Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano leaving NJ for Tampa Bay Bucs

Greg Schiano has coached at Rutgers for well over a decade. During that time he changed a disgraced football program into a respectable winning club that included five bowl victories, and his tenure was highlighted by a 11-2 season in 2006 that saw Rutgers compete in the BCS power rankings.

After leading Rutgers to a 9-4 record this year, and an emotional victory over Iowa State in the Pinstripe Bowl, no one would have guessed that Schiano would leave. Sure, he has flirted with Miami University and Michigan over the years, but nothing came of those opportunities. Schiano stayed in New Jersey and kept the Scarlet Knights legitimate in the Big East.

Now Rutgers will have have to start all over again. Schiano is gone. Reports surfaced Thursday that Schiano will become the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making the quantum leap from the NCAA to the NFL.

In what has become a very weird hiring season with NFL teams settling for lesser known coordinators, leaving the likes of veterans like Bill Cowher, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, and Steve Mariucci on the sidelines looking for work, this move by the Bucs is most surprising.

The Bucs tried to lure Oregon head coach Chip Kelly but to no avail. Schiano was apparently interviewing with the Rams before that club settled for ex-Titans coach Jeff Fisher.

Schiano went 68-67 at Rutgers. It will be interesting to see whether he can actually succeed in the NFL. Most college coaches come up snake eyes in the NFL. Bobby Petrino failed with the Falcons, Nick Saban failed with the Dolphins. Only Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson succeeded at the transition from college to the NFL, as both coaches led the Dallas Cowboys to Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.

Can Schiano bring the Bucs back to respectability? It remains to be seen, and it will be interesting to watch.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Niners' Kyle Williams helps send Giants to Super Bowl

GIANTS 20
49ERS 17 

It wasn't pretty; in fact, it was downright ugly, but the New York Giants are heading back to the Super Bowl for the second time in the Tom Coughlin era, that's right, Coughlin detractors, the second Super Bowl in the Coughlin era.

While Eli Manning and the Giants offense had to slug it out against the 49ers ferocious defense, they can thank Niners' receiver Kyle Williams for sending them back to the big dance for a rematch with the New England Patriots.

Williams fumbled not once but twice on punt returns that resulted in Giants points.

With San Francisco leading 14-10, the Niners held the Giants down deep in their own territory, forcing New York to punt the football; however, as the ball trickled down the field near the San Francisco 30, Williams got close to the ball and allowed it to touch his knee, making it a live football. The Giants jumped on the ball for the recovery.

With this golden opportunity, the Giants had to battle to get into the end zone. There was a offensive holding penalty and an incomplete pass that put New York in a long second and 20, but Manning would not back down. On third and 15, he threaded a bullet to Mario Manningham for the touchdown, giving the Giants a 17-14 lead.

San Francisco quickly answered. Alex Smith scrambled out of pocket for a 17 yard gain, and Kendell Hunter dashed down the sideline for 18 more yards, eventually setting up a David Akers field goal to tie it at 17.

From there the game turned into a slugfest. Neither offense could move the football. Alex Smith proved that he is not a franchise quarterback. He was putrid. He held onto the ball too long, made abysmal throws, and didn't know what to do when the Giants pass rush came at him. It was a wasted effort by the Niners defense because the offense was that poor. Here are some stats. The Niners were 1-of-13 on third downs, and threw for only 178 yards. If 49er fans weren't sure about jumping into the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, they are now.

As for Manning, he was dragged through the dirt all day. Sacked six times, hit 19 times, and blitzed early and often by the combination of Justin Smith, Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis. Manning's jersey was completely dirty, his shoulder pads were hanging out of his shirt for the better part of the night, and his helmet was practically torn off his head, yet the guy stood in there. He threw the ball all over the park, even if it meant missing on his receivers Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham.

The rematch is coming...
For his part, Curz had a huge game. He had 10 catches for 142 yards in the first half, but he was shut down in the second half and in overtime. The Niners did a great job in covering him.

Now back to that Williams fellow. In overtime, after Manning was sacked for the sixth time, the Giants were forced to punt the football. Williams stood at his own 20 yard line, and dropped the football as soon as it hit his hands; the Giants recovered. Ball game.

The Giants moved the ball to the middle of the field and kicked an easy 31 yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes to send the Giants back to the big show.

For Big Blue, it has been a remarkable season. They looked dead in week 15 after losing to the Redskins 23-10, falling to 7-7. They turned it on against the Jets in week 16, and haven't looked back since.

Now America can get ready for a Super Bowl XLII rematch between New York and New England. Helmet catches anyone?

Cundiff, Evans and Cameron cost Ravens a trip to Super Bowl

Here is what Baltimore Ravens fans will say for the rest of their lives: If it weren't for kicker Billy Cundiff, wide receiver Lee Evans and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, the Baltimore Ravens would be heading to Super Bowl XLVI.

The Ravens had the game in the palm of their hands not just once but twice.

After Tom Brady was picked off in the end zone to miraculously give the Ravens the football, Baltimore drove it deep into New England territory, thanks to a 16 yard pass from Joe Flacco to Eric Dickson, spotting the ball at the Pats 37. Following a couple nice runs by Ricky Williams and Ray Rice, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron then blew it.

With the Ravens facing a third and three, the obvious call would have been to throw the football for the first down to keep the drive alive, but no; Cameron decided to run up the middle with Rice, even with the Patriots loading up the box with eight men. Result: Rice was tackled for a three yard loss, putting Baltimore in an impossible fourth and six. On fourth down, Flacco's pass fell incomplete to give the ball back to the Patriots.

After the Ravens defense forced the Patriots into a three and out, the Ravens had one last shot to win the AFC Championship game and head to the Super Bowl.

Flacco was great. He hit Anquan Boldin for gains of 13 and nine yards to move the ball to the 48 yard line. With 0:56 to go, Flacco hit Bodin down the sideline for a 29 yard gain to the Patriots 23 yard line. Finally, Flacco found Boldin one more time for a nine yard gain to the New England 14. With time ticking down, the trip to the promised land was right there for the Ravens.

