERIOR DEF VS. CAM NEWTON: Assuming Darrelle Revis shuts down Steve Smith, Newton will be looking inside against the Jets. Tight end Greg Olsen and running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will be attacking the middle — along with Newton — early and often. A problem area in recent years has been the LBs/S inability to defend tight ends and running backs in passing situations. The additions of Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry are expected to improve that part of field. Also keep an eye out for rookies DeMario Davis and Marcus Dotwin breaking up plays in the middle of the field.

BREAKING NEWS: Howard ousts Hunter at RT

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Third year offensive lineman Austin Howard, Rex Ryan announced at his Thursday’s press conference, will be replacing Wayne Hunter at the right tackle position this Sunday as the Jets host the Carolina Panthers for the team’s third — and most important — preseason game.

Howard, who boasts a career total of four games on his resume, has been impressive in training camp. Drawing the praise of Tony Sparano and Ryan, Howard assumes the role of sparking an offensive line unit that has given up 12 sacks in two preseason games.

He’ll have to do all that in starting at right tackle for the first time in his career.

“Every time you’re on the field is a great opportunity [to prove yourself] whether it’s with the 1’s, 2’s or 3’s. It’s your time out there and you have to take advantage of such opportunities. If it’s a practice or a game it’s important to stay consistent with your play,” Howard said after Sundays 26-3 loss to the New York Giants.

Howard, 25, went undrafted out of Northern Iowa before being signed by the Philadelphia Eagles on April 27, 2010. After making the team and playing in four games that season, he was waived by the Eagles on the final day of rosters cuts before the 2011 season. He spent marginal time on the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad before the Jets signed him to their active roster on November 25, 2011.

Nick Mangold (left) and Matt Slauson will have a new addition to their starting unit on Sunday against the Panthers. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Hunter, who started all 16 games last season for the Jets, replaced former Pro Bowl lineman Damian Woody in the stretch run of the team’s 2010 season. Struggling throughout the 2011 campaign, his problems persisted this preseason giving up three sacks (and one that was nullified) against the Giants on Saturday.

Ryan stated that Hunter will assume the role as the unit’s sixth lineman — a role that, Ryan said, he excelled in.

“He was so good [as the utility lineman/jumbo TE]. He’ll do whatever is asked of him and we know that. In that role he absolutely excelled for us. I’m excited to get him back in that role. Last year we never had anyone who could play that role,” he said.

Hunter admitted after the loss to the Giants on Sunday that an area he needed to work on was his hands — and work on it fast.

“[A focus area] is mainly my hands. I’m working with [Dave DeGuglielmo] on my technique and we have to get it down because the season is right around the corner. I’m not going to get a lot of action in that Philadelphia game, so it’s really one more game and the rest of the practices,” he said.

The move could solve the growing issue of not having a legitimate blocking tight end. Having Hunter check in as an extra blocker beefs not only beefs up the protection for Sanchez, but makes the Wildcat package a tad more intimidating. The Jets ran the ball with efficiency when Howard was featured in the “jumbo TE” package.

HOT BUTTON ISSUE: The thin line between Hijinks & Hazing

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Oh, it’s nothing but a little locker room hijinks. During the dogs days of training camp, the boys will be boys. What’s wrong with a little rough housing amongst players? They do play a game, after all. Quit being so sensitive and grow a pair. Is it really that big of a deal?

I’m sick of all cliche reactions to the recents acts of hazing by the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, but to answer those of you who share a similar sentiment as above: Yes, it is a big deal.

And it doesn’t take a heinous act like this one to happen to the New York Jets for it to make national headlines.

Offensive language aside, what defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul did to do second-year cornerback Prince Amukamara and the similar fate of rookie wideout Reuban Randle, who was bound with tape before being dumped in the ice tub, was neither hijinks nor a game. It was irresponsible. (Although I think we can all agree that punter Steve Weatherford stands at the forefront for videotaping/uploading the acts.) It contradicted everything that is supposed to be achieved in training camp: developing a bond between a band of brothers that are preparing for battle.

