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Sorry Rex, But It Isn’t Happening

Published: January 9, 2010

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Jets head coach Rex Ryan proclaimed his team as a Super Bowl favorite a couple of days ago when assessing how his football team would fare in the playoffs.

This is the same guy who thought his team had no shot of making the playoffs after a frustrating home loss to the Falcons. He said nothing for the last couple of weeks of the regular season.

It took the playoffs for the bombastic head coach to finally get back to do what he does best.

Joe Namath begged to differ with Ryan on how this team would do.

Ryan is not wrong for believing in his team, which has the talent to make a January run with a great defense and a great running game. But January football features quarterbacks that need to make the big plays that win games in the postseason.

This is why the Jets are not going to do much in the playoffs. Mark Sanchez is not ready to play on this stage just yet.

It’s hard to think Sanchez will do much tomorrow unless he surprises everybody. Palmer can be trusted to put up at least one or two touchdowns, and a bounce back performance by the Bengals quarterback is why Cincinnati will defeat the Jets in the wild-card game. So this is going to be short-lived for Rex’s bunch.

It should be a close game, with great defense and an efficient running game. Look for both teams to score points to the point the game will come down to the fourth quarter. In fact, itmight just come down to the final possession of the game.

But does anyone think Sanchez has what it takes to lead in that stretch? Can he engineer a long drive that can give the Jets a chance to finish and win the game?

He’s shown so far that he can’t. For example, against the Falcons, when the Jets had a shot to win the game, he threw an interception to dash all hope.

To be fair to him, though, he gave the Jets a chance to win by scoring a late touchdown against the Jaguars. The Jets led with two minutes to go, but the defense failed to finish as Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a touchdown.

It’s possible he might do the same, but what evidence is out there that he can. He showed no progress late in the season and struggled to understand what Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh was teaching.

It was so bad that Ryan got involved in trying to help his beleaguered quarterback by bringing in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to help him how to slide not to mention showing those color-coded plays to help him.

Sanchez never had to do much in the final two weeks since he was told to give the ball to Thomas Jones. Now, he has to utilize the running game if the Jets are going to win a game in January.

Ryan believes the Jets can get by with a quarterback who does not have to do much. Afterall, as a member of the Ravens coaching staff in 2000 he witnessed Baltimore win a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer of all quarterbacks.

That said, that was a fluke. It’s hard to go far without a great play by the quarterback. It’s something Ryan should remember when he watched Joe Flacco struggled in the AFC Championship game last year.

No one expect Sanchez to go throw 25 times here; he doesn’t have to air it out for the Jets to win. He needs to execute on third down at every opportunity and put his team in a position to get points.

A touchdown would be nice, but field goals would be good enough here.

Maybe Sanchez proves everyone wrong. That’s the beauty of sports. We always expect the unexpected in postseason games where great moments formed.

Unfortunately, don’t expect it.

That’s why it was not wise of Rex to open his mouth unless he is really sure.

It’ll be up to his quarterback to make him look like a prophet not a fool.

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Let’s Not Anoint Ryan Just Yet

Published: January 8, 2010

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The Jets hired Eric Mangini in 2006 after Herm Edwards parted ways with the team due to an acrimonious relationship at the end of a frustrating 2005 season.

Everyone loved that hire since Mangini learned a lot from Bill Belichick, and that coach did not disappoint by having a successful first season that resulted in a playoff berth.

The Jets lost to the Patriots in the first round of the 2007 playoffs, but it did not dampen the love affair with Mangini. His success resulted in an appearance on Sesame Street and the Sopranos.

Everyone decided to follow Tony Soprano’s lead by calling Mangini the “Mangenius” for that great season, but that was as good as it was going to get for the Belichick disciple.

In Mangini’s second season, everything fell apart for him. The Patriots embarrassed the Jets in the season opener at Giants Stadium, and it led Mangini to rat his mentor out for cheating over the years as an attempt to protect himself from criticism.

