Saturday, January 22, 2005

Earlier this week, I promised surprising comments from an unlikely Jet. The comments came from unrestricted free agent tight end Anthony Becht, who went off (sort of) on Monday or Tuesday when the team was cleaning out its lockers.

Becht said something to the effect of he feels he was underutilized with the Jets, and feels he'll be used better somewhere else. He says the only reason other tight ends have been having better careers is the way they are used. He acknowledges he's not as fast as some of those other guys, but says he could match their production if he was given the ball more. He wrapped up by saying when all is said and done, people are going to say Anthony Becht had a great career.

I think Becht was waaay underused with the Jets. When the Jets made their run to the playoffs in 2001, he was one of their clutch guys - catching game-winning touchdown passes against Cincinnati and Indianapolis (and a key 2-point conversion along the way). Lately he has become known for his drops, and he only saw one pass thrown his way (if any) in most games this season. I think his final numbers were 13 catches for 100 yards in the regular season. Becht saw his production increase a bit in the post-season, but nowhere near the elite tight ends of the NFL. The Jets started to use Chris Baker a lot more this season, but he showed a tendency to fumble, and did not have more reliable hands catching the ball than Becht did. Becht was also very valuable blocking in the running game.

So, long story short, Becht will most likely be playing for another team next year. Whether he will have a "great" career when it's all said and done, I doubt...but I wish him well. He was one of my all-time favorite Jets (a list that includes tight end Mickey Shuler, who, by the way, Becht compared himself to).

As for Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship games (for entertainment purposes only):

I really like the Falcons. I can't tell you why...perhaps it's because I've been saying since Terrell Owens went down that the Eagles wouldn't go to the Super Bowl. Perhaps it's because Michael Vick beat the Packers in the playoffs in 2002, and can win in cold Philly this year. Perhaps it's just because I'm an idiot, and the Eagles are going to win, but I'm picking Atlanta. I don't know. But I pick Atlanta, at least to cover. Their defense is bad, but I think they can outscore Philadelphia, if it's just going to be a cold day, and the running game takes over, I think Atlanta matches up quite well.

In the AFC, I can't go against the Patriots. The Steelers played poorly last week, and I think Ben Roethlisberger's success runs out before Tom Brady's. The Patriots are just too good....and the Steelers are too flawed. The only stat I was going to hang my hat on in this matchup was Tom Brady's lack of success against Pittsburgh. I was basing this on the fact that Brady lost in Pittsburgh this season, and was injured in the AFC Championship in 2001. Brady left that game ahead 7-3, but hadn't done much on offense (the touchdown was a punt return). But Brady did light up Pittsburgh in the 2002 season opener (at Gillette Stadium), so this stat is worthless. Unless you want to believe that Brady can't win in Pittsburgh. We'll find out on Sunday. But my pick is the Patriots, because you can't pick against them until they show you they can't win. I give up on picking against them (at least for this season).

Enjoy the games.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Steelers 20, Jets 17 OT

I probably should have written this entry Saturday night, when the emotion was still running strong. But even now, three days later, I'm struggling (or as Joe Namath would say, "strug-a-ling") to write anything except &$*#!!(#()DougBrien(!#####. (Those punctuation marks are supposed to be curse words, but it doesn't look angry enough to convey how I feel).

Right off the bat I should have known the Jets were in trouble, when I realized that CBS's number two broadcasting team was Dick Enberg and Dan Dierdorf. This is the second-best CBS has to offer? Come on.

The Steelers jumped to a 3-0 lead, then 10-0 after a Troy Polamalu interception off a badly thrown ball by Chad Pennington set up a Jerome Bettis touchdown. The Jets came back with an ugly-looking field goal by Doug Brien, making it 10-3 in the second quarter. Early in the game it looked like the Jets were afraid to throw the ball. Pittsburgh wasn't afraid to throw, but they should have been - Ben Roethlisberger looked horrible.

Late in the second quarter, all my dreams started to come through. Santana Moss returns a punt 75 yards for the touchdown!!! The game was tied at 10! Halftime. For the first time I see an NFL commercial featuring an actress instead of an actor...but they're going to have to do a little better than Rene Russo for my tastes. (But it is a step in the right direction, NFL.)

