Archive for the ‘ Sports ’ Category

Sports – R.I.P. 2011-2012 New York Rangers….

So I have had a couple of days to digest the Rangers devastating, season ending  game 6 loss, in the Eastern Conference Finals,  to the um, um… Devils (that was a hard one!).  I want to make a few observations before turning my attention to football (J-E-T-S).

First, as much I hate to admit it the two best team, in this year’s playoffs, will be playing for the Stanley Cup.  The Kings are an awesome 12 and 3 in playoffs while the Devils are an impressive 12 and 6.  While they may only have been the 8th and 6th seeds respectively going in to the tournament they have certainly proved that they deserve to be where they are. Now can I get a “KINGS IN FOUR”?

Second, while the Rangers had a remarkable run getting this far they finished the post season 10 and 10.  Larry Brooks in The Post had it about right when he wrote yesterday that while watching the Rangers this post season you never got the feeling that you were watching the best team in hockey and one destined to win the Stanley Cup.  I think the reason the Rangers were eliminated is because when all is said and done their overall level of talent was not where it needed to be.  They were the hardest working team in the playoffs and throughout the regular season but that need to fight for your life each and every shift ultimately took its toll.  Fortunately for them Lundquist was able to steal more than his share of games for his team.  Unfortunately, his teammates were not able to return the favor.

Lastly, what makes Friday night so difficult to swallow is that it represents a missed opportunity.  As happy as I am about their run this year there is no guarantee that they will be able to duplicate the effort next year and win The Cup.     On paper the future should be a bright one.  They have the best goalie in the league.  They have a young and extremely talented defense. They have some promising players on offense (just not enough of them!)  and they have a good coach. Added to which I think they will look to improve in the off season (I think Zach Parise would look good on our number one line).  So while the pieces should be in place for another run and Ranger fans should be full of optimism for the future the unfortunate truth is that has not been their pattern.  This was the first time in 15 years they’ve made it this far and they have won a mere two Stanley Cups over the past 72 years while the Devils might be on the verge of their 4th in 18 years.

I will do something uncharacteristic for me and that I think the Rangers will improve their team in the offseason, that they will make another deep run into the playoffs and that in a little over a year from now Captain Ryan Callahan will raise the Stanley Cup over his head in front of the Madison Square Garden faithful!  Until then LET’S GO RANGERS!

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Sports …. Huge News Out of Florham Park

Huge news today out of FlorhamPark!  The Jets are putting the finishing touches on a trade that would send a 4th round draft choice to the Denver Broncos in exchange for QB Tim Tebow.  While I am not a huge Tim Tebow fan I think that this is a good move for the Jets.

First, the acquisition of Tebow gives the Jets and Mark Sanchez, in particular, something they have both needed which is a credible backup. Up until now Sanchez has not had to watch his back. Now he does.  Competition is a good thing and the arrival of Tebow should spark some healthy QB competition during training.  Also, Tebow was renowned for his work ethic and character which could and hopefully will rub off on his teammates.

Second, Tebow give the Jets offense new options.  When Brad Smith was still a Jets he would from time to time be brought in to run the “Wildcat” offense which is favored by both Rex Ryan and new Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano.  When Smith left to sign with Buffalo the Jets lost this ability.  Tebow reopens and most likely expands their options in this area.   It also give opposing defenses something to think about knowing that the Jets could bring in Tebow with his unorthodox style at any point during the game.

Third, the acquisitiuon of Tim Tebow is a much needed addition of character and class to a locker room which RB LaDainian Tomlinson called “one of the most dysfunctional” he ever saw.  Don’t get me wrong not every player needs to be an angel (after all this is football not tidily winks) but there has to be a balance.  In seasons past the Jets had players like Leon Washington, Alan Faneca and , my favorite, Tony Richardson.  These were all class guys and solid citizens.  Tebows presence will hopefully restore some of that. Not to mention his reputation as a “winner”.

Lastly, do not take any of what you just read as a lack of confidence in Mark Sanchez.  Mark is and still should be the incumbent and I firmly believe everything I wrote in my earlier piece.  I merely think that this is a good fit, it gives the team enhanced flexibility and can only make the Jets better for this coming season.

Sports – The Future Belongs to Sanchez…

So it would appear that MetLife Stadium will not become “Peyton Place”.  The Jets decision, last night, to extend the contract of Mark Sanchez all but precludes the possibility of the Jets making a play for Peyton Manning.   I know that there has been some disagreement amongst Jet fans on this issue. Many felt the availability of Peyton Manning represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the future Hall of Famer to the Meadowlands and in the process make the Jets a sure favorite to be play in the Super Bowl next February in New Orleans.  I, however, am not one of those Jet fans.  I think the Jets made the right decision and will tell you why.

First, Manning is 35 and coming off a lost season in which he did not play at all due to pre-season surgery on his neck.  The Jets have had experience with QB’s in the 35+ range.  Does anyone remember the Brett Favre fiasco?  Now I understand that there are those that will say that there is no comparison.  That Peyton is a much better QB than Favre.  That may be so but we were sold the same song and dance four years ago with Favre; about how he is surefire HOF’er and how he would put the Jets over the top.  Furthermore, a move for Manning on the heels of the Giants winning yet another Super Bowl would reek of a level of desperation that would overwhelm the stench of the swamp on which MetLife Stadium is built.