Instead teammates bonded over the bondage of their peers.

It’s not that I don’t believe in fighting. I think it’s good to fight — to stand up for yourself. It builds character. What I do oppose is a man big enough to handle two Amukamara’s abusing his size and strength to manhandle another teammate. Amukaramara, who clearly didn’t struggle against the 6-foot-5, 275 pound Pierre-Paul, hung his head in shame afterwards refusing to look up at the camera.

The second-year corner from Nebraska told Mike Garafolo of Star-Ledger that he was dunked eight times last season.

“I mean, I’m not a rookie anymore, so I don’t know why I’m getting thrown in the tub. I know it’s all love. Yeah, no one ever likes it, especially when it’s you vs. eight and no one’s helping you. But it doesn’t mess up our team morale or anything,” he said.

Some of those eight that stood on and watched the embarrassment ensue began pleading for Amukamara to stand up for himself. A connection that Garafolo’s makes as an act to toughen up young cornerback. But he did nothing.

Are rookies, like Quinton Coples (above), OK to be subjected to hazing rituals? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Pierre-Paul, in speaking with The Sporting News, said that it was all “fun and games” and that the “media took it out of proportion”.

Clearly we differ on the definition of “fun and games”, Jason. Rookies carrying veterans’ pads, picking up the tab at dinners, carrying girly luggage in and out of major airports, performing “Call Me, Maybe” in the team cafeteria, getting a not-so-flattering haircut. These are the benign forms of hazing — or initiation rites — that can be viewed as “fun and games”.

No matter what side of the fence you stand on whether professional athletes should be considered role models, the naked truth is they are. That is the reason the media takes this out of proportion. Horrific stories like the one that occurred at W.C. Mepham High School in Long Island, N.Y. back in 2003 serve as an all-t0-real reminder that acts like these have a trickle down effect.

To surmise, on the Mepham Pirates’ annual training camp trip multiple players lubed up broomstick handles, pine cones and golfs with Icy/Hot and proceeded to insert said objects into the rectums of their freshmen teammates. While some needed stitching to physically repair the wounds, the emotional damage was far from repairable.

When news broke of the sodomy, the alleged perpetrators were allowed to attend school for two weeks before any action. In that time the victims humiliation continued as classmates yelled “faggot” and “broomstick boy” in the hallways. Some students shared rumors that one of the victims “liked it” because “he’s just like a fag”.

This is just one case in a stack of high school hazing incidents across the country. In fact, Dr. Norman Pollard conducting in an Alfred University study in 1999 reported that there are 1.5 million high school students who are hazed every year. He also found that 79% of NCAA collegiate athletes reported being hazed initially at the high school level.

Still a growing issue today, young athletes seeing their role models and celebrities partaking in hazing, and then plastering it on the web, not only condone such acts but promote it as well.

This is not being written from the perspective of one who was bullied throughout childhood. Sure, I had my run-ins with a bully or two — some I’m more willing to talk about than others. But this is not a feeble attempt to metaphorically exact revenge against Matthew Joy or any other bully. Instead it’s to drive home the message Uncle Ben told a young Peter Parker right before his untimely death (truly shedding light to my inner dork). With great power comes great responsibility.

As I previously stated, I said I wasn’t a bully target in high school. When I reached college, against my better judgement at that time, I decided to join a fraternity. I went through eight weeks of physical pain, emotional distress and mental strain. For what? Because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. And what I went through had meaning behind it — well, for the most part. We were told to learn specific things and had a specific deadline to know it by. If we didn’t, there were repercussions — justified ones.

Of course there were those who had a few too many Natural Ice’s who would abuse their privilege — not a right — but that’s why it was important to appoint one who would not abuse the power of the program. It was my father who said if you have “one young male, you have one functional brain. If you have two functional males, you have a functional brain”. The more you add in the less common sense the group has.

I argue that little common sense went into the antics that have since unfolded to millions of viewers on YouTube. After a breakout year with 16.5 sacks in only his third season, I question if Pierre-Paul, 23, is mature enough to handle the type of power that comes with leading a team of men off the field as well as on it.

