NFL Week 3 Review: Not Buying Early Hype

1. Three games into the NFL season and the tickets are being punched for a Detroit Lions/Buffalo Bills Super Bowl match-up. Don’t get me wrong, Detroit is a talented team and their comeback over the Minnesota Vikings was a gutsy win to hang their hat on. Buffalo’s win over New England was even more impressive considering the way New England has handled them as of late and how they dug themselves out of a three possession hole for the second week in a row.

Yet, I have to laugh at the comments received about the New York Jets now being the third best team in the AFC East and when I hear talk of the Lions currently being a top five team in the NFL. The Bills have been down by 18 points in two straight weeks, there are plenty of flaws in their feel good story. They have found ways to win two tight games late, an admirable and important quality. Let’s see them handle being a favorite for a few weeks now. Let’s see them go on the road and take out some contenders. Let’s see them win a game when they aren’t capable of laying a 34 spot on the board. I am not buying it yet, not after 3 games.

The Lions have a beautiful thing on offense with Matthew Stafford throwing to Calvin Johnson. The comeback against Minnesota was a hell of a win, but if you haven’t noticed it, everybody is doing that this year. Again, let’s see them play as a favorite now and let’s see them stay ahead of Chicago in the standings into the second half of the year and how they handle the Packers and Saints down the stretch of their schedule. Are they a playoff contender? Sure, everybody is at this point. Are they one of the best teams in the league? I haven’t seen that yet, not after tight wins over Tampa Bay and Minnesota and beating the ACC caliber Kansas City Chiefs.

2. Nobody takes more cheap shots at the New York Giants than yours truly. I have been surrounded by a group of annoying Giants fans my whole life…otherwise known as all of my best friends. Yet, that doesn’t mean I won’t credit them for an impressive win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. I am aware Mike Vick didn’t play the fourth quarter but with the amount of injuries the Giants are dealing with, I am not taking anything away from them. How about North Jersey’s own Victor Cruz by the way? What a game. I am not sure who deserves their new contract less at this point Nnamdi Asomugha or Antonio Cromartie.

I do have to take time to mention what a dirtbag Antrel Rolle is on the field though. I am looking forward to Plaxico Burress giving him one of these shots on December 24th.

3. Week 5 Games to look forward:

  • Pittsburgh at Houston – Very interested to see how these two AFC contenders come out in this game.
  • New England at Oakland – Hoping Oakland can do to New England what they did to the Jets last weekend.
  • NY Jets at Baltimore – Game of the week and I’m not even being biased.

NFL Week 1 Review

It is too early to throw around Power Rankings, so here are 5 observations from week 1 of the NFL

1. The Colts are a one man organization. They haven’t drafted well in recent years. They have done nothing in free agency in recent years. The competency of their coaching staff, including Jim Caldwell, is questionable. When you latch all your success on to one individual it is poor management. Peyton Manning is gone and isn’t coming back this year. It looks like the Colts are ready to tuck their tail between their legs and become a 4-12 team. It sure wouldn’t hurt to have a guy like Rex Ryan being your head coach in their situation to put a little fire into that lifeless bunch who was whipped by Houston.

2. Nobody likes poking fun at our uptight neighbors more than me, but the New York Giants were truly awful in week one. When are they going to improve their special teams? How will they overcome their injuries on defense with such questionable depth? Is Eli Manning really good enough to carry a team with mediocre surrounding talent? The Giants need to take advantage of an easy start to their schedule, beginning with their home opener versus the Steven Jackson-less Rams or they will be looking at a 5-11 season.

3. It isn’t very often you see the Pittsburgh Steelers manhandled the way they were on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how each team responds to such a surprising week one outcome. I would still bet they will be battling for the AFC North title into the final weeks of the season. One other comment on Pittsburgh, it is a little sad to see Jerricho Cotchery still injured and eventually coming back into a #5 receiver role on the Steelers behind Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown.

4. I won’t go crazy with Buffalo hype because I don’t think Kansas City is good. Yet, the Bills will be a fun team to watch and should flirt with a .500 record this season. The Jets two games against them this year won’t be gimmes by any stretch of the imagination. New England and Miami set defensive football back about 100 years on Monday night. Then again, the Jets did almost allow 400 yards, so I shouldn’t say too much. Yet, seriously New England…you are going to let Chad Henne throw for over 400 yards on you?

5. A few games to look forward to this week –

  • Philadelphia at Atlanta – The Mike Vick show comes back home, while the Falcons badly need a win.
  • San Diego at New England – Good barometer for the Chargers early in the year
  • Green Bay at Carolina – Should be fun to watch Cam Newton off his 400 yard performance against the Champs.

