How Will The New York Jets Play The Peyton Manning Hand?

The Jet Report explores how the Jets could approach Peyton Manning in the coming weeks

Not enough has been said out of Florham Park regarding Mark Sanchez, to change our minds about this. In seven days when the “play clock” runs out on the Colts who would owe Peyton Manning 28 million unless they release him, the Jets will be one of those teams who inquire about his services. Not just to grab a few headlines either. At first, they will try to do it subtly. It won’t work. Given their recent history, the Jets just don’t do subtle very well. On the field or off of it.

The Colts have to make a move on March 8th. If they don’t cut Manning loose, his 25 million dollar bonus kicks in. The number would be an insanely steep price to pay, when considering that QB Andrew Luck is slated to be selected first overall by Indy in the NFL Draft this April.

After the shock we all experience in seeing Manning actually let go dies down, the sharks will immediately hit the water smelling for blood.

Miami, looking to make a splash these days and in need of a starter, will claim they own the best chance to catch him. They could even be right. The Redskins and Daniel Snyder should be in the mix too because after all, an exorbitantly high priced big named star coming off of many surgeries will be available. It’s possible Peyton ends up as a Cardinal, paired with WR Larry Fitzgerald.

There will be other teams coming to the surface too. Recent reports from around the league support this belief.

The Jets? They will do more than just survey this situaton.

Because of the delicate nature of possibly having to fall back to Mark Sanchez should Manning sign elsewhere though, we expect the Jets to play it off early on. Posing as a club that is dipping it’s toes in the water just to “feel the temperature” of things.

How quickly however, could the Rex Ryan coach speak of “Mark’s still our guy” turn into “Mark was our guy,” should a crush on Peyton and the chance to sign him be too much for Jets owner Woody Johnson to resist?

Pretty quickly.

Is Manning the best move for the Jets right now? Given the legend’s health risk, age, and the addition of OC Tony Sparano to spearhead a “rushing first” attack on offense we’ll say no, but explain why in further detail another day.

Our focus for now is on how the Jets will play this hand.

We will guess that the Jets level of interest in Peyton is already more serious than just window shopping. Yet following our theory regarding the team hedging their bet to appear “Pro Sanchez” in case they lose the lottery, or learn that Manning is damaged goods, GM Mike Tannenbaum will try to employ the “stealth bomber” style.

One that calls for diving in and out of the water gathering “data” regarding Manning’s neck, cap solutions, and even Reggie Wayne, unknown to other GM’s and reporters like a Navy Seal. Tanny will do this by taking cover behind his go to tag line of doing his yearly “due diligence,” in the market. Claiming the club naturally has to look at every player and position, including Peyton Manning.

Signs of a clear interest by the Jets will become apparent however, after ESPN shows video highlights of Mr Laser Rocket Arm firing balls on a high school practice field, with Jets officials on hand. While Johnson is spotted that same night by Page Six with Archie Manning, having dinner on the West Side.

The Jets cover will have been blown. Then, look out. Can you imagine the back pages?

The Mannings May Own New York….Peyton and Eli?…Jets Trying to Steal Thunder from Super Bowl Champs.. Jets have lost faith in Sanchez. Manning-sanity.

Once that line of “covert” crosses over into “buyer” it will be tough to reel back in for any NFL club. Much less for the team that lost it’s cameo role as the top team in New York, in a matter of six winter weeks, and may want it right back. Thinking that the Manning THEY would be purchasing would be the same great one they last saw when he last played an NFL game. Against them in the 2010 playoffs.

For the Jets, the downside of a drama growing from a quiet inquiry into a media circus, is the lingering affect it could have on the guy who WILL steer the ship next season: Mark Sanchez.

A player whose confidence seems so adolescent at times, yet a guy who at 25, is still young. In need of nurturing, better coaching, and alot of emotional repairing. As opposed to further psychological damage that could be obtained from having to answer endless questions starting in July about his near exit OUT of New York.

Should Manning be pursued by the Jets yet end up elsewhere, Sanchez COULD take a lesson from Jets CB Antonio Cromartie. A player who after Nnamdi Asomugha signed with the Eagles after a maniacal post lockout chase by the Jets for the top free agent corner ended, harbored no visible ill will in playing temporary second fiddle. Cro stated instead that “it’s a business,” where teams have the right to do what is in their best interests to upgrade wherever they see fit.

As of now, with less than a week to go until the Colts press that red “detonate” button it’s all just speculation. For us, you, Manning, the Colts themselves, any NFL teams who covet him, and of course the Jets.

Gang Green could have avoided all of this Peyton talk that swims around them now, by declaring that “Mark Sanchez is the starter in 2012” with a stronger, more forceful tone since that final loss in Miami on New Years day. Instead they haven’t.

So what are we supposed to think? What many out there believe already. That the Manning sweepstakes may very well include the team from New York that doesn’t own one yet.

Black Spring – NFL Combine & All Star Clownery

Justin breaks down the NFL Combine and what we learned from the NBA All-Star Game

Tequila is not for the faint of heart. Neither is getting whipped with a belt about 20 times as a crowd of drunken lunatics scream for more. Both things happened in conjunction Friday night at the always classy Coyote Ugly, so my attempt to cover the start of the 2012 NFL Combine was simply reduced to me trying to put enough meat in my body that blinking felt like an Olympic exercise while I heard Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks ramble on about Indy without Peyton, the beauty of the 3 cone drill, and the various difficulties of switching guards to tackles and back again.

