Matt Heiniger on Sports

Friday, December 28, 2012

Jets Need to X-Rex

The New York Jets are on the brink of making one of their worst decisions of the last decade by retaining head coach Rex Ryan for the 2013 season. Overall, Rex has done a good job as head coach of the Jets, but the current circumstances make it an undeniable fact that bringing him back is only setting back the franchise.

The Jets are a shell of the team that went to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. The talent has eroded, the perception has changed, and the entire organization has turned into a circus. On a pure X's and O's standpoint, Rex deserves another year. 2012 was his first losing season as a head coach. However, it is almost a certainty that General Manager Mike Tannenbaum will not be back in his current role. Also, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano appears likely to be gone. Therefore, the Jets are going to attempt to bring in a new General Manager with a new offensive staff. On paper this may sound like an improvement but it is only setting up Rex, and the rest of the 2013 Jets, for failure. Things are going to get worse for the Jets before they get better. The team has arguably the longest "To-Do List" of any team in the National Football League.  The Jets need to completely clean house. Teams do not succeed when they only go half-way. There is no way the Jets are going to be able to hire an elite General Manager if the Jets are forcing Rex Ryan onto him. General Managers always want to bring in coaches they are comfortable with.

The Jets will also not be able to hire an elite offensive coordinator with Rex as a lame duck coach. The team obviously needs to go in another direction at quarterback. Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller are free agents and will not be back. The wide receiver core is shaky. The offensive line is in decline. Every single facet of the offense needs to be improved. Rex has shown over his 4 years that he knows nothing about offense. Also, next season's schedule looks brutal considering the Jets will be playing against the AFC North and NFC South, arguably the two best divisions in football. The Jets are now at a disadvantage in their own division as well. The Jets-Patriots rivalry used to be one of the best in all of football. Rex started his career in New York with a bang, going 3-2 against Belichick in their first five matchups, including the Jets upset win in New England in the 2010 Divisional Playoffs. Since then, the Patriots have won 4 in a row against the Jets with an average margin of victory of 16 points. The rivalry has done a complete 180. To make matter worse, the Miami Dolphins have jumped the Jets in the division. The Jets have gone from legitimate Super Bowl contenders in the AFC to battling for 3rd place in their own division.

Rex knows that if he is back next season he will need to bring the Jets back to the postseason to keep his job. If the Jets are smart, they will recognize that they need to rebuild the entire organization. They should hire an offensive head coach, spend one of their top draft picks on a quarterback, and start the entire process over. If Rex and/or Mark Sanchez are back in 2013, the season will be a waste. New York fans are knowledgeable and would recognize that 2013 would be a rebuilding year if a new coaching staff and rookie quarterback were brought in. With Rex and Sanchez back, there would be no rebuilding, just a recycling of a failed product.

Rex Ryan deserves a thank you from Jets fans. From 1970-2008, the franchise played in two AFC Championship games. Rex equaled that total in his first two years on the job. However, the tide has turned and the Rex Ryan era is at a point of no return. It is hard to look at the team now and see how the current regime could fix this disaster. Every week there is a new controversy and the team gives America another reason to look at the franchise as a laughing stock.

The New York Jets need open heart surgery, not a band aid. Say good bye to Rex and start this process over....again

Mark Sanchez Didn't Ruin the Jets. The Jets Ruined Him

The New York Jets are about to continue their search for Joe Namath's successor as the team's franchise quarterback. Considering that Namath left the Jets over 35 years ago, it is a sad reality that Gang Green has once again drafted a quarterback in the 1st round, only to see the selection not go as planned. Mark Sanchez's career began with a splash in 2009 but as the 2012 season comes to a close, it is time for the NFL circus known as the New York Jets to once again take blame for ruining a promising career.

In the 2009 NFL Draft, the New York Jets made the right move by trading up with the Cleveland Browns from the #17 overall pick to the #5 overall pick to select Mark Sanchez out of USC. In addition to #17 overall pick, the Jets gave up a late 2nd round selection and three nobodies named Abram Elam, Kenyon Coleman, and Brett Ratliff. The Jets were coming off a season in which Brett Favre led them to an 8-3 start before collapsing to a 9-7 finish and out of the playoffs. Favre had retired in February and it was obvious that the Favre-Jets marriage was over, even if Favre wanted to return (which he did later in August.) It had been 10 years since the Jets had selected Chad Pennington in the 1st round so it was time for the franchise to invest in a new young quarterback to develop. Before the trains went off the track Sanchez had franchise quarterback ability with the results to back it up.

