Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Red Sox gamble, bring in ex-Met manager Bobby Valentine

It was only a matter of time before Bobby Valentine returned to a major league dugout.

One of the game's most coveted managerial candidates over the past number of years since his firing from the New York Mets in 2002, Valentine brings his disciplinarian approach to Bean town.

Met fans always wanted to see Valentine return to the Mets; some even felt he was the scapegoat in a bitter "he-said, he-said" with then general manager Steve Phillips. Valentine resurrected his career in Japan, winning a Japanese World Series and, basically, re-inventing how the game was played in the Land of the Rising Sun to point that he earned cult status, and his own documentary the Zen of Bobby V.

No manager knows how to get more out of his players than Valentine. In New York, Valentine took scraps like Benny Agbayanni, Matt Franco, Todd Pratt, Jay Payton, and Rick Reed and turned them into key contributors to a team that had veteran All-Star talent in Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura, Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Todd Ziele. They were a great team, the last really fun team the Mets have had until the club's outstanding, albeit heartbreaking, 2006 season.

Now, heading to Boston, there is a new challenge. He has to deal with a club house that couldn't function for the more down-to-earth Terry Francona, a guy who won two World Series titles in Boston. Valentine, who, while having the reputation of getting the most out of players, can also be quite cantankerous, and was even villified by some players in the Mets club house.

Moreover, Valentine is a guy who loves to have total control of a franchise. That's why he was so successful in Japan; he was the GM and manager. In New York, Valentine got into many fueds with Steve Phillips over player personnel matters and went out of his way to say, years later, that he didn't want Mo Vaughn or Roberto Alomar; Phillips, he asserted, was the one who wanted them.

He goes to Boston where they have just hired a young GM, Ben Cherington, who is trying to establish himself. This will be an interesting relationship to watch develop. Will Cherington allow Valentine to have any say in player personnel, or will these two eventually butt heads? In addition, it is widely believed that Valentine was not Cherington's top choice; he wanted Dave Sveum, a guy who has no prior major league managing experience, one who would probably listen to Cherington's demands.

Then there is the club house. Can Valentine co-exist with guys like Josh Beckett, David Ortiz, and Kevin Youklis? Some of these guys, most notably Beckett, were rumored to be involved in a beer and fried chicken incident during September. Don't expect Valentine to tolerate that, but keep in mind, he did have to deal with Bobby Bolnilla and Ricky Henderson playing cards in the Mets clubhouse during the 1999 NLCS.

So this will be an interesting situation. It will be all lovey dovey on Thursday when Valentine is introduced as manager, but Boston is not the two horse pony that New York is. Valentine is the only manager of the only team in the region, and he has to compete with the Yankees in the division this time around, not for back page headlines. If Valentine succeeds in Boston, his legend will only grow. If not, well ... don't say I didn't warn you.

Jim Leonard & Rex Ryan rip into Jets fans

It appears the Jets season now has hit a brand new low.

Days after the Jets survived a sure defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills, Jets safety Jim Leonhard and head coach Rex Ryan felt it was necessary to rip Jets fans for booing quarterback Mark Sanchez during the quarterback's lack-luster performance on Sunday.

First it was Leonhard, who, on his weekly spot on WFAN's Beningo & Roberts show, blasted Jets fans for booing the struggling QB, stating: “I think, probably for one of the first times, I was kind of disappointed. Our starting quarterback gets booed in introductions. As players, you kind of turn to each other and say, "You know what? I guess we’re in this one today by ourselves. We can’t rely on the crowd to give us that energy because it’s already started off on a bad note."

Leonhard was apparently upset that Jets fans loudly booed Sanchez when he was introduced in pre-game and throughout the contest as Sanchez misfired with overthrows and underthrows to his receivers.

Then Ryan went after the fans during his Tuesday press conference saying: “Until he wins the whole thing, he’s going to be criticized just like I’m going to be criticized. That’s fine. It comes with the territory, but he did throw four touchdowns. That’s not all bad. Mark Sanchez is not our problem. He’s one of the strengths of our team.

This is a terrible signal by the Jets. To start taking it out on the fans is a losing proposition. You don't go to the masses against the fans of New York City and expect to win the fight. The Jets have a lot of problems, and yes, it does start with the play of the quarterback and this offense. It was one of the worst performances by a quarterback who threw four touchdowns but never looked comfortable in the game. The fact the Jets won had more to do with the fact the Bills blew it.

Plus, fans are growing pretty tired of watching Sanchez's mediocre play. This is a guy who didn't light the NFL on fire his first two years and was really a complementary piece to a great football team with a solid defense and good running game. Now that the Jets don't have that great D and running attack, it's on the kid to deliver, and he has not. He is still the same mediocre quarterback who completes 50 percent of his passes, has a quarterback rating of around 70, and is good for a bad intercpetion every game. This is not progress; this is not regression; this is who Sanchez is, and the fans know it, but the Jets don't want to recognize it.

More important, fans have every right to boo this team. From the owner on down to the coach and players, they have talked and talked and talked about how great this team would be. They asked fans to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars in PSL's just to remain in the building, and even kicked out long time, die-hard season ticket holders who couldn't afford the Jets' steep ticket/concession/parking fees in the new building. Jets fans have every right to be angry.

