Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bumgarner Dominates in Relief as Giants Win World Series

GIANTS 3
ROYALS 2
SF wins series 4-3

In a postseason where the Kansas City Royals made history going from rags to riches, it was Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants who pushed their way to the top of the mountain and chiseled their names into history forevermore.

Bumgarner was fantastic. The Giants unwavering. After falling to the Royals 10-0 in Game 6, the Giants stared at an uncertain script in Game 7. The stats and momentum all pointed in Kansas City's favor. No road team had won a World Series after losing Game 6 since the 1975 Cincinnati Reds. Home teams had won the previous nine Game 7's in World Series history, and the last time the Giants played in a World Series Game 7, the Angles cruised 4-1 to cap off a comeback in the 2002 Fall Classic.

Plus this series was feeling a lot like the 1985 series, where the Royals erased a 3-2 series deficit to win it all in Games 6 and 7, topping their rivals from down I-70, the St. Louis Cardinals.

So many ghosts of World Series past, yet the Giants were Ghostbusters two days before Halloween. They were unwavering to the pressure of the moment, playing with the same calm demeanor of their future Hall of Fame manager, Bruce Bouchy.

Bouchy had a plan and it worked to perfection, even almost too perfect.

The Giants grabbed an early 2-0 lead when Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford hit Sac Fly's to the outfield to drive in both Pablo Sandoval, who started the inning getting hit by a pitch, and Hunter Pence, who singled.

Bouchy gave the ball back to Tim Hudson, the 39-year-old veteran who always wanted to pitch in this moment, but never got the chance until this postseason. Hudson had to know he was on a severe pitch count. Any mistake, or sign of struggling he was going to get pulled.

Hudson gave up a lead of single to Billy Butler and a RBI double to Alex Gordon to cut the lead in half, 2-1. After Hudson hit Salvador Perez on the knee with a fastball, Omar Infante tied the game on a sac fly to center tying the game at two. Bouchy knew he had to make his move and did so taking Hudson out of the game.

Perhaps it was a little earlier than he would have liked, but Bouchy again pushed the right buttons. He inserted Jeremy Affeldt and the lefty didn't disappoint shutting down the Royals for two and a third innings in relief -- his longest outing of the season.

Soon the Giants regained the lead, as it turned out for good this time in the top of the fourth. Jeremy Guthrie really began to waver in the fourth. He served up singles to Sandoval and Pence before being lifted for Kelvin Herrera who couldn't shut the door. Morse lined a pitch off the end of the bat into right field, dropping it in front of Nori Aoki to push in Sandoval with the go-ahead run to make it 3-2.

Now the stage was set for the master.

Bouchy rolled a big dice earlier in this series when he decided to hold Bumgarner for Game 5 instead of pitching him in Game 4. If he had Bumgarner would have been on three days rest to start Game 7 if necessary.  Bouchy's gamble paid off.

Bumgarner was phenomenal in Game 7. In an era where coaches worry about pitch counts, stress pitches, and innings for young starters Bumgarner broke the mold this postseason. He came into the game with the plan to throw only 40-50 pitches, or three innings of work. Instead he went out there and dominated as if he were on full rest, not two short days of rest.

He confused the Royals with his high fastball. The Royals were impatient and Bumgarner took full advantage. Bumgarner struck out four batters and jammed many more over five innings for one of the most dominate relief appearances by a starter in World Series history.

Even in the ninth inning with his pitch count approaching 70 he found a way to shut the door on the storybook Royals. He gave up a base hit to Alex Gordon, which turned into a triple when the ball skipped away from Gregor Blanco and bounced around the outfield wall. Still, Bumgarner didn't waver. He got Salvador Perez to chase a high fastball for strike one; got him to swing again at high heat for strike two, and on pitch number 68, Bumgarner jammed Perez into a pop out at third base in foul territory to win the World Series.

It was one of the most impressive outings in history. Bumgarner is now 4-0 with a historic 0.25 ERA and a save in the World Series. This postseason, he pitched to a 1.03 ERA in seven games, six starts with a record of 4-1. He was deserving of the MVP award having carried an entire team on his back for one month.

 As for the Royals, they have nothing to be ashamed of. They had a tremendous run that captivated the hearts of fans across the country. They were 90 feet away from keeping the dream alive, but they ran into a buzz-saw in Bumgarner.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cubs Sign Joe Madden as next Manager

The Chicago Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908; 114 years of nothing but pure misery. Chicago may finally be ready to take a step toward ending that long drought after signing Joe Maddon as their new manager beginning in 2015.

Hours before Game 7 of the World Series was about to begin between the Royals and Giants, CBS' Jon Hayman reported that the Cubs were on the verge of getting their man. Former Cubs manager Rick Renteria was aware that the Chicago front office led by Theo Epstein, was in the process of replacing the second year manager with arguably the best managers in the game. Renteria is guaranteed the next two years of his contract, whether he serves another role in the organization is to be determined.

Now it is all but official.

"The Cubs and agent Alan Nero denied that a deal is done, but people familiar with the dealings say that it is certain to be completed in coming days, and that Maddon would indeed be the next Cubs manager.

The contract, once finalized, is expected to make Maddon one of the highest-paid managers in baseball and quite likely the best-paid in the National League. Mike Scioscia's Angels deal pays him $5 million annually, so he sets the standard. It is believed Maddon was looking for $5 million-plus per year, but the exact terms are not known, "(Heyman).

