Sunday, December 27, 2009

If We Had Free Balled Last Week

Look, you have to believe me. It’s very easy to write this in hindsight and the answer is no; if the Jets would have lost to the Colts I would not be writing this now. If we had Free Ballin’ last Monday I would have came out with my crazy predictions that turn out to be right, (Were going to forget that just a few weeks ago I said the Dolphins were going to win the AFC East, were going to remember last season when I said the Jets would beat the Patriots and Titans on back to back weeks.) and I would have said the Jets were going to defeat the Colts this week.

Now lets be honest, I would have used two arguments. The first one, and probably my strongest one would be the ridiculous, it’s what the Jets do argument. They rope us in and make us think they have a chance. They make us believe were going to the playoffs, then they stab us later. They have their playoff destiny in their own hands, they’ll win the hard game against the Colts we’ll be very happy, and then they will blow the opportunity the following week. That’s just what the Jets do. A few weeks ago before the Jets played Tampa, I said the Jets would beat Indy and lose to someone else that they shouldn’t. It’s what the Jets do; we’ve seen this movie before.

The other argument I would have used would have some football background to it. The Jets matchup very well with the Colts, they have the #1 defense in the league, they could stop Peyton Manning. I said this game was going to come down to what Mark Sanchez does. Would he win it for the Jets? Would he lose it for the Jets? Would he do just enough? The answer of course was C, he would do just enough. I would have made you think way back to week 4, when the Jets faced the very high powered Saints offense and held them to 10 points, Sanchez gave them the rest.

The truth is the Jets got very lucky against the Colts. The defense did a remarkable job against Manning, holding him to 15 points, but they were also bailed out by some timely drops by Dallas Clark, and some poor throws from Manning that made it look like his timing was off for some reason. The Jets defense kept the game very close the entire time, it was 9-3 at halftime; the Jets were very much in it. The problem was the Jets offense could not do anything until the Colts starters came out, which handed the Jets the game.

The Jets play next week for a chance to go the playoffs, which realistically is for resume purposes only. The team has a defense, but need a better passing game to have a shot at doing anything in the playoffs. The running game continues to be an enigma. It is one of the topped ranked rushing attacks in the league, but most weeks it seems that when they absolutely need yards on the ground, they can’t get them. Often times it’s the big runs at the end of the games that pad the stats and make the rushing yards look either big or respectable.

The playoffs would be a nice thing to have on the resume; it would show us what we would need to be work on. Sanchez will get better with experience. When Rex Ryan came to New York I said, “don’t write off the Jets just yet. He’ll bring that Ravens defense which has taken quarterbacks like Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright to the playoffs, it could take a rookie quarterback to the playoffs too.”

So if we had free balled last week I would have said the Jets would win in Indy. Now that you’re here, you would probably like to know what I would say if we were Free Ballin’ this week. So here it is, I don’t know!

There is nothing the Jets can do next Sunday night that would shock me. The final game at Giants Stadium, the fans will be going nuts. They could go out there and play like they did week 17 in 2002 against Green Bay (a 42-14 win) or the following week against Indy in the playoffs (a 41-0 win), an absolute blowout would come as no surprise to me. They could also go out there and play like the Giants did today, and get blown out of their own stadium. It all depends on which Jets team shows up next week, and frankly we’ve seen about 7 different Jets teams this year and any one of them can show up next week. Nothing they could do against Cincinnati will surprise me, and though I knew which Jets team would show up in Indy, I have no idea which Jets team will show up next week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thought: Could Scholes Be Part of the Reason Ronaldo Left?

Right now is on a quest to pick Manchester United’s best goal in the last decade. Their criteria are simple, which is actually the best goal, not necessarily the most meaningful goal, but which goal makes you say WOW! They narrowed it down to 20 goals in the past decade.

In the last three years Manchester United received 91 goals from one man alone, Cristiano Ronaldo. Lets put that into perspective, in three seasons Ronaldo scored 39% of all of Manchester United’s goals. Ronaldo also routinely dominated the shortlist for goal of the week. But when came out with their list of top 20 Ronaldo had just three goals in the top 20. The man who had the most, goals on the list? Paul Scholes with five.

While I may vote for Ronaldo’s 42-yard shot against Porto in the Champions League last year as the top goal of the decade, I can easily make an argument that Scholes five goals should finish numbers 2-6. Could this be a slight reason why Ronaldo left town for Real Madrid?

While 91 goals is an absolute ton of goals, I could only think of about 3 off the top of my head where Ronaldo created the goal himself and finished it himself. The rest were when teammates created and Ronaldo finished, or a free kick or a penalty kick, and lets not forget many times someone else won the penalty and Ronaldo stepped up to take the spot kick.

During his United career Ronaldo developed a reputation as being a diver. Eventually even the most passionate United fan would not be able to deny there were several times that he went down when he didn’t have to. For those that have come to know Ronaldo the reason why he would do this became clear over the years.

Cristiano Ronaldo always wanted to be the best. Furthermore wanted his goals to be prettier then everyone else’s goals. To Ronaldo, taking a free kick is the prime time to score the goal that everyone will be talking about. To Ronaldo breaking through on a breakaway and simply chipping the ball past the keeper would not be nearly as nice as taking a 30-yard free kick. Therefore if he were lightly touched, he would fall to ground, give up the breakaway, and take the free kick.

