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Tag:Santonio Holmes
Posted on: February 7, 2011 7:11 pm
 

Revis: 'I want Chad to come here and play for us'

Posted by Will Brinson

The New York Jets have a pile of people leaving via free agency after this season and a few of them are wide recivers (Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Brad Smith).

Even if they don't bring those guys back, there might be another option: Chad Ochocinco.

Well, at least if Darrelle Revis has his way -- according to Metro in New York, the wide receiver's been lobbying Ochocinco to join him in the Big Apple. 

"I want Chad to come here and play for us, to be a Jet," Revis said. "I've been in his ear a lot about it this week ... I think he could do well here. I've been telling him to come here."

Ochocinco would actually work out alright with the Jets, because he's a talented wideout (even if he's lost some of his speed) who can still produce and he'd fit especially nicely on the other side of the field from Santonio Holmes.

But there's the small matter of everyone putting up with him. Ocho is a notorious publicity-hound and there's nowhere with a stronger media spotlight in New York.

Though that might seem like a perfect union, the city and the player aren't the only ones who have to put up with the experience. The New York fans would have to be on board (not a problem until he fails to produce) and then there's the collateral damage that is every single other person unable to tune out the noise coming out of the potential new partnership.

Still, the Jets have't shied away from acquiring players of Ochocinco's ilk, so while we can hope it doesn't happen, there's really no reason to rule out the possibility.

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Posted on: January 25, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Brian Schottenheimer isn't going anywhere

Brian Schottenheimer had his play-calling questioned after New York's game Sunday (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Following the Jets loss Sunday, New York fans were displeased with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s play-calling, especially considering the team failed to gain two yards – and a touchdown – in four plays with the team down by 14.

You know that the Jets were stuffed on fourth-and-one on a straight run up the middle by LaDainian Tomlinson, and that continues to make fans rather upset. Heck, even coach Rex Ryan second-guessed some of the play-calling, particularly the attempted passes on second and third down at the end of that drive.

That, however, doesn’t mean Ryan is relieving Schottenheimer of his duties. Because he’s not.

“If we had the benefit of hindsight, we should have probably just ran Shonn Greene or (LaDainian Tomlinson) four straight times,” Ryan said, via the Newark Star Ledger. “That’s easy to look back on it. We clearly thought that we had some good plays designed, and it just never worked out.”

Fans weren’t the only ones criticizing. WR Santonio Holmes openly questioned why he wasn’t on the field in the first few plays of the game.

“Ask coach Schottenheimer what happened,” Holmes said. “He’ll explain everything to you.”

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Posted on: January 24, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Taylor's career might come to a close

J. Taylor might have played the final game of his career (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Jason Taylor has had a standout career, mostly as a Dolphins LB but this season as a solid member of the Jets defense. At 37, his best days are clearly behind him, though he’s still shown he has retained much of his skill set.

Now, after the Steelers ended the Jets season Sunday, Taylor – who finished with five sacks, the lowest total he’s ever recorded while playing a full 16-game season – will have to decide whether he’ll try to return for another year.

Well, it’s not necessarily a matter of him deciding.

The Jets might not want him back – as ESPN.com’s Tim Graham points out, New York will be more concerned with free agents WR Santonio Holmes, WR Braylon Edwards, WR Brad Smith, DE Shaun Ellis, LB David Harris and CB Antonio Cromartie.

"I pride myself on being a play-maker and a game-changer," Taylor told reporters in an emotional postgame presser. "While I might not be the same as I was a few years ago, I still need to do more."

Whether he’ll get that chance is questionable. And if not, he can fall back on the whole “he had a pretty outstanding career” thing. Because he did.

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Posted on: January 20, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Assessing the X-factors: Super Bowl hopefuls

Posted by Andy Benoit

Only four teams are still standing in the 2010 NFL season, and each believes they’re destined to hoist the Lombardi Trophy on Feb 6. The Steelers have hoisted the trophy a record six times. The Jets have hoisted it zero times but only because the stingy NFL does not hand out hardware for self-proclaimed preseason titles.

