TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the New York Jets and NFL after Divisional Weekend
Joe Caporoso with a 12 pack of NFL and New York Jets thoughts heading into divisional weekend
Chris Celletti with his weekly rant and Best Bets selections for Divisional Weekend
Let’s say you’re looking for a job as a restaurant manager, and you have offers from two different owners. Restaurant #1 has been a successful establishment in the past. It’s located in a high traffic, affluent area. The appliances were just purchased two years ago and are in perfect working order. The already-in-place staff is reliable – the waiters are friendly, the cooks are solid and not to mention, the hostess is quite gorgeous. Then there’s Restaurant #2.
Restaurant #2 is located on a meandering, desolate road. The nearest businesses are a porn shop and a gas station, both a mile away in opposite directions. There’s a shanty house across the street that everyone is pretty sure is a meth lab. The previous manager allowed the place to become filthy; the tables and chairs all need to be replaced and the appliances were revolutionary in 1986. Additionally, the owner is insisting on keeping his best friend as the head chef. And of course, the hostess looks like Melissa McCarthy.
Anyone in their right mind would choose Restaurant #1.
Restaurant #2 is the New York Jets.
The Jets aren’t exactly the outright embarrassment that a lot of fans and media want to make them out to be. But currently, they are a bit of a mess. It isn’t any wonder that their search for a General Manager is taking them a long time, and has them exploring paths that they had no idea even existed. There are only 32 General Manager jobs in the world, but the Jets’ vacancy is probably the least desirable for a few reasons:
— The owner has essentially taken the decision on coach Rex Ryan completely out of the hands of who its supposed to be in, the General Manager. By making Rex a fixture in the organization, you are shrinking your pool of realistic candidates. Additionally, you’re telling any potential candidate or anyone that you coax into an interview that the entire football decision making process isn’ t up to them – that they’re going to have an owner over their shoulder ready to jump in and make a move at any moment. This is not the way to go about business.
— The team is in salary cap hell. A true rebuilding job that will take a full season or two is needed. Some general manager candidates would love this opportunity – it’s a chance to prove they can correctly gut a team and build it from the ground up. If you can prove yourself by doing this, you’ve secured yourself a job in NFL front offices for as long as you want. But the best way to do this is a complete system overhaul and that includes the entire coaching staff – yes, Head Coach too. The Jets have made up their mind on head coach already, and the financial situation is dire.
— The team has no quarterback. They are not in position to draft a no-brainer franchise quarterback like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. The right executives might be able to guess correctly on a mid-round quarterback, a la Russell Wilson (the draft is a total guessing game, especially with quarterbacks) but that’s no guarantee. Either way, with Mark Sanchez and his gargantuan contract in tow, the most important position in all of professional sports is in total shambles. Ask any free agent GM – they’d give up every corner, safety, pass rusher, receiver, lineman, coach, trainer and tee kid if you give them a legitimate quarterback to start with. Having no quarterback means you’re in NFL quicksand, and the Jets are just about up to their chin at this point.
This is why the Jets are looking at people like Jim Popp and Omar Khan. Who knows (certainly not me)? Just as you can unearth a great player off of someone else’s scrap heap, the Jets might strike gold with whoever they hire as their next GM.
But as with every head coaching hire the team has made since Bill Parcells left, the best you can say is “We’ll see”. Nobody knew what Herman Edwards was going to be like as a Head Coach. Nor Eric Manigini, nor Rex Ryan or Al Groh, or Joe Walton or Walt Michaels or Pete Carroll. When somebody has never been an NFL Head Coach or an NFL General Manager, you just never know. The Jets will soon likely hire somebody who has never been a General Manager at this level. So when you read the articles saying “The Jets Were Right in Hiring (insert name here)” or “Clueless Jets Hire (insert name here)” take it all with a grain of salt.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard “Eric Mangini is the right man for this job”, or “Rex Ryan will be the Jets’ Bill Cowher” or things to that extent. Eventually, the Jets will get it right. They’ll guess right on the Next Great Coach/GM. Maybe they’re about to do that with whomever they choose in the coming days. It just would be nice, for once, to know you’re in the hands of a winner.
And now, the picks for this weekend’s Divisional Games after going 1-3 against the spread on Wild Card Weekend:
Baltimore (+9.5) at Denver – I like the Broncos to win but this is a big spread. Eventually we’re going to have a few close playoff games, right?
Green Bay (+3) at San Francisco – The Packers are winning the Super Bowl.
Atlanta (-3) vs. Seattle – Matt Ryan is overdue to win a playoff game.
New England (-9.5) vs. Houston – We’re headed for a Manning/Brady AFC title game. The only way Jim Nantz could be any more excited is if they move the game to Augusta National and Phil Mickelson refs.
Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week – Do you think there’s any chance Ben Affleck wins the Golden Globe for Best Director, making up for his snub in the same Oscar category? He’s at +150
Justin breaks down the Saints/49ers match-up for TOJ
What may be the most diametrically opposed concepts of football is going to be taking place in San Francisco, a city that ruined my psyche with it’s plethora of drugs, bums, and general aimlessness. This weekend will not be aimless. It has already been lamely compared to “objects in motion stay in motion until they hit immovable forces”, blah blah blah. OK. Here’s what this all breaks down to. Alex Smith not getting his head removed from his shoulders. Why in God’s name would Greg Williams have any respect for Alex Smith, or the big boi on slow legs Frank Gore? Sure the Saints might get beat down the middle a few times, but the Saints know for a fact that they can turn around and put up 14 before anyone knows what happened. You’ll see.