It was there for the taking, but the Ravens blew that, too. Flacco threw a perfect pass to Lee Evans in the end zone for the a sure touchdown. Evans had the ball for a second, but the ball was jarred loose by Pat Chung, forcing Evans to drop the ball. If Evans had held onto that football it would have been a game winning score with :22 seconds.

Finally, on fourth and one, Billy Cundiff came out to kick what should have been a easy 32 yard field goal; instead, the kicker choked under pressure and missed it wide left. Laces out Cundiff. The kid blew it and will go down as the ultimate goat of the game, which is a situation both fair and unfair at the same time. Blame should also go to Evans for dropping the TD, and to Cameron for screwing up a potential scoring drive earlier in the quarter.

On the other hand, the Patriots did nothing in the second half to win this game. Tom Brady was bad. He was picked off twice, and, at one point, he had a one-yard touchdown taken away from him when his knee fell short of the goal line.

For their own part, the Ravens defense was not great in this game either. They allowed the Patriots to move up and down the field with alacrity in the first half, but they did pick up the slack and hold down the Pats in the second half.  PATRIOTS vs. RAVENS Gallery.

For all of the Joe Flacco doubters out there, they have to shut up. Flacco had the game of his life. In spite of the kicker, the receiver and the offensive coordinator, Flacco was great. He threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't wilt under the pressure, and he put the ball on target to win the game. Problem was, the help wasn't there.

The Ravens should be going to the Super Bowl, but they are not. It will be a game they will live to regret for the rest of their lives.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gary Carter's cancer condition gets worse

Former Mets legend and Hall of Famer Gary Carter has received some very bad news about his battle with brain cancer.

Doctors at Duke University who have been treating Carter discovered new spots and tumors on his brain; the catcher's condition has worsened over the past several weeks. Reports are that Carter has suffered from headaches, fatigue and even fell down on Christmas and tore his rotator cuff.

The Daily News reports that Carter is so weak that he was unable to attend a charity golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

"I'm not feeling too good," he told The News. "It's been coming on and coming on. I've had a chest cold. I've got sores in my mouth, blood clots. I get sick ... there's just so many things ... It's been nine months now and I don't feel any different from Day One. I haven't been up to doing any interviews."

Carter has been battling cancer since May.

If the Mets were smart, they would consider retiring Carter's number 8. The number has not been worn too often since Carter left the Mets in the early 1990's, and considering the impact that he had on this club in the 1980's, the Mets should give him a day to honor his career with the franchise. Then again, we are talking about the Wilpons.

Tomlinson throws Jets under the bus on Showtime

The Jets appearance on Hard Knocks might have been on HBO, but former Jet LaDainian Tomlinson levied a big blow to the Jets on Showtime.

The future Hall of Fame running back, who will go to Canton one day in a Chargers uniform, ripped apart Gang Green in an interview on Showtime's "Inside the NFL." Tomlinson said that the rift between quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes was "as bad as I've been around," and this coming from a guy who was on a few dysfunctional Chargers teams.

Tomlinson attacked both Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum for creating an atmosphere of dissent in the locker room by bringing in too many questionable guys into the team. "This is the type of football team that they wanted. Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan are both brash, in-your-face type of style, say whatever you want, just get it done on the field. And then it leads to other things, as guys are calling each other out and saying, 'I'm not getting the ball' or whatever it may be," Tomlinson said.

Tomlinson further burned his bridges with the Jets, when he threw Mark Sanchez under the bus, saying that he was pampered too much, because he never had a true threat to his starting job.

In the wake of these remarks, Woody Johnson came out from his hole for some damage control. Johnson told reporters that he plans on meeting with both Sanchez and Holmes for a big pow-wow to iron out their differences, and that both players would be back next year.

Tomlinson who is a free agent probably won't return to the Jets.

The Jets have to make this work out with Sanchez and Holmes. They are on the hook to Holmes for the next four years with $15 million guaranteed the next two years. Sanchez has two years and $16 million left on his contract. So financially the Jets can't get ride of them, even if they really wanted to.

Oh, and by the way the Giants play in the NFC title game, Sunday...

Monday, January 16, 2012

One Giant Step: Big Blue destroys Packers heads to NFC Title game

GIANTS 37
PACKERS 20

The New York Giants are heading back to the NFC Championship Game after breaking the spirit of the defending champion Green Bay Packers in a dominating 37-20 effort, Sunday.

The Giants won this game thanks to their defense which blitzed the heck out of the Packers and harassed Aaron Rodgers like no other team has all season. The Giants sacked Rodgers four times, picked him off once, and forced him into his first fumble of the season. It was an all-out, dominating performance by a defense that was much maligned all season with injuries and inconsistent play. On Sunday night this group triumphed; they shut down Jordy Nelson, shut down Jennings, and kept Green Bay's running offense in check all night.

The Giants never trailed in this football game, grabbing a 10-3 lead late in the first quarter thanks to a 66 yard touchdown to Hakeem Nicks from Eli Manning to silence Cheese-head nation in Lambeau Field, as the rout was clearly on.

Even a bad call by the referees when an apparent fumble by Green Bay's Greg Jennings was ruled down by contact that eventually led to a Rodgers touchdown pass to John Kuhn, the Giants didn't back down. With the game tied at 10, the Giants could have folded like a cheap camera, but they didn't.

The Packers certainly helped. After Green Bay tied the game, Packers coach Mike McCarthy decided to attempt an onside kick. It turned out to be a bad decision; Big Blue recovered it at the Packers 40. The Giants settled for a field goal to take a 13-10, but, at this point, the momentum had shifted back to the Giants.

Then, with time running out in the second quarter, Manning put the exclamation point on this game when he heaved a Hail Mary pass into the endzone, and Nicks came down with it in helmet catch fashion, as he first trapped the ball against the top of his helmet, then came down with it for the touchdown and a 20-10 lead. WATCH HERE!