Ever since he arrived in Northside of town, Epstein has been trying to get a big time manager in town to give the Cubs that needed jolt of credibility. He tried to pry away Joe Girardi last year from New York, but the Yankees gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. Many thought Epstein's old manager with the Red Sox, Terry Francona, would head over there but he opted for Cleveland instead two years ago.

Now Epstein gets his guy, and he will give him young players and a team on the way up talentwise. They already have an ace in Jake Arrieta and a young slugger in Anthony Rizzo. Maddon is no stranger to turning around young clubs into winners, he did it in Tampa Bay, and will most certainly do it in Chicago.

This is the hot stove season's first big move, and surely everyone's pick to be the next Kansas City will be Chicago.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Geno Smith and Rex Ryan's Jet Careers in Flames After Buffalo Stampede

BILLS 43
JETS 23

Geno Smith should never throw another pass for the New York Jets ever again. Correction, he should never suit up for the Jets ever again. And Rex Ryan should never be allowed to coach the Jets again either.

The Jets not only imploded on Sunday afternoon at the Meadowlands, they went up in flames in a mushroom cloud that should have only one consequence: Woody Johnson forgets his edict that he won't fire anyone in-season, and go Donald Trump on Rex Ryan and company and fire them. This brand of foolery is over, it is time to get answers to long held questions.

 One thing is certain, there is no doubt now about Geno Smith, at least to those who still wanted to believe he had something good in him. Geno Smith has nothing good in him. He stinks. He's a bust draft day quarterback like Mark Sanchez was before him, and will join the long line of draft day bust quarterbacks in NFL history.

Geno Smith etched his name in the infamy stone when he came and played as bad as any quarterback could think of playing. He was 2-of-8 for five yards. The Jets got him a big target in Percy Harvin, and he couldn't even hit him if the man was standing two feet in front of him. Instead Smith threw three interceptions in one quarter and his day was officially over; his Jets career probably over with it.

The Jets were lucky that the Bills didn't score 28 points in this quarter. Buffalo is not a great team, they couldn't even score after two of those first quarter picks, but they did score a TD when Smith's third interception was brought back to the one-yard line setting up a easy score to make it 14-0, Buffalo.

When asked about Smith's performance and whether he start next week in Kansas City, coach Rex Ryan said "I have no idea, we'll look at that later." That is a huge 180 by Ryan, who consistently supported Smith through some pretty atrocious football. But there is no defending that effort, not when the team is 1-7, and the head coach is about to get fired.

Rex deserves a lot of blame here. He let John Idzik use him in playing a quarterback who was not any good, and during the broadcast we found out that Mike Vick didn't get many snaps during the week. So for Ryan to expect Vick to be ready to rock and roll isn't even fair.

On Monday morning Woody Johnson must make the decision now. He needs to fire Rex Ryan now. It goes beyond just his mishandling of Geno Smith. It's the culmination of six flabbergasting and pompous years of nothing. Promises of glory that resulted in nothing but butt fumbles, Geno Smith shrugs and Tebow time.

Ryan has been unable to develop a quarterback -- he had two chances and failed both times. He rarely took interest in the offense leaving it in the hands of three offensive coordinators during his tenure. And his defense, while not totally his fault because of the lack of talent, has gotten worse over the years.

Ryan should have been fired last year, but wasn't because Johnson bought into the Jets mirage of an 8-8 campaign. Heck, Ryan should have been tossed to the side in 2012 when Mike Tannenbaum was let go. He has survived some brutal seasons, but he cannot and should not survive this.

There is no excuse to lose in this fashion. The Jets had extra days to prepare. They were coming off a solid performance in New England. The Bills were ripe for the picking with injuries; instead the Jets looked unprepared -- and that goes for everyone on the field.

And when Woody Johnson makes that decision to ax the coach, he should send John Idzik packing too. Idzik has done nothing to deserve a reprieve and return for 2015. He drafted Geno Smith, nuff said. He drafted Dee Milliner who can never stay healthy. He drafted Jalen Saunders as the savior at wide receiver and he was cut this year.

Idzik then didn't spend much money in the off-season, leaving over $20 million on the books, and telling the Jets best corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to fly a kite. Now it's time for Johnson to give Idzik the boot. He's proven he can't be trusted in making personnel decisions. 

The show is over. The Rex Ryan Jets jumped the shark a long time ago -- for my money during the butt-fumble game two Thanksgiving's ago, but now it is official.

Woody Johnson needs to make the move. He should stand in front of the media, and the fans and apologize for giving second life to the Rex Ryan regime, and apologize for bringing in Idzik, and tell his fleeting fan base that he will not stand for embarrassing football. He needs to fire his head coach, clean out the front office and get rid of Geno Smith once and for all. 

Will he do this Monday? Rhetorical question. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Joe Maddon Leaves Tampa Bay, What's Next?

Joe Maddon is considered by many to be one of baseball's best managers. A winner of 781 games in 11 years in Tampa Bay, turning a downtrodden expansion team into a postseason contender, Maddon parted ways from the Rays after opting out of his contract.

The Rays tried to keep Maddon around with a third contract extension in his tenure with the club, but the skipper said no thank you.

Perhaps Maddon sees the writing on the wall. Tampa Bay won 77 games this year, a disappointment in his eyes; he watched the team trade his ace, David Price to the Tigers for virtually nothing, and saw his friend and co-worker, Andrew Friedman leave his post as Rays Executive Vice President to become the GM of the LA Dodgers.

