Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rex Ryan Gives Dolphins Fans the Finger


Well it appears that Rex Ryan's bravado has finally gotten the better of him.

The fiery Jets coach, flipped the bird to a group of Miami Dolphins fans when he was put on the jumbo-tron of a MMA event. Ryan was at the event, enjoying himself, until he was put on the TV, and vociferously booed by the Miami crowd. Ryan reacted by flipping his middle finger, a la Brian Cox style to some Dolphins fans who were giving him a hard time.

“It was stupid and inappropriate. I wouldn’t accept that type of behavior from one of the coaches or players and it’s unacceptable from me. I apologize to the Jets organization, the National Football League and NFL fans everywhere,” Ryan said in a statement released by the team. "I’d like to thank everybody here in Miami. I know they love me,” Ryan said

This is not the first time Ryan has butted heads with the Fish. Earlier in the year he got into a verbal spat with Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder during the off-season, in which Crowder challenged Ryan to a fight.

The Dolphins swept the Jets this year. The two rivals will have to wait until mid-April before they find out when they will clash again.

"Ryan could be subject to a fine by the league. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fined Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams $250,000 for his obscene gesture to fans in November. Adams extended both middle fingers in a game against the Bills" (Star Ledger).

Jets Face A Tricky Off-Season With CBA Up in the Air

The New York Jets will have a hard time signing free agents this spring.

No it has nothing to do with how people may feel about playing in New York; instead it has everything to do with the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which is coming to an end this year.

The NFL owners and players are working on a new agreement, with the hope of preventing an uncapped year in 2010, and preventing a possible work stoppage in 2011.

According to the Star Ledger: "The final eight playoff teams can’t sign an unrestricted free agent unless they lose one themselves, and the money has to match, much like in NBA trades. That player must have an expired contract and be in the league six or more years.

"Also, more than 200 players that would’ve been unrestricted free agents, such as Jets WR Braylon Edwards and RB Leon Washington, will be restricted free agents under the current CBA.

"However, if a veteran player gets cut by a team, he can be signed by any team on the open market ."

In short the Jets will be unable to sign any unrestricted free agents this year, unless they are willing to part with some of their current roster, or that targeted player is cut. If the CBA is worked out by March 5, then there is a chance that the off-season can be salvaged for the Jets, and the other playoff teams from this season.

With a new CBA in place, it should allow the Jets to sign whomever they want without having to cut people. If however, the deal is not worked out by March 5, the rules above would go into affect for 2010.

Mark Sanchez to Have Off-Season Knee Surgery


Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez is considering surgery on his left knee to stabilize a patella ligament, according to the Star Ledger.

This is not the same knee that Sanchez hurt in a game against the Buffalo Bills in December, in which he dove head first on an attempted first down.

If Sanchez has the surgery he will be sidelined for two months, which will take the quarterback to April, meaning he would miss the clubs' off-season program in March. However, OTA's are not until May and June, and he is expected to be ready by then.

Sanchez is still developing as a young quarterback, and the off-season program would be benificial to his development, but making sure his knees are healthy are more important to the franchise right now.

Sanchez is better off getting this surgery done now, since the Jets are seven months away from training camp.

Yankees Sign Randy Winn, Means Johnny Damon Now Ex-Bomber


Earlier this past week the Yankees finalized a one year $2 million contract with Randy Winn, formally of the San Francisco Giants.

The move means that Johnny Damon's run as Yankees left fielder will come to an abrupt end, after both sides failed to come to terms on a contract.

Winn is not as good a hitter as Damon is, but he is a serviceable stop gap for whomever the Yankees will target permanently for left field come 2011.

Winn hit .262 with the Giants in 2009, hitting only two homeruns and driving in 51 RBI. His best season came in 2005, while splitting time with the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, Winn hit .306, corked 20 homers and drove in 65. However, he has never come close to matching that kind of productivity since.

As for Damon, he played a very large roll in the Yankees World Series Championship last season, and his presence at the top of the Yankee order will definitely be missed. Damon has yet to find another suitor, but there are rumors he could go back to the Oakland A's, whom he spent time with in the early '00's.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jets Super Bowl Dreams Come Crashing To Earth

COLTS 30
JETS 17

It just wasn't meant to be.