The Jets never recovered from that game and it led to a 4-12 season. Fickle fans started to doubt his ability to lead the team.

Mangini recovered from a bad season by going 9-7 in his third and final year with the team, but the Jets collapsed down the stretch after starting 8-3.  Someone had to pay for what happened, and it was Mangini that received the pink slip.

Based on what happened to Mangini, let’s learn something from that experience by not labeling Rex Ryan for one good year.

Ryan deserves credit for the job he did this year by taking control with Mark Sanchez along with getting his team to not succumb with negativity. He also coordinated a great defense this year by getting a lot out of some unheralded guys in David Harris and Mike DeVito.

He knows how to handle the media here. It may seem trivial, but in this market, it’s a must in a coach’s job description.

Writers are not afraid to turn on the coaches if they don’t get what they want, as the current Browns coach learned.

Players clearly love playing for him for couple of reasons. For one thing, he is a nice man, so guys gravitate to him. Second of all, he is a straight-shooter so players know where they stand even if they don’t like what they hear.

This gentleman proudly admits the Jets got it right with this hire after he wanted Josh McDaniels to coach the team based on the positive reviews that the former Patriots offensive coordinator received from experts and Belichick not to mention his familiarity with the teams in the division.

It would have been easy to go savage the Jets for making a wrong choice on the coach after McDaniels led the Broncos to a great start, but looking at the Broncos schedule in the final two months, it was best to withhold judgment until the season is over.

It turned out the Broncos sputtered in the end while McDaniels lost several people in the process by suspending Brandon Marshall and Tony Schefter for the final game of the season.

The first-year Broncos coach could turn out to be a great coach in the next few years, but it’s doubtful McDaniels would handle the limelight of being a coach of a New York football team.

It’s too early to call McDaniels a failure just like it’s too early to call Ryan a success.

We measure how successful a coach is when he leads his team to division titles, AFC Championship Games and Super Bowl appearances on a consistent basis.

It will take several years until we find out how good Ryan is.

In this town, it’s all about winning championships, fair or not. Just ask Joe Torre. Everyone loved Torre for winning championships in his first few years until teams figured out how to beat the Yankees.

After the Yankees failed to win one more game that would have taken them to another World Series appearance in 2004, everyone turned on Torre. The Yankees eventually severed their relationship with Torre after several one-and-out playoff exits.

Tom Coughlin will experience the same thing after the way the Giants finished their season. For him, it’s either win the division along with couple of playoff games or else he will be looking for work.

Ryan could win one championship, but it’s not going to be enough for some people.

He needs to maintain excellence year after year if he wants to keep his job and be remembered fondly here.

It’s just the way it is, and the Jets coach will be the first one to say that.

It’s only fair too. Jets dealt with mediocrity in this decade, and this year is no different.

While mediocrity is better than losing, it becomes boring after awhile.

This was a good season, but expectations will only get higher in the next few years with fans wanting more. After all, the last time the team won a championship was in 1968 so it’s about time for a Super Bowl trophy to come here.

Let’s proclaim him when he handles success and expectations well in the next few years.


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Playoff-Bound Jets: Hard To Believe, But It’s True

Published: January 4, 2010

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Rex Ryan and his players conducted a victory lap with the fans at Giants Stadium once the game was over.

They earned it by making the playoffs after going through tough times this season.

It helped the schedule favored the Jets with the Colts and the Bengals laying down as an attempt to rest their stars. In the Bengals case, they didn’t want to showcase their best stuff for the Jets to expose their strengths and weaknesses in a playoff rematch that will take place on Saturday afternoon at Cincinnati.

Regardless, this is an accomplishment, and it should mean something with a rookie coach leading the team.

The critics counted the team out after the Jets gone through a rough stretch in October yet they managed to get some wins in the final weeks of November to put themselves in the playoff hunt, and now look at them.