Anyway, third quarter, not much happens, when all of a sudden - HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BELIEVE REGGIE TONGUE JUST PICKED OFF ANOTHER PASS AND OH MY GOD I THINK HE'S GOING ALL THE WAY - 86 yards for the touchdown. 1 7-10, Jets. I get all kinds of congratulatory calls, even from Patriots fans who are telling me they're rooting for the Jets so the Pats can host the AFC Championship Game....and I'm telling these people, just one more score. I can't believe what the Jets are doing here - they just need one more score and it's all over!

They never got that one more score.

All day long I was waiting for Pittsburgh to pull off one of their fancy offensive plays (direct snap, option, something), and they finally did it on second and goal from the four yard line with 6:00 left in the game. Hines Ward takes the shovel pass from Ben Roethlisberger to tie the game at 17.

But I'm thinking, OK, this is good, 6 minutes - that's plenty of time for Pennington. The Jets started at their own 23, and looked good, moving the ball down the field. They attempt a 47-yard field goal with 2:03 left in the game and it HITS THE FRIGGIN' CROSSBAR - ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!? So the Steelers take over after the 2 minute warning and HOLY CRAP I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT DAVID BARRETT JUST INTERCEPTED ROETHLISBERGER AGAIN AND I THINK HE'S GOING TO TAKE IT ALL THE WAY...nope he's down at the 37-yard line.

OK. Wow. This is great. The Jets are going to win - all they have to do is move the ball down the field a little bit....the Jets get to the 25. Then they stop moving the ball. And here's where many people have many different opinions about what should have happened. The Jets only ended up gaining an extra yard or so, going way conservative in the final 40 seconds, not wanting to turn the ball over and lose the chance to win the game. I think the Jets would have benefitted from a couple of extra running plays - throw LaMont Jordan at the D a couple of more times, see if he can break one. But I wasn't unhappy when Brien came out for the 43-yard attempt. I said to myself, he missed one before, he can't miss one now. Of course, we all know he missed it. I've defended Doug Brien this whole season, for reasons I can't quite think of right now. I'll never have confidence in a kicker again. I've learned my lesson - if I'm ever coaching a team, I'll go for the touchdown, not a lousy kick. I didn't learn my lesson from San Diego - it took a Jets heartbreak for me. I hope Herman Edwards learned the same thing.

In overtime, the Jets won the toss, did nothing, and on third and ten, threw a 2-yard pass to Wayne Chrebet. Come on. This is the play being called at this juncture?!??!? Pittsburgh won on a 33-yard field goal. There's the recap. I'm too angry to write more about this game.

Let's talk about the future. I take small consolation in the fact that Paul Hackett will be fired. If the Jets would have made it to the AFC Championship Game, it would have been harder to make a case to fire him, but now there's no excuses. He's gone. So now I'm excited to see what Chad Pennington can do when he's not so restricted. Now we'll see what kind of quarterback Pennington is. The Jets have a bunch of free agents this year, and one of them is talking big....and it's a very unlikely suspect. I'll write about that later this week - tomorrow if there's time.

For now, I need to take a look at the mailbag (untouched since the end of Saturday night's game...I'm afraid of what I'll find):


Now that the Jets are eliminated, I'll ask the biggest question that's been bothering me with the Jets this season...

What the hell is Curtis Martin wearing in the post game press conferences?? Why does he look like one of those things old women have in their front yard....the lawn jockeys. Does he look in the mirror and think....yes...this looks good.

He looks like an idiot.

Wilmington, NC"

Kevin- Interestingly enough, I think Curtis Martin always makes those "best-dressed players in the NFL" lists...what are those guys thinking? I agree - he does look like an idiot. Actually, less like an idiot, more like a clown.

Also, after the game, Martin talked about how disappointed he was with the loss, and how he had postponed all his business meetings until after the Pro Bowl, because he was sure the Jets were going all the way. What kind of business meeting does Curtis Martin have to attend? And does he dress like that in the boardroom?

"Dear JohnnyJets,

I should first say that I was rooting for a Jets upset Saturday, not only because I like the Jets but also because I wanted Pats to host the AFC Championship game instead of going on the road.

As I watched the Steelers move down the field in the fourth quarter against an exhausted Jets defense for the game-tying score, I had a familiar feeling rising in my throat -- worry followed by anger followed by resignation. It was my Red Sox feeling. The same one I get when I see the Sox faltering and I know, I just know, that they're going to blow it.

Of course, the Red Sox banished this feeling (forever?) this season. Do you think the Jets will follow the Sox lead and stock up on pitching in the offseason?

Dave in Brighton."

