Sunday, December 30, 2007
I watched much of the Jets-Chiefs game, knowing it would be the last time I saw the Jets play for months. I also hoped Chad Pennington would make an appearance in what was likely his last game in a Jets uniform (more on that later in the week). That didn't happen, but I think by watching the game, I have made my peace with Kellen Clemens. If he is the Jets' quarterback in 2008, so be it. I'll never love him...I don't know that I'll ever get very attached to a single Jet ever again...but I'll live with him. Amazingly, in a game just about everyone just wanted to go out and get it over with, the Jets and Chiefs went to overtime. The Jets did win, hurting their draft position a little, but I really don't know enough about this year's draft crop to judge whether or not that's a horrible thing. The way I see it, they should trade the pick and build up a stockpile of picks...unless there's one great player out there.
I want to spend a bit of time, though, talking about the Saturday night game, because that was the best game of the weekend.
I want to reiterate my claim - I do not think the Patriots will go 19-0. If they do, then yes, they can be considered the greatest team of all time. I don't think you can argue that. But they're starting to slip. They're beatable. And I just think 19-0 will be an incredibly hard thing to do. I don't know who it is that will beat them - and I think you can make the argument against me that they will go 19-0, just having to win 3 more games, after a bye week. But those three games won't come easy...and I think the game plan to beat them is out there. It just needs to be executed.
The Giants looked like they had that game plan in place and all but had the Patriots beat Saturday night. But Eli Manning did them in. I've never seen a player go from having a great game to an awful one quicker. Eli looked like Peyton in the first half and on the first drive of the second half, when the Giants took a 28-16 lead. Then it's like he suddenly realized he was on the verge of the biggest win of his career, got nervous, and played horribly, when all the Giants needed was a few first downs to keep the Patriots' offense off the field.
That's not to take the credit away from the Patriots. Tom Brady has the opposite gift of Eli -nothing rattles him. He knew he'd win that game, and went out and did it. The Patriots' defense sensed Eli was getting rattled, and rattled him some more. Brady to Moss didn't work once, so they went right back to it. That's why they're 16-0.
But I still don't think they'll go 19-0. Part of this rationale is my studid heart getting in the way of my head...I just don't like this team. At least with the past few Patriots championship teams they had players you could respect and, in spite of yourself, root for. Those players drowned out the Bill Belichicks and Rodney Harrisons, at least in my view, and made the team tolerable. But this year it seems like the Patriots have suddenly gotten classless, and there are more Rodney Harrison-types than not. There's a lot more "me" guys there...and I'm surprised it's working for them so well. But that's another part of the reason I think their season will end with a loss.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
1) A couple of years ago I was all over the Jaguars, and how, at 12-4, I thought they were fakers. I think I called them the 'worst 12-4 team of all time'. Well, this year they're 11-5, and I think they're better than the 12-4 team. I am buying into David Garrard - I think the Jaguars made a great decision going with him over Byron Leftwich. I've been anti-Fred Taylor the past few years, thinking he's washed up. I take it all back. He's had a fantastic year, and he's splitting time with Maurice Jones-Drew. I think the Jaguars could be dangerous in the playoffs - but it hurts them that they have to go on the road.
2) For you die-hards out there, Anthony Becht is still playing with the Buccaneers. He gets decent playing time (I think, because I haven't spent much time watching Tampa this season), but he is mainly a blocking tight end. He finished the season with 5 catches for 20 yards, but two of those catches were for touchdowns, and another two for first downs. Watch for him next week against the Giants - he always came up big for the Jets in big games.
SITE UPDATE: I think I'll make my playoff picks by Friday night, and you are free to post comments with your picks. I'll pick against the spread, and using the over/under. I urge you to do the same.
Also, please note that I have transferred all of the Jets content to this site, and the Jets site is effectively no more. Thanks.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
First of all, I'm thrilled because it's the right thing to do. One of the great things about the NFL is that it's so accessible. Can't get tickets to your local team? Well, the game will be on free TV. No other league is like that. (Most every game in every other sport is on cable, a few markets notwithstanding.) (Second parenthetical note - if you can get tickets to your local team...if it's not a sellout, it isn't on your local channel - it's blacked out. I think that's fantastic, too - go support your team in person.) So this game has a tremendous amount of interest, and it was only going to be available to a small fraction of fans? That wasn't sitting well with me, and I'm glad the NFL made the decision to put the game on CBS and NBS (it's also on ABC by me...and Channel 9 in New York). I'm not sure it was an issue that merited Congress getting involved, but that's another story for another day.
