Archive for September, 2012

Friday Fantasy Focus

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Wait. Wait. Friday’s Fantasy Focus? On a Saturday? How lazy are you, Wes? Waiting to the last minute will get you no where.

There may be a point somewhere in there — I haven’t quite found it yet — but I think there is one. Maybe. Look, I have four (okay four and a half) years of college experience specializing in procrastination and I turned out alright. Right?

When it comes to fantasy football the “never late is better” attitude takes a back seat to the “better late than never” approach. Seriously, corny Drake references aside, procrastination is sometimes the best way to go in taking down a victory. And there’s no better time to focus on procrastination than Week 2.

Take the Darrelle Revis situation for example. The Jets waited as long as they could regarding his “mild” concussion before making a decision for two reasons: 1. Holding out hope that the fog surrounding his head would clear and 2. providing a week’s worth of frustration to those fantasy owners who drafted Antonio Brown. Will he or won’t he get an all expenses paid trip to Revis Island? Of course, as we all know now, Revis won’t play — with Brown drawing coverage against cornerback Kyle Wilson.

Translation: Start Brown this week.

Not having Revis in the game opens up the passing offense for the Big Ben and the Steelers, moving Brown from your bench to your starting wideout. Additionally, Emmanuel Sanders gets bumped up to a solid play for your third WR slot or flex position — who will mostly draw Isaiah Trufant or Ellis Lankster (who?) from the Jets. That’s assuming, though, that you didn’t play Randall Cobb in your flex spot, like I did, on Thursday. See what I get for taking a pro-active approach to my fantasy line-up?

Foolish.

Exactly the reason why I like to avoid Thursday games all together. In fact, if I can, I try to avoid 1 o’clock games as well. Again my knack for procrastination kicking in to high gear. I can’t explain why, but it always seems the team with more late games always seem to be a winner. Personally, I — a master procrastinator — feel more comfortable going into the Sunday night/Monday night games being down with a few players to go.

And after last week’s debauchery in Friday’s Fantasy Focus — which I posted early! — I made some ridiculous calls (starting Titus Young and Jared Cook — ouch). Stevie Johnson proved to be effective on Revis Island, scoring a touchdown and hauling in five receptions. And Peyton Manning? Let’s just say I won’t be doubting him for the rest of the season. He surgically picked apart the Steelers defense like the doctor who surgically repaired the four-time MVP’s neck.

The lone bright spot? My call on C.J. Spiller, who totaled the second-highest rushing yards against a Rex Ryan-led Jets defense and the best performance from a running back last week. And like my fourth runner up performance in the eighth grade free throw knock-out contest, no one can take that away from me.

But without further adieu, let’s put a stop to delaying the inevitable and get right in to Week 2’s Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em.

THE REVIS EFFECT: No Darrelle Revis means nickel corner Kyle Wilson must step up in covering Antonio Brown. Feast or Famine for the Bugatti Boys? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

START ‘EM:

  • Alex Smith, QB, 49ers – Who would’ve thought I’d lead off Alex Smith — yes, that Alex Smith — as a guy to start this week. Hey, the guy was a former number one overall pick. Draft status aside, I can see Smith having a a field day against a lacking Lions defense — Louis Delmas and Chris Houston are nursing injuries — and playing under the lights in front of a crazed Bay Area crowd in their home opener will only help. On the road against Green Bay, Smith spread the ball around to six different receivers — something that we didn’t see a lot of in 2011. Factoid: The Lions defense allowed the 7th fewest fantasy points to QBs last week, according to Yahoo! Sports. Don’t let this throw you off, as they were facing a stagnant Rams offense … led by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (I know Jets fans are smiling at that one).
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Bengals — Here’s a guy who was able to find 10 TDs in 2011 and 13 TDs in 2010 in a passing-oriented Patriots offense. This year? Ninety-one rushing yards and a touchdown against a stout Ravens defense. Not too shabby, if you ask me. He should look to build on is performance last week against the Cleveland Browns as he continues to put the foot injury that caused him to miss three preseason games in his review. According to Yahoo! Sports, the Law Firm is the 11th best fantasy back this week over guys like Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew and CJ0K (see what I did there?). FACTOID: In his eight seasons as head coach, Marvin Lewis has never failed to produce a running back who didn’t put out 1,100 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Now that’s consistency folks.
  • Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers — I mentioned him earlier and I like the potential mismatch he brings in this game. Not having Revis this week has a serious ripple effect in the Jets secondary. Wilson moves out of the nickel, where he would have covered Sanders, and on Brown (who is also a solid play this week). That means Trufant or Lankster must step up in the All-Pro’s absence. FACTOID: These aren’t your parents’ Steelers. The Steelers used three wide receivers on 52-of-71 offensive snaps in Week 1. Out of the 71 plays, only 25 were designed runs. Sanders tied for the team lead with eight targets, hauling in four catches for 55 yards.
  • Coby Fleener, TE, Colts — I mentioned him last week as an “in a pinch” play and, in a pinch, he provided some production (6 receptions — 3 for first downs & 82 yards). Andrew Luck loves his collegiate safety valve and this week won’t be any different against a Vikings defense who allowed Marcedes Lewis average 10 yards per reception and a touchdown last week. Dustin Keller owners take notice. FACTOID: In Yahoo! Sports leagues, Fleener has been added by over 5,000 teams in the past two days — truly paying homage to procrastination. Available in most leagues, don’t be the last to jump the bandwagon.

SIT ‘EM:

  • Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – This, to me, is a near no-brainer. Bad offensive line. Bad game against a bad team last week. Facing bad ass defense this week. Vick through FOUR interceptions last week in a game that should’ve been an easy Week 1 victory. Instead the Eagles were forced to play from behind and put the fate of the game on Vick’s left shoulder — which turned out be a bad idea. Add in to the mix that receiver Jeremy Maclin is iffy for Sunday and it’s a recipe for some pine in Week 2. FACTOID: Last week the Ravens defense gave up the third fewest fantasy points to a quarterback in Yahoo! Sports leagues, while Vick was the 70th ranked player following his disappointing Week 1 performance.
  • Stephen Jackson, RB, Rams — It wasn’t that long ago where I would have done almost anything to have him on my team — real or fantasy. But now? Eehh. I don’t know what it is about him, but he just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it’s the injuries. Maybe it’s the fact he was overworked for a couple of years. Maybe it has to do with Schottenheimer misusing his ground game all too often (see Greene, Shonn). Take your pick, but don’t take Jackson as your starter this week. FACTOID: Jackson averaged only 2.5 YPC last week which is problematic because he averaged 2.6 against the Redskins last year.
  • Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens — This is the Rodgers-Cromartie/Asomugha effect here. But more than that, it is his hit-or-miss style of play that would scare me the most as a fantasy owner. Smith has huge upside and can offer the big play at any moment. Against an aggressive Eagles defensive front, Joe Flacco may not have the time to stretch the field to Smith. FACTOID: Eagles have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers last week. But I dare you to name the receivers on the Cleveland Browns.
  • Fred Davis, TE, Redskins — Only four targets last week from Robert Griffin III. The reason? Mike Shanahan was running a college-style offense with his rookie QB. The Redskins focused a lot on bubble screens and option-fakes to the outside to speedy receivers like Pierre Garcon. Not a bad play if you’re in a pinch, but there are definitely other options available that could be more productive this week. FACTOID: Rams did allow the third most fantasy sports on Yahoo! Sports leagues last week, but that was against Brandon Pettigrew — a reception machine.

PREVIEW: NY JETS (1-0) vs. STEELERS (0-1)

Friday, September 14th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets have a tall task in front of them in the form of the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday — a team that they’ve beaten only once in Pittsburgh. The task has gotten a lot taller with the news breaking that All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis will not be suiting up after not being cleared to play due to a ‘mild concussion’.

Additionally tight end Dustin Keller will also be out due to an ailing knee injury and Bryan Thomas is out with a hamstring injury as well.

The Jets, coming off a very impressive 48-28 victory over the Buffalo Bills, are not the only team that’s been bit by the injury bug early on. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that both James Harrison (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf), while running back Rashard Mendenhall is listed as doubtful after missing last week’s game with a knee injury.

New York is in a redemption state of mind following their crushing loss in the 2010 AFC Championship game at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh, 7-0 in home openers with Ben Roesthlisberger under center, are trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2002.

Shots have already been fired and posted up on the bulletin board as LaMarr Woodley stated on Twitter, quite definitively, that the Steelers will not be 0-2. Jets safety LaRon Landry, meanwhile, has been on his soapbox stating that his team can line up, position for position, with anyone in the league.

“If you look at the starter at each position … I like the matchup. I choose my guys over any of their guys, especially in our defensive scheme,” he said earlier this week.

Rex Ryan chose to take a different route, drawing on the comparisons between the two teams — particularly on offense.

“I think you build both of these defenses, you’ve got Pittsburgh’s (defense) and the Jets, and they’re kind of built the same way. I don’t know if you want your kid going against Casey Hampton and against James Harrison, (LaMarr) Woodley, Troy Polamalu, or Ike Taylor. You certainly don’t want your kid going against Darrelle Revis. No chance. He’ll end up in the Gatorade. The teams are kind of built that way. It’s still tough, old-fashioned football, and I think that still wins on defense,” he said Thursday.

But enough about the bulletin board material, here’s everything you need to know before kick-off.

WHEN: Sunday, September 16, 2012 @ 4:25 p.m. EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: Heinz Field / Pittsburgh, PA (capacity: 65,000)

Kyle Wilson (above) has some big shoes to fill, stepping in for the injured Darrelle Revis. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

SERIES HISTORY: Steelers lead all-time regular season 15-4(postseason 0-2).

LAST MEETING: Steelers 24 — Jets 19, Heinz Field (01/23/11 — AFC Championship).

NOTABLE: New York has won tow-of-the-last-three regular season meetings against Pittsburgh. the Jets lone loss came in the clubs’ last game, a 24-19 defeat in the AFC Championship.

COACHES:

  • JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season /  (including postseason).
  • STEELERS — Mike Tomlin / Sixth Season / 55-26 (including postseason).

INJURY REPORT:

  • JETS — OUT – TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), CB Darrelle Revis (concussion), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring), OL  Dennis Landolt (knee). QUESTIONABLE – FB John Conner (knee), CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle). PROBABLE – LB Nick Bellore (shoulder), CB Antonio Cromartie (shoulder), DT Mike DeVito (calf), WR Stephen Hill (calf), WR Jeremy Kerley (back), S LaRon Landry (heel), LB Joshua Mauga (rib), G Brandon Moore (hip), DT Sione Pouha (back), WR Chaz Schilens (ankle), S Eric Smith (hip, knee).
  • STEELERS — OUT – LB Stevenson Sylvester (knee). DOUBTFUL - RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee). QUESTIONABLE – LB James Harrison (knee), S Troy Polamalu (calf). PROBABLE - RB Jonathan Dwyer (foot), DE Evander Hood (back), T Max Starks (illness).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Kyle Wilson vs. Antonio Brown — This will be the biggest game of Wilson’s young career to date. Drawing the number two receiver of the “Young Money Crew”, Wilson will have to keep up with the Central Michigan alum who torched the gridiron for 1,000 yards receiving and 1,000 yards returning. With Mike Wallace getting the Antonio Cromartie treatment and Brown getting 113 targets from Ben Roethlisberger, expect an equal number of targets Sunday.
  • Jets Safeties vs. Heath Miller — Miller is arguably the most unheralded tight end in the NFL today. Truly the definition of a quarterback’s safety valve, Roethlisberger targeted Miller seven times last week against Denver, four of which were on third downs. The combination of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell did a bang-up job stopping Scott Chandler (4 receptions, 38 yards, 1 TD), but Miller will prove to be a much taller (and bigger) task.
  • Quinton Coples vs. Max Starks – After posting a team-high 4.5 sacks in preseason, didn’t come up with anything numerically against the Bills. Much like the rest of the defense, Coples did not record a sack but provided numerous pressures on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The problem won’t be getting to Roethlisberger, but bringing down the burly Miami (OH) product. To mirror his size and speed, the Jets have been using Tim Tebow during practice. Offensive lines have given up 308 sacks to their Pittsburgh QB in his 111 games through the 2011 season. He was sacked five times by the Broncos last week.

