Jets Desert Revis Island

So I guess it’s time to change my blog’s banner picture, eh?

Where to begin?  First off, welcome back!  It’s been awhile.  Has anything happened with the Jets while I’ve been on hiatus?  Let’s quickly get up to date…Since the last time I wrote,  the Jets have:

-Fired their GM and hired a new one

-Cut nearly half of their starters from last year

-Signed a number of “value” free agents

-NOT cut Tebow or Sanchez

But today’s trade was clearly the big bombshell.  It had been predicted and speculated on for weeks, but it doesn’t make it any less painful.  Any time you trade a player of Revis’ calibre, it hurts.  Players like him don’t come around very often – just look at the Jets’ recent draft picks to prove that.

But unfortunately, it was a deal that had to be done.  When the Jets signed Revis to the now infamous “band-aid” contract 4 years ago, they set themselves up for today.  Lacking the ability to franchise Revis, and promising to come back to the bargaining table in year 2 or 3 of the contract (which they never did), the Jets left themselves with very little recourse.  You can blame that on Tannenbaum and Woody.  Couple that with the horrendous contracts that were doled out to Sanchez, Holmes, etc. and a roster that is severely lacking in talent, and you are left with very few options.  And on top of all of that, Revis didn’t make life any easier by making it clear that he needed to be the highest paid defensive player in the league.

So all things considered, I think today’s trade is just fine.  Idzik was not exactly dealing from a position of strength here considering  that a) Revis is coming off the worst injury for a CB (torn ACL), b) the Jets made it clear that they had no interest in resigning him and c) they are in full rebuilding mode.  The Jets got their extra 1st round pick, and next year’s pick will become a 3rd pick as long as Revis is on the roster in March – which is almost a lock, unless he blows out his knee again.  There was speculation that the Jets were also to receive a 5th round pick, but really, are we that upset  that we didn’t receive an extra 5th round pick?  Name me 3 impact players that were drafted in the 5th round recently…

So the compensation was fine.  And all signs point to Idzik trading down for further picks, which is smart.  The Jets need as many picks as they can get.  But the bottom line is this – it’s a sad day for the New York Jets fans, and more importantly, Jets fans.  No longer do we get the pleasure every Sunday of watching one of the best players ever to play the position.  And despite the nasty contract disputes, he was a guy you loved rooting for and a great locker room presence for a team badly in need of leadership. No amount of draft picks can ever make up for that.  It’s a crappy situation, any way you slice it.

History won’t be able to judge this trade for at least a year or two – not until we see how Revis’ knee holds up , and not until we see what the Jets do with these extra picks.

So for now we will close this ugly and sad chapter in Jets history (one of many). That is, until Week 1 of the NFL season, when the Jets open up at home against….yes…the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

(And if you have any suggestions for a new blog banner pic…send them my way!)

BREAKING NEWS: Rex Ryan Eats Dinner

The New York media’s performance this week was really disappointing.  A full day of coverage devoted to Rex Ryan’s tattoo – really, NY media?  I don’t expect much from you, but this was sad.  Even the writer I respect most, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com got in on the act.  It was sensationalist reporting for a media that was starved for a story. The NY Daily News, which broke this “story,” has continued to cover it, including a picture in today’s paper of Rex wearing a t-shirt to cover up the tattoo. These writers make me feel embarrassed to call myself a New Yorker.  Can we please focus on the stories that actually matter, like the search for a new GM?….

And on that note, news “broke” yesterday that the Jets had hired San Fran 49ers director of player personnel, Tom Gamble, to be their next GM.  Of course, that story wasn’t true, as so many of the recent “breaking stories” around the Jets have been (he apparently was still meeting with the Jets when the story broke).  But it does appear that he’s the lead candidate.  And by all accounts, he’s a solid choice.  He’s been a major part of rebuilding the 49ers through the draft (although the jury is out on their 2012 draft which has yet to produce an impact player.  That said, much harder to do on a championship caliber team) and not to be overlooked is that he’s an East coast guy with roots here.  There are a few others candidates in the mix, and with the Jets, you just never know, but Gamble looks like he’ll be the Jets’ next GM.  The sooner, the better.

