Week 13 Recap: The King is Dead, Long Live The King

At 3:09pm on December 2nd, 2012, the Mark Sanchez era officially came to an end.  It doesn’t matter who won today’s game, or even who starts next week’s game – the minute that Rex Ryan and the Jets pulled Mark Sanchez, was the minute that the Sanchez era ended.  All you had to do was hear the crowd reaction, and more importantly, see the team’s reaction.  They responded.  Tough catches were made.  Players were fired up. They CARED.  And all it took, was a QB change.

Meet Your New QB, Jets Fans

Meet Your New QB, Jets Fans

The game itself was miserable.  The score said it all: 7-6.  The Cardinals may be one of the few NFL teams that are currently worse than the Jets.  Calling this game a “defensive struggle” is being generous.  This game was an offensive struggle – the Cards converted zero – ZERO – third downs, all game.  But someone had to win, and it was the Jets.

But back to the real story.  After 2 1/2 awful quarters of Mark Sanchez, Rex finally made the move he had to make and made a QB change.  But it was not the change everyone thought it would be.  With Tim Tebow inactive today due to a rib injury, in came 3rd string QB and former 6th rd draft pick, Greg McElroy.  And the team responded with a TD on the very first drive, which was enough to win this sorry excuse for an NFL game.

Sanchez was terrible from the start – in fact, he threw an INT on his very first throw – to former Jet Kerry Rhodes of all people (he had a fantastic game by the way – the ultimate payback game).  And it got worse from there.  2 more bad INTs and one more throw that should have been picked off and returned for a TD.  Sanchez looked lost from the start  Final Numbers:  10-21 for 97 yds and 3 INTs.  Ouch.

And you know much Rex and Tanny love Sanchez.  That’s how bad it was.  Rex had no choice but to make a change.  There was literally NO chance that the Jets were going to win today with Sanchez under center.  He single-handedly was holding them back in another game where their defense did what it needed to do.

Is McElroy our long-term solution at QB?  Probably not.  He’s a smart game-manager, the kind of QB who can take you places with a great running game and a great D – neither of which the Jets have at the moment.  He’s a slightly stronger-armed Chad Pennington – which is still an upgrade.  But what this moves does is signal that the Sanchez era is over. It has to be.  There will be a small riot in Florham Park this week if Rex goes with Sanchez again.  The players will erupt, as will the fans.  This move should have been made months ago and credit to Rex for finally, making it.   Rex has already said that he won’t announce his starter for next week.  But what else is he going to say at this moment?  It’s going to be an interesting few days inside Jets’ HQ.

The ultimate loser in this (besides the long-suffering Jets fans) is Tim Tebow.  He must be thinking – what the heck do I have to do to get in a game?  Many are speculating that if Tebow were active today, Rex would have stuck with Sanchez – i.e. that there is no way they will ever go with Tebow as their starter.  If that is the case, then the move to get him was even dumber than many thought it was when they made it.  You don’t trade for a back-up QB if you have no intention of ever using him.  But the irony here is huge – all year, everyone has been speculating about a Tebow-inspired QB controversy.  Who would have predicted a McElroy-inspired QB controversy?

So the remaining 4 weeks of the season just got interesting.  I was just starting to lose interest in the season, but now you have a reason to watch.  And with Jacksonville up next, they have a legitimate chance of getting to 6-7.  But nothing is guaranteed with this team, and that now includes the starting QB.  It’s never dull here in Jets-land…

Oh and by the way – the Pats clinched the AFC East today for the 9th time in 10 seasons. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

He Got His Wish

He Got His Wish

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Fireman Ed: G-O-N-E GONE GONE GONE!

Last week we had “Butt-gate” and now we have “Fireman-gate.”  Another day, another ridiculous storyline in the Florham Park Zoo.

I’m not sure what angers me more – the fact that Jets “superfan” Fireman Ed chose to publicly step down in his role as chief Jets cheerleader, or the fact that he did so during what was already a tumultuous week or the fact that is even a news story!   Can you think of any other team in the NFL right now where a fan would make front page news on ESPN.com or the local papers?   It’s pretty ridiculous if you step back and think about this and it just once again highlights the media circus that surrounds this team on a daily basis.