Here are some of Mark Sanchez's accomplishments from his first 3 years in New York
  • 4-2 in 6 road playoff games with 9 touchdown passes to only 3 interceptions (95 Quarterback Rating.)
  • 10 4th quarter comebacks (including 1 in the playoffs) and 12 game winning drives (including 1 in the playoffs)
  • 32 total touchdowns in 2011, 2nd in the AFC
Fast forward to the end of the 2012 season and Mark Sanchez's New York Jets career is presumably over. The team will have to decide this offseason if they want to bring Sanchez back next season but it appears that the team will endure the salary cap hit that will come with trading or releasing him. Through 4 seasons, Sanchez has a 33-28 (not including playoffs) record as the Jets starting quarterback with 68 touchdowns and 69 interceptions (not including playoffs.) While Sanchez certainly deserves blame for the way things have deteriorated in New York over the last 2 years, and especially the last 4 months, his share of blame is minuscule when compared to the New York Jets organization.

1. Rex Ryan

In his time as head coach of the New York Jets Rex Ryan has been all about publicity. For better or for worse, the Jets have never been as relevant as they've been under Ryan. However, for a young quarterback like Sanchez, added publicity is not a positive thing. The Jets are already located in the world's biggest media market; a place where a quarterback can be criticized for something as simple as eating a hot dog on the sidelines of a 38-0 blowout victory. Rex Ryan has consistently put a bull's eye on the New York Jets, which in essence, has put a bull's eye on the quarterback. New York fans are arguably the toughest in the country. Even Eli Manning had his doubters after winning a Super Bowl. Sanchez was put under the microscope almost every week. To make matter worse, Sanchez was put under the HBO spotlight on "Hard Knocks" in only his second season.

While Rex Ryan is widely considered the best defensive coach in football, he is clueless when it comes to offense. Defensive head coaches tend to be overly conservative and in the evolving world of NFL offenses, Sanchez was largely left behind due to the philosophy of his head coach.

2. Brian Schottenheimer & Tony Sparano

Brian Schottenheimer served as offensive coordinator of the Jets from 2006-2011. During his time with the Jets, he coached quarterbacks Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, and Brett Favre in addition to Sanchez. Clemens (2006-2010) was drafted to be the "franchise quarterback" of the Jets in 2006 but under Schottenheimer's tutelage that never materialized. Pennington (2006-2007) and Favre (2008) were average at best under Schottenheimer. However, both Pennington and Favre went onto have the best season's of their respective careers one year after leaving Schottenheimer's offense. Pennington and Favre were MVP runner-ups in 2008 and 2009 right after they left Schottenheimer and the Jets.

When Rex Ryan was hired he had the chance to dispose of Schottenheimer, a leftover from the fired Eric Mangini regime, and chose not to. The evidence of Schottenheimer's failures with quarterbacks was undeniable but the Jets chose to put Mark Sanchez under his care. Not surprisingly, Schottenheimer was underwhelming with Sanchez from 2009-2011. In 2012, Schottenheimer went on to become offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams. The Rams' offense ranked 26th in points scored and 24th in yards gained. Schottenheimer's resume is full of failures, yet, the Jets allowed him to be the primary overseer of Mark Sanchez for the first 3 years of his career.

After Schottenheimer was not retained at the conclusion of the 2011 season, Tony Sparano took over as offensive coordinator. Sparano had no success developing Chad Henne as the franchise quarterback of the Miami Dolphins during his time as head coach, and had not been a play caller for years. The Jets decided to hire him anyway. During the 2012 season Sparano continuously embarrassed himself by attempting to use a two-quarterback system and his use of his famed "Wildcat" offense was nothing more then a momentum killer.

3. Mike Tannenbaum

When the Atlanta Falcons decided to draft Matt Ryan in 2008, they made a decision as a franchise that he would be the most valuable piece of real estate in the organization. They did everything in their power to help their franchise quarterback. The team signed running back Michael Turner and tight end Tony Gonzalez to make Ryan's life easier. They drafted left tackle Sam Baker and wide receiver Julio Jones in the 1st round. In other words, the talent level around Ryan has consistently gone up over his five years quarterbacking the Falcons.