The Bears have won gobs of titles, but only one of them has been in the Super Bowl era (1985). The Packers have won three times that many Super Bowls (’66, ’67 and ’96). Neither the Packers nor Bears ever had to go through the other during the postseason to claim their title. In fact, they’ve only met in the playoffs once – and that came a week after Pearl Harbor. Yet, many fans have acquiesced to the television executives and marketing gurus telling them to view this as the best rivalry in football. In the spirit of Championship Week hype, we’ll go with it.

It will stoke the Bear-Packer rivalry when one of the teams ruins the other’s Super Bowl chances this Sunday. We’ll assume the same concept will also lay the groundwork for a Jets-Steelers rivalry (so far it’s been a bizarre love fest between those two teams).

So what are all these teams’ chances at actually making it to Arlington and having a shot at the Lombardi Trophy? Well, technically, 50 percent each. But vagueness disguised as mathematics is no fun. And neither is breaking down the same key matchups a million times. So, instead, we’ll drum up some Super Bowl appearance odds based on various X factors.

*taking the opponent’s factors into consideration


Green Bay Packers

Known to Football Fans for:
Offensive weaponry, aggressive 3-4 defense
C. Woodson (US Presswire)
Known to Non-football fans for: Cheeseheads

Most dangerous X factor: Charles Woodson

Most subtle X factor: Mike McCarthy’s occasionally questionable clock management

Injury factor: Nothing new this week (a nice changeup for a team that’s been a mash unit all season)

External conditions factor: Must adapt to the unfamiliar and unstable Soldier Field surface

Favorable karmic factor: Taking a hard line against Brett Favre’s wishy-washiness three years ago by turning to Aaron Rodgers
Unfavorable karmic factor: Stringing Rodgers along for three years before that (though to be fair, that Favre guy was pretty darn good)

Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: +8

Final Super Bowl appearance chances: 58 percent



Chicago Bears

Known to Football Fans for:
Black and blue offense that we’re all still trying to remember is actually more of pass-first Mike Martz offense now. Also, known for classic Cover 2 defenseJ. Cutler (US Presswire)

Known to Non-football fans for: Da Bears

Most dangerous X factor: Devin Hester

Most subtle X factor: The offensive line’s ability (or inability?) to diagnose blitzes before the snap

Injury factor:
Safety Chris Harris missed practice earlier this week with a sore hip

External conditions factor: Haven’t faced an above .500 team in the postseason since losing to the Colts in Super Bowl XLI

Favorable karmic factor: Jay Cutler and Mike Martz have been able to put their big egos aside and get along just fine

Unfavorable karmic factor: Cutler and Martz are only here because so many others got sick of dealing with those big egos
Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: -8

Final title chances: 42 percent



New York Jets

Known to Football Fans for:
Complex defensive scheme, run-first offense led by young quarterback and brashness
Known to Non-football fans for: Hard Knocks, Ines Sainz, foot fetishes and, before those things, being that “Oh that’s right, there are TWO teams from New York” team
R. Ryan (US Presswire)
Most dangerous X factor: Brad Smith

Most subtle X factor: The unheralded defensive line’s ability to get penetration against the run.

Injury factor: WR/KR Brad Smith (groin) practiced this week after sitting out against the Patriots; OLB/DE Jason Taylor did not practice (concussion)

External conditions factor: Attempting field goals in Heinz Field is unsettling. Attempting field goals in Heinz Field with a bewilderingly up-and-down kicker like Nick Folk? Downright nerve-wracking.

Favorable karmic factor: Their confidence

Unfavorable karmic factor: Their arrogance

Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: -13

Final title chances: 37 percent



Pittsburgh Steelers

Known to Football Fans for:
Being the consummate NFL franchise

Known to Non-football fans for: Being the last true remindB. Roethlisberger (US Presswire)er that Pittsburgh once had a burgeoning steel industry

Most dangerous X factor:
Troy Polamalu

Most subtle X factor: Nose tackle Casey Hampton’s immovability against the run

Injury factor:
SS Troy Polamalu once again rested his sore Achilles; CB Bryant McFadden sat out with a strained abdomen; DE Aaron Smith (triceps) practiced for first time since October but will not play Sunday.

