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Hard Knock Life For Rex In The City

The New York Jets held a press conference yesterday to announce that they will be the featured team on this season’s edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks. This means that their controversial head coach, Rex Ryan, will be prominently featured on the program. Members of the sports media, bloggers in particular, are delighted by the news.

You might see New York Jets coach Rex Ryan cry on camera when  watching 'Hard Knocks' on HBO.

Antonelli/News

You might see New York Jets coach Rex Ryan cry on camera when watching ‘Hard Knocks’ on HBO.

First: for those unfamiliar with Hard Knocks, it’s a documentary-style show that follows an NFL team from training camp right up until the season begins. The main dramatic elements of the show revolve around up-and-coming players struggling to make the team, and star players and marquee personalities sometimes become an afterthought. Fans often find the lower-tier players, their personal lives, and their quest to make it to the NFL more interesting than getting a sneak peek at the daily goings-on of the star players and coaches.

That trend may be bucked this year, however. Rex Ryan is a darling of the New York sports media, mostly due to ability to drop entertaining sound bites during team press conferences, and his brash behavior is tailor made for the show.

Indeed, his bluntness and larger-than-life frame has made him popular among sports bloggers. In January, Ryan famously gave some rowdy fans the bird, and Deadspin mourned the upcoming loss of his gut after lap-band surgery two weeks ago. Blogger Drew Magary has a set of mini-screenplays where he portrays Ryan as a sort of sex-crazed oil tycoon who implores his players to eat a live Colt in preparation for their game against Indianapolis.

Although the symbolic eating of opponents is unlikely, expect plenty of this:

Not Your Father’s Jets

The past few days I have been thinking about the Jets season, as improbable as it may have been to some.  I have been thinking about Mark Sanchez as a rookie QB leading the team.  Darelle Revis coming into his own as CB, being the shadow of many great Wide Receivers and shutting them down.  Three great running backs in Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and Leon Washington when healthy.  All three of these guys are capable of 100 yard games when they step out onto the field.  Nick Mangold and the offensive line have given Sanchez time to throw and opened holes for the running game.  The Defense, ranked Number One in the NFL, has been a stand out all year thanks to Rex Ryan.  Braylon Edwards is due for a breakout year.  The Jets have the right pieces and the puzzle finally came together at the end of the season.  I am only 35 and I saw a different Jets team than I ever have.  This is no longer my father’s Jets.  They are no longer the team that plays second fiddle to the Giants in the New York market.  The Jets have finally got their due and respect.

I have sat in the stand and even at home listened to my father say “same old Jets” everytime a game or play would not go their way.  When the Jets would fall behind or not even make the playoffs every Jets fan was used to that.  For so long we put up with losing seasons, injured players, bad coaching, etc.  Yes, bad coaching.  From Bruce Coslet, Joe Walton, Rich Kotite, Lou Holtz, former USC and now Seahawks’ Pete Carroll, Mangini, Charley Winner, and hell, even Lou Holtz!  Bill Parcells, Al Groh, and Rex Ryan are the only coaches in New York Jets and Titans history with winning records.  Even the great Weeb Ewbank had a 71-77-6 records while coaching the Jets.  Rex Ryan has given new life to a team that had to escape its own stigma of losing.

Woody Johnson has spent enough money on this team, including the $12 million on Brett Favre, to create a team worth watching.  It took years to find a QB that was right at the helm.  It took time to get a balanced receiving core & land a potential star in Edwards.  Even Dustin Keller hs shown the Jets can have an outstanding Tight End.  The pieces are coming together and the Jets just need to complete the puzzle.  The draft has been key the pst few years as the young guys are the ones making the team better than it has been.  For the first time I look at the Jets and see a team that doe not resemble the teams I saw when I was growing up.  The teams in 1998 and 1982 that made the AFC Championship though gave the Jets fans hope that their team would not just been seen differently, but play differently from now on.  They didn’t after those seasons.  I think this might be the first year the team we saw play the Colts will be the same team that starts the 2010 season.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am finally looking forward to a Jets season where we all know they can win and have a true shot at making the Super Bowl.  This past year though has been tough because of the documentary.  As a Jets fan I was hoping they would beat the Colts.  My heart was pojnding during the game hoping they would maintain the lead and win the game.  Asa filmmaker, I was looking for the Jets to sputter and show Jets fans they were the same old JEts.  Even though they lost the game they are not the same old Jets and proved me wrong.  I can not wai to see what the Jets do in the off season and hope Kerry Rhodes is ready for the 2010 season.  I think everyone is finally proud to be a Jets fan.  I know my father is happy, smiling, and watching everything from the best seat in the house.  Maybe screaming at the TV in heaven when Sanchez throws an interception.  That is my dad.

