This Just In: Mike Francesa Hates The Jets, Loves Himself

Our friends at The Jets Blog have touched on this but in case you haven’t seen the clip yet, enjoy…

Poor Mike still can’t get Rex or any of the Jets on his show. Bottom line is the Jets have been better than the Giants the past two years and have had more headlines than any other professional sports team in the country in that time and it kills Francesa that he can’t get a single member of the team on his show. Say what you want about Rex and the Jets, but they are interesting and a journalist’s dream with their myriad of the headlines. So do Rex a favor to help shut Francesa up, go buy the guy’s book. I am half way through it and it is a must read for any Jets fan. I will have a full review in the coming days for both TOJ and Gunaxin.

Beat Writing Is Going To Die…And Is Already Dead, Respectively

I sit in bed watching ESPN on my Ipad, which is amazing, first because I am lazy and like to spend my first waking hour contemplating what sort of insane trouble college football is in, and second because I am one of three people in America without HDTV. I am giddy, giddy at the fact that beat writers in LA are going to be freaking out over Andrew Bynum’s trust comments. And freak out they do. One writer actually threatened to go down to Staples Center and give the team an inspirational speech a la The King’s Speech…”We will overcome this hurdle, we will move forward, with grace..with determination and with the heart of a champion still beating inside us”

My advice to freakout beater? Get a drink. It is around cinco de mayo and you shouldn’t be dwelling on things like the Lakers getting knocked out of the playoffs, even though it is your job, a soon to be over job. Shoot out an article about the sunset in Los Angeles and let the chaos ensue. Dirk reigns, even though I called them the laughing stock of the NBA due to Mark Cuban but old Mark has finally shut it and I wear will wear leeches and flog myself while typing a formal letter of apology.

Beat writers. My advice to aspiring beat writers is that you should, for the most part, strike journalistically while the iron is hot. Imagine being a beat writer for the Cavaliers after Lebron? The Mets? The Panthers? Well, the Panthers will be interesting until Cam Newton finds his way out but for the most part, beat writing seems to be a slog after the first few years. Very few franchises are continually intriguing, or continually great. If you live long enough, you may see something great, or you may have a heart attack after a preseason game and drive off a bridge.
My generation has ADD, there will be no more beat writers by the time we are through. No one wants to get up everyday, look at the same millionaires or soon to be millionaires while you contemplate refinancing your three bedroom house, and write about them in a scowling, jealous rage or the stale praise of a book reviewer.

How can you gauge style if you don’t have variety? I’ve seen more than one beat writer drop dead at their desk because their wife accidentally texted them when they meant to text their boss about their after work rendezvous while a story comes over the AP wire about some new rookie just got signed for $5 million, the brain can’t handle such karmic madness.

ESPN will become a socialist enterprise. No one wants to hear about fast break points from a 300 pound fat guy, like that guy on the couch who predicts football games for ESPN, you will be first chubs. They will allow only the physically fit to report on sports and beautiful girl next door types like Michelle Beadle, who could tell me I have terminal cancer and I would still look for a way to ask her out for a drink. Has anyone noticed the sort of serfdom most radio hosts at that network are subject to? Working 20 hours straight, 1pm radio show, 11pm sportscenter, 6am radio show, 6 PM Sportscenter…

Athletes are strange creatures. Study them like you would a fetal pig. At a safe distance. Remember that if they are forced to write an open letter about the state of their team going forward, most people would be embarrassed to read it. You are the writer. You are the one who writes the story. Get a little crazy. Own history. And stop reading other beat writers and copy and paste from the Surrealist Manifesto at any chance you get, give construction workers a little arts and culture at 5am on the Long Island Rail Road. They might just look out the window and wonder if they are dreaming…

Screaming On The Radio: Let Forth The Rage Of The Playoffs

The NBA playoffs are in full on Wagner-high drama mode. The Spurs got knocked off with a whimper, again the “Tim Duncan is old” monster rears its head. The Pacers gave the Bulls everything a team without a real star can give. The Knicks went down in a tangled pile of tragedy. Dwight Howard is spending his afternoons looking at houses in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant is thinking of the deal already. Gasol is contemplating going home in relative glory/shame. If Phil doesn’t get Dwight the whole Staples Center will collapse under its own expectations.

