Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Thoughts on the Revis Trade and The Upcoming Draft

I'll start with the Darrelle Revis trade.  It's tough to lose (who I thought was) the best defensive player in the NFL but I'm in support of it.  Ideally I would have liked to get another mid-round pick in this year's or next year's draft but still, I think it's a move that had to be made.

I'm in agreement with the Jets philosophy that no matter how good a player he might be, you don't pay a corner back $16,000,000 a year.  I'm shocked that Revis took no guaranteed money in his deal.  There is no way he plays out that contract.  Right now Tampa Bay can afford that luxury because most of their contributing pieces are still on their first contract.  When Doug Martin, Lavonte David, Mike Williams, Mark Barron and Mason Foster (etc.) start needing new contracts, on top of deciding whether or not to give Josh Freeman big money, freeing up Revis' money as he gets to 30 years old is going to start looking more and more like a good solution to those problems.

I'm also tired of hearing that the Jets could have offered the same deal with no guaranteed money.  What would have been the point?  The Jets aren't Darrelle Revis away from a Super Bowl.  Why pay him 16 million a year if the they are trying to rebuild?  Having two picks in the top half of the first round is a great opportunity to accelerate the rebuilding process a little.

One thing I'm not going to miss about Darrelle Revis is the constant threat of holding out and accusing everyone of lying to him.  Every off-season (including this one) has been exhausting as fan.  And he's going around saying the Jets never even tried to offer him a contract.  If his agents made it clear that they weren't budging on 16 million a year and the Jets are philosophically opposed to paying a CB that type of money, why should he have expected them to?  And as far as the Jets telling Revis that they planned on him being a Jet this year is all part of the business.  The Jets had little to no leverage to begin with, if Idzek tells Revis that they have every intention of trading him the they lose even what little they had.  He needs to stop taking the business side of football so personally.  Especially since somewhere someone always is willing to pay him.  It's not like he's ever been getting ripped off.  Out of college, after his holdout, the Jets paid him above slot.

After all the bad press the Jets get, it is very important they don't mess up this draft.  Especially the first round.  That's why, although it's not the sexy thing to do, I play it super safe.  I'm worried that most mocks have the Jets taking Barkevious Mingo at 9.  He's undersized and only managed 4.5 sacks his last year in college.  That sounds like too much bust potential for me.  I'm not interested in Jarvis Jones at 13 either.  Normally I'm all about the guy who produces over the guy with measurables but if I'm the Jets I can't risk taking a guy with Spinal Stenosis.  It has already cut short a few careers already and Jones is already going to be a 24 year old rookie.  Too risky.  I think with one of the two picks they need to take one of the guards, Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack.  Putting one of those on a line with Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson in their prime would be a can't miss pick.  I also would like for the Jets to immediately replace Revis.  Granted, Dee Milliner can't replace Revis but I've been very disappointed in Kyle Wilson's development and the thought of him lining up as the other starting CB does scare me a little.  Chances are he's not around by the 9th pick but if he is, I think they have to grab him. 

I know everyone says the Jets need a pass rusher in this draft.  I don't disagree but their situation cries out for just taking the best player available.  It'd be nice if it Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah fell down to them but other than those guys I'd stay away from a pass rusher in the first round.

Some other guys I wouldn't mind seeing the Jets take later:

-Miguel Maysonet, RB, Stony Brook
Being a Long Islander, having a local guy on the Jets would be fun.  And they do need another RB.

-Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
I love Lattimore.  I don't think I'd take him before the 4th round but based on who he is, and how hard he works, someone will take a chance on him somewhere in the 3rd.

-Denard Robinson, ATH, Michigan
Granted, he has little experience as a WR but instead of taking Tavon Austin at 9 overall, why not take a chance on a play maker in the 4th or 5th round.  **Added bonus, if Rex still believes in the Wildcat, this guy is ideal.

