Tuesday, January 10, 2006

One note I forgot yesterday, and another new note. First, the new one.

ESPN.com today came out with a "Misery Index", ranking NFL franchises/cities in order of most miserable to least, taking into consideration such factors as long-term pain and recent pain, historic despair and recent despair, and intangibles.

It's hard to argue with Cleveland as number one (despite the team's tremendous successes in the 1950's), what with its AFC Championship horrors and not much else in terms of wins, then the whole losing a franchise thing, and having it replaced with an expansion team.

But speaking as a lifelong Jets fan, it's hard to justify the Jets as a 15...right in the middle of the pack. For crying out loud - the Jets play in GIANTS STADIUM!!! IN NEW JERSEY!! Arizona and Seattle are ahead of the Jets - no one even cares about those teams. That eliminates all potential for misery. San Diego? They live in San Diego - if the Chargers stink, all they have to do is look at their weather. Buffalo?!! Oh, wait, yeah, Buffalo deserves it. The Bills are all they have. I'm not sure Minnesota belongs ahead of the Jets - sure, they're 0-for-4 in the Super Bowl, but they've been to the Super Bowl 4 times!! They're a pretty successful franchise, recent history notwithstanding. Same thing with Philly - recent history withstanding. So that alone puts the Jets in the top ten. The Jets are pretty miserable - and if they continue to head in the direction they're heading, it'll get even more miserable.

Last thing - I forgot to update yesterday where we stand on the "Matchups That Have Already Happened In The Super Bowl, And Which We Need To Root Against This Year". Right now, all we're left with in this department are:
Redskins vs. Broncos - Super Bowl XXII. We won't have to worry about this one after this weekend - see ya, Redskins.
And Patriots vs. Panthers - Super Bowl XXXVIII. This could be alive another week - Panthers could well beat the Bears, and the Patriots could well beat the Broncos.

Last week we said good-bye to the Broncos-Giants Super Bowl XXI re-match, as well as the possibility of Jacksonville getting its first ever appearance. I maintain the biggest waste of a Super Bowl repeat was the Bengals- 49ers in Super Bowls XVI and XXIII. If Cincinnati is making two Super Bowls, at least give them a different opponent.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Just thought I'd weigh in on the weekend of playoff football:

  • Jacksonville IS the worst 12-4 team of all time.
  • The Giants are awful. What a disaster. I truly think that had I picked the Panthers to win that game, the Giants would have found a way to win. I have nothing against the Giants, I root for them. I don't root for them over the Jets, but I still root for the Giants. I don't like Tom Coughlin, but I really like Tiki Barber, and I root for them. But they clearly hate me, and are out to get me.
  • It's a shame about Carson Palmer. Definitely not a dirty hit. To have it happen on Palmer's first post-season pass...maybe there is a more snake-bitten franchise than the Jets. But they've still been to two Super Bowls.
  • Washington played disgusting football. There is no way they beat the Seahawks in Seattle. No way.
  • The NFL's announcers obviously read johnnyjets.blogspot.com. The use of the word "unbelievable" was definitely curbed this weekend - although it reared its head a few times. Incidentally - this is related to the fact that the best broadcast teams were working these games this weekend - the ESPN Broadcast crew (though Mike Patrick's game in recent weeks has admittedly suffered), Maddens-Michaels, Simms-Nantz (though I don't like Nantz), and Buck-Aikman. The further down the broadcasting depth chart you go, the more the word "unbelievable" appears as a crutch for stupid analysts.
  • In a related story, we're going to have to suffer through Enberg-Dierdorf one more time this season during this coming weekend's games, and it's most likely going to be during the Steelers-Colts game, unless CBS decides the Colts are the prime game, and sends Enberg to Denver. (I will miss the live telecast of the Patriots-Broncos game to attend a BU hockey game with the Brighton, Wilmington, and Upper East Side Bureau Chiefs of JJDBSDC, so I sincerely hope CBS sends Simms and Nantz to Indy.)