External conditions factor: Because they didn’t lose them all in a row like their intrastate neighbors to the east, you don’t hear much about this: the Steelers have lost four AFC title games since 1994. All at home, by the way.

Favorable karmic factor: Management dumping bright star Santonio Holmes after his off-field transgressions

Unfavorable karmic factor: Management not dumping brighter star Ben Roethlisberger after his off-field transgressions

Overall factor impact on Super Bowl chances*: +13

Final title chances: 63 percent


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Posted on: January 20, 2011 8:41 am
 

Finally! Some Jets-Steelers trash talk (sort of)

Posted by Andy Benoit

Does this constitute trash talk from Santonio Holmes? The ex-Steelers receiver was asked if this Sunday’s matchup was personal for him.
At first he replied, via Pro Football Talk, “I think the personal game is out the way. I got a chance to beat them the first time around.” (He’s referring to New York’s Week 15 win at Pittsburgh, in which Holmes was the Jets’ lone captain that day.)

But Holmes went on to add, “Everything personal, will happen two, three weeks after. If we win the Super Bowl, then everything is personal, that’s a slap back in those guy’s face for trading me. For right now, that’s not even a focus of mine.”

Cornerback Ike Taylor, one of Holmes’ closest friends in Pittsburgh, undoubtedly got the NFL’s attention with his response.

“I’m not going to hesitate to lay him out,” Taylor told the New York Post. “No question at all. You know why? Because he ain’t going to hesitate to crack on me if he gets a chance.”

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Posted on: January 17, 2011 1:02 am
Edited on: January 17, 2011 2:16 pm
 

10 championship round stories worth attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1.) Jets Win; So how are we supposed to feel?

Normally, a sixth seeded 8.5-point underdog going on the road and upsetting the runaway Super Bowl favorite would classify as one of those feel-good Cinderella stories. But because the garrulous New York Jets have irritated so many this season, we find ourselves in a silent state of ambiguity. Did anyone actually stop and think befoNew York (US Presswire)rehand about the possibility of the Jets backing up their words? Or were we all too busy preparing our clever one-liners about comeuppance and karma?

Most troubling for Jets haters is that the Jets didn’t just beat the Pats, they beat them while staying true to form. A great example was how Shonn Greene opted for the blatant 15-yard celebration penalty after his de facto final-coffin-nail touchdown run. It was an immature and untimely gaffe that Greene’s coach was surely going to chew him out for. That is, if Greene’s coach hadn’t run (OK, lumbered) to the end zone to join the celebration.

To be fair, Greene’s coach had plenty to celebrate. Rex Ryan said all along that this matchup was about him and Bill Belichick. Well, Ryan won it. The Jets defense stifled New England’s high-powered offense by pressuring Tom Brady (Mike DeVito had his best game of the season; Shaun Ellis had two of New York’s five sacks; Jason Taylor put left tackle Matt Light on skates in the second half).

The Jets pressured Brady primarily by locking down his receivers. Deep in the fourth quarter, Ryan’s gameplan was still befuddling Brady and the Pats (you think New England was intentionally milking the clock on that fruitless 15-play drive?). Maddeningly enough, the Jet most responsible for the lockdown job on Brady’s targets was, aside from the brilliant Darrelle Revis, one Antonio Cromartie. The ex-Charger might be an utterly unlikeable reprobate, but the reality is, the Jets wouldn’t be returning to the AFC Championship without him.

Cromartie wasn’t the only “villain” responsible for the win Sunday. Wideouts Santonio Holmes (who served a four-game suspension early in the season) and Braylon Edwards (who was arrested for DUI in September) both had crucial touchdown catches. And neither was shy about enjoying the moment.

So the Jets walked their talk. No one could have predicted it. After all, they lost by 42 in Foxboro just a month earlier. Not to mention, theirs was the type of talk that even Moses would have had trouble walking. But because they did it, we get at least one more week of hearing them rattle off all the reasons they’re going to win the Super Bowl. And this time, we’ll have to listen quietly.