The Jets, on the other hand, have been the exact opposite. This is an organization that has given their franchise quarterback little to no help. Sanchez has had different wide receivers every year he has been in the league. The only year that Sanchez had a worthwhile receiving core was 2010 and it is no coincidence that 2010 was his best season in the league. Here is a look at Sanchez's every changing top trio of receivers every year he has been in the league.

2009- Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, David Clowney

2010- Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery

2011- Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason

2012- Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley

In 2011, the Jets started Plaxico Burress for 16 games. Burress' performance was so pathetic that he was unemployed for a majority of the 2012 season. In 2012, the Jets went into the season with only one proven wide receiver in Santonio Holmes. Needless to say, Holmes went down for the season in week 4 leaving the Jets with the worst group of wideouts in the entire NFL. Leading into the 2012 NFL draft, every draft analyst said that Stephen Hill was as talented as any wide receiver in football. However, they also said that Hill was nowhere near ready to play in the NFL considering he was coming from Georgia Tech's triple-option offense. Draft analysts said Hill would not be able to contribute for the majority of his rookie season as he adjusted to the NFL game. The Jets did not listen to any of this advice and went forward with Hill as one of their starting wide receivers. Predictably, Hill had trouble running routes, getting separation, and catching the football. Due to Holmes' injury, Jeremy Kerley, a 5th round pick from 2011, became the Jets number one wide receiver for the majority of the 2012 season. The rest of the receiving core was made up of journeymen like Clyde Gates, Mardy Gilyard, Chaz Schilens, and Jason Hill. To make matter worse, tight end Dustin Keller missed the majority of the season with various injuries. While Sanchez did have his share of good games in 2012, he was mostly awful throughout the season.

Wide Receivers were not the only position that General Manager Mike Tannenbaum mismanaged during Sanchez's era as Jets quarterback. As all teams do, the Jets lost various starters/role players on the offensive side of the ball. However, every replacement Tannenbaum has brought in has been a significant downgrade.
  • 2010 Braylon Edwards > 2011 Plaxico Burress
  • 2009 Thomas Jones > 2010-2012 Shonn Greene
  • 2009 Leon Washington > 2010-2012 Joe McKnight
  • 2009 Alan Faneca >  2010-2012 Matt Slauson
  • 2009-2010 Damien Woody > 2011Wayne Hunter
Statistically, Sanchez improved every year from 2009-2011 as the team around him got worse. In 2012, the talent reached an all time low point. It resulted in Sanchez having the worst season of his career. As previously stated, the Falcons improved the talent around Matt Ryan as his career unfolded. The Jets did the opposite with Sanchez.

4. Tim Tebow

It doesn't matter if it was Woody Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum, or Rex Ryan who made the decision to bring in Tim Tebow. All that matters is that it was predicted to be, and has been, a disaster. The Jets were coming off a season in which they were 8-5 before collapsing to 8-8 and out of the postseason. This caused Mark Sanchez to be on shaky ground with Jets fans for the first time in his career. Rather then bring in a regular backup quarterback to push Sanchez, the Jets decided to bring in one of the most popular players in the world in Tim Tebow. It was obvious from the beginning that Sanchez was not happy to have Tebow on the roster. "Tebowmania" puts an unnecessary amount of pressure on starting quarterbacks. Sanchez was already dealing with the pressures of playing in New York under a coach like Rex Ryan. Bringing in Tebow ended up being the straw that broke the camel's back.

30 other NFL teams recognized that bringing in Tebow would not be a good move for the franchise. Only the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars thought bringing in Tebow would be a positive move. The Jets obviously never had a plan for Tebow because the Wildcat offense was a punchline all season. Tebow brought 0 positives to the team. All he did was cause the Jets to burn timeouts due to the confusion of using two quarterbacks. Even in instances when Sanchez was playing well, the Jets would pull him and randomly insert Tebow. It is not a coincidence that many of Sanchez's interceptions came directly after plays in which he was on the sideline so Tebow could run the Wildcat. Fans at Jets home games consistently chanted "Tebow" any time Sanchez failed to lead the Jets offense to points. Many times, fans failed to recognize that while Sanchez wasn't playing well, he was not the main problem. Sanchez didn't change, the players around him did. Couple the pressures from "Tebowmania" with the below average players around him, and Sanchez was turned into a basket case. He became a quarterback with no confidence and no clue. It was the type of regression that few players undergo so early in their careers.

