Sabrina Ionescu is Already a Superstar

On April 17, 2020 36 names were due to be called for the WNBA draft. There was a lot of tension and even more mystery. Who would be the steal? What playoff contender was going to get THE piece to push them to the top? Would there even really be a season with the COVID-19 pandemic running virtually unchecked throughout the country?

There were so many questions, it was good to know there was one certainty: Sabrina Ionescu was going to be the first name off the board. The Oregon star shocked a lot of people when she went back to school after a junior season in which she essentially rewrote the record books and wanted to fulfill her dream of winning a national title. She was primed to do so alongside a historically great Oregon team, and then the world went berserk and the season was finished, leaving a dream unfulfilled. She finished her career as the first player of any gender to attain 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in their careers.

With the draft over, and Sabrina a member of the Liberty, it was now a matter of how good she was going to be. Yes, you can dominate the college game but it’s easier to get assists when you’re flanked by the #2 (Satou Sabally) and #8 (Ruthy Hebard) overall picks. It’s also easier to score when defenses can’t collapse on you because they have to respect everyone around you more. We heard it all. Most importantly, Sabrina heard it all too, and she took notes.

It can’t be easy making your mark as a rookie in any league. When your star is as bright as Sabrina’s, you often get some…err, tough love, and this was no exception.

Could you imagine showing up to your new job in IT and the guy who’s been there forever and who is friends with everyone in the office comes right at your neck like this? It would be easy to be intimidated. And who was her first game against? Look no farther than Sue Bird’s Seattle Storm. Ionescu went 4-17 from the floor as Seattle refused to give her an ounce of space. This would become a recurring theme over their next few games. Was Sabrina just nervous? Was there a simple solution to shutting her down? Had the riddle been solved?

Let’s ask the Dallas Wings for a consult on that, who were the victims of Sabrina’s breakout game. Ionescu went out and dropped a 33-7-7 line without a second thought, and captivated the basketball world. This was it – the moment that a generational talent finally arrived. This was history incarnate – it felt significantly more “LeBron goes for 25-9-6 in his first career game” than it did “Brandon Jennings going for 55 points in his 7th career game” – the next WNBA Superstar had arrived. Ionescu tore up the Wings with the savvy of a 10 year vet, and did it putting the weight of the entire team on her back, flashing everything in her bag that made her worthy of the #1 overall pick – distribution, control, energy, a hyper awareness and game sense years beyond her age – it was something that a 22 year old rookie shouldn’t be able to do. Ionescu just has IT. Whatever “it” is, Sabrina has it in spades, and you can see that in all it’s glory in this 12 second clip:

This is the look and effort of someone who knows that one of the game’s biggest stars called her a pussy for the world to see. This was only the beginning of something special. Then, in a flash, it wasn’t.

Ionescu suffered a potentially season-ending ankle sprain in the Liberty’s matchup with the Atlanta Dream, in only Ionescu’s third career game. The Dream would go on to win by 6. Under normal circumstances, she would miss about a month or so and it would not be a death knell to her year. The Liberty have looked absolutely lost without their floor general and best player, and at this point you can feel comfortable saying that the season is not going to be salvageable for this team. The best they can hope for is to remain competitive and try to find out who’s good enough to earn minutes flanking their new superstar. Even if Ionescu is back before the end of the season, how much is that development going to help her if she’s not 100% or if the team has checked out?

Now that the Liberty have their superstar, the easy part is over, as the Liberty look to rebuild after an offseason in which they traded Tina Charles and fired their head coach Katie Smith. The return of Asia Durr next season should be a significant boost, but to quote Hamilton here (yes, this is a humble brag that I paid $7 for a month of Disney+ before cancelling my subscription so I could understand your tweets), “fighting is easy, governing is harder”. The here-and-now of the Liberty is in place, now it’s all about the future. How do you manage and build around a player who’s skillset is unlike almost anything ever seen in the WNBA? Time will tell. You only needed 3 games to tell that Sabrina has it. It will take longer to get the rest in place.

Madden is FINALLY Upgrading Franchise Mode (Sort Of, and Also It Might Take Years)

We worked so hard for this moment. All it took was weeks, months, years of publicly slandering Madden and EA for the way that they comprehensively and systematically ruined Franchise Mode. Specifically, I’m not sure that they did anything actively to kill the mode (I have not bought a Madden since 2012, as the first signs of a reckoning were upon us), but rather ignored Franchise Mode in it’s entirety all while promoting “brand new features” and “up to date, ultra realistic graphics” that were essentially just a more in-depth sweat generators and increased fatigue on long runs.

Franchise mode is beloved by die-hard Madden fans, many of whom grew up without online play and wanted a break from exhibition games against the AI. For years, this portion of the game has laid stagnant all while EA promotes Ultimate Team in search of those sweet, sweet in game purchases. Trading was never fixed (seriously, it was impossible to trade whenever I’d snag a game at my buddy’s house), the in game physics are constantly broken, and it just was not that fun. Years of mismanaging this mode in favor of Ultimate Team and the quest for a more functional spin move have festered frustration in fans of the game for years.