Portland is doomed, Gred Oden will have a child and he too will be drafted by the Blazers. Lord knows if the Hornets will exist by August, with the way they’re blowing up levees in this country half the midwest won’t exist by next year.

The East and The West each have a truly once in a lifetime series, the East having the pure hubris of youth and athleticism against basketball IQ and veteran leadership, it’s like watching the future beat down the past in the present, yet there is something sad about it…oh wait…the Celtics swept the Knicks…not sad.

The West has the Lakers falling apart from all corners: passing, defense, scoring. Kobe Bryant looks like he’s the only one that needs to win, not wants to win, needs to win. I may despise the sunshine of Kobe and the Lakers, but I respect the drive he has, which when it is all said and done may have outdone Jordan in terms of pure effort, it is hard to play 1 on 5.

The Thunder look like there is going to be a serious showdown in a game 7. Memphis has two great players. The Thunder have two great players. Things are looking up for fans in Chicago, you will have a chance to prove that a small point guard can beat three cyborgs.

If the Lakers and the Celtics get knocked out before the conference finals, it will say something, something about the way the NBA is shifting towards a two or three all star minimum for any sort of success in the playoffs, it’s happening, think about who is already a part of it: Miami…New York..Oklahoma City…

Basketball may finally put baseball to death amongst the youth, try watching an NBA playoff game and then switch over to baseball, actually don’t you might miss Derrick Rose going off or Lebron making Rondo look like a yoga instructor, god bless those who write about baseball without the aid of drink.

12 Pack Of Jets Off-Season Thoughts – Edition #14

After a one week hiatus for the NFL Draft, the 12 pack is back with twelve assorted thoughts about the New York Jets…

1. Rex, Rex, Rex – The guy is everywhere. He might have did about 4,000 interviews this past week to promote his new book, which I am currently working through. I can tell you already that it is a must read for any Jets fan or anybody who gets a kick out of Ryan’s personality. Yet, if you don’t like Rex, it will be just be more fuel to your fire. He remains true to himself in the book, which is no filter, borderline cocky, and brutally honest. Do I think it is a little much for Ryan to be writing a book two years into becoming a head coach, without a winning Super Bowl? Not necessarily, the guy has enough stories to tell with his long assistant coaching history, being Buddy Ryan’s son, and the amount that has happened in his first two years as a head coach to craft an interesting read, so more power to him.

Very glad to see that Rex didn’t go on Mike Francesa’s show by the way.

2. The People’s Champ – Braylon Edwards popularity with Jets fans has skyrocketed over the past year. His decision to show up for Jets West and even mention taking a hometown discount, when SantonioHolmes was nowhere to be found and has already made it clear he has no interest in signing the Jets tender and wants to go to the team where he can get the most money possible, has only helped Braylon’s popularity. Most fans seem to believe Braylon’s heart is truly in New York and admired the consistency and toughness of his play in 2010. Does that mean he will be back or will take a discount that will actually make a different? Only time will tell…

3. LT Glide – I am going to expand on this in an article for SB Nation later in the day, but you have to love the attitude of LaDainian Tomlinson. How about this first ballot hall of famer taking the time to attend Jets West with mostly rookies and also saying he will embrace being a third down back in 2011? Tomlinson has been a model teammate since joining the Jets and is beyond valuable with the leadership and experience he provides on offense.

4. Tiger Formation – It is was also impressive that Brad Smith decided to show up for Jets West without a contract. There is a good chance he won’t be back next year, as another team will probably offer him more money and a bigger role on offense, yet if he does end up back he will have a jump on getting more reps at receiver if Edwards or Holmes leaves.

5. Too Early On The Compliments – All the beat writers have been raving about fifth round pick Jeremy Kerley, by saying how quick and fluid he looks at receiver. Let’s see this guy in pads and with some defenders around him first before giving him too much credit. I do think he has good potential but you can’t get worked up over any thing you saw at these past workouts.