X – FACTORS:

  • Nick Folk, K, Jets — An unlikely x-factor, no? But keep this in mind. Five of the last six meetings between these teams have been decided by six points or less. These two foes are very similar and familiar with each other — particularly with regarding the history between Ryan and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. The Jets don’t want to play catch up at Heinz field, so it’ll be on the arm of Sanchez and the leg of Folk if Gang Green leaves with a victory.
  • Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Steelers – The number three receiver of the “Young Money Crew” will draw a much more favorable match-up against Isaiah Trufant/Ellis Lankster with Revis out of the game. Sanders is a speedy, possession receiver who can burn the secondary if they’re not on their toes. The Steelers run a lot of no-huddle, spread offense for that very reason — catching the defense on their toes and exposing the mismatches.

THE PICK: The odds are stacked against the Jets, but they still have a puncher’s chance in this game — if they can keep Roethlisberger off the field and keep the defense fresh. Having said that, I can’t see Pittsburgh losing at home. STEELERS 21 – JETS 17.

REVIS UPDATE: There will be no game-time decision

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

UPDATED AS OF 9/13/12 3:40 PM: After meeting with the media, Darrelle Revis said he has been in a “fog”, but is feeling better everyday.

“I feel pretty good. I feel like I can play this week. There are some other things we have to do – follow guidelines and go through protocol – before we can make a decision,” Revis said.

Never having a concussion before, the former Pittsburgh Panther didn’t know whether it was a headache or something serious following teammate Bart Scott inadvertently kicking him in the back of the helmet on Sunday.

“When it happened I knew [who it was]. He plays aggressive, reckless. Of the other ten guys out there I knew it was Bart,” he said.

Revis told reporters that he hasn’t had any sensitivity towards light and that, from a memory standpoint, he joked that he could remember who we were. But as Rex Ryan stated earlier Thursday afternoon, there is no clear cut for Revis’ return to contact or playing on Sunday — as Revis reiterated.

“I really don’t know at this point. Whatever they say, I do. I just have to go by what the doctors say,” he said.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The most recent update on Darrelle Revis’ status concerning his concussion and playing this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers is the same as the last update.

Yesterday, Rex Ryan said his All-Pro cornerback was cleared for physical activity — lifting weights and running — but no contact.

Today, Ryan’s update was no different — still not cleared for live contact, but can continue physical activities.

“Status remains the same. He’s been cleared to resume physical activity. We’ll see how Darrelle is [today]. During the day, if he’s able to do more we’ll let you know. We’re going to proceed with the same thing we talked about – the NFL’s protocol. If he’s not 100%, the Revis won’t play. Simple as that,” Ryan said in his Thursday presser.

Darrelle Revis' status surrounding his mild concussion hasn't changed from yesterday. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Despite his best efforts at being vague, Ryan said he does not expect Revis’ status to be upgraded to live contact this week.

“I don’t think [he'll be cleared] for contact [this week]. From my understanding it won’t be for live contact at least. We’ll let the process play out, but I’d think by Saturday we’ll have an answer,” he said.

Ryan, who last week stated that not practicing the week prior to a game does not rule a player from competing on Sundays, had a different approach when the injury is concussion related.

“I think the NFL has a different approach about it. I think the NFL has certain standards they’d like you to meet before you take the field. If any guy doesn’t meet their standards then they shouldn’t play. And that’s what the NFL has said. And that’s what we’re all about. The great thing about the NFL is that they have taken those steps in to helping the players. There’s a better understanding of concussions and ways to test the severity of one. No coach would – well, I know this coach wouldn’t put a player on the field if there was a higher risk of him getting injured. There’s no way I would put him in that position,” he said.

A decision will be made by status regarding Revis’ mild concussion by Saturday before leaving for Pittsburgh, as it’s against the league’s rules to have a player suffering from a concussion travel on the team plane — ruling out any chance he’d be a game-time decision.

“I would think we wouldn’t put him on a plane if he still had a concussion,” he said.

Coy or not, Ryan is simply following the protocol of the league’s stance on concussions, which of course has been heightened over the past years.

If he can hold his plan for Revis close to his chest as long as he can, however, why not?

SANTONIO HOLMES: Third & Long

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

ROSLYN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — Sixteen-year-old Jahquie Martin slowly made his way up to the microphone, clutching a few pieces of loose leaf in his right hand. Adjusting the mic with his free hand, Martin cautiously cleared his throat before speaking.

He began like any normal high school teenager would – with a tense lump in his throat and growing beads of perspiration above his brow.

“My name is Jahquie Martin. I’m 16-years-old and from Bed Stuysvent, Brooklyn. I currently attend Boys and Girls High School,” he choked out.

Martin, far from normal as I would soon come to know, is, however, one of a kind.

“I have Sickle Cell Anemia,” he nervously shared with the crowd at the Temple Sinai synagogue in Roslyn Heights, New York on Monday for the second annual Third & Long Foundation’s Monday Night Party to help find a cure towards Sickle Cell Anemia and raise money for the Ascent School for Autism.

The crinkling of the loose leaf in his shaking hand could be overheard as a backdrop to the words of his moving story of struggle, sacrifice and – most importantly – triumph. The irony of his nerves over public speaking is that, at 16, Martin has unequivocally been through hell and back. And to still have a soft approach about something as minutely antagonizing as public speaking after such a hardening experience was refreshingly inspirational.

Bravely recounting battles with Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that affects 90,000 – 100,000 Americans to date, the anxiety was soon stripped from the baritone voice of Martin, leaving the melodic sound of a strong young man defeating the disease that tried to derail him, one word at a time.

•••

A seventeen-year-old Santonio Holmes was a three-sport athlete at Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Florida. Lettering in football, basketball and track, Holmes was a human highlight reel on the field. In football, he helped lead his team to two state titles and 12-1 record as a senior. In basketball, he helped his team to a state runner-up. In track, his team won the state title during his junior year – with his 4×400 meter relay team claiming two state titles. He even excelled in classroom, graduating with 3.4 GPA.

Off the field, however, things weren’t as easy as picking up a first down.

TONE TIME: For a few lucky kids on Monday, it was Tone Time all night, as they got to meet Holmes & other NY Jets in Long Island on Monday. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Holmes, an undiagnosed carrier of the Sickle Cell trait until the age of 25, consistently missed school due to a frequent indescribable illness. There would be moments where he’d find himself in bed all day, writhing with aches and pain that, he said, were too excruciating for words.

Small in stature, but equipped with an unwavering drive – much like Martin, Holmes refused to be beaten. Not by Sickle Cell Anemia. Not by life either. While classmates strained over what to do after the Friday night football game or who they were taking to their senior prom, Holmes faced, what appeared to be, an insurmountable third-and-long situation at 17, which most would never expect to encounter.