That frustration came to a head about a month ago, when fans of the game (including several players) came forward in a campaign to get EA to #FixFranchiseMode. After years of pent up frustrations came to the fore, Madden finally issued a statement on the matter.

It was a sincere effort at letting people know they were heard, and appreciated. But words meant so much, only actions would truly mean anything. Today, just over a month on, EA announced upgrades and updates to Franchise Mode for today and Madden 2022.

The reason that they are focusing a lot on 2022 is naturally that the latest iteration of the game is due to drop soon and it’s simply too late to scrap it and update everything. So, they let us know their plans moving forward; what are the notable changes possibly coming over the next couple of years?

-Fixing trading logic

-Engine enhancements (heard this one before)

-Team chemistry

-Increased content such as management, relocating, new uniforms, scouting, and coaching improvements

What does this mean exactly? Well, it might lead to a deeper Franchise Mode, which would be excellent given that the mode has been heavily criticized for being very surface level. It might make the game make more sense, which, sure. Overall, I’m not sure there are a ton of improvements coming. What can not get overlooked is that this was possible because they finally listened to the people and are open to criticism. That’s a tough first step to make and an important one. It kind of reminds me of the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, where fan backlash made the film re-animate entirely. The effort is there and that’s a big step. I don’t think this is a groundbreaking change to the game and I’m not sure that it’s enough to get a lot of people back into Madden, especially with minimal changes coming this year. But a brighter future *might* just lie ahead for Madden, one where they have a deeper, more meaningful gaming experience.

It’s not much, for now, but it’s a start. FIFA, we’re coming for your broken ass Manager Career Mode next.

This Is Long Overdue

I have never once felt in danger because of who I am. I have never once felt unsafe or that I did not have the right or ability to be anywhere I wanted to be. I have never once looked at a cop behind me and feared for my life. I cannot begin to understand, but the best I can do is to understand that I will never understand. No, we have failed. Not just over the last 9 days, not over the last few years, but over the past 400 years. The question is not, “Where did we go wrong?”, it’s “What have we even done right?”.

First, I want to talk about the first line of defense: our education system. Coming from Long Island, I can sum up everything that I have learned about the black community in all of my history classes in about two sentences. The slave trade was bad (but we did it for 200 years!), the Civil War was fought over slavery (after which we freed the slaves and then proceeded to remove every single right that “free” people should have), the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the first time black people have been shown an iota of respect by this nation’s leadership (and that’s where it starts and ends, as nothing more than an iota), and in 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. That’s it. As it turns out, 18 years in the American education system gets you the bare minimum when it comes to black people and their history – as if this entire country wasn’t founded off of the backs of slaves – and you get maybe 2 weeks total worth of education. That needs to change. I’ve learned more about the history of African-Americans over the last 9 days than I did in 18 years through a publicly funded education system. Educate the youth, make them see, make them understand.

Our policymakers have failed to adequately protect the rights of black people for far too long. They’ve gotten away with giving small bites of the apple to black people in this country. The way the right has treated people of color is abhorrent, but do not let that excuse the left. Democrats have hid behind the curtain of “being the good guy” for too long. Propping up minorities and using them for votes is violently disgusting behavior. If they really were the party that they claimed to be, any of the past blue controlled White Houses and Congress’ could have passed bills to fix at least some of the problems facing black people in this country. But no, they are used for votes and nothing more. You wonder why people have flocked to Bernie and are rejecting your centrist views? Look no further than the riots that are taking place in our cities. This is on you, too, and don’t pretend that it’s not. Laws have been in place for decades to minimize the rights of black people in this country – go repeal them. March in the streets. Be an ally, then you get our trust back.

Finally, I want to address the way that black people are treated by law enforcement. I won’t say much, because all you have to do is look outside your window and see what they have done. How they have systematically tried, time and time again, to break the will and the spirit of black people in this country. And how every time, it hasn’t worked. It’s only built up, and hibernated, and grown. And now we sit at the crux of what has been – decade after decade, generation after generation – a broken system. You don’t need the statistics from me to paint the picture for you. To say that it needs revamping is the understatement of a generation. This is not a few bad apples, if it were we wouldn’t be doing this again. This is about more than just murder, it is a system that has been specifically designed to put black people at a disadvantage and incarcerates them without a second thought. No, it is not a few bad apples, this is what happens when the root of the apple tree is infected and rotted to the core. Maybe you need to burn the old tree down and plant a new one.