Still, I carried on. The best thing about the combine is the back and forth that ex-players and analysts have about the combine being worthless, pointless, having nothing to do with football, yet glancing over the fact that the newest iteration of the hideous workout uniform combined with super HD cameras create an almost uncomfortable level of voyeurism as GM’s and coaches stare in the stands like they’re at some bizarro slaughterhouse or bull auction, scanning each player for body fat, wobbly knees, nose hair, tattoos, and for the Raiders – telekinetic ability. And when they’re done looking from afar, they bring them into a room with various astrological charts, gypsy psychics, polygraphs, Rorschach blots and Friendly’s style color ins.

That’s the process. So who WON the combine? RG3! The great hope for whatever god awful franchise he goes to. While Griffin can run, throw, run, run, and throw a deep ball pretty good, he played at BAYLOR. Baylor. You know what I know about Baylor? That Phil Taylor is from Baylor. And they play against some of the worst defenses in college football. Not the biggest challenge for a quarterback who is going against corner backs, linebackers, and defensive lineman that aren’t even being invited to the combine.

Before going further, I’ll admit I’ve developed an SEC bias when it comes to skill players. AJ Green, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Mark Ingram etc. etc. Why the bias? Because it’s been proven time and time again that the new conference of power is the SEC, and it’s not even close. The PAC 12 is great except for the fact that they have Washington, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon State. The Big 12 is full of “traditional” powers that have weakened substantially and the Big 10 is old power that may or may not see some sort of resurgence in the next 10 years. Go watch Michigan State vs. Alabama in their bowl game two years ago.

But does the combine even matter any more? The combine, like the NBA and NFL all star games, is slowly being taken over by player agents, as many agents for prospective first round picks advise their players not to even bother with running or throwing. There is no upside they say, except to satisfy a bunch of analysts that have absolutely no effect on that players draft status. Too much money to risk, too little incentive to perform.

So concerning the combine, what’s the counterargument against the pro day passing against the combine passing for quarterbacks specifically? Think about this. Is a quarterback prospect going to have his college players to throw to when he gets to training camp? Is said player going to tell his offensive coordinator “I’ve never really thrown back shoulder throws, so let’s just keep things simple and maybe I can work on that stuff in the next off season”? Having something that tailored to a players skill set is almost comical when you talk about a guy who is going to be a first round pick, so he sure as hell better be able to make every throw, even if it’s with a set of scrubs in a flag football game.

So the freakshow is over, and it’s time for the truly insane to come out with 4398 mock drafts, but before that, a brief note on the NBA All Star Game. I don’t care if it is a clown-show at heart, things got SERIOUS in the 4th quarter. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made me weep tears of joy as they drained 3’s from the corner and dunked like they were in the Colosseum scene from Escape From LA. And to cap off my childlike joy Lebron James FAILED. Again. But I’ll say this, it’s the All Star Game, not the Finals. Oh, about that.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the perceived mental weakness of James coupled with the most athletic physique to ever play basketball. Maybe he will win 2 or 3 championships, but the Kobe and Jordan era is over for good, and no one will ever challenge them again, especially when the best players are on a team consisting of 3 of the top 10 players in the league that was artificially created to win a championship in the cheapest and most sacrilegious method in the history of sports. CHEATING THE SALARY CAP SYSTEM.

As I’ve said all along, Miami has no soul. So if they want to ever get to that mountain of the immortals, they better win 7, and they better start this year.

TOJ 12 Pack Of Thoughts On New York Jets – Headline Players Edition

TOJ with a 12 pack of thoughts on the Jets most talked about players so far this off-season

March 13th is getting closer by the second, along with the days prior to it which be filled with endless free agency rumors. The dry spot in the NFL schedule is just about done with the combine underway and Rex Ryan giving a quote filled press conference yesterday. Let’s celebrate with a 12 pack of thoughts on the names most frequently being discussed when it comes to the New York Jets off-season these days —

1. Mark Sanchez – Where is he? Well we know he was at a Knicks game last weekend with D’Brickashaw Ferguson. He took the time to tweet Santonio Holmes a Valentine’s Day Card and that he is probably spending some nights with Kate Upton…lucky guy. Regardless, it is time for Sanchez to end his media silence and speak up for himself. I want to hear Sanchez, say “this is my team, the front office can bring in whoever they want to compete with me but I will be starting quarterback and will get this locker room fixed. Me and Santonio have been successful in the past and we will be again. As for my work ethic, I challenge whoever said this about me to show their face because I pride myself on being the first one in the building and the last one out everyday. I expect to see all my skill position players at Jets West in the coming months!”

You can take that verbatim if you want, Mark. Just cite me (@TurnOnTheJets).

2. Peyton Manning – Rex Ryan left the door open yesterday by saying the Jets were open to exploring all opportunities at every position. Listen, the Jets are going to kick the tires on Manning like 26 other teams in the league are, that doesn’t mean he is coming here. I am not sure if he is healthy. I don’t think he wants to play for the Jets and I don’t think it is smart move for this organization. Yet, until he is in a Cardinals or Redskins uniform, we won’t stop hearing about Manning and the Jets.

3. Santonio Holmes – He has sent out a sporadic tweet here and there about being excited for next season, of course followed with the #ToneTime hashtag. Santonio is who he is and that certainly isn’t a captain but at that same certainly the kind of receiver you can win with. He is on the team for the next two years so let’s hope he bounces back and starts playing like the number one receiver we paid him to be.

4. Sione Pouha – The big fella is the only major free agent the Jets have to worry about bringing back. They aren’t going to franchise tag him but are apparently working feverishly to get him under contract before free agency starts. Hopefully, they lock him down to a 2-3 year deal so he can keep anchoring the run defense until Kenrick Ellis is ready.

