Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Jets set to talk to Seattle's Quinn, Among Others, for HC

The Jets are not wasting any time compiling the names of people that they want to speak to about their vacant head coach and general manager positions.

Woody Johnson said on Monday that he would prefer to hire a GM first before picking a head coach, but, said there is always the chance that the opposite could happen. Well, it looks like the Jets are at least tempted to get their head coach before they settle on a general manager.

The Jets are scheduled to sit down with Seattle Seahawks' defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on Friday. Reports have stated that Johnson, along with Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf will interview Quinn. This is ironic since it was believed that ex-GM John Idzik was very interested in tapping Quinn to be the Jets next head coach.

In fact, Quinn is the first guy the Jets have reached out and actually scheduled an interview with. He comes with an interesting pedigree.  Quinn is a Morristown, New Jersey native, went to school at Morristown High School, and has previously been a member of the Jets coaching staff back in 2007 and 2008. Since 2009 he's been associated with the Seahawks. The past two years as defensive coordinator, the Seahawks were ranked number one in total defense. In addition, when he was the D.C. at Florida University from 2011-2012, the Gators ranked 8th and 5th in the nation in total defense.

Obviously a signing of Quinn as the HC of the NYJ would be a little bit surprising since the Jets do not have a GM in place, and also because Quinn's agent is ex-Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum. Talk about awkward.

Some might wonder why the Jets would want to go defense again for a head coach, especially after they had a defensive coach in Rex Ryan, but if Quinn interviews well for the job there is no reason why he shouldn't at least be a finalist.

In addition the Jets are sending out interest to other coaching candidates including former Texans head coach, Gary Kubiak, Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich, and Seahawks assistant coach Tom Cable.

Kubiak at least carries some head coaching experience, but his tenure in Houston wasn't exactly anything to write home about. With the exception of two big years in 2011 and 2012, the Texans were mediocre during Kubiak's stay.

Bowles is another defensive coordinator, but like Quinn, may not be a popular choice for the fanbase, since the Jets already had a defensive coordinator as head coach.

Reich is an up and coming coordinator, and former quarterback. In addition to being Jim Kelly's back-up with the Bills in the early 1990s, Reich was a Jets quarterback in 1995 and 1996.

Cable is the most peculiar candidate since he has a personal history of domestic violence allegations against him when he was with the Raiders. While he was never charged, the NFL's current policy on physical abuse is something that should weigh heavily on any decision to interview a candidate like Cable. In fact it should cancel him out as a candidate. The Jets would make a mistake making Cable a serious candidate.

Meanwhile, the Jets are busy contacting potential GM candidates. They have been rumored to have reached out to Seahawks director of pro personnel Trent Kirchner (yes, another Seahawks executive like Idzik), Vikings assistant GM, George Paton and Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta.

The Jets would be smart to go out and hire a GM before they commit to a head coach. The last thing they need to do is make the same mistakes they made when combining Rex Ryan and John Idzik.

Giants Make Right Move, Coughlin Returns for 2015

The New York Giants ended any and all ambiguity regarding the future of their long time head coach, Tom Coughlin, when they informed the Super Bowl winning coach that he would be back for 2015.

It is the right move by Big Blue. While the 2014 season was not a success, and the team suffered it's third straight season out of the playoffs, Coughlin can't shoulder all of the blame for what happened this season. Injuries, poor personnel decisions, and a terrible defense spelled doom for the Giants in 2014. Now it is up to Coughlin and Jerry Reese to fix it once and for all.

While John Mara said that Coughlin and Reese deserve to return for another season, when asked if he thought 2015 was a win or else for many within the organization, Mara said that was a "fair statement."

It is always a gamble to have a coach work with 'lame duck' status, but the Giants are hoping that Coughlin, who will not get an extension, wins big in the final year of his contract and rides off into the sunset. The Giants do not want a repeat of the past two years, otherwise Mara and Steve Tish will have a very tough decision to make next winter.

There is reason to hope however, especially after the Giants offense took off down the stretch with Eli Manning having one of his best passing seasons, and Odell Beckham Jr. providing a spark at wide receiver. A second year under Ben McAdoo's offense might be the spark the Giants need to get back to the playoffs.

The most interesting tidbit from the Giants presser came when Mara said that Coughlin would have say in any and all coaching staff changes. In other words, embattled defensive coordinator Perry Fewell might be safe in 2015. Coughlin is very loyal to his assistants, sometimes to a fault. He's already stressed in the past he would like him back.

There had been a rumor that the Giants would pursue their former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo if Fewell were to be fired. Spagnuolo was very popular amongst the players and fanbase after guiding the Giants defense to a Super Bowl title in 2007. His defense was known for heavy blitzes that decimated the vaunted 18-0 Patriots in that year's Super Bowl.

A reunion with Spagnuolo would be looked upon much better than a return of Fewell. The Giants were ranked 29th in total defense and 30th against the pass this year. Big Blue also gave up 400 points this season. His defense has been called soft by many fans for years, who have been hoping the Giants would drop the ax on him.

While nobody said anything about who was returning or not, this is all just speculation. The fact is if Coughlin wants to get this team back to a competitive level, looking critically at the defense is going to be a big first step.

Monday, December 29, 2014

NY Jets: Rex Ryan Era Finally Comes to an End

An arduous, strange and at times interesting era has finally, at long last, come to an end. Rex Ryan and John Idik have both been fired by the New York Jets.

It is about time.

Woody Johnson needed to clean house after an embarrassing 4-12 season, and is off to the right start by canning two guys who didn't work well together, and two guys who were big parts of a sad sacked era in Jets history.

As for Idzik, nobody has to debate it, he had to go. This was a guy who was really bad at being the GM of this franchise. His inability to spend money wisely on the salary cap, including leaving $20 million unspent was inexcusable. The Jets needed help in the secondary and Idzik never addressed those issues. He sent Darrelle Revis packing, not just once, but twice. He decided not to re-sign Antonio Cromartie, and passed on several qualified free agents, including Cromartie's cousin, Domique-Rodgers.

Not to mention Idzik's drafts were poor (i.e. Geno Smith, Dee Milliner, Jalen Saunders, should I go on), and there was a sense that he was undermining the coach in order to get the guys he really wanted to coach the team. Whether there is any validity to that is unknown. But what can be said is Idzik hurt the Jets chances by not making moves to help this team win. There was not enough talent on this club the past two years and that falls at Idzik's doorstep.

Obviously Johnson made a mistake keeping Ryan and forcing him on Idzik. It was like mixing oil and water. Instead they were locked hip to hip on Black Monday.

In short Idzik was not a football guy. He was a salary cap guru from Seattle, and the Jets hired him because most personnel guys ran for the hills when Johnson told them that Ryan was to be the HC of the NYJ. Idzik played the company line badly. His press conferences were marred with awkward references to how great everyone was in the front office, with a hint that he didn't care what anyone thought. Thanks to the constant calls from Jets fans to fire Idzik, Johnson had no choice but to listen.

As for Rex Ryan he deserved to get fired. I know that there are a lot of Jets fans who want to paint Ryan as a victim, but let's be honest we have been witnesses to the decline of Ryan's era for far too long. It was time to move on.

He came into town on a whirlwind of brash talk and fire. He was upbeat and different compared to the button-downed, tight-lipped ways of Eric Mangini. Ryan's ways were a welcomed change, because the Jets had been virtually ignored for years in the eyes of local and national media.  

There was fun early on with Ryan's bold talk and statements about Super Bowls, Bill Belichick's rings and flipping the bird to Dolphins fans taking headlines. And the team found a way, even with a little luck, to win games and appear in two AFC title games.  His 28-21 victory over the Patriots in the 2010 Divisional Playoffs might have been his biggest and most satisfying win of his tenure. Like Jimmy Johnson once said about his old Cowboys' teams from the 1990s, the Jets under Ryan were talking the talk and walking the walk.

That being said there were plenty of ugly moments during Ryan's tenure. For one he never developed a quarterback for this franchise, failing twice with Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith.  Some have come to Ryan's defense that the quarterbacks undermined him, but here are the cold hard facts: Sanchez was Ryan's boy all the way. Ryan wanted him. Ryan drafted him, and when Sanchez struggled it was Ryan who refused to bench him.