 

2.) Aaron Rodgers: the best quarterback left? A. Rodgers (US Presswire)

Hard to believe that “Aaron Rodgers has never won a playoff game” was actually a viable storyline earlier this month. Rodgers’ performance at Atlanta Saturday night (31 of 36, 366 yards, three touchdowns) was within arm’s reach of flawless. It was Rodger’s second straight three touchdown-zero interception playoff performance. And let’s not forget, the man registered 633 yards while throwing five touchdowns to just one interception in Green Bay’s final two must-win games on the regular season (coming off his second concussion of the year, no less).

Rodgers is the quarterback many experts would choose if starting a team right now. That’s saying something considering Ben Roethlisberger, two wins away from a third Super Bowl ring, is only 20 months older than Rodgers. Rodgers, like Roethlisberger, has an innate ability to extend a play and find his third or fourth read. Also like Roethlisberger (and Cutler, too), Rodgers is blessed with incredible natural tools (strong arm, mobility, etc.).

But it’s Rodgers’ shrewd presnap awareness that sets him apart. The three other remaining quarterbacks are all, at best, average when it comes to diagnosing a defense before the snap. Rodgers, as his wideouts will tell you, is fantastic. Maybe – MAYBE – that’s because he, unlike the other three remaining quarterbacks, was not shoved into the starting lineup as a first-round rookie.


3.) Sanchez’s Spotlight

An indirect (or perhaps direct) consequence of Rex Ryan’s loquaciousness is that it diminishes the media’s spotlight on quarterback Mark Sanchez. Who’s to say whether that’s Ryan’s intent. (The guess here is it’s not, given that Ryan at one point talked openly about benching his young signalcaller.) But given Sanchez’s youth and the disposition of the New York media, a diminished spotlight is probably a good thing.
M. Sanchez (US Presswire)
Think about the intensity of the spotlight if it weren’t diminished. The Jets traded up to draft the USC superstar  fifth overall. In two seasons Sanchez has led the Jets to two AFC title game appearances. He already holds the franchise record with four career playoff wins. This postseason, he has defeated Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Granted, Sanchez did not outplay Manning. But with three touchdowns and no turnovers at New England, he did outplay Brady. (And besides, we’re talking about a media spotlight here; it doesn’t matter to the headline writers if he outplayed Manning).

This is a quarterback who could easily be overhyped. Adding fuel to the Sanchez fire is the fact that he’s far and away the most prominent Latino player in today’s NFL. Given America’s changing demographics, you think marketing execs aren’t salivating at this?

In a lot of respects, Sanchez still has a long ways to go as an NFL passer. But so did Eli Manning after two seasons. The New York media could not resist the urge to pile on Manning. That’s partly because Manning never had the luxury of playing for an attention-grabbing head coach.

 

4.) The irony of Santonio Holmes

The Jets probably wouldn’t be in the AFC Championship if they hadn’tS. Holmes (US Presswire) brought in Santonio Holmes. His speed, quickness and precise route running have infused a big-play element into an otherwise run-of-the-mill passing game. Holmes’ tiptoe (or tip-right-knee) touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone at Foxboro gave the Jets a critical 10-point advantage late in the second half. Earlier in the year, Holmes helped the Jets keep winning while they went through somewhat of a rough patch by registering a 52-yard catch-and-run set up a game-winning overtime field goal against the Lions in Week 9 and a 37-yard overtime touchdown against the Browns in Week 10.

Where the irony comes in is the Steelers might not be in the AFC Championship if not for dumping Holmes. Sure, Holmes was just as important a big-play weapon for Pittsburgh as he’s been for New York. (We all remember Super Bowl 43.) But Holmes’ extensive off-field transgressions also flew in the face of everything the Rooney Family’s organization stands for. It’s the commitment to character that, in the big scheme of things, has laid the foundation for the Steelers’ six Super Bowl titles.

What’s more, if Holmes didn’t depart Pittsburgh, third-year pro Mike Wallace might not have become a 1,200-yard receiver and lethal big-play specialist. And youngsters Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown probably wouldn’t have gotten enough reps to assume critical roles come playoff time.

