Forgiveme baseball fans, but I have to take a small timeout from baseball in
order to get Jets’ fans ready for the first step back to
respectability. I know many Jet-setters are still hung over from the
debacle of the 2005 season. So, I’m here to tell all ye faithful,
things are looking up and 2006 should be a fun season for Jets’
First, and most importantly, we have a real coach. Herm "Ham and Eggs" Edwards is gone (Yeah!) and Eric "Serious Biz" Mangini
is our new captain. This change at the top is the most important
improvement the Jets could have made in the off-season (not that
"Benedict" Edwards gave us much of a choice). Anyone who has worked for
and received accolades from Bill Bellichek is alright in my book.
Mangini has made three important changes right off the bat: 1)
He has instilled DISCIPLINE- Edwards practices were infamously known as
"player friendly". At the onset of camp Mangini immediately stepped on
players’ toes with practice sessions that made Herm’s camp look like a
ballerina school. Two-a-days and
full gear were the norm and if you weren’t ready to go, as Justin
McCareins found out early (when our new captain failed him in his
physical), Mangini was ready to call you out. 2) The
Jets will now employ a 3/4 Defense allowing the talented Jets’
linebackers to tackle the running backs and control the short passing
game. Anyone who watched a Jets’ game last season was well aware of the
Jets inability to prevent getting dunked to death by backs and tight
ends. The new defensive scheme should also allow the Jets to disguise
their defense more successfully and hopefully lead to more turnovers. 3)
The Jets got younger- eight of the Jets ten draft picks have made the
final roster. Two of them will start on a rejuvinated offensive line.
44 of the Jets’ 53-man roster are under 30 years old. Younger doesn’t
always mean better, but in the Jets’ case I believe it does. Other than
running back, the Jets should be improved in just about every facet of
You want to win football games? It all begins with controlling the
line of scrimmage. The Jets will have three new starters on their line
in 2006. Gone are longtime center Kevin Mawae and left tackle Jason Fabini. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the number four overall pick in the draft, takes over as Pennington’s blindside protector and maybe the best left tackle the Jets have ever had, while Nick Mangold, their other first rounder and the bounty from the John Abraham
deal, brings youth and speed under the quarterback. The Jets further
bolstered their line by signing effective journeyman and former secound-round pick Anthony Clement to take over for Adrian Jones
at right tackle. The sometimes overmatched Jones will now be free to
backup both tackle positions. The two returning starting members are
unsung right guard Brandon Moore and left guard Pete Kendell who is probably still the Jets’ best offensive lineman. Versatile longtime Buffalo Bill Trey Teague
will be the top backup guard and center. Overall, this line looks to be
faster, healthier and younger than the 2005 version. Since Kendell and
Ferguson are firmly implanted on the left side, the Jets will most
likely find that to be their favorite side to run to. With the presence
of D’Brick "Wall" covering Pennington’s blindside, Jet fans can also
expect Chad to have a much better shot at ending the season in the
"Chad drops back, he looks left, he looks right, he fires over the
middle, TOUCHDOWN!". Yes, I am one of the believers. I am going on
record right now to predict that Chad Pennington
will be in the top eight by seasons end in QB rating. I wasn’t sure if
Chad could really be the Jets starting QB again until I saw him throw
one pass to Laverneaus Coles at the end of the first half of the Jets’
third preseason game against
the Giants. It was the crisp, sparkling, accurate kind of a throw that
I haven’t seen from him in a couple of years. But, most importantly the
ball had Zipppppp! Yes, Chad’s injuries have been bad. Yes, Chad’s
performance since the injuries has been bad. But, Chad’s heart and mind
have never been bad. In fact, his overall performance was pretty darn
good until the shoulder woes.
If Pennington’s shoulder doesn’t hold up, GM Mike Tannenbaum has done well to bring us a youthful alternative in Oregon’s Kellen Clemens.
Clemens, the Jets’ second-round pick, has all the tools to succeed— a
strong arm, good pocket-presence, quick reads, and a burning fire in
his belly. Clemens will probably play third fiddle for a bit while
strong-armed veteran Patrick Ramsey fills the back-up role, but Kellen should get the call in case Chad goes down for an extended period of time.
