Taking on Patriots Nation on Sports Buzz with Butch Stearns

Football fans from NJ all the way to Maine are patiently waiting, counting the hours until the "Battle of 9-2's"  takes place on Monday night between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.

The intensity is building and what better way to put that emotion to use than to defend the Jets against a Patriots die-hard fan.

Today I was given the opportunity to be a guest on Butch Stearns show "Sports Buzz" on The Pulse Network.   

The Boston radio host and former Fox 25 sports anchor was kind enough to let myself and the infamous Patriots die-hard Will DiTullio (@WAD1980) duel it out on his show.

There's nothing better than having the opportunity to stand-up for the Jets.....especially against Chowder head New England fans.

A big thanks to Butch (@ButchStearns) and The Pulse Network for having me on......and to Will (@WAD1980) for making it happen.

I made a bet at the end of the show that I would wear a PINK Danny Woodhead jersey if the Patriots win on Monday Night!   
We all know how I feel about pink jerseys....and Danny Woodhead,  so let's hope the Jets go up to Foxboro and get it done   :)



What I'm Thankful For.....Jets Style

It's Thanksgiving....as I reflect on all the things I'm thankful for,  some of these things come to mind:  

I’m thankful that John Conner hasn’t put any teammates in a coma during special teams drills.

I’m thankful that Jenn Sterger is no longer a part of the Jets,  and that Mark Brunell doesn’t have the need to discover the world of picture messaging.

I’m thankful that Nick Folk is over his temporary amnesia and now remembers that he plays for the Jets…….not the Browns.

I’m thankful that Chansi Stuckey still loves the Jets.

I’m thankful that Brian Schottenheimer finally found some of the playbooks he lost while on summer vacation this offseason.   He’s still searching for the “Ground & Pound” one I hear.

I’m thankful for Mike Tannenbaum’s mother, for teaching him the art of bargain shopping at a very young age.

I’m thankful that Renaldo Hill missed the “Don’t grab a receiver’s face mask on 4th and 6 with 3:55 left on the clock” chapter during Football 101.

I’m thankful that Ray Lewis has found a second career in acting by riding a jet-powered Raven for an Old Spice commercial.

I’m thankful for loud mouth low-class Miami Dolphin fans, without them my trash talking skills would be sub par.

I’m thankful for Tom Brady and his selfless volunteer work with the Best Buddies program…..if only every volunteer could be thanked with a $97,000 Audi.

I’m thankful for Richard Seymour, for stepping up and taking action in the name of drunk girls in nightclub bathrooms across the United States.

I’m thankful that Jim Schwartz forgot that his decision to have Drew Stanton run a bootleg on 3rd and 6th with under 2 minutes would end in a loss.

I’m thankful that Armando Salguero has finally seen the light and can admit that Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than Chad Henne.

I’m thankful for Dorita Adams and Bart Capers for obviously never washing Bart Scott’s mouth out with soap and passing along the “Bad Ass” gene.

I’m thankful for the media for choosing to over hype Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards DUI incident and not the other 5+ NFL players arrested this season.

I’m thankful that LaDaninan Tomlinson discovered the fountain of youth.   I hear that he’s taking Jason Taylor, Trevor Pryce and Shaun Ellis with him there this weekend.

I’m thankful for delusional New England Patriots fans for thinking Danny Woodhead is god’s gift to running backs…….I love anyone who can make me laugh.

I’m thankful for Marc Anthony,  Jennifer Lopez,  Gloria Estefan and Jimmy Buffett…..for making the Dolphins organization even more of a joke than they already are.

I’m thankful for the NFL for manufacturing and selling Pink and Flirt Jerseys,  making phony female fans even easier to spot.

and lastly…….I’m thankful for the New York Jets for providing me years of a roller coaster of emotions and something to look forward to every Sunday.

Happy Thanksgiving to all…………may the joy of 9-2 taste sweeter than pumpkin pie tonight!


A Matt Millen-less Hour....Sounds of the NY Jets

It’s a well known fact that NFL announcers can make or break your Jets viewing experience.

This season Jets fans have had to sit through a variety of TV personalities.  Some good, some bad, and some that make you want to press the mute button.