In the second half, the Giants took full advantage of each Green Bay mistake. With Green Bay trailing 20-13, and the ball on the Giants 39 yard line, McCarthy once again gambled and came up snake eyes. The Packers were facing a fourth and five. The logical decision was to punt the football and pin the Giants inside their own goal line; instead, McCarthy decided to go for it on fourth down, and the Giants sacked Rodgers forcing a turnover on downs.

The Giants took advantage as Manning pushed the Giants to the Packers 17 yard line, before settling for a Lawrence Tynes kick to give Big Blue a 10 point lead with 7:56 to go in the game.

On the next Packers possession, Green Bay put the ball on the ground again when Ryan Grant was upended and fumbled the football at the Packer 44 yard line. Chase Blackburn picked up the loose ball and rumbled 40 yards to the Packer four yard line. Manning wasted little time; he found Mario Manningham in the back of the endzone for the touchdown,giving the Giants a 30-13 lead.

With 6:56 to go, this game was over.

The Giants would add one more score, a Brandon Jacobs 14 yard run to ice it, but the competitve balance of this game had long ago been determined.

The Giants are heading to the NFC title game for the second time in five seasons to face the San Francisco 49ers, who have gotten to this point because of a fantastic defense. The 49ers beat the Giants 27-20 earlier in the year, but that was a game the Giants let slip away. No team is hotter than the Giants, and it is hard to envisage mediocre quarterback Alex Smith handling that Giants pass rush. Should be a heck of a game.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Giants vs. Patriots rematch? Super Bowl XLII sequel looks likely

Helmet catches anyone?

Hakeem Nicks certainly obliged when he caught a 37 yard Hail Mary pass in the end zone with 0:00 on the clock in the second quarter to give the Giants a 20-10 lead over the once unstoppable Green Bay Packers. The Packers shot themselves in the foot all day; they looked rusty after taking the last two weeks off, made uncharacteristic mistakes, and topped off by terrible coaching decisions.

But you can’t take anything away from these New York Giants, who thoroughly dominated and broke the spirits of the defending Super Bowl Champions, turning a team that rallied off 13 straight victories  this season into mere mortals.
With no disrespect to the San Francisco 49ers, who had a miraculous victory over the New Orleans Saints, Saturday, and the beat up Baltimore Ravens, who outlasted the Houston Texans, it is beginning to look and smell a lot like 2008. Fans in Tri-State area and Massachussetts can begin booking their flights to Indianapolis because the New York Giants and New England Patriots will likely square off in Super Bowl XLVI.

If this does happen, it will be the first Super Bowl rematch since Super Bowl XXX when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys met for the third time in the Super Bowl with Dallas coming out on top 27-17.

In a year when the headlines have been dominated by the Packers incredible regular season, the record breaking season of Drew Brees, the mind-bending ways of Tebow-time, and Rex Ryan’s big mouth (what else is new), the 2011-2012 season could come down to two very familiar foes, who have quietly gone about their business.

For the Giants this season has felt a lot like 2007-2008. From a hideous start to the season, to questions about the job security of head coach Tom Coughlin to now, a team budding with confidence heading into its second NFC title game in four years the comparisons are there.

As many recall in 2007, the Giants headed into their regular season finale against the Patriots needing a good performance to bolster their confidence as they headed into the postseason. They lost that game 38-35, but many point to that loss as a turning point in their season, as the Giants headed into the postseason with a good head of steam.

This season, many pointed out to a 38-35 loss to the Green Bay Packers as the turning point of this season. The Giants showed they could hang with a tough team like the Packers, undefeated at the time, and from that point on the Giants played at a different level.

They matched the intensity of the New York Jets on Christmas Eve, beating Mark Sanchez into the ground and igniting the momentum for this ride. The Giants then rolled past Dallas for the division title and steamrolled Atlanta in the wild card.

Even these playoffs offer comparisons to the 2007-08 run. In ’07 the Giants beat up an NFC South team (Tampa Bay) in the wild card round. This year, they beat up on an NFC South team (Atlanta) in the wild card round. In ’07, the Giants clobbered the Dallas Cowboys, ranked number 1, a team picked by many to get to the Super Bowl in the divisional playoffs. This year, the Giants beat the 15-1 Packers, a number 1 seed, picked by many to get to the Super Bowl in the divisional playoffs.

And did I forget to mention the helmet catch? David Tyree meet Hakeem Nicks.

The Giants are rolling and look even better than that ball club.

The big difference, and this is a good thing for Giants fans, is Eli Manning. Manning is playing better than any quarterback right now. He has played with confidence and poise all season, throwing for 4,933 yards. Then in the divisional playoff vs. Green Bay, Manning was even better. He threw for 336 yards, completed two-thirds of his passes and three touchdowns including a clutch four yard touchdown to Mario Manningham to give the Giants a 30-13 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Packers had no answer for him. They couldn’t hit him, couldn’t rattle him, and couldn’t force him to throw a bad pick. Manning was flawless.

Defensively this Giants front seven is starting to look a lot like that ball club in 2007-2008. That team was led by a ferocious front of Osi Umenyiora, Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck, who blitzed their way to the top. This year’s club has picked it up big time down the stretch. They were much maligned for not getting enough pressure on the quarterback, now they are. Jason Pierre-Paul has been ferocious; Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyoria have battled injuries this year, but of late have picked up the slack. It was Umenyoria’s blitz off the left end that forced Aaron Rodgers to fumble the ball back to Big Blue Sunday night.

The Giants defense was incredible against the Packers.

They made Rodgers uncomfortable, forced him to move out of the pocket when he didn’t want to, and forced him to run with the ball at moments when he probably would have liked to chuck the rock. Add to the fact that the Giants did a marvelous job stopping the run Sunday night. They held James Starks to 43 yards rushing and Ryan Grant to 33 yards. While Green Bay is not a great running team, the Giants have had their trouble stopping the run this year. They have turned that around too.