An unforeseen pregnancy to then-girlfriend, Nicole King, would turn his world upside-down. Santonio Holmes III came into this world with Sickle Cell Anemia. Something that Holmes could never have prepared himself for – the sleepless nights in hospitals, countless blood transfusions, surgically removing his spleen, all before his son turned 10.

“I didn’t see that part coming in my life. I knew I would be a better father than my father was. I vowed to make something of my life and made sure he was taken care of,” Holmes said.

A vow that his father, Santonio Holmes Sr., didn’t have when the former Ohio State Buckeye was born.  At 28, Holmes struggles to recall spending more than a week with his father.

Upon receiving the news of his newborn’s prognosis, Holmes new a change had to be made. As a self-described “troubled kid”, Holmes came clean that he used to peddle drugs on the Florida street corners, while his mother thought he was at high school. A worn, but short path that, seemingly, only led to the Glades Correctional Facility.

“It was just being around the friends I grew up with,” he recalled. “Those guys were always doing it. So I felt comfortable [selling drugs] at the time. But as I grew older, I just felt that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to play football. I didn’t want to end up in jail like a lot of my friends.”

His decision to quit dealing was, according to him, part of God’s plan. “It made me who I am today. If I continued down that path, I wouldn’t be here.”

Holmes rededicated himself to football and family, earning a full scholarship to the Ohio State University, where he would leave school early for the NFL draft to support his family.

Now as a member of the New York Jets and considered one of the top receivers in the game, it’s not even a question if Holmes chose the right path.

He has endured his share of bumps and potholes along the way – three arrests (disorderly conduct, domestic violence, and marijuana possession), violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy (marijuana) and being labeled a “poster boy for the Jets dysfunction”.

The few missteps are hardly an accurate indictment on the man Holmes is.

•••

As Jahquie Martin closed his speech to a rousing standing ovation to those listening in the Roslyn Heights synagogue, Holmes embraced Martin and thanked him for sharing his courageous story. A story that Holmes is all too familiar with.

“To stand behind him and see his hands shake nervously as he was holding his speech was special. I felt every part – every word. I felt his pain to the beginning to the end,” Holmes said.

Witnessing the embrace between Holmes and Martin – a true moment of reality – cast aside the ‘selfish’ and ‘cancerous’ perception that’s followed Holmes since arriving in New York. A selfish person would not spend their free time traveling to Africa to help those less fortunate, which he has done for the past three seasons. A cancerous person would not go out of his way to help young, upcoming receivers – who are looking to one day take his roster spot – become the best professionals they can be.

“He’s the type of guy who’ll come up to you and talk to you and share what he knows,” Jordan White, rookie wide receiver, told NY Metro.

“He’s a little big brother [to me],” Stephen Hill cracked.

When there’s someone who’s had a life’s worth of experience crammed in to their first twenty-eight years, it’s hard not to listen. Similar to showing Hill the finer points of a hitch-and-go route, Holmes counseled his son on how to control the waves of pain that would flow through him. For Holmes, the trick was rubbing his extremities while focusing on how this pain he’s feeling now will shape the man he will one day be – stoic, strong, a survivor.

Now 10, Santonio III can play the same game that allowed his father the platform to help his son and others suffering from Sickle Cell Anemia. Like Martin, who, after receiving help from Santonio’s Third & Long Foundation, has not been in a hospital in two years.

Ten years after receiving the stunning news that he would be a fathering a child at the childish age of 17, Holmes converted that third and long in his life and took it all the way to the endzone.

Since 2008 his Third & Long Foundation has helped raise $125,000 in the hopes of one day finding a cure for Sickle Cell Anemia.

•••

I asked Holmes why he decided to share with the world, on such a grand stage as the Super Bowl media day, that he used to deal drugs. Would he feel the backlash of this being yet another label for the ‘athletes are bad role models’ stigma? Why out yourself to the world as a former juvenile drug dealer?

“I wanted to show that I was a troubled kid who overcame different obstacles in my life to become the person I am today. [Hopefully] that allowed a lot of kids to put away the past struggles and move on to better things,” he said. “I can represent for the place that I grew up in and let kids in a similar position know there still is a chance. If you put your mind to it, you can do it.”

Does that sound like a poster boy of dysfunction?

It’s no secret that Holmes has image problems – some of which is to his own doing. And in the NFL perception is everything, yet the reality is hardly seen when they step out of their cleats and go beyond the white lines of the gridiron and step in to the real world.

The reality is this: Santonio Holmes is a fighter. A fighter with a chip on his shoulder. An undersized athlete, he’s needed that spirit to succeed in the NFL. He’s needed that spirit to overcome Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease he says no one knows the extent of its ruthlessness.

“Explaining the severity of pain that Sickle Cell-stricken people go through is indescribable to those who don’t have it. We are one of a kind,” he said.

As the Monday Night Football party came to a close, it was clear leaving the Temple Sinai that both Jahquie Martin and Santonio Holmes were, at least for one day, both one of a kind.

LATE EDITION: Morning After Report

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Mark Sanchez is a lot of things — former first-round pick, fourth-year starter, leader, scapegoat — but a liar he is not.

Like anyone starting a new year, you always to start off with a bang. Dominating in all three phases of the game with 48 points, it’s safe to say the Jets exploded into the 2012 NFL season. Getting off on the right foot, clown shoe or not, is huge for a Gang Green team that was only able to post 31 points in four preseason games. In 60 minutes on Sunday, they matched that total and then some.

Closing out preseason when asked about the lack of offense from the starters, Sanchez jokingly retorted, “We’re saving our scoring for the regular season”.

Maybe Rex Ryan, who’s only guarantee this year was that there would be no guarantees, should defer to his starting quarterback for future promises regarding his team. Sanchez’s back-up, Tim Tebow, took a welcomed back seat to the offensive “circus show” — getting in on nine offensive snaps. His biggest play on the afternoon? Falling on an onside kick in the second half on the Jets “hands” team.

In review, there is little to poke and pry after a convincing victory. However, the Buffalo Bills — improved or not — are little like the Pittsburgh Steelers, who’ll be looking to avoid an 0-2 start next week following a tough loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Sunday night. It’s clear skies for the Jets as they prepare to take off to Pittsburgh to avenge their 2010 AFC Championship loss to the Steelers at Heinz Field.