My personal history with Fireman Ed goes back to the early 80s, when the Jets moved to the Meadowlands from Shea Stadium.  Our seats were in section 133; Fireman Ed was in the section next to us.  As a kid, I remember marveling at how he could single-handedly get a crowd of 80,000 people, chanting “J-E-T-S” in unison.  No easy feat, especially when the majority of the time, the game and team on the field were miserable.  He was intense as they come; often borderline scary.  And he seemed to carry that intensity into every conversation he would have with other Jets fans.  And I suspect that’s why he became the divisive figure he has been in recent years.  Ask any Jets season ticket holder what they think of Fireman Ed, and you are likely to get a very strong response – there’s no middle ground with him.

In his “farewell note” to Jets fans, he cited the increasing number of aggressive confrontations he was having with Jets fans: “On Thanksgiving night, I left the Jets game before halftime… I decided to leave Thursday because the confrontations with other Jets fans have become more common, even though most Jets fans are fantastic. This is an indication of how society has lost and is continuing to lose respect for one another…The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year and that fans think I am on the payroll — which is an outright lie — have made these confrontations more frequent. Whether it’s in the stands, the bathroom or the parking lot, these confrontations are happening on a consistent basis.”

I can’t say I have a ton of sympathy for him.  No one forced him into this role.  No one forced him to appear in NFL or Pizza Hut or Budweiser commercials, or  on the field with the Jets, etc.  And no one forced him to adopt the intense, intimidating persona that he took on.  Fame has its downside.

So this marks just another chapter in the bizarre and surreal and sad history that is the New York Jets.  I hear they are taking auditions for someone to take over from Fireman Ed.  I was thinking of volunteering, but for some reason, “Salesguy Bry” doesn’t seem to have the same ring…

(and no it’s not lost on me that I’ve just added to the same sorry media focus on this story that I just criticized)

Week 12 Recap: Black Thursday

Where do I even begin?  Before Thursday’s game, I predicted that the game would either be very close, or a blowout.  What I didn’t predict was a performance so embarrassing, that the Jets are now the butt (pun intended) of jokes everywhere.  This was a loss that brought Jets fans back to the days of Rich Kotite (1-15 record) and Joe Walton – the “same old Jets” days.  All of the success and credibility that Rex Ryan and co. earned in the first 2 years was basically wiped out in a span of 52 seconds.  It was that bad.  My only saving grace was that I didn’t have to watch this lame excuse for an NFL team on Thanksgiving evening.  And to think that Woody Johnson REQUESTED that the Jets play on national tv on Thanksgiving night.  Well, Woody, you got your wish.  I hope you enjoyed watching your $750MM purchase get humiliated in front of 40 million viewers.

Things actually started out well, ironically enough.  On the first play of the game, Mo Wilkerson sacked Brady for a loss and the Pats went thee and out.  But very quickly, Mark Sanchez proved once again that he is not the franchise QB this team so desperately needs.  On the Jets 2nd drive of the game, he once again single-handedly sabotaged any chance they had winning, by throwing his latest red zone INT.  And this one was bad, folks.  He was baited into a throw into double coverage by the CB – it was a mistake that only rookies make.  And with that throw went any momentum and hope that the Jets had early on in the game.

But of course, he won’t be remembered for that play in the game.  Oh, no.  He will be remembered for what the announcers described as a play right out of “football follies.” (does anyone else remember when they used to show football & baseball bloopers on tv – whatever happened to those?).  A play that many are calling the “most embarrassing in NFL history.” If you haven’t seen it by now, here it is.  It’s hilarious and sad and embarrassing and painful all at the same time.  It was so bad, that it even made headlines in the UK Papers!  And it really sums thing up.  A QB and a franchise that has no clue where it’s going…

Butthead

I’m running out of superlatives to describe these losses and this team.  How many ways can you say awful/depressing/terrible/pathetic/embarrassing, etc?  I’m open to suggestions.  Adding further salt to the wound, Rex responded with his latest litany of clueless comments: “I’m just as shocked as you are.”  “We are going to fix this.”  “Yes, Mark is still our QB.” “Yes, I do think I will be the coach next year and years to come.” (in his defense, what else is he going to say to that question?)