Second, bringing in Manning would have all but guaranteed the release of Mark Sanchez.  While not a perfect QB, Sanchez does not deserve to be discarded.  Sanchez’s numbers have steadily improved over the course of his three years in the NFL.  As a matter of fact, his first three seasons compare favorably, at least statistically, with those of Eli Manning, now considered amongst the “elite”.  In their first three full seasons as starters Eli Manning is 29-19 while Sanchez is 28-20.  Not to mention the fact that in his first two seasons he won four road playoff games and took the Jets to two straight AFC title games.  The big difference is that Eli made the GIANT (no pun intended) leap of leading the Giants to Super Bowl in his third year but had lost is first two playoff starts in prior starts.  Also consider that Eli spent part of his first year as understudy to Kurt Warner, a pretty good QB in his own right. Sanchez, by comparison, was all but immediately named the starting QB of the Jets, anointed the “Sanchize” and savior of the Jets, after only one season as starting QB at USC.

I have long said that Sanchez is the kind of QB you can win with but probably not because of.  While talented I do not think he can single-handedly lead a team to victory but he is still young and that could still come. Does he need to step up and take that next step? Yes.  Does he need to concentrate more on football than on super models, starlets and celebutantes?  Yes.  Do the Jets need to bring in a credible backup to push Sanchez to excel?  Yes. Do they also need to improve his protection?  Yes. BUT the future still belongs to Sanchez.

Lastly, I firmly believe that one of the prime reasons the Jets have been such a disappointing franchise throughout their history is because of impatience and institutionalized chaos.  Since the year 2000 the Jets have had four different head coaches.  The Giants have had two.  The Pittsburgh Steelers have had two since 1969!  Since 2000 the Jets have had four different starting QB; the Giants two; the Steelers three.  They have repeatedly and consistently shown an inability of draft a plan and carry it out.  This destruction pattern has to stop if the Jets are ever going to be successful.  In my 30 years as a Jet fan I think Mike Tannenbaum is the best GM they have ever had.  He has drafted well and has brought in good free agents when available.  My one complaint is that he has tended to churn the roster a bit too much from one season to the next.  However, he has put many excellent pieces in place and we all need to have the patience to see it through.

There is little doubt that 2012 will be a critical season for the New York Jets.  After a meteoric rise in their first two seasons together Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez came back down to earth last season.  Yet they finished the season 8-8 not 4-12.  While not a great result it was not a disastrous one either.  The old saying goes that the true test of a man is how he handles adversity.  Rex, Mark and the rest of the Jets have experienced their first taste of adversity.  They are either going allow it to make them better and come back stronger or they are going to let it tear them down.  I certainly hope it’s the former.

Are You Ready for Some Football???

The Rangers missed the playoffs and are going nowhere fast.  The Mess (I mean Mets) are 4-7; not much hope there.  So its time to think about my other cause of frequent heartache…the J-E-T-S JETS!   It only mid-April but it’s already time for football.  Since the NFL draft is this week I thought I would devote the next 250 words (or so) to my Jets. 

I’ve often said that you learn very early on as a Jets fan that it is never their year.  Yet in spite of myself I find myself looking forward to the 2010 season with growing expectation.   

They have improved on an already good defense with the addition of Antonio Cromartie, Brodney Poole and may add six-time Pro Bowler Jason Taylor.  With the return of Kris Jenkins and the continued emergence of Darrelle Revis the Jets have the makings of (dare I say it) a Super Bowl winning defense.

 On offense they have given Mark Sanchez another target to throw to in Santonio Holmes and added perennial Pro Bowler LaDainian Tomlinson to compliment Shonn Greene and a returning Leon Washington at running back.  They have also brought back my man veteran Tony Richardson aka T-Rich to add leadership and blocking ability. If they can add a veteran backup at QB it would add needed depth.  To that end, there are rumors that the Jets are considering bringing in veteran Mark Brunell.    

 There are always question marks, however.  Tomlinson seems to clearly be on the “back nine” of his career coming off two lackluster seasons with San Diego.  Can he fill the shoes of Thomas Jones who was the team’s workhorse at running back?  There is the chance that Shonn Greene will be the featured back and Tomlinson will be relegated to a secondary role.  Whichever is the case it is clear that the Jets need a strong running game until such time as Sanchez proves that he can win games with this arm alone.   Furthermore, with the additions of Cromartie and Holmes the Jets are adding two players with checkered pasts.  Holmes will already miss the first four games of the season for violating the leagues substance abuse policy.  It will be interesting how Coach Ryan handles his growing rogues gallery.  Lastly, the defection of kicker Jay Feely to Arizona leaves a gaping hole for Special Teams Coach Mike Westhoff to fill.

 Despite all this two things are clear Rex Ryan has clearly put his stamp on this team, even more so than last year.  This team will have attitude and will be most likely be one of the most hated in the league.  It is also clear that from a professional sports standpoint they are all I have.  I am going to try and not get too excited but it’s getting kind of tough!   J-E-T-S…..JETS!