Trials and Tribulations of a Jets Fan

I don’t remember the moment.  I couldnt give you a reason why.   I simply dont know why I’m a Jets fan.  Don’t know what drew me in.  It obviously wasn’t their winning pedigree.  But somehow some way.  Here I am.  Staring at a signed sealed and delivered, 2-year contract extension, for a QB who has essentially bundled up all my hopes an dreams over the past three years, and repeatedly threw it into double coverage for a game ending TD return. 

The NFL and its collective fans are laughing once again at the NY Jets for what seems like another ego coddling move with their polarizing (if I’m being generous) QB Mark Sanchez.  Sure Mark Sanchez took the Jets to two straight AFC championship games.  But did the Jets succeed despite him?  It seems more and more to be the case with each tulmultuous season.  Despite the growing admissions amongst current and former Jets, that Sanchez is coddled, and over protected, the organization has continued its growing trend of rewarding mediocrity.

Now it should be recognized that the deal isnt as absurd as he media is making it out to be.  Sanchez had two years left on his deal.  And despite the extension, if Sanchez only does play 2 more years in Jets green, he will only be making an additional 2.5 million dollars.  And if you listen to the analysts like Stephen A. Smith, whom I have grown to appreciate in recent months, freaking out about how absurd this is.  Take it as evidence that even ESPN analysts don’t always know what they are talking about. 

From a purely unemotional business minded approach to football.  What the Jets have done really is a smart move.  They have shored up an average QB who still has upside potential for 4 more years.  Should Sanchez somehow end up playing at a high level, Jets brass will look brilliant.  And should he continue to falter, it wont come at too hefty of a price. 

Now that said, its hard to remove emotion from any major personnel decision in sports.  And given how the season ended, the dischord amongst the offensive players, the fights, the drama.  The continuous questioning of Sanchez by players both on and off the team, and the rabid speculation that Sanchez is coddled.  Why give him what essentially amounts to a financial pat on the back? 

Sanchez regressed in his third year. I dont care what anyone says, while some of his skills may have improved, his decision making, which is frankly his worst attribute, took a major step back.  He fumbled the ball repeatedly, threw a ton of Int’s and did not get stronger down the stretch as he had in years passed.   Now I can acknowledge that he was working with a much weaker Offensive line.  Injuries to Nick Mangold only highlighted those O-line issues.  He was under much more consistent pressure than he was in years passed.  But this is the NFL.  Any time you blame anyone but yourself for playing worse, its an excuse.  And I refuse to make any for Sanchez.  He was mediocre at best. 

Since the day Sanchez got to the Jets, I thought, you know, this kid could be really good.  And despite his setbacks, his mistakes, and what can sometimes be percieved as a lack of emotion, I still believe he has what it takes.  This year will be a huge test.  Sanchez, for the first time in his time in the NFL, he will have a new Offensive Coordinator, and with that, a new offense to run.  To all the Sanchez apologists, who blamed Brian Schottenhiemers offensive scheme for the lack of production (myself among them), this is the year Sanchez either proves you right, or dreadfully wrong. 

Can these three make it work this year?

I felt it was time for Schottenheimer to go.  I was never a big fan of his play style, and did not think he made this team any more dynamic.  I think the Jets gameplan was generally obvious, and lacked any kind of flair.  They werent keeping defense on their toes.  They were predictable.  Tony Sparano brings a new style of offense to town, and with it, hopefully a reinvigorated Sanchez.  Sometimes, all a player needs is a fresh start.  And this could be it for Sanchez.  But personally I think Sanchez needs a different kind of motivation.  And this ego coddling, in my eyes, is detrimental to his development. 

I would have liked to have seen the Jets bring in a Vet to back up Sanchez.  Not a Mark Brunell type QB.  But a QB who could viably start should Sanchez falter.  The point is, I wanted someone nipping at his heels.  I wanted the spectre of sitting on the bench to be fresh in his mind, every time he suited up to play a game.   I did not want Peyton Manning.  Just a servicable QB who could make Sanchez nervous.  Essentially, I wanted the Jets brass to do the exact opposite of what they are currently doing.  I wanted Sanchez to feel the heat.  Why?  Because if theres one thing we have learned about Sanchez, its that he seems to respond to pressure. 

In his first two years with the Jets, Sanchez seemed to almost be a different QB in the 4th quarter.  When the pressure was on, Sanchez played his best football.  Why not approach his overall development as a QB from that perspective?  Maybe with a proven Vet fighting to start, it will bring something out of Sanchez.  Thats what we need out of Sanchez.  The fire that makes most QB’s play their best.  Some guys have it built in, others need it brought out.  Sanchez is the latter.  And some good old fashioned competition, in my eyes, would do wonders for his development.  Personally, that additional 2.5 million we gave to Sanchez would have been better served going to a Vet to back him up and force him to compete. 

Bottom line, while I’m not thrilled with the extension for Sanchez, I’m sane enough to know why it was done.  While I have been unhappy with Sanchez, I still wanted him to play out his contract.  I dont see many better long term options for the Jets, and I also dont think this is a team that is a Peyton Manning away from a Superbowl.  They have other issues they need to work out.  2012 won’t be a rebuilding season per se.  But it will be a season in which the front office is going to aggresively evaluate its talent.  And should the season go the wrong way, we could see a lot of changes in the next off-season.