The last time the Jets were in the AFC Championship game, they held a 10-0 lead on the Denver Broncos in the third quarter in 1998. They then went ahead and turned the ball over six times, as Denver stormed back to win 23-10.

Sunday was something of a replay, minus the hideous turnovers. The Jets held a 17-6 lead on the Colts approaching the two minute warning in the second quarter. Then Peyton Manning woke up from his slumber, figured out the Jets blitzing 46 defense and led Indy on a huge comeback.

Manning hit Austin Collie for 18 to move the ball to the Colts 38. Then he hit Collie again from 46 yards out to put the ball deep into Jets territory. Finally, Manning hit Collie again for a 16 yard touchdown to cut the Jets lead to 17-13 at halftime.

Even though Gang Green had the lead, the game was over, Peyton Manning had the Jets right where he wanted them.

The Jets, as we have seen from this franchise for 41 years found ways to kill themselves. After a Jets drive stalled in the opening minutes of the third quarter, Jay Feely missed his second field goal of the afternoon, this one from 52 yards out that would have given the Jets a 20-13 lead.

Manning would then lead the Colts down field completing six of eight passes, culminating in a four yard touchdown to Paul Garcon.

Phil Simms, who was calling the game for CBS, stated the obvious during the drive that Manning "was feeling it." When Manning begins to get a feel for a game, it's curtains for his opponents.

Manning firgured out the Jets blitzing defense, spread them out with various four and five wide receiver sets. He got the ball off quicker and made sure to pick on the Jets weaker cornerbacks, Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowrey.

The Jets got totally out of their game. With New York facing a first and 15 at their on 49, the Jets got away from their number one ground attack and asked Mark Sanchez to make some hurried throws. He threw incompletions on first down and second, and then, in desperation, hit Tony Richardson for a couple of yards, forcing the punt.

The Colts had them where they wanted them. Manning would add another touchdown, a 15 yarder to Dallas Clark sealing the Jets fate.

Unlike the 1998 AFC title loss, this defeat should not be the be all or end all for the Jets. The 1998 team was a monster, a 12-4 machine that seemed destined to win Super Bowl XXXIII, with a high powered offense led by a resurgent Vinny Testaverde, and coached by a Hall of Famer in Bill Parcells.

This 2009 version was a tough team to figure out all season. They got off to a 3-0 start, then went on to lose six of seven, four of which were in excruciating fashion to the Dolphins (twice), Bills, and Jaguars. The finish to the 2009 season was a wild one, thanks in part to the Colts decision to rest players in their first match up with Gang Green, allowing them to win and make the playoffs.

There are some good things to take away from this loss for a Jets team that is not even close to hitting their potential.

Mark Sanchez grew up in front of our eyes in this postseason. In the AFC title game, he looked like an All Pro. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 277 yards, two touchdowns and a late interception. He was calm, cool and poised in the pocket. His 80 yard touchdown strike to Braylon Edwards was a franchise record for longest play in Jets playoff history, and Sanchez's ability to avoid sacks and make smart decisions with the football was on display all day.

If anything, the Jets know now they have the ability to possess a lethal passing attack for next season. The Jets ground attack was stalled for just 83 yards, forcing Sanchez to make plays with his arm and, for the most part, he did.

These three playoff games were huge for Sanchez, who had a dreadful regular season for a rookie throwing 20 interceptions, and looking totally lost as the season wore on. The playoffs proved to be extra time for the one year veteran to hone his craft, and for that, the Jets should consider themselves lucky. They won't have to answer questions about their quarterback during the spring.

The Jets discovered a new star running back in Shonn Greene who rushed for 263 yards in the first two playoff games this year, and the Jets will build on their number one ranked defense, as they will most definitely look for edge pass rushers in the draft and free agency.

Yes, it hurts to blow a 17-6 lead to the Colts in the AFC title game, but all is not lost. The Jets will be back sooner than the cynics think.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mets Acquire Gary Matthews Jr. From Angels.

The Mets may have found a temporary replacement for Carlos Beltran.

Friday morning the Mets agreed to trade reliever Brian Stokes to the Anaheim Angels in exchange for Gary Matthews Jr., once one of the Angels prime hitters.

Matthews Jr. once played for the Mets in 2002, and got only one at bat in the regular season before the Mets released him. Matthews Jr. went on to become a All Star caliber player for the Texas Rangers. In 2006, Matthews Jr. hit .313 with 19 homers and 79 RBI earning a All Star berth.