And now it’s come out that Tim Tebow was active as the only back-up QB, despite 2 fractured ribs – which apparently took over a week to diagnose!   So if Sanchez did get hurt (and he almost did), they would have to either play an injured Tim Tebow, or go with one of their RB or WRs at QB as their 3rd string QB, Greg McElroy, wasn’t even active. That’s just reckless and clueless coaching.

What I’m most amazed about however is how unprepared and undisciplined they were.  If I hear Rex say once more that they “had a great week of practice,” I’m going to personally get on a plane to New Jersey so I can laugh in his face.  And while it’s nice to know that the Jets will win the practice Super Bowl this year, it would be nice to see some of that phenomenal practicing paying off on the field.  The whole team, with the exception of Landry, Kerley, and Wilkerson, looked as if they would rather be at home with their families, eating Turkey.   And frankly, who could blame them?  Would you want to suit up and play for this sorry franchise right now?

Help Me – I Wish I Were You

We season ticket holders pay way too much money to accept this kind of play, especially when our owner forces us to give up part of our Thanksgiving to come watch this team live. Thank you, Mr. Johnson.  It’s clear that so far, you care more about ratings and your bottom line (not to mention Mitt Romney), than winning.  Please step up and demand some accountability.  Make the changes that need to be made, starting with Tannenbaum, and yes, Rex.  Thursday’s game changed my opinion on him.  It’s clear that he has lost this team and has no clue on how to change things.  The housecleaning should start the minute after the final game comes to an end.  And if it weren’t for the terrible contract that you gave to Sanchez last year, he should be going as well.

These last 5 games are going to be painful.  If I were in charge, I’d give the ball to Greg McElroy.  See what you have in this guy.  Throw Stephen Hill the ball 15 times a game.  Make Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight your starting RB.  On defense, bench Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas and anyone else over the age of 30.  The rest of the season is all about finding out what little you have to build on for 2013.   Start talking to the long list of proven NFL coaches who are currently out of work – Cowher, Gruden, Dungy, Payton, etc.  Give them the biggest contract for a coach in NFL history and get them to right the ship.  Allow them to help pick the GM as well.  Give your fans a reason to be hopeful for 2013.  If not, Woody will have a mutiny on his hands.  After spending upwards of $25,000 per PSL, the days of accepting mediocrity are over.

You’re officially on the clock, Mr. Johnson.

I Want My Money Back!

Thankful

Thankful for:

1. My beautiful, healthy and happy family

2. My job, because not everyone is as fortunate

3. My last 5 years in London – this is our final Thanksgiving here!

4. The Knicks – at least we have one team to be proud of!

5. The fact that one of my stresses in life is worrying about the state of my beloved Jets – it could be much, much worse, and that’s not lost on me.

Turkey time here in London…Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and Let’s Go Jets!

 

Week 11 Recap: Right Where We Want To Be

Final Score:
Jets: 27
Rams: 13

4-6.  Right where we want to be.  The Jets will talk a lot in the coming days about the fact that they were 4-6 in 2009.  And you know what happened after that – they went on to win 5 of their next 6 en route the AFC championship game in Indy.  But that was a very different Jets team – one with a top 5 run game and a top 5 defense.  And while we looked like we had both of those things today, I don’t necessarily see the Jets replicating this performance each week for the rest of the year.

But a win is a win is a win as they say. And while the Rams are a bad, bad team (I wonder which team Schotty wishes he was still coaching?), there were a few encouraging things to take away from this game.