Ryan was so loyal to Mark Sanchez it became a joke. Ever see Ryan's Sanchez tattoo?

Later on in 2013, when John Idzik tried to push for Geno Smith to be the starter, Ryan inserted Sanchez into the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game, as a shot at Idzik and his Geno plans, and Sanchez tore his shoulder.  As for Geno Smith, it was Rex Ryan who refused to bench him when the quarterback couldn't make heads or tails of a defense. Ryan told the media on a consistent basis that it was his call, not Idzik's, to play Geno Smith. If that was true than Ryan has to be blamed for not taking more interest in his development and/or benching him sooner to save his own hide this season.

And speaking of Ryan's ineffective development of quarterbacks and offense, 2012 took the cake. In fact it was Ryan's Waterloo. The season was marred by the Tim Tebow vs. Mark Sanchez disaster that Ryan heavily contributed to by refusing to bench an inept Sanchez, because that was his guy.  Ryan didn't want to go to Tebow or even Greg McElory (not that either was any better) but, by not making a move he exacerbated a bad situation into a comic strip.

The buttfumble game on Thanksgiving was the final straw. Fireman Ed gave up on J-E-T-S chants, and a lot of Jets fans threw in the towel on rooting for the franchise, many still have not come back.

Ryan should have been fired, he wasn't. Mike Tannenbaum was.

It didn't help Ryan's cause that he never established an effective offensive coordinator to help him. The Jets went through three different coordinators during his time. And in each case, whether it be Bryan Schottenheimer, Tony Sparano, or Marty Mornhinweg, he let them run the offense into the ground. While Mornhinweg was Idzik's choice, Ryan had final say on Schottenheimer and Sparano, both of which were failures. It is the job of the head coach to have a say on how all operations of the team are working. Ryan never allowed himself to have a say on the offense. During the Rex Ryan era, the Jets offense was ranked as follows 20th, 11th, 25th, 30th, 25th and 22nd.

In addition, Ryan's propensity to write blank checks for his team with one bold statement after another came back to bite him on many occasions. The biggest blank check came in 2011 after his public trashing of the New York Giants. From the time he arrived, Ryan set his sights on the Giants as a team he wanted to bait and destroy on a weekly basis, even if they weren't on the schedule. He said the Jets were a better team, and MetLife stadium was JetLife Stadium. The Giants shut up Rex for good on Christmas Eve when the defeated Ryan's Jets and knocked them out of the playoffs.  The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. After the season, Ryan admitted he didn't have the pulse of his team.

The last two seasons have been tough to watch. While Idzik certainly should be blamed for not giving Ryan enough talent to work with, his tenure should have never gone this long. Woody Johnson said Ryan had to make the playoffs in 2013 or else. He didn't, but Ryan rallied his troops and the fans before they closed out the season with wins against Cleveland and Miami. The two victories were enough to keep Rex in town for another season.

Now it is over ... finally, thankfully.

Rex Ryan is a good man, he meant well, and his players liked him. Ryan will likely land on his feet elsewhere as a defensive coordinator, and maybe one day as a head coach. That being said, it was time to move on.  The Rex Ryan era, while a strange, interesting trip shredded the rubber on the tires a long time ago.

Bring on the new general manager and head coach of the Jets, and hopefully a better era.

2014 NFL Playoffs Are Now Set

The 2014 postseason is now set. Three division titles, and various playoff seedings were all determined in Week 17 as the regular season came to a climax on Sunday.

To recap: the Steelers won the AFC North with a 27-17 victory over the Bengals, although it might have been costly as Le'Veon Bell left the game with a knee injury. It was ruled a hyperextended knee injury, so he should be alright for the playoffs.

The loss by the Bengals means Cincy will travel to Indianapolis for the Wild Card round. The Steelers will host the Ravens, who captured the sixth seed with a 20-10 win over the Browns. The Ravens got some much needed help from Kansas City, who defeated the Chargers 19-7.

In the NFC, the Packers clinched the North and the number two seed with a win over the Detroit Lions. While Aaron Rodgers was carted off the field at one point in this game, he still came back in the second half to spur the Pack to a 30-20 win.

The Seahawks clinched the West and the number 1 seed with a win over the lowly Rams, while the beat-up Cardinals fell to the 49ers. And lastly the Carolina Panthers won the division nobody wanted, the NFC South, by defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34-3.

That sets up the following: Arizona at Carolina on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 on ESPN, and Detroit at Dallas on Sunday afternoon at 4:40 p.m. on FOX. Green Bay and Seattle get the byes.

Here is the complete playoff schedule...

Sat. Jan 3, Cardinals @ Panthers 4:30 ESPN

Sat. Jan 3, Ravens @ Steelers 8:25 NBC

Sunday, Jan 4, Bengals @ Colts 1:00 CBS

Sunday, Jan 4, Lions @ Cowboys 4:40 FOX

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Giants Mistakes Ruin 2014 Finale, Now Mara Must Decide Coughlin's Future


The Giants season could not have ended any worse. A microcosm of a lost season, the Giants put together another inconsistent performance against their division rivals from Philadelphia. There were moments of brilliance, moments of frustration and moments of ineptitude all afternoon in a 34-26 defeat at MetLife Stadium. That is what happens when a team finishes 6-10 on the season.

The Giants got off to a fast start. They took the opening drive 80-yards on six plays, culminating on a one-yard plunge by Andre Williams, then watched the Eagles chew up their awful defense. Mark Sanchez, of all people, chewed up the Giants woeful secondary on the Eagles first possession, when he connected on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Matthews to tie the game at seven only one minute into the drive.

While Sanchez wasn't great, he turned it over once and was sacked four times, the Giants allowed him to move around the pocket to make plays with receivers who had all day to run.
Is this the last of Tom Coughlin?

Later in the first quarter with the game tied at seven, Sanchez heaved a pass down field into double coverage that was intercepted by Stevie Brown. However the officials called pass interference on Giants safety, number 39, Chykie Brown, negating the pick. It was a horrendous call, there was clearly no pass interference, but it was too late the call was made. The penalty gave the Eagles great field position inside the Giants red zone, and obviously propelled them to a 14-7 lead.

It wasn't like the Giants didn't have chances. They had three extensive drives into Eagles territory, all of which stalled inside the red zone, including one drive that was the result of a Sanchez interception. The Giants settled for three field goals on those drives to take a 16-14 lead, but if New York actually scored a touchdown, even once, it could have been the difference in this game.

The Giants inability to score in the red zone came back to bite them as Philadelphia drove down field for a last second field goal at the half to take the lead back. Then, after a Giants three-and-out in the third quarter Trey Burton broke through the middle to block a Steve Weatherford punt. Burton picked up the loose ball and dashed into the end zone to make it 24-16 Eagles; the Giants chances were slipping away for good.

Even with the loss there were still some bright spots. Odell Beckham Jr. had his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season, with 185-yards and a touchdown on the day. Rueben Randle had another 100-yard receiving day in his own right. Perhaps that signals to ownership that Ben McAdoo's offense made enough strides down the stretch to warrant the O.C.'s return.

Speaking of ownership, the ball is now in the court of John Mara and Steve Tisch. While GM Jerry Reese appears safe, there has been nothing but speculation about Tom Coughlin's job security all season.

Coughlin, who completed his 11th season as head coach, will be 69-years-old next season. Do the Giants want to have an aging coach return after a number of subpar seasons? Is it time for a younger voice? No doubt, Coughlin has earned the right to return in 2015. His success with this franchise that includes two Super Bowl titles, and the fact that this team never gave up this year are a testament to his leadership.

But the question about the length of Coughlin's stay will continue into 2015 and beyond. The Giants must have a contingency plan in place in case they depart from Coughlin now, or even next season. In fact, if Coughlin does return for 2015 there needs to be an understanding that this will be the final year of his tenure. The Giants can not go down this road forever, eventually they and Coughlin will have to move on.

That being said, the 2014 season finale might have been the last shot for a number of Coughlin's coaches, most notably Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell. While his defense dealt with a number of injures, it does not excuse the fact that the unit was horrible. They gave up 400 points this year, one of 10 teams to do so. All ten of those teams missed the postseason this year. The Giants were ranked 28th in total defense, 17th against the pass and 30th against the run. Changes have to be made to defensive side of the ball.