But the main reason I'm thrilled about this is that it's the last game of the season for the NFL Network, and maybe it will result in Bryant Gumbel's last game on the NFL Network. Not only will the aforementioned small fraction of people with the NFL Network get to see how awful Gumbel is at play-by-play, but now every NFL fan who cares will get a taste of it. And that is satisfying - Gumbel won't be able to hide behind the fact that no one gets the Network to keep his hideousness a secret. Unfortunately, to this point (I'm writing with the score 7-3 Giants, right after the Patriots just kicked a field goal), Gumbel hasn't been terrible. But mark my words....he will.
ON THAT SUBJECT: Drove back from New York today, and listened to the UConn-Wake Forest bowl game on the radio on the way back. I don't remember the names of the broadcasters - but they were friggin' awful. Man. I didn't know what was going on 3/4ths of the time. Especially frustrating because after the 10-0 halftime lead, UConn's 24-10 loss hurt me badly in my bowl pool.
COMING THIS WEEK: I'm off this week, so I plan a week full of updates on the blog. And therefore, I will withhold my wishes for a Happy New Year to you and yours for now.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Both Tennessee and Washington entered Week 16 needing a team to lose, in order to stay alive for the playoffs. For the Titans, it was the Browns, for the Redskins, it was their opponent, the Vikings. Both teams lost, keeping both Tennessee and Washington alive...and not only that, but now they both control their own fate!
Cleveland is in the midst of pulling a minor Detroit job - Detroit was sitting pretty around Thanksgiving, then proceeded to lose 8 games in a row, putting themselves out of contention. The Browns were on the verge of passing Pittsburgh for the division title, and now, after losing a very winnable game in Cincinnati, need Indianapolis to beat Tennessee next week in order to make the playoffs. It doesn't matter what the Browns do against the 49ers - they just need the Titans to lose.
The Jets could have been a major spoiler for the Titans on Sunday - and could have been heroes for the Browns. After the Browns stunk it up in Cincinnati, all the Jets had to do was win, and Cleveland would have had a playoff berth. But the Jets are 3-12 for a reason...as we have documented...and the Titans snuck out a win. (If the Titans are really only a narrow 10-6 victory better than the Jets, by the way, the Browns shouldn't have much to worry about next week when Tennessee plays the Colts. At least Cleveland beat the Jets by six.)
The NFC is a mess...that's how I'll start off talking about the Redskins and Vikings. But the Vikings showed they deserved a playoff spot the past couple of months, and could have clinched one last night at home against the Redskins. Instead, Washington came out and crushed them. So now the Vikings need to beat Denver and hope a Dallas team with everything locked up can beat Washington. Meanwhile, the 'Skins only have to beat a Dallas team that has nothing to play for. If somehow the Redskins and Vikings lose, the Saints, who have no right making the playoffs this year, will get the spot if they beat the Bears.
Obviously, I would love these playoff scenarios a lot more if the Jets were involved. But I like figuring out the ways a team can get in, or out, and I like seeing the unlikeliest scenarios play out. That's fun for me. I guess creating all of these mini-games within the football season is the byproduct of rooting for a team each year that is most likely not going to be playing in January.
I will be updating regularly during the playoffs - at least to give some predictions. I welcome my readers to send me their playoff picks - I think I'm going to predict the over/unders and winners vs. the spread in each game (with a score). That's always fun come playoff time. I challenge all five of you to join me in this venture.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I hate that I've become so cynical - but part of that (or a lot of it, to be honest), is that I've become more honest with myself. I don't believe everything anyone connected with sports says anymore - and it's almost to the point where I don't believe anything anyone connected with sports says anymore.
So it's hard for me to know who to believe in the Mitchell Report. But I'm leaning towards the trainers, and less towards the players.
The trainers really had nothing to lose - well, I guess they had everything to lose - and that's why I believe they were honest. The ballplayers have a lot to lose (hard to say they have everything to lose) - and I think that's why they're not being honest.