So now rumors and speculation are going to run rampant. It's not often that a manager with 781 wins under his belt and six 90-win seasons just walks around looking for a job.

Maddon will have plenty of decisions to make. He could either sign with a team now, or wait until next season when more vacancies open up. This year only four managerial vacancies opened, two of them were filled before the month of October (Texas and Houston), and only just recently Chip Hale took over the Diamondbacks.

The only team without a manager is the Minnesota Twins. The Twins have been busy interviewing Paul Molitor and Doug Mientkiewicz for the post, and reports are that Molitor is going in for a second interview. With these latest developments, don't be shocked the Twins jump into the mix. They haven't signed a manger, and Maddon's resume certainly trumps that of Molitor and Mientkiewicz. He would be a boost to the moral in Minnesota, but the Twins were winners of only 70 games last year, and are not ready to contend again.

Already the New York Mets have said they have no interest in signing Maddon. They are committed to embattled Terry Collins for another season.  However, if Collins struggles early next year you can rest assure that IF Maddon is still out there come next season, his name will be thrown out there by Mets fans on New York radio every single day.

The other team that comes to mind right away is the Dodgers. The Dodgers were great in the regular season; favorites to win it all this year, but they fell flat in the NLDS against the Cardinals. Don Mattingly is on shaky ground with a Dodgers front office that expects more, especially with all the money they have spent the past three years. So far they have been coming up snake eyes in the playoffs.

Maddon's innovative philosophy could be what a veteran team like the Dodgers needs. Plus, with Friedman in LA, the very thought of Maddon jumping Tampa Bay to go west is very tempting.

Already the Dodgers have tried to rebuke any interest, telling ESPN's Buster Olney that Maddon's exit from central Florida, "has nothing to do with us."

Remember the Dodgers do not have to fire Mattingly and hire Maddon. Mattingly does have a winning record with the Dodgers. Inspite of all the pressure on him, he's won the NL West each of the last two years, and has been the NLCS once. Who is to say the Dodgers couldn't get hot next Fall with Mattingly as the manager and win it all?

If the Dodgers don't make a swift move now, Maddon will sit and wait in the shadows. His stock will only go up, a la Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden in the NFL, and he will likely find that next job next year.

Here are a list of teams that could be looking for a manager for the 2016 season:

NY Mets: Even though the Wilpon's said Maddon is not on the radar, it doesn't mean he's not on the radar come 2015/16. If Terry Collins produces another 75 - 80 win season, he should get fired and the Mets would be dumb not to talk to Maddon. Then again, it's the Mets.

NY Yankees: Speaking of New York, there is pressure on Joe Girardi to win next season. The Yankees missed the postseason each of the last two years. Usually a third year with no playoffs would lead to a firing. If Girardi goes, Maddon in Yankee pinstripes would fit nicely.

Chicago Cubs: the Cubs have a young ace in Jake Arrieta and a lot of young talent coming up through their system. In an NL Central that is usually dominated by only the Cardinals, the Cubs could make a push in a couple of years, a la the Royals this year.

Chicago White Sox: Robin Ventura kept his job after a disappointing 73 win season. While they are older, the Chi Sox have more contending potential then the Twins do right now.

Atlanta Braves: The Braves might be getting long in the tooth, and are likely on the decline. So I am not sure if even Joe Maddon can ture that ship around in quick order IF Freddi Gonzalez got the boot after next year.

Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers were rolling early this year, but a second half collapse doesn't help Ron Roenicke's cause. Another down year, and the Brewers could be in the market too.

San Diego Padres: How does Bud Black keep his job after all these mediocre seasons?

We'll see how it plays out.

Mets hope ex-Yankee Kevin Long can make Mets hit

Well the Mets made a move this off-season. Yes, pop the champagne bottles, take a picture of it and cherish it, because knowing the Mets they won't make too many more moves between now and February.

The Mets hired ex-Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long to revive their stagnate offense that ranked 28th in MLB in batting average and 21st in the league in runs scored. While Lucas Duda had a break out year with the power, 30 homers, and Daniel Murphy was an All Star at second base, the Mets really never hit consistently well in 2014. In fact, they haven't hit consistently well at all the past five years.

Long spent eight years with the Yankees, but he was working with a lot of top flight hitters like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixiera, and even Alex Rodriguez. Hitting coaches are not the "Be-All or End-All" when it comes to putting together a baseball team. Either the hitters on the team have the talent or they don't.

Long was fired this year after the Yankees offense was putrid this season. They were ranked 20th in batting average, 23rd in on base percentage, and 20th in runs scored. He will be hard pressed to get a lot out of the likes of lite hitting Juan Lageras, Travis D'Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, and Matt DenDeker in the near future.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Peyton Manning Sets Touchdown Record

Congratulations to Peyton Manning for becoming the NFL's all time passing touchdown leader. Manning has done it with a true passion for the game and total class. Well deserved to the best quarterback in the sport.


Giant load of trouble after Big Blue loss to Dallas

COWBOYS 31
GIANTS 21

Now, the New York Giants are behind the proverbial eight ball. It was just two weeks ago at 3-2 the Giants looked like a team that had revived its season after a hideous 0-2 start with convincing wins over Houston, Washington and Atlanta. Two weeks later the Giants have two losses to the top two teams in the NFC East, if not the top two teams in all the NFC.

The Giants were barely competitive against the Cowboys. They hurt themselves with penalties, drops and really, really bad defense in their 31-21 loss in Big D. Big Blue had no answer for Cowboys back-up tight end Gavin Escobar, who had two touchdowns, and even less answers for running back DeMarco Murray who gashed the Giants for 128 yards and a score.