What Lies Ahead

Sanchez will most likely be wearing a different uniform when the 2013 season begins. Due to the fact that he is still young and was a highly touted prospect coming out of college, Sanchez will get another opportunity somewhere else. NFL fans, and more specifically Jets fans, should not be surprised if Sanchez plays better elsewhere then he ever did in New York. Alex Smith is a perfect example. He was surrounded by dysfunction for the first couple years of his career but found a lot of success when he was finally paired with a great offensive coach in Jim Harbaugh. Not only has Sanchez had more success then Smith ever did, he is a more talented player. Due to the ineptitude of Rex Ryan, Mike Tannanbaum, Brian Schottenheimer, Tony Sparano, and the New York Jets organization as a whole, Sanchez's career in New York has deteriorated to the point of no return. However, logic and evidence suggest that the New York Jets are to blame, not Mark Sanchez.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012-2013 NBA Predictions

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
Boston Celtics(3)
New York Knicks(4)
Brooklyn Nets(6)
Philadelphia 76ers (7)
Toronto Raptors

Central Division
Indiana Pacers(2)
Chicago Bulls(5)
Milwaukee Bucks
Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons

Southeast Division
Miami Heat(1)
Atlanta Hawks(8)
Washington Wizards
Charlotte Bobcats
Orlando Magic

Eastern Conference Finals
Miami Heat over Indiana Pacers

Western Conference

Northwest Division
Oklahoma City Thunder(1)
Denver Nuggets(6)
Utah Jazz(8)
Minnesota Timberwolves
Portland Trail Blazers

Pacific Division
Los Angeles Lakers(2)
Los Angeles Clippers(4)
Golden State Warriors
Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns

Southwest Division
San Antonio Spurs(3)
Memphis Grizzlies(5)
Dallas Mavericks(7)
Houston Rockets
New Orleans Hornets

Western Conference Finals
Oklahoma City Thunder over Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Finals
Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder

Lebron James

Rookie of the Year
Anthony Davis

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

2012 NFL Predictions


AFC East

*New England Patriots 12-4
-Easiest schedule in the league makes New England a Super Bowl favorite again

New York Jets 9-7
-The offense looks historically bad but the defense will be much improved with a revamped defensive line and secondary

Buffalo Bills 7-9
-Mario Williams is a great addition but Ryan Fitzpatrick is too limited and the offensive line is still a question mark.

Miami Dolphins 4-12
-A rookie quarterback throwing to arguably the worst group of wide receivers in the league is a recipe for disaster.

AFC North

*Baltimore Ravens 11-5
-It looks like they are handing the team to Joe Flacco. He finally played well in the postseason last year so he may be ready to take that next step.

*Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6
-The defense is getting old but the offense is full of play makers. Don't write them off just yet.

Cincinnati Bengals 6-10
-The young Bengals will take a big step back in 2012. They didn't beat any teams with a winning record last season.

Cleveland Browns 4-12
-It's rebuilding time in Cleveland...still

AFC South

*Houston Texans 12-4
-On paper, they have the best roster in the league. Can Matt Schaub finally win some big games?

Indianapolis Colts 7-9
-Andrew Luck looked better then advertised in the preseason. Expect the defense to be much improved.

Tennessee Titans 7-9
-There will be growing pains for Jake Locker. The Titans simply don't have enough elite talent.

Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
-Maurice Jones-Drew won't be the same after his long holdout. What else do they have?

AFC West

*Denver Broncos 10-6
-The schedule is brutal but Peyton Manning is the greatest regular season quarterback of all time. It's all about him staying healthy.

*Kansas City Chiefs 9-7
-The Chiefs have a ton of talent. All the question marks surround Matt Cassell.

San Diego Chargers 8-8
-The window looks like it has finally closed on this underachieving franchise. There is no way Norv Turner returns in 2013.

Oakland Raiders 5-11
-Carson Palmer is a turnover machine and the team lacks experience. Don't be surprised if Terrelle Pryor gets a few starts in 2012.


NFC East

*New York Giants 10-6
-The Super Bowl champs are rewarded with the league's toughest schedule. Eli Manning is as clutch as any player in sports and the Giants have the best pass rush in football. Don't buy the Eagles/Cowboys hype.

Philadelphia Eagles 8-8
-Michael Vick can't stay healthy and their backup is a rookie. Could this be Andy Reid's last year in Philly?

Dallas Cowboys 8-8
-The talent is there but the schedule is brutal. Until Dallas proves they can win big games people will always have doubts.