With the Knicks winning again last night, and now the news that the NHL strike is over, we have other sports stories to focus on and be happy about.  And of course, wildcard weekend continues today.  After two pretty awful games yesterday, the quality should improve.  This house (against my wishes, I should add) is decked out in burgundy and yellow in support of the Redskins.  My two brothers-in-law flew in from Charleston and Seattle respectively to watch the game together – pretty cool stuff.  Go Skins!

Oh, and this just in – Rex Ryan took a nap on the beach!  Alert the press.

New Year, Same (Old) Jets

So maybe that title isn’t completely fair.  Woody Johnson made the right move to relieve Mike Tannenbaum of his duties.  I’ve been calling for Tanny’s dismissal for over 2 months on this blog.  And while he isn’t 100% responsible for the state that the Jets are in, he deservedly shoulders much of the blame.  What started out as a promising career as a GM just a few years ago came to a crashing halt on the final day of 2012.

That said, leave it to the Jets to even mess up what was an easy decision.  For starters, they were the only team on “Black Monday” who didn’t make their leadership available for comment.  In fact, they made the effort to cancel a previously planned end of season conference call with Rex Ryan that was scheduled to take place yesterday afternoon. Every other team that fired a coach, GM, etc, made someone in the organization available for questions.  The Jets?  Radio silence.  Unless you count Woody Johnson’s PR statement that was released to the press and emailed to season ticket holders.  Many of the Jets’ players were in yesterday, clearing out their lockers, and were thus forced to answer questions about Tannenbaum’s firing, Sparano’s limbo and the vote of confidence given to Rex.  It was awkward for the players and it was classic Jets – they can’t even get things right off the field.

There was some speculation earlier in the week that Tannenbaum might get reassigned in the organization, and that speculation was universally and rightfully panned.  The idea of him staying on as a “cap expert” was especially laughable given he’s responsible for the awful cap situation they are in.  (side note: there is so much misinformation and general BS from the media surrounding this team.  Every reporter wants to “break” a story and they often do at the expense of facts or reliable sources.  It’s irresponsible journalism and not talked about enough).  Tannenbaum’s “go for broke” strategy of the last 2 years loaded the Jets with overpaid, aging players at the expense of draft picks, youth, and a foundation.  An astounding stat:  Between 2009 and 2011, the Jets had only 13 draft choices compared to the Patriots, who had 34 selections (thanks to ESPN.com and Pro Football Focus for that).  While the Pats were re-loading with the likes of Gronkowski, Ridley, Spikes, etc., the Jets were trading away draft picks for Sanchez, Cromartie, Tebow, etc.  And that put even more pressure on the front office to get the draft right.  It’s hard enough to draft the right players with a full stockpile of picks – try doing so when you have only 3 or 4 in a given year.  And unfortunately for Tannenbabum, he was wrong in recent years (Sanchez, Gholston, Wilson, Ducasse) more often than he was right (Wilkerson, Coples, Kerley).  Compounding matters, the Jets invested big money in aging, experienced players (Scott, Pace, LT, Burress) in a league that favors youth, speed and depth.  The recipe worked for 2 years, but at a steep price: a decline that was fast & hard.

So what of the decision to keep Rex?  Media & fan reaction seems to be evenly split. Some applaud the move, citing Rex’s ability to keep the team together and miraculously in the hunt for a playoff spot right through week 15.  They talk about how much players love to play for him and his defensive genius.  Many however think he should be just as culpable as Tannenbaum for the team’s personnel decisions (especially his almost purposeful ignorance of the offense) and decline.  And they think that any coveted GM will not want to come to a team where they don’t have full decision-making authority, including the ability to choose their own coach.