People who pay the most attention to Manchester United would always tell you, Ronaldo is the best player on the team, but when Scholes scores, its always special. This was confirmed when Scholes accounted for 25% of the top 20 goals. has long been conducting player interviews. Most of the questions are usually the same and the answers vary among the different players. However two questions always yield the same answers. Ronaldo is the best-dressed player on the team, and when asked who scores the best goals in training, the answer is always Paul Scholes.

For a player that wants to be the prime alpha dog, the best at everything, you don’t think that the fact that EVERY one of his teammates agreed that he was not scoring the best goals it would get to him eventually. No matter what he did on the field, he could never change people’s minds that Scholes scores the most magical goals. Ronaldo wants to play where he is the center of attention for every category.

Look, I know there are many reasons for Ronaldo joining Real Madrid. They were his favorite team growing up, and of course they offered him a ton of money. Furthermore he’s a selfish player, he’s won in England, and unlike United greats such as Scholes and Ryan Giggs who want to keep winning in England, Ronaldo does not. Ronaldo wants to win new things. I’m not saying that Ronaldo left because Scholes scores nicer goals, I’m just throwing the idea that for a player that wants the focus always on him, sharing it with someone who people agree is past his prime, could that have possibly just been in the back of his mind when making his decision?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Follow Up: Crosby Not Even MVP of His Own Team

Since I’m a week behind in my Sports Illustrated reading I actually did not see Michael Farber’s Crosby or Malkin article until just now, which is two days after I wrote the previous post. I just found a couple of things interesting which also highlighted my point from the last post.

The debate that asks who is the best player in the league, Crosby or Ovechkin? How could that be the question when we don’t even know if Crosby is the best on his own team?

Earlier this year Evgeni Malkin missed seven games for the Penguins. The Penguins won just two of those games. Since Malkin returned 9 games ago, the Penguins have won 7 of those 9. During Malkin’s seven game absence Sidney Crosby had 0 goals and 3 assists.

Last season Crosby was sidelined for 29 games. During that 29 game stretch Malkin recorded 20 goals, 26 assists and 14 multi-point games. The Penguins went 16-9-4 during that stretch.

So based on those above facts could one really even think to question who is more valuable to the Penguins. Without Malkin, the Penguins don’t win; without Crosby, they still can. So why is the question Crosby or Ovechkin and not Malkin or Ovechkin?

Furthermore, after writing a whole article talking that provides the numbers on how Malkin can carry the load without Crosby, but Crosby cannot carry the load without Malkin, Farber ends his article by saying he chooses Crosby as the Penguins MVP. I’m sorry but it doesn’t come any more ridiculous than that. Um Michael, did you read anything that you just wrote?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ovechkin or Crosby?

There has been an age-old question going on around the NHL for the past 4 years. Ovechkin or Crosby? Many pundits have thrown their opinions around basing it around skill and what each does best. Last year the two met in the playoffs and Crosby’s Penguins prevailed in 7 games on their way to winning the Stanley Cup. Apparently that settled the debate and people just agreed Crosby is better, but that couldn’t be more wrong.

Instead of going inside the numbers to figure why don’t we look at the simplest way a fan can tell if a player is good or not. Fear. The Rangers just lost two straight games to the Penguins by a combined score of 13-5. In those two games Sidney Crosby scored 4 goals. Yet at no point during those two games did I ever say to myself “oh no Sidney Crosby is on the ice we better watch him.” Crosby dominates within the flow of the game, but Crosby has one HUGE advantage. What we clearly know is Crosby and Ovechkin are the top two players in the NHL, what we also know is that there is a good chance that Evgeni Malkin is #3. Well guess what, Crosby gets to play with Malkin. It’s pretty easy to get open when the defense has to concentrate on Malkin, and it’s pretty easy to rack up assists when the defense is concentrating on you and you have one of the best finishers to pass the puck too.

Crosby has a great team around him, with one of the best players in the game playing on his line. He also has role players who have been successful with previous teams. Take Crosby off the Penguins and their still a playoff team.

Ovechkin has never had that luxury. It took the Caps a few years to complement him with players that could make them a playoff team. But really that’s all they are, players that complement Ovechkin. Most of the players on the Caps would not have the success that they are currently having if they were playing on some other team. Take Ovechkin off the Caps and that team has no identity and is in a lot trouble. Without Ovechkin the Caps have virtually no shot at the playoffs.

Ovechkin is much more valuable to his team, but lets go back to the thought that would strike you if you were sitting in the stands watching either of these guys play. Fear. Like I said before, at no point was I afraid when Sidney Crosby was on the ice. In the last two years I’ve attended 4 Rangers-Caps games. Whenever Ovechkin steps on the ice it is like the Caps are a different team. I’m always sitting there watching Ovechkin, the way he lurks, the way he stays quiet just waiting to pounce, waiting for you to forget about him. Ovechkin changes the game when he’s out there; he needs to be accounted for at all times. When Ovechkin steps on the ice I say “oh no” every single time.

You can look past the numbers; look past how valuable each one is to his team. When it comes down to it Crosby doesn’t make you fear for your life when he’s on the ice, Ovechkin does, and in my book that is the final decision maker.