Sure, I want to believe Andy Pettitte used HGH for only two days, and his conscience bothered him so much he stopped. Sure, I want to believe Brian Roberts took steroids ONCE, four years ago, and never since. I don't want to believe Roger Clemens never took steroids...but that's fine, because I don't believe any of them.
I am no longer surprised when a (usually football) coach walks out of a contract to take the next best attractive offer that comes along. (Thanks for that, Herman Edwards.) And I am no longer surprised when a player's name is linked to steroids. If Roger Clemens thinks I'm going to believe him any more than a guy named Brian McNamee, he's in the wrong profession. Athletes are no more believable than politicians. They say as little as possible, then hide behind the union. I don't blame them for it - but it damages their credibility. And the Mitchell Report is an instance when the players would have benefitted from having a little credibility left in their corner.
As it is, I'll take the Mitchell Report at its word, and I'll continue to be skeptical about whatever else I hear - especially when the source is a professional athlete.
I'll continue to throw my thoughts about the Mitchell Report out when time allows - I'm on winter vacation now, so there might be some time these next couple of weeks...although I do have some report cards to write. I do intend to write about all of the Mets connections to the report.
CONGRATS TO MY BROTHER: I'm very proud to say that Friday morning, my brother appeared on 'Imus in the Morning', playing with his company band. My brother plays lead guitar and sings, and was the star of the show - Imus raved about him all morning. My brother was also in the New York Daily News on Thursday in a profile of the founder of the band, the manager of a couple of New York City radio stations. After four years of johnnymets.blogspot.com, I think I'm no longer the most famous person in my family.
Monday, December 17, 2007
First of all, Kellen Clemens made the biggest mistake of the game for the Jets, and he only threw one pass. It was a good rush by Richard Seymour, but you can't throw that ball - and if you are going to throw it, you had better make sure that ball goes out of bounds. Throwing an interception right there (on the five-yard line, returned for a touchdown) is a killer.
But then it dawns on Jets fans (or, at the very least, me). I never envisioned, even when I blocked out my common sense, that Kellen Clemens could figure out a way to beat the Patriots. I rationalized that maybe the Jets could get a defensive touchdown and a couple of field goals. But Clemens is really hurt. And the backup.....could it be.....[cue the dramatic music].....what? Brad Smith? Seriously, Eric Mangini?
The Jets went with about the most predictable offense in the world by bringing in Smith to run the ball, and Pennington to pass it. (Predictability - not a formula for success against New England.) There was absolutely no threat of Brad Smith throwing the ball when he was in the game. One play worked - a 49-yard run by Leon Washington on an option. But everything else, the Patriots read perfectly. The Jets finally found some rhythm when Pennington got to run the show a bit. And I was loving it.
But Pennington was plagued by the exact same problems he had when he was the starting quarterback - mistakes by everyone else. Pennington did a great job - 25-38, 186 yards. (For the record, Tom Brady was 14-27 for 140, with an interception.) And in the second quarter, when the Jets blocked a field goal, and ran it in for the touchdown, it was suddenly a 10-7 game, in favor of the Patriots, and the Jets had life.
Unfortunately, the Patriots got (of all things) a blocked punt on the next possession, scored a touchdown a couple of plays later, and the Patriots took a 17-7 lead into halftime.
It was in the second half that Pennington's efforts were wasted. First, in the third quarter, trailing 17-7, the Jets should have had a field goal. The wind was at their backs, and Pennington completed to Chris Baker, and he was short of the first down yardage, but fumbled. 13-0 teams don't fumble in situations like that. 3-10 teams do. No points for the Jets. Patriots ball.
The Jets ended up getting a field goal to make it 17-10 (could have been 17-13), then the Patriots kicked one to make it 20-10 (could have been 20-13). The Jets drove down the field in the fourth quarter, and Pennington hit Justin McCareins with a perfect throw from 7 yards out in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. But McCareins bobbled the throw. Pennington does not have a strong arm. There's no excuse for bobbling that pass. So the Jets have to settle for a field goal, and Mike Nugent misses it. But that's all on McCareins. So instead of a situation that could have possibly tied the game at 20, the Jets turned the ball over and lost the game.