This writer knocked Ryan in this site so it’s only fair to offer credit where it’s due. The first-year head coach showed his optimism even during the rough times, and his players responded to that.

That was one reason why Ryan was hired. He knew how to motivate his players by pushing them to succeed in practice and on Sundays.

Eric Mangini struggled to do that when the Jets went through a rough stretch last year. He had no answers, and it showed in the sidelines.

The current head coach acts like he knows what he is doing on the sidelines, and he comes up with answers when it comes to the media instead of ducking the questions or looking lost out there like his predecessor.

It’s easy to give in to negativity when one looks at the history of this downtrodden franchise, but it takes a special coach to overcome that, and that’s what convinced Woody Johnson to believe in Ryan by hiring him.

It was not just the motivational tactics and interpersonal skills that served Ryan well. Ryan improved with his coaching skills late in the season by making better use of clock management and being involved with the offense by forcing Sanchez not to do much and getting Thomas Jones involved.

Give it up to the players too. The Jets lost Leon Washington and Kris Jenkins for the season, but they marched on by winning without them.

They managed to survive despite Mark Sanchez’s woes.

The offense figured out a way to score enough points thanks to Jones’ effort. The defense lived up to its top ranking these last few weeks.

They did their job by winning games that they needed to win to get there. Looking at history and what took place this season, who knew if those guys would screw up, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

These guys showed they are as good as any AFC team out there. If Sanchez can get hot in the playoffs, maybe this team can make a run to Miami.

This is a team that has a good nucleus of young players to build around for many years to come.

Making the playoffs signifies a great season even if this team showed mediocrity again or not win a playoff game.

The hope is that this team can use this year as a steppingstone for bigger and better things in the next few years. Expectations are going to be higher next season, and it should be.

This is just the beginning.

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Gift For Jets To Enjoy

Published: December 27, 2009

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Count this columnist as surprised to see what took place.

He figured the Colts would play all their starters in an attempt to go undefeated, but when an unhappy Peyton Manning stood in the sideline for most of the second half, it was a sign the Colts gave up.

It’s hard to believe this is Jim Caldwell’s call. Coaches like to win every game while executives seek to protect their players from injuries in games that mean nothing to their team.

Understandably, the audience at Lucas Oil Stadium booed the decision by the Colts.

The Jets hided their glee well by acting indifferent about Curtis Painter’s presence at quarterback.

Painter predictably struggled to the point he made Kellen Clemens’ critics appreciate what Clemens does.  The Jets created turnovers off the Colts backup quarterback, and that helped them destroy the Colts out in the second half by scoring off Painter’s mistakes.

Rex Ryan’s team does not have to apologize for getting a victory here. They did what they had to do by finishing off a team that basically wanted to get out of the game without any injuries as they head to a Super Bowl run.

It would have been another Sunday of Jets doing what they do best had they lost this one so don’t expect any complaining about this win.

Not only did the Jets won on the field, but they won off the field too when Denver, Jacksonville, Miami and Baltimore lost their games.

They control their playoff destiny as a result of those both factors.

Now, the Jets must finish off the Bengals at home next Sunday night for them to make the playoffs, and that’s feasible.

It’s hard to believe Marvin Lewis will be trotting out his best Bengals players for that game. There’s no reason for him to do that considering his team should be locked as the 4th seed on Wild-Card weekend.

Talking about being blessed right there. They face a team that will likely hand them a victory.

Not even the Jets can screw this one up no matter how hard they try.

It will likely be Jets/Patriots on Wild-Card weekend at Foxborough. That should be a great draw for the league.

It’s remarkable how the Jets are in this position.

The critics counted them out so many times this year. They thought everything ended after last week’s disappointing ending to the Falcons. Even Rex Ryan thought it was a lost cause when he admitted it in the start of the press conference after that game.

Fortunately for them, everything worked out with the other AFC teams losing games they should be winning.

