Friday, October 09, 2009
Mangini May Yet Help The Jets Win A Super Bowl
By Jon Wagner Sr. Writer at large Football Reporters Online
Everything was going along fine for the NFL’s youngest head coach when he first arrived in New York in 2006, and even more so, two years later, when New Yorkers uttered the names “New York Jets” and “Super Bowl” in the same sentence, and actually meant it.
Yes, former Jets’ head coach Eric Mangini, the disciple of the highly successful Bill Belichick, was often called “Man-genius” after turning the 2005 Jets, who finished 4-12 under Herm Edwards, into the playoff-participating 10-6 Jets of 2006, during Mangini’s rookie season as an NFL head coach.
And, even after losing to Belichick’s New England Patriots in an AFC wild-card playoff game that year, and suffering through a huge falloff right back to 4-12 the following year, Mangini wasn’t criticized as much as he was praised for exposing Belichick in the highly publicized Spygate scandal involving the Patriots illegally filming and stealing Jets’ defensive signals.
A year later, during the very short-lived Brett Favre-as-a-Jet era in 2008, Mangini’s Jets handily beat the then-undefeated, 10-0 Tennessee Titans to go 8-3, causing many in the New York area to dream realistically of a potential Jets-Giants Super Bowl matchup, as both New York teams were very serious contenders in their respective conferences.
Yup, Mangini was the right coach at the right time to lead the Jets to their first Super Bowl in nearly four decades, and he would keep them highly competitive thereafter, for years to come.
However, then came the huge collapse.
Favre, who had 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions during the Jets’ 8-3 start last year, threw just 2 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, hampered by an injury to his throwing shoulder over the final five games last season. The Jets lost four of those games to finish 9-7, and they were very fortunate to get their lone win during that stretch, being outplayed by the Buffalo Bills in a 31-27 victory at home.
Mangini’s in-game decision-making and motivational skills were scrutinized in a way only the pressure of performing in the New York fish bowl can provide. The Jets went from Super Bowl bound to missing the playoffs, and the “Man-genius” suddenly didn’t know what he was doing anymore.
After being fired by the Jets the day after the 2008 season ended, Mangini has since faced similar, perhaps even worse condemnation after an 0-4 start in Cleveland this year.
So, what have the Jets done in that time to get back on track toward being a contender since Mangini’s departure?
Well, after cutting ties with Mangini, they released Favre after he retired yet again, before recanting again, and continuing his career with a 4-0 start to the 2009 season in Minnesota.
Quickly, the Jets have begun to put key pieces into place. First, the brilliant defensive mind of another rookie head coach, Rex Ryan, was added in the offseason. Then, USC star quarterback Mark Sanchez, with a seemingly huge upside, was acquired in the 2009 NFL draft. And now, this week, finally, the Jets get a long-awaited, big-play, deep threat in Braylon Edwards, via a trade, giving Sanchez a legitimate number one option at the wide receiver position.
So far, Sanchez hasn’t been spectacular, and he’s made some typical rookie mistakes, especially in the Jets’ only loss of 2009, in New Orleans last week. However, Sanchez overall, has already exceeded expectations and has for the most part, played winning football while leading the Jets to a 3-1 record so far this season.
Now, Sanchez and the Jets should get even better with Edwards. While he’s a risk with some reported attitude issues and off-the-field incidents (mostly recently this week, allegedly punching a friend of Lebron James outside a Cleveland nightclub), Edwards, getting a fresh start, leaving one of the NFL’s worst teams, coming to a contender in New York, might change the controversial receiver for the better.
In fact, he’s already at least saying all of the right things, as he disclosed to Associate Press reporter Dennis Waszak. “It can definitely take the joy out of the game,” Edwards said of losing in Cleveland. “It weighs on you. Coming here to a team that’s doing well with a new head coach that has them going in the right direction and just freeing myself of the situation and coming to another situation, I think it’s a fresh start and a clean slate.”
Football-wise, there’s no denying that the 26-year-old, 6-foot-3, 215-pound former first-round pick by the Browns with 238 career receptions for 3,697 yards, and 28 touchdowns in 5¼ seasons is a previously missing piece that the Jets sorely needed to ultimately contend for a Super Bowl -- whether that happens this season or if it takes longer.
And, whom might the Jets have to thank for their good young foundation on which to build their passing game, possibly for the next several years?
You guessed it, the former “Man-genius.”
Without the earlier Mangini era in New York, the Jets might have been able to trade their number 17 pick to Cleveland for the number five pick in the first round of last April’s draft, in order to grab Sanchez. And, they might have been able to work out a deal to bring in Edwards for seventh-round pick, wide receiver Chansi Stuckey (with 43 career receptions in 19 games) plus undrafted linebacker Jason Trusnik (with 24 career tackles and no sacks in 17 career games out of Ohio Northern), and a couple of undisclosed draft picks.