Let the competition begin! With Curtis Martin’s career in serious jeapordy, the Jets will rely on a three -headed committee approach. Derrick Blaylock should see most of the snaps in the early going as recently acquired Kevan Barlow and second year runner Cedric Houston
work as changeup backs. However, nothing is set in stone. Mangini will
go with the hot-hand until one of the three can separate from the
pack. Boy, Lamont Jordan sure would look good right about now!
the three, only Barlow has ever rushed for 1000 yards (In 2003 he had
1024 yards and 5.1 Avg./ Per Carry). Barlow, a classic in between the
tackles power runner, has struggled the past two seasons, but is still
only 27 years old and has been sturdy health-wise over the
course of his career. He could be motivated to prove his worth after
averaging a career low 3.3 yards/per carry last season.
Blaylock showed his talent two seasons ago (2004) for the Chiefs
when he backed up the beat up Priest Holmes. In the only season in
which he has seen extended playing time, Blaylock ran for 539 yards and
a 4.6 Avg./Per Carry with 8 touchdowns. Blaylock is much smaller than
Barlow and more of a slasher than a smasher.
Martin went down last season Houston showed his mettle. While his 3.7
Avg./Per Carry was nothing to write home about, Houston showed the
tenacity and discipline to eventually be an effective runner. Houston
is a cross between Barlow and Blaylock in that he is tough enough to
run in between the tackles, but has the instincts and quickness to pop
one to the outside.
While the committee might not provide the most exciting running
attack in the NFL, one player who could provide excitement will be
rookie running back Leon Washington. This Dave Meggett-like
jitterbug will be the prime third-down back and kick returner. Don’t be
surprised if Washington becomes one of Pennington’s favorite targets in
an offense that will heavily rely on the short passing game.
B.J. Askew will be relied on as
the lead blocking fullback. Askew is a former third-rounder who has
reached the put-up or shut-up stage of his career. If B.J. misses too
many of his assignments as he is apt to do, former Buckeye fullback Jamar Martin will be plugged in to play pit-bull for the running backs.
There might be nobody happier to see Chad Pennigton back under center than Laveranues Coles.
Coles’ best season was his last one with Chad. In 2002 Coles snared 89
balls for 1264 yards and 5 touchdowns. Look for Laveranues to be
Pennington’s first, second and maybe third option in the passing game.
Jerricho Cotchery showed steady
improvement last season as the number three receiver. Mangini and his
crew were so impressed with him in camp that they decided it was time
for Jerricho to start. With Coles receiving most of the double teams,
Cotchery should see a lot of balls tossed his way. At six feet tall
Cotchery has good size for a receiver and has shown the courage and
focus to go across the middle without hesitating.
Justin McCareins has been
demoted. No longer a starter, McCareins might turn into one of the
better third receivers in the NFL. At 6’2", McCareins is the tallest of
the Jets’ receivers and with a more open passing attack he should receive
ample opportunity to catch more than the 43 balls he caught last
Veteran Tim Dwight will supply
the speed in case Pennington’s arm feels up to throwing downfield. Even
at 31 years old, Dwight still possesses sprinter speed and will be the
Jets’ slot receiver on third downs and alternate punt returner.
The most fun receiver of the bunch will be the Jets’ version of Antwaan Randle El, former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith.
Smith electrified Jets’ fans this preseason in every facet of the
offense. He burst onto the scene in the second preseason game against
Washington when he showed off his running ability by dashing 61-yards
for a touchdown on a double reverse. In the final preseason game
against Philly, Brad showed the whole package. In the first he snagged a
37-yard pass over the middle from Kellen Clemens. Then in the fourth he
finished off a Jets’ comeback by stepping in at quarterback and leading
the Jets on two scoring drives. He completed 2-of-4 for 13 yards and
ran 4 times for 31 yards, including the go ahead touchdown on a 9-yard
scamper. Don’t be surprised to see Smith under center a couple of times
a game, especially when the Jets get into the Red Zone.