And here come the Giants, rushing to San Francisco with all of the momentum in the world. While the 49ers have put together a great defense and solid running game, it is hard to imagine them handling the New York Giants next week. The Giants are a team possessed; the only thing that can stop them is themselves.

Meanwhile in the AFC, it is funny that the Patriots have become the most ignored “good” team in the NFL. A team that went 13-3 and had a quarterback throw for over 5,000 yards, but you wouldn’t even know it; this is the franchise that set the standard for success over the last decade. Yet, here they are, like it or not.

On Saturday night, the Patriots ripped through the Broncos like a hot knife through butter as Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski set postseason records for their efforts. Brady was incredible, tearing apart the Broncos defense for 363 yards and setting a playoff record six touchdowns. Gronkowski, too, set a playoff record for tight ends with three scores, all of them coming in the first half.

The Patritots 45-10 whooping of the Broncos was the kind of effort we have seen from the Pats in their prime years when they advanced to four Super Bowls in seven years, winning three of them.

It goes without saying that this Patriots team is loaded with offensive firepower, from Brady to Gronkowski to Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker, and Deion Branch leading the way. The big difference between this year’s Patriots and the ’07-’08 version is the fact that this team doesn’t have that legit deep threat, like they used to with Randy Moss, but they don’t miss him; they were third in offense this year. It should be interesting to see how the Baltimore Ravens handle this high powered offense with Ed Reed, nicked up at the end of the Houston game and playing on an injured leg.

While the Ravens offer the kind of defense that could slow down the Patriots, their performance against the Texans offers little comfort that they can match New England in a shoot out, if it comes to that. Joe Flacco has been horrible and was awful in Baltimore’s 20-13 victory. You know that Bill Belichick will have a solid plan to slow down Ray Rice and put pressure on Flacco. Plus, the Patriots defense has played a lot better in recent weeks led by Rob Ninkovich and Jared Mayo.

While a different sport, this Patriots team has that feel that the 2009 New York Yankees had.
At that time, the Yankees hadn’t won a World Series in nine years. Every year the Yankees were expected to get to and win the World Series, but it didn’t happen. When the Yankees breezed through the playoffs in 2009 to the World Series, only then did people recognize that the Yankees were back. That could be the case with these Patriots, who are the NFL team of the 21st Century. They haven’t won a Super Bowl in nearly eight years now. Could the Brady-Belichick duo be due for one more great ride into glory?

And if America does get a rematch between the Giants and Patriots in the Super Bowl, everyone will draw comparisons between that game and this one. Everyone will wait for the helmet catch. Everyone will wonder if Brady and Belichick have a master plan to get even. Everyone will be watching and waiting for the most anticipated sequel in Super Bowl history.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Open Mike 01-13-12; Giants vs. Packers preview

On this edition of The Open Mike Show, host Michael Cohen talks about the next big step for Big Blue on its pursuit of a second Lombardi Trophy in four years; the team heads to Green Bay for a rematch with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Is this Giants run similar to the one they enjoyed back in 2007?  Mike Sanfilippo and Karen Vankat join the discussion with Michael.

Michael also delves into the musical chairs that is the Jets recent coaching staff moves as Tony Sparano comes north to take over for Brian Schottenheimer. LISTEN HERE!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Yankees trade Montero to Seattle for top pitcher

The New York Yankees put the finishing touches on a huge trade involving the Seattle Mariners Friday night. Now hold onto your horses because the trade does not involve Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, the dynamic ace for the M's whom the Yankees have coveted for years.

Michael Pineda is now a Yankee.
Instead, the Yankees will settle for the next best pitcher from the Mariners rotation, Michael Pineda. Pineda who went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 173 strikeouts last season in Seattle, is coming to the Bronx in exchange for Yankees top catching prospect Jesus Montero.

It was believed for a few years that Montero would be the heir apparent to Jorge Posada, but with current back stop Russell Martin holding onto the position this year and Austin Romine quickly coming up in the Yankees farm system; it made Montero expendable. Montero has a strong bat, but there are questions about whether he can catch in the majors.

Pineda became the Mariners number two starter last season, known for his powerful fastball and deadly change-up. The 23-year old Pineda joins a Yankees rotation that added more depth Friday afternoon when the club signed former Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Koroda to a one year deal.

The Yankees rotation, which was such a question mark last season, is looking pretty good right now. With CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova at the top of the rotation, you can pencil in Pineda and Koroda right behind them, with A.J. Burnett coming up as a number five starter, and Freddy Garcia as an option out of the bullpen. All of a sudden the Yankees have a deep rotation to square off with the Red Sox and Rays in the East, and, most importantly, with the Tigers, Rangers and Angels in the American League.

With spring training five weeks away, the Yankees were pretty quiet this off-season. They waited out on Koroda who debated extensively about returning to his native Japan, and the team watched as some top pitching free agent targets like Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson signed contracts elsewhere. Then again, one can make the argument that the market for a free agent pitcher was not very good this season, and the Yankees were better off waiting to get someone, even if it meant waiting 'til July 31.

Instead, the Yankees may have made out the best of anyone in the league. Koroda is not the greatest pitcher in the world, but he is a decent number four starter, while Pineda is a budding star. Yankee fans should get used to having Pineda and Nova at the top of this rotation for years to come.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jets players want Sanchez out

With Brian Schottenheimer now disposed of as Jets offensive coordinator, apparently several players want Mark Sanchez to follow.

Several reports say that anonymous players are disgusted with Sanchez and want him out of town. They also want to see the Jets bring Peyton Manning here immediately to replace him.

"We have to bring in another quarterback that will make him work at practice," one player told the New York Daily News. "He's lazy and content because he knows he's not going to be benched."

When asked if the Jets can win with Sanchez at quarterback, he didn't get a ringing endorsement.  "How can we when he's not improving at all?” one player said. “He thinks he is, but he's not. He has shown us what he's capable of."

The unknown Jets player or players added that if the Jets have an opportunity to get a healthy Peyton Manning, the franchise has to go all out to get him.  "If you have a chance to get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning and you don't do it, then you're stupid. If I could get a healthy 36-year-old Peyton Manning, then, hell yeah, I would trade Sanchez."

