NFL Is Back!

I never use exclamation points in articles, as part of my belief that men should never use emoticons or exclamation points when typing or texting…but I have to break that belief because the NFL is back and I, like all of you, couldn’t be more excited.

The reported timeline for the upcoming week is still a bit up in the air, but I will update this post when the finalized version is released. It is expected that teams can begin negotiating with free agents tomorrow, with all contracts becoming official on August 2nd. The Jets are expected to report to camp this Sunday, with their pre-season opener set for August 15th at Houston.

The road to the Super Bowl finally begins…

TOJ Sunday Video Clips: Lockout Ending Edition

It sounds like we will have an official end to the lockout tomorrow, starting a frenzied week of finalizing votes and preparing for the league year to kick off this Saturday. Football is on the way back, so that calls for a nice collection of video clips and links to bring your Sunday to an end –

Mark Sanchez 2011 Highlight Film

Locker Room After Beating New England

Game Winner

Still Gets Me Everytime

No Hard Knocks This Year? Watch TOJ’s Version Instead…

TOJ writing staff getting after it this week

In The Hours Of Waiting: Heat Waves and Missed Opportunities

It is a cool day in New York. With the past four days temperatures ranging from 94 to 105, most of lower Manhattan has taken to the garbage filled East River, taking refuge in the shady waters under the FDR. The NFL has teased us again. Perhaps the season will not come until September. Will a lack of pre-season have any effect on fans? Of course. Fathers will be forced to actually take part in preparing their children for the school year. Fans will not be constantly checking Wikipedia to see exactly who all these strange statless players flashing across our screen are. There will be injuries by the hundreds. Plays will fall apart, leaving defenses with stats that rival the ’85 Bears.

I have come to conclusions about baseball, understanding the utter callousness I put on display in a recent article regarding the oldest sport known to modern man. I have come to love baseball. But it is a love the professor who studies malaria has for his petri dish. It is not a love that translates to the casual fan. It is a scientist’s love, made for the weird and the lover of all things slow. It is bird watching with sponsors.

I have been mostly shocked that the Yankees are somehow competitive without a serious number two starter. We have been living on the concoctions of voodoo doctors, seeing how the bullpen is one of the most randomly hashed together staff of veterans and rookies, it is a shock we have remained at the head of the AL Wild Card race. Derek Jeter hit 3,000 with the entire HBO film crew trying not to fly out of their seats. The movie is in the works.

Money and power. Divorces, death and war all over the country. It is summer, and so we all try and push that out of the way. I am planning a trip to Montauk next weekend, which will hopefully be devoid of cable news, NY Times and the opinions of other human beings on sports and politics. You can only watch highlight express so many times before the faces all seem to blur into one lawyer/former agent ranting about the divide between players and owners.

Where can I go on the Jets without sounding like a hopeful fool or a hopeless cynic? Let’s keep Cromartie and Holmes. I know we need Edwards, but I can take Cotchery and Jeremy Kerley as the smaller faster Dustin Keller. We have four running backs. I feel ok. Let’s also keep Ellis and Woody. Veteran lineman are a must for any team with risk at the linebacker or receiver position. Kris Jenkins is gone, but he is still on my Madden ’10 team, which is all I care about at this point. We may even have enough money to keep Brodney Pool and Eric Smith around before we take a first round linebacker or safety next year. Scratch that, knowing Tannenbaum, he will steal someone completely insane for a 1st and a 3rd round pick.

NBA lockout is causing some unusual craziness. Nobody needs that much practice that isn’t 18 years old. Going overseas will be the biggest mistake any star NBA player can make. The venues are garbage, the rewards are relatively small, and the teams you will play against wouldn’t make the sweet sixteen of the NCAA championship. Dwight Howard may have an ego, but when you score 50 3 nights in a row, the inkling of maximizing potential against the “best in the world” does not seem to be a valid argument. There is a reason Dirk Nowitzki did not stay in Germany.

When something regarding the lockout resolution comes to fruition, I will have something somewhat meaningful to say. Until then, I will be waiting for the dew point to drop below 65, and for Drew Rosenhaus to send me my case of 5 hour energy.