The inevitable comparison to the Red Sox. I can't say it hasn't crossed my mind. I need to write an off-season entry comparing the two fandoms. It was tough to be a Red Sox fan for so long...but it's also tough to be a Jets fan. My cousin, who has an 8-month-old son, and I were talking after the game Saturday, and lamenting how bad it was, and how at least our fathers saw a Jets championship. He said his son might be 32 before the Jets get this far in the playoffs again (not a stretch...although I do think the franchise is on the upswing for the first time ever), and he thinks he should raise his son to root for another team. He won't though...because we're stupid Jets fans.

I need to mention this - I'm not sure if it's funny or not, but it's my form of therapy (besides watching tapes of Jets' old playoff wins...the Jacksonville game from '99 and the Indy game from '03...yes, I'm sick). I was at the gym on Sunday, and there's this guy wearing Steelers garb from head to toe. I got so mad I imagined going up to him and kicking his ass. Even in my imagination, my kick was wide left. Thanks a lot, you've been a great crowd. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A correction: Yesterday I think I wrote something to the effect of "the Steelers' game in Miami during the NFL's opening weekend", referring to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's article on the Steelers' bonding at the team hotel during Hurricane Jeanne. It was actually the weekend of September 26th. The Dolphins opened up against the Titans. The Steelers opened up against Oakland. My bad.

I don't know how much I'll be able to write the rest of the week due to a family issue. So I will predict Jets 17, Steelers 10. And I'll pick things up recapping the game on Sunday and previewing the AFC Championship Game.

Monday, January 10, 2005

If I was a New England Patriots fan, I'd be pretty worried about the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. As it is, though, I'm a New York Jets fan, and I'm pretty worried about the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, so I've got my own problems.

The Steelers are clearly better than the Chargers. Even their newspaper writers are better. After just reading through the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's sports pages for the first time, they put Southern California's papers to shame. (Good article on how the Steelers bonded during Hurricane Jeanne at a Miami hotel during the season's opening weekend.)

My concerns include: the Jets playing two straight overtime games - and not overtime games where you take the overtime-opening kickoff and kick a field goal to win the game. Two straight pretty greuling overtime games. And Saturday's win over the Chargers came just six days after the game against the Rams. At least the Jets now have a week before they play Pittsburgh.

Also, the Steelers, obviously, are coming off a bye week, and Ben Roethlisberger has now had two straight weeks of rest. Maybe, just maybe, that could work in the Jets' favor. But I'm not counting on that. More on that throughout the week.

Let's go to the mailbag:

Dear JohnnyJets,

The latest odds are PIT -9, Atlanta -7, Philly -9.5, and NE -2. Aside from the Pats, do you think the league is really that imbalanced? How can a league with such parity have 9 point favorites in the second round of the playoffs?

Around the league...Favre threw 4 INTs against 1 TD, for a 55 QB rating against the Vikings yesterday. Has he jumped the shark?

The last time the Patriots lost to the Colts was Oct. 22, 2000. Don't the Colts have to win one eventually? What were you doing Oct. 22, 2000?

Dave in Brighton"

Dave - I love the fact that the Jets are 9-point underdogs. Philly and Minnesota will probably be closer than 9-and-a-half points as well. I do think the league is imbalanced...but not with the teams remaining in the playoffs. I think the Rams will play the Falcons tight in the dome, the Jets have a real shot at upsetting Pittsburgh (more on that throughout the week...and come on, did you think I would think any differently), and the Vikings, if they can beat the Packers in Green Bay, can beat the Eagles in Philly. I might go on a limb and say they will beat the Eagles. I don't like the Vikes, but the Eagles are weak. They won't win the NFC Championship Game, I'll say that for sure - and I'm not sure they'll even make it past this week.

Brett Favre is a tough read. The past few seasons he's good enough to get the Packers into the playoffs, but then their season comes to an end because he plays an absolutely horrid game. I think he probably could play a couple of more playoff-caliber seasons (based on the people around him - receivers, backs, etc.), but I don't think he'll win any more Super Bowls.

As for the Colts, I do think they are bound to win one against the Patriots. And I think they catch the Pats at a time prime for the beating. I think it'll come this week. And I do believe on October 22, 2000, if it was a Sunday, I was watching Game 2 of the Subway Series. That's a total guess. If it was a Monday-nighter, I was waiting anxiously for Game 3. And I was working at Channel 7.