 

5.) Jerry Angelo’s and Lovie Smith’s Gambles Pay Off

Before this season, every decision-maker in Chicago was on the hot seat. No seats were hotter than those hosting general manager Jerry Angelo and head coach Lovie Smith. In 2009, Angelo gave up a pair of first-round draft choices and handful of attractive ancillary pieces (namely quarterback Kyle Orton) to acquire Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. The cannon-armed but petulant 26-year-old (at the time) tossed a league-high 26 interceptions in his first season as a Bear. L. Smith (US Presswire)

In the ensuing offseason, outside observers understood that Angelo had no choice but to stick with Cutler. What they didn’t understand was why Angelo would not invest in an offensive line to help protect his quarterback. Instead of bringing in reinforcements for one of the least talented front fives in football, Angelo handed more than $40 million in guaranteed money to free agent defensive end Julius Peppers. Peppers was a great acquisition, but his price tag would doom the organization if he remained as inconsistent as he was in Carolina.

As it’s turned out, Peppers has been sensational in Chicago. His eight sacks don’t begin to tell the story of his dominance. Brian Urlacher (whose return after missing 15 games with a wrist injury also reinvigorated the Bears D) says his first-year teammate deserves Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Cutler has been less spectacular than Peppers though still good enough to lead the Bears to an NFC North division title (despite operating behind a questionable front five). Credit the arrival of offensive coordinator Mike Martz. And, credit Martz’s arrival to Lovie Smith. Knowing that a fourth straight missed postseason would result in his unemployment, the defensive-minded Smith called upon the most offensive-minded coach football has seen in the past 10 years. Smith and Martz were old friends from their days in St. Louis, but many doubted that there would be enough humility in the air for their seemingly clashing philosophies to gel.

But gel they have, thanks to Smith’s willingness to be hands-off. He has let Martz handle the offense. He’s let Mike Tice, another former head coach, handle the offensive line. Tice has made chicken soup out of chicken…well, you know.

The offensive line’s consistent improvements are comparable to the consistent improvements of Chicago’s more-talented defensive line. Israel Idonije and Matt Toeaina have been particularly impressive, thanks to the tutelage of Rod Marinelli, the defensive line specialist who accepted the defensive coordinating responsibilities thrust upon him by Smith.

In all, with his job on the line, Lovie Smith delegated major responsibilities to three former head coaches who are now assistants on his staff. How many of the other 31 Type A personalities running NFL teams would be willing to do THAT?


6.) The AFC’s Rich Defensive Casts

The Jets and Steelers both run 3-4 defenses littered with big-name stars. For the Jets, it begins and ends with Darrelle Revis, the best shutdown corner since Deion Sanders (if not the best all-around cornerback of the post 80’s era). Then there’s playmaker Antonio Cromartie. And inside linebackers Bart Scott (outspoken Pro Bowl caliber veteran) and David Harris (tackling machine whom colleagues voted team MVP). Plus, outside linebacker Jason Taylor is a future Hall of Famer. I. Taylor (US Presswire)

The Steelers, of course, have the most identifiable defensive player in football: Troy Polamalu. Outside linebacker James Harrison is a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and his counterpart LaMarr Woodley is not far behind. Plus, most fans recognize nose tackle Casey Hampton because a.) He’s the size of a small house and b.) He’s the fulcrum to a run defense that, in nine years under Dick LeBeau, has never ranked worse than No. 3.

LeBeau, a Hall of Fame player and innovator of the 3-4’s famed zone blitz, is a star himself – just like the coach behind the Jets’ complicated 3-4 scheme. All in all, the 2010 AFC Championship is ripe with big defensive names. But without the little defensive names, neither team would be here.

For the Jets, as we highlighted a few weeks ago, defensive end Mike Devito has been playing out of his mind. So has Shaun Ellis, who recorded two sacks and a slew of quarterback pressures against the Patriots. Backup nose tackle Sione Pouha, who took over when Kris Jenkins went down in Week 1, has also been pushing the pile with regularity. Pouha’s not the only backup thriving; safety Eric Smith has done a noble job filling in for injured defensive signalcaller Jim Leonhard. Smith brings valuable headhunting prowess to what is an otherwise finesse secondary (Revis aside), plus he’s a reliable filler against the run.