But, don’t count on it.
It’s a lot more likely that the Jets used their ties with Mangini to swing both deals, first to land Sanchez in April, and this week, to seemingly steal Sanchez’s brand new primary target.
You have to feel for Mangini. It’s been pretty rough for him ever since last year’s Super Bowl talk in New York ended. But, through his dealings with his former team from his new home in Cleveland, he may yet, even if unintentionally, deliver that Super Bowl for the Jets.
FRO’s FANTASY FIXX
(Target Practice) By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online
“Craving more fantasy football notes and numbers, get your weekly fix here.”-Thee Prodigy
Week Five in the NFL
We are always in search of knowledge and more importantly that all important commodity information. If you are planning on setting a winning fantasy football lineup for week 5, then you better be in the know and certain which players are going to perform this week.
Now that we are a quarter of the way into the season, we can start to discuss trends, note tendencies, but more notably recognize that numbers don’t lie. This week’s focus for the fantasy fanatics is more target practice. If you are looking for much needed help heading into week 5, you’ve targeted the right place and we’ve got your fix.
The numbers are down somewhat at the moment, but fantasy owners should not panic when it comes to the Falcon’s wide receiver Roddy White. In his first three games this season he has been targeted 26 times, indicating it’s just a matter of time before he’s back on track. Taking into account White’s late arrival to camp, he’s sure to have shaken the rust by now, so owners can expect to see better production from him soon.
His first two games were quiet, just 61 yards receiving, but over the past two weeks it appears the Bronco’s playmaking receiver Brandon Marshall is starting to come to life. In the past two weekends Marshall has grabbed nine balls for 158 yards and scored two touchdowns. For the season Marshall has been targeted consistently (28 times) and it finally looks like he’s starting to heat up. Fantasy owners can now look forward to seeing more great things from “Baby T.O.”
One of the newer additions to the Titan’s passing game this season is former Steeler’s receiver Nate Washington. He was brought in to give quarterback Kerry Collins and the Titan’s a legitimate deep threat in the aerial attack and while things haven’t quite panned out as planned fantasy owners shouldn’t get too nervous. While Washington does only have 14 receptions for 135 yards, he’s had plenty of opportunity with 31 targets this season indicating the prospect of a much better second quarter of the season.
Another pass catcher off to a disappointing start that should not be overlooked is the Bear’s tight end Greg Olsen. With just 10 receptions and only 94 yards, it becomes very easy for owners to give up on the former Miami Hurricane; mistake. In the team’s first four games, Olsen has been consistently targeted and has seen a total of 25 balls thrown his direction. The numbers aren’t there yet, but give it time he and his quarterback will soon be on the same page.
Keep your Eye on these gems…
If you caught the matchup between the Bengals and Browns this past Sunday, sure it was a marathon of a lot of nothing, but after taking a closer look it’s hard to avoid the emergence of rookie receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. The kid snagged eight balls for about a buck and a half, but the more compelling factor were the 13 balls thrown his way. With Derek Anderson now in the huddle, Massaquoi looks like he’ll be the favorite by far.
After seeing only one pass in his direction in week one, the Jaguars receiver Mike Sims-Walker is quickly regaining some of the notoriety he earned in small stints a year ago. In his past three starts Walker has seen a total of 30 balls thrown his way and he has delivered with fantasy-like production; 19 receptions, 278 yards, 3 touchdowns.
Here is the breakdown for fantasy pass catchers (targets) this season;
Through four weeks:
Top-30 Targeted Pass-catchers
Smith, Steve-WR, NYG 45
Moss, Randy-WR, NE 44
Burleson, Nate-WR, SEA 41
Johnson, Calvin-WR, DET 40
Wayne, Reggie-WR, IND 40
Houshmandzadeh, T.J.-WR, SEA 38
Johnson, Andre-WR, HOU 38
Ochocinco, Chad-WR, CIN 36
Smith, Steve-WR, CAR 36
Gates, Antonio-TE, SD 35
Holmes, Santonio-WR, PIT 35
Cotchery, Jerricho-WR, NYJ 34
Clark, Dallas-TE, IND 33
Mason, Derrick-WR, BAL 33
Ward, Hines-WR, PIT 33
Carlson, John-TE, SEA 32
Cooley, Chris-TE, WAS 32
Manningham, Mario-WR, NYG 32
Sims-Walker, Mike-WR, JAC 31
Washington, Nate-WR, TEN 31
Gage, Justin-WR, TEN 30
Ginn Jr., Ted-WR, MIA 30
Murphy, Louis-WR, OAK 30
Winslow, Kellen-TE, TB 30
Clayton, Mark-WR, BAL 29
Driver, Donald-WR, GB 29
Fitzgerald, Larry-WR, ARI 29
Jackson, Vincent-WR, SD 29
Moss, Santana-WR, WAS 29
Daniels, Owen-TE, HOU 28
Check back every week for more “Fantasy Fixx”
By David Ortega for Football Reporters Online
Week 4 Earners and Bums
(Studs & Duds)
Now that we’ve entered the 5th week of the 2009 fantasy football season, it’s time for “The Collector” to make his weekly rounds and let everyone on Fantasy Football Boulevard know who is earning their keep and who’s not carrying their weight.