That Was One Hell Of A Ride!

As I sit here I keep thinking about the Jets 30-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts today.  The Jets proved to many they are one of the NFL’s top teams.  Mark Sanchez completed 17 out of 30 passes for 257 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.  They did more in the air than on the ground, and that includes scoring.  Darelle Revis kept Reggie Wayne in check for most of the game and the Jets defense was doing what they needed to do.   But early pressure on Manning didn’t hold up and he showed why he won an unprecedented fourth MVP award this season, working with Pierre Garcon, a sixth-round pick from last year who caught four passes in his first season, and rookie Austin Collie, a fourth-round pick. They looked like perennial all-stars as Manning completed 26 of 39 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns with Garcon (11 catches, 151 yards) and Collie (7, 123) combining for 274 yards against the league’s No. 1-ranked defense.

When the Jets lost nickel cornerback Donald Strickland to a groin injury early in the game, the Colts immediately went to three-receiver packages, confident their youngsters could win against the bottom of the Jets’ depth chart. The Colts also adjusted with three-step dropswhich gave Manning mroe time to throw the ball and open it up in the air.  Also, with Shonn Greene hurting his midsection Thomas Jones had to be the lone back for a bit.  The second half proved to the be the Jets unraveling.   The Colts seized control in the third quarter. A 4-yard touchdown pass to Garcon put Indianapolis ahead 20-17. A 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Clark early in the fourth quarter put the Colts up 27-17, and they tacked on a Matt Stover field goal to make what had been a competitive game look lopsided and send first-year head coach Jim Caldwell to the Super Bowl as just the fifth coach in league history to make it to the big game in his rookie season.  Even with Jay Feely’s two missed field goal’s, the Jets still needed more on offense.

The Jets hung in there and showed they can hang with the more experienced teams in the league.  For the first time in a long time, they were taken seriously.  Even after finishing the season 9-7 and people saying they backed into the playoffs, they showed they deserved to be there.  Teams with Number one ranked defense’s,  great rushing, creative offsive should be in the final four and the AFC Championship game.  It does not matter how you finish the season, it is the impact you make in the postseason that matters.  Rex Ryna talked the talk and had a team to back up his words.  Today’s only problem was, they were facing Peyton Manning.  Rex needed to change up the defense in the 2nd half.  For Rex’s first year he did a better job than many previous Jets’ Head Coaches.   He has a team willing to back him up in any situation, something the Jets have been missing from their players in the past.

Next year will be a new year and a building year.  They have a lot of success to build on and they can go a long way next year.  New year, new stadium.  Jets fans have a reason to be proud about this season.  They silenced the doubters.  I sat here nerbous and wanted them to hold onto the lead.  My heart was pounding and believe me, I was hoping they would pull it off.  Once Manning got on a roll, I knew we had a great ride and the Jets did their fans proud.  We have nothing to be ashamed of.  We know in 8 months there is a new season and new possibilities.  The Jets will have a great year next year and once again make us all proud to be Jets fans.

One quick story.  My father was on his way to the AFL Championship game in 1968.  He was speeding and ended up getting pulled over.  He waaround number 12 in a line of cars pulled over for tickets.  My father knew he was wrong and was going to be late for kick off.  He called a cop over and said he knew he was speeding and deserved the ticket.  He then told the officer he had tickets to the Jets game and showed him the tickets.  The officer said he would be back.  About 5 minutes later my father received his ticket before the other cars pulled over.  He zoomed out of there and made it to Shea before kick off.  Now to finish watching overtime of the Vikings/Saints game.   Looks like the Saints will face the Colts.  That did not take long.  Brett Favre, serves him right.

Jets On Non Stop Road To Destiny?

As the New York Jets were putting the finishing touches on Sunday’s remarkable 17-14 upset of the Chargers, you probably were wondering what the Colts were thinking about all this.  You know, the Colts team that helped create this green-and-white monster in the first place by rolling over and playing dead — aka resting their key starters — near the end of a 29-15 Week 16 victory by the Jets that helped them get into the playoffs.  Let me be the first to tell you that this has come as no surprise to the Colts.