Jets – 17 Giants – 3: Ten Thoughts From TOJ

1. The positives for the Jets last night primarily were on the defensive side of the football. Despite allowing the Giants to move the ball, they bent but didn’t break, keeping them out of the end-zone all night, by coming up with timely big plays. The second unit made a nice statement with a 4th and inches stop on the goal-line against the Giants first unit. Overall, Rex Ryan has to be feeling good about his defense heading into the regular season.

2. David Harris was an absolute beast last night, playing like one of the top linebackers in the league that he is paid to be. He had 7 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception. Beyond that he drilled Eli Manning in the chest forcing his first interception that was picked off by Jim Leonhard. He smashed Hakeem Nicks and separated him from the ball when he tried to come over the middle. When Harris is playing like he did last night, the Jets are tough to score points on.

3. Another standout on defense was Ropati Pitoitua, who is having a great pre-season and has outperformed rookie first round pick for Muhammad Wilkerson for the starting defensive end job. It was a positive and negative to see Wilkerson get into that scrap with Brandon Jacobs and get ejected. Jacobs is a notorious dirtbag on the field and it is good that Wilkerson stood up for himself as a rookie, yet the reality is that he needs to keep his cool and not get himself thrown out of games. He needs every rep he can get.

4. Darrelle Revis looks like he is in mid-season form. However, Antonio Cromartie continues to struggle in man coverage. Yes, he looked awesome on that kick return and can be a big weapon on special teams but the Jets are paying him to be one of the top number two corners in the league. He needs to be able to handle being constantly picked on.

5. Over to the offense, which was disappointing and inconsistent. Mark Sanchez looked erratic and had an ugly turnover on a fumble. It was good to see him shake off a poor start and stick in a great throw to Santonio Holmes for a touchdown but the Jets need more from their passing offense, as Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller were invisible last night. The offensive line was pretty good as the Giants didn’t register a single sack last night and the running game was decent, although they never broke a big run.

6. Shonn Greene had a tough 42 yards on 11 carries and Joe McKnight is clearly looking like the number three back as he got 9 carries for 35 yards, compared to only 3 carries for Bilal Powell.

7. The Wildcat was back last night for the Jets as Jeremy Kerley completed a 18 yard pass to Matthew Mulligan, had two carries for 13 yards and handed off once to McKnight for a 8 yard gain. It was Kerley’s strongest overall performance as he had a nice punt return as well. It is nice that the Jets can keep their package of plays for Brad Smith in their offense this year thanks to Kerley’s versatility.

8. Sorry to hear about Logan Payne dislocating his wrist, he seemed to have the lead for the number five receiver job but after the injury Patrick Turner will likely grab that roster spot.

9. How good is it to see Jim Leonhard back on the field and making plays? He has two interceptions in the past two weeks and is going to provide a huge boost to the secondary.

10. Nick Bellore recorded a sack…Bart Scott alternated between missing tackles (allowing a huge play for Ahmad Bradshaw) and coming up with big tackles for a loss…how awful are the Giants special teams?…Kenrick Ellis had 2 tackles…Greg McElroy finished 4/5 for 39 yards.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Giants

A few final thoughts on the Jets/Giants pre-season game, which will finally take place tonight at 7 PM…hope all you readers out there stayed safe and dry this past weekend.

1. It will be interesting to see how the Jets utilize Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Dustin Keller tonight, considering they will all finally be on the field together. Brian Schottenheimer has the ability to move the four of them all over the formation to create mismatches. The benefit of having so many quality receiving options is that somebody is going to find a favorable one on one match-up and it is up to Mark Sanchez to exploit that mismatch. After losing Terrell Thomas to an injury, the Giants are a little thin in the secondary so the opportunity for big plays will be there.

2. The Giants offensive line is in a period of transition, so tonight is a good opportunity for the pass rush to get after Eli Manning. Rex Ryan won’t be shy about being aggressive and it will be interesting to see if he gives Aaron Maybin a little run with the first unit in pass rushing situations to see what he can do .

3. Jeremy Kerley has been a few inches from breaking a big kick or punt return the past couple of games. I think it would be good for the confidence of the entire unit, if he could rip one off out to midfield tonight. Kerley has basically been handed the job, which says enough of what Mike Westhoff thinks of his skill set.

4. I’d really like to see what Joe McKnight could do with the first unit in a few situations, especially on a screen pass or motioning out of the backfield to receiver.

5. The hype has been fun this game, but ultimately the most important thing is that the Jets get out of tonight completely healthy. If you didn’t notice opening night is 13 days away…bring on those Cowboys.

