NFL Pre-Season Review: Last Of The Week 2 Memories

It is becoming a blur after watching week 2 of preseason football. One half of good football, strange final scores that have little to no relation to how the game went. How is one to judge a preseason football game? Do we just make the most of the first half and try and hash together some sort of highlight reel for rookies? I have found myself up at 6am watching Reggie Bush look like he did in fact deserve that Heisman trophy. I watch Cam Newton grin and smile after almost having his head torn off. I watch the Redskins look…good? No sleep can do strange things to the human mind. People can start to believe things like the Redskins winning the NFC East. Shanahan got a haircut. Anything is possible in Washington.

Game 1: Jaguars vs. Falcons

The Falcons have a serious receiving core. Matt Ryan will probably go over 4,000 yards this year. Julio Jones will run block, catch deep balls, and go over the middle without issue. The Falcons are going to need to outscore teams if they want to win in that division. They score fast. The issue with fast scoring is that if the opposing team has a good run game and can eat up clock, then that Falcons offense is going to be stuck on the sideline.

Defense is not the focal point of the Falcons, which is why they used their 1st,5th and 7th round pick on offense. The biggest star on the Falcons defense is John Abraham. Abraham is 33 years old and may not have enough left in the tank to be the dominant pass rusher of years past. Sean Weatherspoon is a solid linebacker but might not have enough of an impact to pick up the rest of the defense.

For the Jaguars, things looked better in week 2 for Blaine Gabbert, who has a serious gun and seems to look more comfortable in the pocket with every snap. This preseason will be good for Gabbert, who is going to need to feel out the offense against defenses that are trying to make him uncomfortable and rush his throws. He will learn to find his tight end, namely Mercedes Lewis when the play breaks down. 6’6 275. Just throw it to him.

Game 2:  Colts vs. Redskins

Are the Colts on the edge of missing the playoffs? Yes. Peyton Manning might miss the season opener. He did not have his usual receiver camp or practice in full pads yet, not a good thing when it is already week 2 of preseason. There will be interceptions and missed throws, possibly more than last year. It will not be pretty until week 6. That said, the Colts have enough defensive lineman to stop the run, though that linebacking core leaves much to be desired. Drake Nevis will fit right in with guys like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis showing him the ropes.

The Colts knew last year that they needed some help at offensive line, because if Peyton goes down, the season goes down. They grabbed Anthony Castonzo in the 1st round and Ben Ijana in the 2nd round. Manning sleeps well.

The Redskins. Let me tell you a little about my relationship with the Redskins. I’m 23, so the Redskins have never been good in my lifetime. My dad is a Redskins fan. A sad, bitter, almost guilty Redskins fan. I like to occasionally call him and let him know the latest Redskins news, like when they signed Haynesworth last year and gave him a $20,000,000 check.

For some reason, he did not think this was going to end well. It did not end well, and he could only watch as his team was manhandled by Michael Vick. He actually told me that after the first touchdown, he had to turn on The Biggest Loser to stop the vein in his neck from throbbing. So recently I gave him a call, notifying him that Donovan Mcnabb had been traded to the Vikings, and that John Beck was the new starting quarterback. Not former 1st round pick Rex Grossman, but John Beck. The John Beck 99% of NFL fans have never heard of.

I thought it would be a beating. A sad event much like watching Holyfield still boxing, Jorge Posada swinging for the fences, or AJ Burnett trying not to have a nervous breakdown with bases loaded in the first inning. And then the game started.
The Redskins had holes to run through. If the Redskins get production out of Maurice Hurt, they will be able to use Roy Helu like they did at Nebraska. They have enough of a mix of veteran (Stallworth, Moss) and rookie (Paul, Robinson, Hankerson) wide receiver talent to spread the field. And the defense…a Redskins defense?

Mike Shanahan may actually crack a smile watching his defense play. They’ve got a serious linebacking core. London Fletcher is on his last legs, but Brian Orakpo is like having a corner and a D lineman on the field, while Ryan Kerrigan will get moved between defensive end and outside linebacker. If a team decides to throw the ball, they get to sort between Laron Landry, Philip Buchanon and Deangelo Hall. Big hits will be made.

As per the yearly lack of trying, the Colts scored 3 points. Curtis Painter grew his hair to surfer bro lengths, and the Colts look like they will ned another QB to replace Painter if Manning’s neck surgery takes longer than expected to heal.

Game 3: Dolphins vs. Panthers

This was the game I turned on after a night of good old fashioned debauchery, so it was more to see Sporano scream and Reggie Bush run. I wanted to see Cam sling it a bit and see how he handles blitzes, but conclusions are not always what you expect them to be. The Dolphins will rely on four players on offense. Chad Henne. Davone Bess. Reggie Bush. Brandon Marshall. That will be the magic formula. Run with Bush, pass it over the middle to Marshall, and catch Devon Bess on the sidelines.