It was an overall bad late afternoon for the Giants, who were badly exposed up front on both sides of the football.

In the second quarter it was looking good for the Giants. After Dallas was called for pass interference on a fourth and one at the Cowboys 38, the Giants took full advantage. Andre Williams chugged down to the five yard line for 22 yards on first and 10. Two plays later Eli Manning hi Odel Beckham Jr. for a nine yard touchdown to tie it at seven.

Later in the quarter, Prince Amukamara stepped in front of a Tony Romo pass and picked it off deep inside Dallas territory. On the next play from scrimmage, Manning connected with Daniel Fells on a 27 yard touchdown to give the Giants their only lead of the day.

Everything went down hill from there.

First Murray gashed and dashed the Giants for 21 yards to set up Tony Romo with a short field to hit Terrance Williams on an 18-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14.

At this point the entire Giants offense went into a proverbial deep freeze. Three times in the second half the Giants had time consuming drives, and twice they resulted in nothing but a missed opportunity.

Their first drive of the third quarter ate 5:26 off the clock for all of 22 yards. It was a drive that was marred by two hideous penalties on the Giants offensive line which all but ruined the drive, as the Giants finally stalled at the Dallas 43.

Their second drive of futility ate up 4:55 for only 44 yards on eight plays that ended in a Steve Weatherford punt.  These time consuming drives did more to help the Dallas Cowboys cause than it did for the Giants own efforts.

Dallas took full advantage of the Giants futility. With the sun in his face, Romo hit a pass to Dez Bryant down the sideline for a 44-yard gain to the Giants 45. After Romo found Bryant again for 17 more yards to the 26, he found a wide open Escobar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Dallas 21, Giants 14.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter, and Big Blue added sloppy to their hideous day on offense. A fumble by tight end Larry Donnell gave the Cowboys the football at the Giants 27. Romo and the Boys went right to work. First Romo hit Dez Bryan for 24 yards to the one yard line, then Murray plowed in from one yard out to make it 28-14.

What happened next defies logic. For whatever reason the Giants decided to have the most cavalier and relaxed drive anyone would ever see from a team down 14 points. The Giants took the ball with 9:11 to go in the game. They needed a quick score, but instead took their sweet time eating up four minutes of clock for an 11 play 80-yard drive with about 35-40 seconds between each play. Before they knew it, the game was coming down to the final minutes and the Giants, still, hadn't scored a touchdown.

It would have been their third straight drive of time consuming futility, if it were not for Manning's fourth and goal touchdown pass to Odell Bekham Jr. to cut the deficit to 28-21 with 5:34 to play; but thanks to lack of urgency by both Manning and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo the Giants lost this game long before that touchdown ever took place.

New York (3-4) is now in crisis mode. They have lost two divisional games, and MUST put together a winning streak, or their season could be on the brink of total collapse. They have two weeks to think about it too, with a bye week next Sunday. Almost 1/2 way through the season it looks like the NFC East will send two teams to the playoffs. If the Giants want to make it three teams from the East, the better get their act together and fast. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Jets Acquire Percy Harvin from Seahawks in Stunning Move

It might be too little too late, but the Jets felt inclined to pull off one of the most shocking deals in the NFL in a couple of seasons when they acquired Percy Harvin from the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional pick, that as it turns out, is a fourth rounder in 2015 that could become a second round pick depending on performance.

So in essence the Jets gave up little for a guy who, according to multiple reports, has an anger management problem. (More on that in a moment).

Talentwise the Jets get a player who has a tremendous amount of speed, is an excellent slot receiver, and a return specialist who can make big plays on special teams. There is no questioning his talent, which was also on display in the Super Bowl when he returned a punt for a touchdown.

However, Harvin is statistically having one of his worst seasons of his career. Only 133 yards on 22 catches, and has only played in 38 snaps in games this season. Harvin went from being a focal point in the Seahawks offense to a guy they couldn't wait to get rid of.

What is most disturbing is the trend of bad behavior Harvin has displayed in many of his stops.

Here is an excerpt:

"(Ian) Rapoport reports that Harvin was not the easiest player to deal with in the locker room, and the Seahawks were in the market to deal him for "several weeks." The off-field issues are not a new story. The Vikings had numerous documented problems with Harvin during his four seasons there, including him badmouthing quarterback Christian Ponder. NFL Media's Albert Breer reports that Harvin's "anger management issues" followed him to Seattle, where according to two sources connected to the Seahawks, the receiver was involved in multiple physical altercations -- namely one with then-teammate Golden Tate before Super Bowl XLVIII," (Rosenthal, Greg NFL.com)

It was these altercations including the Seahawks inability to intergrate Harvin successfully into the offense that led to them wanting to depart from the troubled NFL star.

This is a big and bold move by Seattle. They gave up three draft picks to get him from Minnesota a couple seasons back, and gave him $25.5 million in guaranteed money. The fact that they are willing to admit its a mistake now is a huge red flag.

But don't tell that to the Jets. The Jets essentially get to have Harvin for a free trial, since the remaining four years of his contract aren't guaranteed. However, the Seahawks have clearly taken full advantage of an organization that is desperate to make a splash.

John Idzik has a ton of pressure on him now after failing to address the Jets manifold issues in the off-season and leaving more than $20 million in cap room on the table. Not to mention his two drafts have been a total failure.