On Pittsburgh’s D, because Ike Taylor drops interceptions the way John Mayer drops women, many don’t recognize him as an elite corner. But that’s exactly what the lanky 6’2” veteran is. Taylor’s ability to shadow in man coverage and extend his long arms into passing lanes out of zone positions make him a bona fide stopper (which is exactly what a cornerback is supposed to be). What’s more, Taylor, like every Steeler defender, can tackle.

Before he made the Pro Bowl as an alternate, defensive end Brett Keisel would have earned an Ike Taylor-like “unsung hero” paragraph. Keisel is finally getting the recognition he deserves, so instead of piling on there, we’ll close by mentioning that Ryan Clark (aka “Pittsburgh’s other safety”) is one of the fiercest openfield hitters in the NFL.


7.) Rethinking Brady, Belichick and the Patriots

Stop and think about New England’s last three playoff appearances. There was the stunning divisional round loss at home to the rival Jets on Sunday. Last year, it was the blowout wild card loss at home to the Ravens. And in 2007 it waT. Brady (US Presswire)s the astonishing Super Bowl defeat and derailed perfect season at the hands of the Giants.

We think of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick almost as untouchable geniuses above all criticism. That’s understandable. They’re still the only head coach-quarterback duo to ever win three rings in a four-year span. And the reason two of their last three playoff defeats have been so shocking is because of the dominance that immediately preceded it: New England was a perfect 16-0 in ’07 and an NFL-best 14-2 in ’10.

That said, it was six years ago that Belichick and Brady last hoisted a Lombardi Trophy. And keep in mind, in 2006, the Patriots blew an 18-point second half lead to Indy in the AFC Championship.

Is this story meant to call into question the reputation of the NFL’s current greatest head coach and quarterback? Absolutely not. Over the past six years, Belichick and Brady have still accomplished more with less talent around them than anyone in football. But the beginning chapters of these men’s book were about the auras of two untouchable legends. In the middle chapters, that aura evaporated.


8.) Pro Bowl Snubs Shine

There were two NFC cornerbacks whom many felt got the shaft from Pro Bowl voters: Green Bay’s Tramon Williams and Chicago’s Charles Tillman. Largely because of their performance in the divisional round, both will be on the field for the NFC Championship Sunday.

Williams’ postseason brilliance began a week earlier than Tillman’s. The athlT. Williams (US Presswire)etic undrafted veteran who took over the No. 2 job when Al Harris blew out his knee last season clinched Green Bay’s wild card victory with an end zone interception in the closing minutes at Philly. Williams snagged a second end zone pick in similar fashion at Atlanta: by maintaining underneath technique against a bigger receiver (in this case, Michael Jenkins). After keeping points off the board with two interceptions, Williams put points on it with his third. With nine seconds left in the first half and the Falcons trying to get in field goal range, Williams jumped Matt Ryan’s ill-advised sideline pass to Roddy White and took it to the house for a momentum-swinging 14-point lead that Atlanta would not overcome.

As for Tillman, his excellence was key to Chicago's defensive dominance against Seattle. The Bears’ only true cover corner normally mans the left side of the D. But on Sunday, Tillman shadowed Mike Williams, holding Matt Hasselbeck's No. 1 target to four catches for 15 yards. Yes, Williams caught two touchdowns, but the second was thanks to sheer luck that resulted from Tillman’s textbook deflection.

It will be interesting to see what matchups Tramon Williams and Tillman draw this Sunday. Williams has the speed to run with Johnny Knox outside (figure the Packers will put an inside defender on Devin Hester, as Hester usually aligns in the slot). Tillman will have to rely on his physicality to keep the quicker Greg Jennings in check.


9.) Seahawks-Bears: Tough Watch

So the Seattle Seahawks weren’t a Cinderella team after all; watching them at Chicago was more like watching one of the evil stepsisters dance at the ball. Or like watching a sub-.500 team try to win a playoff game on the road. The game felt over before the midpoint of quarter two. As divisional round contests go, it was awful television. Shame. J. Cutler (US Presswire)

But whatever, doesn’t matter now. Besides, the story of Sunday’s unwatchable NFC divisional round game wasn’t the Seahawks, it was the Bears. Jay Cutler threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns in his first postseason game since high school. Aside from a small handful of first half glitches, Chicago’s once-putrid offensive line gave Cutler all the time in the world to throw. And when Cutler couldn’t find a receiver, he scrambled for positive yardage (he finished with 43 yards and two touchdowns on eight runs).