Cam Newton will run. He will have to if he wants to demoralize safeties and cornerbacks that attempt to tackle him. He is a new breed of quarterback, whose physical attributes would put him as anything between linebacker, defensive end, and the world’s largest safety. Yet he is a quarterback, and that should make anyone under 6 feet tall nervous when he takes off to run. People will look weak and small.

Towards week 3, where the strange will get stranger, and upsets will be glorious.

Jets vs. Bengals: Plax Is Back, As Backups Answer Call

The Jets put preseason game two behind them properly Sunday night, with a 27-7 win over the Cincinnati Bengals while both resting key starters and unveiling WR Plaxico Burress in a feature role.

Despite the rain that continued through the contest, Burress, in his first NFL appearance since November of 2008, looked quick, agile out of his breaks, and hungry. Number 17 capped off an impressive return (3-66-1TD) with an over the shoulder 26 yard TD grab, on a third down lob from QB Mark Sanchez.

The Bengals brought their safeties up to the line of scrimmage prior to the play, leaving Jets receivers with one on one coverage. Should this be a sign of things to come, clubs may start to think twice about consistently trying to hurry Sanchez up offense while risking secondary numbers up close to the ball.

Sanchez read the defense and simply dropped quick in order to loft the throw to the 6’5 Burress, who outran the Bengals CB on the play in order to catch up to, and land underneath the perfectly thrown ball. The result was the most exciting play so far in 2011 for the new New York Jets. A club that now features a serious scoring weapon who may help the club climb out from the t bottom of the barrel red zone ranking of 2010.

Aside from the triumphant return of Burress to the field, other notable performances came from LB Aaron Maybin, signed this week after being released by Buffalo. Maybin looked fast speed rushing outside. Although he slipped on one attempt, the third year pro caused a strip late in the fourth quarter, albeit against the Bengals second and third string unit. Should Maybin be able to provide that same speed all year long, the Jets defense will have added an extra boost in disrupting opponent’s third down and long attempts.

Safety Jim Leonhard excited the crowd in his home return from a broken leg in November of 2010 with an interception. Backup LB Brashton Satele, the player that special teams coach Mike Westhoff suggested “open a pizza joint” last Summer on HBO’s Hard Knocks, picked off a second half throw as well, and was tackled just short of the goal line.

Maligned backup offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse settled in finally, perhaps thanks to the return of All Pro C Nick Mangold, who missed the opener at Houston due to a stinger suffered in practice days prior to the trip.

As for others, rookie QB Greg McElroy looked poised for the second straight week. This time during his second half duties as Mark Brunell sat for a second straight week. McElroy capped his efforts of solid decision making with a short rollout TD pass to RB Joe McKnight, who made some nice runs of his own in the battle for the number three job with Bilal Powell. The rookie RB out of Lousiville was quiet during his attempts. RB Chris Jennings broke a long late 4th quarter run that could keep him in the mix as camp heads into the latter stages.

Last week the questions surrounding the Jets centered on Burress and the club’s depth. Those issues were lessened to a degree tonight, despite playing a Cincinnati team undergoing a transition to the future from the Carson Palmer years.

With Shonn Greene, Derrick Mason, and a few other nicked up members of Gang Green resting on the sidelines and no apparent major injuries from the game to speak of, Jets nation couldn’t ask for more out of a rainy night in mid August.

TOJ Dump Link – Keep You Entertained Edition

I have fell a little behind posting some of my other material here because of the madness of the lockout ending. Let’s catch up…and don’t panic we will have a new TOJ Roundtable and a handful of Jets analysis coming later…

Highly recommend going to see The Devil’s Double this summer

The ultimate depth chart for The Mighty Ducks, who doesn’t love these movies?

An interview with rapper Ace Hood on his upcoming album

Highly recommend checking out How To Make It In America this fall

Arguably the weakest highlight reel in sports history

Kevin Durant going off in Rucker Park for 66 points

A closer look at the end of The Sopranos

NFL Free Agency 2011: Asomugha To Jets Momentum Picking Up

Where there is smoke, there is usually fire, especially when it comes to Mike Tannenbaum making moves. Along those lines, the chatter about Nnamdi Asomugha coming to the New York Jets has picked up gradually throughout the past few days and is now to the point where it sounds like the Jets are the favorite to land him.

Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network has reported throughout the morning the Jets discussions with him are “very serious” and Albert Breer, also of the NFL Network, has corroborated the report. The Jets beat writers and other media members have reported the team is discussing restructuring contracts with current players to make a run at Asomugha and that he is their top priority right now.

