Tears Of Joy: Football Is Back (Pre-Season That Is)

It took a few minutes to set in. It was real. It was Monday Night Football, on Thursday….you could hear men breaking down, praising Jesus by the light of the moon.

The battle of the West Coast, the Beach Boys of the South vs The Fisherman of the North, What entails below is a series of brief thoughts, notes, ramblings, and musings on last night’s Seahawks vs. Chargers preseason game.

Philip Rivers is a machine. He will find receivers you’ve never heard of for long periods of time, and then hit Vincent Jackson for 40 yards while slinging it in that horrible to watch, high school throwing motion. It is hideous, but puts up numbers, like watching a Jonas Brothers concert in 3D.

The Seahawks offensive line will come to be one of the top 10 in the league. They will make the Raiders look like a cheap joke. Many people did not understand what Pete Carroll was trying to do in his last two drafts, (except he was very excited) and yet, Russell Okung goes down in the first half. If healthy, this offensive line is half rookies (1st and 3rd round) and half former first round picks (Gallery/Okung). With Tom Cable as the offensive line coach, I have faith this team will be able to run power sets and and play action with great success.

Tarvaris Jackson looks like things have not improved greatly since his days in Minnesota. Call it nerves, call it high expectations, but he never seemed comfortable at all. Give him a preseason under his belt and he will understand that his run game is going to shoulder the load.

Big corners. Big receivers. Pete Carroll is trying to make a mix of Alabama and Wisconsin. There will be no greatest show on turf in Seattle. Keep the opposing quarterback on the bench. Anyone can be beat. Except the Falcons.

Jordan Todman. Attack of the microbacks. Mike Tolbert, Ryan Matthews, San Diego likes small backs and giant receivers. To make up for the loss of Darren Sproles, the backs will need to be checkdown ready. Did anyone notice how stout Mike Tolbert is? He’s going to be a big part of the offense this year, because despite Ryan Matthews first round pick status, he will come to be a wash. Book it. Fresno State is not the gold standard of running backs.

What do the Seahawks have going forward? Two pro bowl running backs, and a pro bowl tight end. three first round DB’s. They will win 8 games, and probably make the playoffs.

Chargers? Best tight end in the league. Two first round D lineman. Takeo Spikes on his last legs. Bob Sanders trying to prove a point.

It was a better game than I expected. On to Friday Night.

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…

Top 10 National TV Sports Theme Songs

TOJ would like to welcome our second new writer in as many days, Chris Celletti, who is also featured at SB Nation NY and can be followed on Twitter. Welcome aboard! – JC

For this blogger who cares way too much about the useless things in sports (announcers, uniforms, stadiums, etc.) nothing gets me more amped up than a great TV sports theme song. I thought I’d take the time to rank some of the current (keyword current) National TV sports themes:

1. NFL on CBS

How can I put this ahead of the NFL on Fox theme song? Because I’m a Jet fan, that’s why. No song gets me more pumped up for watching a sporting event on TV than this one, especially when they play it right after kickoff as they’re going over starting lineups and Greg Gumbel runs down the stats for Mark San-CHEZ (I’ll never
understand why anyone pronounces his name this way).

2. NFL on FOX

This song has been around for so long now. I don’t really have any memories tied to it, since every time the Giants trudge through a riveting 13-9 win I’m usually fast asleep by mid-first quarter, yet it belongs up here because of its longevity and popularity.

3. NCAA Basketball on CBS

Definitely a classic; the problem is that it’s just so underused since the college hoops season is so short. Although, for those three weeks in March, there isn’t any other song that gets stuck in your head so easily. Anytime I hear it, (and every now and then I’ll just YouTube it for the hell of it) it brings me back to scratching away at my bracket after getting every 8/9 and 7/10 game wrong – yes, this has happened to me before.

4. NBA on TNT

The NBA always has good TV theme songs. Nothing will ever, ever be as good as the NBA on NBC theme (the absolute hands down best TV sports theme of all time as we’ll get to later), but TNT’s is solid. It is usually followed, unfortunately, by the voice of Ernie Johnson, but it is a classy tune.

5. NBA on ABC/ESPN

There’s actually two versions of this theme, the faster one that they play when opening a show, or the slower one that’s used when going to or coming back from a break. I particularly like the slower one, especially late in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

6. NHL on NBC

Something very hockey about this one. Just works well with clips of guys smashing into the boards and Alex Ovechkin having a heart attack celebrating a goal in Feburary against the Bruins. But it has a classic sports sound to it, with a pretty recognizable hook.