After once again reviewing the books and checking the balance sheets, here were the week four money earners (studs) bring home the cash and the dead-beat bums (duds) short changing fantasy owners;
The Earners (Studs)
(Note: Not your normal stars/check the wire)
The Jaguar’s quarterback David Garrard was bank this past Sunday completing 27 of 37 passes for 323 yards with three touchdowns in the team’s win.
The Lion’s running back Kevin Smith didn’t find too many holes on Sunday against a tough Bears run defense. He rushed for only 30 yards, but when he did find a crease he made it count scoring twice.
The Bronco’s quarterback Kyle Orton was money on Sunday against the Cowboys, completing 20 of 29 passes for 243 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Titan’s rookie wide receiver Kenny Britt brought home some bacon last Sunday in the team’s loss catching seven passes for 105 yards.
The Raven’s second year running back Ray Rice earned his keep last week against the Patriots rushing the ball 11 times for 103 yards and catching five passes for another 49 yards.
The Giant’s third year receiver Steve Smith was cash-money this past Sunday against the an over-whelmed Chiefs defense hauling in 11 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns.
The Niner’s quarterback Shaun Hill scored some pocket coin on Sunday against the Rams completing only 14 of 24 passes for 152 yards, but also tossing two touchdowns.
Sidney RiceThe Viking’s third year receiver Sidney Rice is earning his keep with a solid Monday night showing of five catches for 70 yards and a touchdown.
The Jaguar’s wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker was money last Sunday against the Titans catching seven passes on the afternoon for 91 yards and two big scores.
The Browns running back Jerome Harrison getting a chance to start brought in some big coin last week against the Bengal’s defense rushing for 121 yards and adding five catches for another 31 yards.
The Bums (Duds)
(Note: We expect more from these guys/be careful starting)
The Cowboys TMZ star quarterback Tony Romo was less than impressive last week passing for 255 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.
The Jet’s rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez was less than sensational last Sunday against a Saint’s defense that had him completely throttled to the tune of four turnovers.
The Bronco’s second year receiver Eddie Royal has been playing a disappearing act this season and last week he could hardly be found finishing the day with only two catches for 16 yards.
The Cowboy’s wide receiver Roy E. Williams was not only a non-factor last Sunday with only three catches, but he was non-existent in the critical moments down the stretch.
Sunday night against a tough Steeler defense running back LaDanian Tomlinson was rusty and completely ineffective rushing for only 15 yards on seven carries.
The Chiefs former superstar running back Larry Johnson has not been a reliable money-man in sometime, but 18 carries for only 53 yards last week will not get it done.
The Saint’s big playmaking wide receiver Marques Colston made few plays last Sunday finishing the game with only two catches for 33 yards.
The Packer’s wide receiver Greg Jennings was a disappoint this past Monday night finishing the game with just three catches for 31 yards.
The Buccaneer’s tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was a non-factor this past weekend finishing this past Sunday’s action with only two receptions for 21 yards.
Check back for more weekly “Earners and Bums”
FANTASY SLEEPER – WEEK 5-Tim Hightower
By William Queen Contributing Writer Football Reporters Online
Averaging a solid 10 fantasy points per game, Arizona running back Tim Hightower takes over as this week’s fantasy sleeper.
Though he’s barely managed to rush for 100 yards all season, Hightower can defiantly pack a punch when he carries the ball. And ranking 3rd to last as far as run defense is concerned, that’s a punch that the Texans defense defiantly can’t take.
The unique feature about Hightower is that, unlike most backs, he’s not one-dimensional. Racking up more receiving yards than rushing yards this season; he can hurt you through the air, as well as on the ground. If he performs like he did in week 1 vs. San Francisco, catching the ball 12 times for 121 yards, then we’re looking at 15 fantasy points at the minimum.
Common knowledge tells us that when a team passes it, the balls most likely not going to the running back. Therefore, less fantasy points for the running back, more for the quarterback. However Hightower may be in luck, as no matter what the score is, he’s getting the ball. Blowout in favor of Arizona, they’re pounding him all day. Blowout in favor of Houston, he’s running routes, catching the ball like he did vs. the 49ers. Close game, then it’s a healthy mix of the two.
According to ESPN Fantasy Sports, in 92% of fantasy football leagues, Hightower is on a team’s roster. Yet, only 23% care to start him. Do yourself a favor and slide Hightower into the line-up this week, you won’t be disappointed.