As for McAdoo, he might get a mulligan this year, since it was his first year as an offensive coordinator, and the Giants offense did see improvement as the season wore on, especially quarterback Eli Manning who threw for 4,410 yards, 30 touchdowns and completed over 64 percent of his passes. Expect McAdoo to be back, albeit on a short leash.

My prediction: Coughlin returns in 2015 with an understanding that this will be his last year. Meanwhile, the Giants get a defensive coordinator who could become the heir to the Giants head coaching throne after next season.

Jets Defeat Dolphins, Now Woody Must Decide


For the second straight season finale, the players that comprise the New York Jets roster "played hard" for embattled Head Coach Rex Ryan, and for the second straight season finale they beat the Dolphins soundly.  Now the Jets front office must decide what to do with Ryan, something that is becoming an annual tradition like Christmas, Chanuka and New Year's. Only the jets.

Geno Smith had his best game of the season, if not his career, by picking apart the Dolphins leaky secondary for 358 yards and three touchdowns. He looked good. He connected with Eric Decker on a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass to get the Jets to within three points, 24-21. He even hit Jeff Cumberland on a 23-yard touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone to blow the game wide open at 34-24. Who knew that Smith could actually play well for longer than two minutes?

The ironic image of the day had to be that of Smith and Rex Ryan chest bumping one another after the Jets final touchdown of the day. It was a statement to ownership that the players want Ryan to stay as head coach, in spite of a disastrous 4-12 season. It's ironic considering it has been Smith's poor play, combined with Ryan's stubborn determination not to bench him that may result in Ryan's ultimate departure.

The ball is now in the court of Woody Johnson, again. For the third straight season, Johnson has to decide what he wants to do with his head coach, and if rumors are true the decision will not be popular.

John Idzik is as good as cooked as general manager. His inability to spend money wisely, bolster the secondary, draft properly, and take responsibility for a poorly run team is going to lead to his ouster. However Ryan may not be going anywhere. Although he should be. Word came down earlier today that Ryan could survive Black Monday, and the decision on Ryan's future could be left to the next GM.

We have been down that road before, and the result has been two horrific seasons that have led us to this point. The Jets need to fire Rex Ryan, John Idzik, Terry Bradway, everyone. They all need to go. The Jets have been a total failure -- a 37-24 win in Week 17 does not change that.

As I addressed in an earlier post, Ryan's poor in-game management, his detachment from the quarterback position, the offense, and stubborn behavior has sunk the Jets. Keeping him around for another General Manager is a mistake waiting to happen.

But the ultimate decision now comes down to Johnson. He has two good football guys in Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf advising him. Johnson has settled for the status quo at the end of 2012 and 2013, and nothing has gotten better for Gang Green. The status quo has got to change if this franchise is going to move forward and be successful.

Nice win for Rex to finish the season, but the time has come to buttfumble Ryan out of town.

Jets Rumors: Idzik will be fired, Rex Ryan may not be

If the rumors are true, then Woody Johnson could be in the process of making the same mistake he made two years ago.

ESPN is reporting that embattled General Manager John Idzik will be fired on Monday, but Head Coach Rex Ryan might survive Black Monday, with his fate TBA until the next general manager is appointed.

Chris Mortensen who reported the news said that Johnson "remains fond of Ryan and would prefer that Idzik's replacement make the call on the coach."

If this is true it's a hideous error of judgment on Johnson's part. Here is an owner who has enlisted the help of quality football people like Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf as consultants on the subject of the Jets GM and HC situations, and if the best advice that Johnson can garner from it all is to keep Rex until the next GM arrives is a joke.

The last time the Jets made this decision, Johnson decided to fire Mike Tannenbaum and keep Ryan after the Sanchez-Tebow fiasco. Johnson said at the time that he wanted Ryan's fate determined by the next GM and proceeded to tell candidates that Rex was staying. Result, more qualified candidates ran for the hills wanting no part of a bad head coach. The only guy who accepted the job: John Idzik. Why? Because he was a salary cap guru who was willing to let Johnson and Ryan dictate the terms in the early going.

There had been a belief over the last two seasons that Idzik had been trying to sabotage Ryan so he could eventually bring in his own guy, but both find themselves on the hot seat now. While Idzik should be blamed for horrible personnel decisions, Ryan echoed that this was his "most talented team" and kept trotting Geno Smith out there under center. He deserves blame too.

No matter how one slices it, Ryan has got to go, he has earned the right to be fired. The team has failed to make the playoffs in each of the last four years. Ryan has failed to develop a competent quarterback, failing twice with Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith. While he was an astute defensive coordinator, he separated himself the offense totally, as the Jets had one of the worst units in the league during his tenure. Not to mention the Rex Ryan era was stained by one embarrassing PR moment after another.

No competent general manager wants to enter into a situation where the head coach is still in place. Most GMs want to hire their own guy. But with the Jets conventional wisdom does not exist -- it's just the opposite.

Fire Idzik? Good. Keep Rex? Ridiculous. Fire Rex Ryan, fire John Idzik, fire personnel director Terry Bradway and clean house. That should be the focus of owner Woody Johnson. If it isn't Johnson is asking to lose more of his ever shrinking fan base.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rex Ryan Cleans Out Office, Expect Jets to Fire Him

Rex Ryan knows the end is near. When word came down that Woody Johnson was prepared to bring in former Redskins GM Charley Casserly to fix the mess that both Ryan and John Idzik have left, Ryan seemed to get the message: pack your stuff.

That is exactly what Ryan did. NJ.com reported that Ryan packed up all of his things in his old office in preparation of being fired shortly after the Jets-Dolphins game on Sunday. The report also said that Casserly has made contact with a number of candidates to replace both Ryan and Idzik.

So comes the end an era of both bravado and buffoonery. From empty Super Bowl guarantees, to Sanchez tatoos, footgate,  stubbornly relying on bad quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith, the Ryan era is coming to an end. Yes, there were some good moments, like the two surprising runs to the AFC title game, but there was plenty of bad things that went on during the Ryan era. He had two good years at the start, four bad years at the end. He has to be fired.

Somehow he developed a cult following that feels Ryan is getting unjustly fired. Those morons need to be corrected. Ryan has had more lives than a cat. He survived the axe in 2012 after that season completely fell apart thanks to the Sanchez-Tim Tebow disaster. He even survived a playoff-less season in 2013, after Woody Johnson said he had to the make the playoffs or else. Ryan's firing is long overdue, and the Jets need a coach who isn't going to make the franchise a punchline on a nightly and weekly basis.

Let the changes begin for a franchise that, believe it or not, once had some pride a few years ago.

Devils' Lou Lamoriello Names 3 Head Coaches to Replace DeBoer

What in the world? Just when you thought you have seen everything something like this happens. Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello has named not one, not two, but three men to replace Peter DeBoer as head coach of the franchise.

According to multiple reports, Lamoriello has decided to name former Washington Capitales coach Adam Oates and Devils legend, Scott Stevens as co-head-coaches. And in case you are wondering, Lamoriello will oversee this from the bench as a third head coach. Like I said, now I have seen everything.

Lamoriello believes in order to replace an embattled head coach, he's better off putting nobody in charge rather than fixing the problem with one voice. He expects Oates and Stevens to split duties, with Oates handling the forwards and Stevens the defense. I never heard of anything so ridiculous. If there is an old saying in sports if you don't have one solid player at a position you don't have any, the same applies to the head coach.

How does Lamoriello expect this to work? Both Stevens and Oates have their own egos, their own philosophies, and both will try to instill that into the team. This makes for quiet a controversy with both men trying to upstage the other.

 If Lamoriello thinks that having duel head coaches would make the Devils look like the NFL's '85 Chicago Bears, he has another think coming. Sure, historians have reevaluated that team as a group with two head coaches, Mike Ditka on the offense and Buddy Ryan on defense -- but there was no question where the buck stopped: Ditka. Oh, just for reference both Ryan and Ditka hated each other.

