Saturday, August 12, 2017

Jets D Dominates Titans


While many expect the New York Jets to be one of the NFL's worst teams, the players and coaches certainly aren't listening. While it is preseason, New York won its first game in a 7-3 slugfest against the Tennessee Titans, in a game where the Jets defense dominated the night with eight sacks and two forced turnovers.

The Good: 

The Jets defense was phenomenal on Saturday night. New York harassed Titan quarterbacks all night, including sacking third stringer Alex Tanney seven times. Starter Marcus Mariota was sacked once by Leonard Willams in the first quarter, which set the tone for the night. Really, this entire game was won on the back of the Jets D. They never relented against the Titans, bringing tons of pressure on Tanney who played about 90 percent of the game. The Jets secondary was also physical at the line of scrimmage against Tennessee's receivers, forcing Tanney to take the extra beat to look for an open man, which there was none.

Perhaps the biggest moments of the game came in the early stages of the fourth quarter with Tennessee knocking on the door at the Jets 26. Tanney heaved a pass into the end zone that was picked off by Ron Martin.

Later, with Tennessee again moving deep into Jets territory, Tanney was strip sacked by Anthony Johnson at the Jets 30. Nose tackle Josh Martin recovered for New York, killing the Titans momentum.

Overall the Jets held the Titans to just 11 first downs and 223 yards of offense. It was a dominant effort by a unit that must dominate all season.

Josh McCown: McCown got the start on Saturday, and even though it was only one possession, he looked sharp. McCown was 3-of-4 for 72 yards and a touchdown.  His first completion was a 15-yard screen to Jalin Marshall on first and ten at the Jets own 31. Two plays later, McCown hit a bomb to Robbie Anderson of 53-yards to the Titans two-yard line. Finally, McCown found an open Charone Peake in the flat for the touchdown to give the Jets a 7-0 lead.

The not so good, but not so bad. 

Christian Hackenberg had a mixed bag on Saturday. He wasn't awful, but didn't set the world on fire either. Overall he was 18-of-25 for 127. He didn't look overwhelmed, but never really effectively moved the offense at all on Saturday, an issue that had more to with the Jets offensive line. More on them later.

The Truly Awful: 

The Jets offensive line looks like one of the worst units in franchise history, if not in the entire NFL right now.

They didn't create enough time for Hackenberg or Bryce Petty in the pocket, not to mention, the Jets lone turnover of the line was because of a bad quarterback-center exchange. The O-line also failed to  create effective running lanes for the Jets ground attack.  Granted, the Jets were without Bilal Powell and Matt Forte on Saturday, but it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference. That is how bad this offensive line was.

The Jets were called for nine penalties on the night, and most of those came on the offensive line. Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan has refused to address the line problems in the draft and it clearly showed.  If the Jets want to exceed expectations, either this unit is going to have to improve by leaps and bounds, or they better hope someone good gets cut in another camp that they can pick up.

Bryce Petty: Petty looked terrible. Like I wrote earlier, the offensive line didn't help him, but his footwork was off on a number of plays, and he even held the ball too long and took a couple of bad sacks. Petty, who hasn't exactly lit it up in camp, is quickly losing any hope of getting a shot to be a starter on this team.

The West Coast Offense: Never been a big fan of the West Coast. If a team doesn't have an effective offensive line or a strong armed quarterback, this offensive strategy can be incredibly stale. Hence was the case against Tennessee.

What's next? The Jets visit the Detroit Lions next Saturday night.

Open Mike: NFL Training Camp Preview Series

I have opened up my NFL Training camp series for the 2017 season. I will be covering as many teams as possible throughout the month on the Open Mike program which will be heard on the SportsTalk Nation channel on YouTube.

In the first episode I spoke with writer Michael Hernandez, who covers the Miami Dolphins, to talk about Jay Cutler's presence on the Fish in 2017.

Next I am joined by John Robert of Cover to talk about the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. We talk about how ATL can overcome last February's crushing Super Bowl loss.

Backups listless in Giants 20-12 Loss to Steelers


What did we learn from Friday night's preseason opener between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers? Not much. Not much at all.

With the starters on both teams spending much of the game on the sidelines, heck neither Ben Roethisberger nor Eli Manning took a snap in this snooze fest, the Giants backups looked the part in a 20-12 loss to the Steelers.