Let’s see……you’ve got the ever insightful Phil Simms,  the hot-dog eating “I’m a funny guy” shtick of Tony Siragusa,  the “tension you can cut with a knife moments” between Steve Young and a clueless Matt Millen,  and of course always a healthy dose of Jim Nantz’s  “Hello friends” that leaves you feeling the need take a shower.

An occasional"When you look at Ryan Fitzpatrick you are looking at the Bills quarterback" type comment  from Dan Dierdorf  can leave you pondering how you ever survived the past 3 hours,  yet 30 minutes listening to Gus Johnson will have you convinced the man could make a funeral fun.

Love them or hate them it’s all a matter of personal opinion.  Either way, this weekend Jets fans are in for a nice treat.

The Jets aren’t only a team that is fun to watch.  The success of HBO’s Hard Knocks and NFL Network’s Sound Fx featuring Rex Ryan have proven that this team is fun to “hear” too.

NFL Network has come through in a huge way and is going to give fans the up close and personal view of this dynamic team that all fans have been dying for.

Get your DVR’s ready - Hard Knocks “Game Style” is here.

During Thursday night’s Thanksgiving game between the New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals,  many players and coaches will be miked up.  On Saturday, November 27th at 8:30pm, NFL Network will be airing an one-hour cut-down replay version of the game with nothing but the sounds recorded during the game.

“We’ve got 15 players and coaches miked during the game, including both coaches and all the coordinators and quarterbacks and middle linebackers.” says NFL Films President Steve Sabol.  “ We’ll have 60 people shooting the game, which is more than we use for a Super Bowl, and then we’ll turn it around in 48 hours and show it to you through the eyes of the players. It’s something you won’t see anywhere else.”
This isn’t the first time the Jets will be playing a game with no announcers,  back in 1980 it was done during a Jets vs Miami game.  A definite must see for any Jets fan.

NFL Network couldn’t have picked a better game for this concept.  Ochocinco, T.O, Revis, Cromartie, Rex Ryan and most importantly Bart Scott will alone provide more entertainment than one can even imagine.

A game full of nothing but the sound Rex dropping F-bombs,  Bart talking trash, and the clash of helmets and pads from hard hitting Harris and Diggs…..now that is music to my ears.

NFL Network presents:   SOUND FX: BENGALS @ JETS
When:  Saturday November 27, 2010
Time:   8:30pm, 12:30am, 4:30am


Welcome to "AlCrotraz" Mr. Marshall

Poor Brandon Marshall.   

Over the summer Jets fans weren’t the only ones waiting and wishing Darrelle Revis would sign. It's true, Brandon Marshall was actually looking forward to playing against the stand-out cornerback when the Jets visited Miami on Sept. 26.

Unfortunately, Marshall’s trip to “Revis Island” has been postponed, but a consolation trip to “AlCrotraz” has been arranged instead.

But just when Jets fans started feeling confident about Antonio Cromartie, following his second-half shutdown of Randy Moss on Sunday, Chris Mortensen of ESPN had everyone pushing the panic button again with the following tweet:

Relax, everyone. Calm your fears and let’s look into the Cromartie/Marshall match-up a little deeper.

Mortensen’s tweet was 100 percent factually accurate, but there are a lot more details about Marshall’s record performance that day that Mort left out.

Sunday night will not be the first time the two players have met on the field. Counting their AFC West days, Cromartie and Marshall have been on the same field four times since 2008. Marshall played lights out against San Diego in September of that year, but to intimate that Cromartie was to blame for the 18-catch, 166-yard performance that day isn’t fair.

Somewhere Quentin Jammer is still hiding under the covers from the nightmare that was that game.

Like ESPN’s Tim Graham reported, Cromartie only defended Marshall on five of those 18 receptions, giving up 49 yards, including a 6-yard TD.

What’s even better? In three meetings since, Marshall recorded only three catches for 31 yards and got nowhere near the end zone.

Stats mean nothing right? There are many factors that can be argued regarding simple numbers so here are some more reasons to have some confidence that Cromartie can handle the big guy on Sunday:

1.  Jay Cutler doesn’t wear teal and orange

It doesn’t take an NFL genius to realize that Chad Henne isn’t exactly Cutler.  In two games the Chicago Bears quarterback has thrown more than 300 yards more than Henne. Cutler threw for 350 during Marshall’s big game in 2008.