In 2007, he signed on to become the left fielder with the Angles, joining Tori Hunter and Vladimir Gurrero. He played 140 games that year, hit .252 blasted 18 homers and drove in 72. However, injuries in the last two years, and the addition of Bobby Abreu in 2009, cut into Matthews Jr.'s playing time. He played in only 103 games last year.

Jr. will be asked to become the Mets everyday center fielder until Carlos Beltran returns from knee surgery, which he had last week. Beltran is expected to miss the first month of the season, if not more until he is completed with rehab. In short Matthews Jr. could be the Mets center fielder until June at the latest. After that, he could fit nicely as a bench player.

Matthews Jr. is very athletic, and known for making acrobatic catches in center field, as he did in Texas years ago.

Jets vs. Colts: AFC Championship Game Preview

Four weeks ago the Indianapolis Colts pulled off a stunner when Jim Caldwell, on orders from team President Bill Pollian, pulled Peyton Manning and the rest of the Colts starters on offense and defense in order to rest them for the playoffs.

The game was against the Jets, and when the Colts starters left, Indy held a 15-10 lead on Gang Green. The Jets took full advantage of the Colts shocking move, putting up 19 unanswered points to beat the Colts and end their unbeaten season, 29-15.

Since that time a firestorm has been brewing. Thousands of people have called out the Colts as cheating the game of football for pulling that stunt and not even trying to stay perfect. They have also criticized the Jets for taking bows after the win. The Jets claim that they would have beaten the Colts no matter who was on the field, even Peyton Manning.

That is heck of an insult to the only player to win four MVP awards.

The Jets have had a terrific run. They beat the Bengals in back-t0-back weeks, and shocked the San Diego Chargers a week ago, 17-14. However, this time the Jets will see the Colts at full strength.

The Jets and their fans have pounded their chests all week as a team of destiny, praising the boastful words of coach Rex Ryan, and the suddenly veteran like play of rookie Mark Sanchez.

All good things come to an end, and lets remember these are the JETS! The team that invented heartbreak hotel, including this year when the blew five winnable games in the final quarter. The Colts by themselves have seven come-from-behind wins this season. Something has got to give.

Manning threw for 4500 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions this year. The Colts passing attack of Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and Pierre Garcon is one of the best in the league, and it will be very interesting to see how the Jets number one pass defense handles Manning the leagues smartest quarterback.

It will definitely be a chess match between Rex Ryan and Manning, but Manning is usually very good in rematches.

The only way the Jets have a chance in this game is if Sanchez continues to play mistake free football. The Colts have a very fast defense, that sacked the rookie twice four weeks ago, and if they get enough pressure on him, he could easily have one of his five interception performances.

The Jets defense will have to make enough plays on second and third down against the Colts to keep the Jets in the game, like they did a week ago against the Chargers.

Can the Jets do it and end 41 years of misery? Yes. Will they? No.

COLTS 34, JETS 14.

Vikings vs. Saints: NFC Championship Preview

Who knew that Brett Favre had anything left when he left the Jets stranded after a disappointing finish to the 2008 season?

Well as it turns out Favre and his torn right shoulder healed pretty quick as the 40 year old quarterback led the Vikings all the way to the NFC title game. Favre had one of his best seasons throwing for 4,202 yards 33 touchdowns and a career low, seven interceptions. So much for having nothing left when he was with Gang Green.

Throughout the year, Favre has developed a terrific on-field relationship with receiver Sidney Rice, with Rice becoming Minnesota's number one deep threat. Rice had a career year with 83 receptions for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Vikings pass offense has been so impressive this year, that dynamic running back Adrian Peterson had a down year for him, rushing for 1,383 yards with 18 touchdown! And this was a down year for Peterson who averaged only 4.4 yards a carry on the ground.

Expect Minnesota to put up some numbers on the Saints ragged 25th ranked defense. The Saints give up 357 yards per game and have only 37 sacks this season. However, a week ago the Saints found a way to beat up Kurt Warner, holding him to 205 yards passing and knocking him out of the game with a concussion.

If the Saints are to win this game, they will have to put a lot of pressure on Favre, and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Favre is a guy who is prone to making big mistakes when in desperation and under pressure. Dreadful losses to the Steelers, Cardinals and Panthers this year should serve as a blueprint for New Orleans on how to beat Favre and the Vikings.