On the other side of the ball, the results were what you’d expect from the NFC’s No. 1 run defense going up against the NFC’s No. 16 run offense. With the Seahawks feeling compelled to throw on 49 of 61 offensive snaps, the Bears were able to sit back in that Lovie Smith Cover 2 and let their speed take over. Mike Williams, who appeared to tweak his upper leg early in the game, was manhandled by Charles Tillman. That hurt because the loss of tight end John Carlson (head injury) prevented Seattle from fully attacking Chicago’s questionable safeties.

If you want to get picky, the only concern Bears fans can take away from Sunday is that their defense took its foot off the gas late in the fourth quarter.


10. Quick Hits

*Most people believe that the Ravens lost at Pittsburgh because of turnovers. That’s valid, though let’s not forget, late in the fourth quarter Anquan Boldin dropped a huge touchdown in the end zone and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who had been carping for more balls all season, dropped a very catchable fourth-and-19.

*Terrell Suggs should change his name to Terrell Rooney because he owns the Steelers. Suggs had three sacks Saturday, giving him 15.5 in 18 career games against Pittsburgh.

*A storyline from Baltimore that didn’t get talked about (because of the nonstop intensity of the contest itself) is whether this was Ed Reed’s final game. The future Hall of Fame safety is 32 and contemplated retirement this past offseason.

*The Atlanta Falcons need to add one more playmaker to the center of their defense. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is solid but does not have star tools. Neither of the safeties is a game breaker.

*Was anyone else surprised that Pete Carroll elected to punt with his team down 28-10 and just over six minutes to play?

*When Danny Woodhead fumbled in the fourth quarter (recovered by the Patriots) it brought to mind the episode of Hard Knocks where Rex Ryan flipped out in the preseason finale after so many of the Jets backups fumbled. In that episode, Ryan put Woodhead back in the game specifically because he knew he wouldn’t cough up the ball.

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Posted on: January 16, 2011 9:27 pm
 

Jets make good on their trash-talking vs. Pats

C. Pace forces a fumble on T. Brady in New York's win (US Presswire).

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Are the Jets classless? Maybe, depending on what part of the country you reside. Is Rex Ryan a buffoon who is little better than a carnival barker? Perhaps, though you can’t deny the guy is one hell of a coach as well. Was it possible for the Jets to beat the Patriots on two weeks of rest at Gillette Stadium? Absolutely not.

Until, of course, the Jets took the field this afternoon and confused New England’s offense while out-toughing the Patriots defense.

So, the final question is this? Are the Jets, for the second straight season, heading to the AFC championship game? The answer a resounding yes.

Some people will point to the fact New England hasn’t won a playoff game since the 2007 AFC championship and will proclaim that the Patriots are a team full of chokers. But that’s simply not accurate.

After a week of trash-talking, the Jets backed up their woofing and came through with the 28-21 win. It was the Jets playing extraordinarily well and forcing the Patriots into a game of unease and inconsistency. It was the Jets and not New England

You might not like Ryan or the Jets. But you have to admit that their showing today was one of the best clutch performances of the season by anybody.

“Everybody else never believed in us; we believed,” Ryan told reporters at his postgame news conference. “We worked too hard to get back here. We felt we were the better team. Clearly, that Monday night game (when the Patriots won 45-3), we weren’t, but I knew if we played the way we were capable of playing, we could beat them.”

The Jets defense today completely confused Tom Brady, who was unsure of himself throughout the game and finished 29 of 45 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and the first INT in his last 360 attempts. Honestly, those stats make him look better than he played, because he had a tough time.

The New York defensive backs were dominant against the Patriots receivers, and the Jets defensive line blasted through the New England front five for five sacks. The Patriots, simply put, never got in sync. Which Brady admitted afterward.

“They spun the dial pretty good on their pressures and coverages,” he said. “We felt like we were fighting hard to gain yards.”