5. Shonn Greene – Is a lead back? Is he not a lead back? Will the Jets get him support via free agency or the draft? Personally, I am leaning towards thinking he isn’t a true lead back. Yet, the Jets don’t have the means to add a big name at running back. Look for them to add a journeyman veteran like Tim Hightower or Tashard Choice, a mid-round draft pick and then hopefully expand Joe McKnight’s role in the offense.

6. Courtney Upshaw/Melvin Ingram/Trent Richardson/Mark Barron – Popular names being thrown around with the Jets for the upcoming draft. Upshaw is the most ready to contribute 3-4 outside linebacker in the draft, which means if he gets near number 16, Mike T needs to make a move to get him. Ingram has potential but I worry about his migration to the 3-4 system. There is some chatter about Richardson falling a bit now due to his recent surgery. I still don’t think the Jets have a shot at him and that is probably a good thing, I am not sold on the value of first round running backs. Mark Barron would be an ideal addition if the Jets found way to maneuver their picks to get him in the 25-35 range.

7. Bart Scott/Calvin Pace – Also known as “those two slow Jets linebackers who never get to the quarterback.” There are rumors about both of them being cut. I would guess the Jets eat the guaranteed money and cut Scott but hold on to Pace, who is valuable against the run and can be a good secondary pass rushing option. As for the filling the hole at inside linebacker, I wouldn’t be surprised if they handed his role off to Josh Mauga for the time being and spend a middle round pick on one.

8. Jeremy Kerley – A player we are all excited to see in a bigger role next season. A role that could be bigger than expected if the Jets don’t invest in the free agent wide receiver market. TOJ is hoping they take a long look at a player like Robert Meachem or Laurent Robinson but not overly confident that will happen. The Jets could add a cheaper player with deep speed (maybe Harry Douglas of Atlanta?) and then add a draft pick at WR with some size.

9. Every Ex-Jet Imaginable – There is an ongoing infatuation among Jets fans about bringing ex-players back, most notably Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, John Abraham, and Dwight Lowery. Honestly, I do think Braylon makes a good amount of practical sense…I just doubt it happens.

10. Dustin Keller – It is going to be interesting to see how he fits in Tony Sparano’s offense and if the Jets bring in a blocking tight end to pair with him. Expect to see Anthony Fasano in green and white, if he hits the open market.

11. Wayne Hunter – Who are the Jets going to bring it to challenge him for the right tackle position? Vernon Carey seems like a logical move, as does bringing in a draft pick. It is a scary thought to imagine Hunter starting again next year, even if Sparano can protect his deficiencies better.

12. Eric ‘Freaking Smith – How are the Jets going to improve their safety position? They need a complete overhaul, which in my mind is signing a free agent (Reggie Nelson, Tyvon Branch, Michael Griffin are out there), investing a high pick on one and then bringing Jim Leonhard back on a veteran’s minimum deal as insurance. If Eric Smith comes back it has to be in a reserve/situational/special teams role.

The Dead Zone – A Brief Review Of the NY/Boston LoveFest

Justin takes a look around the state of the sports franchises in New York and Boston in the slowest sports time of the year

Sometimes it’s great to be a New York sports fan. Especially when you’re doing tequila shots in a NY located “Boston sports bar” and the bartender is wearing a Celtics shirt, the Celtics of course losing to the god awful Lakers (Nobody likes World Peace) only minutes before. I have to admit I felt a momentary lapse of sadness for this guy, who has in the last 5 days probably been bombarded with drunk Giants fans issuing proclamations that Boston sports are about to undergo a nuclear winter.

Which they are.

The Celtics are in the middle of a Ainge vs. Fans battle that is going to lose hearts, minds, and general optimism for about the next 2-3 years. The Boston Red Sox are being managed by Bobby Valentine (SERIOUSLY? METS MAN BOBBY V?), and are going to be the biggest target in baseball coming off a series of articles that paint the locker room as something out of Blue Mountain State and Animal House combined, the Patriots are going to undergo the “Belichick as GM” annual scrutiny, and anything less than using at least their two first round and two second round draft picks is going to turn away die hard Pats fans until Ryan Mallett starts suiting up and Tom Brady has a touch of gray in that hair, leading to a civil war between Mallett fans and Brady fans, and even a few ancient Bledsoe fans who will issue bible proclamations “for he who taketh that which is not his, that much will be taken away”.

So everything’s good in NY right? Maybe for the Giants, who are going to most likely dump guys that didn’t play this year and possibly trade Osi if they take a defensive end/outside linebacker in the first round of the draft. Jason Pierre Paul is doing his best impression of someone whose genuinely happy just to play for the Giants. Oh yeah, and he is doing the unthinkable in mastering a professional sports position in about 2 years, and will probably go to the Pro Bowl between 7 and 10 times in the next decade while Vernon Gholston starts a football summer camp and contemplates partial ownership opportunities of the IFL.

I’d like to add a general thank you to the Giant fans who gave me a couple bud lights and a few shots of tequila on the 7:16 AM train to Penn Station from Deer Park this past Tuesday (The day of the parade). Really helped me start my day right.

Meanwhile, the Jets have Wayne Hunter and Vlad Ducasse. Jealous yet? They have a half decent (no pro bowls, no all pro nods) receiver who may undergo the Burnett syndrome (who the Yankees are trying to shop as we speak, but are having a GlenGarry Glen Ross moment, Jack Lemon specifically) the next year as he and Mark Sanchez have a Days Of Our Lives style back and forth exchange of opinions, strategies, while everyone wonders why in god’s name the Jets have decided to completely revamp their receiving core every year of Rex Ryan’s tenure.

I’ll tell you why. Because Rex Ryan frankly has little to no interest on the offensive side of the ball. The case stated as thus: If he did, their line wouldn’t have been complete garbage, they wouldn’t have passed 63 times in a game, and they wouldn’t have signed someone like Derrick Mason because he was great 6 years ago.