There is no such thing as co-managers, co-head coaches, whatever in sports. It doesn't work. Teams look to one leader and one leader only to lead the franchise. Having multiple voice not only leads to dissension and division among the ranks, it leads to total confusion as well.  I am stunned that both men agreed to this to begin with.

Lamoriello is making a big time mistake, he should choose one now and see what happens. If he fells Oates is most qualified now because of his coaching experience, then he should be the head coach, and the head coach alone. Otherwise its a circus.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Yankees' Kuroda heading back to Japan

The Yankees will need to get back into the hunt for a starting pitcher after news broke Friday afternoon that Hiroki Kuroda will return to his native Japan to pitch in 2015.

According to a blog post on Yankees Media 101, Kuroda has agreed to a one-year deal to pitch for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp for $3.3 million. The Yankees didn't have a strong interest in bringing him back, having declined to make him a qualifying offer back in November. However the Yankees lose a guy who gave them innings the past few years, something they have had a hard time finding.

The current Yankees rotation is as follows:
CC Sabathia
Mashiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
Nathan Eovaldi
Ivan Nova

Not exactly a stellar group, the Yankees already lost out on Brandon McCarthy, who signed with the Dodgers. The team did acquire Eovaldi in a deal with the Marlins. At 25-years old he has a lot of upside, even though he is under .500 in his career as a starter. The Yankees are hoping that both Pineda and Nova can shake off the injury bug that has plagued them in recent years.

The Yankees were in the market for Max Scherzer, but his contract demands have been too steep for the Yankees, or anybody for that matter. He remains a free agent, but the Yankees will likely look elsewhere for middle-of-the-rotation pitching.

Devils Fire DeBoer as Head Coach

Playing mediocre hockey is not good enough anymore for Peter DeBoer and the New Jersey Devils. New Jersey fired DeBoer on Friday after 3 1/2 seasons with the franchise.

Unable to score consistently, advance the puck, play with fire, and take advantage of power plays -- it has been a sluggish first half for the Devils who stand at 12-17-7 (or if you count the OT loses as such, 12-24) on the season. A change was going to be made by the Devs, and holding the league's third worst record is too much for Lou Lamoriello to stomach.

While DeBoer took the Devils to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance three years ago as a number six seed in the East, it has been downhill since. The Devils are 66-65-35 since the 2012-13 season, having failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons. There is a very good chance this will be a third straight season out of the mix.

It is anyone's guess who the next head coach will be for the team, at least on an interim basis. Dave Barr, Tommy Albelin, Mike Folingo, and Chris Terreri comprise DeBoer's staff. One of them could likely see a promotion to the top spot, then again under Lamoriello, the Devils head coaching gig has been one of musical chairs. 13 different men have had the distinction of HC of the NJD since Lamoriello has been in the front office. Since Larry Robinson won the Devils second Stanley Cup back in 2000, the Devils have made 12 different coaching changes, sometimes bringing guys back like Jacques Lemaire, who coached the Devils at three different points (1993 - 1998, July of 2009- April 2010, and Dec. 2010 - April 2011), for another tour of duty.

Will Lamoriello go back into the long line of ex-Devils head coaches to find the next head coach? Will he coach the team himself? Will he promote an assistant? Or, will he go outside for a new face? We will have to wait and see.

While it is easy to blame the Head Coach, in DeBoer's defense he has been coaching an aging roster. The Devils have 15 players over the age of 30, six of them over the age of 35, including a 42-year old Jaromir Jagar. While Cory Schneider has done a solid job replacing legend Martin Broduer in front of the net, he hasn't been helped by an offense that has scored only 76 goals as a team this year (ranked 26th in the league), and whose leading scorer is Mike Cammalleri with 11 goals.

The next head coach of the Devils must find a way to get this offense moving, but the time has come for the Devils to trim some of the aging fat on this roster. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 NFL Playoff Picture Coming into Focus

Week 16 of the NFL season is in the books and with it the majority of playoff spots that were once up for grabs, now have been locked in place. All that is left to determine in Week 17 is the NFC South champion, NFC North Champion, AFC North Champion and the AFC number 6 seed.

How did all these seeds get locked up? Lets recap:

1) Philadelphia Eagles Buttfumble their chances: About a month ago you couldn't find a person who thought the Eagles were going to roll into the playoffs even with Mark Sanchez at the helm. Heck, some people were going as far as to say Sanchez was going to avenge his critics and become a superstar since he was no longer on the Jets. Guess what? There is a reason why the Jets dumped this guy, he flat out stinks. Sanchez sunk the Eagles chances with three horrendous performances in a row to send the Eagles (9-6) out of the postseason. His two turnovers against the Redskins, including an interception that iced a Skin's comeback spelled doom for Philly.

While Sanchez shoulders plenty of blame, the Eagles defense wasn't any better allowing the Seahawks, Cowboys and Redskins to tear them up for three straight weeks.

2) How Bout them Cowboys! Thanks to Philadelphia's collapse, the Cowboys surged to the top of the standings. The Boys took care of the Colts 42-7. Dallas (11-4) still has a chance at the number 1 seed, but they will need to defeat the Redskins and hope that both Seattle and Green Bay lose on Sunday.

3) NFC likely going through Seattle: The Sehawks destroyed the quarterback-handicapped Cardinals on Sunday, 35-6. Now Seattle is in full control of the NFC West, and likely in control of their own playoff fate. If the Hawks win on Sunday against the lowly Rams, they will have home field through the NFC playoffs for the second straight year. Opposing teams had a nightmare of a time going through Seattle last year, and Seattle is playing the best football of any team in the League right now. The Seahawks are the odds on favorites to go all the way.

4) NFC North comes down to one game: The Packers host the Lions in a crucial NFC North Championship. Both are 11-4, but the Packers have a strong advantage having this season finale at home, and with Aaron Rodgers as their quarterback. The Lions are a good team, but they have been known as a
soft team in big spots. If the Lions want to get rid of the soft label, win this game. Won't happen. At least the Lions get the wild card.

5) NFC South comes down to one sloppy game: Unlike the NFC North where two teams are 11-4, the NFC South comes down to the 6-8-1 Panthers and the 6-9 Falcons. Both have had horrible seasons, and both could see their head coach get fired at years end, but a win on Sunday would get one of these teams into the postseason. The Falcons are home for this game, expect Atlanta to play for embattled coach Mike Smith.

Current NFC picture
1) Seattle (11-4)
2) Detroit (11-4)
3) Dallas (11-4)
4) Carolina (6-8-1)
5) Green Bay (11-4)
6) Arizona (11-4)

Predicted NFC picture
1) Seattle (12-4)
2) Green Bay (12-4)
3) Dallas (12-4)
4) Atlanta (7-9)
5) Arizona (11-5)
6) Detroit (11-5)

Meanwhile the AFC picture crystallized this week thanks in big part to the Bengals-Broncos match-up. After blowing a 20-7 lead, the Bengals came back from 28-27 down to beat the Broncos 37-28. Peyton Manning was awful on Monday night, throwing four picks, and still doesn't look like the same guy who was setting passing records on a weekly basis.

1) AFC North: The win for the Bengals means Cincinnati will make the postseason, avoiding the possibility of being out of the postseason entirely.  While Cincinnati has an outside shot at the number 2 seed (not likely since Denver plays Oakland), the Bengals will play for the AFC North in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The winner likely gets the number three seed in the AFC, with the loser ending up as the number 5 seed. Both the Steelers and Bengals have been widely inconsistent this year, but the Steelers experience should carry them to the top of the North. Then again, the Bengals have been discounted all year, so watch out.

2) New England had a relaxing Week16: For New England, they clinched the AFC East a long time ago, but thanks to the Bengals victory they clinched home field throughout the AFC playoffs. That is huge since New England had to travel to Denver last year for the AFC Championship, this time around the Broncos would have to go to Foxboro.

3) Should we be worried about Denver? Yes. The Broncos have not played well of late. The lost to the Bengals on Monday, and barely got past the Buffalo Bills and San Diego Chargers in weeks prior. Manning has been dealing with both the flu and a thigh injury. If Manning doesn't play well down the stretch the Broncos Super Bowl chances are going down the drain. 