6. Most likely to jaw at each other tonight? Bart Scott vs. Brandon Jacobs…Antrell Rolle vs. Santonio Holmes…Justin Tuck vs. Rex Ryan. Let the words fly.

Jets/Giants: Whose Town Is It? Who Cares?

Rex Ryan calls Met Life stadium the home of the Jets. Justin Tuck says it still be seen as Giants Stadium. Santonio Holmes and other Jets beg to differ with Tuck. The argument goes on and on. The debate as to who owns the town has grown louder in recent years between the Jets, the Giants, and their fans. The reality is, who cares? Both have more important issues and teams to deal with than each other.

With the recent runs to the AFC title game, the New York Jets have not only talked a good game, they have finally set themselves up to win for an extended time. The Jets loud, brash head coach has raised the temperature in this hometown battle but has done so without a Super Bowl title, raising the anger of Giants die hards.

For the Jets and their fans though, Ryan’s attitude, one that has brought with it notable one liners such as “Here we come baby” and “Let’s go eat a goddamn snack,” has been a breath of fresh air for a franchise that once felt sorry for itself. The confidence that Ryan has instilled in his Jets are a far cry from the “Same Old Jets,” lovable losers whose dramatic crash landings often grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.

The Giants on the other hand, don’t talk. They never really have or feel as though they need to. This classic age old franchise HAS the Super Bowl hardware and old NFL title game resume. Their most recent, the upset of the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2008, was one of the greatest wins in professional football history.

Their coach Tom Coughlin is NOT Rex Ryan. He’s loud yes…on the field and brash at times on the sidelines too. Coughlin is old school. A decades old coach who allows his team do the talking, without the desire to impart his words as part of the weekday headlines.

From the top on down, these two franchises handle themselves differently. The results ON the field the past two seasons however, might be a reason perhaps for the heightened scrutiny that this Jets/Giants drama has received. The new Jets are loud. They love the limelight and the attention. They also win. The Giants are quiet. Business as usual. They however, have NOT had the January success during the past two seasons that the Jets have.

Jets fans love the new attention surrounding the club nationally. The notoriety. The feeling that THEIR team is now one of the best in the NFL, and the one on top in New York. Giants fans don’t like playing second fiddle to a club that for fifty years played the role of red headed AFL born step child.

To make matters worse, Big Blue supporters now must listen to those Jets fans who won’t keep quiet about who runs the Big Apple. The same Gang Green crazies who, for the longest time, sat back and watched the Giants, not the Jets bring home championships.

The argument of “Who Owns the Town” while in essence is fun, remains non essential. Yes the rivalry HAS grown. It has grown mostly however on paper, in the papers. These clubs, who face each other Saturday, even meet down the stretch in 2011 on Christmas Eve. When the games actually count. In spite of that odd reality in the scheduling this year, both teams have much BIGGER enemies to set their sights on from now until then.

The Jets have the Patriots. The Dolphins. After last January, you can also include the Steelers into the “rivalry” talk, albeit from a distance. The Jets schedule this season is brutal.

The Giants and their fans have atop their hatred list, the Eagles, especially after the DeSean Jackson game, to focus on. With it, the possible hangover that a nightmarish late game and late season collapse may have left for them this year. In fact, divisional and conference foes pose an entirely greater threat to both clubs Super Bowl dreams than any crosstown rival could.

The chatter surrounding who is king of New York makes this August game more exciting than other August games, but the Jets vs Giants “Met Life Bowl” for the Snoopy Trophy is a tune up. Always will be. Teams and fans can claim ownership of the tri state area if they want to, but there is room for both.

For the Jets, Giants and their fans want to REALLY win the argument as to whose town this is, they should focus on landing in Indianapolis next February, not on each other.

TJ Rosenthal runs The Jet Report and can be followed on Twitter. (He also took the picture at the top of the article)

What We Need To See From New York Jets Starters On Saturday

The New York Jets starters are going to play into the third quarter this Saturday night against the Giants. Considering that this will be their last major tune-up before the regular season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, what are a few things we should to hope to see from the starters and top reserves?

Offensively, the consistency needs to improve, particularly in the red-zone and on third downs. Mark Sanchez has looked very good this pre-season but I’d like to see him be more accurate on third down situations and also take a few more shots down the field. Shonn Greene missed last week, so it is important for him to get 8-12 carries and put a solid performance under his belt. This is also the first time the entire starting offensive line will play together, so even though they are experienced , they will need to work out any kinks since they won’t see any kind of extended action again before the opener.