As for the Saints offense, they were once again one of the best units in football.

Drew Brees threw for 4,388 yards, 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. Brees, calm and cool composure as the leader of the Saints is the main reason they are here. He does a great job of spreading the ball to receivers Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, and Jeremy Shockey, with all four hauling in more than 45 catches this year.

However, the key in this game will be how the Saints handle the pressure of the Vikings defense. The Vikings led the NFL in quarterback sacks with 48, and give up only 211 yards a game through the air. The combo of Jarred Allen and Ray Edwards resulted in 23 sacks, giving Minnesota two terrific pass rushers coming off the edge.

The Saints didn't fair well when faced with a legit pass rush when they played the Cowboys back in week 15. Brees was sacked four times, harassed all night long, and threw an interception. If the Vikings should harass Brees throughout the evening, the Vikings will head to the Super Bowl. If not, this game will be a shoot out.

Expect a high scoring affair. If Favre and Vikings can quiet down the Superdome this game will be theirs, if not, the Saints will roll. PREDICTION: SAINTS 31, VIKINGS 27.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mets Nightmare Off Season Continues, Molina Signs With Giants

So anybody know of a guy who can play catcher please contact the Mets.

In what has been a nightmare off-season for the New York Mets, just got a whole lot worse, when their number one target for catcher, Bengi Molina re-signed with the San Francisco Giants to a one year deal worth $4.5 million.

The Mets had initially offered Molina a two year deal worth over $5 million, but the catcher rejected wanting a third year. He lowered his price tag to two years, but that was not enough for him to agree to come to the Metroplitans, instead opting to stay in San Fran.

Now the Mets not only have a gapping hole at first base, center field, and 4/5 of the starting rotation, they now have a gapping hole at catcher, a position of need. The Mets will have to rely on Omir Santos and Josh Thole to battle it out in Spring Training, or hope that veteran's signings like Chris Coste and Henri Blanco pan out.

In short 2010 is starting to sound and look like another year to forget for the Mets.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jets Are Heading To the AFC Championship Game

JETS 17
CHARGERS 14

Rex Ryan predicted his team should have been the favorites to win it all when the playoffs started a couple of weeks ago. Well, so far, it is two down and two to go for Gang Green.

The Jets are 60 football minutes away from a trip to Super Bowl XLIV, after they outplayed the San Diego Chargers 17-14 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.

The Jets found a way to hang around all afternoon with the Chargers, keeping the game scoreless in the first quarter and holding a powerful Chargers offense to seven points through three quarters.

The Jets got a couple of breaks in this game, as, for example, when Charers kicker Nate Kaeding missed three straight field goals to cost San Diego any chance of winning this game. Add that to the fact that Phillip Rivers was constantly harassed in the pocket all day, and he was sacked twice and picked off twice in the loss.

Much had been made about the match-up between Jets corner back Darrell Revis and Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson had seven catches for 111 yards, but most of those catches came up the middle, when Jackson was not matched up with Revis.

The Jets did hold Antonio Gates to eight catches for 93 yards, and Malcom Floyd to three catches for 30 yards. Darren Sproles (3 rushes, 33 yards) and LaDainian Tomlinson (12 rushes 24 yards) were non-factors throughout the game.

Then things got really interesting late in the third quarter. With New York trailing 7-3, and with San Diego driving, Darrell Revis picked off Rivers after his pass bounced off of the foot of Jackson, who was tumbling to the ground with Revis. The ball landed in Revis' hands, who then got up and ran for six yards.

On the next San Diego possession, Rivers was picked off again by Jim Leonhard, who brought the ball back to the Chargers 16 yard line.

The Jets pounded the Chargers with Shonn Greene, setting up shop at the San Diego 4. Mark Sanchez then rolled right on third and goal to hit Dustin Keller in the back of the end zone to give the Jets a 10-7 lead. Whereupon, the Jets bench exploded in jubilation, and Qualcomm stadium fell dead silent.

In the fourth quarter, the Chargers needed to put together a big drive to halt the Jets momentum, but a huge hit by Kerry Rhodes on Rivers jarred the ball loose, forcing a fourth down punt.