Speaking of Channel 7 - former sports intern Kevin weighs in:


Is football season over yet?? It is for my Panthers (no Super Bowl for me this year), so lets switch to baseball for a bit....

As a Mets fan...when they make big free agent signings, do you have early 90s flashbacks? Beltran = Bonilla?? Pedro = Gooden?? Koo = Franco?? (Koo??)

I know you are distracted with the Jets, but deep down you're a baseball guy, and I'm sure you've thought about these things.

Also...good comments on the Samuel L Jackson intros. They're obnoxious.

Wilmington, NC"

Kevin - I'm saving my baseball stuff for our sister station,, but I will comment real quick. Gooden was never a Mets' free agent, so I equate Pedro more to a Saberhagen or a Viola. I do cringe, though, whenever they make a free agent signing. But I do always give new management (in this case, Omar Minaya), the benefit of the doubt.

Sorry about your Panthers. Let me know if they send you to Jacksonville to cover this year's game. Or if the Jets make it, and you want to do a great feature story on an excited Jets fan and his dad who make the trip to sunny Florida for the event of a lifetime.....

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Jets 20, Chargers 17 OT

That was either the most exciting Jets game I've ever seen in my life, or the most frustrating. Parts of it made me want to run down the street screaming at the top of my lungs, and other parts made me want to roll up into a ball and cry.

It got off on the wrong foot, courtesy of Doug Brien's foot. On the opening drive, the Jets moved the ball right down the field, only to have Brien miss a 33-yard field goal.

The defense played well, holding San Diego scoreless in the first quarter - the Chargers defense was able to do the same to the Jets offense.

The Chargers got on the board first when Drew Brees hit Keenan McCardell with a bomb for a 7-0 lead. I'm not convinced, after seeing a few replays, that McCardell didn't bobble that ball. The original camera angle showed the ball juggling around, I'm sure of it. ABC kept showing the reverse angle, which showed McCardell's feet were clearly in bounds, but there was never a non-reverse angle close-up to see whether McCardell had control of the ball. Nevertheless, 7-0 San Diego.

The Jets answered later in the second. After Jon McGraw came within inches of blocking a San Diego punt (he came within inches of blocking a couple of other punts Saturday night), Marty Schottenheimer charged onto the field to yell at the refs. That gave the Jets 15 extra penalty yards, and the Jets made Marty pay. Chad Pennington called an audible from the 13-yard line, and hit Anthony Becht for a touchdown. Becht was so wide open he walked into the end zone...but geez, Anthony, act like you been there before. (Most likely for Becht, he'll never be there a Jet.) Becht - I knew they were saving him as a big secret playoff weapon.

The score was 7-7 at halftime, and the Jets blew a couple of chances to get at least three before the break. At halftime, Steve Young talked about how the Jets owned the third quarter - scoring nearly three times as many points in the third quarter as their opponents. This game was no different. It started on a 47-yard bomb by Pennington to Santana Moss for a 14-7 Jets lead.

Allow me to say a few words here on Pennington. He looked amazing. He was throwing the ball about as good as he has all season - long, on the 47-yarder to Moss, and short, on screens to Curtis Martin. He was also making great decisions - no turnovers, and the great audible call to Becht for the touchdown. If Pennington plays like this all post-season, the Jets will be hard to beat.

The defense played well too - although there were times when they made you scratch your head. First of all, only the Jets defense falls for the hard count on 4th and 1 in the Chargers' own territory. Dewayne Robertson was the guilty party on Saturday. And only the Jets would have 10 guys on the field - FOR CONSECUTIVE PLAYS - late in the game. Come on guys. Robertson, by the way, made up for jumping offsides with a great play on the next play, driving LaDainian Tomlinson backwards for a loss. The penalty wasn't costly, but Robertson could have been the goat. More on possible goats later.

It was in the third quarter, on the drive where the Jets ended up kicking a field goal to go up 17-7, that Herman Edwards and running backs coach Bishop Harris got into an animated argument on the sideline. Edwards says it was a "family argument", and stays in the family. The Jets won, so it isn't an issue...but those guys better not crack the deeper they get into the playoffs.