Offense

  • QB – A very efficient game for Mark Sanchez, and his first turnover-free game in a long time.  He was shaky early and sacked 3 times in the 1st half, but he steadied and made some nice throws.  The throw of the game in my opinion was when he looked right, and then checked down to the left for a 25 yard pass to the TE Reuland, which set up the 1st of Powell’s TDs.  He showed patience and poise on that throw and it left me wondering, where has that been all year? And it’s no coincidence that Sanchez had one of his best games while Tebow had a season-low in snaps.  I think this game proved once again that the Tebow experiment has been a colossal failure.

    Hey Kid, I Used to be Tim Tebow!

  • RB – Forget about a QB controversy; might we have an RB controversy on our hands?  Unlikely, but it was really nice to see Powell and McKnight have an impact.  Powell had career TDs no. 1 and no. 2 and showed some nice burst in the 4th quarter.  McKnight seemed to make things happen every time he touched the ball – MORE carries please!  And Greene was solid, but not spectacular – typical Greene.  Solid blocking by the O-line as well.  A game to build on for sure.

    Your New Starting RB?

  • Receivers – Despite a number of key drops by Stephen Hill (it’s crazy to think the Jets thought this guy would have an impact in his rookie year.  He will be a stud in 1-2 years, but he is RAW), the receivers had a solid day.  Kerley continues to make big, clutch plays, and Schillens had his best game as a Jet with a beautiful 25 yard TD.  They still miss Santonio’s game-breaking abilities, but this squad is coming along nicely.

    You Know It’s a Good Day When There is a Chaz Schillens Pic

Defense

  • D-Line – This was the defensive line’s most impressive game of the year, primarily due to another studly performance from Mo Wilkerson, who is quickly becoming one of the best D-lineman in the game.  He’s established himself as a dominant force on the edge, and the rare lineman that can stay in on rushing and passing downs.  And with Coples coming on strong, it’s clear the Jets will have a pair of beastly defensive ends the likes of which we haven’t seen since John Abraham, Jeff Lageman and the New York Sack Exchange days.
  • LBs – Bart Scott is slow.  Great recovery of the fumble by Wilkerson, but man is he slow.  You are seeing the last few games of Scott in a Jets uniform.
  • CBs – Another great game by Cromartie – he’s really stepped up since Revis his been hurt.  The hit he levelled on Pettis was bone-crushing.  And Laron Landry continues to be a force in the defensive backfield – one of the few great offseason moves by Tanny and hopefully someone we can resign.  Ditto for Yeremiah Bell.

Special Teams –  What happened to the days when the Jets were one of the top units in the NFL?  A blocked FG – the 4th this year! – and a botched fake punt, just in the 1st half.  And if it weren’t for a holding call, they would have given up a 100 yard KO return for a TD.  Nick Folk continues to be solid in the kicking game, but this unit is a shell of its former self.

Coaching – Credit to Rex for pulling the team together after a brutal start to the game. The team stayed focused, and they executed a very efficient game plan on offense and an opportunistic one on defense.  It was especially impressive given all of the distractions during the week.  This would have been a very easy game for the Jets to lose, and with that, the season would be over.  But now they have a glimmer of hope.

And now the Pats come to town on Thursday Night – Thanksgiving.  This has the makings of either being the win that truly turns around the Jets’ season and catapults them into the playoffs (look at the rest of the schedule) or a beatdown of epic proportions that exposes the team for what they really are.  If history repeats itself, we are unfortunately in for the latter.  Just look at the last 2 seasons when the Jets played the Pats in a big spot (excluding the playoffs) – it usually doesn’t end well.  I hope I’m wrong, but this has destruction written all over it.

But at least we have a reason to watch as we digest our turkey and stuffing (here in London my Dad and I will be watching over a cup of coffee at 7am – no spoilers!).  This win should quiet down the critics for a week, and should definitely quiet down the Tebow talk.  In fact, he might be the only guy that’s not excited about this win.  But that said, we shouldn’t get too excited about things – this was a win over a very bad team (lots of parallels between these two teams with Bradford being drafted no. 1, just 4 spots ahead of Sanchez in the 2009 draft).  Next week is a much truer test.  We will find out for sure if this team is “close” as Rex would have you believe each week, or on their way to a 2nd straight playoff-less season.