It’s also a credit to Ryan for getting his players to keep playing even when it looked like it’s a lost cause.

Everyone thought the Giants would be the lone New York team in the playoffs, but it doesn’t look that’s going to happen after the team quit on themselves this afternoon in their final game at Giants Stadium.

It’s up to the Jets now to represent the city for the playoffs.

Who would’ve thought everyone banking their hopes on the team?

Giants Stadium may not have had a good ending today by the landlords of the building, but an another tenant can close the building in style in the final game ever at that place.

Talk about a Christmas miracle.


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Redskins Stuggles Continue in Loss to Giants

Published: December 22, 2009

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The Redskins hired Bruce Allen to run their football operations last week in an attempt to get them back on track after Vinny Cerrato set the franchise in bad shape with awful personnel moves for most of this decade.

Allen saw his new team in person last night, and the team performed a horror show in front of him.

Talk about a poor impression.

People at least expected the Redskins to put up a fight against the Giants, but the Skins rolled over to a team that is fighting for their playoff lives.

The sad part was that the Redskins appeared like they could have cared less. They just accepted it.

After such a terrible performance, shame on the Cowboys if they lose to the Redskins on Sunday Night Football this coming week.

There’s no reason for Dallas to lose to them. Throw that “anything can happen in a rivalry game” theory out. All one has to do is just look at how inept the Redskins are offensively, not to mention the terrible job by the coaching staff. Their defense is okay, but then again, it’s hard to take them seriously after what everyone witnessed against the Giants.

The Giants deserve their props for playing a great game and for winning a game they should win. That’s how teams qualify for the playoffs.

With that said, it’s hard to make much of what they did here, as Washington will never be confused with the Eagles, Cardinals or the Saints.

The Giants offense continues to play well, with Eli Manning hitting his receivers and Brandon Jacobs continuing his renaissance. However, let’s not make a proclamation that the defense is back, as the Redskins are not the most offensively gifted team.

All in all, this game was more about how bad Washington is than how good the Giants are.

When Ahmad Bradshaw and Jacobs ran the ball, the Redskins offered no resistance. That helped the Giants chew up most of the clock in the first quarter, as they helped themselves to a 7-0 lead.

The success of the running game helped the passing game. While the Redskins attempted to contain the Giants running back duo, Manning discovered his open receivers. It was these deep throws that helped the Giants pour it on.

Washington’s offense failed to muster anything for most of the night, which included the Giants sacking Jason Campbell five times.

The Redskins did get something going late in the first half when Todd Collins replaced Campbell after the Redskins starting quarterback went to the locker room to check out his shoulder. However, they managed to screw that up too.

The Redskins attempted a field goal, but instead they tried a trick play that resulted in the kicker throwing an interception.

That symbolized the ineptitude of the team, not only in this game, but for their entire season.

There was nothing to see after that.

For all we know, the new president of football operations and Daniel Snyder probably went home at halftime. Who can blame them?

Mike Shanahan could be the new Redskins coach, but he will clearly look at his options as any smart person would. He wants the Cowboys job since he can win right away, but that may be hard to get if Wade Phillips pulls a Coughlin and wins the Super Bowl.

Adam Schefter and Jay Glazer speculated that Shanahan will not be coaching the Cowboys, but things can change.

Allen enters a messy situation, and it’s not going to get better in one year. It may take two or three years before he and the new coach can succed

Jim Zorn expereinced a tough night as their head coach, but that won’t be his problem anymore soon.

For that, he should be thankful for the small blessings this holiday season.




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New York Jets’ Losing Clinics Getting Old

Published: December 20, 2009

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Everything aligned properly for the Jets when the game started.

The Falcons came to town knowing they were eliminated from the playoffs after the Cowboys’ impressive performance against the Saints last night.

They had nothing to play for in this cold weather.

Teams tend to fold when they hear news like that.