The Jets held a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter, and things are looking good, right? Wrong. The Chargers kick a field goal to make it 17-10, and then the Jets have a chance to put the game away late. They get the biggest gift ever - a Jets-like 12-men on the field penalty on a Jets punt by the Chargers!! - gives the Jets the first down. They can run out the they can't. The Jets can't run out the clock ever. And they're too far out for a field goal. So they kick it back to the Chargers, who proceed to go 78 yards to the Jets 2. The Jets defense has been really good this year inside the 5-yard line, so I legitimately thought the Jets would stop the Chargers and win the game. Until Eric Barton threw an elbow at Drew Brees' head on a fourth down incomplete pass to allow the Chargers another set of downs to tie the game at 17. Barton. Leave it to a former Raider to try to cheat. Unreal. Another possible goat saved by his teammates.

The Jets called heads for the overtime coin toss...of course, it's tails. The Chargers get the ball back, it looks like there's no way the Jets can get it back together and win. They stop the Chargers. Then the Jets go three and out. Again, no way the Jets stop San Diego. Until the Chargers get down near the Jets' 25, and run three straight plays, going nowhere. And then Nate Kaeding misses!!!!!!! the 40-ish yard field goal. I made promises to God before that field goal that I'm never going to be able to keep.

The Jets finally, finally capitalized. They drove right down the field, thanks to a great catch by Santana Moss to get it across the 50, then some great runs by LaMont Jordan to get the Jets to the 9 yard line. Ironic that the (lately) inconsistent foot of Doug Brien now controlled the Jets' destiny. And it was only fitting that Schottenheimer called a timeout right before the snap, essentially making Brien kick the field goal twice. But Brien did it, and the Jets are advancing. This is the type of game the Jets usually lose. I wish they'd just win a blowup so I can enjoy a playoff game without feeling like I'm going to throw up for four quarters and overtime.

A couple of other personal notes. I hate when ABC shows stats such as: Curtis Martin has fumbled the fewest times per carry of any NFL back ever (minimum however many carries). I feel like they're just setting him up to drop the ball at the 1-yard line.

I wonder how much it costs ABC to pay Samuel L. Jackson to do their intro and spots during the game. Probably way too much. And I saw FOX doing the same on Sunday with Keifer Sutherland. I'm getting tired of these actors...including the guy from the Practics (I think) and Don Cheadle (I think) doing the playoffs commercials. Great, we get it. You guys are actors AND you like sports. Wonderful. I don't want to see any more of those...unless they start using hot actresses.

I love when everyone picks against the Jets. It makes me feel like they're going to win. I don't know why, that's just the way the Jets operate (and the way my mind operates).

So the Jets are headed to the Divisional Round. And thanks to the Indianapolis Colts' win today over the Denver Broncos, I better learn how to spell Roethlisberger. More on the Jets preps for Pittsburgh throughout the week. E-mails tomorrow.
I'll write a recap on Sunday in the afternoon. I can't do it right now - I'm too emotionally "Charged". No pun intended. Yes, actually, pun intended.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Jets at Chargers, Saturday, 8pm (5pm Pacific)

Playoff time!! It looks like it'll be raining on Saturday night when the Jets and Chargers face off. Actually, I think it will be raining a lot, and the field will be quite muddy. I like the Jets' chances in the rain and muck.

Curtis Martin is going to plow ahead no matter what the conditions. The wet weather could work against LaDanian Tomlinson, since he relies more on his speed. (Just my speculation - there are no facts to back these statements up.)

The Jets will have Santana Moss back to return punts...a hamstring problem kept him from doing that the past few weeks. That's good, because Justin McCareins makes me nervous every time he goes back for a punt return.

It's looking less and less likely John Abraham or Wayne Chrebet will play - which means we'll see more of Bryan Thomas and Jerricho Cotchery. Not great, but two guys who have been playing well of late.

Jonathan Vilma was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year - well-deserved honor. He's been playing great -the Jets need the rest of the defense to play like Vilma's been playing, or else they are toast.

I think we see a return of the dominant Jets' defense of the middle (not the end) of the season, and I think Curtis Martin does most of the work to get the Jets to Pittsburgh. Jets, 24-14.

Here's the rest of my picks:

Indianapolis, 34-17
Green Bay, 20-13
Seattle, 3-0 (which is to say, I have no idea, nor do I care about this game)


Thursday, January 06, 2005

By the time my readers read this, the Jets will be in San Diego, and Friday's practice will be the last before the game. I'm getting pretty excited.

A wrap-around of Jets/Chargers news:

Herman Edwards says Chad Pennington was throwing the ball really well in practice on Wednesday (Thursday was the travel day). That comment was met with skepticism by the New York media (but what aren't they skeptical about). Pennington himself says his shoulder is improving, and feeling better. Whatever. I'm buying what they're selling - just win, Jets. Apparently neither John Abraham or Wayne Chrebet are the sure bets to play they were the other day. I expect we'll see a little of Abraham...I don't know about Chrebet - concussions are tricky.