The Jets have become pretty edgy this year whenever they get challenged or called out. Earlier this year, Joe Namath blasted the Jets on several occasions, and it led to several Jets players telling Namath off, even going so far as to say they wanted nothing to do with him! Even Rex Ryan said that Namath needed to mind his own business since he is not a part of the organization.

Then, in mid-October, Darrelle Revis got into a verbal exchange with WFAN's Mike Francesa when Mike tried to challenge Revis about a pass interference call in a game against the Dolphins. Revis grew so upset that he was instructed by Jets PR to hang up on Francesa.

If the Jets think that picking a fight with fans and the media will earn them respect, they can forget it. Whenever a team picks a fight with the fans and media in this town, it is usually a sign that the end is near. I am not saying heads will roll this year, but the seats will be getting red hot in the off-season and into 2012 if this team does indeed miss the playoffs.

The Jets better shut up and play ball because this is one fight they cannot win.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giants never show up in New Orleans slaughter


Justin Tuck said after the Giants loss to the Eagles, that the season could spiral out of control if the team didn't pick it up.

Consider the wheels off, and the sparks flying.

The Giants didn't bother to show up in their Monday night clash with the New Orleans Saints, watching Drew Brees and company roll up 49 points on the Giants soft defense, as New York fell to 6-5, with a colossal task against the unbeaten Green Bay Packers on the horizon.

The Giants defense, which has been battered by injuries all season, and even watched as Osi Umenyiora left this game with an injury that could sideline him for a while, yielded 577 total yards to the Saints, 300 of which came in the first half alone as the Saints built a 21-3 halftime lead.

The Saints made things look easy, as Drew Brees connected with all of his receivers with great ease. In the second quarter alone, Brees threw three touchdown passes, two to Lance Moore, and one to soon-to-be pro bowl tight end Jimmy Graham to help the Saints built an nearly insurmountable lead.

Offensively, the Giants didn't have much of an answer. They once again struggled to run the football early in this contest, failing to establish any consistency, but once the Saints went up two scores, the Giants could throw away their pathetic running attack, relying mostly on the arm of Eli Manning. While Manning looked great, throwing for 407 yards on 47 pass attempts, including a 72 yard touchdown to Victor Cruz, it was not enough; not with a Giants defense that was so pathetic.

One a side note, in a week where we have seen some pretty bone-headed decisions by players, from Ndmakong Shu to Stevie Johnson, Brandon Jacobs did something amazingly stupid. In the third quarter, Jacobs scored a Giants touchdown to cut the Saints lead to 21-10, then decided to dance in the faces of the Saints. It was a totally classless move by a completely classless player who is doing everything in his power to get himself out of town. It was a selfish move by Jacobs, who clearly showed no interest in the fact that his team was getting killed in the ball game. What a fool.

So now the Giants gravy train is starting to spiral completely out of control. It is clear that Tom Couglin is losing this football team, the coordinators have been ineffective in their play calling and coaching, and the players play like a group playing out the string. It's over for the Giants. If this team has any pride left they would show up for the final five games of the season and try to win these games. I don't know if that pride is there right now.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bills blunders gift wrap victory for Jets


Here is what the optimistic Jets fan, who likes to wear blinders while driving, will say Monday morning when he wakes up from his hangover. "Yo man, Mark Sanchez threw four touchdowns, he's amazing!"

Here is the reality.

In spite of throwing four touchdowns, Mark Sanchez was truly awful as the New York Jets offense barley mustered 318 total yards, and Sanchez threw for only 180 yards and completed only 17 of 35 passes, which is less than 50 percent competed. He was bad; truly awful, as he under-threw, overthrew, and threw behind his wide receivers for a better part of the afternoon; but the big reason the New York Jets won this game had more to do with one bone-headed play after another by the Buffalo Bills, who clearly should have won this game going away.

After the Bills grabbed a 14-7 lead, thanks to a Mark Sanchez interception, that he threw right into the hands of Drayton Florence, the Bills did two incredibly stupid things in a row.

First, Stevie Johnson who caught a five yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to give the Bills the seven point lead, decided to do a touchdown dance, mocking Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the leg. While some have taken heavy offense to it, it wasn't like Ndamukong Shu stepping on someone's body.

However, the dance did hurt the Bills. It was a 15 yard penalty assessed on the kickoff, meaning that the Jets would have a chance to make a solid return on the kickoff. Then an even more idiotic thing happened, when Bills kicker Dave Rayner muffed the kick-off Charlie Brown-stlye, giving the Jets the football at the Bills 36 yard line.

The Jets took fool advantage, as Sanchez drilled a 14-yard touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress to tie the game. If only the Bills kicked the ball off correctly, this touchdown probably wouldn't have happened.

Sanchez was playing really badly up to this point throwing incompletions all over the place, and whenever he tried to zip it to his receivers the ball ended up in double and triple coverage. It was a truly poor effort by Sanchez, one of the worst performances I have seen from someone who still managed to throw four touchdowns. How bad is the Bills defense, you think?

Early in the third quarter, Sanchez had his best drive of the day. He completed a 22 yard shot to Dustin Keller to move the ball to the Bills 34, then hit Joe McKnight for 12 more yards to the Bills 21. Finally, Sanchez found Dustin Keller wide open in the end zone for the touchdown to give the Jets a 21-14 lead.