New York Jets: What We Learned This Lockout

I am thoroughly exhausted of hearing about “close” the NFL Lockout is to being over…will it end in the coming weeks? Probably…or maybe we will just get 8 more Michael Silver articles about how close they are, followed by an article 12 hours later about how far apart they are. Regardless, let’s run down what we have learned so far this lockout from our New York Jets —

1. Mark Sanchez is a busy man…even when football isn’t going on

I don’t know how this guy manages to organize multiple off-season camps, participate in NASCAR events, hang with Larry David, attend Harry Potter premiers and Broadway shows and get caught in some weird love triangle with the girl from Heroes and Scotty McKnight…but the guy has a full schedule. Regardless of his off the field ventures, it appears that at this point Sanchez has truly solidified himself as a leader of this team.

2. Sione Pouha is handy with a camera

His “Life of Lockout” YouTube series was an entertaining look at himself and the team the past few months. Personally, I thought the episode that featured “Camp Lockout” was the best one as it gave tons of footage of the team working out together and then competing in paintball. It does genuinely feel like there is very good chemistry with this current roster, so let’s hope Mike Tannenbaum can keep as much of it together as possible.

3. Wide receivers create contentious debate

Whether it is disagreeing about whether the Jets should bring Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards back, or who the top choices for replacements should be if one of them leaves, it is hard to find any consensus among fans. The Jets have been linked to names like Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith, Chad Ochocinco, and Terrell Owens in the past months. If I was a gambling man, I’d say Holmes ends up coming back and the Jets sign either Moss or Burress to a short term deal to replace Edwards. Hopefully, I will be wrong and the team can find a way to get both Holmes and Edwards back.

4. Rex Ryan won’t stop guaranteeing a Super Bowl

Rex Ryan is going to guarantee the Jets are going to win a Super Bowl before every season, so just get used to it. He also published an interesting book this off-season, which provides plenty of trash talk for the upcoming year, especially to the New York Giants. Who doesn’t miss Rex these days?

100 Days And Counting: The Nightmare of the NFL Lockout

I’ve heard talk of shortening the baseball season. Please don’t do that. I need something to sleep to. Baseball is the old man’s game, Played by people who generally have little to no personality. How can you have a personality on a baseball team? A fist pump after a strikeout? Not flashy enough. An occasional dirt kicking at the umpire? Why don’t we mic up the managers when they go out there for a good verbal throw down? Cliff Lee is about as exciting as Bingo at the Community Center, and I’ve never actually heard Roy Halladay speak…that’s baseball in a nutshell. If anyone still thinks Ozzie Guillen is edgy or interesting…I’ve walked through the Lower East Side and heard more truth, insight and rage in less time.

50 game NBA season? Maybe I can actually watch the Nets get themselves out of the running by game number five. Boy, that first week is going to be a blast though. I can predict with certainty that Indiana, Memphis and Oklahoma City are going to take big steps forward. There will be ten teams that have the potential to win the whole thing: angry Kobe, revenge of D-Rose, rise of Durant, the long sad story of Dwight Howard and the gondola singer that is Stan Van Gundy. the NBA may be one of the few sports that could actually benefit from a shortening of the season.

Football. It is hard to even type out. I’ve played so many hours of Madden my fingers begin making audible and hot route ps3 controller movements when I am sitting on the bus. I can’t do it anymore. every game brings me to tears (of joy or sadness I have yet to determine).

There are certain conclusions I can draw about what has happened so far in the off-season. The Bengals will never be good, not with their current owner at least. I would rather watch Cincinnati at the college level. Terrell Owens is done. Tiki Barber is a smiling joke who thinks using the term depression rights all the supreme wrongs he has committed throughout his miserable post football existence. The Giantswill yet again put out a defensive line that makes grown men feel like children, even if Osi isn’t there.

Sometimes I dream of a Jets/Giants Christmas Eve game, freezing at the Meadowlands, 10 below zero, screams coming from every direction, and then it happens: Woody Johnson and the Mara family come out to the 50 yard line, microphones in hand and begin to explain why there will be no game after the coin toss. The lights go dark. “revenue sharing model…cost efficiency with regard to player/owner incentives…rise in advertising and broadcasting costs.” It is a two hour speech and at the end, the players walk back to the locker room, handcuffed to each other as to not even throw a pass or run the ball. There is silence all around. There will be no more fun.