**I'm only partially kidding

-Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State
The Jets are in dire need of safeties.  They signed Dawan Landry who is more of an in the box safety and while I really can't speak to Thomas' coverage skills on tape, I value production and he had 8 picks last year

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Really Like (And Am Going to Miss) New Jersey

In the winter of 2001, I moved from Long Island to a cozy one bedroom apartment in Lawrenceville, New Jersey with my soon to be wife. From that day forward, New Jersey has hosted almost all of my major life events. It has seen me change jobs not once, not twice, but three times. It has seen me get engaged and married, both events taking place in New Jersey. It has also seen my wife and I get pregnant and have our first child. That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the great state that I called home…until now. Starting today, I officially work in Connecticut. And although I still own our dream home in Collingswood (anyone want to buy it?), it’s only a matter of months before that chapter is closed. In honor of New Jersey, here are my top ten things I will miss the most.

10. Not Pumping My Own (Cheap) Gas: This may seem trivial, until you live here and have to leave the state for any reason. Quite simply, this is a major luxury. As if getting gas for 30-50 cents less a gallon wasn’t enough, pulling up during a rain or snow storm and not having to get out of the car is very big deal.
9. Princeton:  This is the town by which I measure all towns. It has the perfect blend of shopping (ZoĆ«), fantastic restaurants (Mediterra & Triumph), bars (Tigers Tale) & culture. Throw in one of the most beautiful college campuses and you’re all set for a perfect weekend.
8. The Jersey Shore: Admittedly, I never became quite the shore aficionado that I wanted to. That being said, The Jersey Shore is fantastic. No other state can boast the amount and variety of beach towns that Jersey can which makes it impossible not to find the one that’s right for you. Me, I’m a Cape May guy.
7. Sports Culture: Other than the Devils, NJ claims no other major team to be their own. But try telling that to the Yankees and Giants fans of North/Central Jersey and the Phillies and Eagles fans of South Jersey. And yes, we have the New Metlife stadium where both the Giants & Jets play, but we also have Campbell’s Field & Arm & Hammer Park which are beautiful kid friendly parks.
6. Philadelphia: Before you curse me out, hear me out. I know that New Jersey doesn’t need Philadelphia to be awesome. But we have it, and that’s awesome too. More than half the population of New Jersey can get to Philadelphia in less than an hour and I have had the luxury of living 5 miles away for the past 7 years. This city is easy to get in and out of, boasts restaurants that rival New York’s best and have without a doubt the best selection of live music venues of any major city I have ever been to.
5. Live Music: As I just mentioned, Philly has no shortage of great music venues. But you can add that to the plethora of bars, coffee houses, and stadiums of NJ. From the larger Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden and the PNC Banks Arts Center in Holmdel to the more intimate Maxwell’s in Hoboken and the famous The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, one could ask, who needs New York?
4. Location, location, location: This is real estate 101, and the whole state qualifies. Proximity to everything is a huge advantage to living in New Jersey. And if you can deal with the occasional logjam on the Turnpike, you can get to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, The Shore and even Washington DC in less than a few hours.
3. Collingswood: Man I am going to miss this town. As my wife and I scouted potential towns in Connecticut, I couldn’t help but think that none offer the culture, cuisine and comforts of Collingswood. The BYOB restaurants are second to none (see Zeppoli, Indeblue, & Sappori) and the farmers market remains the best I have ever been to. If that’s not enough, throw in best restaurant for families in South Jersey (The Pop Shop), a Patco Station & the Scottish Rite Auditorium.
2. Jersey Pride: I don’t even love Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, or Pork Roll but I love the fact the New Jerseyans do. The people of New Jersey have a pride that is unmatched in other states and that is evidenced any time the people of the state need to band together. Anyone who witnessed the pride and resilience of the towns affected by Hurricane Sandy no exactly what I’m talking about.
1. The Food: This could be a separate blog all its own. It has been near impossible to lose weight in this state (Gov. Christie I feel your pain). Everywhere you turn, there are the best wings, the best Italian food and the best hoagies. And as restaurateurs leave the major cities for the suburbs, we are starting to see 4 star restaurants popping up everywhere from New Brunswick to Jersey City.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Quick Thought on the Mike Rice Situation

Really quick on Mike Rice, he should have been fired and now he was.  Now the focus will be on Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti and should he retain his job.  In my opinion I can't make that decision without knowing whether or not his coaching methods calmed down after his suspension and fine earlier in the year.  A part of me respects the fact that he gave Rice another chance and opted to try to "rehabilitate" him over firing him immediately.  Now your hearing stuff like, "how can Pernetti fire him now when he saw the tape and chose not to fire him in the fall?"  To me, the answer is obvious.  Now that the tape became public, Mike Rice will never be able to walk in to a recruits house and win the living room ever again.  This day in age, every recruit and their family will see this video.  No parent is going to be okay with their son playing for Rice and subjecting them to that kind of treatment.  The video hampers him from being able to be an effective college basketball recruiter which cripples his ability to put a quality team on the floor.  Maybe Pernetti believed in Rice's coaching ability and second chances.  It's not what I would have done, but I can't fully fault him for that.