Then, the comedy of errors returned for the Jets. The Jets defense and special teams, which had been horrid all season long, continued their mediocre ways. Starting with Antonio Cromartie who muffed a punt return giving the Bills the football at the Jets 36 yard line. On the next play, Fitzpatrick found Brad Smith for a 36 yard touchdown. The ex-Jet, caught the ball when it bounced off the shoulder of Cromartie, and walked right into the end zone for the score to tie it.

Fitzpatrick was tearing apart the Jets secondary. He threw for 264 yards, and three touchdowns. Every pass he completed, whether it be David Nelson, Scott Chandler, or even Stevie Johnson, they were wide open on each completion. It was a miracle for the Jets that the Bills didn't blow them out of the building with this areal assault.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter, and Fitzpatrick orchestrated a solid 14 play 62 yard drive, converting three huge third downs with passes to David Nelson and Scott Chandler to get Buffalo into field goal range for Rayner, who booted it through the up rights to give the Bills a 24-21 lead.

It appeared that Buffalo was well on their way to victory after the Jets went three-and-out on their next possession, but the Jets defense finally made a stand thanks to a sack of Fitzpatrick by David Harris to give New York the ball back.

In a drive that was eerily reminiscent of the Jets game winning drive against Houston a year earlier, Gang Green drove the football down the field for the go-ahead score in the final minutes. Key passes on the drive included a 14 yard completion to Burress to move the ball into Buffalo territory, a 12 yard competion to Patrick Turner to move the ball to the Bills 35, and an 18 yard completion to Burress to move the ball to the Bills 18. The final Burress catch was all on Burress. Sanchez threw behind Burress, but the lanky wide out bailed out his quarterback by making a terrific catch down the sideline. If he didn't catch it, the game would have probably ended right there.

Two plays later, Sanchez found Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone, like the Houston game, for the go-ahead touchdown. For 50 minutes the Bills defense flustered Sanchez, but when it really mattered, they couldn't stop a quarterback who was struggling all afternoon. Terrible job by the Bills defense.

Buffalo had one last shot though. Fitzpatrick connected with Nelson for 18 yards to the Bills 45, then hit Chandler for 11 more to move it into Jets territory with 40 seconds to go. After a penalty on the Jets, Fitzpatrick scrambled for 15 yards to the Jets 27, and Buffalo was in business. Then on the next play, Fitzpatrick found that Johnson split the coverage up the middle, and was wide open. He hit him right in stride, but Johnson bobbled and dropped what would have been a sure touchdown for the Bills.

Johnson, who humiliated himself earlier in the game, cost his team a chance to win the ball game late, and the Jets escaped a poor effort against a struggling divisional rival.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

NBA Lockout Close to Over, Tentative Agreement Reached

Well ladies and gents, the NBA is back in business.

Thank God!

In what became a horrific and unending stalemate between the the owners and players union, filled with nasty bickering, little progress and fear that the entire 2011-2012 season would be lost, the lockout finally ended late Friday night when the owners and players tentatively agreed to a new CBA at 3 a.m., meaning that training camp will start as soon as December 9, if the majority of the owners (29) and the players (450) agree to vote on the new legislation.

If the NBA training camp season begins in two weeks, there is still a chance that the season will open on Christmas Day in a truncated 66 game regular season, highlighted by the Knicks hosting the Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat paying a visit to the Dallas Mavericks in a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals.

After disbanding as a union and filing an antitrust suit against the NBA, the Players Association needs to reform as a union and hold a vote to ratify the deal. The terms of the agreement included a 50-50 revenue split between the owners and players, a source said.

The negotiating session nearly came undone in the early moments on Friday night when Players Association counsel Jeffrey Kessler told Stern and the NBA’s negotiating team through a speaker phone that the players wanted to move back to a 51 percent revenue split, a league source told Y! Sports. Stern, labor relations committee chairman Peter Holt and deputy commissioner Adam Silver termed the proposal “unacceptable,” and soon left the conference room.

The players were feeling out how much leverage their antitrust lawsuits gave them, sources said, but it’s long been clear that Stern didn’t have ownership support to go beyond 50 percent. The players had a 57 percent share of the revenue split in the last collective bargaining agreement, and the move to 50-50 could shift as much as $3 billion to the owners over the course of a 10-year agreement. Yahoo sports.

With the NBA season now back in fold, it is hard not to get excited about the new season. Last year was the most successful year in the NBA since the late 1990s. There was legitimate concern over the years that the 1999 lockout had such a negative impact on the game, that it took a very long time for the fans to come back to the sport. Not only did the '99 lockout steer away fans, but it was also the end of the Michael Jordan era in baseketball, as well as the beginning of the end of the Knicks and Pacers runs through the NBA. The league became dominated by the Western Conference, with the Lakers and Spurs winning most of the time over lackluster competition from the East.

That is not the case now. The NBA in 2011-2012 is full of star power and the balance of power is fairly even. Sure the Lakers and Spurs are older and not as dominant, but that didn't stop people from watching last year; in fact, people kind of perfer it. Instead people were fasinated by the Miami Heat dream team combo of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, fasinated by the resurection of the New York Knicks, the return to prominance of the Boston Celtics and their rivalry with the L.A. Lakers, as well as great play from the likes of Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.

The fans should return to the game a lot quicker because the quality is much better than it was in 1999.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Open Mike, Week 11, NY Jets Freakout Friday

On this edition of Open Mike, host Michael Cohen holds a special vigil for Jets fans to rant about the struggling franchise on Jets Freakout Friday after the team got Tebow'd by Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.