Maybe Pierre-Paul was teaching Amukamara the lesson of standing up for himself. Maybe that’s been a team-wide critique on the player, like Garafolo stated. But what’s definable is that we are in an age that every person’s move is viewed under a microscope, particularly those in the world of athletics. Their actions, positive or negative, have a ripple effect that is not quantifiable.

It’s stories like these that directly correlate with the disturbing actions that took place with W.C. Mepham high school football team — which garners the reaction of the media “blowing it out of proportion”.

GROUND & POUNDED: Giants slow Jets 26-3; Sanchez, Tebow struggle

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The second annual “Snooper Bowl” at MetLife Stadium turned out to be a real snoozer Saturday night. For the second straight game the Jets were unable to find the end zone or protect their quarterback(s) and, as a result, lost to the New York Giants 26-3 on Saturday, August 18th in front of a 79,088.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan said his vanilla-style offense will have “a few chocolate chips sprinkled in” this week against the Giants. That may have been his sweet tooth talking, however, as the offensive output left a rather sour taste in the mouths of Jets fans – spoiling Tim Tebow’s debut in front of the home crowd.

For many, the lingering thoughts of the Christmas Eve drumming at the hands of the Giants still loom large as the cross-town rivals squared off. The 29-14 thrashing, of course, marked as the nail in the coffin for the Jets mediocre 8-8 season – the first time they have missed the playoffs in the Ryan/Sanchez era.

“There weren’t too many [positives], but there were some,” Ryan said.

The starting offensive unit crossed the 50-yard line once on their only non three-and-out drive of the evening. The drive resulted in a touchdown – for the opposing New York Giants, after DB Jayron Hosley picked off a Mark Sanchez pass and returned it 77 yards for the score.

“I felt good the whole play, and when I threw the ball I thought it was really accurate. You miss on one play and that’s what can happen. I think it was a little behind [Patrick Turner],” Sanchez said.

Sanchez completed nine of eleven passes for 59 yards including the interception. The problem, however, was not the youth at wide receiver or ineffectiveness of Sanchez, but – yet again – it was the offensive line.

After being sacked a total of six times in two games, can you blame Mark Sanchez (above) for frowning? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

After giving up five sacks against Cincinnati last week, the starting unit gave up three sacks (all accredited to Wayne Hunter) on Sanchez, who was sacked another time (ala Hunter) only to have it nullified by a penalty on the far side of the field.

“They can really get after the quarterback,” Ryan said at halftime.

Preaching a faster-paced tempo with a rededication to the ground and pound mentality, the Jets were often out-of-sync on offense.

Following a TV timeout, Sanchez was forced to call a time out after failing to get his unit ready for the next play. Seemingly, they had ample time to get a call in. Two possessions later the team gets stopped on a third-and-one situation for no gain up the middle with Shonn Greene. On the very next play full back John Conner was unsuccessful in his attempt to convert the first down.

“That was brutal. Absolutely brutal. I might’ve been more disappointed [by those two plays] than anything else,” Ryan said on getting stuffed twice from one-yard out.

The Giants – on the other hand – came out of the gates looking, well, super. Eli Manning went untouched and continually found top receiver Victor Cruz five times for a total of 50 yards. Never wavering the defending champion Giants waited, not to beat the Jets but, for the Jets to beat themselves.

After forcing a three-and-out on the Giants’ first drive, the Jets defense had to come back on the field following Joe McKnight’s 15-yard roughing the kicker penalty. They would later turn the penalty into a 35-yard field goal to take the early 3-0 lead.

On their following possession, Manning threw a deep ball down the left sideline intended for rookie Reuban Randle, but the throw was off-target due to DeVito’s hit on Manning. The pass sailed over Reuban’s head and in to the hands of the newly acquired safety, LaRon Landry, who returned the ball 21 yards.

The ensuing Jets drive resulted in Hosley’s 77-yard interception return.