Not much to write about here. The Jets have basically improved by subtraction. With the trade of last years starter Doug Jolly, Chris Baker
will be the main man at the end of the line. While not a great blocker,
Baker showed some very soft hands as a receiver before an early
season-ending injury. Look for Baker to have his best season yet and
become Pennington’s main bailout option.
Late in camp the Jets added big Sean Ryan through a trade with Dallas. Ryan will be the Jets main blocking tight end. At 6’8" Zachary Hilton,
a waiver pickup from New Orleans, provides a huge frame for Pennington
in the Red Zone. Hilton who caught 35 passes last season will be
Mike Nugent had a successful
rookie season for the Jets hitting on 79% of his FG while converting on
all his XP. However, Nugent has yet to connect from longer than 50 yards and will need to provide deeper kickoffs if he wants to live up
to his second-round draft status.
If the Jets offense is going to make any substantial improvements these five will have to shine:
QB Chad Pennington
WR/QB Brad Smith
LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson
WR Laveranues Coles
RB/KR Leon Washington
Coming Soon: Jets’ Defense Preview
Every year, the final player taken in the NFL draft is known as Mr. Irrelevant. The name stems from the basis that while good enough to be drafted, these players rarely make an NFL roster. The first Mr. Irrelevant to make an NFL roster was Fred Dreher, a tight end from Denver University taken by the Bears in 1938. He ended up catching three passes for 69 yards and a touchdown in three games. He was never relevant to Chicago again as the Bears cut him by seasons end.
The most famous Mr. Irrelevant was probably kicker Rolf Benirschke who the Oakland Raiders drafted with the 335th pick out of Cal-Davis in 1977. Benirschke would be cut by the Raiders, but was scooped up by the San Diego Chargers where he set 16 team records over a 10-year career and later was inducted into the Chargers’ Hall of Fame. He is the only Mr. Irrelevant ever to be chosen to a Pro Bowl (1983). Another Mr. Irrelevant who is very relevant these days in New York is Tiki Barber’s escort, fullback Jim Finn. Finn was taken out of the University of Penn by the Bears with the last pick of the 1999 draft. Chicago cut him, but he spent two succesful years with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Giants in 2003.
This year’s Mr. Irrelevant is Kevin McMahan, a wide receiver from the University of Maine. The Raiders chose him with the 255th pick and can only hope he has the same fate as their 1977 pick, Benirschke. He will be the grand marshall for the Mr. Irrelevant parade in Newport Beach, California where he will be presented with the Lowsman trophy, a takeoff on the Heisman trophy.
The Next Antwaan Randle El?
In 2002 the Pittsburgh Steelers created a new position of sorts when they turned collegiate
quarterback Antwaan Randle El into an offensive hybrid, wide-receiver/quarterback. The effects of Randle El’s rare abilities were never more
apparent than in the 2005 AFC playoffs, where twice the
Steelers used his passing skills to score two trick-touchdowns. One of the defensive recipients of the Steelers chicanery, the Cincinnati Bengals, were so impressed they decided to draft their own potential Randle El. With the 193rd pick (6th rd) the Bengals drafted Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal. McNeal has Michael Vick type speed (4.4 / 40 yard sprint) and a good frame (6’2" 209 lbs.) to play wide receiver.
Another team that wouldn’t mind recreating Antwaan is our own New York Jets. They drafted Missouri quarterback, Brad Smith, with the 103rd pick (4th rd). Smith has a very similar build to McNeal, and while not as fast, is quite the runner. He holds the Division 1-A career rushing record for quarterbacks with 4,289 yards. He is also the only Division 1-A quarterback to ever throw for over 8,000 yards and rush for over 4,000 yards in his collegate career.