Michael welcomes from Triple Coverage co-host Dan Feuerstein, a life-long Jets fan, and John Silva, yes, a Patriots fan and host of Hudson Hockey, to the show to dissect the Jets struggles.

Michael also welcomes a very special guest, North Bergen head coach Vin Ascolese, who is in his 39th year of coaching at North Bergen, and 50th year of coaching in Hudson County, NJ. Ascolese owns 359 career wins, seven state titles (6 in North Bergen, 1 in Hoboken) and will call it a career after this season.

His Bruins are on an emotional run through the playoffs, highlighted by a thrilling 20-14 win vs. Passaic Tech, where his grandson scored the winning TD. The Bruins are heading to the North 1 Group IV title game on December 2.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Jets flatline in Denver, season on brink of collapse


Admit it, you could see it coming. The New York Jets have toyed with us all season long with inconsistent play from the offensive line, running game, quarterback, and defense. Yet 10 days ago they stood at 5-3 with a legitimate shot at the AFC East crown. In spite of all of their problems, and near losses to the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers, the Jets could have made this 2011 season something very special, especially in an AFC where there are no true dominant teams.

Yet, the Jets did what the same ole Jets always do, they find ways to lose.

While last Sunday's 37-16 smack down to the New England Patriots wasn't totally unexpected, falling short to a really bad Denver Broncos team was inexcusable.

Throughout the contest, the Jets played down to the level of their opponent, exchanging three and outs with a Denver Broncos team that couldn't muster any offense with the inaccurate Tim Tebow under center.

Yet, the real story of this night was the ineffectiveness of the Jets offense and their quarterback Mark Sanchez. Sanchez who has been inconsistent all season, put up a big time stinker in the Mile High city. His passes were inaccurate, his timing awful, his inability to get ride of the ball fast enough before getting sacked was common place.

The only time Sanchez looked half way decent was on three completions to Plaxico Burress at the start of the third quarter, then Sanchez went back into a funk, highlighted by a overthrow to Dustin Keller in the back of the end zone, that Keller caught...out of bounds.

The only reason the Jets scored a touchdown in this game was because of a fortunate bounce, when Bilal Powell, on his first Jets carry, fumbled the ball at the Broncos 1-yard line and Matt Slausen recovered it for the TD. It was clearly a bad sign of things to come.

Still New York held a 10-3 lead going deep into the third quarter, and the more uncomfortable that lead became, as the Jets offense couldn't get anything going. Finally late in the quarter, Sanchez did what everyone feared he would, he threw a interception that was brought back for a touchdown to tie the game at 10.

Sanchez wasn't the only culprit here. Jets special teams was bad as well. Nick Folk missed another cheap shot field goal in the first half, and Jets punter Nick Conley booted a 13 yard punt to help set up Denver's first score of the day, a field goal to make it 3-0 Denver.

In spite of all the poor play, in spite of all the mistakes, the Jets had the Denver Broncos right where they wanted them, at their own five yard line, trailing the Jets by three points with 2:30 minutes to go. With all the brash talk coming from the Jets defensive unit, combined with Tebow's lackluster performance, all New York needed was a three and out, a turnover, anything to swing the game in their favor.

It never happened. Jim Leonhard missed a sure safety of Eddie Royal, as the speedy reciever slipped by him for a first down. From the there the Broncos rolled, and so did Tebow Time. Tebow blasted through holes in the Jets defensive line for chunks of yards as he drove Denver to the Jets 20 yard line. On third and four with the game on the line, the Jets stupidly showed blitz on the play; reading this Tebow shifted to his left and dashed unscathed into the end zone for the winning score.

It was one of the most humiliating losses the Jets have had in the Rex Ryan era. At 5-5, the Jets are now at a cross roads. They have talked and talked and talked a good game, and have consistently come up small in big games, especially in games under the lights, where they are 2-3 this season.

Questions are now being raised about Sanchez, and righfully so, after a 24 for 40 night that produced only 242 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. This season Sanchez has shown little to no improvement from his first two seasons in the NFL, and it is obvious that he has regressed. He has only completed 57 percent of his passes and accumulated a 79 quarterback rating, which is right along with his career average of 55 percent completion and 72 quarterback rating.

Ryan continues to endorse Sanchez but, clearly the Jets have to begin the process of looking elsewhere for a quarterback. Sanchez was never a stud quarterback, he benefited greatly from a great supporting cast the last two seasons, and until this year was never asked to be the leader of the team. He was given that role and failed.

At the very least Gang Green could bring in a veteran quarterback who can compete for and push Sanchez for the starting job next season. Only then will we really know what Mark Sanchez is made of. Until then, the final evaluation process is under way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rex Ryan's foul fight with fan hits web

Maybe it is Rex Ryan who truly doesn't know when to, as he likes to say, "Shut the (BLEEP) up!"

The Jets boastful head coach of Super Bowl proclamations and division championship dreams was caught red handed in a scene that might be good enough for a sequel of Hard Knocks. While coming off the field at halftime, and still seething from Mark Sanchez's knuckleheaded time out, a fan leaned over and told Ryan: "Hey Rex, Belichick is better than you!"

Ryan, who was not looking in any particular direction as he entered the tunnel yelled back, "Shut the F --- up!"