The San Diego papers aren't even really worth reading. In Chargers news, though - Drew Brees was named Comeback Player of the Year. There wasn't much competition there, I'm sure. I think tomorrow I'll do a breakdown by key position as a last-day preview.

For now, though, a couple of e-mails to address:

Dear JohnnyJets,
I worry that you're going to watch the game in your home, where theJets have just a .571 winning percentage.

It's ultimately your decision. But are you willing to accept responsibility for the Jets losing?

Maybe you could break down the Jets record, on games watched at your home, when Kathy was there and when she wasn't there.

That would be a helpful stat.


Dave, you're absolutely right, I can't believe I let that stat slip through the cracks. The games I watched at home were:

CIN (W), MIA (W), BAL (L), NE (L), BUF (L), CLE (W), SEA (W)

I remember Kathy being in and out for the Cincinnati game (but out more than in), and the same with Baltimore (perhaps in more than out). The others, I think she was there for most of, although I sometimes get so absorbed in the games I lose track of the wife. I'll say she was there for all of the Miami game (Monday night), the New England game, the Buffalo game, and the Cleveland game. But I've been wrong before. So the winning percentage with her in full attendance is 2-2, without, it's 2-1. So I guess it's a .667 winning percentage at home without Kathy versus a .750 winning percentage at the bar without her. I like staying at home, so I'll take that chance.

One more from Dave:


For entertainment purposes, what was your regular season recordagainst the spread? Kathy's?

Dave in Brighton"

I was going to put this in, but I was waiting until I had Kathy's numbers at my disposal. This was a weak year for me, in all honesty. I went 8-7-1 in the final week, but I threw out my paperwork last night, so I'm not sure what my overall record was. I think I finished at .500 (for entertainment purposes only). Kathy finished 115 overall in the ESPN pool - out of 60,000 people. Not bad. But I don't have her numbers at my disposal right now. I'll try to get them tomorrow. Then I'll pick the other playoff games (for entertainment purposes only), and preview the Jets/Chargers game. I can't wait.

One more thing - I'm not going to say I'm happy the Jets lost going into the playoffs, but I'm just so darn happy the Jets are in the playoffs. It doesn't happen much, and hasn't happened much in my lifetime. This is an unprecedented streak they are on right now, believe it or not (three playoff appearances in four years). Now, don't get me wrong - I'll be disappointed if they don't win a couple of games (namely, four). But to say I'm disappointed with them finishing at 10-6 when they could have been 11-5 or even 12-4...I'd be lying. 10-6 is fine with me. If they had won 2 more games...they'd be right where they are now - at San Diego, in the first wild card spot. And I'd be disappointed with that.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The San Diego papers focused on Marty Schottenheimer's failures in the post-season - his career post-season record is 5-11. and he's lost 4 straight games in the post-season.

The New York papers focused on Herman Edwards' positive attitude. Nothing ground-breaking.

A couple of new developments - Wayne Chrebet will probably play on Saturday night, after his "mild" concussion suffered on Sunday. John Abraham will also play, back from his knee injury. I forgot to mention yesterday that Curtis Martin won the rushing title over Shaun Alexander by a yard, with 1,697 rushing yards. Nice job by him and the offensive line. That offensive line, though, allowed Chad Pennington to be sacked a career-high six times last Sunday - they better shape up before Saturday night.

Another note, just because I was talking about career playoff records. Herman Edwards (who I think has a relationship with Schottenheimer from their Kansas City days) is 1-2 in the playoffs. Chad Pennington is 1-1. Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, among other key Chargers - never played in the playoffs. That's got to work in the Jets favor nerves-wise.

I'm going to touch on a personal note, and tomorrow I'll get back to the real playoff scenarios.
The wife will not be here on Saturday night, and that is a very good thing. She claims she hasn't seen the Jets win all year...and I think she's right. I remember her sitting and watching with me parts of 5 of the 6 Jets' losses this year. So it's a good thing I won't be watching the playoff game with her. I've also broken down my record as a Jets watcher.
Sunday was my first loss watching the Jets at John Brewer's Pub - this year's place to watch my out-of-town Jets games. So:

John Brewer's: 3-1
In Person: 2-1
At Work: 1-0
At Cousin Eddie's house: 0-1
On TV at home: 4-3

So I'm taking a risk by staying at home and watching this playoff game winning-percentage-wise, but it is the site they've accumulated the most wins. At least the wife won't be around to jinx them.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Congratulations to the Jets on the playoffs, and congratulations to both of my readers for being 2 of the 27% of all Americans who read blogs. That's up from 17% - the increase all in the past year. Maybe next year at this time I'll have a 10% increase in readership.