Tebow Time struck in the second half, with his team facing a 13-0 deficit and looking for a savior. But even his presence was not enough to spark life in a dead Jets offensive unit. He led the second team 14-play 68-yard drive that lasted 8:26 on his first possession – completing four of five passes and accounting for 52 of the team’s total yards. The drive would result in the first points of the night for Gang Green.

But the combination of poor protection and a run-oriented quarterback usually is a recipe for sacks. The former Florida Gator was sacked five times on the night as he was unable to duplicate the success of his first drive.

“We executed well. We were on the same page. We did all the little things right. From there on we had some communication errors. It just goes to show how important it is to be on the same page,” Tebow said.

Giants running back Joe Martinek capped the scoring when he took a swing pass from third-string quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and rumbled down the left sideline, diving and getting the ball over the goal line for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 26-3 lead.

In what will be the last dress rehearsal for the starting units, the Jets host the Carolina Panthers next Sunday, August 26th at 8 pm EST.

PRESEASON PREVIEW: GIANTS @ JETS

Friday, August 17th, 2012

The Battle of the Big Apple. The Metopolitan Melee at MetLife. Possible Preview of Super Bowl XLVII??

OK, before I get too ahead of myself, the match-up between the New York Giants and the New York Jets will not live up to any of  the potential theses grandiose titles offer. For those thinking this game offers little emotion, however, you’d be sorely mistaken.

When asked if Rex Ryan remembered the Christmas Eve shellacking at the hands of the Giants, he was point blank:

[There are] a lot of things you’d like to erase in your memory, but that unfortunately will stay in there.  That one stung, no question about it. I don’t want to rehash all of last season, but obviously you remember [that] game for sure.

The emotion isn’t just felt at on the Jets end either. With two Lombardi trophies in hand — one since they’ve called MetLife Stadium home — the Giants have yet to unpack and settle in their new New Jersey home. After years of subletting Giants stadium on alternating Sundays, the Giants have hosted one match-up to the Jets two, including the Christmas Eve regular season showdown. Throw in the Jets unveiling MetLife stadium on the 10th anniversary of September 11th and it’s easy to see why Giants fan shutter when they hear the words “JetLife Stadium”.

The Jets offensive line unit claims they've removes images like these from their memory. After allowing 5 sacks against the Bengals last week, is it that easy for Jets fans? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

The battle of bragging rights aside, the Jets have a lot of prove (to themselves) on Saturday. Here’s a breakdown of what to keep a keen eye on.

  1. OFFENSIVE LINE COHESION: Through out the offseason and training camp members of the offensive line separately told Jets Insider that the decline of their performance in 2011 was wiped clean from their memories. Five sacks later against Cincinnati and that vision of their turn-style of play is in the forefront of our minds. Yes, Austin Howard thus far has been impressive. But it will take more than a player with four career games under his belt to rejuvenate a veteran unit. Pro Bowl* left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson needs to remember how to properly protect Mark Sanchez’s blindside. Facing the Giants’ vaunted defensive line will prove as a good test in showing how far this unit has come under Dave DeGuglielmo & Tony Sparano’s system.
  2. SHONN GREENE: The veteran bell cow of this ground and pound team has yet to take the reigns and lead the way. I get that Greene isn’t a flashy guy. He makes his living moving the pile three or four yards at a time. Rushing the ball five times for 11 yards is neither gritty or flashy however. With Joe McKnight expecting a break out year for himself and the apparent emergence of second-year back Bilal Powell, Greene needs to show that he is still the bell cow of this ball.
  3. SANCHEZ TAKING CHANCES: The Jets Insider Radio Show had NY Metro’s Kristian Dyer on last night (search “JetsInsider” on iTunes!) and he brought up an interesting point about the fourth year starter. While many have praised Sanchez for having a stellar camp, Dyer argues that he’s not challenging himself enough in practice i.e. taking chances down field, throwing in to coverages. According to Dyer, Sanchez would too often make the safe throw in practice that might not be available in game situations. He makes an interesting point. One I previously hadn’t thought of. After all you play the way you practice, right? It’s OK for Sanchez to pull the reigns off and test himself. If not in practice or preseason then when?
  4. YOUNG RECEIVERS MAKING STRIDES: This goes hand-in-hand with number three. With both Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley out nursing injuries, the opportunity to cut these young wideouts’ teeth is for the taking. Players like Stephen Hill, Patrick Turner, Dexter Jackson and Jordan White all have the chance to step up, but who will shine brightest? It’s imperative for Hill, who’s expected to produce right away, to get up to speed with receiving style of the NFL. He is the most raw of the bunch, but his skill set offers the highest ceiling. White is an interesting story as well. He hasn’t seen much time on the field due to a foot injury, however he’s recently shown what he can offer from the slot position. The only way for young players to drop the “young” label is to get as many reps in as they can. A glass half full perspective sees the good in the ‘Tone and Kerley injuries.
  5. SCORING! SCORING! SCORING!: In their last three games the Jets have put together only TWO touchdown drives. A big part of having no touchdown drives? Not sustaining drives period. In those three games they’ve boasted third down efficiency totals of (4-13 vs. CIN, 4-11 vs. MIA, 4-21 vs. NYG). That’s good for a 26.% third down efficiency rating. In order to do so, they need offensive line cohesion, Sanchez taking chances with his young receivers and Greene running with success.