The foul language at the fan could cost Ryan a heavy penny, and the NFL is investigating the matter. Ryan was fined $50,000 for his middle finger display at an MMA event in Miami nearly two years ago. Bud Adams, owner of the Tennessee Titans was fined $250,000 for flipping the bird at Buffalo Bills' fans during a game in 2009; so the precedent has been set.

Ryan apologized for his nasty tongue, but in truth you can't blame Ryan for cursing at the fan. Like the fan in Miami, he was trying to get a rise out of Ryan and succeeded. We have a propensity to forget that the men and women between the lines of athletics are indeed human beings too and can get sensitive when thousands of drunk people start heckling them. Plus, it's not like Ryan pulled a Ron Artest, when the then Pacers forward lept into the stands to beat up a bunch of Detroit Pistons' fans back in 2004.

That being said, Ryan should have ignored the fan, as rude and probably as drunk as he was. Ryan needs to know that when you make as many bold statements as he has and not come through on any of them, Ryan should know that criticism is bound to happen, sooner if not later. This is New York, not St. Louis.

If fans really want to protest their displeasure at this floundering Jets football team, the plan is very simple: don't fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars on PSL's and single game tickets! That will send a stern enough message for sure.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sanchez & Jets lay an egg in mega-clash with Patriots


The New York Jets have nothing to left to be proud of. They are dead team walking.

Sunday night's display of ineptitude was so disturbing and infuriating it is clear that the Jets need to do the rest of us a favor: shut up and sing! For an entire week the Jets squawked about how this would be the turning point in the division, that it was their time to become the beasts of the AFC East. Woody Johnson lauded about how raucous the Jets crowd would be as they stomped on the Patriots; Dustin Keller even guaranteed victory.

Instead the Jets showed to the nation why they have been called and will always be called the Same Ole' Jets, because only the Same Ole' Jets could come up with the kind of stinker on a grand stage like they did last night.

The night started with a 25-yard field goal attempt by Nick Folk that he pushed to the left, typical of any clutch kicks by this incompetent kicker who's history is to miss and miss badly before giving way to Mark Sanchez, who bumbled and stumbled his way through the game, and a defense that couldn't even tackle a pee-wee football team.

It was a complete performance of incompetence.

The Jets allowed Tom Brady to stand in the pocket all night and pick them apart with Rob Gronkowski, Deion Branch and even Chad Ochocinco who, while being covered by his arch-nemesis Darrelle Revis, Ochocinco, who has had a horrible season, caught a 53 yard slant to help set up a field goal to give the Pats a 6-0 lead.

Brady danced in and out of potential sacks, and the Jets couldn't get a hand on him. Just before halftime with the Jets lead 9-6, Brady got red hot. He completed three straight passes to get to the Jets 23 yard line, including a 25 yarder to Gronkowski, who went up into the air to get the extra yardage. Three plays later, Brady found Gronkowski in the end zone for the touchdown to give New England a 13-9 lead. At that point, the game was pretty much over.

Brady and the Pats can thank Mark Sanchez for that last minute touchdown drive. After the Jets recorded a safety to cut the Pats lead to 6-2, Sanchez moved the Jets to the Patriots 10, before he decided to call timeout with a 1:24 to go before the half, a decision that Rex Ryan called the dumbest in NFL history. Sanchez eventually scored to give the Jets a 9-6 lead, but Brady had a 1:15 with which to work, ample time for the future Hall of Famer to work his magic.

For his part, Sanchez was pathetic. He was sacked four times, hit over a dozen times, and was once again fairly inaccurate with his passes as his throws either hit the ground or sailed over the heads of his receivers. Even though Sanchez threw for 306 yards, it didn't make up for the fact that it was another hideous performance for this quarterback. Not only was he sacked four times, he was picked off twice, including the game clinching pick by Rob Ninkovich, who took the Sanchez interception back to the house for a touchdown to give New England a 37-16 lead.

Even though at one point in this game the Jets crawled back to within seven at 23-16, you couldn't feel confident that this Jets team was going to come back. They weren't clicking offensively and Tom Brady was eating the Jets secondary for dinner. Brady led the Pats on a 13 play 84 yard drive that ate up 6:51 on the clock, culminating in an eight yard touchdown strike to Dieon Branch to give New England a 30-16 lead. At that point the Jets fate was sealed.

The Jets now get ready for a short week as they will travel to Denver on Wednesday for a game Thursday night. The Broncos aren't the most impressive team in the world, and Tim Tebow hasn't lit the league on fire, then again neither has Mark Sanchez. If the Jets should lose this game, heads are sure to roll.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nightmare fourth quarter dooms Giants in San Fran.

49ERS 27 GIANTS 20

A year ago on this date the Giants walked into Giants stadium with a 6-2 record in a match-up against the Dallas Cowboys. A victory in that game and the Giants would be in cruise control for the rest of the season. Of course the Giants lost that game in hideous fashion, and the game marked the beginning of the end of their playoff hopes.

The Giants better hope that Sunday's hideous 27-20 loss to the 49ers doesn't spell doom once again. While losing to the 49ers is not embarrassing, the Niners are 8-1 for a reason; the Giants had every opportunity to win this game, and they couldn't do it.

After a fairly uneventful first half that saw New York trail 9-6, Big Blue knew they had this game. San Francisco running back Frank Gore was out of the game with an injury after rushing for zero yards on six carries. Alex Smith had done nothing through the air, and Big Blue's defense had smothered the Niners ground game.