Call it Idzik's Hail Mary. He knows that if Harvin becomes a key contributor to the offense it will essentially save his job no matter how badly the Jets finish the season. In a way he's making Rex Ryan even more of a scapegoat. If Harvin plays well and the Jets finish 3-13, Idizk could always tell Woody Johnson, "see it wasn't me, it was Rex's inability to lead."

However let us not forget why the Jets are in this mess to begin with. It is because of Idzik, and Woody Johnson too.

The move echos past moves to get Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. While both receivers played well early on, both became an albatross by the end of their time with Gang Green. Especially Holmes whom the Steelers couldn't wait to dump because of his personality issues -- the Jets found that out in 2011 when Holmes went a-wall on the Jets in the regular season finale.

How will Harvin react from going to a Super Bowl team to a 1-6 disaster? That is the question we are going to find the answer to over the next 10 weeks.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jets Tricks! Mistakes cost Gang Green chance to take down Patriots

PATRIOTS 27
JETS 25

When a team lacks the necessary talent to make game changing plays on defense; when the team's punter can't punt the football accurately in a big spot, and when the quarterback can't make plays in big spots, and can't be trusted with the football other times, it will somehow lead to a loss.

That is exactly what happened to the Jets Thursday night in New England. They did a lot of things right against the Patriots. The ran the ball at will against a very soft Patriots defense; kept Tom Brady on the sideline for most of the night, but when it mattered, the Jets couldn't keep from shooting themselves in the foot.

Of the seven games the Jets played this year, this was their best performance. And their most excruciating. To their credit the Jets should have won this game. They should be 2-5 Friday morning, not 1-6, but shoulda, coulda, woulda never leads to anything.

Let's start with the defense, which was bad, really bad.

Not even 2:30 minutes into the game, the Patriots found themselves on the scoreboard when Tom Brady found a wide open Shane Vereen, who was probably stunned he was so open himself, streaking down the sideline for a 49-yard pitch-and-catch touchdown to make it 7-0.

That was just the first of many faux pas by the Jets beleaguered secondary. Even though the Patriots didn't possess the football for more than 19 minutes, and never had a drive longer than 4:48, they still managed to score three touchdowns in the game, with Tom Brady playing the lead roll. The Jets rarely hit Brady, and when they got to him, he had already found his target.

Case in point with the Jets taking their first lead, 9-7, the New York defense allowed New England to cruise across the field on 10 very crisp plays in 80 yards for another Brady touchdown pass to Vereen to make it 14-9.

It seemed that no matter what the Jets tried to do Thursday night, they were going to find a way to put themselves behind the eight ball.

While the defense wasn't any good, the offense was terrible in the clutch. While the Jets controled the clock for over 40 minutes, thanks in big part to Chris Ivory and the Jets offensive line, when it mattered the most, quarterback Geno Smith couldn't get it done.

On the Jets first possession, Smtih actually threw a touchdown pass that was negated for offensive holding. Instead of rising up to the challenge, the Jets offense decided to shrink like crushed tin foil. Smith danced around for a five yard gain of first and 19. They handed it off to Ivory for nothing on second down, and on third down, Smith threw a completion well short of the first down marker, forcing the Jets to kick.

This would be a trend. Three more times Chris Ivory guided the Jets down field, and three more times, Smith screwed it up in the red zone. Late in the first quarter with New York knocking on the door, Smith threw two dreary incompletions to Jace Amaro, who wasn't even open to force, yet another field goal.

A good team would have at least scored one touchdown in two terrific possessions, but the Jets aren't a good team.

Overall Smith had the Jets in striking distance four times, and four times they came up snake eyes. Perhaps the biggest disaster coming late in the first half with the Jets at the Patriots seven yard line. New York tried to force feed Ivory on second down, it didn't work as he lost two yards; then on third down Smith lobbed a pass that wasn't even close to David Nelson to force a fourth field goal. Instead of 16-14 Jets, it was 14-12 Patriots.

As the second half wore on the Jets were still in the game, shockingly, down 20-19 before special teams decided to cost the Jets dearly. After a New York three and out, punter Ryan Quigley shanked a punt for only 28 yards, giving New England great field position at the Jets 46.

Brady went right to work hitting a couple of big completions, before finding Danny Amendola in the end zone for an acrobatic 19 yard catch. Patriots 27, Jets 19.

Even with that the Jets wouldn't go away. While he played poorly at times, Smith had his best drive here. He ran for a first down on a key third down, and hit a couple of big completions to Jeremy Kerley and Jeff Cumberland. Low and behold the Jets were at the Patriots 10 before anyone knew it.

We then saw the good Geno and bad Geno in the matter of two plays. The good Geno hit Cumberland for a touchdown pass from the 10-yard line to cut the deficit to 27-25. But, the bad Geno reared his ugly head again, when he overthrew his back-up tight end on an attempted two point conversion killing the Jets chances of tying it at least.

After New England unsuccessfully tried to run the clock down, the Jets got the football back with a minute and change. Smith's completion to Kerely at mid-field was huge in giving New York a chance in this thing. However, Bad Geno came back again, when he wasted an important play by intentionally throwing an incompletion at the Pats 40 yard line with eight seconds to go, when he had a receiver open for at least five more yards.

That forced a 58-yard field goal attempt by Nick Folk, which was blocked by the Patriots with five seconds left. It is not fair to ask a kicker to make that kind of kick from that point in the field, no matter how good he is. The Jets should have gotten closer. But, hey just more stupid Jets tricks for ya.