Plus, the Falcons entered this game with the weather being cold, after a snowstorm last night at New Jersey.

The Jets loved their chances.

Then, the game started.

Falcons coach Mike Smith decided to start Matt Ryan in a game he didn’t need to, and Ryan executed down the stretch that helped the Falcons earn an ugly 10-7 victory that basically ended the Jets’ postseason hopes.

The Jets can only wish Mark Sanchez can grow up and do the things Ryan did out there.

If he does, maybe everyone would stop being cynical and feeling disappointed about the Jets.

It may happen one day or it may not. Time will tell.

Right now, it’s tough to watch when a quarterback learns on the job. It leads to disastrous results, and that’s what happened this afternoon.

Sanchez started off fine by throwing deep to the red zone in the first quarter, but after that, he struggled all day.

He threw three interceptions including the late interception that set up Ryan throwing the game-winning touchdown.

Talk about defense failing to finish, but it’s hard to rip them. They played great all day.

They did their job. It came down to lack of offense and lack of execution by their reliable kicker in Jay Feely.

This sounds familiar, right?

It’s just another day at the field where everyone expects bad things to happen when it comes to the Jets.

They saw this three times this year where the ending gets bad after what looked it was going to be a good day.

It’s like watching a “Honeymooners” episode where Ralph Kramden thinks he knows what he is doing, yet everything backfires on him in the end.

With the Dolphins, Broncos and the Jaguars losing, this would have inched the Jets that much closer to a playoff spot, so it’s inexcusable to see them put on a bad show.

This is nothing new, though.

The Jets pulled these stunts before. Heck, even Bill Parcells could not be immune from that.

The Jets needed to win their game against the mediocre Lions in Parcells’ first season with the team.

A win would have put them in the playoffs, but, instead, Parcells decided to be selfish by using Leon Johnson at quarterback at times just to spite Neil O’Donnell.

The Jets eventually did not win the game, so the Jets did not make a playoff appearance in the 1997 season.

In Al Groh’s lone season with the team, all the Jets needed to do is beat teams they should beat in the end, but Groh worked the team so hard that they worn down in December.

Pete Carroll never had any success either in his one-and-done season.

After a great start, the Jets fell apart after Dan Marino’s spike in 1995.

Bruce Coslet’s Jets choked a lot.

All the Jets needed to do was beat the Houston Oilers—that would have sealed a playoff spot. It didn’t happen, and Coslet eventually was fired.

For Pete’s sake, the Jets could not even win with Brett Favre as their quarterback last year.

One can make a case about how the Jets failed to finish the deal in the AFC Championship game against the Broncos in Parcells’ second year, but let’s leave that out since the Broncos were not going to be denied of losing at home in that game.

Notice the theme, though.

This team knows how to lose. Other teams expect the Jets to screw up all the time. It’s no wonder why teams don’t fear or respect the Jets.

It isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Ryan talks about swagger and confidence, but it means nothing when they don’t back it up.

This cynic wasn’t fooled in Ryan’s introductory press conference.

He heard it all from all these Jets coaches over the years—things will be different when they are introduced to the media for the first time.

Want to know when things are going to be different?

The day the Jets figure out how to end this type of predictable ending like today.



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Looking at the Jets Postseason Odds

Published: December 19, 2009

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Just looking at the title itself, it’s remarkable the Jets are in a position of chasing teams to get a wild-card spot after struggling for most of October and November.

The Jets managed to win three in a row while other teams started stumbling. This paved the way for Gang Green to make a playoff push.

Rex Ryan must be ecstatic to be in this situation along with his players. It makes their games watchable for the next few weeks rather than seeing them play out the season.

Right now, the Jets are in the hunt. They are chasing the Jaguars, Ravens, Broncos, and the Dolphins with the Steelers playing themselves out of contention after losing to several inferior teams this season.