Late in the third quarter, the Giants put together an inspired 10 play 89 yard drive that ate 5:39 culminating in a 13 yard touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham to give the Giants a 13-12 lead.

One would figure that the Giants fire power on offense combined with New York's powerful defense would be too much for the youthful 49ers, but mistakes did in Big Blue.

First a horrible punt by punter Steve Weatherford set up the 49ers inside the 50 yard line. From there, Smith and Niners' offense did the rest. Kendell Hunter's two seperate six yard runs brought the ball up to the Giants 31. Then Smith, while backpeddling away from an on-coming Giants defender, dumped the ball off to Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis who chugged 31 yards for the touchdown, highlighted by his leap over Kenny Phillips for the score to give the 49ers a 20-13 lead.

Then seconds later, Manning was picked off by Carlos Rogers and ran it back to the Giants 17 yard line, setting up a 17 yard touchdown run by Hunter to extend the lead to 14, 27-13.

The Giants responded immediately. Manning hit Jake Ballard twice for gains of 17 and 15 yards, before Manning hit Hakeem Nicks in stride for a 32 yard touchdown to pull the Giants within seven.

After a 49ers' three and out, the Giants had a great opportunity to tie the game but blew it. On second and five at the 49er 42, Manning heaved up a bomb to a wide open Manningham, who dropped the football at the goal line. If he caught it would have been six points.

The Giants did move the football to the 49er 10, but two straight incompletions by Manning ended it with 34 seconds to go. This was a game the Giants should have won, and they didn't do it. Terrible loss for the Giants.

The Giants (6-3) are only a game ahead of Dallas (5-4), and now face Philadelphia at home (3-6) in a game that is a must win for Big Blue. They have a chance to bury the Eagles, and they must deliever big time next week. If not, panic mood will start all over again for the Giants.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Open Mike 11-11-11, Joe Paterno & Jets vs. Patriots

On this one-hour special pod cast of Open Mike, host Michael Cohen, put together this special pod-cast to discuss the fall out of the Penn State child abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State, and led to the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno.

Michael then takes a glance at the big local football games for the Jets and Giants. The Jets host the New England Patriots on Sunday night, in a clash that could determine the AFC East. Meanwhile the Giants head west to the Bay Area to take on the rejuvenated San Francisco 49ers, in a renewal of an old rivalry.

Michael will return next week with a LIVE broadcast on Friday November 18 from the studios at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting with a full show and guests. LISTEN HERE!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

FIRED! Penn State drops the ax on Joe Paterno

After days and several hours of unrest and anger from people around the country regarding the sex abuse scandal that has rocked Penn State, the board of trustees didn't wait until Friday to make a decision on Joe Paterno. The board fired both Paterno and President Graham Spanier late Wednesday night sending the school into a tizzy.

While Paterno wasn't guilty of hurting anyone, he is guilty of negligence in not doing something, anything to stop Jerry Sandusky from raping children in his locker room. All he did back in 2002 was notify the school's athletic director and vice president, both of whom were fired earlier this week, and washed his hands of it.

It is not known whether Paterno ever confronted Sandusky, but considering the fact that the former defensive coordinator hung around the complex over the past decade, that included his own office space and hours, made it clear that Paterno looked the other way when it came to Sandusky's perversions.

Paterno had it coming.

Meanwhile the entire Penn State student body is protesting on the campus, chanting "Bring Joe Back." What a bunch of fools. These kids don't understand that this issue has NOTHING to do with football. They are looking at this with blinders to the fact that their beloved head coach concealed, and allowed a monster to walk around his football complex for over 15 years, if not longer.

Paterno will no longer coach the Nittnay Lions, effective immediately. This puts a big crimp in the plans of the current football team, who are holding on to an 8-1 record and face a very good Nebraska team this Saturday afternoon. The stories will continue all weekend for sure.

Adios Paterno: Embattled Penn State coach will resign

The Joe Paterno era is officially over.

Paterno, once the gate keeper of family, friendship and victory at Penn State, became nothing more than an accessory after allegations that his long time assistant Jerry Sandusky sodomized boys over a 15 year period from 1994 to 2009; the report rocked College Station in western PA.

As a result, Paterno has announced that he will resign as head coach of the Nittany Lions once the season ends after the school's bowl game in December; the news is a shame considering Paterno is the winningest coach in college football, and one of the most respected men in the game even at the his advanced age of 84.

Reports surfaced that Sandusky was caught raping boys in the Penn State locker room on two seperate occasions in 1998 and 2002. Paterno was notified immediately in 2002 and the only thing he did was call the athletic director Tim Curley and vice president Gary Schultz, to notify them; the three parties did nothing further to restrict Sandusky's presence with the team; in fact, they encouraged it, as the perv hung around the team complex for nine more years, helping out, even though he wasn't the defensive coordinator.

Paterno isn't charged with any wrong doing, but he is defiantly at fault. He allowed rapes to occur on his watch for 15 years, and did nothing to stop it. Even though reports are that the rapes started in 1994, who is to say that Sandusky hadn't been doing this for decades at Penn State; heck, he had worked with Paterno since 1969!!

Many point to the fact that he never notified police which is a point well-taken, but as Head Coach of a prestigious university, Paterno should have taken matters into his own hands and stopped Sandusky in his tracks way back in 1998; but he didn't, allowing him to remain on the staff until 1999 when Sandusky "retired," permitting him to remain a part of his team ever since.