The San Diego papers are talking tough. Actually, I only read one article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. It says the Jets backed in to the playoffs, and the Chargers are a much different team than the team the Jets faced in Week 2. That may be true, but the article also mentions the fact that of the Chargers' 12 wins, none came against playoff teams. Their four losses came to the Jets, Falcons, Colts, and Broncos - playoff teams all. So let's get on the Chargers' back for building up wins against weak teams. They played the NFC South, including such powerhouses as the aforementioned Falcons, and the Buccaneers, the Panthers, and the Saints (and the Saints and the Panthers came when those teams were playing their worst football of the season). Then, factor in the fact that the Chargers play in the AFC West, where they went 5-1 against the Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs. The Jets got their 10 wins against some bad teams, but the Chargers also have been bottom-feeders. At least the Jets have a shot in an East coast city in the second round. The Chargers don't stand a chance.

Another thing about San Diego. It's been a special place for the Jets the past few years. In 2002, the Jets went to San Diego with a 1-4 record, and many expected them to be blown out of the water. The Jets proceeded to win, 44-10 (I think...I'm sure we'll hear about that game this week, and I'm too lazy to look it up right now), and turned their season around, advancing to the playoffs behind the right arm of one Chad Pennington. This year, in Week 2, in what was then considered to be a big test for the Jets, the Jets won again in San Diego, 34-28. Perhaps this weekend we'll see another turnaround. The Jets have been struggling lately. Chad Pennington says he's searching for a rhythm. Perhaps he'll find it in San Diego, and lead the Jets on the four-game winning streak to end all four-game winning streaks.

I need to get to bed (it's late here on the East coast, the chilly East coast, where the real football teams play), but I have an e-mail to address:

"Dear JohnnyJets,

How much do you think the early-season win over San Diego is playing
in the minds of the Jets (and the Chargers, for that matter)? Do you
think it makes the Jets more likely to win Saturday's game because
they know they can beat SD, or do you think it doesn't really matter
because both teams have warmed up/matured/weathered the season since

Can you feel the vibes from Patriots fans who want the Jets to win so
New England doesn't have to play Indy?

I tuned into the last 2 minutes of regulation yesterday, just enough
time to hear Deirdorf (sp?) say Pennington looked hurt on the final
drive. Did you see anything that made you think that?

Also, do you think CBS was trying to jinx Pennington by putting up
that graphic that said he'd never thrown an INT in the red zone in his
career? (He almost threw 2 immediately following.)

Dave in Brighton"

Last things first, Dave, I don't think CBS was trying to jinx Pennington, but for that reason, I'm always afraid to mention that stat. It's one of my favorite stats in the history of football...and it's come close to being broken many times over the past two seasons. Last year, Pennington threw one of his five interceptions against the Patriots from just outside the 20 yard line, keeping the streak alive. So I will never mention it in writing...and hope CBS refrains from showing the stat during the playoffs (and ABC and hopefully Fox, home of the Super Bowl, for that matter).

I couldn't hear Dierdorf towards the end of the game, and I intentionally tried not to listen, since they were so bad. But I must apologize (to my readers, not to Dierdorf), and correct an error from yesterday's posting. I said something to the effect of Dierdorf's bias to his Rams...he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, and still lives in the St. Louis area, and was clearly biased to the Saint Louis football team, not the Rams...sorry for the error. I got my former St. Louis Cardinals mixed up with my former Los Angeles Rams...My bad.

As for your first comment, as I mentioned above, I think the early season meeting only serves to boost the Jets' confidence. I don't think it affects the Chargers too much, but I do think it helps the Jets to know that they can go into San Diego and win.

And since you mention the Patriots fans...I should throw this out there. Here are the possibilities for Round 2:

Jets win, Colts win: Jets play the Steelers, Patriots play the Colts
Jets win, Broncos win: Jets play Patriots, Broncos play Steelers
Chargers win, Colts win: Patriots play Colts, Steelers play Chargers
Chargers win, Broncos win: Patriots play Chargers, Steelers play Broncos.