People can pencil the Broncos in the first wild-card spot since they play two teams playing for draft position in the Raiders and the Chiefs. Of course if the Broncos lose to the Raiders tomorrow at home, all bets are off, but it’s hard to believe that’s happening.

So it comes down to the last playoff spot.

Let’s eliminate the Jaguars. They have been inconsistent all season, and they are a good bet to lose one more game down the stretch.

The Jets should focus their sights on the Ravens and the Dolphins. Those two teams will offer stiff competition for New York.

The Ravens have an easy schedule the rest of the way with the Bears, Steelers, and the Raiders. They can easily win three in a row, but if they can’t, two in a row could be good enough for them to make the playoffs as the sixth seed.

They control their destiny so they know what they have to do.

The Dolphins are playing well at the right time. Everyone counted them out after a rough start and Chad Pennington’s injury, but Chad Henne played well enough to win and put the team in position to make the final two weeks count.

Their schedule is feasible to win games as they draw the Titans, Texans, and the Steelers. They could win three in a row too.

With that said, the Ravens schedule gives them the edge for a playoff spot.

The only way the Jets and the Dolphins qualify for the playoffs is winning the division, and that’s going to be tough with the Patriots playing a schedule that is winnable for them with the Bills, Jaguars, and Texans on the docket.

Hard to believe the Patriots are going to choke, so forget the division.

The Jets will fall short just based on these scenarios.

Plus, the Jets schedule does not figure to be easy. They should beat the Falcons tomorrow, but the Colts and the Bengals will offer much stiffer competition.

The Colts know they are playing for history, trying to match the 1972 Dolphins with an undefeated season leading to a Super Bowl victory.

The Bengals would like to get a bye in the first round so expect them to play their best players.

It’s hard to think this Jets defense will stop those two offensive juggernauts. The defense has played well lately, but it helps that they faced some porous offensive teams in Buffalo, Carolina, and Tampa Bay.
It does not make the final two weeks meaningless though. The Jets will certainly get national attention in their matchup with the Colts, and if they can somehow upset them, it’s something to be proud of heading to the offseason.

Winning out can make next season interesting.

Right now, this team is more fun to watch than the Giants.

The Giants can talk about making the playoffs, but to be honest, they don’t deserve to be there. They are only in it because of the Cowboys’ struggles.

The Jets at least have an improving coach and an intriguingly young quarterback. The next two weeks will be a test to show just how much this squad has grown up heading into next year.

It’s a credit to the coaching staff and the players that the Jets can finish the season with a winning record. It looked bleak after their loss to the Patriots.

The thought was the Jets would have a losing season, but that probably will not be the case.

At 7-6 and with an opportunity to win at least nine or 10 games, it would have to be a good season considering where the team was after what happened in Foxborough a few weeks ago.

The fact that anything can happen from now until the end of the year should be a good thing for a team. When a team comes out of training camp, they aspire to play in meaningful games in December.

That is where the Jets are right now.

These two weeks should matter even if it means sitting at home in January.

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Time For Some Giant Payback

Published: December 12, 2009

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Sunday Night Football routinely features the best game of the week ever since NBC acquired the broadcasting rights, and this one should be no different tomorrow night with the Giants facing the Eagles for what will likely determine the division crown.

The Giants know everything is at stake, just like last week. A victory puts them in the driver’s seat as far as playoff positioning goes, but a loss and odds are this season will likely not end well.

That’s not the only reason why they need to win the game. It’s about time the Eagles realize their dominance of the Big Blue will not be tolerated anymore.

Since the Tom Coughlin era, Andy Reid’s team finds a way to out-scheme and outplay their hated rivals every game. It’s no secret why the Eagles have taken two straight regular season games and two straight playoff games against them.

The Eagles defend better and the Giants don’t react well to physical play. Plus, Donovan McNabb saves his greatest games for them.

It’s time for all of that to change.