For some reason I don’t think Henne will come close to that against the Jets’ defense.

2.  Cromartie is out of the “zone.” 

The one complaint Cromartie had about the Chargers was that they played too much zone coverage.  Allowing separation and playing off the receiver against a wide receiver of Marshall’s caliber in a typical zone package isn’t so effective.

Unlike Moss, Marshall is a skilled route runner and doesn’t just rely on his straight-line speed to beat the secondary. He’ll beat you on a variety of short routes with his speed and cutting ability. Cromartie covering him man-to-man with safety help over the top should keep him in check the entire game.

3.  Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool easily beat Clinton Hart and Eric Weddle to take home the award for Best Supporting Cast

If Marshall beats Cromartie in double coverage, safeties can be relied upon to bring him down.

So enjoy your trip to AlCrotraz, Brandon. 

Matching up with Marshall shouldn’t be a reason for Cromartie or to lose any sleep this week. 

By the way, I hear Revis Island is a great place to visit in mid-December  


Patience Is A Virtue - What Jets Fans Should Be Watching Today

It was Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010. I remember turning off my television that night and saying good-bye to the New York Jets for the 2009 season.  
If you’re like me, you woke up today more excited than ever that the day we’ve been waiting almost eight months for is finally here. Like the NFL Network commercial, I’ve got “high hopes” for this season and am chomping at the bit for the boys in green to finally take the field.
Patience is a virtue and today the patience of Jets fans will again be tested.  Unlike the fans of 30 NFL teams, we must wait one more day.
Approximately 30 hours from now the Jets will finally take the field at the new Meadowlands Stadium against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.
But just in case you’re wondering whether or not it’s worth your while to watch football today, the answer is most definitely YES!  
Looking back on the 2009 season, the one stat that still makes me cringe is the Jets’ 2-4 division record.  Clearly, this cannot happen again this season.  
Winning the AFC East isn’t a given. We think we already know the strengths and weaknesses of the 2010 Jets.  Today is the day to watch the Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and, yes, even the Buffalo Bills and begin to get a better picture of how they will matchup against Jets in weeks 2, 3, and 4.
The Jets aren’t the only team that made a lot of offseason changes.  The AFC East as a whole has an entirely different look.  The games today will give fans a better understanding of the Jets’ rivals and allow us to better predict if this team can improve its division record from a year ago.
So go ahead and DVR one game and watch another. Jets fans have a TON to pay attention to today.

New England Patriots vs. Cincinnati Bengals – 1:00pm EST
Are the New England Patriots a one-dimensional team?   The Patriots are dealing with their own holdout this season.  Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins won’t be on the field today.  Can Dan Connelly effectively take his place?  Laurence Maroney and Fred Taylor didn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of many defenses in the preseason and the absence of Mankins may carry that over to the regular season. Will the Patriots have to rely solely on their passing game and become a one-dimensional team?  Will Tom Brady have the protection needed behind the current offensive line?
Can the Patriots youngins on defense get the job done?  If you watch one thing this weekend it should be the Patriots’ defense. The one word to describe them is “youthful.”  Expect them to be tested early and often.  Their secondary – primarily rookie Devin McCourty and second-year CB Darius Butler -- will have their work cut out for them against Batman & Robin today.   
Pass Rush issues:  An effective pass rush hampered the Patriots last season.  It should continue to be something to watch this season. There will be lots of pressure on rookie linebackers Brandon Spikes, and Jermaine Cunningham, who by the way was injured and hasn’t played this preseason. It shouldn’t take a genius to notice the pass rush may still be an issue.
Cedric Benson runs right:  I’m expecting to see the right side of the Patriots’ defensive line be tested today.  The Patriots will have two new starters when they take the field. Gerrard Warren and Marques Murrell will play their first games in red, white and blue uniforms and will have their work cut out for them against a strong Cincinnati offensive line.  A “run Benson run” day could mean a “run Greene run” game next week, if you catch my drift.
Jermain Gresham:   Why do you need to watch the Bengals rookie tight end? No, not because I’m infamously known for praising tight ends. You need to trust me, there is a method to my madness.   Gresham is a dynamic tight end that runs routes like a wide receiver. He has quickly become one of Carson Palmer’s favorite targets. Expect the Patriots to play a cover-2 to take care of Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens down the sidelines. Can the Patriots linebackers cover Gresham?  Remember the Jets have a certain No. 81-wearing tight end that gives linebackers nightmares as well.

Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills – 1:00pm EST
Dolphins front seven: Will CJ Spiller run all over Miami?  Out of seven players up front, defensive end Kendall Langford is the only player starting in the same spot as last year. The Miami defense, at least in the interim, is all about the line and linebackers.
Miami’s new middle men:  The Bills defensive line (Stroud, Williams, and Edwards) are strong and will be facing Miami’s new interior line consisting of Berger, Incognito and Jerry. Can the new guys step up and help Brown and Williams put up big numbers today?  For Jets fans, how this shakes out will give some perspective. A big rushing day by Miami today may mean a big rushing day for the Jets on Oct 3.    Both the Jets’ interior O-line and D-line can take either of these teams.
What will Trent Edwards do?  Edwards may not be the most dynamic quarterback but his performance today could expose a lot about a very young Miami secondary. With the Jets having in my opinion the best secondary in the league, a good performance by Edwards today is a win-win situation for the Jets for when they play the Dolphins.
Brandon Marshall:  I’m going to be watching Brandon’s performance for one reason only.  I know Darelle Revis can cover him and Antonio Cromartie will have no problem dealing with Hartline and Bess.   Buffalo had the second-ranked pass defense last season (mainly because many teams just ran the ball against them in the third/fourth quarters). Brandon’s performance today will start to get my wheels turning as to how the Jets’ passing game will perform against him in three weeks.
 C.J Spiller:  Here’s a rookie I’m very excited to watch and really wish was not in the Jets’ division. I’ll be interested to see how he’s used. Will he get the ball as a receiver out of the backfield? Will we see him on the field with Lynch and used in the slot? 
The “new” (and improved?) Miami Dolphins:  Here’s a tidbit to keep in mind: Only six Dolphins players from last year are playing the same position this season. They have 10 players who have two years of experience or less.
So get your jersey ready, eat some wings, watch some football and keep the Jets in the back of your mind.  Today you get to enjoy football without the roller coaster of emotions that will be here before you know it.
Tomorrow night is only hours away.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year … and I love it.


Cure For Hard Knocks Induced Anxiety: Just Look At The Facts

I’m no marketing whiz, but Pfizer should consider advertising Xanax throughout the tri-state area immediately following each episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”  I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed more simultaneous panic attacks than I did after Wednesday night’s episode.

About half way through the show my Twitter timeline was filled with ridiculous Jets fans.

Hysteria broke out.  Take this tweet for example:  “Slauson and Ducasse are going to get Sanchez killed.”

Tweets were coming a mile a minute.  The same fans that cheered Vladimir on all preseason, basically giving him the starting left guard job, had changed their tune to something more like, “Ducasse can’t play for crap.”

I immediately thought to myself that these people need to get a hold of themselves.

And then it really began.

In typical Jets fan fashion, the lamenting the loss of Alan Faneca comments couldn’t be contained any longer.  Once again the overreaction gene that seemingly every Jets fan is born with reared its ugly face.

Consider this your brown paper bag and relax.

Hard Knocks is a television show.  It’s meant to draw viewers in and make them worry.  I really would hope that anyone that calls themselves a true fan of the team would take the events highlighted in the show with a grain of salt.

A big part of the storyline Wednesday night was the battle between Ducasse and Slauson for the spot protecting Sanchez’s blind side.  It only took three clips of both guys’ missed blocks in the Washington game to send Jets nation to the ledge.

To start with, jumping ship on two young and very skilled players and instead mourning the loss of a rapidly declining veteran is just plain silly.

Faneca was a great player, a productive run blocker, and a locker room leader.  But the fact is he was rapidly declining.  His pass blocking skills were inadequate at best.  Go back and watch film of last season.  Faneca’s problems in pass protection were easily hidden sandwiched between a Pro Bowl Center in Nick Mangold and big boy tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.     