7. MLB on ESPN

This is basically the Sunday Night Baseball theme song, and it ranks lower because who the hell watches Sunday Night Baseball unless your team is playing? It’s not a bad song by any means and is a classic at this point. Beyond that, since they dumped Joe Morgan, Sunday Night Baseball is definitely a better place.

8. Golf on CBS

This is the perfect golf theme song, and I don’t know why. It sets the tone for Jim Nantz coming on air and painting the scene of a terrible tournament – “Here live from picturesque TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, it’s the third round of the Travelers Championship. Steve Marino is leading the way with Nick Watney and Brandt Jobe right on his heels…” – Strap in for three-plus hours of
awesomeness!

9. NHL on Versus

This is the worst damn theme song in the history of American professional sports. Their older one from 2008 was pretty good, but this past year it is just a repeating, awful tune that has zero pump-up factor for a big game. Thank goodness NBC is taking over operations over there – they’ll probably just use their standard
hockey theme.

10. Monday Night Football

Iconic, yes. But also incredibly lame.

Let’s also not forget to pay homage to the gift that John Tesh brought the world, the NBA on NBC theme…Best sports theme of all time.

NFL Free Agent Primer

A quick look around the league at a few intriguing unrestricted free agents at each position, if the 4th year players will be UFAs as expected in the new labor deal —

Quarterback

  • Alex Smith – It sounds like the 49ers will bring him back for another year but the former number one pick should attract some interest.
  • Bruce Gradkowski – Good backup, even though they won’t pursue him, I’d feel much better if he was the Jets number two quarterback than Mark Brunell.
  • Matt Moore – There are rumors the Dolphins could sign him to compete with Chad Henne…yikes.

Running Back

  • Ahmad Bradshaw – It will be interesting to see how much money the Giants will be willing to throw at him. He is an explosive player but has a tough time staying healthy.
  • Ricky Williams/Ronnie Brown – What will the Dolphins backfield look like in 2011?
  • Cedric Benson – Hard to see the Bengals letting him go anywhere, especially since they will likely be starting a rookie quarterback.
  • DeAngelo Williams – A proven big play back who should command a hefty contract on the open market.

Wide Receiver

  • Santonio Holmes/Braylon Edwards/Brad Smith – Mike Tannenbaum just shakes his head.
  • James Jones – Very talented player who could really thrive with a bigger role.
  • Lance Moore – Productive slot receiver with a knack for making big plays.
  • Steve Smith (NYG) – Hard to see the Giants letting him go anywhere.
  • Plaxico Burress – I would guess the Eagles, Rams, or Jets.
  • Randy Moss – Somebody will give him a shot.
  • Sidney Rice – The Vikings will probably give him the money necessary to keep him.
  • Terrell Owens – Still TO…but coming off a very productive season.
  • Steve Breaston – Under the radar a little bit on this FA market but has potential to be a very good number two receiver somewhere.

Tight End

  • Kevin Boss – He had injury issues last year but has been consistently good since becoming a starter.
  • Bo Scaife – Should be able to catch on somewhere outside of Tennessee where he will get more opportunities.
  • Daniel Graham – Good blocking option.

Offensive Line

  • Doug Free – Hard to see Dallas letting him walk after a better than expected year.
  • Jared Gaither – Should be one of the most sought after offensive lineman on the market, as he isn’t expected to re-sign with Baltimore.
  • Jermon Bushrod – He has stated he wants to return to New Orleans but it remains to be seen if the Saints will pay to keep him.

Defensive Line

  • Cullen Jenkins – Brother of Kris…most people don’t expect him back in Green Bay next year.
  • Mathias Kiwanuka – Good pass rushers are always hard to find.
  • Ray Edwards – He isn’t expected back in Minnesota and could provide a solid pass rush to many teams. Cleveland is reportedly very interested in him.

Linebacker

  • Paul Posluszny – He has struggled with injuries but has the potential to be a key part of a young and improving Bills defense.
  • Matt Roth – Don’t be surprised to see the Jets make a run at him.
  • Stephen Tulloch – Had a good year in Tennessee and should be heavily pursued by multiple teams including Detroit and Buffalo.