6. My Two Cents – On the Braylon/Santonio and defensive backs debate I posted earlier this week – I think Holmes is a better all-around receiver than Edwards, but if Edwards will come that much cheaper than it could be a smarter move to bring him back. Beyond that, if Holmes refuses to sign his one year tender as a restricted free agent (if he remains that under the new CBA), then try to work out a trade for him if he isn’t going to be reasonable on his long term contract demands. The Jets don’t need another holdout headache this summer. In terms of the DBs, I think Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Pool should be brought back as starters, and then you go from there depending how much money guys like Eric Smith and Drew Coleman are being offered. The Jets should be able to work out a fairly cheap deal with James Ihedigbo.

7. McKnight Anger – Glad to hear Joe McKnight is “pissed” and that it “added fuel to his fire” when the Jets selected Bilal Powell in the NFL Draft. McKnight should already be pissed about how he represented himself last year. If he has head on straight, he has an immense amount of talent and can be a dynamic playmaker in the Jets offense. Let’s hope the Powell selection helps push him even harder this off-season.

8. What About Powell? – You never know, especially with injuries but I think Powell will likely end up spending many games inactive this season. After LaDainian Tomlinson retires, hopefully he can become Shonn Greene’s primary backup, while McKnight moves into the third down role.

9. Entourage – How does everybody feel about the selection of Scotty McKnight? Does it bother you to see the Jets selecting Mark Sanchez’s buddy or do you think his chemistry with Sanchez and productivity at Colorado will lead to a successful NFL career?

10. Jets/Giants – How much fun is Christmas Eve going to be? Personally, I think Rex stirring the pot on a rivalry that isn’t really there is a great thing and will just make their regular season meeting that much more entertaining. Since Rex has taken over, the Jets have been the better, more interesting, and more entertaining team…let’s just hope that will equal a Super Bowl sooner rather than later because it is going to take one of those for the Jets to truly dominate this town.

11. Lockout – stay…appeal…stay…8th circuit…deny…stay…appeal…the clock is ticking.

12. Weekend Video Clip – More Muhammad Edition

New York Jets: Enough Free Agent DBs To Make Your Head Hurt

Who should stay and who should go?

When discussing the New York Jets free agents, it is easy to get caught up in the Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and to a lesser extent, Brad Smith debate. They are big name players and everybody wants to make sure Mark Sanchez has the necessary weapons to succeed. However, don’t overlook how many free agents the Jets have in their secondary, which is priority number one on a Rex Ryan football team —

Antonio Cromartie

  • Starting Corner – 42 tackles, 17 passes defensed, 3 INTs
  • Physical freak, good compliment to Darrelle Revis
  • Always provides an intriguing quote
  • Inconsistent at times, can struggle with penalties
  • Still not a very good tackler

I won’t add too much on to the 1,000,000 words I have written this off-season about the importance of Cromartie returning. The bottom line is that Kyle Wilson isn’t ready to take over as a starter yet so the Jets need Cromartie back.

Drew Coleman

  • Nickel Corner – 41 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 INT, 5 Forced Fumbles
  • Nose for the football and making big plays
  • Valuable special teams player
  • Struggles in man coverage
  • Lacks ideal size

Say what you want about Coleman, he makes plays and he was the Jets third best corner last season, which is a big role in a Rex Ryan defense. Will the coaching staff let him walk to give Kyle Wilson more reps?

Brodney Pool

  • Starting Safety – 53 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 Forced Fumble
  • Came on strong at end of last year
  • Has tough time staying healthy
  • More reliable in pass coverage than Eric Smith

Pool probably has more upside than Eric Smith as a starting safety opposite Jim Leonhard, but can he stay healthy for 16 games?

Eric Smith

  • Starting Safety – 54 tackles, 1 sack
  • Smart, physical player
  • Excellent on special teams
  • Struggles in pass coverage
  • He has also dealt with injury issues

Smith is a more valuable all around player than Brodney Pool who Rex Ryan has grown to love. He is really better suited to be a #3 safety and a special teamer than a full time starter.

James Ihedigbo

  • Extra Defensive Back, Blitz Specialist – 22 tackles, 3 sacks
  • Very good special teams player
  • Physical and aggressive
  • Limited range in pass coverage

Ihedigbo has turned into a nice role player on the Jets defense, who remains a core special teams player. They should be able to work something out to bring him back. He is capable of being a #3 safety if Smith or Pool leaves.