Washington Redskins 4-12
-A rookie quarterback coupled with a sub par offensive line and below average running backs? Another long year in the nation's capital.

NFC North

*Green Bay Packers 11-5
-They won't duplicate last year's 15-1 record but they will still be an NFC powerhouse.

*Chicago Bears 10-6
-Jay Cutler finally has some weapons at wide receiver. If Forte can bounce back then watch out.

Detroit Lions 8-8
-The Lions are young and undisciplined. They will take a step back.

Minnesota Vikings 4-12
-Hard to imagine the Vikings competing any time soon. Hopefully Adrian Peterson can recover from his horrific knee injury.

NFC South

*Atlanta Falcons 10-6
-It's put up or shut up for Matt Ryan. His play in the postseason has to improve.

*New Orleans Saints 9-7
-We'll find out how good Drew Brees is without Sean Payton

Carolina Panthers 7-9
-They didn't make enough improvements in the offseason. Cam Newton is great but the division is too tough.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10
-It's amazing that Josh Freeman doesn't take more criticism. If he doesn't perform this season it may be time for Tampa to move on.

NFC West

*San Francisco 49ers 11-5
-It's simple. Alex Smith can't screw it up.

Seattle Seahawks 7-9
-Russell Wilson is one of the NFL's most intriguing storylines this season.

Arizona Cardinals 6-10
-No quarterback means no chance.

St. Louis Rams 3-13
-The Rams are going through one of the worst stretches in the history of American sports.

AFC Championship
Houston Texans over Denver Broncos

NFC Championship
Chicago Bears over Green Bay Packers

Super Bowl XLVII
Chicago Bears over Houston Texans

Other Predictions

1. Barring injury, Mark Sanchez will start every game for the Jets this season

2. Tom Brady will win the league MVP

3. Andrew Luck will be the offensive rookie of the year

4. Maurice Claiborne will be the defensive rookie of the year

Thursday, August 30, 2012

2012 College Football Preview

The next Cam Newton?
Conference Champions

ACC- Virginia Tech
-Florida State has been over hyped and overrated. Not only has Virginia Tech dominated the ACC lately but Logan Thomas is the best quarterback in the conference.

Big East- Louisville
-The Big East is in shambles but Louisville is a pre-season top 25 team. They're the prettiest girl at the ugly contest. Teddy Bridgewater is a future NFL star.

Big 10- Michigan State
-Denard Robinson is electric but can't be relied on to carry Michigan again. Wisconsin lost Russell Wilson and Taylor Martinez is not consistent enough to lead Nebraska to a Big 10 title.

It's put up or shut up for Landry Jones and company

Big 12- Oklahoma
-Bob Stoops will be under more heat then usual if the Sooners do not win the conference in a year when they are the prohibitive favorite.

Pac 12- Oregon
-USC is the favorite but Chip Kelly is one of the best offensive minds in the country. Darron Thomas and LeMichael James are gone, but their replacements could be upgrades.

SEC- Alabama
-Even though the Crimson Tide will be forced to go to Death Valley this year, A.J. McCarron will be the difference. Alabama wins a brutally tough SEC West.

National Championship- Alabama vs Oregon

National Champion- Alabama

Heisman Trophy Winner- De'Anthony Thomas RB Oregon
Thomas averaged 1 touchdown for every 8 touches last year
McCarron will be much better in his second year as a starter

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Best There Ever Was

This Saturday at 5:30pm, the greatest coach in NFL history will rightfully take his place in the National Football League Hall of Fame. There are coaches who have more Super Bowl rings, have more playoff wins, higher winning percentages, more admirers, etc. but nobody was as good at his craft as Bill Parcells. The only coach to take four different teams to the playoffs, the only coach to win a Super Bowl with a backup quarterback, and the only man to rebuild five franchises.

If you were to put all of the greatest coaches in NFL history in a courtroom and asked them to present their cases, all would have worthwhile testimonies. Lombardi is the only coach to win five championships, Chuck Noll built arguably the greatest dynasty of all time, Bill Walsh created the West Coast offense (winning three Super Bowls along the way), and this Sunday Bill Belichick will be going for his fourth Super Bowl ring. These are just some of the many men who have the right to be included in any "Greatest Coach of All Time" debate.

Parcells, however, proved himself more than any of these coaches. In all four places he coached, he started out with some of the worst teams in the league and within only a few years those teams were either winning or contending for Super Bowls.