And here it is: Jets-Colts Part II. For the right to go to the Super Bowl.  The Jets’ defense pounded Philip Rivers and the Chargers into submission and their “ground-and-pound” offense buried Shawne Merriman & Company in scoring another spectacular playoff knockout in front of a stunned crowd at Qualcomm Stadium.  Team of destiny? Sure is starting to feel that way.  The Colts played a big hand in giving the Jets the chance to get here by sitting down Peyton Manning with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter while holding a 15-10 lead. Colts coach Jim Caldwell passed on a chance at an unbeaten season, throwing in rookie Curtis Painter and opening the back door to the playoffs for the Jets.  I do not think anyone will forget his first snap and fumble.

The next week, the same thing happened. The Bengals rested several key starters and the Jets routed them to clinch a playoff spot.  More bad karma for the Colts? Well, the Bengals certainly paid with last week’s loss to the Jets. Might the same fate await the Colts? After what we’ve seen out of the Jets ever since they bottomed out at 4-6, there is no telling how far they might take this thing. They’ve won seven of eight since then.  The moment is now.

With the Jets forcing Rivers into two interceptions and the offense again grinding it out behind the running of Shonn Greene and some timely throws by Mark Sanchez, the Jets produced one of the biggest wins in franchise history — bettered, perhaps, only by the most magical moment of all in Super Bowl III more than four decades ago.  Same Old Jets? Sorry, not this time.

“We’re hoping we can change the DNA with this team and in this city,” linebacker Bart Scott said. “This isn’t Same Old Jets. We want people to understand this is a new era.”  An era that is beginning with one of the most delectable playoff runs in franchise history. And maybe their best chance at winning it all since Joe Namath wagged his finger into the Miami sky 41 years ago.  Another appointment with destiny in Miami next month?  Could be.

Jets Shock Chargers (Ha Ha I know)

New York Jets’ improbable run continues.  The Jets rattled off 17 unanswered points in the second half and kept the Chargers’ high-powered offense in check, escaping with a 17-14 victory over San Diego yesterday in an AFC divisional game at Qualcomm Stadium.  Might I add an offense who averaged over 21 points a game.  Next, the Jets will get a highly anticipated rematch with Peyton Manning, who is playing by the way, and the host Indianapolis Colts on Sunday with a berth in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami on the line.

Shonn Greene’s 53-yard touchdown run up the gut – the longest run in Jets postseason history – provided the Jets with a 17-7 cushion and silenced the crowd.  Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard field goal on San Diego’s next possession, his third straight miss in the game after making his previous 20. Philip Rivers’ 1-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper with 2:14 left whittled the Jets’ lead to 17-14.  Keading broke his streak on what could have been a Chargers’ victory.  Kerry Rhodes recovered Kaeding’s onside kick at the Chargers’ 38 with 2:13 to play, and the Jets ran out the clock when Thomas Jones converted a fourth-and-1 opportunity at the San Diego 29.

Trailing by 7-3 heading into the fourth quarter, the Jets cashed in a Jim Leonhard interception of Rivers, needing four plays to grab a 10-7 advantage. Sanchez hit Dustin Keller in the right corner of the end zone on third-and-goal from the 2, lifting the Jets to the 10-7 lead with 13:35 left.

It was an improbable comeback for the Jets, considering they were down by 7-0 at the half and never got into any kind of offensive rhythm, only four first downs and punting the ball to end each of their six first-half possessions. But a 46-yard Jay Feely field goal with 10:45 left in the third quarter finally got them on the board, and they were back in business despite mustering only 99 yards of offense in the first half.  By this point I was hoping the Jets would not come into the second half of the game the same way they played the first half.

They escaped even more trouble after Sanchez made a critical mistake on the Jets’ second drive of the second half. He threw into quadruple coverage looking for Braylon Edwards, and Quentin Jammer came up with the interception, quickly halting any momentum the Jets had gained with Feely’s field goal.  Everyone knew the turnovers might be the undoing of Sanchez.  But the Jets got it right back when Darrelle Revis intercepted a ball that rolled off the body of Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson.  That makes two interceptions in two games.  Standing alone on Revis Island.

The Jets didn’t capitalize on that turnover, but they did after Leonhard picked off Rivers in the shadow of the Chargers’ end zone. They grabbed their first lead of the game four plays later when Sanchez connected with Keller.  I myself just sat there at the end of the game, laughing.  I just could not believe the Jets won the fame.  When you are so used to a team losing and falling apart on you, it is hard to react to success.  Gang Green has my full support against Indy and hope they can give every Jets fan what they want, a trip to the Super Bowl.

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Just thought I would pop a random Jets pic in the mix