On the next Jets possesion, Gang Green began to put the game away. Greene took the hand off, burst up the middle and found open space into which he raced 53 yards to pay dirt, giving the Jets a 17-7 lead.

But the Chargers were not done. Rivers led San Diego on a 30 yard drive to the Jets 22 yard line before giving way to Kaeding, who missed his third field goal of the day.

The Chargers would get the ball one more time, plugging it into the end zone on a Rivers one yard run with 2:14 to go.

Now the strategy. The Chargers had a timeout and the two minute warning in their pocket. All they needed to do was stop the Jets one more time and get the ball back with a chance to win the game.

Rex Ryan would have none of that. On a key third and six, the Jets pounded the ball up the middle with Greene who gained five yards to make it fourth and one. It was a no brainier that the Jets had to go for it if they wanted to end the game. Thomas Jones took the hand off and bulled his way over the first down marker to clinch the game with 50 seconds to go. Box score.

The Jets are heading to their first AFC title game since 1998, when the Vinny Testaverde and Bill Parcells led the Jets to a 23-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Inside the Numbers: Jets Have A Shot In San Diego

The playoffs are all about cashing in on opportunities.

After a thrilling 24-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday, the New York Jets will have to prepare extremely well for, arguably, the toughest test of their 2009 season, the 13-3 San Diego Chargers.

The Chargers are football's hottest team, having won 11 in a row, including victories over the Dallas Cowboys, Bengals, and Philadelphia Eagles, three teams that qualified for this year's tournament.

The turning point in the season for San Diego came in Week Nine when the Bolts stormed back late in the fourth quarter from a six-point deficit to beat the New York Giants 21-20 at the Meadowlands. Philip Rivers hit Vincent Jackson in the corner of the end zone with 21 seconds remaining, shocking the Giants. At that moment, the Chargers graduated from a good team that could never seem to put it together into a juggernaut.

The Chargers never looked back after that day, and the once 6-0 Denver Broncos fell apart at the top of the AFC West, opening the door for the dominant Chargers to take the West and the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

Philip Rivers has gone on to have his best season yet, and one could make the argument that Rivers should have been named league MVP.

He threw for 4,254 yards, 28 touchdowns, nine interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 104.9. With the Chargers struggling to run the ball this year, Rivers stepped up and delivered big time for San Diego. He and his receivers, Vincent Jackson (1,167 yards receiving) and Malcolm Floyd, as well as tight end Antonio Gates (1,157 yards receiving), have proven to be a lethal combination all year long.

On the surface of this matchup, the Jets look like a team the Bolts should dispose of quite easily, and maybe they still will; but the statistics tell a different story.

Statistically, the Chargers better be ready for Rex Ryan's New York Jets, because the Jets have something that the likes of the Giants, Cleveland Browns, Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins didn't have when the Chargers beat those teams.

The Jets have a defense that ranked No. 1 against the pass and No. 8 against the run, as well as the No. 1 running offense, which are numbers that don't favor San Diego.

Here are some statistics that some of you might find quite surprising:

San Diego owns the 10th best offense and the fifth best passing attack in the league, but they are 31st in running the ball.

The Chargers average only 3.3 yards per carry, and their longest run of the year went 36 yards. It seems surprising considering the Chargers have LaDainian Tomlinson, once a perennial Pro Bowler, and the speedy Darren Sproles, but Tomlinson's skills have decreased considerably over the last three seasons. This year, Tomlinson has 730 yards rushing, while Sproles has 343 yards.

Sproles, who stands at 5'6", has game-breaking ability; i.e., his two huge touchdown returns against the Indianapolis Colts last season. Considering the Jets had a hard time tackling another 5'6" back in Maurice Jones-Drew earlier this season, expect San Diego to pound the Jets with a heavy dose of Sproles.

However, the fact that San Diego has trouble running the football should bode well for the Jets defense. Keep in mind that Gang Green allows only 98.6 yards per game on the ground and has given up only two 100 yard games this year: 123 yards to Jones-Drew in mid-November and 169 yards to Cedric Benson a week ago.

Overall, the Jets have surrendered an average of 253 yards per game, have allowed their opponents to convert only 32 percent of their third downs, and 37 percent of fourth downs.

The Jets yielded only 153.7 yards per game through the air and have given up only eight touchdown passes, while intercepting 17 balls, allowing passers to complete only 52 percent of their passes, and compiling a rating of 58.8.