This was frustrating, because the Jets could have won the game. They put enough pressure on Tom Brady to force him to make mistakes, they had their opportunities, they just didn't take advantage of them. But that's why they're 3-11. And that's why the Patriots are 14-0.
PREDICTION: I still stand by my thought that the Patriots will finish the regular season 16-0. But I believe they will not go 19-0 - I think they'll lose in the post-season.
AT LEAST I HAVE THIS: When the 49ers upset the Bengals Saturday night, my thoughts turned to the NFL standings, and the fact that the Patriots own the 49ers' first-round pick. At that point, the Niners were a top five pick. But with the 49ers win, coupled with the Jets' loss, and the Ravens' loss to the Dolphins (among other games) there are now 8 teams with the 49ers at 4-10 or worse. The 49ers still have Tampa Bay and Cleveland on their schedule - so it looks like 4-12 for them - hopefully those other teams do just as poorly and that pick at least stays around 8 or higher.
Friday, December 14, 2007
What I want to spend my time on in Part I is Roger Clemens. First of all, it seems like a lot of people are shocked he was on this list. Really? I might be shocked that he started as early as when he was in Toronto...but not shocked at all that he was there. (P.S. - Why haven't I heard anyone yet using the words, "Maybe Dan Duquette was right.....?")
I am glad Roger Clemens was named in the report mainly for one reason (though there are a lot of other reasons right behind this one)....a white player needed to be prominently featured in this report. And there were a couple. But Roger Clemens compares favorably to Barry Bonds, talent-wise.
I get so tired of hearing about the race aspect of Barry Bonds and steroids. People were saying, "If Bonds was white, he wouldn't be treated this way...." Part of the problem is that Mark McGwire fell off the face of the earth, while Bonds was still playing and was a live target - so there was no white target. (Jose Canseco goes into a separate category, because he was the whistleblower.) Well, this should now take the race issue out of it, because Clemens is getting hit from all angles. His Hall of Fame candidacy is being questioned now, and that should ease the criticism that Bonds is being singled out because he is black. And if it doesn't, or if Clemens is given a pass...then this country still has a serious problem with race, and this will become prime example number one.
A NOTE ABOUT STEROIDS: Early in the day on Thursday, an e-mail made the rounds naming a bunch of high-profile major leaguers as being mentioned in the report. A couple of the names turned out to be accurate, but most were false - because if you name enough players, you're going to hit a couple. I hate that. You could name players all day and come up with a few that are guilty....and a couple who are still guilty who weren't named in the report. While I still feel that most of the players I mentioned on the blog last week probably took steroids, I have deleted that part of the entry, because I don't like the fact that anyone can throw names around and bring down people's reputations unsubstantiated. I know I don't have a ridiculous number of readers, but I felt like taking that down was the right thing to do. I wrote that in an emotional moment, when I was ticked off about this whole steroid thing. I will continue to write about steroids, and the report, but I will keep my thoughts about who else could have/probably did take steroids to myself, and stay with what has been published.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
And I'm Johnnymets' common sense, and I'm here to tell you the way it's really going to be this weekend.
Everyone's talking about how fired up the Patriots are going to be this weekend because of the Jets, and how they "wronged" the Patriots by revealing them as cheaters to the outside world. Eric Mangini broke some unwritten rule about betraying trust, so the Patriots are going to show the Jets what's what and who's who and all that. I say, the Jets will be fired up! You're 3-10. You have a chance to re-write the history books this weekend. If there's ever a game you're going to want to go out and prove yourselves in, this is the one!! How can you not be fired up?! You didn't disrespect the Patriots by breaking an unwritten rule - they're disrespecting you with all this talk about running up the score on you!!!!!
The Patriots never said they were going to run up the score. It's been the media and fans who are talking about the Patriots putting up 70 points on the Jets. The Patriots have just gone about their business. You'd better believe, though, that they have had this game circled on their calendars for a long time. They feel like the Jets disrespected them. And no team is better at turning disrespect into a beating on the field than the Patriots.