4) Should we be worried about the Colts? Like Denver, yes. The Colts too have been madly inconsistent. Andrew Luck was horrible against Dallas, in fact he didn't even finish the game. Luck has turned the ball over six times in the last four games, and the Colts have had issues getting off to fast starts in these games. The Jaguars, Redskins and Browns all had leads on Indy in their respective games. Only Cleveland had the best chance to beat them of that trio. The Colts might be the one home team that gets whacked in the first round.

5) The sixth seed comes down to San Diego and Baltimore. The Ravens have not played well lately, especially defensively. They blew a big lead to the Chargers and got smoked by the Texans in recent weeks. In fact the Chargers own the tie-breaker against the Ravens.

While San Diego hasn't played well at home lately, they have been road warriors. They beat the Ravens a few weeks back, and, recently erased a 21-point deficit to San Francisco, winning 38-35 in overtime. If the Chargers get in, they will be the one team nobody will want to play in the playoffs.

Current AFC picture
1) New England (12-3)
2) Denver (11-4)
3) Cincinnati (10-4-1)
4) Indianapolis (10-5)
5) Pittsburgh (10-5)
6) San Diego (9-6)

Predicted AFC picture
1) New England (13-3)
2) Denver (12-4)
3) Pittsburgh (11-5)
4) Indianapolis (11-5)
5) Cincinnati (10-5-1)
6) San Diego (10-6)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jets look to ex-Skins GM Charlie Casserly to fix franchise

Inspite of reports last week that the current Jets GM John Idzik was working with Woody Johnson in the Jets pending coaching search it is now coming to light that Idzik is indeed on his way out, and former Redskins and Texans GM, Charley Casserly is on his way in, as a consultant.

While everyone expect Ryan to be on his way out, the status of Idzik and people inside the Jets personnel department, like Terry Bradway, have come into great question. The Jets need to clean house and Casserly is likely coming aboard, not to take over the Jets front office, but to advice Johnson on who to hire to be the new Jets GM and Head Coach.

Casserly has excellent credentials, having spent 23 years in the Redskins front office, and put together some great Super Bowl teams, including one that won it all in 1991. Casserly also served as the first ever Houston Texans GM, and got that franchise started on the right foot.

For the Jets and Woody Johnson to go out and hire a guy who actually has an NFL track record is not only surprising, it is the absolute right move. The Jets need football people running the football side of the business. For far too long the Jets have been run by businessmen with little NFL football knowledge.

How long Casserly will stay on with the Jets, or what his capacity will be beyond consultant is not known right now, but he is a welcome sight to a dying franchise.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Giants keep fighting and winning for Coughlin


In a game that saw plenty of fistacuffs and penalties the Giants earned a hard fought victory against the typically hapless St. Louis Rams for their third straight victory. To say that the Giants don't care about Tom Coughlin, think again. The Giants want to win for this head coach and they are sending a direct message to ownership to keep the Super Bowl winning coach on the sidelines for a 12th season.

The Giants dominated the Rams with one of the best offensive showcases all season. New York rolled up 514 yards on St. Louis, blowing the game wide open by the second quarter. Eli Manning torched the Rams; the 391 yards passing was the most Manning had thrown in a game all season. Manning's monster day started in earnest when he connected with Odell Beckham Jr. on a 9-yard touchdown to give the Giants a commanding 10-0 lead in the first quarter.

New York had three skills players in triple digits, with Beckham leading the way with another 100 + yard effort, as the Rookie of the Year candidate had 148 yards on eight catches, including an 80- yard touchdown catch that iced the game at 34-20 in the third quarter. His 11 touchdowns has set a new franchise rookie record, and he also eclipsed 1,000 yards for the season.

Rueben Randall, who has taken his share of heat this year for his inconsistent play, was excellent on Sunday with 132 yards receiving on six catches. His 7-yard touchdown catch to open the second half was huge, it extended the Giants lead back to double-digits, 27-13, after the Rams had cut the lead to seven just before the half.

Even Andre Williams made his presence be known with a 110 yard rushing day for Big Blue.

The highlight of the day had to be brouhaha that erupted on the Giants sideline when Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree shoved Beckham out of bounds with two minutes and change to go in the second quarter. Ogletree was clearly frustrated and decided to take matters into his own hands by hitting Beckham late, while the receiver was trying to get out of bounds.

When Beckham tried to retaliate Ogltree shoved Beckham, prompting Giants receiver Preston Parker to push Ogletree. Soon a brawl was breaking out on the Giants sideline. Oddly enough only three players were ejected and none of them were Ogletree. Rather Parker and Damonte Moore of the Giants, and William Hayes, of St. Louis, were ejected.

The fight was the biggest example of a rather chippy night for both teams. Combined the Giants and Rams were penalized 21 times, which is the most combined penalties in one NFL game this season.

Expect the instigator in all of this, Ogltree, to receive a hefty fine from the league office.

That aside it was a solid victory for the Giants. The winning streak is New York's second three game winning streak this season; they had a three game winning streak from Week 3-5 that put the club at 3-2. The Giants then lost seven straight. The Giants finish up the season at home against the Eagles on Sunday with Big Blue likely playing for Tom Coughlin's job. 

Ultraconservative Jets, again, lose heartbreaker to Patriots


This one was a microcosm of the Rex Ryan era in New York. The Jets got off to a hot start, had a great gameplan against their arch rivals, but still found a way to lose once the game was over.  The final score read Patriots 17, Jets 16, but if the Jets had actually taken full advantage of the opportunities before them, they could have won this game convincingly.  So is the life of the Jets.

The Jets baffled Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. They sacked Brady four times, hit him a dozen times, and confused him throughout the day. On one of those rare occasions, Brady actually looked rattled. He didn't know where the Jets were coming from as they dazed him with different blitzes from all over the field. Yet, it wasn't enough.

Why? Because the Jets anemic offense couldn't put the Patriots away when there was a chance to do so. The Jets held a 10-7 halftime lead, because they were aggressive offensively to go along with their intense defensive scheme. Geno Smith was actually accurate with the football, completing 8-of-11 for 103 yards and a touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland. Where that Geno Smith went to in the second half is anyone's guess.

If there is one person to blame for this loss, it is offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. His play calling in the second half was not only conservative, it was atrocious. At the start of the third quarter, the Jets could smell blood in the water. The Patriots had just went three and out on their first drive, and the Jets could have punched it in for six points to take a commanding 10-point advantage. Instead Mornhinweg tried to reel Geno Smith in after he completed a 25-yard pass to Jeremy Kerely, and put the Jets offense in a position where they could only fail.

On first and 10 at the Patriots 11, the Jets tried a short pass. Incomplete. On 2nd down they tried to run it up the middle. Nowhere. On third down they decided to dump it off in the flat. Gain of six, fourth down. Result: the Jets settled for three points to take a 13-7 lead, and you could feel the air come out of the Jets sails at this point. The game was over, the Jets were going to lose. Instead of going for the win, the Jets played not to lose.

Soon the Jets mistakes came back to bite them. Early in the fourth quarter, the real Geno Smith showed up and threw a terrible interception off his back foot, giving the Patriots great field position at the Jets 38. New England quickly turned it into six points when Jonas Gray scored from one-yard out to put the Pats up 17-13.

Later, on an extensive 12 play 59-yard drive the Jets made there way to the Patriots 12-yard line only to watch the mistakes and conservative play calling killed them again. For whatever reason Smith ran up the middle for only two yards on first down, then took a horrible 9-yard sack to put the Jets in an unmanageable third down. The Jets once again had to settle for three points to cut the Pats lead to a single digit, 17-16.

Even when the Jets defense gave New York life after Marcus Williams picked off Brady at the Patriots 30, the Jets offense still found a way to screw it up. Too bad Williams didn't try harder to stay up and score a touchdown on that pick, it would have been the Jets only shot.

The Jets rammed the football up the middle for no gain twice on first and second down; two play calls that made absolutely no sense, since there was still six minutes in the entire game. What was Mornhinweg thinking? He should have been more aggressive. Playing the clock at this point made no sense. In a way it was fitting this joke of a drive culminated in Smith getting sacked for a ten yard loss, and Nick Folk's field goal was blocked. The Jets didn't deserve to win this game, when all they cared about was not trying to lose.