Confident, At Least For 1 Week

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

This is really starting to get old.  Another week, another loss, and more controversy. The game on Sunday was a joke.  And nothing epitomized the Jets season like the 3 play sequence in the 2nd quarter where the Jets drove to the red zone and brought in Tebow on 3rd and goal to hopefully take it in for the TD.  By now, you know what ensued – Keller was called for a terrible false start penalty which led to Sanchez coming in to replace Tebow, who then threw one of the worst INTs of his career – and that’s saying a lot.  Everyone knows you can’t pump fake when you are that close to the end zone – there are too many defenders in a tight area; it negates the impact – but Sanchez pump faked twice, never taking his eyes off of his intended receiver.  It was a rookie mistake made by a 4th year QB.  Sadly, that pass did not rank as Sanchez’ worst of the year – this one did.  How is this guy still our starter?

QB Change? Not Likely.

The week that followed was typical Jets.  Rex continued to stand by his “franchise” QB even though the rest of the sports world is calling for a change.  An unnamed source inside the Jets locker room called Tebow “terrible,” which led to Ryan calling that player a coward.  A former Jet, Rob Turner (a back-up offensive lineman), who now plays for the Rams, called the Jets the “Chicago Cubs of football.”  And through it all, many players remain confident that the Jets, at 3-6, can still make the playoffs. Right. (that said, in 2009, the Jets were 4-6 and then went on to the AFC championship game).

A loss this week against the Rams would be the final dagger for any fan or player who still has hope for this season.  Even with an “easy” schedule ahead, at 3-7, the Jets would have to run the table to even have a chance at the playoffs.  And with New England coming to town on Thanksgiving night, that ain’t happening.

In the next few months, A lot will be written about what has to change with the Jets. I’ve been saying for some time that it starts with Tannenbaum.  After a great start to his career as GM, it’s been all downhill.  His strategy of trading away draft picks to move up in the draft has not paid off, and if you like at the Jets’ recent drafts, you would be hard pressed to find a ton of impact players (Wilkerson and Kerley are the exceptions with Coples, Hill and Davis showing promise).  This review of his performance in another Jets blog is pretty sobering:  http://tinyurl.com/akj8q8z.

It’s Time for Him to Go

 

I’ll still be watching on Sunday, but it’s hard to get excited about this team when you have no faith in the leadership.  To hear Rex and Tannenbaum stand by Sanchez and the rest of the team week after week is getting old.  There is no accountability and no real commitment to winning.  Thankfully, for the first time, Woody Johnson expressed some anger about the 3-6 record.  We can only hope that if the losing continues, he will force the needed changes.

On a lighter note:

  • Grantland last week ran one of the funniest stories about Tebow that I’ve ever read – it is a must read.
  • Huge congrats to R.A. Dickey on his Cy Young.  There hasn’t been much for us Mets/Jets fans to be happy about in 2012, but Dickey was one of them.  You would be hard pressed to find a more thoughtful and sincere player in sports in right now.  If the Mets don’t sign him to an extension, there should be a mutiny.
  • The Knicks are off to one of their best starts in franchise history.  Even with the loss to Memphis last night, you have to be excited about what’s happening at the Garden.  I grew up watching Knicks teams that were known for their intimidating defense – Oakley, Mason, Starks, Ewing, etc. – and it’s nice to see a return to that form.  Woodson deserves some kind of medal for even getting Carmelo to play defense.  If this team stays healthy (a BIG if), they will be a force to be reckoned with deep into the playoffs.

On a more personal note, it was a week of both loss and life in my family.  My paternal grandmother of 88 years left us last week.  Nearly 45 years ago, she and my grandfather decided to purchase season tickets for this “new football team” and a family of Jets fans were born.  She spent many a cold day in Shea Stadium with my grandfather and father, watching Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Richard Todd, Ken O’Brien, etc..  And while she undoubtedly saw more losses than wins, she always remained a loyal fan.  I’m sure she’ll be watching on Sunday from wherever she is.