What Looked Good: 

The Giants did play most of their defensive starters on Friday, and they looked good, granted it was against a second team offense for Pittsburgh. Landon Collins had five tackles, including blowing up Pittsburgh running back Terrell Watson. New York also sacked quarterback Joshua Dobbs three times, and forced two interceptions. Devin Taylor and Valentino Blake both had picks in the effort for Big Blue.

Mike Nugent and Aldrick Rosas continue their kicking competition camp with perfect nights against the Steelers. Nugent's long was 45 yards, while Rosas hit one from 52 yards out.

What Didn't Look Good: 

Geno Smith. What a shock? He may have switched uniform colors, but Geno Smith was still the same old Geno Smith. He had moments of brilliance, like rolling out of the pocket and finding open receivers down field, and also had moments of buffoonery. With the Giants lead 12-10, Smith threw  a costly interception at New York's own 30 yard line. Pittsburgh turned the gaff into three points to take the lead for good at 13-12.

Smith was also sacked twice in the defeat, as it was clear he is likely behind Josh Johnson in the battle to be Eli Manning's backup.

Rookie quarterback David Webb looked the part on Friday. He had the proverbial "deer in the headlights" look in his eyes all night, but still managed to complete eight of 16 passes. He is a project that is years away from ever seeing the field.

What Didn't We Learn? 

Still not 100% sure that Josh Johnson is a solid pick to be Manning's back-up. He was underwhelming. The only thing he had going for him is he didn't make the mistakes Geno Smith made.

We didn't see the Giants high octane passing attack of Odell Beckham, Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepherd. Relax, we'll see them together by next week's contest.

What's Next? 

The Giants face the Cleveland Browns on Monday, August 21. These aren't your typical Browns. They have a young prospect in Deshone Kizer who looked real good in Cleveland's preseason opener against New Orleans. Kizer is competing with journeyman Brock Osweiler for the starting quarterback job.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Amed Rosario to Make MLB Debut Tonight

The wait is now over. The New York Mets are looking to future on Tuesday night in Denver, when Amed Rosario makes his long anticipated major league debut at shortstop.

Call it a passing of torch if you will as veteran Jose Reyes, once the gem of the Mets minor league system all those years ago, now gives way to the man who will eventually replace him.

Like Reyes in 2004, Rosario comes with a great resume and lots of hype. The 21-year old holds a slash line of .328/.367/.466 with seven homers and 58 RBI for Triple-A Las Vegas. He also owns 19 stolen bases this season, and 60 swipes in his career.

While Rosario is hitting eighth tonight, the hope is that by the end of this year, and certainly going into 2018, Rosario will take over the lead-off spot for the Mets. That will allow Michael Conforto to hit in the middle of the order where he belongs.

The addition of Rosario comes after the Mets made some solid moves at the deadline. First they traded away Addison Reed to Boston for three minor league prospects. They also acquired a solid triple-A pitcher from Tampa Bay for Lucas Duda, and received a front line reliever who can help them right away in A.J. Ramos.

With Rosario now in fold, it only deepens the fact that the rest of the 2017 season is an audition to see who will be here in 2018.  We know Rosario, Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes are not going anywhere. But, these are likely the final days of Reyes, Curtis Granderson, Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker in Mets uniforms.

In a lot of ways this is a sad occasion, as much as it is a hopeful one. Why? Because Rosario's presence at short likely means we have seen the last of Jose Reyes as an everyday shortstop. While Mets fans knew this day was inevitable, especially when he is struggling with a .226 batting average, Reyes was a face of this franchise for a long time.

It feels odd that it is now 12 years since Reyes and David Wright became the faces of the Mets future. The days of Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo and company were history, and it was time for an influx of new blood. Reyes and Wright gave the Mets the youth and energy they were hopping for then. And they came oh so close in 2006 to that World Series, before falling to St. Louis in the NLCS. Wright finally got to a World Series two years ago, but Reyes never played in the Fall Classic.

Now it is time for Reyes to pass the baton over to Rosario.

Here's to the future.

Open Mike: MLB Trade Deadline Recap Show

The trade deadline has come and gone, and I got the chance to recap it all on Open Mike last night with guest Doug Rush. Rush is a Yankees blogger, and of course the Yankees made a lot of noise this July, most notably with their acquisition of Sonny Gray.

In addition, the Dodgers made some last minute magic when they acquired Yu Darvish from the LA Dodgers.

We talk about it all, right here on Open Mike.