The most recent news is that the San Francisco 49ers have become the Jets main competition to signing Asmougha, which is somewhat surprising considering many thought Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia would be heavily involved in pursuing him.

Yes, the 49ers can offer more money but the Jets can offer a better location, team, and a proven coaching staff and system. Nevermind the chance of forming the greatest starting duo of corners in NFL history.

Obviously, if the Jets do work something out with Asomugha, other areas of the team will feel the impact but honestly the impact may not be as bad as some make it out to be. Braylon Edwards is probably gone either way, considering how much money was spent on Holmes, same goes with Brad Smith. You don’t need Antonio Cromartie back if you sign Asomugha. Beyond that, the Jets should still be able to get Eric Smith and Trevor Pryce back to improve their defensive depth, and maybe sign somebody like Randy Moss to a short term, incentive-laden deal to replace Edwards.

NBA Mock Draft – June 15th

Take a look at who various mock drafts have the New York Knicks selecting in the first round and profiles of some of their top prospects…

The NBA Draft is next Thursday and while it certainly lacks the excitement of the NFL Draft, it is still something as we wait out the final weeks of negotiations to end the lockout (hopefully). The Knicks have the 17th pick and will likely look to either add some size up front or a shooting guard, like Josh Selby from Kansas (pictured above).

A Trip To Yankee Stadium: A Brief Encounter With History

“Yankee Stadium is one of the few places in America that can feel alive on a Monday Night”
– Anonymous

I walked out of the grand concourse subway station. I was not supposed to get off there. I was supposed to get off at Yankee Stadium, but because I drank two small nips of Southern Comfort on the subway ride uptown, I forgot I was supposed to get off at Grand Central and transfer from the 4 to the 5. Someone was apparently trying to close what seemed like a very large post office right outside the subway stairs. People were protesting. They were not happy. When 25% of The Bronx is underemployed, people do not take that walk from some work to no work lightly. And why should they? The financial district should have been arrested and forced into manual labor after the mess they created.

I got past the crowd and started walking down River avenue, which had the hills of a San Francisco slum. I couldn’t quite tell the burnt red factor buildings apart, but I was supposed to go in one and walk up to the 5th floor.
On the 5th floor I couldn’t quite tell the small grey cars apart but I finally approached one that looked friendly. The trunk had a cooler full of bud light. This would most definitely be a Monday night to forget.

The walk to the stadium was something unlike I had ever been a part of. You walk under the subway for a while, passing dump after dump until there it is, this gleaming tan colossus, lit up like Vegas on a Friday night. You get so caught up in staring at it that you forget you have two very busy streets to cross. Once across you see the entrance, and luckily, because we were doing our best impression of Miami Heat fans, we got to the stadium about 40 minutes after first pitch.

Perhaps here was the point that I should have had the good sense to stop drinking. There was no need to consume any more, especially because I was under the influence of a prescription medication for my rather weak night vision. But no, I was going to gleefully pay $12 for a beer, yes, in fact, give me two. I would be the king of the bleacher creatures, no price too high!

Now, I am of course a gentleman, so instead of waiting for a female acquaintance to buy her own beer, I decided to buy one for her. Except I soon found out that at $22 for two bud lights, chivalry can send you to the poor house rather quickly.

At a certain point, like all fans of baseball games, you are asked kindly to leave once the game is over. Apparently I did leave under my own power, smiling and tipping my cap to NYPD on our exit. I then proceeded to prance down the street until we reached the parking garage. Everything past that is fuzzy, right until 8:45 the next morning when I woke up and realized something was very much wrong.

What i was supposed to do, was get up at 6:45, wake my sister up, and get to the train station to take the 7:10 to Manhattan, which would get me into Penn about 8:30 with enough time to get to work by 9am. This did not go as planned. As soon as I turned my head, I felt everything sloshing around like someone hit me up side the head with a bat and poured vodka down my unconscious throat. Which may have happened. I have hired a private investigator to look into it.

I did in fact make it to work that day, and felt like dying at various points throughout the day. It was wonderful, that feeling like at any point you could throw up sausage, peppers, red bull, bud light, bud light, jolly ranchers?

Postscript: Baseball

Considering there are 81 home games to 8, you can understand the chance of seeing something at a football game that you have 9 more games to wait for in baseball. Which is why most people show up in the 3rd inning. To be honest, I have had a love/hate relationship with baseball my whole life. I played little league, but as I found the intricacies in sports like football and basketball, baseball seemed like a relic. It’s boxing and slow dances. Sunday drives and dinner with the family. We move faster now, we think faster, (for good or ill) and for all our advancement it remains the same as it’s always been. Chess for old men. But there is beautiful music made that people play chess to.