I don’t know about you but I don’t exactly miss a player when a respected writer covering his new team refers to him as “a declining player that cannot protect well,” as was the case recently during Arizona Cardinals camp.

I can’t help but want to call some fans hypocrites, the same fans who have been crying for the Jets to give Darrelle Revis all the money in the world, as well as sign Mangold and linebacker David Harris, are the same ones bashing the organization for saving money by letting Faneca go.

Let’s all go back to that November game against Miami. The Jets are down 5 with three minutes remaining, but marched all the way down to the Dolphins’ 10. Randy Starks then sacked Sanchez for a seven-yard loss on third down and the Jets went on to suffer their second loss to their hated AFC East rivals of the season.

Let’s just say that if Hard Knocks was aired after that clip, Jets fans would’ve been begging for Faneca to be cut.

The bottom line is Jets fans need to show a big dose of patience to get through the Slausson/Ducasse growing pains.   

Ducasse has improved more physically than mentally in the short time he’s been here. Please remember he played tackle at UMass and is transitioning to guard. Isn’t it a little much to ask that he be at the same level as a 12-year veteran who has made countless trips to Hawaii?  

If you want to complain about someone, Slauson deserves some criticism. He played behind Faneca for a year and has played four full seasons under coach Bill Callahan. Slauson is more familiar with the position and needs to step up big time. I truly believe he will.

It’s an anxiety filled year for all of us. But rethinking every decision made this offseason without looking at the big picture is just plain ridiculous. At some point you have to see the moves for what they truly are. As a fan of the team you owe it to them to take more into consideration than just some edited Hard Knocks clips. 

It's a good thing HBO didn’t show Damien Woody backpedaling and losing his balance during the Washington game. My guess is the vast majority of you would immediately want to see him getting his walking papers as well.

Take a deep breath, people. Believe it or not, there are still 16 games to play.


State of the Jets Union v1.0 - Cortland

Black Escalades, silver Range Rovers, black Mercedes were all blended together in the parking lot behind the practice field at SUNY Cortland. Standing out amid them all was a new silver 2010 6.2L V8 Chevy Camaro SS with 20-inch wheels.

I was standing there admiring its beauty when the Jets' very own Calvin Pace climbed into the driver’s side.

Yes, this year’s training camp was to be different from the others -- just like everything else about this season.

I spent three days up in Cortland this year and experienced the Jets in an entirely different way than ever before. It was an up close and personal, behind the scenes view of my favorite team.

It may have been the most difficult training camp I’ve ever watched, but I mean that in a positive way. It was a busy offseason for this team and unlike previous years there were a ton of unfamiliar faces. Fans all had their noses in their newspapers trying to figure out who was wearing No. 56 this time around.

There were so many players to watch, to evaluate and yet so little time to do it effectively.

I could sit here and write about Santonio Holmes’ great one-handed catch, or the fact that Jason Taylor is now a Jet, and that LaDainian Tomlinson still has a great set of legs, but if you’ve read my blog before you know that’s not my style.

The players I had my eye on were the ones we’ll hopefully hear about a lot in the upcoming weeks, the ones who will play their hearts out this month, trying to prove that they deserve the chance to “play like a Jet” for real.

They're the players who will show their skills to try and make us forget some of the players we lost. When all is said and done come September, they hope to gain our trust and prove that they are just as capable as those no longer dressed in green.

Fast forward to present day. Camp is over and one preseason game is in the book. Here are some of my observations on players and position battles, scenarios that have yet to play out but should be intense all the way through.

The Bosom Buddies

Vladimir Ducasse and Matt Slauson were inseparable at camp. Everywhere I looked the two of them were together, walking off the field towards media tents, stretching before practice and even signing autographs side by side. During special teams practice I was five feet from them. Slauson demonstrated some blocking techniques while Vlad listened intently and tried to duplicate the drill.

It’s obvious that these two guys are ready to compete and learn from each other. While it looks like Slauson has the edge to replace the departed Alan Faneca, it will be interesting to see how this competition ultimately plays out.

Very Keller-esque

If you’ve seen footage of camp you may have noticed the tall guy wearing No. 86 participating in tight end drills. Jeff Cumberland caught my eye. Maybe it’s because I always keep a close eye on tight end talent considering the Jets had suffered from mediocre talent at the position until Dustin Keller arrived a few years ago.