On defense, the pass rush still needs to kick into gear. Muhammad Wilkerson, Calvin Pace, and Jamaal Westerman in particular need to get after Eli Manning. In the secondary, Kyle Wilson needs to be able to handle either Domenick Hixon or Victor Cruz in the slot, while Darrelle Revis should get a good test against Hakeem Nicks. Bart Scott will be back on the field after missing last week and I can already see him and Brandon Jacobs yapping at each other.

On special teams, it will be interesting to see if one of the kickers can finally pull ahead. It has been a back and forth battle so far between Nick Folk and Nick Novak. It looks like TJ Conley will probably end up being the punter and Jeremy Kerley will be the primary kick and punt returner.

Most importantly, the Jets need to leave this game healthy. All you have to do is look at how banged up the Giants have gotten this pre-season to be grateful that the Jets haven’t suffered any major injuries.

Of course, it would also be nice to see Plaxico Burress score a touchdown and 75,000 Giants fans throwing up simultaneously as he does the Flight Boys celebration in the end-zone…

Jets vs. Giants: Preliminary Trash Talk

Justin Tuck – “It will always be Giants Stadium.”

Santonio Holmes – “It’s the New Meadowlands, home of the New York Jets.”

I don’t expect the trash talk to escalate too much more this week for the Jets/Giants pre-season game, considering the two teams will meet in the regular season. Let’s not forget some of the shots Rex Ryan fired in the off-season –

It seems clear that right now we are the better team and we are going to remain the better team for the next 10 years. Whether you like it or not, those are the facts, and that’s what is going to happen…We are going to take over the town whether the Giants like it nor not, so those fans on the fence that like both teams are going to be Jets fans in the end. The truth is, if I am going to watch one game, I am going to see the Jets, without a doubt. We are better.”

He also remarked in a pre-season speech to employees that “the Giants like to talk about the past, while the Jets like to talk about the future.”

Giants fans tend to get excessively irritated by Ryan and his words, yet I think it just adds some fun to the rivalry. So yes, they will carry on about 1969, but the bottom line is that right now the Jets are a better team and that since Rex Ryan has taken over, the Jets have been a better, more entertaining, and relevant team.

It should be a fun week regardless, especially with Plaxico Burress now added to the mix. You have to think Eli Manning is now regretting acting so disinterested in a Burress to the Giants reunion, considering what his group of receivers looks like right now and how ready to make an impact Burress looked last week. The Jets and Burress will try to play down the hype of him going against the Giants, but there is no way he isn’t extra geared up to go against them and there is no way the Jets won’t make a concerted effort to get him in the end-zone.

Jets West vs. Camp Eli: How Much Do Off-Season Workouts Matter?

Steve Politi had a funny comparison between Jets West and Camp Eli in today’s Star Ledger. Basically, while the Jets were enjoying the California sun in a highly organized camp, complete with film sessions, guest accommodations, sponsorships, team contests and field trips…the Giants were slumming around Hoboken high school like a touch football team getting ready for an adult league. (Hey, don’t knock those, I play in one. Go Spirits!)

Just about every team around the league is taking part in some organized workout to stay in shape during the lockout. However, how much of a difference will the quality of the off-season workouts make on the 2011 season? The answer is probably not all that much. Even the best run sessions are still lacking enough attendance to adequately replace OTAs…Basically, you won’t be saying the Jets beat the Giants on December 24th because of Jets West.

Yet, that doesn’t mean Mark Sanchez doesn’t deserve credit for putting the camp together. He is a young quarterback cementing his leadership role on his team. Good for him for taking such good care of his teammates. There is no reason to take anything at all away from the Jets camp because it received so much media attention…like most things the Jets do, it deserved it.

Eli Manning isn’t going to lose any of his teammates respect for the lack of effort he put into “Camp Eli,” which was basically walking down the street from his apartment and saying “hey, come meet me here if you can, bring your own water and orange slices.” It is funny to see the differences between the two camps but getting too deep into their impact is only a result of lockout boredom.

Your 2010 Guide To Jets Haters

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The New York Jets are arguably the most talked about team in the NFL heading into the 2010 season. Without argument being necessary, they have talked more than any team in the NFL heading into the 2010 season. Rex Ryan is a brash and confident individual, who hasn’t toned down his personality since becoming a head coach and his mentality has trickled down to the entire organization to an extent.

The result is that you either love him or hate him, along with either loving or hating the 2010 Jets. Fans obviously admire the swagger and confidence brought to an organization desperately in need of it, while other players or coaches have praised his approach. Defending Super Bowl champion head coach, Sean Payton, has repeatedly complimented the mentality Ryan has brought to the Jets and how he runs his team. Adam Schefter reported players were texting their agents how badly they wanted to play for Rex Ryan after watching Hard Knocks.