Reinventing The Ultimate Fighter: Why This May Be The Best Season Ever

I have come full circle on The Ultimate Fighter. What started out as my introduction to MMA instantly became must watch TV for me as I followed the show and it's fighters season after season. But, admittedly, I began souring on it the last few seasons for many reasons. Every component of the show started to seem stale, and with very few of the fighters actually making a mark in the UFC it was hard to consider this the same breeding ground that produced Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck & Rashad Evans. Instead we were starting to see winners sporting a sub .500 record and many of them getting the pink slip before we could even say coaches challenge. But, to Dana White's credit, he doesn't resist change. He embraces it. And that is what smart businessmen do. Dana revamped the show and is now in the midst of the best season I can remember. Even Entertainment Weekly listed it atop their "Must List" a few issues ago. So what is different?

Most importantly, the fights. Great fights make great seasons. This season, thanks to Urijah Hall, we've enjoyed some devastating knockouts, a few sudden victory battles, and many surprises. There have been some disappointments as well, but they pale in comparison to the seasons that seemed to only have boring fights (see The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights). Perhaps the vetting process to make the show got better, or perhaps they just got lucky. But no matter how Dana assembled this cast, it worked.

Next, the coaches. It is easy to utilize TUF as a platform to create juice for otherwise juice-less fights (see Bisping vs. Miller) but Dana White knew that the formula wasn't working. So he offered the gig to two of the best guys in the sport, who needed no extra promotion to sell their fight, and man has it paid off. Not only are these guys good on TV but they are also tremendous coaches. Sonnen in particular, has somehow transformed himself from UFC carnival act to a motivational guru. This season has also shown that you absolutely do not need trash talk to make a season. These coaches seem to get along fine and that hasn't hurt at all. The trash talk on previous seasons had become transparent anyway and it very seldom translated into fireworks inside the octagon.

Lastly, the show has very subtly changed the way it is filmed. It has moved from a standard reality show format and now mirrors the well produced Countdown shows that they use to promote upcoming fights. There is a much greater sense of urgency in the filming of the fights, the interviews and the training, which makes it feel much more intense. Speaking of training, there is more of it and less of the bullshit in the house. Which is good because if I saw one more Junie Browning or Julian Lane I was going stop taking The UFC seriously.

So lets see if Dana White can keep this TUF magic up. The Ultimate Fighter has been on my "Must List" for a while, but it'll take a few more seasons like this to continue getting EW type press.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Some 2013 New York Mets Predictions

It's another year where the Mets are not going to the postseason.  Before the season officially starts, I'm going to offer up some predictions:

-I was all prepared to like Collin Cowgill.  He comes across to me as a gamer.  I guy who I'd like having around as a 4th outfield.  I'm not sure he is an everyday player and I'm afraid I'll turn on him at some point this season.

-Jon Niese will win 14-15 games and pitch well causing people to say things like, "he could have won 18 games on a contender."

-Ike Davis will again hit around 32 homeruns and drive in 90 runs.  But his batting average will get back to the .260 range.

-Marlon Byrd does not finish 2013 as a member of the New York Mets.

-Shawn Marcum has a 3.50 ERA...but only has 11 starts.

-Brandon Lyon has double digit saves.

-Lucas Duda will hit 25 home runs.

-Daniel Murphy will miss an extended period of time and will never regain the second base job from Jordany Valdespin.

-Once again the Mets will be surprisingly around the .500 mark around the All-Star Break before the wheels come off and the cream starts rising to the top.

-The Mets will finish over their Vegas win total of 74.5.

Happy Opening Day!