Consequently, the Chargers' passing game will be key to the matchup as the Jets' secondary and linebackers will be up against the height and speed of the Chargers' receivers.

Darrelle Revis is arguably the best corner back in the NFL, having shut down top receivers Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith, and Andre Johnson. All of those receivers have either terrific size or speed, or both. Revis has kept pace with all of them, and how he fares against Rivers' favorite target in Jackson will go a long way in determining the winner here.

Even if Revis does a nice job against Jackson, it still means that San Diego could rely heavily on Antonio Gates, who will match up against Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard. Leonhard, despite his small 5'8" frame, is a very hard hitter; however, Rhodes has developed the reputation as a soft player.

Many times this year, Rhodes has failed to make key tackles late in games on opposing tight ends and slot receivers; for example, in Week 10 in November, a huge conversion for a first down by Marcedes Lewis of the Jacksonville Jaguars that helped set up the game winning field goal.

The Jets will need a heavy pass rush in this game. Even though it is not easy to bring a big, physical, and accurate guy like Rivers down to the ground, the Jets have to get Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas open in space on the outside to close the pocket around Rivers and force him to make some uncomfortable throws.

If they can force a few turnovers, then the Jets have a shot; otherwise, Rivers will pick them apart.

Another interesting statistic involves the Jets' offense against the San Diego D. The Chargers are 20th in run defense, allowing 118 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. The Jets led the NFL in rushing this year with 172 yards per game and totaled 171 yards last week in Cincinnati.

All year, opposing defenses have put eight in the box on the Jets offense; many thought that would prevent the Jets from having any offense at all this year, but that hasn't been the case. Thomas Jones ran for 1,402 yards and a career high 14 touchdowns. Shonn Greene, who stepped in for the injured Leon Washington, ripped up the Bengals for 135 yards and a touchdown. If these two should go off on Sunday, it could make things very interesting.

Now for the big question mark for the Jets.

The quarterback.

Yes, Mark Sanchez looked like a veteran last week in Cincinnati. He showed great poise and put some extra zip on his passes, but the Chargers' pass defense has a better track record than Cincinnati's.

Two years ago, the Chargers were one of the better defenses in football, having recorded 30 interceptions and 46 sacks; however, over the last two years, things have not gone as well for the Chargers' pass rush.

This year alone, the Chargers have 35 sacks in total. Shaun Phillips has had a wonderful year, leading the team with seven sacks, but former Pro Bowler Shawn Merriman is a shell of his former self, recording only four sacks this season. Luis Castillo, the once feared defensive end from Garfield, NJ, has only two sacks this year and 25 tackles.

Even the secondary has struggled some for San Diego. The multi-talented Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer each have three interceptions, a huge tail off for both. Two years ago, Cromartie had 10 interceptions, and last year had 64 tackles. This year he has only 33 tackles. Jammer had 88 tackles in 2008, but he has only 58 this year.

The reason for the drop-off has to do with the lack of pressure up front from the Chargers' defense. As a team, the San Diego has surrendered 23 touchdown passes, compared to 14 interceptions. If they are to win this game and the Super Bowl, the Chargers' defense from 2007 and 2008 has to show up.

Nevertheless, this is not to make the Jets' passing attack appear like world beaters. By no means do I expect Mark Sanchez to light it up on Sunday. The Jets were 31st in passing offense this year, and, before last week's game, you couldn't find tight end Dustin Keller with a magnifying glass.

Braylon Edwards has been a total bust for Gang Green. He dropped a possible touchdown last week in Cincinnati, and has dropped huge passes all year long for the Jets, catches that would have given the team leads in several games this season.

Before last week, Sanchez had been a walking disaster.

He threw 20 interceptions this season and has had games where he has thrown five and three interceptions, killing the Jets. His inability to adjust to the speed of the NFL game forced the Jets to change the playbook to a color-coded system by Week 11 to help him learn the game quicker.

He has slowly gotten better, completing short, precision passes, but even with last week's near perfect performance, there has to be concern about how he will handle the blitzes of the Chargers' defensive schemes; expect guys like Cromartie and Jammer to lick their chops at the opportunity to pick the kid off.