New York (1-6) is now on a six game losing streak. They played well, but not well enough to win. When the talent pool is so bad, every miscue becomes the size of a crater.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Victor Cruz suffers knee injury as Giants lose to Eagles

EAGLES 27
GIANTS 0

Tonight was supposed to be the night that New York Giant would make a big statement in the NFC East that they are ready to play with the big boys. Instead the Giants went limp, as the Eagles did exactly what they planned to do, and that was dominate the New York Giants.

Dominate they did, to the tune of 27-0.

Yet, by the third quarter all of the Giants attention went from the game to their star wide receiver, Victor Cruz. Cruz attempted to make a diving catch in the end zone on fourth and goal with the Giants trying to get back into the game down 20-0. As the ball fell past Cruz's outstretched left hand, his right hand went directed to his knee which torqued while he was in mid air. 

Cruz fell into a heap in the back corner of the endzone, his hands clutching his right knee in agony. Just from seeing the play it looked bad -- the thought of a ACL tear seemed like the possible diagnosis. Instead it was later reported that Cruz tore his Patella Tendon. But the diagnosis is the same: he's out for the season.

Cruz was a spark-plug for this offense the past three years. He rose to prominence in 2011 with a break-out campaign during the Giants Super Bowl season. Over the past two seasons, he's been New York's number one receiver and was awarded this year when he was named one of the team captains. Instead, he'll have to lead from the sidelines.

Without Cruz the Giants pass attack becomes compromised. He took pressure off of Ruben Randall and tight ends Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells, now it is up to those guys and Odell Beckham Jr. to step up and make plays for Eli Manning.

Big plays were not in the offing Sunday night. Manning was under duress all day as he was sacked six times and hit countless more times by the Eagles 27th ranked defense, which stepped up in a big way.

New York was a measly 2-for-14 on third down and managed only 253 yards of offense with 12 first downs. Their running game never got going, which didn't help matters either.

Instead it was the Eagles ground attack which dominated the night. LeSean McCoy who was having a miserable season thus far broke out against the Giants, rushing for 149 yards on 22 carries, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Even Darren Sproles added a touchdown before he too left with a knee injury, although not as severe as Cruz's.

This is a big loss for the Giants (3-3). They are now two back of both the Eagles and Cowboys, and must win next week in Dallas to give themselves a chance to live once again this season. For a season that looked like it had so much promise after a three game winning streak, now looks doomed once again. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How 'bout them Cowboys! Week 6 Rapid Reaction

The Dallas Cowboys made the loudest statement in week 6 with their shocking 30-23 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. While the score indicated a close game, in retrospect, it was a Dallas blowout on the stat sheet.

After falling behind 10-0 the Seahawks, the Cowboys fought back, tied the game at ten, and took the lead before the half on a Tony Romo touchdown pass to Jason Witten.

The only reason Seattle was even in this game had to do with a muffed punt by the Cowboys that gave the Seahawks the football at the Dallas 14. Seattle would eventually score on Russell Wilson's 9-yard scamper, but that was it.

The Cowboys held the Seahawks offense in check all night, forcing two long field goals in the second half, and allowing only 206 yards of offense.

Meanwhile, Tony Romo who has taken so much heat in his career for not coming up in the clutch, did so with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. On a third and 20 at the Dallas 31-yard line, Romo connected on a slightly overthrown pass to Terrance Williams. In fact, it was Williams who made the save there, because the throw was initially intended for Jason Witten but overthrown. That connections was the turning point.

DeMarco Murray next busted through the hole for a 25-yard gain to the Seattle six, and scored himself on the next play with a six-yard scamper to put the Cowboys in front 27-23 with three minutes to go.

With all of the momentum on their side the Cowboys forced the Sehawks into a four-and-out deep in their own territory to ice the game. Dallas (5-1) is for real folks. They beat the defending Super Bowl champions, and with the way things are looking now in the NFC, all roads might be going through the NFC East this season.

THE BROWNS STUN THE STEELERS: Ok, it would not have been surprising if the Browns beat the Steelers on Sunday. Cleveland gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in week 1, but nobody saw the kind of thumping the Browns put on Pittsburgh coming. The Browns posted 21 points in the second quarter, including a 51-yard touchdown strike to Jordan Cameron to blow away the aging Steelers.

The Browns (3-2) are no longer in the AFC North's dog house, instead that honor belongs to the Steelers (3-3).

TIES R US: Nobody wanted to win the game in Cincinnati on Sunday as the Bengals and Panthers played to a crazy 37-37 tie. Both teams exchanged field goals to open up overtime, but it was the Bengals who were in prime position to win it in the final seconds, however Mike Nugent missed the game winning field goal. It was the second tie in the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati. For Carolina it was the first ever tie in their history.

RODGERS MARINO'S THE DOLPHINS: It has been a strange season in a lot of ways for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, and Sunday's game in Miami exemplified their season thus far. Get off to a fast start, fall behind the eight ball, and somehow come out of nowhere to win the game. Rodgers led the Packers back from a 24-17 deficit to win 27-24. Rodgers drove Green Bay down to the Miami 20 with 30 seconds to go, and pulled a play out of Dan Marino's playbook when he attempted a fake spike to Davante Adams for a 12-yard gain to the four yard line. Finally, Rodgers hit a Andrew Quarles with three seconds to go to steal it from Miami.