Denzel Washington won a best actor Oscar for his performance in the 2001 blockbuster movie, "Training Day". This term will have a new meaning for his son, John David Washington, when he tries to make the Los Angeles Rams this summer during training camp. The Rams signed the younger Washington as an undrafted free-agent running back. And if anyone thinks his opportunity had anything to do with his father’s star influence, think again! Washington is the leading all-time rusher in Morehouse College history with 3,699 yards. Denzel Washington played one year of college football for Fordham University. In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the elder Washington spoke about his son achieving what he could not, "For a kid to have that dream and be this close, and for a dad who had the same dream and didn’t make it, needless to say I’m very proud and happy for him. . . . Nothing would make me happier than to be known as John David Washington’s dad."
The NY Jets’ Mike Tannebaum era is in full swing as the 2006 NFL Draft approaches. To recap—in the last month the new GM has obtained an extra first rounder (29th pick) in exchange for disgruntled pass rusher, John Abraham; he has signed KR/WR Tim Dwight (Chargers); LB/Special Teams standout Matt Chatham (Patriots); veteran DE Kimo Von Oelhoffen (Steelers); free agent LB/FB Micheal Warren; traded a sixth round pick for former first rounder, QB Patrick Ramsey (Redskins); and resigned TE Chris Baker. He has said goodbye to 2005 starters, LT Jason Fabini; C Kevin Mawae; CB Ty Law; FB Jerald Sowell; and backup QB Jay Fiedler. Versatile G Jonathan Goodwin is also likely to sign elsewhere. To shave more money off their budget, Tannenbaum, a salary cap guru, has quietly restructured many of the Jets’ key veterans contracts for the 2006 season.
So, where does that leave the Jets with about a month to go before draft day? Well, it leaves them with a lot of holes to fill, a lot more money to spend, and NINE draft picks- including two first rounders and three of the first 35 picks.
The question that will fill Jets’ chat rooms for the next month is- Who to take with their first
rounder? A Trojan, a Cavalier, a Longhorn, a Commodore or a Wolf?
Jets’ draft day speculation seems to change by the hour. Since the dismal 2005 campaign ended and Benedict Edwards bolted
town, the main
mantra in the New York sports media has been- "Franchise Quarterback". Southern Cal’s lefty slinger Matt Leinart seems
to be the top gun of the three QBs that are expected to go in the first
ten picks, and the favorite among most scouts. He is expected to go no
later than the third pick (Titans), so if the Jets (fourth pick) want
him they will have to trade up with either Tennessee or New Orleans (second pick).
Since they have so many needs though, there is a legion of Jets’
faithful that favor trading down from the fourth position to stockpile
more picks, or at least staying put so they don’t have to sacrifice any
of their current arsenal. This latter strategy would mean that the Jets’
would have to go with Texas’ QB Vince Young or Vanderbilt’ QB Jay Cutler
if they want a young stud to groom as their future play caller. It is
more likely though that the Jets will draft Virginia’s behemoth LT D’Brickashaw
Ferguson or North Carolina State’s dominating DE Mario Williams, if they decide not to trade up for
For the Jets’ to land Leinart it looks like they’re going to have to trade both of their first rounders (#4 and #29). That is a lot to surrender to move up one or two spots. The way I look at it- if the Jets stay put they will be assured of either Ferguson or Williams. D’Brickashaw is the type of franchise
left tackle that comes around maybe once every five to ten years. He is Jonathan Ogden (Ravens), Orlando Pace (Rams), Walter Jones (Seahawks) and more. Some scouts believe this 6’7" giant is going to revolutionize the Tackle position with athletic skills you’re more likely to find in the NBA than the NFL. He has the type of footwork and quickness to handle the top speed rushers, guys like Dwight Freeney (Colts) and Osi Umenyori (Giants). When coaches and scouts speak about personality, terms like ‘natural born leader’ and ‘unquestionable integrity’ ooze out. He is a top notch character guy with a degree in religious studies and a black belt in karate. Drafting the Long Island native would be a shrewd move, it would also anchor an offensive line that is riddled with question marks and has an extreme lack of depth.