The loss is especially detrimental to Rex Ryan, who probably felt a strong finish would give him a shot at keeping his job in the eyes of flip-flopping owner Woody Johnson. Instead this almost certainly means Rex will be canned. Hopefully he takes Mornhinweg, Geno and Idzik with him in a couple weeks.

Merry X-Mas Jets fans. 

No matter who the head coach and general manager will be in 2015, the Jets schedule has come into focus. In addition to facing their division, the Jets will face the AFC South (Tennessee, Jacksonville, at Indianapolis and at Houston) and NFC East (Philadelphia, Washington, @ NY Giants and @ Dallas) next season. Since New York finished in last place they will also welcome the Cleveland Browns into the Meadowlands, and will travel to Oakland to play the Raiders. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Tulowitzki to Mets? Time has come for Mets to stop talking, start acting

The New York Mets are in pursuit of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, at least sort of.

CBS Sports is reporting that the Mets have been in discussions with the Rockies for the All Star shortstop for weeks, but nothing is really eminent in getting done. Both the Rockies and Mets have been throwing names around, and it is believed that Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard would be the blue chip in the deal.

However, finances, concerns over Tulo's injury history and stubborn ownership could be in the way.

"it still feels like they are almost in the early stages with several hurdles to go, including ultimately whether the Rockies-owning Monfort brothers would sign off on such a deal for their beloved superstar shortstop.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has consistently said he is listening -- though it is known that Dick Monfort rebuffed an attempt or two on the part of other teams to start trade talks involving Tulowitzki, (Heyman, Jon. CBSsports). 
One of the hurdles might be Tulowitzki himself. He has a no-trade clause in his contract and nobody knows if he would even want to come to the Mets even though they play in New York. The Mets aren't exactly playoff contenders. Heyman went as far as to say that Tulowitzki would approve deals to the Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Angels because they are consistent contenders. 
Heyman also added that the finances could be the biggest hurdle in these negotiation, in spite of what players would be involved. 
Here is where the stubbornness of the Wilpon's come into play.  Tulkowitzki is owed $118 million over the next six seasons. The Wilpon's have made it be known that they refuse to pay that much money for any player anymore after watching investments like Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez and Carlos Delgado age poorly over the length of the deal. Not to mention the Mets have been pinching pennies ever since the Bernie Madoff scandal in 2009, and the team has never fully recovered. The Mets payroll was around $89 million last year. Their payroll this year is expected to approach $100 million, but the Wilpon's have refused to go over that threshold. Bringing in Tulowitzki means the Mets are on the hook for a big portion of that contract. 
Another major factor would be Tulowitzki's injury history. Tulowitzki has played in more than 100 games only once in the last three seasons, and missed most of last season with a hip injury. Sandy Alderson may not want to part with his prospects because of such a history. 
That being said it's worth the gamble. 
The Mets need a face that would give them instant credibility, who could change the complexion of this typically sad-sacked franchise. In 1998 it worked when then General Manager Steve Phillips made a trade with the Florida Marlins to acquire Mike Piazza. Piazza changed the nature of that team. The Mets went from losers to contenders almost instantly, falling short of the wild card berth that year. Two years later they were in the World Series against their cross town rivals. 
Granted this version of the Mets has a ways to go before they are even playoff contenders, but bringing in Tulowitzki would be the kind of jolt that could make that happen a lot quicker. David Wright has no protection in that lineup right now, unless one thinks Michael Cuddayer and Curtis Granderson will turn back the clock. Tulowitzki will give Wright the line-up protection he hasn't enjoyed since Carlos Beltran and Delgado were in town.
Here is what the Mets lineup would look like with Tulowitzki:
Jaun Lagares - CF, Daniel Murphy - 2B, David Wright - 3B, Troy Tulowitzki - SS, Michael Cuddayer - RF, Curtis Granderson - LF, Lucas Duda - 1B, Travis D'Arnaud - C. 
Not bat all, even with the inconsistent Duda, and offensively challenged Lagares and D'Arnaud in that lineup. His presence lengthen's the lineup, providing the Mets with more pop, RBIs and average. It makes sense. Not to mention Tulowitzki owns a .438/.534/.833/1.368 slash line at Citi Field in his career, so there shouldn't be as much concern that he is a product of Coors Field.
And what about the finances of the contract? Tulowitczki is owed $20 million a year from 2015-2019, but the contract gets friendlier in 2020 ($14 million) and 2021 ($15 million). 
The Mets Payroll breaks down as follows: (via Baseball reference.com) 
Name 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Signed Players With Guaranteed Contracts (does not include players with options) *6 4 2 1 1 1
Dollars Committed Value of Guaranteed Contracts (no options are exercised and includes buyouts) *$64M $57.5M $35.5M $20M $15M $12M
Contract Options Players with any type of option 1 1
Option Values Maximum value of options if all are exercised $10M $11M

Arb Costs Rough estimated value of all arbitration cases (uses 3-year averages for 1st yr, 2nd,..) †$26.2M $22.64M $32.9M $50.8M $44.9M $36.4M
Other Players Additional Players Needed to Fill 25-man (no options exercised) 13 10 9 4 10 15
Other Costs Estimate of Remaining Players Costs (based on 1-year avg of all pre-arb players) $8.58M $6.6M $5.94M $2.64M $6.6M $9.9M
Payroll (no options) Est. Total Payroll w/o Options (Guaranteed + Arb + Other) $98.7M $86.7M $74.4M $73.4M $66.5M $58.3M
Payroll (options) Est. Total Payroll w/ Options (Guaranteed + Options + Arb + Other) $98.7M $86.7M $83.7M $83.8M $66.5M $58.3M

So the Mets have $98.7 committed for this year, but as the years move on the more they could afford Tulowitczki especially in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Of course this doesn't factor in other free agents the Mets would look to bring in, including signing Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom to the long term contract extensions. How the Mets work out the payroll would depend on how Sandy Alderson, or whomever the GM is in the future, can number crunch. 

The Mets have been taking on water for far too long. They need to make a move that will change this franchise. Alderson and Wilpon have been playing it close to the vest for long enough, and the fanbase is fed up. Just the other day, Alderson said they are likely done shopping after the signings of Cuddayer and John Mayberry Jr. That is unacceptable. This is New York City, the fans expect more than this. 

If the Wilpon's and Alderson expect this franchise to finally hit that 90 win mark, or even 85 wins for that matter, they need to open up the wallets and be willing to take on some risks. Without risks there are no rewards. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is John Idzik safe as Jets GM? Joins Woody in Coaching Search

Woody Johnson is on the precipice of making the biggest mistake of his tenure as New York Jets owner, and that's saying a lot. 

Last week I wrote an article questioning why we hadn't heard any rumblings about John Idzik's job security with the Jets. Rumors have been running rampant on coach Rex Ryan, but Idzik seemed to be avoiding it, even though fans have been calling for his ouster. In that piece I questioned whether Woody Johnson would even be willing to pull the plug on Idzik and clean house.

Well, it appears that Idzik might be safe. According CBS Sports, Idzik is working with Woody Johnson on finding the next Jets head coach, something he would be doing if he were safe.

"La Canfora reports that, at this time, the organization isn’t using a headhunter or a search firm to find Ryan’s potential replacement. Only Idzik, Johnson and team president Neil Glat are discussing a new head coach."

So the same General Manager who failed to spend $20 million of salary cap money on key positions for this team, and has become Public Enemy # 1 in the eyes of the entire fan-base, might not be going anywhere.

This is not good news and once again Woody Johnson appears to be thumbing his nose at paying customers. This is a big moment for Johnson, he needs to win back the loyalty of the fans, and legitimize the amount of money many hard working people forked over in Personal Seat Licenses (PSL's) over the past few years. Keeping Idzik does a lot of damage to that plan.

Idzik has done nothing but bring negativity to the franchise. Starting with the reports that Idzik has "alienated" himself in the front office, he has failed as the lead face of this franchise. From draft pick blunders to the aforementioned finances not spent, nobody really trusts Idzik moving forward. It is reasonable to ask 'can anyone trust Idzik with the new head coach, especially if he can't be trusted in putting together a roster?'