Finally, in a new feature, which I will try to get Dave in Brighton to participate in (oops - on the phone with him now, he already looked at the spreads, so he won't participate) -


I have SEA - 8.5 over Washington, with the over/under at (48.5)

DEN - 2.5 over New England (only because it's in Denver), with the over/under at (46.5)

IND -4.5 over Pittsburgh, over/under at (52.5)

CHI -1.5 over Carolina, over/under at (27.5)

Much to my surprise, I learned that the Indy/Pittsburgh spread is 9 right now. That's something.

Finally, thanks to big Jets fan cousin Eddie for letting me know that Terry Bradway was on Mike & The Mad Dog this afternoon, to say the Jets interviewed Jim Haslett (Booooo), will interview Mike Tice (are you kidding me - (I forgot to mention this yesterday - but he is the only thing on this planet that could happen to the Jets that would be worse than Haslett), and apparently will meet with Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini this week about their head coaching position. Not much conversation about Mike Sherman....yet. But the Mangini thing is sure to make news up here in the Boston area - I'll keep my ear close to the ground.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A lot has happened since my last posting, so I will see if I can offer a full recap and some opinion. I will start with an opinion, on the off chance Omar Minaya sees this and takes it under consideration.


I can't believe pro athletes and what they say anymore (see johnnyjets.blogspot.com) but Ramirez tells ESPNdeportes that he no longer wants to be traded, and wants to stay in Boston where he has many friends, especially David Ortiz. (Ortiz has to feel very special to be singled out like that, by the way.) This guy is clearly a head case, who swings a very good bat, but can't be a good influence on the fine core the Mets have built themselves. Do not get Manny. Stop your obsession with him. Let the Sox keep him...or trade him to Baltimore. But don't get involved. Please.

Now, on to what the Mets have done. Miguel Cairo has signed with the Yankees (again), so the Mets have lost another valuable utility man (Marlon Anderson went to the Nationals earlier this offseason). In an attempt to make up for these losses, the Mets signed Bret Boone to a minor league contract. I say this move is worth the risk. Boone, a few years back, was a power-hitting second baseman the likes of which has never before been seen in baseball. Then the steroid scandal hit, and Boone's power numbers dropped like a stone. I'm not implying anything here, I'm just giving you a frame of reference, as far as timing. When the Mariners released him last year (come to think of it, the entire Mariners offense stopped producing when the steroids scandal began - no one notices what goes on in the Pacific Northwest, I guess), I thought it would be a good idea for the Mets to try to pick up Boone. The Twins did, and Boone was brutal with them. So I guess in retrospect it's good the Mets didn't get him then. Now, Boone has another chance to prove he's valuable to a Major League team, and I would love for him to be serviceable at second base.

The Mets made another deal, trading Jae Seo and Tim Hamulack to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Duaner Sanchez and Steve Schmoll. I like that Steve Schmoll's last name is Schmoll, but it's too bad the Mets had to get rid of Seo. He is a very good pitcher, but the Mets never really seemed to want him in their plans. I think it's because of his admitted stubbornness a couple of years ago, which the Mets (and in particular, I think, Rick Peterson) could never get over. In Sanchez, though, the Mets are getting a guy who, along with Aaron Heilman, could be a bridge to Billy Wagner. So that move goes a long way to shoring up the Mets bullpen. Schmoll and Hamulack are a wash, basically. Schmoll's numbers weren't too impressive last year, but I do remember him picking up a couple of saves back when Eric Gagne got hurt, in a couple of good outings, then seeing things turn sour. He may have appeared on my fantasy league roster after those saves (the good outings), just in time for all the succeeding miserable outings.

The Mets' rotation will not suffer from the loss of Seo - and it looks like Kris Benson will be sticking around (much to the relief of our good friends at naturalbl0g.blogspot.com). The rotation will be made up of:
Pedro Martinez*
Tom Glavine
Kris Benson
Steve Trachsel
Victor Zambrano

The plans for Heilman are to keep him in the bullpen, which I am happy with. I would not be happy if he is traded to Tampa Bay for either Danys Baez or Julio Lugo. I like Lugo's numbers, and he could be a long-term solution at second base, but I'm not crazy about the Mets giving up Heilman. If the Mets traded Heilman for Baez, it wouldn't be much of an upgrade. I'll leave it at that. I have my doubts about Baez's ability to pitch for a winning team in pressure spots (he would be setting up Wagner, which by the way, he doesn't want to do). We know what we have in Heilman.

