Sunday Paper (Year 4, Volume XXXIX)
Two weeks tell us pretty much nothing in the NFL.
Are the Steelers any good? How do we weigh the Jets loss to them?
And the Bills, after getting blown out by the Jets, blew out the Chiefs. Are they good? What about Kansas City?
It's hard to measure the Jets performance so far.
We may get a better idea after they play the Dolphins...as we wonder if Miami is a bad team that lost to a good Houston team or a good team that handily beat an unknown Raiders team. (Or a bad team that beat a bad Raiders team.)
So there's a lot you can't read into yet.
But I think there are a few things we can tell so far about the Jets and starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Last week's game against the Steelers seemed to turn on one play - on a third down in the second quarter, when the Jets were driving, leading 7-6. The Steelers blitzed, and Sanchez made a smart play, unloading a quick pass to tight end Jeff Cumberland. Cumberland never turned around, the pass hit him in the butt, and the Jets settled for a field goal.
That would be the end of their scoring all day.
I'm not blaming Cumberland for the loss - but I am saying he messed up on that play. Sanchez messed up on his share of plays too, overthrowing receivers. But those receivers also dropped a lot of catchable balls. It was a total team loss, as I wrote about earlier in the week
. (And we're not even going to address the defense today.)
The point I want to make here is that I am confident in Mark Sanchez, despite his struggles on Sunday. He's had a good start to the season.
Compare what he's done to other quarterbacks around the league:
-His team is off to a 1-1 start, no different than the likes of Peyton and Eli Manning (2-1 after Thursday), Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Joe Flacco.
-Other than an (eventually meaningless) ill-advised shovel pass on the season's first drive, he hasn't turned the ball over - unlike Peyton Manning, who threw three interceptions in one quarter Monday night, or Drew Brees, who has thrown 4 interceptions in his team's 0-2 start.
I know Sanchez will struggle at times this year, and I know when he does that the calls for Tim Tebow to play more will pick up again.
But he seems more confident this year. I don't think his struggles will last more than a game at a time.
I think he's going to have a great season.
I'm looking forward to see how he bounces back in Week 3 today in Miami.
And I'm looking forward to getting a better idea of just how good the Jets might be.
*The news around the Jets this week was that Rex Ryan put a big emphasis on sleep, bringing in a sleep specialist and then pushing practices back a bit so the players could sleep in. I'm all for figuring out an edge that other teams haven't thought of...but I think the Jets' bigger problem right now is tackling.
*And injuries. To make room on the roster for another backup cornerback, the Jets released Bryan Thomas. He'll probably be back, but it's still a tough transaction to see. John Conner and Dustin Keller look like they'll both miss today's game with their injuries.
*That Thursday night Giants game - I just can't pick that team. No matter what, if I pick them to win, they lose. If I pick against them, they win big.
*R.A. Dickey beat the Marlins on Saturday (barely, thanks to a shaky relief performance by Jon Rauch) to go to 19-6 with a 2.66 ERA. He leads the National League in strikeouts and ERA, and is just a win behind Gio Gonzalez, who got his 20th on Saturday. Dickey also leads the league with 5 complete games. I don't know....I'm incredibly biased, but it all seems Cy Young-worthy to me.
*Dickey will go for win number 20 (he'll have two shots at it, actually) at home against the Pirates on Thursday. And I read that before that game Keith Hernandez will shave his mustache for charity. I feel like I've seen him clean-shaven before...but I bet it'll still look weird.
*So weird seeing teams like the Orioles and A's making post-season runs. I do like seeing new blood in there, but it's just amazing that they've kept it up all year. Relatedly, it is heart-breaking that for the second year in a row the Pirates have faded out of a playoff spot and might not even break their seasons-without-a-winning-record streak. Good news for the Pirates - they're playing the Mets this week...and they usually kill the Mets.
*Quite a win for the Yankees on Saturday too. I wrote them off after the top of the 13th...then they broke in with a score during the Reds game on FOX and I couldn't believe it. Should be a fun final week-and-a-half of the baseball season - I'm sure they won't top last season's final day, but there are a lot of teams playing for something, and the games look like they'll be exciting. One thing to look forward to: the Orioles are playing into extra innings every day, the Rays are getting desperate...and those two teams end the season against one another.
*I was surprised to read that Steve Lavin will be coming back to St. John's to coach this year. For some reason, maybe the fact that he came back once and then stepped away again, I didn't think his prognosis was good. Personal warts aside (he's a college coach...so there are warts), it's a nice story.
*Every time the NHL builds up some wider fan momentum it goes and shoots itself in the foot with a work stoppage. It's so frustratingly stupid.
*Could be some rain in Miami during the Jets game today. I'm not sure it'll matter...I'm guessing the Jets are better than the Raiders this year. Jets 24, Dolphins 9