I completely see both arguments, but find myself landing in the pro-Rex camp.  Rex has proven that he can take a team with the right talent to the AFC championship game.  There have been countless coaches loaded with more talent who have not been able to do the same (2011/12 Eagles, any recent Chargers/Cowboys/Falcons teams, etc.).  And who is to say that a new coach would be successful?  The “success rate” (let’s use a very liberal definition – success = winning record) of new coaches in their first 2 or 3 years has to be less than 75%.  For every Jim Harbaugh, there is a Jim Schwartz.  For every Mike Tomlin, there is a Mike Mularkey, etc., etc.  Point being – a new coach doesn’t necessarily guarantee success.   Keep a proven winner in Rex, but surround him with the right talent on offense and an offensive coaching staff who knows how to build and run a modern system (sorry Rex, Ground and Pound is no longer a winning formula) and can develop a young QB, which will surely be in the Jets future.

Woody has enlisted the help of a professional search firm to help find the next GM – the same firm and recruiter that the Seahawks used to find their recent GM.  At first I thought it was a strange move, but now I like it – hire experts in the field and remove any personal bias from your initial search.  If the results are similar (Russell Wilson in the 3rd round was the best if not 2nd best – Alfred Morris in the 6th – pick of the recent draft), we will be in a good place.  A lot of names have been thrown out and all sound promising.  My one hope/request is that they have true control and final say over all personnel decisions.  We need someone with a long-term vision, respect and authority.  We haven’t had that since Bill Parcells was running things, and we really never had that before he was here.  Sad, but true.

In the meantime, I’ll be pulling for the Redskins (my in-laws are lifelong diehards) in the NFC and the Texans in the AFC.  But sadly, I think we will see Peyton Manning’s Broncos (he’s worth every penny.  Don’t bet against him at home in Mile High in the playoffs) vs. Aaron Rodgers’ Packers.  Boring.  I’m not buying the Falcons and their suspect D and I don’t love a rookie QB’s chances in San Fran (or Indy or Seattle or Washington for that matter – crazy how many rookie QBs made the playoffs) to take them to the Super Bowl.  But that said, the game of the year will be Brady vs Manning in MIle High in the AFC championship game.  And I’ll be vicariously living through all of those fans who have real QBs and bright futures ahead of them.

So here’s hoping that a New Year brings some sanity and normalcy to this star-crossed organization.  On the bright side, there’s really nowhere to go but up from here.

Yes, This Was the Scariest Picture I Could Find

Yes, This Was the Scariest Picture I Could Find

My 2013 New York Sports Wish List

I thought about writing a recap of last week’s game, but what is there to say, really?  McElroy was sacked 11 times – that was impressive.  Jeremy Kerley, a WR, threw one of the longest passes of the season.  That was also impressive.  And once again the team made more headlines off the field (mostly Tebow-related), than it did on the field.  But that’s nothing new in 2012 for the New York Jets.

This week’s game – thankfully, the last – will be very difficult to watch.  I barely made it through 3 quarters of last week’s game (kudos to fellow diehard Greg for watching it with me in London), especially after it was clear that 90% of the team were phoning it in (McElroy, Kerley, Landry, Wilkerson and Coples were the only ones who seemed to care).  I will probably watch the 1st half on Sunday, simply for laughs and because the sadist in me will enjoy watching the team go down in flames.

So with the season and 2012 coming to an end, and my move back to New York just a few months away, I thought I’d put together a New York sports “wish list” for 2013.  Limiting it to just the Jets would be too painful to write….so, here goes:

1. A New GM for the Jets – someone who has a clue and a vision for the franchise.  Someone with 100% control over personnel decisions.  Someone who knows how to (re)build a franchise.  Someone who knows how to scout and build through the draft.  Bill Polian comes to mind.  So does another Bill P.  But they are both probably too smart for the job.  This will be Woody Johnson’s most important decision since he purchased the team.  No pressure.

2. A championship for the Knicks - why not dream big?  This is the most talented and deep team since the glory days of ’94 (the Sprewell team of ’99 was fun, but not nearly as talented).  Last night’s loss against the Lakers was as confidence-building a loss as there could be.  Carmelo is playing on another level, and if they can figure out how to integrate Stoudemire, and more importantly, Shumpert (their best 1:1 defender), this team has a real chance.  It’s been nearly 40 years since our last championship – we’re due.