Paterno's lack of action speaks volumes about his character right now, and this is a guy who was considered a good character guy for decades.

It says even more about Paterno and the university when hundreds of students lined up in front of Paterno's house cheering him on and shouting their support for him. Paterno came out of his house with a big grin on his face, like it was a pep rally, and said it is time to "pray" for the victims, and expressed his love and affection for the fans, who cheered even louder. Paterno then headed back into his house, chanting "We are Penn State" with the fans.

No wonder people never take Penn State seriously as an institution.

Paterno should have left the game a long time ago. Over the last number of years, he has stopped coaching from the sideline, instead sitting up in the coaches booth, and never wore a head set while up there to talk to the coaches on the sideline. It came across like he was serving as a figure head, rather than a head coach.

Penn State should be ashamed of itself, Paterno should be ashamed of himself, the fans outside his house should be embarrassed, and the reputation of the football program will never be the same ever again. Good ridiance to a man in a position of authority who failed to do what was right ... protecting the students and the kids of his town.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Encore: Eli Manning & Giants stun Patriots, again


The New York Giants have done it again. They found a way to pull the rug right out from underneath the New England Patriots in the final minutes, sending Tom Brady home miffed and Bill Belichick bewildered. Box score.

Talk about having a team's number; the Giants have proven to be too tough a match-up for the once mighty Patriots, as New York once again staged a late comeback, highlighted by terrific play by Eli Manning to beat back the Pats.

If you believe in irony then here are some factoids for you: Jack Ballard, who caught the game winning touchdown pass for Big Blue is wearing number 85, the same jersey number worn by David Tyree when he had the "helmet catch" against the Patriots four years ago in the Super Bowl; also, New England was 18-0 entering that Super Bowl Sunday four years ago; today, New England entered the Giants game with an 18-0 record against NFC opponents in the regular season since 2002. The Pats also had a 20 game regular season game winning streak at home on the line.

Now the Pats once again have to live with the fact that one is the loneliest number.

After a scoreless first half, things got really interesting in the second half, and I mean really interesting.

Tom Brady was picked off by Deion Grant to set the Giants up at their own 39. Eli Manning, who had a brilliant afternoon, completed two huge passes, one for 18 yards to Victor Cruz and another of 30 yards to Jake Ballard in a drive that eventually culminated in a Lawrence Tynes field goal, giving New York a 3-0 lead.

The turnovers didn't stop there for New England. With the Patriots backed up on their own 16 yard line, Brady was stripped sacked by Michael Boley. With the ball rolling on the ground, the Giants recovered the ball at the New England 10, setting up a first and goal for Big Blue. The Giants wasted little time as Brandon Jacobs plowed into the end zone to make it 10-0.

For Jacobs this was a big game for him. He had to play well, not only because Ahmad Bradshaw was out with a foot injury, but because Jacobs has drawn the ire of Giants fans for his lackluster efforts this season, and his bad attitude. His 72 yards was critical on Sunday.

But, of course, never count the Patriots out. With the Giants lead cut down to 10-3, Manning had New York rolling for a potential touchdown when he was picked off in the end zone by Ken Arrington.

Brady responded with quick strikes of 27 and 28 yards to Wes Welker to move to the Patriots 16. After an 11 yard completion to Aaron Hernandez, Brady hit Hernandez again in the end zone to tie the game.

It appeared that the Giants had blown it. The G-Men couldn't move the ball on their next drive, and Brady responded with another long drive that ended in a Stephen Gostowski field goal to give the Patriots a 13-10 lead.

Yet, Manning would not be deterred. He reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a performance that was eerily similar to the one he had against New England in that Super Bowl four years ago. In short, Manning was clutch.

After a 35 yard penalty on New England for pass interference, Manning hit Victor Cruz and Ramsey Barden for gains of 11 and 9 yards respectively to move to the New England 15. Two plays later Manning found Mario Manningham for a 10 yard touchdown to give the Giants a 17-13 lead. But, Manningham committed a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration, forcing the Giants to kick off at their own 20 and gave Tom Brady good field position.

Brady responded. He hit Deion Branch for 15 yards, and Rob Gronkowski for 19 more. With 1:54 the Patriots were in business. After two Brady incompletions, the former league MVP hit Gronkowski in the end zone for a 14 yard score to give New England the lead.

With 1:36 to go, Eli Manning had 80 yards to work one more miracle against the Patriots. And he delivered. Manning hit Cruz for 19 yards, then Ballard for 28 yards to the Pats 33. Two plays later, the Patriots committed the dumbest of penalties, a pass interference on Cruz in the end zone to spot the ball at the one yard line. The nightmare was alive and well for the Patriots.

On third and goal at the Pats 1, Manning hit Ballard in the end zone for the touchdown with 15 seconds to play. Manning celebrated like it was Super Bowl XLII all over again, pumping his fists into the air after the score.

In a season where the Giants had played dreadful football and were really a soft 5-2 team, they looked every bit the part of a team ready to contend for an NFC East title. This game was the first, and perhaps toughest test, in a nine game stretch against playoff contenders. The Giants needed to get a big win, and this was the biggest they could have drawn up.

Manning looks like an MVP candidate. With a team decimated by injuries and lackluster play, Manning has stood out all season. Defensively, the Giants finally came to play. They picked off Brady twice and sacked him twice. Brady was frustrated all night, even to the point he slammed a water bottle onto the ground in anger.