Said Ryan: “We felt we had a good plan. But the plans are useless without great plays from your players. Our guys bought in. They did a great job. It was total effort there on defense, from the pass rush to the second level to the deep guys.”

While Jets QB Mark Sanchez was still a little underwhelming – his inaccuracy in the first half, much like the opening two quarters of the Colts game last week, was stunning – he managed the game well enough (he's also led his team to the AFC championship twice in his only two seaons, so bully for him). And he got help with a wonderful fourth-quarter TD catch from Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone (one knee equals two feet!), and the running game with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson was more than solid.

After the game, Patriots WR Deion Branch told reporters that some of the Jets were classless, and yeah, Jets WR Braylon Edwards didn’t come off so well when he told the NFL Network, “Nobody gave us a chance. Everybody who was on the Patriots’ jock, take that.”

But after the game, Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Ryan shared a long hug at the middle of the field. On this day at least, Ryan didn’t have to kiss Belichick’s rings. On this day, his was the better team.

“We talk because we believe in ourselves,” Ryan said. “That’s where the talk comes from. There’s a huge amount of respect we have for New England. That’s a great franchise. But we’re not afraid of anybody. Maybe people take it the wrong way, but we don’t try to bad-mouth an opponent. But we don’t fear anybody. We came here on a mission. We’re trying to win a Super Bowl.”



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Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:12 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 1:20 pm
 

Key Matchup Wk16: Jets offense vs. Bears defense

Posted by Andy Benoit

The discussion about the Jets has shifted after last week’s game in Pittsburgh. No longer are we talking about Mark Sanchez crumbling before our eyes. Brian Schottenheimer’s simplified Week 15 gameplan – more bubble screens, quick slants and throws with defined reads – helped the young quarterback regain his confidence and rhythm.M. Sanchez (US Presswire)
B. Urlacher (US Presswire)
But just because Sanchez was solid against the Steelers – and solid was all he was – doesn’t mean we can simply dismiss his struggles the previous two weeks. This Sunday still presents a “prove it” game for the second-year pro. The Jets come in with the league’s sixth-ranked run offense. The Bears have the league’s third-ranked run defense. The Jets won’t be able to run at will this Sunday; on more than one occasion, they’ll have to rely on Sanchez’s arm.

The difference between this week and last week for Sanchez will be in his throwing lanes. Quick strikes against a 3-4 blitzing D like Pittsburgh’s are very different than quick strikes against a 4-3 zone D like Chicago’s. The Bears have the most athletic pass defending linebackers in football. Brian Urlacher’s range down the middle of the field is arguably the most crucial staple in Lovie Smith’s Cover 2 scheme. Lance Briggs’ speed in the flats gives Chicago’s front seven a unique playmaking dimension. When Sanchez needs to regain his comfort, he tends to look for tight end Dustin Keller. But the very nature of Chicago’s coverage scheme, highlighted by the star linebackers, takes away the simple passes over the middle and in the flats. Thus, there’s no guarantee that Keller, Jerricho Cotchery and LaDainian Tomlinson will be a surefire safety valve for Sanchez on Sunday.

The way to beat the Bears is to expose their limited safeties by seeking big plays through the air. Chris Harris is essentially a fourth linebacker; rookie Major Wright is at his best playing downhill and attacking the box; Danieal Manning has range but lacks awareness.

For the Jets, it’s key to force these guys to run away from the line of scrimmage and into space (where they’ll have to read route combinations). The Bear cornerbacks are stiff, plodding athletes (by cornerback standards). Those corners shouldn’t have much trouble with Braylon Edwards, but shifty, speedy Santonio Holmes is a whole other story.

The Jets will need multiple big plays downfield from Holmes in order to win this game. Such plays tend to be slow-developing, which puts added pressure on the offensive line. With occasional help from a tight end or fullback, D’Brickashaw Ferguson can hang with Julius Peppers. But on the other side, New York must overcome the glaring mismatch of backup right tackle Wayne Hunter against underrated defensive end Israel Idonije.

The Jet and Bear defenses, more than most defenses, thrive off turnovers. Last week’s Jets-Steelers game was free of all turnovers. If this week’s Jets-Bears game follows a similar pattern, the outcome will hinge on whether the Jet passing game can generate big plays.

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