There is a chance the Saints will grab D’Brickashaw with the second pick. In this case that would leave defensive end extraordinaire Mario Williams for the Jets to scoop up. The 6’7" Wolpack’ dominator is an explosive, ready made replacement for the departed John Abraham. With the newly
signed Von Oelhoffen pushing 35 years of age, Bob Sutton’s (Defensive Coordinator) defensive line could use some reinforcement. One scouting report recently had this to say about Mario, "Williams is the texbook physical example of the new breed of defensive end. He’s 20 lbs. heavier than most edge rushers, but still very long and muscular. With his long arms and powerful legs, he can engage tackles at the point of attack, not only working them over to get to the quarterback, but being a serious factor in a team’s run defense as well. One thing that Williams has that makes NFL scouts ‘ooh and aah’ is instincts. He is one of the best defensive linemen in the country at diagnosing a play quickly and going to the football. His nose for the ball is what makes him a human highlight reel. Fast like a top-tier linebacker and twice as strong, he shows good technique, and makes sure he brings the player down, rather than always going for the kill shots – he saves those for quarterbacks".
Carl The Cabbie
Super Bowl XL is upon us, and coaches Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher are busy preparing their teams for battle in the National Football League’s main event. Come Sunday- the scouting, the practicing, the strategizing, the game planning will be done, and all that will be left for the coaches to do could be the most important job of all. The job will be to stir the troops, rally the spirit, to lead their men out of that locker room believing with every ounce of their hearts and souls that they are going to win. As the pre-game hysteria culminates, there will be a moment just before the player introductions, deep in Ford Field beneath the din of Super Bowl madness, when the two coaches will be faced with a final golden opportunity to leave a lasting impression- some inspired words that can spur their team into football immortality… Helluva responsibility! My advice to Holmgren and Cowher is, if you get a little tongue-tied before the big speech, remember, you can always call on Lombardi. A little Vince goes a long way.
Vince Lombardi Quotes:
"A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe
in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication,
the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little
things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it
can be done."
"Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about.
They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved
"Teams do not go physically flat, they go mentally stale."
"Mental toughness is many things and rather difficult to explain. Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind-you could call it character in action."
"Winning isn’t everything–but wanting to win is."
"Winning is not a sometime thing: it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do the right thing once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing."
"They call it coaching but it is teaching. You do not just tell them…you show them the reasons."
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender."
Then Click On Audio Player
Listen To Vince Lombardi
*The name of this running column has changed from "Dear Herm"
I warned you. The charade is up! Even a one-eyed blind mouse could see
this comin’. Herm was out the door in early November, (Read my "Dear Herm" from 11/21) the moment Vermeil started singing like a swan. Herm Edwards‘
marriage with the Chiefs has been the worst kept secret since Larry
Brown blatently two-faced his way out of Detroit. Herm has a long
history with the Chiefs’ organization and his loyalties with them run
deep. Former coach **** Vermeil gave him his start in the NFL by signing him as an undrafted free-agent for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1977. President Carl Peterson
gave Herm his first coaching break in 1989 when Herm joined the Chiefs
as a participant in the NFL’s Minority Coaching Fellowship program. He
became an assistant under long time Chiefs’ coach Marty Scottenheimer and had several different coaching roles between 1990-1995. From 1996-2001 he was a lead assistant coach under Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay. The Jets hired him in 2001 after Al Groh resigned.
So, while Herm is busy folding his pajamas, all that’s left to figure out
is how high a draft pick the Chiefs will give the Jets for them to let
Herm walk. I say that Woody Johnson (Jets’ owner) should tip
his cap to Herm, thank him for his dedication, wish him all the best,
and then tell Peterson, ‘Herm is all yours… Oh! And by the way, we’ll
take your 2nd and 3rd round draft picks for the next two years’ (the
length left on Herm’s present contract with the Jets). Hey, business is
business. We gave up a first rounder and three other picks to get Bill Parcells and we got a first rounder back (Shaun Ellis) in the Bill Bellichek fiasco— Peterson should be overjoyed to get his darling Herm for such a bargain basement rate.