New York Jets Move Training Camp To Florham Park

As expected, the New York Jets have announced they will move this year’s training camp to the team facility in Florham Park, New Jersey instead of traveling to Cortland, New York for the third straight year. The decision makes sense considering how chaotic everything is expected to be in the coming weeks as the lockout ends. Unfortunately, Cortland will not receive the normal economic boom they do from the Jets coming to town, however the commute will now be easier for many local fans to see their team practice.

Rex Ryan has always been a big advocate of getting his team away from the local distractions, yet this is a necessary sacrifice that comes with such a long lockout. Many teams around the league will likely be making a similar decision.

The Jets are planning to resume their partnership with Cortland in 2012, which means a Florham Park training camp should be a one time thing.

Start looking for your hotels in Morristown and Hanover…

Why Are You Shaking? Continued Coverage Of The NFL Lockout

America needs football. Why? When you are away from football, you start taking up causes that you don’t have the foresight to know are going to ruin you. Like David Tyree, NY Giant headcatcher who recently came out against gay marriage, something that will have him torn apart in almost every NY tabloid from the Daily News to the New York Times.

Then you have Plaxico Burress, who is fresh out of jail and looking like he’s trying to hide his aging body, recently tore apart Tom Coughlin. He may be mean and old, but the guy knows how to win. Oh yes, and then you have LeSean Mccoy, who claimed that Osi Umenyora (who also happens to be suing the NY Giants), is “soft and overrated”. Have fun trying to run the ball next year.

So what news do we have about the Jets. Well…they have been working out…that is good. What I like more is the fact that Darrelle Revis took Kyle Wilson under his wing, probably under pressure from Rex and Mike Tannenbaum, who uttered something like “listen man, we can’t have this blow up in our face…I’m still having nightmares about the Gholston deal”

I also like to see Vladimir Ducasse putting the work in. They’re going to need him at multiple position s,so they probably needed his rookie year to bench him (somewhat demeaning for a second round pick) to see if he was mentally tough enough to make it at either tackle or guard.

Looking at free agency, you can’t assume though, that Plaxico Burress, Randy Moss or Terrell Owens will actually fit in with the system that Brian Schottenheimer runs. Especially because they won’t be the prime receivers. Sometimes the Jets play long, sometimes they play short. The Holmes/Edwards combination is perfect because one is a short burster, and one is a long strider. Edwards on the vertical, and Holmes on the stick. Why change something that is vital to Mark Sanchez’s development when you can just shrug off a few DB’s?

There’s a good chance Holmes and Edwards will take a pay cut if they sign, and Cromartie will get more money than he deserves, but hopefully it is a short term, two year deal in case his head gets too big. Which it will if the Jets ever win a Super Bowl.

What else is there to hope for? The best running game in the league? Greene, McKnight, Powell and Tomlinson? Sounds like all points covered. Greene power running. Tomlinson 3rd down. Powell the Thomas Jones replacement, McKnight the Reggie Bush type to keep the linebackers on their toes.

Is it possible to have rookies unused for 2 years in a row? We all know how useful Kyle Wilson, Joe Mcknight and Vladimir Ducasse were their rookie season. Remember, Buddy Ryan hated rookies, and Rex probably does as well. Too much to learn, especially this year. Good thing is, there are going to be a few rookie players and coaches on the Jets schedule, which will be a whole bunch of fun for all the Jets DB’s, none of whom are rookies.

In other news the Yankees pitching is doomed, the Knicks future is doomed, and the Rangers and Islanders arouse little to no of my interest. I meant to say something nice about soccer but I lost the paper I scribbled it on. Off to the Casey Anthony trial, this stuff is better than Days of Our Lives. God bless Long Island, where you can barely hear the shrieks of madness from the inferno of Manhattan.

TOJ Top Five: Meaningless Lockout Stories

Today’s edition of the TOJ Top Five, will look at the five dumbest New York Jets stories that became a bigger deal than they should have because of the lockout…

5. Schotty’s ExcusesWe aren’t interested in your side of the story, just find a way to get the ball into the end-zone on four tries from the 2 yard line…yes, I am still bitter about this. How about four straight handoffs to Shonn Greene who was a bowling ball in this game?