Just a few days after her passing, the newest Jet fan in the family was born, as my sister gave birth to Luke Charles.  The circle of life and Jets fandom continues…

Week 8 Recap: Franchise Altering Loss

This was not just another loss.  This was a loss that will change the fate of the Jets franchise for the next few years.  Mark Sanchez wasn’t just bad, he was incompetent. The preparation wasn’t just bad, it was completely missing.  The execution wasn’t just bad, it was embarrassing.  Everyone in the franchise had a hand in this loss, and if I’m Woody Johnson, major changes have to happen.

Where to start?  The offense was putrid.  Sanchez looked lost from the start and did nothing to make you believe that he can still be the franchise QB that we thought he’d become.  Today marked the beginning of the end of the Sanchise era.  No question. Many of the fans, including me, were clamoring for Tebow to enter the game.  But I do understand why they didn’t put him in.  The controversy that would create would be overwhelming, and you don’t just institute a Tebow offense in the 4th quarter.   But if he (or Greg McElroy) is not the starting QB after the bye week, then something is wrong.  Take the 2 weeks and make the change that has to happen.  Nobody, I mean nobody can have confidence in Sanchez at this point.  If I’m a Jets RB or receiver, I’m quietly hoping for this change.  Tebow time in New York has arrived.

His Last Time as the Sanchise?

The defense was not much better.  The only player that showed up was Laron Landry (he’s a guy they should definitely re-sign, although I’m not so sure he would want to be back).  They were flat from the start, committed stupid penalties (welcome back, bad Cromartie) and were beaten by a backup QB and a bunch of 2nd string receivers.  They have the players, but don’t have the heart, the execution or the prep.  A lot of that falls on the coaches.  I’ve never been a Mike Pettine fan and he may be one of the first coaches to go in the offseason (that is if Rex survives).

And Special Teams?  This was supposed to be Mike Westhoff’s swan song – his yearlong victory lap.  Instead it’s turning out to be a nightmare.  An onside kick recovered by the Dolphins, a blocked punt for a TD, a blocked FG and poor coverage on kickoffs.  What used to be a unit that the Jets could always rely on, has now become a liability.

This is officially the low point of the Rex Ryan era.  It was all fun and games for the first 2 years, and a dominant running game and defense masked the many deficiencies that our supposed franchise QB had.  The disappearance of that running game and defense has exposed Sanchez, and more alarmingly Rex, for the player/coach they really are.  This was one of the most poorly played games of the Rex Ryan era – on all sides of the ball.  The fact that it happened in a “must-win” divisional game at home is beyond comprehension.

Rex will have a lot of questions to answer this week.  How could a team be outplayed this badly at home – for the second time this season?  As a season ticket holder, I demand answers and changes.  If you were one of the fans there today, who came out (and spent hundreds of dollars) despite the fact that Frankenstorm is looming just hours away,  you should be livid.  It’s one thing to lose, it’s another thing to be outclassed and flat out embarrassed.  There was NOTHING positive you could take from this game.  I repeat – NOTHING.  The team was undisciplined, unprepared and flat.  The yapping all week proved to be that – talk.  This team is all talk and no action. And that falls on the coach.  When they were winning, you could deal with that.  Rex has lost this team and for the first time, his leadership and future as coach is in question.

And of course, Tannenbaum should get as much of the blame as anyone.   The Tebow trade has been a disaster.  You trade 2 draft picks for the guy and then never use him?  This was the week that the Jets were going to “empty the tank” when it comes to Tebow.  His stat line?  1 rush for 2 yards.  ONE RUSH.  That’s emptying the tank?  If we had a true “backup” QB, he would have been in there by now.  The offense is lacking too many playmakers and there is almost no depth on this roster.  I would be shocked if he’s back as GM next year.

And so the agony that is life as a Jets fan continues.  Another week, another low point.   Anyone want to buy some tickets?

A Picture Speaks…