It’s a very sweet story for KC, I can just read the headlines now— ‘Longtime
assistant returns home’, ‘Grand Master coach **** Vermeil passes the
mantle’, ‘KC turns from Verm to Herm’. Here in New York though, you’re more likely to read— ‘Herm the Worm slinks out of town’, ‘Benedict
Edwards’, ‘Thanks for Nuthin!‘
When the New York media first got wind of conversations between
Edwards and Peterson in early November, Herm’s snippy responses to
their inquiries was down right shameful. Granted, it’s a tough position
to be in—talking to a another team about being their new head coach
while you still have half a season to coach with your current team. I
mean what was Herm going to say to his players in the lockeroom, "Guys,
I know we’ve lost our two top quarterbacks, our center, our left
tackle, our right guard, our strongside linebacker, the strength coach,
the waterboy and Curtis isn’t feeling too well. It’s tough being 2-6
and the possibilities of us making the playoffs are pretty much, well,
that’s not important. What is important is that I believe in you! I
want you to play your godda*n hearts out there. Not for Me, not for
Curtis or Chad, not for the playoffs or the waterboy, but for pride!
Pride in yourselves, pride in each other and pride in this team. Oh,
and by the way, I’m hopping a flight to KC the minute the season’s
over, don’t take it personal, they’re just a better team."
Well, it’s time to bid adieu, so these are my final words to you Herm,
I wish you the best in Hank Stram
land and commend you for your good karma— you are darn lucky Woody
doesn’t rake you, Peterson and Vermeil over the coals for breaking the
NFL’s tampering rules. And please stop flashing that dopey smirk of yours, it waxes insincere. I hope that Woody gets a first rounder for you;
I hope that the draft pick we get in return becomes an All-Pro and
helps us knock you out of the playoffs next year; I hope that the
Chiefs’ offense becomes as predictable as you made the Jets’ offense;
and I hope that the next coach the Jets hire (Giants’ defensive
coordinator, Tim Lewis would put some bite back into the Jet’s
snout) is more than just a good talker, but is also a good
coach—Jets’ fans deserve it! Goodbye Mr. Edwards and GOOD RIDDANCE!
**You can read all the "Dear Herm" letters by going to the ‘Coaching’ category of this blog.
I would like to apologize for my rabid overreactions over the past few weeks. While I still hold true to all the grievences I’ve written you in the past, I tip my cap to you. It looks like your players haven’t jumped ship. The Jets never quit and if not for that bogus intentional grounding call, Mike Nugent would be slathered in Dom Perignon right about now. Ya know Herm, I think you’re actually a good leader, a real good man, but I do think we would benefit by bringing in a new coach next season. Anyway, great job this week. Martin ran well, and Bollinger was a catylist. But, I’ve got to give the Jets Player of the Game to Nugent. So, he falls short by a lousy foot on a 53-yard Field Goal (FG) attempt on the final play of the game—Nugent kicked his heart out and accounted for most of the Jets’ offense on the night.
Jets Player of the Game Week 12
FGM FGA LNG (Yds) PTS
4 5 (45) 13
The Jets have become completely unwatchable. I know, you know and everyone in Kansas City knows you’re going to replace **** Vermeil as the Chiefs’ head coach at season’s end. Your Larry Brownesque comments this past week about your desire to remain as the Jets’ coach next year were so duplicitous that I hear Lewis Libby prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been hired by Jets’ owner Woody Johnson to look into perjury charges should you weasel your way out of your contract. You said you want to be here in your press conference but, you kept saying that the most important thing is that you leave this team better than it was before you got here, so the next coach has something to build on. Well, thanks for nothing Herm, because whoever takes over is going to have to start from scratch. Next time you want to boost morale on a team that has been decimated by injuries, try zipping your lip.
Notes to general manager, Terry Bradaway— Fire Herm before he has a chance to jump ship; hire Jim Fassel (a real stand up guy with an actual offensive gameplan); draft USC star running back Reggie Bush if he’s still on the board and go trade for Chargers’ quarterback (QB) Phillip Rivers, or Eagles’ QB Mike McMahon, or Falcons’ QB Matt Schaub. Let’s get this ship righted the minute the season ends. Jets’ fans deserve the best and one thing I’ve learned over the last few seasons is that Herm Edwards is not the best.