No Jets fans were chanting "TE-BOW!" after Mark Sanchez's proved to be the ring leader of the Jets "circus show". (JetsInsider.com Photo).

PASSING OFFENSE: A+

  • Sanchez certainly loves to play the Bills, who now improves to 7-1 against the AFC East rivals. In what could be argued as Sanchez’s best individual performance, he had no problem sharing the wealth — finding seven different targets on the afternoon. Perhaps the best sign? Sanchez willing to air it out and take a chance. He completed eight passes of 15+ yards.
  • Inexperienced? Yes. Talented? Very much so. The new look Flight Boys arrived in first class fashion, particularly rookie Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. Hill’s skill set and freakish size and speed will force safeties to roll over-the-top protection on a consistent basis. Hill’s debut ranks first in team history for most receiving yards and touchdown receptions. Kerley became the first Jet to record a receiving touchdown and return a punt for a touchdown in the same game in team history.
  • I said all last week that the game would be won or lost on the line of scrimmage and a dominating performance from the oft-maligned offensive line lit the fuse to the the Jets offensive fireworks show. The unit that featured three Pro Bowlers in 2011 gave up 36 sacks last season and 22 sacks in preseason. On Sunday, they gave up zero sacks to a Bills’ front four that was billed as an aggressive group. Their $100 million man, Mario Williams, could only manage a single tackle against Austin Howard — the back-up turned starter. No sacks, no pressures and no tackles for loss for the former number one overall pick. The group helped the Jets rush for 118 yards and throw for 266, while holding the Buffalo defense without a sack. In nine games under Rex Ryan in which they do not allow a sack, the team has produced a 7-2 record.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B+

  • The Jets may have made headlines through the air, but they methodically set up the pass with the run. Shonn Greene proved his bell cow status, carrying the ball 27 times out of the 36 total rushes  – a career high.
  • As expected, Bilal Powell assumed the third down back duties and performed admirably. The running backs said they are not worried about sharing the carries earlier in the week, as Powell and Joe McKnight getting five touches on offense.
  • Again, have to tip your cap to this offensive line. They manhandled a, perhaps by myself, over-hyped Bills defensive front.

PASSING DEFENSE: A

  • BILLS FIRST FIVE OFFENSIVE DRIVES — 1. INT by Darrelle Revis 2. INT by Kyle Wilson 3. 3-and-out 4. TD by C.J. Spiller 5.  INT TD by Antonio Cromartie. Gang Green defensive takeaways resulted in 24 points. ‘Nuff said.
  • I’d really like to have seen a better pass rush against Ryan Fitzpatrick, who wasn’t sacked and hit only five times. Quinton Coples had a lack-luster performance with only 1 tackle and no QB hits.
  • Cromartie, who received some flack for his backflip in to the endzone following his interception return, said the act was for his daughter, a gymnast.

RUSHING DEFENSE: D

  • While Ryan may be smiling after a decisive Week 1 victory, he has to be snarling at the performance Spiller put against his run defense.
  • Spiller averaged 12.1 yards on only 14 carries with two-monster runs of 40+ yards. The problem? On those runs Spiller broke numerous tackles before finding space. Facing bigger backs like Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, they’ll have to do a better job of wrapping up.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A+

  • Kerley’s return is the second-longest punt return in team history and longest by the Jets since Terence Mathis set a Jets record with a 98-yard punt return against Dallas (11/04/90).
  • Newly-acquired punter Robert Malone punted for the first time in the game with 14:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. Malone’s punt travelled 55 yards and was downed at the four-yard line by CB Isaiah Trufant. In the game, Malone punted twice for 103 yards (51.5 avg.) and a net average of 38.0 with one inside the 20.

COACHING: A

  • It wasn’t a perfect game for Ryan, but it was definitely a dominating complete game performance. Getting a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams is the type of square meal that’ll help him keep the weight off. (Although he may need to beef up to avoid flying bodies on the sideline ;) ).
  • Everything went according to Tony Sparano’s offensive plan. They established the run, were efficient and, at times, fast getting to the ball and line of scrimmage. Sanchez found multiple guys  all over the field and — most importantly — didn’t turnover the ball over (aside from the first quarter interception that proved to be harmless).
  • The bad? The Jets seemed comfortable, settled even, after their huge lead. This is a team with a self-described chip on their shoulder. And they let the Bills sneak back in for 21 unanswered points. Although it was only for a moment they have to stay in the game for the full 60 minutes — especially with games against some of the top ranked defenses coming up.

Friday’s Fantasy Focus

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Kate Upton and a cold dish of lasagna.

Those might be the only two things that get more excited than the start of the fantasy football season.

I live for the flexing of my brain’s sport muscle. I thrive off the anxiety of whittling my time clock down on a decision to go with Jordy Nelson or Roddy White as my team’s number one wideout. I often find myself scouring waiver wires on my iPhone app at public events instead of pretending to care about other people’s conversation.

I live for coming up with a witty (and usually somewhat vulgar) fantasy name. (This year’s are The Inside(her) and Multiple Scorgasms. Ah-thank you.) I’ll willingly ignore the calls and texts from girls after a gut-wrenching playoff loss where I forgot to sub out my tight end on a bye week. And sometimes, just sometimes, I’ll root against my favorite NFL team if it means I get an extra touchdown out of Ray Rice. (Hey, it’s only the regular season after all!)

My name is Wesley Sykes and I’m a fantasy football addict. I have a problem that I’m not ready to do anything about.

Who’s to say it’s a problem anyway? Over 25 million Americans (yes, males and females) participate in fantasy football annually. Guys like Matthew Berry make a living, a pretty comfortable one at that, telling us who to play and not to play week by week. There’s even a hit TV show, The League, that chronicles the lives of four fantasy-drive fanatics and crazy the hi-jinks they find themselves in just to claim the minor superiority of the fantasy football domain.

So who cares if the majority of my time is spent comparing the pros and cons of passing on Percy Harvin for a cheaper, less coveted Titus Young (who is due to break out this year)? Who cares if  I sacrifice my self respect after days of not showering in protest after a fellow player in my league took Darren Sproles one pick before me — which would’ve completely changed the outlook of my draft and my season and would’ve surely guaranteed me repeating as Knights of the Classic Lore champion … but I digress.

The point is this: fantasy football is back and we should all be thankful because, let’s face it, for those Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies fans out there, it’s been a long time coming for the football season.