Yes, the Giants are here to play. They don't have any plans of lying down and going away quietly during this murders row schedule one iota.

Impressive Jets dominate Bills in Buffalo


Through seven games, the New York Jets looked destined for mediocrity. A season mired by a three game losing streak, really poor play from the quarterback and running game, spotty play by the defense, and, including apparent rifts in the clubhouse early in the season, had many worried that this was a team doomed to fail.

On Sunday the Jets put together their most complete effort, dominating a very good Buffalo Bills team from pillar to post 27-11 to improve to 5-3, putting themselves in a virtual three-way tie for first place in the AFC East, with a showdown against the New England Patriots set for Sunday night.

The first half was ugly as neither offense could get anything moving. Mark Sanchez had the Jets poised for a first quarter touchdown that would have capped a nine minute drive, but Sanchez threw an interception in the end zone, right to Jarius Byrd, killing the Jets drive. Box score.

But it wasn't like the Bills were doing anything offensively; the Jets defense was fantastic. They bottled up Fred Jackson, holding the star back to only 82 yards rushing on the day. The lack of an effective Buffalo running game, put a lot of pressure on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was tormented by the Jets secondary; David Harris and Calvin Pace picked him off to preserve a Jets 3-0 lead at the half.

Fitzpatrick never got comfortable in the first half, completing only 4-of-11 passes; in fact, Fitzpatrick threw six straight incompletions in the second quarter that included the two turnovers to the Jets.

In the second half, the Jets defense came up big again, this time forcing, and recovering a Fred Jackson fumble to put the Jets offense in business at the Buffalo 19. Sanchez responded completing a dagger to Burress to the one yard line to set up LaDainian Tomlinson's 1 yard plunge, giving the Jets a 13-0 lead, and silencing the crowd.

For his part, Sanchez was excellent. He picked apart the Bills secondary, finding open receivers all day in Santonio Holmes, Burress and Dustin Keller. Sanchez completed 20 of 28 passes for 230 yards, his best effort of the 2011 season. For the the first time all year, Sanchez looked poised in the pocket. He had a nice rhythm with his receivers, and he didn't look like the timid child that Jets' fans grew used to seeing the past seven weeks.

Sanchez put his accuracy on display late in the third quarter, leading the Jets on a 79 yard touchdown drive as a response to a Bills field goal. Sanchez hit an open Dustin Keller for 16 yards to move the ball to the Jets 37. Sanchez, then, hit Burress for 13 more to midfield, before airing it out down the field to Holmes. Holmes was heavily covered by Ledious McKelvin, who was flagged for pass interference as a result.

On first and goal at the eight, Sanchez zipped one right to Holmes for the score, giving New York a 20-3 lead.

The biggest moment of the game came near the end of the third quarter. The Bills drove the ball deep into Jets territory after Fitzpatrick completed passes of 26 yards to Jackson, 12 yards to David Nelson, and six yards to Stevie Johnson to spot the ball to the Jets 21.

The Jets defense stiffened, and forced Buffalo into a do-or-die 4th and one situation. The obvious choice for Buffalo was to give it to Jackson, but the Jets were waiting for him. They burst through the hole before Jackson ever got his feet beneath him and smacked him to the turf to force a turnover on downs.

In turn the Jets engineered a lengthy touchdown drive, highlighted by big completions to Keller, Holmes and Tomlinson, setting up the John Connor, A.K.A. The Terminator's, 1 yard touchdown to give the Jets a 27-3 lead.

The win was New York's most impressive outing of the season; a season that had started with such lackluster play now appears to be on the mend as the Jets are now clicking on all cylinders offensively, and defensively. The NFL is now on alert.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Open Mike 11-4-11, Don Bosco and Giants football

On this edition of "Open Mike," host Michael Cohen welcomes Don Bosco Prep head coach Greg Toal, that's right, the H.C. of the number one team in the State of New Jersey, to talk about his unbeaten Ironmen as they continue their quest for a national title. Don Bosco is 7-0 this year and have won 42 straight games. LISTEN HERE!!

Michael also welcomes back Mike Sanfillipo (in what is becoming a weekly spot) to discuss the Jets and Giants critical match-ups this weekend against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.

Mike and Mike also turn up the Hot Stove with MTR's Bill Zeltman as the trio talk about the future of Jose Reyes and the Mets, as well as the National League landscape for 2012.

NOTE: Open Mike will not broadcast live on Friday November 11 for studio maintenance at CSB. Michael returns with "Open Mike" on Friday November 18!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sabathia returns to Yankees with new contract

Well the Yankees didn't have to wait long for CC Sabathia to sign on the dotted line.

A day after filing for free agency the Yankees and Sabathia agreed to a brand new five year extension worth $122 million. In short Sabathia gets an additional $30 million on his old deal.

Sabathia and his family have grown attached to the area over the past few seasons; this coming from a guy who once wanted to move to the west coast after his deal with the Brewers concluded in 2008.

Sabathia will return as the team's ace, and now New York will look to bolster a rotation that is shaky at best. Notable free agents include C.J. Wilson (who had a horrible playoffs with the Rangers), Roy Oswalt, and Mark Burlehe. Burlehe is probably the safest bet of the bunch, a reliable left-handed veteran with post season success. As good as Oswalt was, he's not what he used to be, and will probably remain a Philadelphia Phillie.