Some readers might think I am being especially tough on Herm, but it’s only because I can’t stand coaches who check out when the going gets tough. If the Chiefs’ job does open up next season, as it appears it will, and Herm decides to stay with the Jets, I will eat my words and post a personal apology to Mr. Edwards on this blog. As a betting man, I would say the odds of that happening are a million to one.
Week 12 Jets Player of the Game Week 11
Return To Sender
What a week in the NFL. Two return records were set and 17% of all the return touchdowns this season were posted in Week 10. Between special teams and defenses there were a total of ten return touchdowns. Six came via special teams and four via defenses. They were the most return touchdowns for any given week in the NFL this season.
Who needs an offense to win games? The Minnesota Vikings became the first team in NFL history to have a kickoff (Koren Robinson– 86 yards), a punt (Mewelde Moore– 71 yards) and an interception (Darren Sharper-92 yards) returned for touchdowns in the same game. That explains how the Giants’ offense could dominate the ball for over 35 minutes and outgain the Vikings’ offense, 405 yards to 137 yards and still lose to Minnesota, 24-21. In addition to giving up two special teams’ touchdowns, their automatic kicker, Jay Feely missed a 28 yard chip shot and kick returner Willie Ponder fumbled away the opening kickoff to further aggravate a Giant special team meltdown.
The Windy City was the sight of another NFL record. With winds gusting at almost 50 mph, San Francisco 49ers’ kicker, Joe Nedney layed into a 52 yard field goal attempt on the last play of the first half. The wind took hold and the ball sailed to the back of the end zone. What happened next would become the longest return of any kind in NFL history. Bears’ starting right cornerback, Nathan Vasher settled under Nedney’s windswept pigskin, as he caught it he began running towards the left sideline, the Niners’ defenders overpursued leaving an opening along the right sideline. Vasher suddenly changed gears, reversed direction and proceeded 108 yards down the field behind a sea of orange jerseys to score the touchdown that would break the record. Up until Sunday, Baltimore Raven’s cornerback, Chris McAlister held the mark. He returned a missed field goal 107 yards in 2002.
Kudos to the other romping returners who scored touchdowns this past week: Jaguars’ middle linebacker, Mike Peterson rambled 26 yards after an errant pass by Ravens’ quarterback, Kyle Boller; Broncos’ rookie right cornerback, Darrent Williams galloped 80 yards after a pick off of Raiders’ quarterback, Kerry Collins; Panthers’ linebacker, Will Witherspoon put the nail into the Jets’ coffin with a 35 yard interception return off of quarterback, Brooks Bollinger; Redskins’ running back, Ladell Betts broke a 94 yard kickoff return against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Cleveland Browns’ right cornerback, Leigh Bodden returned a blocked field goal 59 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers; and finally, with under three minutes to go, Cowboys’ strong safety, Roy Williams stepped in front of an ill-advised Donovan McNabb pass and shocked the Eagles by returning it 46 yards for the game winning touchdown to lead Dallas to a one point victory at Philadelphia (21-20) on Monday Night Football. Of the eight teams that had return touchdowns, the Cleveland Browns were the only ones to lose their game.
Former rodeo clown, Cody Pickett probably had an easier time getting away from wild bulls than he did getting away from the Chicago Bears. In the ugliest individual performance of the week, the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback completed 1 of 13 passes for 28 yards and an interception. For the first two quarters the Bears might as well have rested their entire secondary. Coach, Steve Mariucci had such little confidence in his quarterback that Pickett attempted only two passes in the entire first half, both incomplete. His quarterback rating was a ghastly 7.5!!!