3. Hope for the Mets – Unlike the Jets, at least the Mets appear to have a plan.  Sandy Alderson seems to be making all the right moves and I believe in what he’s building.  Now it’s still pathetic that a baseball team in the biggest sports market has to pinch pennies, but Alderson is making the most of what he has while building for the future.  I was bummed to see Dickey go, but it was the right move.  Resigning Wright had to happen or there would have been a fan mutiny.  And if Harvey continues to develop, with Wheeler not far behind, they could have a dominant 1-2 pitching combo for years to come (and let’s not forget about Jon Niese, who ESPN analyst Buster Olney said could be a “hidden ace” next year).  This team will be bad in 2013, but could contend as soon as 2014.

4. An end to the NHL strike – I’ve been an Islanders fan for as long as I can remember.  My parents had season tickets in the glory days – the Dynasty days – of the 80′s.  I grew up idolizing Brian Trottier, Billy Smith, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies and so many of the other Islander greats.  But since those days, this has been one sorry franchise.  Last year we saw our first glimmers of hope, as players like Tavares, Bailey and Grabner really came into their own.  And with a slew of highly touted prospects on their way (Strome, Reinhart), this could be finally be a team worth rooting for again.  And of course, they are moving to Brooklyn in just a few years.  So let’s please end the strike (that said, has anyone noticed?), and let these guys play.

That’s my abbreviated list.  There are probably 9 other things I could put on the Jets’ list alone, but we’ll save that for early next year.

Finally, in somewhat related news, I won my fantasy football league as the no. 8 seed. Pure dumb luck.  At least one of my teams won something in 2012…

 

Plenty of Ashes, But No Phoenix (yet)

Where to start?  With Sanchez’ now world-famous implosion on national TV?  With the decision to start your 3rd string QB this week?  With the Jets’ awful cap situation and future?  So much to write about, so little time…

By now you’ve probably read everything there is to read about what happened on Monday night.  It was quarterbacking at its worst.  The passes Sanchez threw at the end were akin to those thrown on Thanksgiving in your backyard.  Back-foot heaves into triple coverage. Reckless play that made Brett Favre look conservative.  It was as if Sanchez was daring the Jets to bench him.  Watch me throw another crazy interception!  What are you going to do?  You owe me $8MM guaranteed next year, suckas! (insert maniacal laugh)

Sanchez mercifully left Rex with no choice.  And the death threats Sanchez received this week (seriously? Especially after Newtown.  I’m ashamed to be part of this human race sometimes) only exacerbated things.  There was just no way Rex could trot out no. 6 next week.  So what do you do – start Tebow, your QB2 and constant source of media attention, but a guy who clearly has no future as the QB of the Jets?  Or do you go with Greg McElroy, your no. 3 QB who may have a future in this league – as a back-up.  The answer is:  Who Cares?  Neither guy is the QB of the future, and this team has so many problems, the last 2 weeks of the season will have no real impact on the future.   If this team were not in New York, no one would be writing about the travails of a 6-8 team without any direction.

One Last Walk-Off as the Jets' Starting QB

One Last Walk-Off as the Jets’ Starting QB

So what next?  The so-called experts in the Jets’ blogsphere and the Jets beat writers have started to chime in with their ideas.  Some good, some crazy, some predictable.  What’s pretty consistent amongst them all is that the Jets are screwed, at least for 2013, and most of that is due to Mike Tannenbaum and his epic failure of salary cap management.  Read this for some very useful analysis.

Here is one thing that I think is clear – Mark Sanchez will be with this team next year.  He makes a GUARANTEED $8MM in 2013, with a “cap hit” of $12MM.  If the Jets cut Sanchez before June 1st, his “cap hit” is $17MM.  The total cap for 2013 is projected to $120MM.  That would mean that if they cut Sanchez, a player that is no longer on the roster would make up nearly 1/6th of the salary cap.  Astounding.  And more importantly, it means they are not cutting him.

Wait - Are You Serious?  Sanchez Will Be Back Next Year?

Wait – Are You Serious? Sanchez Will Be Back Next Year?