Dustin Keller (above) has been nursing a hamstring injury all week. Is he worth a fantasy start Week 1? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

START ‘EM:

  • Jay Cutler, QB vs Colts — Most skill players facing the Indianapolis Colts will get the “start ‘em” label every week. Cutler is no exception to the rule. With the on-the-field bromance expected to brew between former-turned-new teammate Brandon Marshall, this week is no different. I fully expect this to be a welcoming party for the Bears’ offense, who I think will make the NFC playoffs as a wildcard — largely due to the connection of Cutler-to-Marshall. IN A PINCH: In two-QB leagues I don’t hate Mark Sanchez as a secondary guy. Against a young Bills secondary, receivers should be able to find the open gaps, given that Sanchez has enough time against the pass rush.
  • C.J. Spiller, RB vs Jets — This a move I’m endorsing not just because I drafted Spiller with the hopes of finding a Sproles-like diamond in the rough. Here’s a third-year back who filled in nicely during the absence of Fred Jackson and offers a huge mismatch problem with the Jets linebacker corps. May not get a lot of touches, but in a flex position he could be more than usually — hitting big on a big a play or two.  IN A PINCH: I like what I’ve seen from Kansas City this offseason. While I fully expect Jamaal Charles to come back from a season-long injury last year, I suspect newly-acquired Peyton Hillis will get a lot of redzone/goal line touches in this offense.
  • Titus Young, WR vs. Rams – How can you not love a Boise State guy? In an offense that is as high-octane as the Lions’, how can you not love a speedy, slot possession receiver? When Matthew Stafford isn’t airing it out to Calvin Johnson, he should pick up chunks of yards while finding Young. Towards the end of last season Stafford-to-Young became somewhat of a regular connection, averaging 43.5 yards per game with 4 receptions and 4 touchdowns. Expect those number to go up in 2012. IN A PINCH: I like Jaguars’ rookie WR Justin Blackmon a lot, who is probable — but expected to play — on Sunday with an ankle injury. In a flex position or third WR, he’s a solid play. He should develop a good rapport with Blaine Gabbert and will get plenty of return options as the team’s kick returner as well.
  • Jared Cook, TE vs Patriots — A young quarterback’s first love in the NFL is always his tight end. And when your tight end is 6-5, 240 lb. it’s love at first sight. While the Patriots defense has improved, I just don’t see them in a dominant form early — after all they did give up over 300 yards per game through the air last season. Facing the Patriots aerial assault, the Titans and rookie Jake Locker will have to air out if they hope to keep pace. Expect Cook to get a healthy amount of targets Week 1. IN A PINCH: For the same reasons of Cook, I’d say in a deep league go with Coby Fleener. I suspect the Bears will send the house against rookie Andrew Luck and, once again, the tight end is a young QB’s best friend. And being Luck’s go-to guy at Stanford, you know he can trust Fleener.

SIT ‘EM:

  • Peyton Manning, QB vs. Steelers — Of course his first game in nearly two years has to be against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think Manning will prove to be the fantasy player he’s known to be, just not Week 1. He has nerves, rust and James Harrison and Troy Polamalu  all working against him this week. Just wait it out, he’ll prove his worth down the stretch.
  • Maurice Jones-Drew, RB vs Vikings: This is a non-matchup decision. Not in football-ready shape. See Johnson, Chris; Revis, Darrelle.
  • Stevie Johnson, WR vs. Jets — He’s questionable with a groin injury and has been limited in practice all week. Add that with a one-way ticket to Revis Island and it’s a recipe for sitting him this week.
  • Dustin Keller, TE vs. Bills – He’s also been questionable with a hamstring injury, having been in and out of practice throughout the week. Lacking depth at the tight end position, it’s imperative that the Jets coddle Keller’s hamstring — which can be a nagging injury. As Sanchez’s most dependable receiver, Keller needs to be healthy down the stretch. Start him off slow and have him finish the season strong.

PREVIEW: BILLS (0-0) @ NY JETS (0-0)

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The football season is upon us. Yes, it’s finally here. The talks of how the Wildcat and Tim Tebow will be used will cease. No more crying over completion comparisons between Mark Sanchez and Tebow during 11-on-11 drills in practice. We’ll be able to see with our own eyes if the offensive line has really put last season’s woes behind them. The questions surrounding the inexperienced and young wide receivers will be answered.

And it all starts Sunday at 1 p.m. from MetLife Stadium.

The speculation surrounding this lightning rod of a team can be put on the shelf — if only for a few days.

Never mind if it’s the first game of the year, this match-up against the divisonal foe Buffalo Bills will be a measuring stick for a team that has a lot of questions surrounding them, particularly on offensive side of the ball.

Rex Ryan has never been shy about proclaiming the importance of divisional games, having said they are worth a game and a half when you start looking at tiebreakers for playoff spots. And their playoff resume starts Week 1. It’s been widely conceded that the New England Patriots will be the class of the AFC East once again, but the battle for second place will between the Jets and Bills — and, likely, a wildcard spot in the playoffs.

And these aren’t your older brother’s Bills either. They boast a revamped defense anchored by their $100 million stud defensive end, Mario Williams. Here’s everything you’ll need to know heading into the NFL’s kickoff weekend.

WHEN: Sunday, September 9, 2012 @ 1 p.m. EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: MetLife Stadium /  East Rutherford, NJ (Capacity: 82,500)

SERIES HISTORY: 103rd meeting / Bills lead 53-49 (Opening Day Series: Jets lead, 7-3)

LAST MEETING: BILLS 24 – @ JETS 27 (11/27/11)

NOTABLE: The Jets have won the last five regular season contests and seven of the last eight games since 11/2/08. During that stretch, New York has averaged 27.5 points a game while allowing an average of 16.1.