All Rex Ryan cares about, genuinely lives or dies by, is his defense. And even that didn’t get it done, so for those of us who continually asked, “WHY IN GOD’s NAME IS CROMARTIE NOT PLAYING PRESS COVERAGE?!?!?!?!?! DENNIS THURMAN SAID HE NEEDS TO PLAY PRESS COVERAGE!” we got a whole lot of Mike Pettine, which is fine, except for the fact that the head coach is one of the best defensive coordinators in football. That’s like Mike Martz being your head coach, and having the offensive line coach call the plays.

So what do I make of Jeremy Lin taking over the Knicks? Fear, love, joy, apprehension, etc. etc. Why? Because for the first time in two years I saw glimpses of the D’Antoni system, which is going to die for a while once Carmelo gets the ball back in his hands. And pivots. Pivots back. Pivots again. Ball fake. Crossover. Stop. Pull up jumper. Basket. At times, Carmelo might work better with a bunch of cardboard cutouts stationed at various points throughout the floor, because no point guard is going to run this system while Carmelo is around.

What could fix this? Dumping Amare with a first round pick and getting Deron Williams/Brandon Jennings/ anyone not 38? (sorry Steve) Maybe. That would at least let Lin start off the bench and Shumpert go back to being “anything but a point guard”. So what’s stopping it? James Dolan’s heart of pure evil. That and the fact that Mike D’Antoni is probably going to be coaching the Clippers next year. (Just a strange thought).

I frankly don’t care what happens with the majority of the Yankees roster, as long as they kick the piss out of Bobby Valentine’s Red Sox at least 8 times next year. To add to this wish list, I and others will hope that Kuroda and Pineda keep their ERA under 4, A.J Burnett will play for the Pirates, and Bob Lorenz gets real loose on air and admits his hatred for the amount of corporate advertising around the new Yankee stadium.

Despite the inherent ugliness, I will be at Yankees stadium, where for every pregame I will find myself looking out at the beautiful rooftops of the projects from the Target shopping center parking garage, wondering if I’m going to be walking/crawling/running out of the stadium and hoping my record improves from last year’s 0-3.

For now, it’s winter? (49 in February). Time to be productive and attempt to crawl upwards in my analysis of the 4-12 Buccaneers and Browns. At least there are serious changes coming to both organizations.

TOJ New York Jets Free Agency Primer 1.0

TOJ breaks down what some of the New York Jets options could be in free agency next month

Free agency opens March 13th but that doesn’t mean it is too early to start breaking down potential options for the New York Jets, who have some work to do. Regardless of what one of the Mike’s (Lombardi, Florio, Francesa) in the mainstream media would like you to believe the Jets aren’t that far away from being a playoff contender. And in this day and age, when you are a playoff contender, you are a Super Bowl contender because once you get into that tournament anything can happen.

For today, I am going to work off Pete Prisco’s top 50 free agent rankings, despite strongly disagreeing with his ordering it still provides a good overview of who is available. I will also include a few other players that could interest the Jets who aren’t listed there. Let’s go through their positional needs –

Wide Receiver – Without question the Jets need a new starter opposite Santonio Holmes but don’t expect them to make a splash here by pursuing one of the big name players like Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Stevie Johnson, or Dwayne Bowe. If the Jets were smart they’d focus their attention on a less pricey speedster like Pierre Garcon or Robert Meachem. Laurent Robinson could be another intriguing option, coming off a very strong year in Dallas. Wanting Braylon Edwards back is a good sentiment but I highly doubt it happens.

Tight End – Look for the Jets to add a blocking tight end to pair with Dustin Keller. Anthony Fasano isn’t a free agent yet but there is chatter he could be released if he doesn’t take a pay cut. If he does hit the open market, don’t be surprised to see Tony Sparano encourage the Jets to pounce on him.

Running Back – The Jets could use another back to provide depth and push Shonn Greene. Ryan Grant is an option with high potential but he could be out of their price range. Tashard Choice and Derrick Ward are cheaper options who have been productive in the past.

Backup Quarterback – Chad Henne makes the most sense here. He knows Sparano’s system, is talented enough to push Sanchez, while still not having enough success in his career yet to have a problem being a backup.

Right Tackle – Demetrius Bell is the best option out there but I have tough time seeing Buffalo letting him walk. Vernon Carey could receive a look because of his history with Sparano. Beyond that, you are looking at a collection of mostly scrap heap veterans or taking a risk on a player like Jared Gaither, who has looked great at times but has injury and attitude questions surrounding him.

Linebacker – Most people feel the Jets will address their need for a pass rusher at outside linebacker through the draft. If they go the free agency route, I don’t see them throwing a big money offer at Mario Williams as some people have suggested. Anthony Spencer is a cheaper option with some upside. Jarrett Johnson and Jameel McClain are Ravens who could receive a look from Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine. Manny Lawson is also a free agent who the Jets were rumored to have some interest in last off-season.

Safety – Considering the Jets could very well need not just one but two safeties, they should take a long look at a very intriguing safety market. LaRon Landry is a big name but is inconsistent in coverage and injury prone. Tyvon Branch would be a better option if he hits the open market, which is a big if. Reggie Nelson and Michael Griffin are good mid-level options who would be an upgrade over Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard, or Brodney Pool.