So what do you do?  Trade him, many people say.  That would be great!  But seriously, what team in their right mind would trade for him?  Maybe, just maybe they would if the Jets assumed most of his salary, but I think that’s a long shot.  Other say that he’s so miserable, he’ll take a pay cut to get out of town.  Hmmm…maybe, but would you walk away from a guaranteed $8MM?  Or would you stick it out in New York and spend your $8MM on Eva Longoria look-alikes?  I know what I’d choose.

So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with Mark Sanchez still will the New York Jets in 2013.  He probably won’t be the starter, but he’ll be on the team.  That’s just the grim reality.

So how do the Jets get better?  It won’t be easy, but here are my top 5 priorities:

1. Fire Mike Tannenbaum and bring in an experienced GM who has rebuilt other franchises.  It was a good run Mike, but the work you’ve done the past 2 years has been a disaster.  Their best player (Revis) wasn’t drafted by him, and his track record in the draft (with the picks he hasn’t traded) has been spotty at best (Gholston, Wilson, Ducasse = bad.  Wilkerson, Coples, Kerley = good).  His FA signings and trades have been equally mixed (Landry, Bell, Tomlinson = good.  Tebow, Schillens = bad).

2. Retain Rex Ryan, fire the offensive staff.  A new GM may want to bring in an entire new staff, but my personal opinion is that Rex should come back.  As bad of a job as he did last year, he’s done an equally good job this year.  With the injuries to Revis & Holmes and the general lack of talent on the team, it’s a minor miracle that he kept this team together and in position to compete for a playoff spot.  He turned around the franchise and its culture when he arrived 4 years ago and twice had them a game away from the Super Bowl.  No other Jets coach has done that.  Give him 2 more years with a solid QB and talent around him.  On the flip-side, fire Tony Sparano and the entire offensive staff.  Bring in a proven offensive coordinator and one that can develop QBs – Norv Turner, anyone?

3. Find a new QB – duh!  This won’t be easy and their franchise QB is probably in the 2014 draft.  Sign a cheap, but serviceable QB (Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Shaun Hill) and have him run the team for a year until you find someone in the 2014 draft.  Sanchez is your back-up until you can cut him in 2014.

4. Trade players and draft picks for more draft picks.  Many have said they should trade Cromartie ($8MM) or Revis for picks.  I don’t love this idea – why weaken your only true strength?  But the Revis idea is an interesting one – he’s actually a bargain next year, and despite the ACL injury, he would net at least a 2nd round pick, and maybe even higher.  If you can trade Tebow for a late round pick, do it.  Whatever they do, they have to maximize next year’s draft – they need as many new bodies as they can find.

5. Cut your dead, over-the-hill weight – Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Jason Smith, Eric Smith (anyone named Smith) and yes, probably Dustin Keller.  All goners. Holmes might well be on this list too depending on his recovery from surgery.  Sign younger, faster players and build up some depth on the O-line and D-line.  This game is still won in the trenches.

See – easy!  The bottom line is this – the Jets will (should) be in full rebuilding mode next year.  We are looking at a 4-12 team at best.  But by the end of the year, they will be out of cap hell, with a top 5 draft pick and hopefully their QB of the future identified.  And as Andrew Luck and RGIII have shown, you can turn around a franchise in less than a year if you have the right guy under center.  One can dream, right?

We Will See More of This in 2013

We Will See More of This in 2013

Week 15 Recap: “An Amazing Night of Futility”

Those aren’t my words, those are Mike Tirico’s of Monday Night Football.  And I don’t even think that sums it up.  4 INTs for Mark Sanchez in the biggest game of the year.  A fumble on the last drive of the game – a drive that was a gift to begin with after Sanchez threw his latest mind-boggling INT.  You can’t make this stuff up.  This was a level of incompetence and poor play that even the Jets have never reached before – in the biggest game of the year.  Thankfully I didn’t wake up at 6am to watch it.  Or not.

A full recap to come later this week.  But I will just say this one thing – the Jets have to, HAVE TO, find a way to cut ties with Mark Sanchez.  I don’t care about his cap number.  I don’t care about the fact that his supporting cast hasn’t been great.  He single-handedly lost tonight’s game, and many others this year.  Every single INT was on him.  Every time the defense gave him once more chance, he promptly turned it over.  If I’m a Jets player, I don’t know how I can show up to work again knowing I have no chance of winning with this guy at QB.  Bringing him back next year is admitting that you are forfeiting the season.  He is that bad.