Broncos take it easy in win over laughable Jets

BRONCOS 31
JETS 17

The only way the Jets were going to have a shot at winning their game against the Denver Broncos was if Denver didn't take the Jets seriously, and allowed New York to make big plays to win. Guess, what? Denver didn't take the Jets seriously at all, but still managed to defeat the Jets, because ... the Jets are the Jets.

A surprisingly conservative game plan by Denver saw the Broncos concentrate more on pounding the rock with the ground game rather than let Peyton Manning carve up one of the worst secondary's in football. It almost backfired on them.

After Peyton Manning hit Demaryius Thomas on an explosive 54 yard pass to open the game, Denver's offense went into a shell, as they ended up settling for a field goal on their first possession, and allowed the Jets to get their footing defensively.

The Jets defense put a lot of pressure on Manning in the first quarter-plus of the game. They sacked him twice, hurried him over a half-dozen times, and put good hard licks on the MVP quarterback. The Jets pressure put Denver in a very odd position of running the football consistently. Case in point, with the Jets up 7-3, The Broncos decided the run the football on two consecutive plays to force themselves into a long third down that they couldn't complete.

The Broncos faced 16 third downs on Sunday, seven of which they converted; but it was shocking to see the Broncos rely so heavily on their running attack especially when it wasn't working all that effectively.

In a lot of ways it felt like the Broncos took the Jets too lightly. They were called for a number of penalties in the first half, 11 flags for the game, and Manning struggled to handle the Jets blitzes on third down. It was lackadaisical effort by Denver -- perhaps knowing the Jets didn't have the horses to beat them anyway.

After the Jets scored their first points of the day on a Jace Amaro touchdown, Geno Smith and crew went back into their proverbial funk.  New York managed only 43 yards on their next six possessions from late in the first quarter all the way until the end of the third quarter when they got a field goal to make it 24-10, Broncos.

Between that time, Manning and the Broncos actually opened it up. Manning threw three touchdowns on the day, including one to Demaryius Thomas to give the Broncos the lead 10-7; another one from 22 yards out to Julius Thomas in single coverage, and lastly a four-yard score, again to Julius Thomas, to make it 24-7, Broncos.

With the three scores, Manning moved to within two touchdowns of tying Brett Favre for the most touchdown passes by a quarterback in NFL history. Again, if Denver actually cared after it 24-7, Manning would have tied that mark. There was nothing the Jets defense did against Denver in the second and third quarter that signaled they were prepared to make a stop.

Once the fourth quarter came, Denver acted like the game was over. They pounded the football with Ronnie Hillman with little success, and played a prevent defense, allowing the Jets back into the game. Geno Smith led New York on a nine play scoring drive that was highlighted by a huge 27 yard pass to Greg Salas to move into the red zone. A few plays later, ex-Bronco Eric Decker scored on a two-yard pass from Smith to cut the Denver lead to 24-17.

With the Jets back in the game, Denver twice tried to put the game away, but they were in such a conservative funk that they couldn't do much against the blitz-happy Jets. Problem for the Jets, their quarterback is Geno Smith.

Denver pinned the Jets inside their own five yard line and Smith caved in. He was actually brought down for a sack in the end zone for a safety, but it was not called. It would have ended the game at 26-17. No fear Denver, Smith made sure to end the game himself without the help of the officials. Smith threw a easy pick to Aquib Talib, who dashed into the end zone for the solidifying touchdown, 31-17.

See, even when a great team invites the Jets into the game, they STILL can't win the game.

The Jets (1-5) now take on the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxboro. Can you say 1-6?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rex Ryan apologizes to Jets fans as NY destroyed 31-0 by Chargers

CHARGERS 31
JETS 0

It's starting to feel a lot like 1996.

Sure the Jets have had their handful of losing seasons here and there since that time, but 1996 was the last time the Jets played as pathetically as they are playing now. That year they were 1-15, and Rich Kotite was canned after two seasons as head coach.

On Sunday, after the Jets were plastered by the Chargers 31-0, Rex Ryan offered up a Kotite-esq quote that makes you wonder how much time he has left as the HC of the NYJ, when he went up to the podium and said: "First I want to apologize to our fans ... those that are left."

That cynical and stubborn declaration encompasses the obvious: the Jets are done in 2014, and Rex Ryan and crew are not that far behind.

Ryan then added after his morose apology:
 "This is on one person and that's it. It's certainly not on a quarterback and one individual that way. It's on me. Clearly got outcoached. I thought we had a good plan going in and obviously that wasn't the case."

Obviously, Rex.

 Not only was Sunday's loss horrible, it was down right embarrassing as the Jets looked more like a high school football team against the NFL team in the Chargers. San Diego did away with New York so fast that they might as well have had the equivalent of the high school 28-point rule in effect. Better yet, maybe a 7-point rule, because that is how lousy the Jets played on Sunday.

Geno Smith was his woeful self. The bumbling quarterback completed only four passes in 12 attempts for 27 yards. The Jets mustered only three first downs when Smith was in there and the longest drive of the day for Gang Green under Smith was 23 yards! 23 yards!?!?!?!?!

The Jets had no choice but to go with Michael Vick. Sticking with Smith would have led thousands of Jets fans to chant for Rex Ryan's job, but, they are doing that anyway. What was one to expect from Michael Vick? A miracle? Not on this day. Vick was equally putrid. Maybe it was rust combined with age and the Chargers defense, because Vick completed only eight passes in 19 passes for 47 yards. All told the Jets threw for 60 yards on the day from both quarterbacks.