Sounds easy, right? Let’s see how easy the Jets make it this Saturday against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium 8 p.m.

UPDATED: Jets chase Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

(Photo credit: US PRESSWIRE)

AS OF 8/17: NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport is reporting that former University of Florida running back and Olympic silver medalist Jeff Demps has agreed to a deal with the New England Patriots, per one of Demps’ agents.

This report conflicts with the Tampa Bay Times’ Stephen Holder who tweeted this around the time of Rappaport: “There (are) rumors to the contrary, but Jeff Demps’ agent says client has not yet signed w(ith) an NFL club.”

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Olympic track star and former University of Florida running back Jeff Demps has drawn interest from several NFL teams, including the New York Jets, per ESPNNewYork.com

Head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum have put a premium on improving team speed this offseason — a glaring piece missing from their 2011 puzzle.  Demps, a silver medalist  in the London Olympics for the men’s 4×100 relay, offers blazing speed.

A former teammate of Tim Tebow’s, the Jets’ newest back-up quarterback sensation, Demps not only offers speed, but versatility as well. At 5-7, 175 pounds he fits the mold of the Chief’s Dexter McCluster or the Saints’ Darren Sproles.

Could Olympian Jeff Demps be the newest Jets offensive weapon?

Pro Football Weekly listed the good, the bad and the ugly on Demps: (YouTube collegiate highlight reel)

A versatile, super-quick slasher with turbo speed and a shredded physique, Demps is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, as he rips off yards in big chunks. Will have to be used strategically to maintain his durability, but can be a dynamic utility player and mismatch weapon as a change-of-pace back, slot receiver and returner.

Short and small-framed with very small hands. Limited run strength — too easily turned on contact or tripped up. Marginal inside runner. Never carried 100 times in a season. Is a bit straight-linish and does not string moves together. Could stand to refine route-running ability. Underpowered blocker. Questionable mental and physical toughness. May take some time to grasp a playbook.

The 22-year-old speedster ditched the NFL Draft in April and dashed toward his dream of chasing Olympic gold. A decision his agent, Daniel Rose, told the Tampa Bay Times was difficult for him to talk Demps out of.

“At 22 years old, how could you tell a kid not to go to the Olympics?”, Rose said.

Rose would go on to say there were “a lot” of teams interested prior to the draft and cited the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as one of “several” teams interested in Demps.

He expects a decision to be made soon.

At the University of Florida Demps was a four-year, two-sport stand out. On the football field he amassed 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground, 481 receiving yards and averaged 28.8 yards as a threat in the kick return game. He never averaged lower than 5.8 yards per carry in college. Demps is the only Florida Gator athlete to have won national championships in two sports with his 2009 BCS National Championship and multiple indoor and outdoor track titles over his four year career.