You’ll go out to smoke a cigarette, Alex Smith marching down the field with some counters, a little play action, and even a few comebacks out of the spread, ball is on the 30. Then what happens? Saints score 10 points. Huh? Yep. Alex Smith gets sacked on the Saints 20, Drew Brees runs a draw for 20 yards and all of the sudden Jimmy Graham gets loose down the seam because the two linebackers are trying to spy over the middle. Easy stuff.
Where this game may get interesting is when Brees gets into 3rd and long, which will happen less than 5 times the entire game. Mark my words. The Saints are going to keep things interesting, two tight end sets, play action, shovel passes to Sproles, and the occasional power run set. The Saints don’t want to overpower the 49ers, they want to outsmart them. The Saints are fencing and the 49ers want a street fight. You don’t get points for punching in fencing.
If Mark Ingram was in this game, it’s not even close. The Saints would stuff it until someone gets knocked backwards, and then the play action is at it’s deadliest. But he’s not in, and Pierre Thomas isn’t going to try to run into Aldon Smith on a regular basis.
What I fear, and what will probably happen, is that if the Saints get desperate and it’s a low scoring game, then the first down hail mary will rear its ugly head and the Saints will somehow gain 60 yards without a completion. It’s the ace in the hole for Sean Payton, and Sean Payton likes poker. Will it make 49ers fans fume with rage for the next week and a half?
I really don’t know if San Francisco, as a city, cares about this game. I’ve been there. I spent a week and didn’t see a single jersey. Given, it wasn’t football season, but I have a hard time envisioning the Castro aglow with red jerseys and vicious drunks. Which is why the team should be permanently moved to Alcatraz and people should have to swim for their lives to see the game if they don’t want to pay the price of admission. Sure, a few people wouldn’t make it, but those who do would make even Raiders fans weep tears of joy.
Jesus, where have I gone with this. Too many nights spent staring at swirling patterns on my hotel room bunk bed, 18 year old street fights, and general madness. I know I wrote about the breakdown of Alex Smith, and he may in fact sneak out of here alive, but there’s only one chance for that, and it’s turnovers. Multiple turnovers. The 49ers can’t slow the Saints down to a crawl, no one can. They’re gonna have to do a job of disguising plays that makes Rex Ryan’s last playoff scheme against the Patriots look like 3 box play calling in Madden. Screw Gameflow. I’m rooting for the 49ers, and I’d like to see the NFC West raise themselves from the murk and get interesting. And I like linebackers, just not Jonathan Vilma. Because he, like many others, proved the Jets are inept at keeping talent. So there it is, I like the mud of the 49ers and I’m still trying to find reasons to not give up on the Jets for good. I got rid of the Knicks a week ago, and I’m on Step 7 of recovery.
In no particular order…
1. A special teams or defensive play that either directly results in points or sets up easy points. I am looking at you Antonio Cromartie.
2. A big play on offense that directly results in points or sets up easy points. I am looking at you Shonn Greene, Braylon Edwards, and Santonio Holmes.
3. Mark Sanchez needs to play one of the best, if not, the best game of his young NFL career. Yes, obviously looking at you Mark Sanchez.
4. The Jets need to force a turnover on defense. I am looking at you Jason Taylor, Calvin Pace, and David Harris.
5. The backup Jets defensive backs, James Ihedigbo, Kyle Wilson, Marquice Cole, Dwight Lowery, and starting safeties Eric Smith and Brodney Pool all need strong games. Secondary, you are supposed to be the strength of this team, stand up.
6. Nick Folk can’t miss any kicks under 45 yards. Shayne Graham needs to shank one. Yes, looking at you at #2…and expecting that choke from you Graham.
7. They can’t fall behind by more than one-possession at any point in the game. Everybody.
8. The running game must lead the way and allow the Jets to control the time of possession. Offensive Line, Backup tight ends, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Green, Tony Richardson…ground and pound.
9. Danny Woodhead can’t be covered by Bart Scott, David Harris or any linebacker for that matter and certainly not Mike DeVito. Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan, common sense here.
10. Zero turnovers. Offense but mostly Mark Sanchez.
Let’s Get That Upset
Betting on the NFL this week offers some intriguing options for gamblers.
In the first game of the weekend, Pittsburgh is currently a 3 point favorite over Baltimore. Both of their games this year were decided by 3 points, with the road team winning each game. The over/under is currently at 37, which could offer some value considering the point total in their two games was 31 and 23, respectively.
In the Saturday night game, Green Bay is only 2.5 point underdogs despite facing the NFC’s number one seed in Atlanta. Many people are on the Packers bandwagon and it is showing in the spread.
Seattle remains heavy underdogs this weekend, as the Bears are favored by 10 points even though they lost at home earlier in the year to Seattle. It will be interesting to see if gamblers have gained any faith in the Seahawks after last week.
The Jets are also heavy underdogs to the New England Patriots, who are 9 point favorites. It will be interesting to see how they respond to losing 45-3 to the Patriots earlier in the year.