One thing about Pedro Martinez*. He's been complaining about his toe, which acted up on him late last year. My thoughts are that Pedro* will be fine for the regular season. If his past with the Red Sox is any indication, I think Pedro* is talking up the toe problem as a reason he will not have to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, and then he'll come back for spring training, and be ready to pitch for the Mets. Pedro* doesn't like to do the extra-curricular stuff.

5 weeks until spring training!
Welcome back to 1992. Or 1993. Or 1995. Or any other hopeless time in the history of the Jets. Because that's where we're again headed.

I don't know why I trust sports figures. Not just athletes now, but coaches as well. I believed Herman Edwards when he said he wanted to be head coach of the Jets for the next 10 years - way back at the beginning of the season when the Edwards-to-K.C. rumors first started swirling. I believed him again at the end of the season, when Dick Vermeil had announced his retirement, and the rumors kicked up again, and Edwards said he didn't plan on going anywhere. But money speaks loud, very loud, I suppose. And despite Terry Bradway's claims that he wanted Edwards back, lately, he didn't. So Herman Edwards is gone, and all the Jets have in his place is a fourth-round draft pick.

The departure of Edwards isn't the only shoe to drop. No, so many shoes will be dropping in the Jets' offices it will be like an earthquake hit a shoe store. First of all, the players had a very good rapport with Edwards. I'm willing to bet 75% of the players who would have come back to the Jets while Edwards was still head coach will now look elsewhere (some of them may very well consider joining the Kansas City Chiefs). Those who are left behind will toil under a new head coach they will not like nearly as much, and will have to adjust to a new system.

Speaking of new systems, the coaches aren't going to be the same. Remember Mike Heimerdinger's one-year-stint as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets? Yeah, I doubt he'll be back for a new coach...he might, but I doubt it. It actually depends on who the new coach is - more on that later - but if it's an insecure guy who wants his own people in there, Heimerdinger's gone. If it's someone who's comfortable enough in what he does, maybe he'll keep Heimerdinger on, realizing that it would kill the Jets to have to learn another new offense.

Then there's defense. Donnie Henderson is probably not going to get the head coaching position, and I don't imagine he'll be sticking around for another coach. If he goes anywhere else as an assistant, he'll probably re-join Edwards in K.C. He's also being considered for head coaching positions elsewhere.

This is probably a good time to insert the current mailbag - featuring one relevant e-mail (OK, one e-mail at all):


Obviously the playoff picks are important, but the Herm Edwards era is OVER in New York. I know earlier in a BLOG you said you liked him (when I questioned him), but now that he's leaving....thoughts?? How could this happen?? Are you upset?? What sort of coach should be the next coach?? Any specific names??

JJDBSDC Southern Bureau Chief"

Well, I did like Herman Edwards a lot. I really did. Yes, now that it's over, it's easier to see his flaws (get ready for clock management issues, Kansas City), but he was a great motivator, and you could see his players loved playing (and winning) for him. I liked rooting for him. He seemed honest with the media, wearing his heart on his sleeve....until recently. Clearly, I think you can tell I'm upset by this, because the Jets are spiraling into a bad time...because the Jets being the Jets, they will probably make the wrong choice for the next head coach.

The right choice for the next head coach of the New York Jets would be Mike Sherman. The former Green Bay head coach is no-nonsense, and might restore some credibility to a franchise that was heading in the right direction, but has just come crashing back to where it was 15 years ago. I also think he got a raw deal being fired in Green Bay, and it would be a steal for the Jets to be able to scoop him up.

The absolute WRONG choice for the Jets would be Jim Haslett. Here's why. The Jets under Jim Haslett:
2006: 6-10
2007: 7-9
2008: 7-9
2009: 7-9 (fired at the end of the season)
Welcome to mediocrity - or whatever lies just below mediocrity.