So who said this? Was it Santonio Holmes who had a rift with Sanchez in the final weeks of the season? Was it Plaxico Burress? An offensive lineman? Whoever it was, and I am not pinning blame to anyone here, thanks for the honesty.

Sanchez is, and has been, awful. He rode the coattails of the running game and the defense the last two years, while showing very little improvement from year 1 to year 2. This year, his third, was supposed to be the year he would take off. He didn't. He completely regressed and looked like the timid, inaccurate quarterback the Jets drafted in 2009. If the Jets are smart, they will invest in another veteran quarterback who can push Sanchez for the starting job, and possibly take over the position.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Brian Schottenheimer out as Jets offensive coordinator

Celebrate Jets fans, celebrate.

Brian Schottenheimer, who became the bane of Jets fans' existence for coaching the 22nd ranked offense in the NFL is now out as Jets offensive coordinator.

According to NFL.com, Schottenheimer resigned from the position, releasing the following press release: "After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to return to the New York Jets in 2012," Schottenheimer said in a statement released by the team. "I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the six years I have been here.

"I am grateful for the relationships that I have with our players and coaches and appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into our success. My family and I would like to thank Rex Ryan and the entire Jets organization and wish them continued success. I look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead."

In short, the Jets gave Schottenheimer an ultimatum. He could either accept the fact that the franchise was going to fire him, or he could resign, which is cleaner than a messy firing.

The news came just minutes after the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Mike Mularky as their head coach. A week ago, the Jets refused to fire Schottenheimer, and even praised his status as the Jets offensive coordinator because he was being interviewed by the Jaguars. Once the Jags made their pick, the Jets could drop the axe on Schotty.

Schottenheimer managed to run the Jets offense into the ground. His ultra aggressive play-calling steered the Jets away from Rex Ryan's ground and pound philosophy. To make matters worse, Schottenheimer failed to develop quarterback Mark Sanchez into a competent football player. Sanchez is now a total waste of talent and time who throws too many interceptions, is inaccurate and indecisive with the football.

You can't blame Schotty for everything for this offense, considering how bad Sanchez was this season. The quarterback has to share some of the blame here.

Fact is, when Schottenheimer had Sanchez drop back to pass 64 times against the New York Giants on Christmas Eve, a 29-14 loss, the writing was on the wall that Schottenheimer would be out.

Whomever the Jets bring in to to be the offensive coordinator, they will inherit an offense that has an awful offensive line, no running game, a mediocre quarterback, and a star wide receiver who, well, just wants the damn ball. Sound familiar Jets fans?

According to NFL.com, the Jets are interested in bringing in former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator. Sparano, who was a tight ends coach in Dallas before getting the job in Miami, is best known as a motivator, and his high energy motor could benefit the Jets.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that the Jets plan on hiring Sparano on Wednesday, and the Jets had been making a move to bring Sparano in while Schottenheimer was interviewing in Jacksonville. Sparano was fired by the Dolphins in December after the Dolphins fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 26-10. The Dolphins got off to a hideous 0-7 start, but played extremely well in the final two months of the season, winning their next three games to get to 3-7, and probably should have beaten the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.

Sparano did see some success in Miami. He won a division title in 2008 when he had ex-Jets quarterback Chad Pennington leading the way. And in case you want to be reminded, the Dolphins won the division that season with a regular season ending victory over the Jets. Oh, the irony.

Anonymous Met rips into Wilpons

An anonymous player on the New York Mets submitted an article to New York magazine that rips into Fred and Jeff Wilpon, demanding that the embattled owners sell the team for the good of the players and fan base. The story was published Monday.

Here is an excerpt: "Ownership is trying to turn the Mets, a big-market franchise, into a small-market franchise. That’s not just sad, it’s disgusting.
You know what I think when I read about the Mets nowadays? We’ve become the Oakland A’s. We’re the Pittsburgh Pirates. Our fans deserve better than that. You can’t possibly build a dynasty when you’re cutting costs left and right. The only way to turn it around is to sell the team."

And that's not all:

"Either way you look at it, what you have now is a team that feels like it’s bankrupt. Jose Reyes was allowed to walk without even getting an offer? If that’s your plan, you better have someone to replace him with. But the Wilpons don’t.
Reyes and David Wright were the heart of that team. Those were the guys the Mets had to build around. But now that Reyes is in Miami, Wright will be traded by the All-Star break. If they’re going to run this like a small-market team, that’s the way it’s going to unfold. If I’m David Wright, I’d want to be gone."

Was this masked and anonymous Met, David Wright?  Was it Jason Bay? Johan Santana? According to Yahoo sports, this was a player who is currently on the Mets ball club, a veteran who is fed up with the failings of the Wilpons.

Whoever it is; thanks for the honesty. Read the rest of the editorial here!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Giants dominate Falcons, move onto Green Bay

GIANTS 24  
FALCONS 2

It is beginning to feel a lot like January 2008, as the New York Giants thoroughly dominated the Atlanta Falcons 24-2 to advance to the divisional round of the playoffs to face the Green Bay Packers next Sunday.

The Giants came into this game with one of the worst defenses, and even worse running attacks in these playoffs, and, for the first time this season, the Giants had their most complete effort of the year with every phase of their game clicking on all cylinders.

Granted, the early going was not pretty. The Giants were having a difficult time moving the football, and the extra-conservative play calling by Kevin Gilbride resulted in zero Giants point through one and half quarters.

On the flip side, the Atlanta Falcons were having some success in moving the ball. Late in the first quarter, the Falcons started to move the ball swiftly up field on an impressive 14 play, 68 yard drive. Highlighted by a 20 yard pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones and methodical running by Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, the Falcons brought the ball up to the Giants 25 yard line; however, while facing a fourth and one at the Giants 24 yard line, the Falcons decided not to kick the football and take a 3-0 lead. Instead, Atlanta went for it, and Matt Ryan came up a yard short on the quarterback sneak.