Give The Kid Some Money: A Look At The Purple People

Justin continues his look at where every NFL team currently stands, with a breakdown of the Minnesota Vikings

Justin Fritze will be breaking down where every team in the NFL currently stands for us here at TOJ, going from worst to first…continuing today with the Minnesota Vikings

Previous Articles

The NFL is the only sport that can say without pause that anyone can win on any day at any venue, home or away. Despite their inability to get anything going the entire season, there’s always some sliver of greatness in the bottom five of the league. There’s always rookies coming on (or about to come on in the next year’s draft), a strange storyline about a team that was on top and fell off (Vikings with Favre), or as with this year, it’s the anticipation of a rookie quarterback (Luck) and one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game having a pre-draft three way metaphysical battle of the psyches between past, present, and ownership.

Would Peyton help Luck? Would Peyton survive? Is Irsay trying to become the new face of the Colts? Is Luck doomed to suffer under the bloodshot eyes of Irsay?

Crawling upwards slightly from the bottom of the barrel you’ve got the Rams, who had the worst luck of any team in the NFL (11 cornerbacks RIP) and have undergone one of the most rapid declines since the Greatest Show On Turf, which can be summed up as a bad deal on the tail end of the #1 draft pick before they changed the rookie pay scale, an experiment with McDaniels that ended in complete and total failure, and the once vaunted Spags defense that really had no talent to begin with, and thus, no impact, even in the terrible NFC West.

With that, I turn attentions again to the Vikings. The Vikings I doomed for at least four years after their stunt with Favre (every year with aging quarterback means two years of failure afterwards), the smoke and mirrors Vikings, the crypt keepers, the old and the unfortunate. The Vikings to me are like a machine that never quite works right. They’re a cheap dirt bike. Half the price, less fun, and prone to throw a piston every few days. The past year has gone as such: Brett Favre nearly dies his second year at the helm, Percy Harvin has migraines that may or may not force him into early retirement, and Adrian Peterson, the greatest running back in the league, just tore an ACL and an MCL.

There’s not much I believe in when it comes to the Vikings. It’s a whirlpool of underachievement. Looking at the all important secondary, Antoine Winfield is too old to keep up with the freaks of the NFC North: Greg Jennings. Calvin Johnson. Earl Bennett? Ok that’s a stretch.

Do they want to grab Morris Claiborne and attempt to put a stop to the aerial assault of Detroit and Green Bay? He could give Harvin a spell on special teams. He also played with Patrick Peterson, who gave the Cardinals a few minutes on sports center as they went ahead and lost for what seemed like the 156th time in the past two years.

Turning to the guys in the middle, Chad Greenway is one of my favorite linebackers in the league simply for the fact that after he sacks somebody, I imagine him screaming something about the cost of the GreenWay, or something about traffic on the GreenWay, an offhand Beltway reference.

The Vikings aren’t going to trade down for a defensive lineman, so they might try and grab someone in free agency or a defensive end/outside linebacker like Whitney Mercilus in the 3rd. They’ll have Jared Allen back, and hopefully Kevin Williams survives the blade unlike Pat. Although Pat is 39 and Kevin is 31, so that move kind of made sense, especially when you look at the actual athletes on teams like the Giants or the 49ers and the general trend towards speed rushers instead of fatboys.

So why “give the kid some money”? Christian Ponder NEEDS some money. He needs some big time. Some Deion. He needs someone who can make him look good. He needs Justin Blackmon. If for no other reason than the fact that they need SOMETHING to take the pressure off Percy Harvin for the rest of his Vikings career. If Kyle Rudolph pans out as a Gronk prototype, the fact that Adrian Peterson can rip off a 94 yard run in the strong I formation should get him open on about 99% of play action bootlegs. Every linebacker bites agains the Adrian Peterson play action fake. There’s no choice when you’re dealing with that sort of vicious juggernaut with a head full of steam.

So what would Justin Blackmon mean? The second coming of Randy Moss? The Third coming of Randy Moss? Neither. Two legitimate receivers on the edge, a working man’s Gronkowski and the best running back in football. That’s what they’ll need if they want to compete in the NFC North.

So enters the Ponder detractors. Ponder doesn’t need elite talent, he needs to be a good quarterback, which he can do with a 2nd or 3rd round receiver and a bolstered offensive line. Regardless the play of Ponder, Matt Kalil will be Matt Kalil, whereas Justin Blackmon can’t be Justin Blackmon if he’s getting passes thrown at his ankles on 3rd down.

Never mind the fact that Steve Hutchinson seems to be on his way out and they may in fact start a kid from Slippery Rock. The Vikings, in essence, need to get more blue collar before they get big time.

Late round value at cornerback and defensive line could get this team into at least playoff contention. Hell an 8-8 season would be looked at as an accomplishment, and prevent Adrian Peterson from suffering the same fate as Larry Fitzgerald – a career whose potential never even came close to what it should be due to John Skelton, Matt Leinart, and Kevin Kolb’s greatest con of all time in getting $50 million for nothing. (If Larry plays his cards right this week however, and Peyton Manning ends donning the Kurt Warner 2.0 uniform, all will be forgotten.)

For pure excitement, I hope they get Blackmon and attempt to grab some lineman in free agency, because I’ve got no horse in the race, and flash is fun. Especially in Minnesota. Which may become LA.

Digesting The 2011-2012 NFL Season From A Jets Perspective

The hard digestion of the 2011-2012 NFL season from a New York Jets perspective

If you would have told most New York football fans prior to the season starting that there would be a parade marching through the city on February 7th, the majority would have had to concede that it would more likely be the Jets than the Giants walking down the Canyon of Heroes.

Giants fans might disagree with their 20/20 hindsight  but they were not an overly confident fanbase heading into the season, coming back off back to back seasons without making the playoffs and an off-season that was being questioned by most. On the other hand, the Jets were off back to back AFC Championship Game appearances and seemed to be ready to take the next step.