Cumberland impressed me. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, it wasn’t his brute strength or hands that stood out. It was, instead, his speed. Throughout camp he has shown the potential to be a nice pass-catching option. The wide receiver-turned-tight end made some nice grabs in traffic, including one play where he and Kevin O’Connell connected on a deep out pattern.

With a similar skill set as Keller it’s no wonder people are taking notice. Unfortunately, the Jets usually only carry three tight ends on the roster, including one spot for the long snapper. It’ll be interesting to see Cumberland’s physical side and blocking abilities in the upcoming weeks.

Life goes on without the “Diva”

From what I’ve seen, the Jets do not need Kerry Rhodes.

I’m actually very surprised that throughout the first few weeks of camp more attention has not been placed on the performance of the Jets’ safeties. Specifically, I was keeping my eyes on the guys we don’t hear too much about, including the so-called battle for starting free safety spot, which hasn’t been much of a battle.

Brodney Pool got most of the reps with the first teamers, yet it has been hard to find any reports in the mainstream media on anything he’s done. But I saw him. He showed some big hitting ability. I remember one play in particular where he stopped bulldozer Shonn Green right in his tracks.

If you remember, I’ve always lauded the merits of Eric Smith. His hard-hitting ways have been just as strong as ever. He’ll be a force to be reckoned with on special teams and will provide great depth even as a back-up behind Leonhard and Pool.

I do regret not getting a better look at Donovan “The Steal” Warren. He came into camp with high expectations, though mostly from Michigan Wolverine fans. On one deep pass to Keller, Warren closed in on coverage and got a nod of approval from yours truly.

Emanuel Cook is another safety who is back for a second chance with the Jets. Cook had an interception and some batted down passes during the days I was in Cortland and may be worth keeping an eye on in the upcoming preseason games as well. With Warren having limited playing time due a concussion, this may be Cook’s opportunity to state his case.

Westerman & Laury

These were two players on defense that I took notice of during the green and white scrimmage and on special teams in the first preseason game against the Giants.

Jamal Westerman's speed seems to have improved from last season and Lance Laury will definitely fit right in to coach Mike Westhoff's "throw a crushingblock" mentality.

A Little LT

Of all the new faces, Larry Taylor stood out to me the most.

Known as “Little LT,” so as not to confuse him with the Jets’ “LT” or that other guy that goes by the same name, the 5-6 former UConn Husky had me pulling for him throughout my time at camp.

After a stint with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, Taylor could very well fill the kick returner void that was left when Leon Washington packed his bags for Seattle.

I see Taylor and I think of Darren Sproles. He’s “vertically challenged,” which means a low center of gravity, which means he’s more difficult to tackle.

If he gets into the open field he’s gone.

Can he break tackles? Probably not, but he’ll makes cuts, stops, spins, change direction on a dime and throw in some juke moves before being taken down. If you’re not careful you may think you’re watching someone play Madden when you watch film of this guy.

He can catch the ball, too. Throughout camp he routinely had the ball, even catching a 50-yard strike from O’Connell.

I’m really pulling for him to make the roster. With Leon gone, the kick returner spot is really up for grabs, even though the Jets will take plenty a look at Brad Smith and rookie Kyle Wilson. There’s no reason why Taylor can’t win this job.

Keep an eye out for him. Wallace Wright used to be my boy wearing No. 15, but not anymore. Taylor is just a shorter, faster version and possibly a great football player in the making.

And last but certainly not least....

The Terminator

If you follow the Jets, then there's not much I need to say about John Conner.  

If you recall, one of my biggest concerns this preseason was the lack of a young fullback to learn from the Master Tony Richardson himself.  

When the Jets drafted John Conner,  I watched some of his highlights from Kentucky and immediately had a huge grin on my face.   

This was the guy to calm my worries.  

I had the opportunity to meet him after camp this year, I said to him:
"So John listen,  I've been searching for the right guy to take TRich's throne...and I'm happy to say.....I pick you"  (as I hit him on the shoulder pads). 

If you don't know about him remember Rex's quote:  "The “The thing I like about Conner is that you don't have to see him playyou can hear him.."