Either way, Jets fans know how to handle dissapointment.  We’re used to it.  Its tradition.


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The End of an Era

Its quite hard to summarize what Peyton Manning means to sports.  Its probably even harder to sumarize what he has meant to the Colts organization and their fans.  Yet here we stand, one day after the Colts officialy cut ties with Peyton Manning.  Their Quarterback of 14 years.  The end of an era. 

Peyton and the Colts will go their seperate ways, to uncertain futures.  The Colts look poised to draft Andrew Luck, although Robert Griffin the 3rd, is dramatically making his case to be the number one pick overall.  But what either of those players will produce is anyones guess.  Where as Peyton, will simply have to choose which franchise he wants to try and save next.  And regardless of what anyone says.  Where Peyton goes, so will his 10 wins a year.  Theres talk of Miami, Houston, NY, San Francisco.  Peyton will have plenty of options to choose from.  Its a testament to his career.  Its a testament to his value. 

Peyton is arguably the greatest QB of all time.  From a technical standpoint, its hard to argue against that.  Brady has the rings, but he had Belichick.  Peyton ran his own offense, calling plays, essentially taking the reigns of not just a QB, but an offensive coordinator to a degree.  The guy is simply a brilliant football mind.  From a mental standpoint, I argue there is no player more prepared to be a coach following their career, than Peyton Manning.  Hes just that damn smart. 

We can sit here and ask the questions.  How could the Colts cut him?  Simply put, lots of committed money, combined with uncertainty, combined with the reality that this is a business.  And its almost hard to see how the Colts could not cut him.  The Colts would have had to pay Peyton 35 million dollars this year (although only 7 or 8 million under the cap).  Frame the issue in the proper perspective, and you can’t knock the Colts making the smart business decision.  But this is sports.  There are loyalties involved.  This guy was a veritable hero in Indy.  But alas, the outcome could not have been any different.  The two sides needed to go their seperate way. 

In 14 years with the Colts.  Peyton has amassed absolutely absurd statistics. 


He threw for over a 90 QB rating in all but three seasons with the Colts, including his rookie year.

He threw for 4000 yards 12 times. 

He completed over 65 % of his passes 10 times. 

He broke the TD record in 04′.  (Since broken by Tom Brady)

He played in 2 Superbowls, 06′ and 09′, winning in 06′ (Also taking the MVP)

He won a league record 4 MVP awards (2003, 2004, 2008, 2009)

Made the Pro Bowl 11 times. 

Was 1st team all pro 5 times. 

 He never got into a contract dispute.  He never bad mouthed his teammates.  He was an all around great guy. 

And like that.  He’s a free agent. 

Its hard to process. 

Now there is a host of teams salivating over the very stats you’ve just seen.  Crunching the numbers.  Who can they drop, who can they trade.  “Can we find the cap space” is probably the most used sentence of the past 24 hours.  And it opens up an absurd amount of possibilities.  Will he play his brother?  Will he play the Colts?  Could he come to the Jets and make NYC the town of two Mannings?  Will he go to Miami and play Tom Brady twice a year?  Is there a chance for an all Manning superbowl? 

The possibilities are endless.  And exciting.

And that’s another testament to just how great this guy is.  Whoever signs him, will be a contender.  I’d say theres a 90% chance any team he’s on, makes the playoffs.  But at the end of the day, what I will cherish most, is the excitement a player of Mannings caliber brings to this league.  How millions of fans across the nations, are saying their prayers tonight, and in them, asking that Peyton Manning come to their city. 

Now I’ve dealt with this feeling before.  As a Jet fan, I was at best, cautiously optomistic about Brett Favre a few years back.  But while I kept my cool publicly, on the inside, I was freaking out.  OH THE POSSIBILITIES.  Of course then Favre snapped some dick pics, threw 20+ int’s, got hurt and refused to come out, and made us miss the playoffs. 

But Peyton Manning is not Brett Favre.  Not by a long shot.  He hasnt burned the bridges in Indy.  If and when Peyton returns to Lucas Oil Stadium, I guarantee it’s to a resounding chorus of applause.  And if he beats them.  I dont expect the applause to stop.  I expect a standing ovation.  Because he is nothing short, of the best player to ever put on a Colts uniform. 

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I was unsure of how to start this blog.  Frankly, I’m still not sure where its going.  Bear with me.  I enjoy sports.  I probably talk about sports more than I should, and I’m hoping this blog provides an appropriate outlet.  As for the general topic.  I refuse to pick.  I am a rabid NFL fan.  Jeremy Lin has rekindled my interest in the NBA, and I am not afraid to admit that.  I’m a fan of Baseball, but I still find it incredibly boring at times.  I also watch curling (mostly women’s, Swedish curlers are hot.  Is it curler?), other random olympic events, lots of soccer, and just about anything else that happens to pique my interest at some random moment.   As for my allegiances.  I have no doubt they will be obvious in time.

The point is, I have no idea what I’m going to write about.  I have no plan, no intended direction, no particular slant, no actual credentials.  I just want to talk and pretend someones listening.  Who knows.  Maybe someone actually will.

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