In case you are wondering Chargers tight end Antonini Gates had 60 yards receiving on four catches all by himself for San Diego. That's how bad the Jets offense was.

Offensively, the Jets weren't innovative, explosive, nor motivated. Marty Mornhinweg's play calling once again has to come into question, as he was both ultra-conservative, and never adjusted the gameplan to fit a chaotic situation.

Defensively the Jets were easily pushed around. In addition to giving up 21 first downs and 439 total yards, they allowed the Chargers to convert 12-of-18 of their third downs, and running back Branden Oliver looked like Natron Means on Sunday, plowing through the Jets defense for 114 yards rushing.

In short, the Jets walked into Qualcom Stadium ready to lose, and they got humiliated instead. 

The Jets players didn't seem to care, and it showed in every aspect of their execution on Sunday. Before Gang Green knew it it was 21-0 at halftime. The Jets could have brought Bret Favre in his prime out to play quarterback, the Jets were not going to win this game.

A performance like this by a football team would in most circumstances mean that someone would get fired. However, Jets owner Woody Johnson has already thrown his support behind Rex Ryan and John Idzik, but, owners like Johnson have the right to change their mind.

While a change at head coach would not do much to save this nightmare of a season, a shake-up is needed. Perhaps the offensive coordinator, Mornhinweg, should be the first one to go if there is indeed need for a scapegoat for this season already. Nobody would complain if that were to happen. Then again, he is the third offensive coordinator the Jets have had under Ryan.

For Ryan to come out and say "if there is anyone left" in regards to Jets fans is a total slap in the face at both Johnson and any fans that ARE indeed left with this franchise. Keep in mind this is the second insult thrown at Jets fans in a week. Earlier this past week Johnson said he wasn't going to spend all of the money the Jets had in cap space because he wanted to save money as a reserve.

Like I said last week it is up to Johnson to make the decision, and it is becoming clearer with each passing game he is going to have to make a decision soon -- if he is even capable of sucking it up and making such a move.

Then again, in defense of Ryan and his staff, they have little to work with and that rests at both the feet of Johnson and his GM, John Idzik. The Jets are short in talent at a lot of key positions, and will be hard pressed to win many more games this year as it is. It almost feels like Ryan has been set up to fail.

The end is near for Rex Ryan. Not only was Sunday the first time Ryan has ever started a season 1-4 as a head coach, it was the first time in his six years with New York that you could tell that he knew the noose is tightening.

By the way the Jets play the Broncos next week at MetLife Stadium. If 31-0 to the Chargers isn't bad enough, I hate to imagine what Peyton Manning and the Broncos offense will do next week.

You can listen to me tomorrow break down all the NFL action on BlogTalk Radio at 5:30 p.m. ET on Monday.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Giant 4th Quarter comeback lift Big Blue to win over Falcons

GIANTS 30
FALCONS 20

For two and a half quarters the New York Giants played with a certain malaise a horrific loss would likely entail. They were down 20-10; watched the Atlanta Falcons take full advantage of their mistakes, and couldn't do much offensively against one of the NFL's worst defenses.

With an upcoming match-up against the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday, the Giants were putting forth the kind of effort that made this day look every bit like a trap game. Little did anyone know that the trap was intended for Atlanta instead.

The Giants offense suddenly found life late in the third quarter, with both the game and arguably their season hanging in the balance. At 2-2, the Giants knew that falling to 2-3 had the potential for a cataclysmic disaster, especially after a two game winning streak brought life back to their season.

Trailing 20-10, with the football at their own 29, Eli Manning heaved a pass down field to Odell Beckham Jr. who got interfered with by Atlanta's Robert Alford, spotting the ball in Falcons territory at the 45. Never has a pass interference penalty rejuvenated a staggering offense as much as it did the Giants.

Manning then went to work. He hit Andre Williams underneath for 14 years, and Beckham for eight more. Williams then took over, plowing through Falcon defenders for 11 yards to the Atlanta three yard line, before finishing it off with a touchdown to cut the deficit to 20-17.

The Giants defense then tightened, forcing an Atlanta three and out on their next possession, getting the football back into the hands of Manning and the offense.

They didn't disappoint. Manning played out of a no-huddle shotgun for much of the Giants drive in the fourth quarter. He hit Beckham for 14 yards and Victor Cruz for 12 more on two huge plays to keep the drive alive. Finally, on third and three, Manning hit Beckham in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown to give the Giants their first lead, 24-20.

With the Giants crowd behind them, New York's defense pinned their collective ears back and slapped around the Falcons. They held the Falcons to a combined 7 yards on their next two drives, both of which ended in punts.

On each of those failed Falcon possessions the Giants cashed in for points, kicking field goals to extend their lead to 10 points.

From the point the Giants started to rally late in the third quarter, New York outscored Atlanta 20-0; outgained the Falcons 179-48, and had more plays than Atlanta 34-18. At one point the Falcons had only 7 yards on 10 offensive plays in the fourth quarter.

The Gians rally was a great coming out for Beckham, who not only battled a hamstring injury, but took a lot of flack from fans and media for not getting onto the field earlier in the year. After his four reception, 44 yard day, Beckham looks like the monster weapon the Giants thought they were getting.

The Giants (3-2) are now in a much better position than they would have been if they lost this game. They are only a game behind Philadelphia and Dallas, and will play both teams over the next two weeks on the road. Buckle the chin straps.

Michael Cohen can be heard live on BlogTalk radio every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 p.m.