For those who remember, Atlanta head coach Mike Smith made a similar decision to go for a fourth and one against rival New Orleans, and it cost the Falcons the game. This decision would be no different.

Still, all the momentum was on Atlanta's side. With New York facing a second and 21 at their own 13, a quarterback pressure of James Sanders forced Eli Manning to throw an intentional grounding penalty for the safety and a 2-0 lead.

Then, it was all Giants.



After an entire regular season that saw the Giants struggle to run the football, they morphed into a running team, virtually over night. On a crucial third and two, Eli Manning, understanding that he had nobody open down field, tucked the ball underneath and ran for 14 yards to set up a Giants first down near the 40. A few plays later, Brandon Jacobs rumbled down field for 34 yards to the Falcons 15 yard line. After a nine yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw set up a first and goal for Big Blue, Manning hit Hakeem Nicks in the back of the end zone to give the Giants a 7-2 lead.


With the lead, the Giants defense smothered the Falcons. They held the dangerous Michael Turner to only 41 yards rushing and pressured Matt Ryan all afternoon, holding him down to 199 yards passing. Even though the Giants recorded only two sacks of Ryan on the afternoon, the quarterback was clearly rattled. He couldn't handle the pressure up front, consistently delivering floaters over his receivers' heads.


Offensively the Giants kept on cruising; Victor Cruz finally had his impact on the afternoon. His 22 yard catch moved the football to the Falcons 35 and helped set up a Lawrence Tynes field goal to make it 10-2. Later in the quarter on third and three, Manning hit Nicks in stride near mid-field and the speedster took off on a 72 yard touchdown giving Big Blue a 17-2 advantage.


The ground game did the rest for the Giants: as Jacobs ran for 92 yards, and Bradshaw 63 yards as New York tallied 172 yards rushing on the afternoon, and Big Blue prevailed 24-2.


The Falcons could never avoid shooting themselves in the foot. At one point, they were trailing 10-2 and were in field goal range, and, once again, faced a fourth and short. And, once again, Mike Smith decided to go for it, and quarterback Matt Ryan was pushed backwards on the turning the ball over. The Giants, of course, made the Falcons pay when Manning hit Nicks on the back-breaker to make it 17-2, all but ending the competitve nature of this game.


For the Giants are rolling into Green Bay. They have found a running game, and their defense is creating a lot of havoc up front. The last time the Giants faced the Packers, Big Blue had the 11-0 Packers on the doorstep of their first loss, but Green Bay pulled it out in the waning seconds.


Some will cite the Giants 2007-2008 Super Bowl run as a case in point that this team can do the same. Remember that Giants team hung tough with the 16-0 Patriots in the regular season finale, and lost that game. The Giants felt that game was the boost of confidence it needed to make a playoff run, and they did, winning the Super Bowl over the Patriots.


Will lightning strike twice? There are players and coaches on the Packers who remember that Giants playoff run because New York knocked Green Bay out in the NFC title game that season. Only difference this time: it will be Aaron Rodgers at quarterback for the Pack, not Brett Favre. That constitutes a huge difference. This is shaping up to be an incredible week for Big Blue.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Open Mike 01-06-12, Giants vs. Falcons preview

It’s playoff time and Open Mike has got you covered. Michael Cohen talks about the Giants playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, and takes a look at the NFL playoff landscape.

Michael Welcomes in Mary Walker of Sirius XM Radio, and Sean Bretherick of Triple Coverage to talk about the end of the New York Jets season, and the trio give their playoff predictions.

Michael and Sean also discuss the brawl between Rangers and Flyers fans that put a U.S. Iraq War veteran in the hospital. Bill Zeltman joins to discuss.

Listen here! Note the show is in two parts.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Back-up QB Greg McElroy rips Jets locker room

The Jets season took another bizarre twisted turn Wednesday when audio surfaced of Jets third string quarterback Greg McElroy ripping his teammates and calling the club full of selfish players. 

In an audio that was initially played on WFAN in New York, McElroy said: "It's definitely not a fun place to be. I can assure you. It's the first time I've ever been around extremely selfish individuals. I think that's maybe the nature of the NFL. But there are people within our locker room who didn't care whether we won or lost ... as long as they got their ... good game individually."

Initial thoughts on his statements are pretty simple: Who is Greg McElroy? And, who does he think he is to speak out about the team when he enjoys zero gravitas on the roster?

McElroy was a late-round draft pick from Alabama, who possessed no arm strength and showed little potential in the past pre-season where he injured his hand was lost for the year. The fact that the third string QB, who wasn't even on roster, is ripping the players is outrageous. McElroy won't win many fans in that locker room for this rant. He won't get the support from veterans for sure, and he can probably forget being a challenger for Mark Sanchez's starting job. 

That said, McElroy's statements are an indictment of Rex Ryan management of this club. Everyone knew the Jets brought in a lot of classless individuals on this football team, carrying with them the risk that it could blow up. Well, it has imploded, and now the Jets have to pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 NFL opponents announced

As has become tradition when the NFL regular season comes to its conclusion, the league announces the opponents for the next season.

For the Giants, they may be busy preparing for the Atlanta Falcons this week, and Giant fans are thinking about winning their second Super Bowl in four years, but their opponents were announced Tuesday.

In 2012, the Giants will play the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, Buccaneers, Saints, Packers, Steelers, and Browns at home. On the road, the Giants will again see the Eagles, Cowboys and Redskins. In addition, the Giants will face the Falcons, Panthers, 49ers, Ravens, and Bengals.

As for the Jets, they have no choice but to look forward to next season. At home, the Jets will face the Patriots, Dolphins, Bills, Colts, Texans, Chargers, 49ers, and Cardinals. On the road, the Jets will confront the Patriots, Dolphins, Bills, Jaguars, Titans, Steelers, Rams, and Seahawks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Schottenheimer will return to Jets

In a case of pure stupidity or blind faith, the New York Jets have endorsed offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and asserted he will return as the Jets offensive coordinator. Both Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum sang the praises of Schottenheimer, indicating he will finish his contract with the Jets.