The right choice for the Jets would involve someone who doesn't underachieve (*cough* Haslett *cough*), and someone who can make the Jets believe they can win again. And I know I've beaten this drum before, but it has to be someone who believes in Chad Pennington's ability to bounce back and again be a good quarterback. This is probably an entry for a different day, but I saw a post-season interview with Pennington, and he said he's on track for his recovery. 32 weeks after his first surgery, he said, was opening day in Kansas City. 32 weeks after this most recent surgery, he says, will be mini-camp. So this time, he says, time will not be an issue. He's going to go out and compete with whoever else the Jets bring in to challenge him at quarterback, and I believe he's going to win out, and do well again as Jets' quarterback (there I go again, believing what an athlete tells the media). But I am shying away from the thinking that Chad Pennington's career is over.

How about this for an ideal situation, that I just thought up...Mike Sherman is hired as head coach. Pennington comes back, and wins the starting job over new backup....Brett Favre, who retired from Green Bay, but announced he was coming back to play for his old coach (I think he really liked Sherman), and agreed to back up Pennington if Pennington earned the starting job, which he did. That would be something.

I need to vent about something, now a little bit off topic. It's the word "unbelievable". This word has taken over the sports lexicon. Watch any analyst, sports broadcast, or even news show (it's snuck its way into the news lexicon to a point), and chances are you will hear this word used to describe something or someone. I've found lately that nothing is unbelievable, because so many crazy things happen in sports, you just have to believe what you see. But there people are, describing Vince Young's performance in the Rose Bowl as "unbelievable". Or Shaun Alexander's season as "unbelievable" (Oh, by the way - another rant - people are all over Alexander these days, as 'the best player you've never heard of'. No, I've heard of him. He's still the most selfish player in the NFL. He's not an MVP. Remember, last year, Alexander got mad at Mike Holmgren for keeping him out of a one-yard run situation when he could have scored a touchdown, and then he ended up missing the NFL rushing title by a yard? Well, this year he won the rushing title and set a touchdown record, and there's peace and harmony in Seattle. I was watching the Colts-Seahawks game, when Alexander was approaching the record, and he's running in from the sidelines in a goal-line situation to get his touchdown, when Holmgren is calling him back, because he doesn't want him in on that particular play. You might say that's a guy who's excited about playing, I say, based on his track record, that's a selfish player more concerned about individual statistics than team performance. By the way - the reason Holmgren wouldn't want him in in a goal-line situation? Shaun Alexander is a fumbler. And I think he'll cost Seattle a playoff game with his fumbles this year. So there.) Anyway, I get mad at myself whenever I use the word "unbelievable" - I wish others would try to curb their use of the word.

Playoff picks: I really like Washington to beat Tampa Bay today. Tampa is giving 2, but I think Washington will beat them outright. I just think Joe Gibbs has it together there, and can beat Chris Simms in his first playoff start. Also, Washington is probably looking for revenge from Tampa's dramatic comeback win over the Redskins in the regular season. I'll say Washington, 31-10.

I don't want New England to beat the Jaguars tonight. I definitely don't. But I have a feeling they will. Jacksonville claims to be underappreciated this year - I've been calling them the worst 12-4 team ever. They'll earn my respect if they come out and beat a good team. This is a team, mind you, that could only muster 10 points against the 49ers and eke out a 10-9 win. I think Jacksonville keeps it closer than the 7-and-a-half-points in the spread, but New England (disrespected? please give me a break) wins, maybe 23-17.

On Sunday, the Giants-Panthers game is a tough call. Eli Manning is making his first playoff start against a Panthers team that is similar to the one that went to the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, but I think the Giants will win. Maybe it's because they're home, maybe because they've been playing well lately. I say Giants will cover the 2-and-a-half, and win, 27-20.

Then the Steelers visiting the Bengals. This one has Steelers written all over it. The Bengals have been struggling the past few weeks, they've reached the high of making the playoffs. I think Cincinnati will be dangerous next year, but look for Jerome Bettis to score a couple of touchdowns, and the Steelers to easily beat the Bengals, and cover the 3-point spread. I say Pittsburgh, 24-14.

My NFL New Year's Resolution - to cut down on my use of the word 'unbelievable', and realize that all sports figures, head coaches who I trust included, are not to be believed...dare I say, they are 'unbelievable'.