Maybe it’s time the Giants get up more for the Eagles than they do for the Cowboys. Giants players like to speak out about their disdain for America’s team, but rarely does anyone on the Giants show that attitude towards the Eagles.

The last Giants player that spoke out about Philly was Michael Strahan, and that’s it.

Most of the comments from the Giants seem to be more of a respectful manner while the Eagles don’t have any respect for the Giants.

The Giants must stop showing any respect for the Eagles when it comes to interviews. That type of attitude causes a team to be complacent on Sundays.

In a historic rivalry between those two teams, there’s no reason for either side to bow down to the other. The one that wants to win the most does not show any deference to the other team.

For the outcome to favor the Giants, it starts with their approach.

Physical play plays a role between winning and losing, and the Giants have consistenly failed to play that way when they matchup with the Philadelphia.

The Eagles must be punched from start to finish. If it means playing dirty then so be it. That’s what the Giants must do.

McNabb faces no resistance from any Giant when he does his thing on the field. Someone should have done something in the playoff game last year when McNabb went to the Giants sidelines to call someone for help in a mocking manner.

The Eagles quarterback should have been shoved or something. Even confronting him would have been better, but instead, the Giants stood there like mannequins.

If a Giant did that at the Eagles sidelines, rest assured something would have happened.

The Eagles offensive line should be manhandled, and New York should also blitz McNabb the entire night.

Strahan talked about how the Giants stomped everyone out in their playoff run, and it’s that attitude the Eagles should be subjected to come tomorrow.

It also would be nice if Eli Manning leads the charge. He does okay against the Eagles, but okay is not enough to beat a good team like Philadelphia. He needs to play like his counterpart.

This is the opportunity the Giants need to start a great in January run.

A dominating performance can make something for other teams to think about it when it’s time to play the G-Men in the playoffs. Coughlin’s squad will become the one no wants to face.

The good teams peak at the right time in December so this is the Giants’ time to turn their fortunes around.

Everyone likes to think things will be different this time around with the Eagles, but they need to go out and prove it.

They need to prove to themselves that they are not scared of the Eagles.

The Eagles feel comfortable playing against them especially at Giants Stadium. This should never be the case.

Opposing teams tend to be scared to go to that stadium at this time of the year with the cold weather and rowdy fans, but with the Eagles, it’s like they are home.

The onus is on the Giants to do something.

If the Giants want this to stop, it’s time for them to play like it.

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Now That’s Giants Football

Published: December 6, 2009

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Everyone waited for the Giants to be the best they can be in recent weeks, and today, they saw the Giants dominate the Cowboys in every facet of the game, helping New York keep its season afloat.

It was a show that the Giants expect out of themselves on a weekly basis. They found their swagger and identity by playing swarming defense and running the ball at will with timely passing from Eli Manning.

The critics will talk about how tight the Cowboys were in this game, but with the way the Giants played, no one was beating them.

This game was all about the Giants. When they play at a high level, they are tough to beat, and the Cowboys found that out the hard way.

Everyone expected Big Blue to play well since they know a loss would likely end their season. Plus, they embrace being in this type of situation where they need to win out in going to the play-offs.

The G-Men set the tone early with the defense stopping the run and the wide receivers being covered by the cornerbacks. Then, the defensive line forced Tony Romo to throw the ball away on a consistent basis, and it resulted to another frustrating day for the Cowboys quarterback.

The Giants defensive unit know that they needed to play well for the team to win this game. Everyone has been on Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan throughout this funk, but the players realize they must step up and rally around their coordinator instead of feeling sorry for themselves and moaning about the loss of Steve Spagnuolo.

It was about time those guys showed accountability, by just playing, instead of worrying about what Sheridan is doing. To his credit, Sheridan called a great game today by sending a lot of pressure and attacking Romo.

Brandon Jacobs has underachieved all season, but the Cowboys proved to be the tonic that unleashed him to run laterally and breaking through many defenders, and that helped to open up the passing game in the second half.