Chances are if Idzik does stay he will look to the Seattle Seahawks and their defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, or their offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as the next HC of the NYJ,  because Idzik hails from the Seahawks franchise where he was VP of football administration. He knows both gentleman quite well.

Either coach would bring some good credentials to the job. Bevell coached one of the more complete units in the NFL and managed to hone the skills of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.  Quinn, whose agent in former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum (talk about irony), is a NJ native and has coached one of the top defensive units the past two years.

That being said, neither coaching candidate will receive the respect nor trust of the Jets fan-base because he is Idzik's pick. Fair or not, no head coaching candidate would want to walk into a situation like the Jets where the GM has his head on a silver platter. A 4-12 or 5-11 season in 2015 would almost certainly doom both Idzik and his hand-picked head coach.

Only CBS has reported this rumor, and if true would be a devastating mistake made by Johnson moving forward. The best thing Woody can do is fire Idzik along with Rex Ryan in two weeks. We shall see what happens very soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NY Post: Tom Coughlin 99.9% chance of Return

If the New York Post has it's way, Tom Coughlin will be back as head coach of the New York Giants. Steve Serby of the NYP, said that sources have told the paper that there is a 99.9 % chance that Coughlin will return to the sidelines come next season, inspite of the team's 5-9 record this year.

For many the issue regarding Coughlin isn't so much that he's lost the team, the issue has been his age; Coughlin will be 69 next year. To some, his advanced age might be keeping the coach from making proper decisions as the game advances around him. However, Coughlin has said repeatedly that he feels great and wants to coach.

Looking back at this season it was never Coughlin's fault. Sure the team has missed the playoffs four times in five years, and is about to endure its second consecutive sub .500 season, but there are many reasons, beyond the head coach, for the teams ills.

For one, and Serby pointed this out too, the Giants have never been healthy this year. Victor Cruz, Jon Beason, Geoff Schwartz, Rashard Jennings, Walter Thurmond, and Prince Amukamara have all missed time this year due to injury. Even Rookie of the Year candidate Odell Beckham Jr. missed the first part of the year due to a hamstring injury. The Giants had only one game in which both Beckham and Cruz played together.

The team forced fed an overrated offensive coordinator down Eli Manning's throat. While Manning's numbers have been good, this offense has been stagnate because of the play-calling of Ben McAdoo. McAdoo probably will return next year, but he deserves a short leash.

Not to mention Perry Fewell has been in over his head with this Giants defense. New York's defense is ranked 26th in the NFL this year, and 30th against the run. They have been awful and Fewell has failed to get this unit to play well over the few years he's been the defensive coordinator. A change would be a good idea.

Of course all of these issues land back at the head coach who watches over this mess. If the Giants decide to move from Coughlin, you can't blame them.

That being said, I think everyone would like to see him go out on better terms than this. I think Coughlin's future will weigh heavily in the next two weeks. If the Giants defeat the Rams and Eagles and finish 7-9, Coughlin's return would make sense, since the team finished strong for the second consecutive season. Then again, if Big Blue splits or losses their next two games to finish 6-10 or 5-11, it would be hard to imagine life with Coughlin in 2015.

This is not an easy decision for John Mara and Steven Tisch to make, in fact it will be the first head coaching search they ever conduct, since John's father Wellington was the man who hired Coughlin in the first place.

Monday, December 15, 2014

NJ Jackals 2015 Schedule Released

The New Jersey Jackals baseball franchise released its schedule for the 2015 season. The 2014 Can-Am League runner up will welcome two new franchises to the league in the form of new cross town rival, Sussex County Miners, and the Ottawa Champions.

The Can-Am League is also adding a seventh team, a road team that will square off with all league opponents throughout the year. The League will keep the interleague play with the American Association in tact for next season.

All together the Jackals will play 98 games in 2015 starting May 25 at Sussex County. The Miners will be taking over Skylands Stadium, once the proud home of the New Jersey Cardinals and Sussex Skyhawks. The Jackals will play 19 games with the Miners this season.

The Jackals will then travel to Trois Rivieres to face their old friends, the Eagles before opening up the 2015 home schedule against their arch rivals, the Rockland Boulders.

Ironically with the addition of two new teams, the Jackals will see less of the Eagles, and the Quebec Capitales. The Jackals-Capitales rivalry is one of the oldest in independent baseball. New Jersey will face Quebec only nine times this year with trips to Quebec on June 15-17, and August 14 - 16. The Jackals host the Caps from August 21-23.

The Jackals finish their season in the Midwest at Gary South Shore, Indiana; Fargo-Moorehead, North Dakota, and St. Paul, Minnesota. The Jackals and Saints have developed a long standing inter-league rivalry, having met 14 times, with New Jersey winning eight of those match-ups.

See full schedule here.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Jets Won't "Suck for Duck," Beat Titans

JETS 16 

Amidst a call from mostly media and some fans for the Jets to intentionally choke the rest of the way in order to draft Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, the Jets said "No" to sucking for the duck, and beat the Titans for their third win of the year.

In what had to be the ugliest, most boring and down right putrid football game ever played, the Jets managed to beat the Titans, because Tennessee was just worse than the Jets. Believe it or not this felt like a really, really dull baseball game as Tennessee held a 5-3 halftime lead thanks to a field goal and a safety.

Even the most boring affairs still find a way to provide some fireworks, especially in the form of a brawl. With the Titans up 8-3, Geno Smith actually hit a perfect pass to Eric Decker down the sideline for what would have been an 81-yard touchdown pass, Smith started taunting Tennessee defensive end Jurrell Casey. Casey wouldn't have any of it, and punched Smith in the jaw, sending both benches into a frenzy, as most of the Jets sideline ran to the defense of the quarterback. Ironically, the touchdown didn't even count because Decker stepped out of the bounds.

Nobody was ejected from the melee, but it was probably the lone highlight in a game between two terrible teams.

In the end, those hoping the Jets would lose for Mariota were greatly disappointed. Former Titan Chris Johnson gashed his old mates on a 37-yard run to the Tennessee four yard line to set the Jets up for the winning score, which Chris Ivory provided on a 1-yard run.

Even with a 16-11 lead, the Jets almost screwed it up when the Titans almost pulled out a 2014 version of the Music City Miracle, as Charlie Whithurst lateraled to Delanie Walker for 33 yards to the Jets nine yard line as time expired. The Jets held on -- barely. It was the first ever 16-11 decision in NFL history. Congrats NYJ.

Give some kudos to the Jets they didn't listen to the ridiculous calls to intentionally lose in order to get Mariota. The Jets problems run deeper than the quarterback position. For one this team has to address their coaching and front office issues before they address any player personnel problems. Not to mention, there was no guarantee the Jets would even get the guy, since Tampa Bay, who also has a quarterback problem would still draft in front of the Jets.

No one knows what kind of player Mariota will become. Many have raised issue with the fact that he is not a pure pocket passer as being his biggest weakness. But one thing is for sure, this is a franchise that has struck out twice on rookie quarterbacks in recent years, it is time for the Jets to build a foundation first before going for that "franchise" QB.

Undiscipline Redskins Help Propel Giants to Victory


It was supposed to be 17-7 Redskins at halftime. Washington had dominated the Giants through the first half of Sunday afternoon's contest, and Robert Griffin III, who started the day on the bench had just scored on an option play, but the officials had other ideas.

Griffin appeared to initially fumble the ball as he was diving into the end zone, then recovered the fumble in mid-air as he flew over the goal-line, but the officials decided that Griffin had fumbled it and turned it over to the Giants. Instead of 17-7, Skins, it was 10-7. The Redskins sideline erupted, and Santana Moss got ejected for yelling at the officials right before the half.

The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty certainly helped the Giants. The opening third quarter kick-off was spotted at midfield, and New York opted to go with the surprise onside kick, and recovered it. Yet, the ineptitude of the Giants offense couldn't even take full advantage of Washington's misfortune. The Giants went three and out on the drive and settled for the field goal to tie the game at 10.

Yet the precedent was sent. The Giants had the momentum and Washington didn't.  While it was a game that wasn't going to blow anyone out of the water, and to fair it was painful game to watch, the Giants turned to their budding superstar, Odell Beckham Jr. to finish the Skins off.