I have been quick to point out that the media has been exaggerating the Jets failures this past year. The talk around the team is like they went 2-14, not 8-8. Yet, let’s be honest with ourselves before the season started if somebody would have told you that –

1. The Patriots would sweep the Jets.

2. The Giants would beat the Jets propelled by a ridiculous 99 yard touchdown, that would launch their Super Bowl run.

3. The Jets would miss the playoffs thanks to losses to the Giants and the Dolphins.

4. Santonio Holmes would quit on the team in the final game.

5. Mark Sanchez would have an ugly regression to close the 2011 season.

5. The Giants and Patriots would have a rematch in the Super Bowl, with the Giants winning again.

You probably would have vomited a little in your mouth right?

It is okay to admit this past year sucked on many levels. I didn’t enjoy a second walking to work today through a sea of Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs jerseys, while thinking about how the hell the Jets could here.

So, the question really is what is this team going to do now?

To be clear that I am not one of these flip-flopping convenient fans, who come and go with the Jets depending on their success, I still firmly believe in Rex Ryan as a head coach. Many of his comments look stupid after this season but he has breathed life into a lifeless franchise and can coach a hell of a defense. The failures of this year will serve him well in the long run, as I believe he will be wise enough to learn from his previous mistakes and improve into a better coach. Getting punched in the mouth this past year could very well be the best thing that ever happened to him.

I will not act like I wouldn’t be excited for a healthy Peyton Manning to join this team because if it happens, I will be cautiously excited. That being said, I do not think he is going to play here and I do think Mark Sanchez is the long term answer at quarterback. I am aware that puts me in the minority but take a glance at Eli Manning and Drew Brees first three years in the NFL and tell me it is smart to throw in the towel on Sanchez at this point. I doubt he will ever be a Pro-Bowl quarterback but I don’t doubt that he can win alot of games in the NFL and with the right team can win a Super Bowl.

Mike Tannenbaum has had his ups and downs. He had a bad year last year but he has had enough good years in the past to have some kind of faith in him bouncing back. There is a need for speed on defense, coupled with upgrades at safety and linebacker. An improved right tackle and a split end are also necessities on offense. How the Jets address these needs will go a long way to determining whether they are 8-8 or 11-5 next year.

Heading into 2012, there won’t be any brash predictions for Super Bowls. There will be a knowledge that this a talented team that could cause damage if they get into the playoffs. We learned this past year, like many years before, that all you need to do is get into the tournament and anything can happen.

The King Keeps His Crown: How The Jets Can Learn From The Giants

TJ on what the New York Jets can learn from the New York Giants

As difficult as the winter months were for the Jets, enduring their own crash and locker room dramas, as the hated Patriots and “Big Brother” Giants just rolled along, Gang Green should ditch any small minded “G Men” envy, and get out the notepads instead. Rex Ryan said that he reviewed his own performance with a pen and paper this past week while vacationing in Hawaii. The Jets entire organization should do the same. Using a big part of this important break in the action, by studying how the Giants beat their AFC East rival three times in four years. Along the way to adding to more Vince Lombardi hardware to their own collection.


The way to defeat top five QB’s and fast break passing games in general, is NOT by drafting more cornerbacks to cover receivers as the Jets did by selecting Kyle Wilson two years back. It is by hurrying the decision making and release time of these signal callers by having speed up front. Alot of it.

Draft pass rushers on the outside. Sign them as free agents. Grow them in the basement of Florham Park. Do anything it takes. Just find them.

The Giants have now twice in the Super Bowl, and once in the regular season since 2008, slowed down the Pats passing attack by living close to Tom Brady. Doing it with tipped balls. Sacks. Pressures. Presence.

The names seem endless. Tuck. Osi. JPP. Kiwanuka. Strahan. Not one but an army of attackers who can line up anywhere and who together, allow the other seven to drop back and bolster coverage.

The concept of “rush three drop eight” helped the Jets beat the Colts and Pats in the playoffs last year, but doesn’t STRIKE THE FEAR OF GOD in these touchdown machines who line up under center. Monsters who have taken over the NFL lately. It is time for the Jets to put a scare into these guys. Like the Giants did and have for a number of years now.

As for the Giants latest run to the title, it wasn’t just the great Tom Brady who fell victim to the tsunami caused up front. Big Blue even forced perhaps the game’s best, Aaron Rodgers, to throw less and escape more, by running. This took it’s toll mentally on the Pack. The Giants got to Rodgers just enough that despite the Packers many drops during the NFC divisional round, the feel for Green Bay’s beloved QB in his own pocket went from comfort, to serious concern.

The Jets have to strive to obtain this type of potential defensively on the edge going forward. Period.


We spoke to Rex Ryan prior to the 2011 season and he told us that his dad Buddy taught him that defensive lines are built from the inside out. That size inside will flush QB’s outside where ends can clean up.

We don’t have the resume or pedigree to thumb our noses at theories created by the father of the 46 defense. We DO want to remind Rex and GM Mike Tannenbaum however, that it is not 1986 anymore either. QB’s play differently.

The athleticism has changed at the position.

We no longer live in an age of the “five step drop and plant the feet” quarterback. Most can throw on the run out of designed rollouts anyhow. It is forcing receiver routes that are free to roam after five yards to be cut off, that has to be the top priority for defensive units nowadays.

Become ultra fast up front. Crush and close pockets quickly. Make receivers stop and turn back to the ball.


Second, is the dual need of quality QB play and the fear of owning threats downfield on offense. We all remember how Mark Sanchez struggled this season. Yet how many remember the struggles that elite Eli Manning had in HIS first three seasons? Eli has since calmed down and settled in to becoming one of the best. For Sanchez, the jury is still out, yet patience and understanding that it doesn’t happen out the gates for all QB’s on the Jets part, will be necessary.