It was refereshing to see he is not washed up, for one game at least. Jacobs makes this offense go as we saw last season so he has to figure out how he can duplicate this type of performance in the next few weeks.

Maybe he needs to pretend every opponent is the Dallas Cowboys to get his motor running.

Manning played well as he always does against the Cowboys. It’s hard to nitpick what he did wrong today. He demonstrated why he is an elite quarterback when everything goes right for him.

His throws were on target overall. It’s a shame, though, that some of his catchable passes were not caught by Steve Smith and Mario Manningham in the first half.

The Giants offensive line manhandled the Cowboys line overall hence why Jacobs and Manning had all the time to do what they had to do.

After watching the game, it’s remarkable how bad the Giants played since their loss in New Orleans. There’s no shame losing to an undefeated Saints team that will likely win the Super Bowl this year, but to go out and lose to teams that are not on the same level as the Giants is unacceptable.

These guys feed off of pressure, so they likely wanted to lose some games to get people on them. It worked today.

It remains to be seen if the Giants cure their woes. They have fooled us too often over the years, just when we think they’ve straightened up their act.

The only way we will truly know is if they win many games the rest of the month, but then, people will question their credentials come January.

That said, the Giants learned something about themselves today. They have the potential to be play-off material.

Now, they just need to apply their success to next weeks game against the Eagles that’ve owned them lately.

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Jets Finally Get It Right With Sanchez

Published: December 4, 2009

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This critic wonders why it took after the Patriots game for Rex Ryan to realize the Jets put Mark Sanchez in a position to fail by giving him too much responsibility.

Ryan decided to scale down the playbook for his struggling quarterback by telling him to throw the ball to his running backs more and only to make passes when it’s appropriate.

So far, this strategy has worked. The results have been two wins in a row after the Jets’ 19-13 victory over the Bills helped them to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Sanchez played a good game overall before leaving the game with an injury. Sanchez’s ability to run for first downs is what helped the Jets be in position to score the game-winning touchdown.

The USC star showed everyone why Mike Tannenbaum liked the guy enough to make a trade in the NFL Draft. He threw accurately and hit Braylon Edwards with a nice pass for a touchdown. He knew how to avoid being sacked by figuring out to run to open spaces.

You can talk about the defense winning the game, but without Sanchez’s smart play, the Jets would not be in a position to celebrate a victory.

Ryan deserved his criticism for this losing streak so it’s only fair that he gets his props for getting this straightened out.

We waited for the rookie coach to get tough and figure out a way to get the Jets back on track, and he finally did it by being involved with the offensive meetings in an effort to help his quarterback.

Ryan likes to work with his defensive unit, and he takes pride on defense being the story in games like his father’s defenses were, but that’s not how a head coach should go about it.

A head coach needs to be involved in all facets of the game so it’s a good thing Ryan realized that fact.

It’s a sign Ryan is growing in his job by being proactive with Sanchez.

Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer screwed the development of the Jets quarterback by forcing him to throw a ridiculous amount of passes based on his success the first three games of the season.

Schottenheimer should have realized that rookie quarterbacks do not become prolific passers this quickly so it’s baffling a son of a veteran football coach never understood this concept.

If Ryan did not get involved, there’s no doubt the Jets offensive coordinator would keep his quarterback throwing. After all, this is the same guy that told Brett Favre to wing the ball despite the fact he was playing with an injured shoulder.

This begs the question whether Schottenheimer should be running the offense next year.

Ryan talked about how the Jets were going to be an all-weather offense with more running game and less passing game in training camp so it’s inexcusable to see Schottenheimer stray away from that strategy.

By setting Sanchez up to fail, it cost the Jets several winnable games in recent weeks. We will undoubtedly look back at this decision if the Jets don’t qualify for the playoffs.

It’s better late than never that the coach figured it out at least.

We look for progress during a course of the season, and now we’ve seen it from the head coach.

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