Secondary

  • Nnamdi Asomugha – He will command a monster contract. Expect the Texans, Redskins, and Eagles all to be in the mix.
  • Antonio Cromartie – Considering how much Rex Ryan loves corners and their defensive system, there is a pretty good chance he will be back despite the high cost.
  • Jonathan Joseph – A quality starter who should get decent money in this market.
  • Carlos Rogers – He could be a good fallback option for the teams who can’t sign Asomugha or Cromartie.

Specials

  • David Akers – The long time Eagle could be testing the market.
  • Ryan Longwell – Another veteran who should find a home somewhere, if not immediately than when training camp starts.

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’s 32 Thoughts On 32 Teams

A quick thought on each team in the NFL, as the lockout hopefully nears a conclusion —

New England Patriots – I’ll go with this picture

Miami Dolphins – You aren’t confident in your quarterback if there are rumors of signing Matt Moore to compete with him.

Buffalo Bills – I think they will improve to around a .500 team this season, with a decent collection of young talent on both sides of the ball.

Pittsburgh Steelers – If only Antonio Brown would have dropped that pass on third down..

Baltimore Ravens – I think Jimmy Smith has a good chance to be Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Cincinnati Bengals – Apparently, Carson Palmer doesn’t want to play for them…in case you haven’t heard. I would guess Andy Dalton starts week one.

Cleveland Browns – There whole season is already cursed by having Peyton Hillis end up on the Madden Cover.

Houston Texans – I have an irrational hate for them because of all the hype they receive every year and how they never live up to it.

Tennessee Titans – Somewhere Kenny Britt was just arrested again…

Indiannapolis Colts – 1 reception for 1 yard by Reggie Wayne in the playoffs against the Jets last year.

Jacksonville Jaguars – I wonder if the Blaine Gabbert era will start by week two when they play the Jets?

Oakland Raiders – The division is wide open this year, so maybe they finally get over the hump.

Kansas City Chiefs – There is no way I see them back in the playoffs this year.

San Diego Chargers – If they can stay healthy, they will be handful as usual…looking forward to LaDainian Tomlinson getting a shot at them.

Denver Broncos – You have to start Tebow, right?

Philadelphia Eagles – It sounds like they are going to do some major damage in free agency.

New York Giants – Whoops…

Dallas Cowboys – Can’t wait to see Rex Ryan blitz the hell out of Tony Romo in week one.

Washington Redskins – How much did they pay Albert Haynesworth again?

Green Bay Packers – They have enough young talent to have a great shot at defending the belt.

Chicago Bears – How the hell did this team make it to the NFC Championship Game?

Detriot Lions – For once, they seem to be moving in the right direction.

Minnesota Vikings – Still can’t believe how high they selected Christian Ponder.

Atlanta Falcons – I am not sure if they have a draft pick for another five years…let’s see if Julio Jones is worth it.

Carolina Panthers – Can you blame Steve Smith for wanting to leave town?

New Orleans Saints – Marshawn Lynch is still breaking tackles…

Tampa Bay Bucs – Raheem Morris is the man

San Francisco 49ers – I am going to miss Mike Singletary press conferences.

Seattle Seahawks – Sounds like they aren’t going to bring Matt Hasselbeck back…not sure why.

St. Louis Rams – Ask Will…

Arizona Cardinals – Can we find somebody to throw Larry Fitzgerald the ball?

New York Jets – Look up, down, left and right.

Lockout Blues: Ways For Jets Fans To Pass The Time

What can you say? The NFL Lockout sucks. It has been an endless cycle of litigation and mediation, which has now been delayed again until a June 3rd hearing. It is becoming more of a reality with each passing day that part of training camp and probably even the regular season will be lost, which is a damn tragedy. The NFL was so popular last year that it could have put the Cardinals and Panthers in prime-time against a championship game in another major sport and destroyed it in the ratings. Unfortunately, greed and money have a way of ruining even the best of things.

Here at Turn On The Jets, we will keep writing as if there will be a 2011 season and will never run out of the topics to discuss on this team, even if I am forced to break down the battle for the third tight end spot or write a feature length story on long snapper Tanner Purdum’s background.

Regardless, here are a few ways for Jets fans to pass the time while we wait for this lockout to finally come to an end —

  • Read Rex Ryan’s book

A quick, easy, and entertaining read for any Jets fan. There is no shortage of smack and snack talk.

  • Channel your Dolphins hate to the Heat

Let’s go Bulls!