HEAD COACHES:

  • BILLS – Chan Gailey / Third Season with Bills / Regular Season 28-38
  • JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season with Jets / Regular Season 28-20 / Postseason Record 4-2

Tim Tebow is this week's x-factor Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Will Tebow Time come with a victory? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

INJURY REPORT:

  • BILLS — OUT – CB Ron Brooks (foot). QUESTIONABLE - WR Stevie Johnson (groin). PROBABLE – WR Brad Smith (groin), RG Kraig Ubrik (low back).
  • JETSOUT – S Eric Smith (knee/hip), OL Dennis Landolt (knee) . QUESTIONABLE –  DT Sione Po’uha (back), DT Mike DeVito (calf), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) . PROBABLE – WR Chaz Schilens (ankle), WR Santonio Holmes (ribs), CB Ellis Lankster (quad), LB David Harris (ankle), S Josh Bush (concussion), LB Nick Bellore (shoulder), RB Joe McKnight (hamstring), WR Stephen Hill (calf), OL Brandon Moore (hip), LB Bryan Thomas (ankle) S LaRon Landry (heel).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • JETS O-LINE vs. BILLS D-LINE: I’ve been hyping up the battle of the trenches all week. No need to rehash all the points from the story, so just click the link. I will say the key battle on the line will, obviously, be first year starter Austin Howard against All-Pro end Williams. Howard battled admirably against the Panthers’ Charles Johnson (12 sacks last season) during preseason. His next test will be no joke.
  • SCOTT CHANDLER vs. BELL/LANDRY: The Jets struggles against pass-catching tight ends have been well documented. So have the big additions of Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry to the Jets already stellar defensive backfield. They definitely have the intimidation factor down, particularly in box against the run. The question will be how the perform in coverage. While not a name you think of regarding elite tight ends, Chandler is effective for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Last season at MetLife stadium, Chandler proved his effectiveness with six receptions for 50 yards.
  • YOUNG WRs vs. YOUNG CBs: The Bills’ defensive backfield (Stephen Gilmore/rookie, Aaron Williams/2nd year) is young, leading many pundits to surmise the Jets will air it out against an untested secondary. Not so fast. This is still an unproven receiving corps, even with Holmes and Jeremy Kerley. And with a ball hawk like Jarius Byrd (13 career interceptions), it’ll be important that Sanchez in on the same page with all his receivers.

X-FACTORS:

  • C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills: Averaging 5.75 yards per touch last season, Spiller represents the type of weapon that hurt the Jets defense the most. As a “scat back”, Spiller’s skill set of outside shifty speed and pass-catching ability matches up perfectly on a situational basis against the Jets aging linebacker corps. Filling for an injured Fred Jackson in 2011, Spiller totaled 461 all-purpose yards with four touchdowns over the final four games. While the Jets have added speed on the outside with Aaron Maybin, his coverage skills are still in question. And don’t expect aging Calvin Pace or Bryan Thomas to keep pace with the Clemson product.
  • Tim Tebow, ATH, Jets: By design, I think Tebow is the x-factor for his offense. He’ll be brought in to spark an offense and keep the opposing defenses off balance. Isn’t that the definition of an x-factor? Of course, I have no concrete basis for this pick as Ryan and offensive coordinator have kept the Tebow package under wraps. But by all accounts we’ve been told that his role will be to change the game.

THE PICK: Bills 10 — NY Jets 14. It won’t be pretty, the Jets will find a way to squeak out a win. I think the Bills’ front four will cause problems for Sanchez and the offense, but the Jets defense will be dominant. A touchdown from the defense or specials teams wouldn’t surprise me.

JETS BACKFIELD: Three’s a Company

Friday, September 7th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Second year running back Bilal Powell is punctually on the prowl. A year after suffering the residual effects of a rookie off-season amidst a lock-out, the Louisville alum has pulled up a third seat in the Jets backfield table for two.

Flashing glimpses of a third-down back, who can not only run and catch the ball but excels in pass protection, Powell is fulfilling the visions of Rex Ryan and running backs coach Anthony Lynn of replacing LaDanian Tomlinson.

“When we drafted him we thought he could be a replacement to LaDanian Tomlinson. If LT never came back [last season], we felt like he could have fulfilled his duties nicely. That’s why we drafted him. Coming out of Louisville, Anthony Lynn – great teacher, great coach, but also a great evaluator – was really high on Powell,” Ryan said Thursday.

He’s been impressive enough to make a conversation out of the back-up running back position with fourth-year back Joe McKnight.

“I think him and Joe [McKnight] both are our number two. Both of those guys will play for us. I don’t think there’s a clear cut number two guy, Ryan said.

Joe McKnight (above) isn't worried about splitting carries three ways this season. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

For a team that’s establishing themselves as a run-first, ground and pound team is there a better problem to have than having too many running backs? Starter Shonn Greene, McKnight and Powell all bring a different running style to the field and can bring much needed versatility and change of pace to a Jets offense that is expecting to thrive off the element of surprise.

Are there concerns that there won’t be enough carries to go around for all three? Not among this group.

“There’s absolutely enough carries to go around. We all have different qualities. I’m more of a downhill, north-south running back. Bilal’s a great pass protection guy, picks up the blitz very well, good on third downs. Joe’s very versatile route runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield,” Greene said.

“I’m not even worried about carries right now,” McKnight said. “I still have special teams and kickoff returns to worry about too. We all really feed off each other. When Shonn has a good first series we really vibe off that.”

Powell embraces the opportunity to replaced a future Hall-of-Famer in Tomlinson.

“It says a whole lot even to be mentioned in the same category LT. Joe and I, with Shonn being the starter, we just have to go out there and pick up the pieces when we’re called on,” Powell said.

As the NFL continues to evolve into a pass-first league and a situational game , the role of the running back has expanded. The two-headed running game is no longer a novelty, but a necessity. But a three-headed backfield? We’ve seen it work before.

The “Earth, Wind & Fire” backfield of the New York Giants in 2008 combined for 2,469 yards, 18 total touchdowns and 5.3 yards per carry. That backfield featured Brandon Jacobs, a down-hill, north-south runner; Derrick Ward a speedy, shifty third-down back; And Ahmad Bradshaw a versatile route runner who can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Sound familiar?

That Giants team went 12-4, running their way to the top seed in the NFC. The Jets will look to get their ground game off on the right foot Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

For Jets, a win Sunday starts up front

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Football games are won and lost in the trenches.

A cliche we’ve all heard before. Against a revamped Buffalo Bills defensive front, Sunday’s game will be decided by the effectiveness of executing this overused football phrase and not by the arm of Mark Sanchez.

Or the legs of Tim Tebow, for that matter.

Despite being 5-1 in his career against the Bills, Rex Ryan conceded that history will not tell the story of Sunday’s outcome. He stressed the difference in this team — particularly the Bills’ suddenly fierce front four.

