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.