  • Remember how foolish you are capable of acting when you are rooting for the Jets
  • Join a touch football or softball league

One Day At A Time: Why Football Is A Drug And Why Love Is Not The Answer

If you are reading this, you probably like football. That or you are a fan of actual aircraft ignition sequences. I am guessing those people are few and far between. I too like football, but it is not because I am what most call a football “fan”, I am a football freak. I fall asleep to SEC Network replays of Auburn vs. Georgia or Alabama vs. LSU. Why the SEC you ask? Because they are the only conference that has actual games worth watching over and over and over until you can literally recite the entire game blindfolded play for play…And they are the only one that lets you watch for free.

Why don’t I watch NFL Replay you ask? Because it costs money, and the NFL ownership group as a whole may be some of the most greedy, white glove jerks I have ever seen in my life. Next to Senators of course. Oh sure, they’ll come to training camp and dance around and have real cute conversations with various coaches and first round draft picks, but have you ever seen an owner flying coach at an airport? Or refinancing their house because of the impending lockout? Let’s not get sidetracked here, on to the beauty of the game:

I like finesse in sports and I like size, which are essentially the two ways football can be broken down. Peyton Manning and Julius Peppers: that’s a little size and finesse, Kris Jenkins has the size…Darrelle Revis has the finesse. So what is so intriguing about football? 22 people on the field, each relying on each other to make either a defensive stand or move the ball down the field. Why am I actually breaking this down? This is not football 101. Go to Wikipedia for that…

Football can suck you in, you start to analyze the basics…quarterback…running back…receivers….but then, as you look closer, it all opens up:

To compare to another sport, basketball only has 10 people on the court and people score left and right, anybody can put up points at some point in the season, not ANYBODY can score a touchdown. And no single player “scores” a touchdown. Football players are, for the most part, specialists, basketball players have offensive and defensive duties. You can’t change your basic lineup, going small or big like they can do in basketball. Danny Woodhead would not last 3 minutes on the Lakers. In football, if the defense struggles, the offense has to lift them up and vice versa. Football players are held to a smaller set of responsibilities yet you live and die by them. It is very hard to be the Knicks in football.

The intricacies of offense and defense in football are so vast that trying to analyze one pre snap formation with a team like the Jets could leave you scratching your head, especially when you have 4 or 5 guys switching POSITIONS (Kris Jenkins at linebacker!), audibles and counter-audibles, but that is what we call the “technical stuff.”

Football, for the literary amongst us, is 21st century theatre, Broadway sucks despite what Sanchez says, and football is as good of a narrative as any imaginable. With the amount of coverage given to football via ESPN, NFL Network and the Internet, it is dissected more minutely than postmodern novels. There are analysts who make statements and analysis of analysts statements which are the analysis of the players statements, it’s like an Italo Calvino novel. You are on a train. You are a character in a novel taking place on a tran, etc…

One of the overwhelming reasons I love football is because it is not built for the elite, models don’t go to football games, and if they do, they aren’t showing up in a miniskirt and heels. Unless you count those degenerates in suites and “coach’s clubs”. (As a sidenote, if Rex Ryan could handpick people for his coaches club, I doubt 15 people in badly tailored suits would be first on the list). People don’t show up 40 minutes after kickoff to a Giants game, unless they are talking their way out of an arrest or so drunk that they had to stop to puke every 15 feet from the shuttle to the entrance.

It unites the strange and the straight laced, it turns friends to enemies and enemies to friends, it creates debaters and theorists, dreamers and detractors:

Amongst the working class, there is not much to look forward to on a given week. Life, in general, is a series of mundane events highlighted by orgasms, credit card debt, and free shots of tequila. So to be part of something that you know millions of people are part of, to hear the screams from adjacent apartment buildings and to be walking by a bar downtown and hear the roar after a touchdown or an interception, is indescribable.

I would argue that most football people, if given the choice between a beach in LA or a sports bar in Manhattan during football season, would gladly stand for 6 hours nursing the same warm beer in a bar that smells like piss and desperation, and leave the beaches for out of work actors to “contemplate their life choices.”

Maybe we are spoiled in Manhattan to have both the Jets and the Giants…but don’t question the passion both teams create, and remember this, they’re rooting on Park Avenue and they’re rooting in Harlem. The stockbrokers have jerseys on and drug dealers have jerseys on.

We’re all a part of it, whether we are in a bar, at the stadium, or as I prefer to watch, on the rooftop of an East Village duplex, with beautiful women cooking Fillet Mignon and pouring unnecessarily strong mixed drinks, even in December.