This will not be an easy game for either team. The fact that the Chargers are 8.5-point favorites may not be doing this game much justice. Expect a very close game that could come down to the wire. If the Jets have to come from behind at any point in this contest, it could turn ugly fast for Gang Green. The Chargers have way too much talent to blow a lead of any kind. If the Jets take the lead late, it will be must see TV, when the Chargers have the ball late needing to score to either tie or win the game.

PREDICTION: CHARGERS 24, JETS 20.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Carlos Beltran to Miss 3 Months Due to Surgery


To quote Al Pacino from "Godfather Part III", "Just when you thought you were out, they pull you right back in."

Nothing ever gets better in the land of the New York Mets.

Coming off one of the most bizarre season's in memory, when almost every starting player on the Mets roster missed time due to serious injury, the New Year brings more trouble.

According to ESPN, Carlos Beltran will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery to re-repair the knee that he injured last season. The Mets said that Beltran suffered "worsening of osteoarthritis" in his knee during the off-season,"according to the ESPN report.

Beltran will miss the next three months; he probably won't be ready for opening day on April 5 when the Mets play host to the Florida Marlins. Beltran will have to undergo a strict rehab regimen before he returns.

The report states that Beltran will miss only a few weeks in April, but last year the former All Star center fielder missed 81 games with the injury.

The Mets will miss Beltran early in the year, since he was expected to be the team's cleanup hitter in front of newly acquired Jason Bay.

Will the injury to Beltran mean that the Mets will pursue former Met Carlos Delgado more heavily to replace Beltran's bat in the lineup? Who knows, but right now the Mets will need all the help they can get.

Beltran hit .325 with 10 homers and 48 RBI before going down last season. When healthy, Beltran is the best hitting center fielder in the game.

The Mets are extremely upset at Bletran and his agent Scott Boras for having the surgery without their consent, however, Beltran said that he did speak to GM Omar Minaya about the surgery. Minaya was not available for the conference call, for he was in Arizona.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Jets Roll Past Bengals in Wild Card Playoff Game

JETS 24
BENGALS 14

For the past two weeks, it appeared that the Jets were gifted with a win when the Indianapolis Colts pulled their starters, thereby allowing Gang Green to enter the post season.

Back then, detractors didn't give the Jets any credit for blowing away the Bengals 37-0 at Giants Stadium a week ago, claiming that Cincy would pack a huge punch for Saturday's wild card playoff game.That was then; this is now.

In hindsight, perhaps the biggest mistake the Colts and Bengals made might prove to be allowing the Jets to enter the playoffs in the first place.

Adding oratorical fuel to the fire, Rex Ryan, as appears to be his wont, was heavily criticized for speculating that his team could win a Super Bowl.

Lo' and behold, a solid defense, a good running game, and an effective passing attack is all the formula a team needs to make such a thing happen. And, if recent history is any indication, whenever a team gets a break here and there down the stretch, good things begin to happen in January. Ask the 2007 Giants. The 2008 Cardinals.

Granted, the Jets must travel a VERY LOOOOOOOOONG way before they reach the promised land; nonetheless, Saturday's 24-14 victory over the Bengals should quiet the doubting Thomases that the Jets didn't deserve this playoff spot.

They earned it. They showed it. They are a contender.

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez matured in plain sight Saturday afternoon. As little as three weeks ago against the Falcons, Sanchez still possessed the "deer-in-the-headlights" look in his eyes. He used to be timid with throws, afraid to make the big mistake, wondering how to adjust to the speed and power of an NFL defense.

Today a different day dawned and the uncertain rookie was gone.

Poof!

The veteran swaggered in.

Sanchez was calm, poised, composed. He played with the Savoy of a five year veteran, slinging bullets around the ballpark to open wide receivers. He improvised with his legs on naked bootlegs, allowing Dustin Keller to break from his coverage in order to make big catches down the middle.

Sanchez strung the needle a handful of times to Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards to covert huge second and third down plays.

At the end of the day, Sanchez became the first rookie to complete 80 percent of his passes in a playoff game: 12 of 15 passes for 132 yards and a sparkling 139.4 passer rating.

The Jets had entered the post season with questions about how their quarterback would play in the playoffs; right now, the answer is, he can handle the heat.