Where Is Mark Sanchez Headed?

Mark Sanchez has appropriately received an avalanche of good press this week for the job he did putting together “Jets West.” There is no question Sanchez has progressed immensely as a leader of this team and has the respect of the locker room. Those things are undeniably part of being a successful quarterback in the NFL, beyond that Sanchez has many other admirable qualities that are exactly what you want to see from your franchise quarterback —

  • Hard worker – Constantly mentioned as being “first one to arrive, last one to leave” type of guys when it comes to workouts/film study. Somebody like Vince Young would be the complete antithesis of this.
  • Clutch – He plays better in bigger spots, as illustrated by his success at the end of games this year, especially in the two minute drill and his four road playoff wins. Sanchez isn’t afraid of the big moment and seems to thrive in it.
  • Winner – As a NFL starter, his overall record is 23-14 with four playoff wins.
  • Mobility/Creativity – He has an ability to see the pass rush, break the pocket and create something with his feet.
  • Good Enough Arm – He doesn’t have the strongest arm in the NFL but he can still make the necessary throws in the playbook and has a great deep ball.

Regardless of those positive traits, there is a reason Sanchez has been near the bottom of many major passing categories during his first two seasons. He still struggles with his accuracy and consistency. I am not too big into the whole body language thing, but you can see when he is struggling by the way he carries himself, which he needs to work on.

I am not sure if Mark Sanchez is ever going to be an elite quarterback in the NFL. Yet, I absolutely think he has the ability to be one of the better starters in the league and win a Super Bowl, especially if he continues to be supported like he is by this Jets roster.

The Jets don’t need him throwing for 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns next year to get where they want to be. If he can improve on his completion percentage and by improve I mean at least get it in the 58-60% range, along with continue to cut back the turnovers (he dropped from 20 INTs in year one, to 12 in year two), the Jets are going to have a very good chance to contend for a Super Bowl.

Personally, if Sanchez can give the Jets 20-25 touchdowns, 11-14 INTs, 3,500-3,750 yards, and a 58-60 completion percentage, I’d be thrilled. Maybe at some point in his career, he will progress further and put up a couple of elite years. Yet, this team is built to win right now and Sanchez is ready to take them there if takes another step in the right direction during  year three.

Braylon Or Santonio? Decisions, Decisions…

Where’s your vote going?

Braylon Edwards – 53 receptions, 904 yards, 7 TDs (16 regular season games) –  9 receptions, 164 yards, 1 TD in playoffs

  • 6’3, 214 pounds
  • Physical, strong blocker
  • Freakish combination of size and speed
  • Struggled with drops prior to 2010 season
  • DUI during 2010 season
  • Made selfish comments after AFC Championship Game loss in 2009

Santonio Holmes – 52 receptions, 746 yards, 6 TDs (12 regular season games) – 9 receptions, 127 yards, 2 TDs in playoffs

  • 5’11, 192 pounds
  • Former Super Bowl MVP
  • Bizarrely clutch, dynamic playmaker
  • Struggled with drops at times last season
  • Suspended 4 games to start 2010 season
  • Made selfish comments after AFC Championship Game loss in 2010 (A Jets WR tradition)

List Of Jets West Attendees

Gathered from the various media members in attendance and of course, Twitter —

  • QB Mark Sanchez
  • QB Mark Brunell
  • QB Kevin O’Connell
  • QB Greg McElroy
  • TE Dustin Keller
  • TE Jeff Cumberland
  • WR Braylon Edwards (arrived late)
  • WR Brad Smith
  • WR Patrick Turner
  • WR Jeremy Kerley
  • WR Scotty McKnight
  • WR Logan Payne
  • FB John Conner
  • RB Joe McKnight
  • RB LaDainian Tomlinson

Not a bad list…especially considering Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith are free agents. I’d like to see Shonn Greene get out there, along with Bilal Powell. Jerricho Cotchery didn’t attend because he is still rehabbing from his back injury. There are rumors that Santonio Holmes will show up but from what I have read, he hasn’t yet.

Note that is Patrick Turner and Scotty McKnight pictured, in case you were wondering.