Ironically, Tannenbaum said that Schotty would be interviewing for the head coaching job in Jacksonville, to which Ryan added that he knows that it could be a "50-50" chance that Schottenheimer returns since he might be a head coach elsewhere.

Sounds like the Jets don't want to fire him if he is interviewing for a head coaching position, since it hurts an already bleak resume. Both Ryan and Tannenbaum sounded like they are hoping he gets the job with the Jaguars, so they can go in a different direction without dropping the axe.  If he doesn't, Schottenheimer should return as the Jets offensive coordinator of a sinking ship he helped scuttle with quarterback Mark Sanchez this season.

Ryan added that he felt that Santonio Holmes would return as a Jet in 2012 in spite of his embarrassing behavior on the field the other day.

As for Mark Sanchez, Tannenbaum said he feels confident in the embattled quarterback, stating that Sanchez's "work speaks for itself." Tannenbaum also added that Sanchez will be the Jets starting quarterback next year, a huge mistake if you actually look at Sanchez's body of work.

Tannenbaum also offered the lame apologia about the Jets playoff fate, saying that the Jets were 15 yards away from heading to the playoffs. "If we made the playoffs, look out," Tannenbaum said.

What a joke. The Jets are a complete farce, always full of consistent excuse-making  but very little in the way of solid results. Until things really change with the personnel on this club, the results will continue to sour the fans.

Holmes vs. Sanchez: reported rift exists between NY Jets duo

If you thought that Santonio Holmes' antics at the end of the Jets 19-17 meltdown in Miami had something to do with anything else but Mark Sanchez, wake up!

Again ESPN is reporting an apparent rift exploded between the two during the past week in a quarterback/receivers meeting. Sanchez walked into the room in an attempt to rally the troops and get them to "pick it up." He was even planning to schedule a special after-hours session with the unit.

Apparently, Sanchez's speech ticked off Holmes, who reportedly stood in the back of the room and pouted the whole time. 
Santonio Holmes might be done in NY.

Things came to a head on Sunday when Holmes started a shouting match with lineman Wayne Hunter.

Is it possible that Sanchez told the offense to pick it up which led to Holmes to throw it back in the quarterback's face? Perhaps. Sanchez had a horrible season, and for him to tell others to step it up is nearly hilarious if it weren't so sad.

That being said, there is no excuse for Holmes to act this way. He was a clown when the Steelers dumped him on the Jets, and now New York is seeing why Pittsburgh made that move in early 2010. Holmes signed a five year deal and is probably not going anywhere, unless the Jets find a taker who is willing to take the rest of his contract.

Holmes' teammates are not defending him. Many have come out and said that he quit on the team and are not happy with him. In short, the Holmes era could be nearing an ignominious conclusion.

Big Blue Blitz: Giants roll to NFC East title

GIANTS 31
COWBOYS 14

To all the Tom Coughlin haters out there who wanted him fired for Bill Cowher: how do you feel now?

Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants are back in the postseason after a dominating 31-14 victory over the Dallas Cowboys to clinch the NFC East title. The Giants will host the Falcons next week in the wild card round, Sunday at 1 p.m.

This game wasn't even close, as the Giants rolled right over a hapless Dallas Cowboys team that had no answer for the Giants blitzing schemes, no answer for Eli Manning, and no answer for Giants super star receiver Victor Cruz.

The Giants wasted little time in putting this game in their back pocket. With 4:57 to go in the first quarter, Manning hit Cruz at the Giants own 24 yard line, and like he did against the Jets a week prior, Cruz slipped out of his tackler and sprinted down the sideline for the touchdown, giving New York a 7-0 lead.

Cruz had a huge evening hauling in six passes for 178 yards; it's a shame that this man wasn't voted to the Pro Bowl; he has had a spectacular season and made Giants fans forget Steve Smith.

In the second quarter, Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw took over, adding a five yard touchdown run and a 10 yard reception from Eli Manning to give Big Blue a big 21-0 lead.

Even though Dallas cut the Giants lead to seven, thanks to a couple Laurent Robinson touchdown catches, it was pretty obvious that Dallas was not going to come back in this game. The Giants defense swarmed all over Tony Romo all night long. They sacked him six times, deflected two of his passes, and knocked him down seven more times. Romo never got comfortable in the pocket as the combination of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck harassed him all night.

That trio will be key to any Giants success in the postseason.

As for Manning, he was excellent, throwing for 346 yards and three touchdowns, capping off what has been a brilliant 2011 regular season. Even though he won't win the league MVP this year, Manning was as good as any quarterback in football this season.

For Coughlin, the victory has to be bittersweet. He has had to hear all season about how his job was on the line, how he gave too much responsiblity to his coordinators; nonetheless, here he is in the postseason with a legtimate shot at the Super Bowl.

While asking the Giants to go into Green Bay and New Orleans and win is asking a lot this year, they can compete with anyone in this NFC playoff field. They are getting healthy at the right time, and they are playing their best football. Now Big Blue has to focus and get ready for a dangerous Atlanta Falcons team on Sunday.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Schottenheimer likely out as Jets O.C.

Brian Schottenheimer may have coached his last game in NY.
As the New York Jets melted in the Florida sun Sunday afternoon, it became abudantly clear that change is on the horizon for the Jets offensive coaching staff.

According to a report by Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets could be close to terminating Brian Schottenheimer as offensive coordinator. Cimini said that the Jets are likely to see if Schottenheimer secures a head coaching job, and even if he doesn't, they would consider either former Broncos head coach, and current Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, or current Chargers head coach Norv Turner as the team's new offensive coordinator.

In the same story, Cimini says, Schottenheimer could end up getting demoted and remain a part of the staff, but that would be really awkward, and the best thing the Jets could do for themselves moving forward is to put the axe down on Schotty.