New York Giants
  • From 1964-1982, the Giants made the playoffs once
  • Parcells First Year: 1983.
  • 1983 New York Giants 3-12-1
  • 1986 New York Giants 14-2 Super Bowl Champions
New England Patriots
  • In 1992, the Patriots went 2-14
  • Parcells First Year: 1993
  • 1993 New England Patriots 5-11
  • 1996 New England Patriots 11-5 AFC Champions
New York Jets
  • In 1996, the Jets went 1-15
  • Parcells First year: 1997
  • 1997 New York Jets 9-7
  • 1998 New York Jets 12-4 AFC Championship Game
Dallas Cowboys
  • From 2000-2002, the Cowboys went 5-11 each year
  • Parcells First Year: 2003
  • 2003 Dallas Cowboys 10-6 Wild Card Berth

No other coach has a resume of building teams quite like Parcells. It is impressive for a coach to take one terrible team and turn them into winners. Parcells did it four times.

There are coaches in all sports who have won a staggering amount of games. The best coaches are the ones who do not need the most talent to win. Most times in the NFL, it takes a great Quarterback to win, and win consistently. Unlike most of the other great coaches in league history, Parcells didn't need a Hall of Fame Quarterback to win. Lombardi had Bart Starr, Noll had Terry Bradshaw, Walsh had Joe Montana, and Belichick has Tom Brady. Parcells had Phil Simms and Jeff Hostetler. No matter what era of football you are talking about, the Quarterback is the most important man on the field. Parcells was able to win with Phil Simms, a Quarterback who was solid and above average, but not one of the top Quarterbacks of his era. Together the two won Super Bowl XXI. This was the first and last time Simms ever played in the big game. Parcells' more impressive feat came in 1990 when he took the underdog Giants, this time led by backup Quarterback Jeff Hostetler, to a victory over the heavily favored Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. In those two Super Bowls, Parcells took the inferior starting Quarterback (Simms, Hostetler) and defeated two of the greatest to ever play the game (John Elway, Jim Kelly.)

What did Chuck Noll do after Terry Bradshaw retired in 1983? He won a total of two playoff games in the next six years. How did Bill Belichick fare as a head coach without Tom Brady? In five seasons as coach of the Cleveland Browns, Belichick had one season above .500. In Belichick's lone season in New England without Brady, he went 5-11. This is not a knock on Noll and Belichick, it is just a testament to show how hard it is to win, and win consistently, without a great Quarterback. Parcells did it with four different franchises.

Four head coaching jobs resulting in four monumental turnarounds is impressive. Parcells' last job was equally as impressive. In 2008, he took over as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins were coming off of a 2007 season in which they went 1-15, the worst record in the league. Much like he did with the 1-15 New York Jets, Parcells turned the Dolphins into winners. In his first season in command the Dolphins went 11-5. The 10 game turnaround is the greatest in NFL history. Even though Parcells did not have the title of "Head Coach" as he did with his four previous jobs, it is safe to say that he was the man mostly responsible for the unbelievable improvement. His track record backs up that point.

The Bill Parcells coaching tree also shows that his greatness was contagious. Some of his staffs were the greatest ever assembled. Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Josh McDaniels, Tony Sparano, and Steve Spagnuolo are just some of the men that came up in the NFL coaching ranks under Parcells' tutelage. Belichick and Coughlin are slam-dunk Hall of Fame coaches while Sean Payton is one of the top 5 or 6 coaches in the game today. It is impossible to say where these men would be without Bill Parcells but they have come a long way because of him.

Maybe with his Hall of Fame induction, NFL historians and fans alike will examine his legacy different than in years past. If they do so, the only resulting conclusion goes in Parcells favor. He is the best there ever was.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Everyone on the Jets Offense Stinks, It's Not All on Sanchez

The train wreck known as the 2011 New York Jets will mercifully come to an end this Sunday. A season that started out with so much promise and optimism has quickly turned into a nightmare that Jets fans have seen too many times. The Jets have gone from being the only team in the NFL to make the postseason final four two years in a row to being a team that could finish 9th in the AFC after Sunday.

Mark Sanchez has shouldered the majority of the blame for the team's shortcomings. Going into year three, he was expected to make a big leap in his progression as a viable NFL quarterback. Unfortunately for the Jets and their fans, Sanchez has not made the huge leap that the organization expected. However, he has gotten better while the pieces around him have gotten worse. In other words, Sanchez does deserve some blame, but he is not the main reason for the team's shortcomings.