Since the Steelers had the better record, they always play the lowest seed remaining. So I'm sorry to inform you Dave, when the Jets win, the Patriots (and their fans) need to root real hard for the Broncos to avoid the Colts.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Rams 32, Jets 29 OT

So the Jets lost. So they lost a long and torturous game. I don't really care - they're going to THE PLAYOFFS!!!

I'm psyched. Let's make one thing clear, because I can sense a negative vibe uprising. The Jets did not back into the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings backed into the playoffs. The Jets MADE the playoffs. They won 10 games, they played a good (not VERY good, but a good) game against the Rams, and they deserve to be one of 12 teams with a shot at the Super Bowl.

The Jets should have won this game in regulation. It would have been nice for the Jets to punch it into the end zone on their final drive and stick it to the Rams, eliminating them from the post-season. But Chad Pennington didn't look too sharp, and the Jets settled for the game-tying field goal. Then, I think, the Jets knew they were already in the playoffs when overtime came around, and their defense played pretty well for most of OT, but I think the Jets knowing they were in the playoffs had an effect on some of the gameplan in OT. For example, I don't think the Jets would have settled for a 53-yard field goal if they had to win the game to get into the playoffs. They just left the Rams in such good field position after missing the field goal that it wouldn't have been a smart play. I guess what I'm saying is, overall, I'm happy with the loss...but boy, would it be nice someday for the Jets to be in a position where they had a playoff spot wrapped up in the final week.

Curtis Martin and LaMont Jordan had nice warm-ups going into the playoffs. Pennington didn't play too well, and got lucky when a big interception was dropped at the end of the game, and he still couldn't throw the ball long, but he's shown he can win in San Diego, so I'm not too worried about him....right now. I am worried about the defense. They played pretty bad for most of the game - in particular, the secondary. Granted, the Rams came out a lot more fired up then I thought they would, but the secondary let those guys get way too open - especially on the touchdown passes. Erik Coleman and Jon McGraw had decent games, but David Barrett, Donnie Abraham, and Terrell Buckley did not play well. (McGraw also dropped a key INT late.) The receivers had good games, and it looked like the Jets wanted to work the tight ends into the offensive game plan a lot more, which is a good sign heading into the playoffs. That might open up the wide receivers a bit more. I don't think the coaches had a good game. The Jets should have run out the clock more in regulation, but had two very quick three-and-outs at the beginning of the fourth quarter, after the second of which, the Rams scored the go-ahead touchdown.

Jerricho Cotchery is showing he might be a weapon on kick returns (although the Rams special teams were very bad). Wayne Chrebet doesn't look like he'll be a factor - he suffered a minor concussion. The talk this week was that he wanted to come back next year - I hope he re-evaluates now, and decides to retire.

A word or two on the announcers. According to Dick Enberg:

"Curtis Martin is on his way to his fifth straight Super Bowl." (meaning 5th Pro Bowl)

After the Jets kicked the tying field goal with :03 seconds left on the clock, they were getting ready for the ensuing kickoff and Enberg says, "The Rams have won the toss and elected to receive." Good call, Dick.

And Dan Dierdorf was so blatantly biased towards his (L.A.) Rams that it was ridiculous. Just ridiculous. Too many examples to mention. Let's hope Dick hangs 'em up like Wayne, and Dan never does another Jets game ever.

So it's Jets-Chargers, Saturday night at 8pm. I'll do my best to preview this all week. Remember, though - the Jets beat the Chargers in Week 2, 34-28. Erik Coleman had a big game, intercepting Drew Brees on the final drive, and also chasing LaDanian Tomlinson down from behind on a big run and stripping him of the ball.

The 34 points the Jets scored in that game reminds me of something. The Jets seem able to score when they want to (I guess I should qualify that by throwing in - 'against certain teams'...and the Chargers should be one of those teams). My problem is, if they can drive right down the field when they need to play catch-up, as they did when they were trailing the Rams on Sunday, why can't they just jump out to a big lead on teams like the Rams and then bury them? The answer to that is Paul Hackett's play-calling, and that's why he deserves to be fired.

One last note for today - the 49ers scored first on the Patriots on Sunday, ending their consecutive-game scoring first streak. I really would have loved for the Jets to do that last week.

Oh well. On to San Diego. I'll try to read the San Diego papers this week and keep you up on all that's going on on both coasts.