Between Turner and McDaniels, the Jets are better off with Turner. Granted this hinges on whether the San Diego Chargers fire Turner, but the guy has a reputation as a fantastic offensive coordinator, having orchestrated the Cowboys Super Bowl offense in the 1990's. While Turner doesn't have a great head coaching record, he did win games in San Diego and helped build a high powered offense in So-Cal with Phillip Rivers as his quarterback.

Norv Turner, next Jets O.C?
McDaniels is a total nutcase. He ran himself out of Denver because of his abrasive personality, and this year was the offensive coordinator of the hapless 2-14 St. Louis Rams. McDaniels would be a terrible choice as O.C.

Another choice for the Jets, is to stay in house, and go with Bill Callahan. Callahan, who has head coaching experience with the Raiders and Nebraska University, was the O.C. of the Raiders when their offense was one of the NFL's best in the early 2000's. He would be a good choice since he knows the players here and would make the necessary adjustments.

That being said, you can't blame Schottenheimer for everything because Mark Sanchez has been a travesty behind center. Rumors have been swirling that the Jets are not confident in him and might look for a new quarterback. It should be interesting to see if a new offensive coordinator can get the best out of Sanchez or turn to Rex Ryan and tell him to get another quarterback.

Jets crumble and fall apart in loss to Miami

DOLPHINS 19
JETS 17

Call it a fitting way to end an absolutely hideous season.

Needing a victory against the Miami Dolphins, and a lot of help to make playoffs, the Jets put together another stinker, as Gang Green choked away their playoff future with a 19-17 loss; Mark Sanchez starred front and center in the abysmal effort.

Sanchez was not only mediocre, he was awful.

He didn't dazzle anyone in the first half of the game when New York clutched onto a delicate 10-3 lead; then, ultimatey, began to stink in up in Sanchez fashion. With the Jets facing a second and eight at their own 47 yard line, Sanchez dropped back to pass, and, in a poor attempt to find LaDainian Tomlinson on a crossing pattern, Sanchez dumped the ball off into the hands of Randy Starks, a gigantic defensive lineman, who intercepted the football with only nine seconds left in the first half.

Miami answered quickly, and Dan Carpenter kicked a 58 yard field goal to cut the Jets lead to 10-6.

Then the Jets ineptitude continued into the second half, as the Dolphins ate up the entire third quarter, and part of the fourth quarter with an incredible 21 play, 98 yard drive that ate up 12:29 on the clock. Matt Moore was percise and accurate with his passes, completing 12 of 13 passes for 87 yards, with a 1 yard touchdown pass to running back Chris Clay to make it 13-10. Devon Bees was a huge key to the Dolphins success on the drive; the speedy slot receiver hauled in four balls for 38 yards, converting two huge third downs in the process.

The fact is the Jets defense, which has been like a sieve all season, was dreadful on that drive. They allowed Miami to hold onto the football for that long was inexcusable, especially from a defense that is labeled by their coach as the best in the NFL.

After that it was all on Sanchez. On the Jets ensuing possession after the Jets touchdown, Sanchez made a hideous mistake. With pressure coming from former Jets Jason Taylor, who was closing in on a sack, Sanchez decided to put the ball up into the air and threw it into the hands of Starks, who rumbled ahead to the Jets 30 yard line. Miami eventually settled for a field goal, but the trend was firmly established; this was Sanchez's to lose, and he lost it.

Later in the fourth quarter, with the Jets driving deep into Dolphins territory, New York received a heck of a break on a roughing-the-passer penalty on Miami, as Yerimiah Bell couldn't stop his momentum into Sanchez on a blitz. The penalty came on a third and nine which would have forced the Jets to punt, but no, Gang Green got new life at the Dolphin 30.

But Sanchez then threw away the opportunity; he threw the ball right into the hands of Marvin Mitchell, who rumbled all the way down the field to the Jets 36. Miami settled for another field goal, all but ending this game at 19-10.

Interesting moment: Late in the game, as New York was trying to get itself back in the game, Santonio Holmes got into a war of words with a Jets player while in the huddle. He left the huddle, flipped his helmet, and sat on the bench for the rest of the afternoon.

When asked why he didn't join his teammates on the sideline, Holmes, wouldn't answer. Then when pressed about what he thought about Mark Sanchez, he threw him under the bus, saying that Sanchez didn't play well enough to help the team win.

According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, several Jets players felt that Holmes "quit" on the team at a crucial juncture of the season. Holmes was elevated to a team captain this year, with the hope that he would mature and become a leader. He has been anything but that this year. From throwing the quarterback under the bus to his idiotic touchdown dance when the Jets were trailing the Eagles 28-3, and now Sunday's actions, Holmes is quickly writing his ticket out of town.

However, the Jets had signed him to a big contract, so if they move him, it will have to be via trade. The Jets are beginnnig to see why the Steelers were so quick to get ride of Holmes over a year ago.

As for the Jets offense and Sanchez, it was another despicable performance. Sanchez once again showed that he is not the answer as the Jets franchise quarterback, and New York has got to begin looking around for another quarterback.

Forget the rumors about Peyton Manning; the Jets are not going to risk millions into an aging quarterback who is coming back from neck fusion surgery. The Jets could look at potential free agents like Kyle Orton, or Green Bay Packers back-up quarterback Matt Flynn. Flynn is a highly touted prospect, who threw for six touchdown passes in Green Bay's 45-41 victory over Detroit on Sunday.

Then there is the issue with the offensive coordinator. Brian Schottenheimer has got to go. Rex Ryan once again had to defend Schotty during his post game conference, but the facts are plain. This Jets offense has been dreadful in their play-calling, and Schottenheimer has not done a good job preparing this quarterback, and he has not done a good job in molding an offense that had talented pieces in Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Dustin Keller. It has been a colossal failure. 

As for Rex Ryan, the pressure is now on him. He has got to step up and accept the fact that changes have got to be made to this football team if it is to be successful next year. He has professed consistently that this was a Super Bowl team; now he has egg all over his face. Another season of unfulfilled expectations, then Ryan will be the one on the griddle, not the gridiron..