Another season over.  Another season without a Super Bowl.  Another season without an answer at QB.  Can’t wait to get back to New York to watch it all in person next year!

 

Week 14 Recap: Sanchez Survives, Barely

Another week, another poor Sanchez performance, another win.  The Jets squeaked out a win against a terrible team for the 2nd week in a row.  I know they say a “win is a win,” but this is nothing to get excited about, Jets fans.  At 6-7, the talk of playoffs will now only get louder, but its laughable to think this team has any shot.

Sanchez did just enough to not lose.  But he tried his best when he had his league-leading 11th fumble.  Combined his INTs, he on his own has more turnovers than about 6 or 7 TEAMS, according to the announcer.  He made one- really, one – big play, the entire game, and that was the throw to Cumberland on the last drive.  A throw he almost overthrew.  And the Jets showed how much confidence they have in their $20MM QB on that last drive, by handing the ball off on 3rd and 8, which put them in the desperate situation which almost resulted in a loss.

Rex and co. proved time and time again this game that they have no confidence in Sanchez when they needed a big play in the air.  Why start him if that’s the case?  Even more puzzling, they made McElroy inactive, and listed Tebow as the 2nd string.  Can someone please explain that to me?  You energize your team and fan base last week with McElroy, only to make him inactive this week?  What if Sanchez really, really struggled?  You then go to Tebow – a guy you’ve already demonstrated that you also have no faith in as a starting QB.  It’s a mind-boggling decision from an organization that has no clue right now.  This is 1980s Jets stuff, people.

You will hear a lot this week about the decrepid offense that the Jets are rolling out.  And I don’t disagree.  With Keller out and Stephen Hill hurt early on, the Jets were playing a number of guys on offense who could barely crack the practice squad early in the year.  Sanchez isn’t exactly surrounded by pro-bowl talent.  But that said, he’s still missing receivers, holding on to the ball too long and making terrible decisions.  And that has almost nothing to do with the players around him.

The defense played a stellar game again.  But one has to wonder about the last 2 weeks – was that great defense or terrible competition?  Probably both.  Cromartie and Landry continue to be the defensive MVPs, and today was Quinton Coples’ coming out party.  He absolutely levelled Chad Henne in the 4th quarter, and his pressure on the last play of the game caused the last INT.  With he and Wilkerson coming on strong this year, and the return of Revis next year, the Jets have the makings of a very, very good defense for 2013. And they will need it.

This win shouldn’t give you any additional confidence that the team is improving.  For the 4th time this year, the Jets were shutout in the first half.  Shut out by a team that has won 2 games this year, and who’s defense ranks near last in the league.  The offense has been reduced to one that can’t do anything, but run.  And at the end of the game, when the Jags were stacking 8 guys on the line, we couldn’t run the ball.  Why they didn’t do that earlier makes no sense.  You can be sure Tennessee will do that next week.

So Sanchez will be the starter again next week.  And the offense will struggle, mightily.  Tennessee is a tougher team than Jax, and it’s not an easy place to win on the road – on Monday Night Football, no less.  If the defense gives up more than 10-14 points, I don’t think we have a chance.  And they have two big-time playmakers in Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt.  Sanchez is going to have to make plays.

What’s most depressing about all of this is that it is 100% guaranteed that Sanchez will be back next year, and will be the starter.  Rich Cimini of Espn.com did his usual phenomenal analysis of Sanchez’ contract in this article.  Bottom line – he is uncuttable and untradeable.  The cap hit is enormous.  Unless Sanchez decides to take a massive pay cut to get out of the cauldron that is New York, he’s here next year.  So I hope you like a lot of what you’ve been seeing the past few weeks…

6-7, one win away from .500.  The Jets, who had the most difficult schedule in the NFL across the first 12 games (still, no excuse), now have the easiest schedule the rest of the way.  9-7 is conceivable, but something tells me that they will find a way to lose at least one of those games.  And that “they” is our starting QB.