What about the running game? When was the last time the Patriots ran the ball well? October? And they couldn't stop Willis McGahee a couple of weeks ago. Thomas Jones will run up and down on that team. They've been exposed the past couple of weeks, and that works to the Jets advantage.
hahahaha. Thomas Jones? What has he done this year? One rushing touchdown??? That's only one more than I have. The Jets haven't had as ineffective a red zone runner since Blair Thomas. And the Patriots will be just fine running the ball against the joke that is the Jets' defense. Even if they don't....they seem to be doing OK throwing the ball.
My only hope is that the Jets don't open their mouths this week. Sure, you might say this trash-talking stuff means nothing once the game starts, but the Jets don't need to give the Patriots any incentives. They need to treat this week like business as usual, and then let their actions on the field Sunday speak for them.
The Jets don't need to say anything else to get the Patriots fired up. They did their damage in Week 1 - which, by the way, the Patriots won, 38-14. Pretty handily, I'd say. I suspect the only thing the Jets' actions will be saying on Sunday is "We are an inferior football team".
Finally, I need this Jets win. It's tough enough as it is living here in New England as a Jets fan, while the Jets are awful, without the Patriots going undefeated. I don't need that to continue. Plus, my fantasy football season is over...I need this game to give me one highlight of this football season.
Maybe if you used me once in a while when you made your picks, you wouldn't be having such an awful football season. You keep using that stupid heart of yours. Nice work drafting Matt Leinart in the fantasy league this year, by the way. How has that worked out? Marvin Harrison too?
This isn't about my fantasy league. We don't need to drag that out now.
OK. Right. So I shouldn't mention that I knew you were going to lose to your brother, even though he doesn't even care, barely checks his team, and beat you soundly in a must-win situation for you, when he was already out of playoff contention.
There's no need to mention that.
What do you care? It's not like anyone reads the blog anyway.
OK. Stop it. I pick the Jets to pull off the upset of the decade this weekend, and beat the Patriots, 13-10. (There might be some weather to contend with on Sunday, too.)
Yeah, 'whether' or not the Patriots will get to 100 points. I say Patriots 52, Jets 10.
Friday, December 07, 2007
I'll take advantage of this news, though, to comment on the Winter Meetings....
Anyway, the Mets were quiet during the Winter Meetings, other than to have Omar Minaya raise false hope at times (giving Mets fans reason to believe the Mets still had an outside chance at Johan Santana), or telling us that the Mets are set the way they are right now (doubtful).
I do believe the Mets have a chance at Santana. I don't think he's going anywhere now until the trade deadline. Unlike Mark Buehrle, I don't think Santana will work out an 11th hour deal with the Twins. He will be traded, but it will come later. And I think the Mets have a real shot, and....full circle here....I think the MLB 2K8 cover boy still could be wearing a different uniform by the end of the season.
Sorry I didn't update during the meetings like I thought I would. My mind is focused on the two weeks left until winter vacation. We're getting there...
FOOTBALL NOTES: I'm not a betting man, but for entertainment purposes only, I'd take the Steelers plus the points this week. I think they might beat the Patriots. If not them, I think the Patriots might finish the regular season undefeated. And if they do, I have a feeling they're going to lose in the playoffs. Just my two cents on that.
ANOTHER BLOG: Joining the Southern Bureau (see the 'Orange Couch' link to the right), and Dave in Brighton (naturalbl0g), Justin From NYC finally has his blog. I say finally because of the four of us, he's the one who should have had one from the beginning. It's about politics, and it's through 1010 WINS in New York. See the link at the right - Talking Politics. Should be lots of fun.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I can't say I was rooting for the Jets this week...but I am glad that they didn't become the one win on the Dolphins' record.
It's hard to remember now, because of how poorly the Dolphins have played in recent years, but there's no one in football I hate more than the Dolphins. I would love for them to be the team that matched Tampa Bay's mark of futility by going winless for an entire season.
And when you see a team give up 40 points to the Jets, you have to figure they're not going to beat anyone the rest of the way. Thomas Jones hadn't been able to get in the end zone all season...he did against the Dolphins.
In 12 games, the Jets have now scored more than 30 points just three times. Once was against the Cincinnati Bengals, who have an awful defense, and still managed to find a way to stop the Jets and win the game. The other time (besides Sunday) was the other time the Jets played the Dolphins, a 31-28 Jets win.