Shonn Greene gave Gang Green nation a glimpse of its future; he ate up the Bengals D for 135 yards including a 39 yard touchdown to give the Jets a 21-7 lead, shutting up the Jungle in Cincinnati for good. Greene has served mainly as understudy to Thomas Jones, and to Leon Washington before his injury in week 7 at Oakland. Greene's combination of speed and power was on display all afternoon, shredding the NFL's seventh ranked rushing defense.

As for the Jets defense, many have called the Jets number one ranked defense a paper lion because of its lack of a pass rush.

Shazam!

On Saturday, the Jets displayed a pass rush. They harassed quarterback Carson Palmer all day. They hit him during throws, closed the pocket around him, forced him to throw a myriad of incompletions, and sacked him three times, two of which came in the final drive of the game that iced it.

It was not the defense's best game of the year; they did allow Cedric Benson to chew them up for 121 yards and a touchdown, but the Jets ability to force Palmer to make uncomfortable throws, and the secondary's punishing hits on Laverneous Coles, Andre Caldwell and Chad Ochocinco proved too much for the Bengals.

The Bengals managed only 110 yards through the air, and Ochocinco hauled in a mere two catches; perhaps Ocoho should change his name to Cero or Zero or Nada, since that is about he is worth to the Bengals passing attack.

Rex Ryan deserves all the credit in the world for speaking his mind. It may sound brash and bullish, but he, in essence, speaks to his first audience -- his players. If they believe they can win the the head, the tail, the whole damn thing, that is all that matters.

The Jets control their own destiny. They earned it. Who knows what good things may come this month, or, more importantly, in years to come?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Giants Fire Sherridan As Defensive Coordinator

Bill Sherridan is no longer the Defensive Coordinator of the New York Giants.

After his unit struggled all season to stop Giant opponents, surrendering the third most points in the NFL, 427, including five games in which the Giants surrendered 40 or more points in a game, Sherridan got the ax on Monday afternoon.

Sherridan spent only one season as the Giants' D coordinator after replacing Steve Spagnolou who left the team last March to coach the St. Louis Rams. Spagnolou was credited for creating one of the best defenses in the NFL, one that pounded the number one offense in football during the 2007 regular season, in the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLII.

Sherridan's group never came close to matching the intensity and fire of Spag's units from the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

You can't blame everything on Sherridan, considering he was missing the likes of Kenny Phillips, Antonio Pierce, and Jay Alford for much of the season. The Giants had numerous injuries to their defense during the summer that set in motion their horrific play throughout the 2009 season.

With Sherridan gone, it will be interesting to see who the Giants bring in. Some rumors suspect that former Bills Head Coach Dick Journan could be tapped to be the new defensive guru.

Jets Destroy Bengals, Clinch Wild Card

JETS 37
BENGALS 0

What a way to open up a new calendar year!

With a win-and-they're-in playoff scenerio on the line, the Jets crushed the Cincinnati Bengals 37-0, in front a rapid and cold Jets crowd in the final game ever at Giants Stadium.

Unlike last week, where the Indianapolis Colts mailed in the game, allowing the Jets to win, the Jets earned this time around against the Bengals starters, who couldn't handle the Jets running attack, and couldn't handle their blitzing defense.

The Jets harassed quarterback Carson Palmer all night, holding the All Pro to 1 for 11 passing for zero yards. Chad Ocho Cinco, who mouthed off all week about how he would put up big numbers on Pro-Bowl corner back Darrell Revis, was held to zero catches.

Meanwhile, it was the Jets running game that broke this game wide open.

Brad Smith, who returned a 106 yard kick return for a touchdown last week in Indianapolis, took the snap from center, and ran right up the gut, past the Bengals defense for a 57 yard sprint to Cincinnati one yard line. On the next play, Thomas Jones dove into the end zone for the touchdown to give the Jets a 7-0 lead.

In the second, Smith was at it again, taking the snap from center, Smith broke free of a couple of defenders and dashed down the sideline for the touchdown to give the Jets a 17-0 lead.

The Jets closed out the quarter in style. First Jerricho Cothery scored on a reverse to give New York a 24-0 lead with 37 second to go. Then, Dwight Lowery picked off Carson Palmer's pass and dashed to the Bengals 10 to set up a Jay Feeley field goal to give New York the insurmountable 27-0 lead.

The win puts the Jets into the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Jets will travel to Cincinnati for a rematch with the Bengals on Saturday afternoon, kicking off at 4:30 on NBC.