No matter how IMPATIENT we as a society, and collection of fan bases who expect instant success, have become.

It took time for the younger Manning brother to become the player he is. Now it is the Jets turn. Any discussion by Jets brass regarding the recent notion of ditching Sanchez, should include a serious review of how and why Eli outgrew his own growing pains .

For the Jets to become a contender year in year out, the front four has to pressure the quarterback. In addition, Sanchez will have to be more than a game manager. The Niners Alex Smith became that type late in 2011 and can be the example for the future upside of Sanchez. A player who even if he never becomes a Canton bound type, has to deliver throws accurately and on time. Has to be able to do the little things well consistently.

Whether the club feels he can or cannot become that player at a high level, is how he must be how he is judged this offseason. Taking into account not just the 8-8 disaster but his prior body of work as well.


The Jets 2012 receiving corps must still look to help Sanchez by providing the threat to stretch the field too. Even if they haven’t proven to be as productive as the current Giants crew of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham are. The new NFL calls for the ability to score points quickly at times.

To their credit, the Jets recognized this need heading into 2011 and actually tried to force feed a downfield attack early on. The added concept had little time to mesh new faces with old ones and as a whole, never got on the same page. They shouldn’t abandon this extension of the playbook entirely simply because it failed to work out this time around.

A return to the “Ground and Pound” under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano without some semblance of the ability to open it up at all, will not work in a modern day NFL. One that allows receivers to get open and QB’s to often go untouched.The model of balance, efficiency, and mild potency, just has to be executed better. With mutual trust between the players. Which brings up chemistry.


The Super Bowl champion Giants were “All In.” The 2009 and 2010 Jets were unified as well. A return to that mindset is essential for the Jets, in overcoming the adversity that a long grinding NFL season carries along with it. Choices made as to who to keep, release, and acquire can’t be graded solely by projected production and numbers, but with “team player” included as a category as well.

This task will be left up to Ryan and Tannenbaum, who must establish ground rules that include consequences for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Maybe the Jets guidelines will always be looser than they are for the Giants or Bill Belichick’s tight lipped troops, but there HAVE TO BE SOME.


Leadership from certain players will also play a big part in aiding Ryan’s attempt to get everyone on the same page. If Rex’s Jets truly choose to go without the ceremonial “captains” they will still need de facto ones.

Often times Justin Tuck speaks eloquently on behalf of his club’s vision often times. Manning does as well. Never throwing a teammate under the bus while doing so. Even if the Jets don’t copy the Giants “leadership council” template that Tom Coughlin has invented for his championship team, it is time for a few “go to” guys to make themselves more available vocally. In a bigger way than they have done in prior years.

Inside and outside of the locker room.

We see Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis, two perennial All Pros, as guys who could become the daily quotable ones. Stars who can provide the public with the temperature taking on behalf of the rest of the team. After all, their play has warranted them the right to take on this important role in setting the big picture tone.

In this scenario, others could then fall in line behind them. Follow their lead. Echo their sentiments which to date, have never included any finger pointing. Do this for now. Until a rhythm is established for what it takes to have each others backs in good times and bad. New leaders can develop based off of this pair’s lead.

Mark Sanchez will have to become part of THAT group in the near future. His position on the field requires it. The “Sanchise” may need a few positive performances in order to regain confidence and a belief in him by his own teammates first. Before this added duty is asked of him.

At this point, Mangold and Revis should be the firestarters.


The keys are clear, yet only come after putting an end to the nonsense of caring about who owns the Big Apple. Who cares? There are no trophies awarded to the city’s best, only the league’s best.

Prioritizing a defensive gameplan that chases quarterbacks with the front four, with a QB who must do more than just manage a game, aided by receivers who are threats, on a team that sticks together, is where to start.


Congratulating the Giants as classy Woody Johnson did on Sunday night was a solid initial step in moving away from a local rivalry that may sell tickets, but derails the vision in “sideshow” like ways. Respecting what good teams like the Giants do well while aiming to set in place solid footing in order to achieve one’s own high standard of consistency, is the path of least resistance. Allowing time for more focus on the important things. Such as clarity.

The idea of 59 pass attempts, the amount of tries the Jets had through the air against the pass rushing monsters on the Giants, was not borne out of a calm thought process. Self inflicted distractions that came from the Jets trying to win the “Battle for New York” played a lethal part in the Jets devastating 29-14 Christmas Eve day loss. A defeat that essentially ended Gang Green’s season, only to kickstart the Giants glory ride in the process.


Recognizing the core principles that helped the Giants to beat New England and slow down the unstoppable Rodgers along the way in 2012, would provide a longer shelf life of a foundation, than goals of “winning the day” in the press can ever do.

The Jets are on the map now. It’s time to quit reminding people of that, and time to start battening down the hatches instead. The 2012 season is underway. Any “Peyton Manning” talk, as well as all other big personnel decisions that are to come, have to be diagnosed under the proper lens and microscope.

Great job Giants. Winning six straight games with your backs against the wall, by capitalizing on opponents mistakes, while getting the job done on long drives after trailing late in games.

Jets, it is now your turn, to assess and identify areas that hopefully only stunted the growth that took place over the first two years of the Ryan era. An exciting time for the men in Green and White,  that can be improved upon as long as what happened in 2011 is reviewed by the club with clear minds.

Not emotional ones.

TOJ Super Bowl’s Prediction – Be Worried Giants Fans

TOJ with his prediction for the Super Bowl

Considering my track record on predictions this year, I am glad this will be my final one for awhile.

The Super Bowl? I started the two weeks ago firmly behind the notion of rooting for the Giants. Now after two weeks of listening to them run their mouths and predict parades and victories, while getting in plenty of cheap shots at the Jets…it hasn’t been quite so easy.