However, Rex Ryan and the Jets have brought out a particular vitriolic hate out of some individuals heading into the season. You can already picture them huddled around the TV screen tomorrow, anxiously waiting for the Giants to get a first down on the Jets defense so they could get out of a few nasty comments on Rex Ryan and the overrated, overhyped Jets. You can allow these haters to get under your skin or you can realize Rex and the Jets are having a good time, and they’re just trying to ruin it. Sit back and enjoy your 2010 New York Jets because they are going to be good and they aren’t going to be shy about letting you know it. However, here is a guide to those who will be stammering and twisting their face with each Jets victory this year:

Mike Francesa – The iconic radio personality from WFAN can’t stand Rex Ryan and really since Bill Parcells left, can’t stand the New York Jets. Francesa has been particularly vicious with the Jets lately because nobody from their organization will go on his show after he spent all of December and January ripping them apart, despite their playoff run. He also nearly fell out of his chair after watching the first episode of Hard Knocks. Francesa tore into the “classless” Jets and their “bumbling” head coach, while Giants fans called in so they could all shake their heads in shame together and wonder why the Jets couldn’t be more dignified like the New York Giants. How could Rex Ryan curse like that? How could he? You would think the guy was beating up small children on national television, instead of using expletives when talking to his football team at 10 PM on premium cable. Clearly, no other coaches have ever cursed in NFL history.

Francesa will find any possible way to avoid giving the Jets credit when they win football games. He has completely sided with Darrelle Revis in his contract dispute and is calling the New Meadowlands “Giants Stadium 2.” If the Jets start the season 6-0, Francesa will attribute it to luck. Remember he knows more about football than Rex Ryan, regardless of how good the Jets defense in in 2010.

New York Giants Fans – A quick aside for Giants fans, stop calling into the local radio shows and acting like the best teams in your history weren’t led by a linebacker fueled by cocaine and hookers. The word “classless” is thrown around so easily as a shot at Ryan and the Jets it is ridiculous. The Jets don’t have to take the same approach as the Giants to football. You can hate on Rex Ryan all you want but his team didn’t quit on him the final two games of the regular season last year. Worry about your own team. I am aware your organization has a much better history and has won substantially more, yet at this moment the Jets are a better team and deserve more headlines.

Mike Florio – Every other article Florio has written this off-season has been about the Jets. Mike Tannenbaum is on the hot seat. Rex Ryan is overweight. LaDainian Tomlinson is washed up. Braylon Edwards is a jerk and can’t catch. Mark Sanchez isn’t going to be a good quarterback in the NFL. Joe Namath shouldn’t be in the hall of fame. Darrelle Revis is right in his contract dispute. New York smells bad (yes he wrote an article deriding the smell of the city as part of the news on his site). The Jets won’t go back to the playoffs in 2010. NBC, I’m in the same company. Give me a commercial during Sunday Night Football in a fancy suit in front of a laptop on a cell phone, like you did for Florio. I can call people names and pick on the teams I don’t like, while passing it off as news. I promise I will never report that Terry Bradshaw died when he didn’t and won’t use the same stale jokes referencing The Office and Seinfeld.

Armando Salguero – Dolphins beat writer who constantly wags his finger at the Jets for lacking class, neglecting the parade of Dolphins who have recently been arrested and the way GM Jeff Ireland conducts business.

Message Board/Website Trolls – I always love hearing from the Dolphins and Patriots fans who take the time to visit the Jets ESPN Message Board to express their displeasure with the team. I also thoroughly enjoy the derogatory comments they leave for me here at TOJ, which I have the ability to erase since I do run the site and all. So please, keep visiting the site, giving me hits, taking the time to curse me out and calling me elaborate slurs (greasy Jets loving meatball was my favorite)…we appreciate the support. Also, keep waking up in the morning and saying “man Rex Ryan makes me so mad, I am going on the Jets message board instead of my own team’s to talk about how much I hate him. That will show those Jets fans.”

Easy responses to common Jets bashing

“Rex Ryan is a bumbling idiot” – He is a head coach in the NFL, what do you do?

“Mark Sanchez is terrible” – He won two playoff games his rookie year, how many playoff games did your quarterback win his rookie year?

“Their defense isn’t elite” – It was ranked number one in the NFL last year, hence it is elite.

“LaDainian Tomlinson is washed up” – Good thing we have Shonn Greene.

“They can’t survive without Alan Faneca” – Good thing we still have Nick Mangold, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Brandon Moore, and Damien Woody.

“You haven’t won anything” – Only the Saints and Colts had a better season than us last year, and nobody has won anything yet this year.

“What about Darrelle Revis” – Shut up.

In Rex We Trust