Statistically speaking, 2011 has been a pretty good year for Sanchez. He has 24 touchdown passes (good for 8th best in the NFL) and 6 rushing touchdowns (only Cam Newton has more rushing touchdowns among quarterbacks.) His quarterback rating, passing yards, completion percentage, and yards per game are all better than his first two years. While statistics do not tell the whole story, Sanchez does deserve credit for his 2011 resume.

All of these statistical accolades have happened with a supporting cast that ranks among the worst in the NFL. Thanks largely to Right Tackle Wayne Hunter, Sanchez has been the 2nd most sacked quarterback in the entire NFL. Pro Bowl Left Tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson has had the worst season of his six year career and All Pro Center Nick Mangold missed games earlier this season and came back before he was really ready. In 2009 and 2010, Sanchez was sacked 26 and 27 times. This season he has already been sacked 37 times with one game to go against a very good Miami defense. The sack total could very well be above 40 by the time week 17 is over.

How about the vaunted "Ground & Pound" New York Jets running game? After finishing with the #1 rushing attack in the league in 2009 and the #4 ranked running game last year, the Jets have fallen all the way to 22nd in 2011. Even more pathetic is that the Jets rank 30th in the league in yards per carry. While Shonn Greene is a solid change of pace back, 2011 has proven once and for all that he is not a viable starter. Through 15 games, Greene has had only two 100 yard games. He has topped 70 yards rushing in only seven games. While LaDainian Tomlinson has been a reliable 3rd down back, he has averaged only 3.5 yards per carry this season and has not had more than 38 yards rushing in any game.

The wide receivers are not without blame either. Santonio Holmes has been a letdown after signing a 50$ million dollar contract over the offseason. Through 15 games, he has only 654 yards. By comparison, Holmes had 746 yards in only 12 games last season. His longest reception is only 38 yards. Plaxico Burress has been phenomenal in the red zone but has done virtually nothing between the 20s. Burress is averaging less than 3 receptions a game and has had only one game with more than four catches. Anyone that has watched the Jets this year knows that Burress has had a lot of trouble separating from cornerbacks. He simply can't get open the way he used to. The only other wide receiver option has been 5th round rookie Jeremy Kerley. While Kerley has shown flashes of being a productive slot receiver, he is still an inexperienced 5th round rookie. The Jets wide receiving core, which last year was one of football's best, has been negated to Santonio Holmes, a soon to be 35 year old Plaxico Burress, and a 5th round rookie. Far from impressive. Over the last three seasons, the Jets have never given Sanchez any continuity in his wide receiving core. In the 2009 AFC Championship, his starting wide receivers were Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. Neither of them are on the team anymore. In 2010, his top four receivers were Edwards, Holmes, Cotchery, and Brad Smith. In 2011, he lost 3/4 of his 2010 core. Out with Edwards, Cotchery, and Smith. In with Burress, Kerley, and Patrick Turner.

Sanchez is being forced to work with a bad offensive line, below average running game, and a wide receiving core that is average at best. However, the Jets offense is 9th in the NFL in scoring and they are the #1 red zone offense in the league. Sanchez deserves credit for that.

No one deserves more blame for the Jets offensive woes than offensive coordinator Brian Shottenheimer. He has been under fire for years and 2011 may have been the last straw. He has been inconsistent all season and it is becoming apparent that Sanchez will never reach his full potential in his offense (funny to think that former Jet quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Brett Favre had the best seasons of their careers the year after they left Shottenheimer's system.) His week 16 game plan against the Giants was one of the worst games an offensive coordinator has ever had. Even though the Jets were averaging over four yards per carry, Shottenheimer called 68 pass plays (59 passes, 5 sacks, 4 scrambles.) 68 pass plays against a Giants defense that rushes the passer better than any team in football. To put that into perspective, the NFL record for pass attempts in a game is 70 by Drew Bledsoe in 1994.

No player on the 2011 Jets has been criticized more than Mark Sanchez. Everyone loves to dump all the blame on the quarterback. People forget that in six road playoff games, Sanchez has posted a 95 quarterback rating with 9 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions. Since entering the league in 2009, Mark Sanchez has more game winning drives and 4th quarter comebacks than any quarterback in the league. He has shown plenty of flashes of one day being an elite quarterback. He only started one year in college and he is playing in the toughest media market in the country. He deserves another year with a new offensive coordinator and a better supporting cast.