The Dolphins could win a game this year. They still have to play Buffalo, Baltimore, New England, and Cincinnati. Desperate teams sometimes accomplish major upsets...I don't think Miami will beat the Patriots, but they could upset the Bills or Ravens. The other side of that, though, is no one wants to be that team that loses to the Dolphins...exhibit A was Sunday in Miami. If the Jets can do it, and put up 40 in doing so, the Dolphins don't have a chance against anyone else.
One last point about the Jets before we get back to the hot stove talk the rest of the week: One positive thing out of this season has been the different throwback uniforms teams have worn. While some have been misses (the Eagles come to mind), the Jets have been a hit, wearing the gold and blue of the New York Titans (the name the Jets had before they became the Jets). (On a personal note, and in the interest of full disclosure, yellow and blue are also my favorite colors.) Each team wore the throwbacks a couple of times this year - I think the Jets are done, because they also wore the Titans uniforms against the Giants in October. I noticed last week the Browns had numbers on their helmets - I think that was their throwback edition. Anyway, I love those types of things. Here's a look at the highlight of the Jets' 2007 season - the uniform of a team that no longer even exists (it's my blog, so I choose to show a picture of Kellen Clemens getting sacked. Petty? Yes.):
Saturday, December 01, 2007
(A part of me thinks this deal is Omar Minaya's way of responding to the critics who accuse him of racism [or ethnicism, I guess] by acquiring only Hispanic players. I can imagine him saying, "You want some white players? Here are some white players. Guess what? They suck! Hispanic players are better. Do you see my point now?")
That said, there are some pieces to this off-season puzzle that I have firmly in my grasp, that I want to make sure I get out there, on what has turned out to be a quiet day baseball-wise.
First of all, and I haven't had a chance yet to mention this, Omar Minaya came out on Thursday to say that the Mets would not be trading Jose Reyes. Of course, the cynic in me wants to know when someone has ever told the truth in that situation, but I sort of believe it. So maybe Reyes is sticking around...or at least being held for a different blockbuster.
I don't think the Mets are getting Johan Santana. I'm not sure who is at this point, but it seems like the Twins want young pitchers that the Mets just don't have. I also wonder whether or not Santana is going to be traded this far before the trade deadline - by trading Matt Garza, the Twins left themselves a hole in their rotation - would they trade Santana too? Or if they did, they need a major-league ready pitcher, which the Mets can't offer....or the Twins don't want.
On that note, the Mets look to be kind of set for themselves in the young pitcher department, with Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey. I still think these guys will turn out to be solid, effective pitchers. Nothing spectacular, but they'll provide pitching depth. The problem with Pelfrey and Humber is that they are not going to land the Mets any big trading fish...because no one likes them as bait. They are the Mets' two best pitching prospects...but no one really thinks too highly of them.
Who do the Mets have that they could trade? The big name right now that would be part of a deal for a pitcher for the Mets is outfielder Carlos Gomez. He's speedy, and had a good start to his major league career with the Mets before breaking a bone in his hand. He is part of what the Mets imagine their outfield of the future to look like...but he might not be around for long. Also, it looks like the lefty-hitting Brian Schneider will stay a Met, to platoon with righty Ramon Castro...while Johnny Estrada will be shipped.
So if Santana is out of the question, who might the Mets land? This is where it gets good. How about Erik Bedard? If he's a Met come April, I'll be thrilled. I'd also be happy (but to a much lesser extent - you know how I feel about Erik Bedard) if the rumors about Dan Haren are true. He's a good pitcher. Joe Blanton is a big drop-off from those two names, and the Mets are also interested in him....but if you asked me which of the three would be most likely to be a Met in the spring, his name would come up.
One more thing - I'm not sure how I missed this, but I guess Rickey Henderson is no longer with the Mets. The Mets' record wasn't awful after he joined the team, but individuals, most notably Jose Reyes, saw their performances decrease after his arrival. The reason I noticed he's not coming back is that Tom Nieto, the Mets catching instructor, appears to be the front-runner for the job. Hmm...again, no Hall of Famer Gary Carter. Might he be in line for a catching instructor job?
That's where we're at right now. There's a lot going on on the hot stove - I'll do my best to keep updating through the winter...especially with the Winter Meetings just getting underway.