Hey, I really get why people hate Rex Ryan and the Jets. I always have. It is annoying to hear so much chatter from a team, when it isn’t your own.

It seems to me that everybody loves the Giants this week and they are overconfident. In a rational world, they should come out and take one on the chin from the Patriots led by Brady and Belichick. But this season hasn’t been a rational one for Jets fans, as everything that could go wrong has went wrong starting with the beating they took in Philadelphia and culminating with Giants/Patriots Championship Game victories aided by lucky special teams plays.

I have come to accept that I won’t be happy with the result either way and as a mature adult, I am going to still run my mouth throughout the game to whichever team is losing or struggling at the particular time and then talk smack to whatever fan base loses.

My prediction? Considering how this season I went, I bet today is the greatest game ever played and the Giants win on a hail mary when four Patriots defenders run into each other and the ball shoots up in the air and magically lands in Henry Hynoski’s hands…or something like that.

Follow #BitterJetFan on Twitter all day. See you on the other side.

Justin’s Super Bowl Prediction – A Fate Worse Than Hell

Justin with his Super Bowl prediction

I’m gonna make this simple. I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, eventually moving to Enfield, Connecticut and finally Long Island. To say I don’t have moral/geographic/psychological dilemmas regarding the HellBowl would be a lie. So why do I see the Patriots losing 28-21 and me being rather upset about it?

As a starting point, there’s nothing quite like the Giants defensive line in the league. They make EVERY defensive end in the league look fat and slow. They’re too fast for tackles and guards to try and keep up with without eventually getting caught for holding, and the Giants have finally found a balance between a two back running attack (with a fullback!), tight end passes off the play action to the “faster than you think” Jake Ballard, and the old school SMU style “run and shoot” passing between 3 or 4 receivers.

What sets the passing game apart is that unlike the way the Patriots use Wes Welker, Victor Cruz is occasionally seen catching a comeback route 25 yards down the field, about 10 yards too far for a prototypical slot guy. Then again, Kevin Gilbride’s offense, once derided by Buddy Ryan as the “chuck and duck”, gives receivers multiple options on every route they run, the results of which being Victor Cruz breaking the Giants receiving yards record, yet somehow missing the Pro Bowl.

He had a bigger impact than almost every receiver in the league, and probably won them at least 2 games singlehandedly. But why would I be upset about the Patriots losing? Because the Giants have slowly taken on the persona of the 2010 Jets right before they played the Patriots. The Jets won that game, but they got soft before the Steelers and were mentally worn out. Still, there’s some part of me that thinks that the Giants aren’t going to be able to keep up this oracle style of fearless prediction. It’s not that the Giants aren’t talented enough to do it, it’s the fact that I feel like Tom Brady has some very pissed off part of him that gets channeled into film study, practice, and more film study.

Brady’s going to know every single defensive scenario the Giants throw at him, and as I predicted very late last night, he’s going to try and wear that Nascar package down to the point where they’re too tired to keep going, and then drop one right up the middle to Woodhead for 10 yards on 3rd down, right after which he will hurry to the line and attempt to get something to Welker over the middle before handing off to Hernandez as Nate Solder becomes a blocking tight end.

He’ll do things like this until they try and substitute, and then beat whoever gets caught out of position, akin to both Jet games this year, when Brady decided to run it down the Jets throat while Rex Ryan has a slow meltdown on the sidelines, watching Brady play Jets football against his own defense that seemed to be falling apart at the seams as Brady firmly planted foot on throat.

Again, why would I be upset at a Giants Super Bowl victory? Because from here on out, the Giants will proclaim that the new MetLife stadium is theirs. Which it will be, and will be until the end of time. There’s no argument against it for at least 4 years. They demolished the Jets on the field they share, went ahead and blew out Aaron Rodgers and then happened to beat the REAL best defense in the league before defeating for the 2nd time, Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. There’s no argument against that. They couldn’t keep the Patriots out of the Superbowl because they are in the opposing conference, but they already beat the PERFECT Patriots team in the SuperBowl in front of the world, beat them on the road in the regular season, and could potentially DO IT AGAIN IN FRONT OF THE WORLD.

If the Jets ever thought they could “own the Patriots”, nothing short of sweeping them next year, and a defeat in the AFC Championship could even scratch the surface of what the Giants have already done.

That’s what Jet fans are going to have to live with for the rest of their lives. They had their chances and couldn’t get it done. Which is already going to create the inner dialogue about the “great” Rex Ryan defense, whose defensive front can’t even hold a candle to the Giants, the running game of the Jets, which the Giants walked all over, and the general modus operandi of the entire organization. Bringing in veterans, stars, rejects, draft busts, attempting to create some sort of flash and dash roster that’s supposed to steamroll the AFC.

Meanwhile, the Giants have been hitting on almost all of their draft picks, getting huge trade return value by dumping guys like Steve Smith, Kevin Boss and Rich Seubert while acquiring Antrel Rolle, the solidifying force of the secondary. That said, I still say the Patriots defense is going to get walked on by Eli Manning. They’re going to run away from Wilfork, Eli is going to keep everything calm and collected while throwing four touchdowns by the start of the 4th quarter. Then, they will run the ball and play action their way to a couple of punts as Brady goes to throw 2 game destroying interceptions as Rob Gronkowski hobbles towards the sideline.

So would I pick the Patriots with a healthy Gronkowski? Of course. Exact same score flipped. That’s the worth of Rob Gronkowski. One touchdown over the seam. But he’s got a high ankle sprain, and things are looking grim for someone who has to make cuts on post routes and attempt to run block against guys like Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka.
There will be no winner tomorrow. Not for anyone with a Jets jersey somewhere in the closet.