Nick Mangold (left) and Matt Slauson will have their hands full with a revamped Buffalo Bills' line on Sunday. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

“It’s a big time group, no question about it. Everybody knows about Mario, obviously he’s a tremendous player. But I think their two tackles are big time as well. Marcell Dareus is a big man that has good movement. He’s much more than a run plugger. Kyle Williams, in my opinion, has been one of the most underrated players in football. They use him as a 3-technique right now – a penetrating 3-technique. He’s strong, quick, has excellent change of direction, very active – and a great nickname [pot roast]. Mark Anderson is a pass rush guy – speed and power guy. We’re going to have a huge challenge in front of us,” Ryan said Thursday.

Mario Williams will be the marquee name, and rightfully so, after signing with the Bills for seven figures in the offseason. First-year starting tackle Austin Howard gets the tough luck of the draw having to line up opposite the All-Pro 300-pound end, a match-up that Ryan said will not exclusively be one-on-one.

“You don’t want to just leave anyone out there by themselves down after down, but sometimes he is going to be by himself. There are other things you have to do against any great pass rusher. You have to do things to help slow him down,” he said Wednesday.

Part of that will be sending Justin Smith in to stack the right side of the line or making sure the receiving tight ends chip him on the line before starting their routes. Regardless of the help, Howard is looking forward to the challenge in his first career start.

“I’m very excited about the challenge. He has a motor he is a really good defensive end.  As a unit, we have a lot of respect for him and not only him, but the whole defensive line that they have in Buffalo.  They do a good job making sure that they’re always going, always trying to make plays,” Howard said.

Howard will not be the only concern for a unit that allowed 36 sacks on their franchise quarterback last season. A vote of confidence from Ryan aside, who boasted Thursday that there’s only one team with three Pro Bowl linemen from last year, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Brandon Moore will all have their hands full.

The Bills’ starting front four combined for 20.5 sacks last season despite two players (Kyle & Mario Williams) missing 22 games, collectively, due to injuries. After allowing Jets’ quarterbacks to be sacked 22 times during the preseason, their play will dictate the effectiveness of their new offense.

A sentiment that Ferguson echoed on Thursday.

“That whole front line is very talented whether it be Mario, Mark, Marcell or Kyle. However, we feel very confident with what we’ve been doing and what we’ve been practicing. I think we’ll be ready for what they have to give us,” he said.

Ryan likened the Bills’ front four to the “NASCAR” defensive front of the New York Giants, who kicked off the 2012-13 season Wednesday night with a 24-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, the Cowboys’ offense — which has protection issues of their own — regularly took three-step drops and ran out of the shotgun to combat that vaunting defensive pass rush on not just the exterior, but the interior as well.

On Wednesday Ryan gushed about the Bills’ interior threat, the 6-1, 300 lb. Kyle Williams who’s aptly nicknamed “Pot Roast”.

“He’s the other Williams,” Ryan joke. “He’s pretty darn good.  He’s just short but man, he is a heck of a football player.  And I told him that.  I said one year, I’m like, ‘Man we voted you to the Pro Bowl, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to take it out on us.’  But he really is tremendous playing.  He’s playing that three-technique form.  They missed him a lot last year when he was out. They really missed him.”

The two-time Pro Bowler had 13.5 career sacks prior to being placed on injured reserve following a Week 9 loss to the Jets. Now healthy, Williams figures to be a key player in both the Bills’ run stopping and pass rushing plans.

Mangold, sans his blonde beard, knows beating Williams off the line early and often will be the key to success for the Jets offense.

“The guy in the middle is doing a fantastic job. He’s very underrated and he’s a heck of a player, so it’s going to be a challenge for us. It’s going to be a good battle and we’re really looking forward to it,” Mangold said.

On Sunday it all starts up front and the battle will be won inch by inch. After all, cliche or not, football is a game of inches.

Woody tackles Modell, Circus Show & Blackouts

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets owner Woody Johnson unexpectedly showed up for practice Thursday at the team’s Atlantic Health training center and met with members of the media for roughly 10 minutes. Covering a myriad of topics from the untimely death of NFL pioneer Art Modell, the recent circus show label placed by pundits and if the home opener would be sold out, Johnson was calm and even-keeled delivering one poignantly neutral quote after another.

Here’s a transcribed view of his words and thoughts.

On the death of former Browns/Ravens owner Art Modell:

Art was one of the first people I met when I got approved by the NFL. He was a man who was extremely critical in building a great relationship with network television business – one of the first pioneers in structuring the relationship between the two. I remember going to one of my first games [as Jets owner] down in Baltimore and he invited me into his suite. I just kind of stayed there for the game. I didn’t know I was supposed to go back over to my own. You don’t know what you’re doing really when you first get in this business. He was so gracious, as well as his wife. He had a great sense of humor. He’s just a real leader, pioneer type of guy. I have so much respect for him. It’s a big loss. He was major in the development of the NFL itself.

Whenever you do that, you’re not going to be popular in Cleveland. But overall, if you look at his body of work in the NFL, he’ll be way up there in terms of respect from both players and the guys that knew him.

Jets owner shared his experiences with the late Art Modell, who passed away Wednesday night. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

On the Jets being labeled a “Circus Show”:

I think that’s all [the media]. I think we’re deadly serious about winning here. We learned this in the third grade, you know, sticks and stones and all that. That’s all that is, really. I don’t think it’s a circus environment, I think it’s a winning environment.

No, I’m not really bothered by. This is New York, so everything is going to be scrutinized.

On his predictions for the Jets & if this is a playoff team:

I’m not going to make any predictions, but I go into every season thinking we won’t lose any games. I arrive on gameday thinking we will win.

I definitely think [we have a playoff caliber team]. You take a look at our offensive line and we have three Pro Bowlers. Nobody else has that. We got a string of running backs that all do something a little different. We got receivers that are as gifted as anybody. We have a lot of great weapons, starting with the quarterback. [in regards to this being a playoff caliber team.

On if they have sold out for Sunday's game against the Bills:

We will not be blacked out. Have we sold every single seat? No, but we will not be blacked out.

On him stating that "you can never have enough Tim Tebow" in a previous interview:

I don’t want to get into too much detail about it, because I thought it was a humorous joke. But we have 53 guys are on the roster here. Everybody is important. We’re happy we have him and we’re happy we have the other 52 guys. Our job is to team build. I didn’t mean anything by it other than a humorous remark.

On his confidence in Rex Ryan & whether he has more faith in Mitt Romney:

I have a lot of confidence in both [Ryan & Mitt Romney].  I’m very confident in Rex Ryan. You just have to look at his body of work. It’s unparalleled in our history.