Ties Are For Losers
For the second week in a row, an NFL coach eschewed the safe call and on their teams’ final offensive play went for the win. Last week, Kansas City Chiefs’ coach, **** Vermeil (infamously remembered for his emotional breakdown following his departure as the Eagles’ coach over 20 years ago) showed how thick his skin has become when he decided to take the ultimate gamble. With five seconds left, his team losing by three (23-20) and the ball on the Raiders’ one yard line, Vermeil chose to forego a virtually automatic field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. Larry Johnson plunged over center Casey Wiegmann and into the end zone, stunning the Oakland Raiders and sending the Arrowhead crowd into a tizzy. This week, Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coach, Jon Gruden followed Vermeil’s example. At first, Gruden went for the tie and had the extra point blocked. But, because of a defensive offsides penalty against the Redskins, the Bucs had a second chance. Gruden took advantage of the extra couple of feet gained from the penalty and went for broke when he called for a two point conversion. Massive fullback, Mike Alstott spun and twisted his way through a kamikaze attempt by linebacker LaVar Arrington and the rest of the Redskins’ defense. The referee hesitated before signaling that the attempt was good. The play was challenged but upheld by the review booth and the Bucs went on to win 36-35.
If Wayne Chrebet’s latest concussion turns out to be career ending, what a way to go out. Chrebet’s potential final catch was a perfect personification of the type of receiver he has been. Chrebet jumped high in the air with total abandon to snare a first down that kept the Jets final drive alive. Chrebet will always be remembered as a tough underdog, often labled too small and too slow by NFL standards. He was always a clutch receiver, always at the top of the list for first down catches in a season. Chrebet is the longest tenured player on the New York Jets and has played his entire eleven year career with the them. For his career he has 580 receptions for 7365 yards and 41 touchdowns.
Believe It Or Not
The Green Bay Packers are 1-7 this season, yet unbelievably have scored more points than they have allowed (168 points scored and 159 points allowed). How is this possible? Thanks to a 52-3 blowout of the Aint’s in week five and having lost another four games by a grand total of 9 points the Packers have accomplished this rare dichotomy. On the other end of the spectrum, the defending NFL Champion New England Patriots are 4-3 despite allowing more points than they’ve scored (159 points scored and 180 points allowed).
With their 20-10 victory at Green Bay this past Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers became the fourth team ever in NFL history with at least 11 straight road victories. They have a long way to go though as the 1988-1990 San Francisco 49er’s hold the record with 18 straight road victories. The next road game for the Steel Curtain is November 20th at Baltimore. If they win that game, the streak could be in serious jeopardy the following week as they are scheduled to play at the Indianapolis Colts on Monday night, November 28th.
My heart goes out to you and Gang Green. Injuries have ravaged your roster, so I don’t blame you for not having all cylinders working. But, I still must take umbrage with you.
First, I commend you for keeping the ranks motivated- everyone played their hearts out on Sunday. The problem I have with you is strategic. I see no benefit in playing old man Testaverde. I hope you have finally figured out that Brooks Bollinger must play. Here is a chance to develop a quality and fiery backup quarterback for next season. If you want to get creative, go talk to the Chargers and gage their interest in dealing quarterback, Phillip Rivers. I’ll bet a number one pick and a quality defender like Bryan Thomas could get it done.
That brings me to my second beef with you- creativity. Herm, the one obvious area that Brooks gives you an upgrade in over your other quarterbacks is speed. This guy can scramble. He is probably one of the top five best scramblers in the NFL. Call some roll outs, how about a play action or two. Your play calling on the last drive when the Jets had first and goal from the Chargers three yard line was about as creative as a couple of kids playing hide ‘n seek with their eyes open— pass left, run up the middle, pass left, pass right. Come on man, pitch it out, boot leg your quarterback, at least have him roll out and give him an option to run it in. Jeez Herm, even Paul Hackett was laughing at you.
Finally, hire a draft guy for your war room. Your net gain from your top two draft picks ends up being a worthless tight end, Doug Jolley and a mediocre kicker, Mike Nugent. O’k, you scored with kick returner, Justin Miller but I have a feeling that was just dumb luck. And, by the way, have you checked out the type of season Santana Moss is having in Washington?
Week 10 Jets Player of the Game Week 9
QB- Brooks Bollinger– COMP ATT YDS TDS
11 20 106 2