4. The Receiver Procession Line – I am all for free agency speculation and I gladly took part in it, but the considering it was pushed back three months (and counting) the amount of names linked to the Jets at wide receiver and the amount of coverage they received was a bit much. Randy Moss, Plaxico Burress, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith…I’d think we’d all sign up for just having Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards back, let’s hope Mike Tannenbaum can work magic.

3. Scotty McKnight’s High School Essay – When the back cover of the New York Post is about a rookie 7th round pick writing an inappropriate essay as a high school student, you know it is a slow day in the sports world.

2. Rex’s Guarantees – If you haven’t noticed by now, Rex Ryan thinks the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl every single year. It isn’t a story anymore when he is interviewed and he comments that he thinks his team is going to win it all. I am pretty sure he has made the exact same comment in every interview he took this off-season.

1. Sanchez vs. McKnight vs. Klitschko – There were rumors floating around all off-season that Mark Sanchez was dating Vladimir Klitschko’s girlfriend, Hayden Panetierre…yet in the end, it turned out that it was Scotty McKnight who was dating her. First off, for a rookie 7th round pick…that is pretty good work. Second, if Klitschko is coming after anybody, I’d rather it be McKnight than Sanchez…sorry, Scotty.

Thoughts On Jets Full Team Workouts

The New York Jets are currently holding workouts in North Jersey, it is being reported that somewhere around 40 players are in attendance, with a partial listing of who is there right here. Mark Sanchez had previously mentioned bringing together as much of the team as possible if the lockout extended into the middle of the June. These workouts are looking to serve as informal replacement for mini-camp, which would normally take place around this time.

I wouldn’t get too worked up about who does and doesn’t attend these workouts which are expected to last for three days. There seems to be increasing optimism that the lockout is going to end within a month or so to allow for a full training camp and a pre-season, preceded by an abbreviated free agency period. You can’t expect potential free agents to risk an injury so close to a time when they will be looking for a new contract, which is why players like Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Antonio Cromartie are likely working out on their own during these days. It is worth noting that Brad Smith is in attendance despite being a free agent.

These few days will be good work for the rookies and younger players on the Jets roster who are expected to move into bigger roles. It is also another demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s leadership on this team, as he was able to gather up this many players for workouts. Sione Pouha said it a few weeks ago “when Mark makes the call…we’ll be there.”

Hopefully the amount of work Sanchez has put in participating, leading, and coaching these workouts will continue his development at a somewhat comparable pace to the work around the team facility he did last off-season.

The end may be finally be getting near for the lockout and on the whole it has been encouraging to see the amount of work the Jets players have put it in to stay in shape the previous few months.

Thoughts On Ongoing Jets Off-Season Workouts

Click here for more coverage of the New York Jets off-season workouts

1. Great work by Sione Pouha organizing the Jets defensive lineman for workouts in North Jersey. This is a group that will have some new pieces in the rotation with draft picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, along with Ropati Pitoitua coming off season ending surgery now in the mix. It is also encouraging to hear that Shaun Ellis will join the workouts later in the week, considering his status with the team is up in the air. Let’s hope any work Wilkerson gets in the off-season will contribute to him making some type of immediate impact whenever the season starts.

2. It is encouraging to hear Mark Sanchez talk about putting together full team workouts, if the lockout continues to carry on. He stated he thinks somewhere around 50 players would show up, which would be great since New England only has around 40…every victory counts, right?

3. Speaking of New England, what is with the paranoia of keeping the media away from your team workouts? Did the secrecy pay off last year in January? Nobody is stealing the information about what routes you are running on air.

4. Jamaal Westerman is taking part in the defensive line workouts and had also worked out with Bart Scott and a few other Jets at the TEST facility in Martinsville, New Jersey earlier in the off-season. It is good to see Westerman getting after it, as he will have a chance to maybe contribute in some of the Jets defensive packages this season considering their depth chart at linebacker.

Click here for more coverage of the New York Jets off-season workouts