The rookie receiver who now owns 972 yards in receiving this season was at it again. For the fifth time this year he had over 100 yards receiving in a game; it was also the seventh time he had more than 90 yards in a game this year. He even set a new personal best with three touchdown catches on the day.

Beckham broke the game open when he hauled in an Eli Manning pass at the 30 and dashed into the end zone, untouched for the go-ahead touchdown to make it 17-13, Big Blue. Later with the Skins on their heels, Manning found Beckham again in the corner of the end zone for another touchdown to push the lead to 24-13. Turn the lights out.

The Redskins who are immersed in way too much personal drama were not going to comeback on the Giants this day. For New York they completed a season sweep of the Redskins this year, and won their second in a row. While it wasn't pretty the Giants are playing for coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin has stated he wants to coach the Giants in 2015, and for any of that to happen, winning out would do just that.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Woody Johnson shouldn't wait to clean Jets house any longer

There are three weeks left in the 2014 NFL season, and the Jets stand at 2-11 joining the likes of the Raiders, Jaguars, Titans, and Buccaneers with equally horrific records. Call it the wasteland of the NFL -- that is where the Jets are, and have been now for way too long.

Breaking down the Rex Ryan/Mike Tannenbaum, and Rex Ryan/John Idzik eras would require book length proportions that might challenge the volumes of the Hobbit, with long chapters dedicated to Buttfumbles, Tebow Time, McElroy Time, bad drafts, Footgate, Geno Smith (as if he needs an entire chapter), and, yes, even a chapter about Twitter rants by Eric Decker's wife. But, at the end of the day there is really one man to blame for everything that has swirled around this ball club the past few years: Woody Johnson.

No this is not another ridiculous sob piece from some Jets fan rubbing two sticks together, hoping that Johnson sells the franchise to the highest bidder because that is fruitless. Let's be realistic: the Jets are Woody Johnson's team to own, there is a reason why he spent $635 million to buy the team back in 2000. He wanted to be apart of this great cash cow called the National Football League, like just about every owner in the NFL; lord knows, he might even fancy dreams of truly winning ... one would think.

Yet it is now, on the approaching anniversary of his 15th year as owner of the NYJ that Woody Johnson is at a crossroads. Does he fire he favorite coach Rex Ryan? Does he keep John Idzik? Does he fire John Idzik, and if so who does he replace him with? Does he keep the front office intact? Who stays and who goes? These all seem like questions with one word answers, but they are not -- it's not that easy, because if Woody Johnson looks himself in the mirror, or better yet decides to talk to his local psychologist (Dr. Melfi calling ... sorry old school Sopranos' reference), and decides that it is time to clean house then he better get moving on it.

While everyone might be thinking about Christmas Day, the NFL's Black Monday is coming up just as swiftly. NFL teams act very quickly on Black Monday -- the day NFL coaches and GMs get their walking papers, and, for some teams the turnaround to the next generation is pretty swift. Case in point, two years ago the Kansas City Chiefs cleaned house at the end of a 2-14 season in 2012, and two days after firing Toddy Haley and company they signed Andy Reid to run the show. The Chiefs are 18-11 since that day.

If you think the Chiefs just decided on a whim after Reid was canned by the Eagles that they were going to pursue him, you're probably wrong. The Chiefs knew for months they were going to change the leadership of team, they may not have know it would be Reid at the end of the day, but they certainly had a list of candidates they would consider as soon as the season was over, and I am sure they were aware Reid was in trouble in Philly at the time.

In other words, how do we know what Woody Johnson is going to decide to do come Black Monday?

Let's tackle the first question, will he fire Rex Ryan? The answer, more than likely is yes. Ryan's time in New York hits its crescendo a long time ago. After two surprisingly successful years in 2009 and 2010, the team has been a total failure since. 2011 was the beginning of the end of the Mark Sanchez era, as the quarterback's mistakes sunk the team to the point Santonio Holmes went AWOL on the entire team in week 17. That day in Miami, Ryan admitted he didn't have the pulse of the team.

Then came 2012 and total disaster that year was with Tebow's presence, Sanchez again stinking it up, the Buttfumble and nearly half the fan base throwing in the towel on years of torture as Jets fans (see Fireman Ed). This was where Johnson made his first crucial mistake. He fired then GM Mike Tannenbaum, but forced Rex Ryan down the throat of every potential GM candidate. Better candidates stayed away from the Jets, but Idzik, a "cap-guy" from Seattle wanted the job, and he agreed to keep Ryan. It has been a even bigger mess since.

Johnson should have fired Ryan in 2012, and he should have fired him in 2013, when he made it clear that Rex had to make the playoffs or else. Instead he got wrapped up in two wins against against a bad Browns and Dolphins teams, and decided to keep him.

At 2-11, with the team fractured beyond repair, the damage of Johnson's 2012 decision already complete,  it is time to say goodbye to Ryan.

But, that leads us into the second question: What about Idzik? While Ryan has been hearing footsteps ever since 2013, and is now dealing with the latest hot rumor that the Jets are interested in Jim Harbaugh, the current Niners coach as his replacement, we don't hear as many rumors anymore on Idzik. Why is that?

The fans have voiced their displeasure with the GM, making him the most hated executive not in politics. They have t-shirts, websites, billboards on Routes 3 and 80 in New Jersey and will be handing out custom made penalty flags with the phrase "Fire Idizk, Woody Clean House" printed in green.  Even New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio can't get this kind of press.

Now reports are that the Jets coaches and front office staff are getting fed up with Idzik. Initially reported by ESPN Idzik has "alienated" himself to the coaches and staff and it is fair to say that his seat is getting warmer; this nearly eight weeks after his bizarre press conference in which he announced that everyone in the organization was on the same page.

It is clear that Idzik has to go. From terrible draft day selections like Geno Smith, Dee Milliner, and Jalen Saunders, he failed to spend any money on free agency to improve this team. The $20 million of cap space has been well documented. While a lot people have bated the Jets in recent weeks, mostly for amusement, for letting Sanchez walk, the real mistake by Idzik was to let Darrelle Revis go, not just once but twice when the cornerback was reportedly interested in a reunion last March.

It has felt like Idzik has done this on purpose in order to prove that Ryan should be fired, by giving him a team that lacked the necessary pieces to win. However, such trickery shouldn't be tolerated any longer and Idzik has to go, and go now.

The last time we heard anything substantial to a possible firing was in a November 6 article by Brian Costello of the New York Post, stating that Johnson is sensitive to the criticism of Jets fans and will make a move. Costello's story is probably 100 % accurate, but I do wonder why we haven't heard any rumors about potential candidates since then. We've heard a lot of rumors surrounding Ryan, not too much about Idzik.

If Johnson is serious about dumping Idzik, he needs to two things. 1) Get rid of him now! Why wait for Black Monday to fire the guy? If Johnson is smart he should have been compiling a list of candidates to replace Idzik all along, with a blueprint of the immediate and long term future of the team. And 2) Johnson needs to clean the entire house! Get rid of Terry Bradway, whom Johnson has way too loyal to for way too long. Bradway was the Jets GM from 2001-2005, before Johnson demoted him to a lower position in the organization. Since that time he has been the director of player personnel, or college scouting, or even both. Obviously the Jets lack of talent can also be attributed to Bradway's work. He and his entire personnel staff need to be fired.

By firing the front office now, Johnson can hire a general manager, a few extra weeks in advance to get a head start on personnel development and evaluation, and begin the head coaching search. There are a lot of intricate and important steps toward building a franchise, and it would behoove Johnson, the Jets and its fledgling fan-base if he got started on it sooner. 

The reason I am concerned about Johnson's timing has to to with the simple fact that Johnson is loyal to a fault. He's been loyal to Bradway; loyal to Rex Ryan; loyal to Mike Tannebaum. George Steinbrenner he is not. Until Johnson actually makes the move, and partly because of the weird silence about Idzik's status, I am not totally convinced Johnson is going to make the move. Please prove me wrong, Woody.

Johnson needs to act, and with each passing day of total silence from the owner the harder it will become for the Jets to transition this mess and land the head coach they really want for 2015 and beyond.