This has been a long time coming. This is not simply a reaction to one or two people’s deaths – this is 400 years of oppression coming to the fore and they know it. That’s what scares them. That’s why they arrested those four officers that murdered George Floyd. To make it stop, because those arrests can be a stopgap to end protests and anger. They’re afraid that this is something larger, because it is. No more. George Floyd is not a stopgap. Breonna Taylor is not a stopgap. Trayvon Martin is not a stopgap. It ends now. Stop saying that they “lost their lives”, because they didn’t. They had their lives ripped away from them by a system that has never once given them a chance. Black people have every right to be angry, and to protest, and to demand that for the first time in the history of this nation to be treated as equals.

If you’re walking home from school, and every single day a kid kicks you and beats you up, only to give you a pack of ice afterwards to treat your broken ribs and shattered teeth, you wouldn’t call that kid your friend just because he treats you with a shred of decency after whooping on you and beating you for days, weeks, years. That’s a bully. And the United States has been bullying black people since before its inception. Every day. Non-stop. It’s time to fight back.

Not so fun when the rabbit has the gun.

Bojack Horseman, Mental Health, and Working on Yourself

Today, Netflix released the trailer for the second installment of the final season of Bojack Horseman.

This makes me immensely sad, as Bojack Horseman has a special place in my heart and is among my personal pantheon of great television shows. A few years ago, if you had told me that one of my favorite shows involved an animated show about a half horse, half man who struggles with anxiety and self-image, I would have called you a lunatic. But this was a show that was different. It came along at the perfect time, as mental health was just beginning to be de-stigmatized in the cultural zeitgeist.

For the better part of a decade, I have struggled with mental health issues, specifically depression. I was turned onto this show during the midst of one of the darkest periods of my life, a time when I felt alone, unsure of myself, and scared. One reason for mental health issues going unaddressed is that people who suffer from them often feel afraid to speak out about them, partly because of a fear of ridicule, and partly because we feel alone in our battle. And, when we ultimately gather the courage to talk about it with others, it is so hard to verbalize exactly what we are going through. How do you describe the feeling of being depressed to somebody who doesn’t know what it’s like to have a shadow hulking over you every day, all the time, weighing you down? It’s almost like the idea of running with a parachute on your back – you might be pushing as hard as you can, but everything is slogged down and slow – as if you’re immersed in quicksand. This was what I felt during the worst stretch of my life.

Then, I was introduced to this show. The way that they elegantly described exactly how I felt was shocking to me, and such an enormous relief. To log on and see millions of people who felt the same as I did and how they related to the show was unimaginably touching and comforting. Yes, I have my support system, I have wonderful parents, two incredible sisters, and a bunch of friends who would and have supported me the whole way. Yet this was something I had never seen, a group of people who got me and what I was going through. For the first time in years, despite the rash of people around me who love me, I didn’t feel alone. In fact, I had felt the exact feeling that I had dreaded for so many years: I felt seen.

In season 4, there’s an episode called “Stupid Piece of Sh*t” that features Bojack’s inner monologue throughout the course of his days. It’s essentially 30 minutes of him berating himself, saying he won’t do a stupid thing, doing stupid things, then berating himself for them, and the cycle begins anew. This is the most picture perfect projection of how people with depression often go about their days. Saying they’re screwing everything up, yelling at themselves, and ultimately falling deeper into their hole because of it, which leads to more self-hatred as the hole gets deeper. Basically, spending every day calling themselves a…well…Stupid Piece of Sh*t. I’ve never related to any piece of tv, media, movie, etc. more than this. It was hard to watch, knowing that this is how I lived my life every day. it’s an exhausting watch, and that’s exactly how it felt to live this day after day–exhausting.


There’s a wonderful Bo Burnham song (he’s my favorite comedian, I really have an existential dread and irony problem) where he rips on people for finding motivation in listening to songs like “Roar” by Katie Perry (naturally the song is called “Kill Yourself”). It’s wonderful.

And, in the first installment of this final season, Bojack alluded to this same idea in a bit of a third-wall breaking moment. While I agree with that sentiment to a degree, I did not seek help because of Bojack (as per Bo’s instructions), rather I took away some lessons from this show that I hadn’t been comfortable with confronting up to that point.

Bojack is endlessly trying to be better, and for the vast majority of the show, he seems to be doing it in earnest. He wants to be a better man (horse?) but every time he tries, he seems to get in his own way. Three steps forward, four steps back. Oh, how we all know that feeling. There is no perfect version of you, there is always an improvement to be made, and at the end of the day that honest effort is the best you can do sometimes. Even the bad things that we do can come from a good place. The world keeps spinning, and you are not the end-all-be-all of existence. Depressing thought, sure, but also a good reminder that this is never the end and you can bounce back.

After I had hit rock bottom, I saw a therapist, made an appointment with a psychiatrist, got medicated and talked my way out of my funk. It’s taken a lot of hard work and perseverance, and while I understand that I may never be fully “normal” and am likely to go through these depressive spells for the rest of my life, I also know that it’s gotten better. I am miles ahead of where I once was, and for that I am eternally proud of myself. Nobody will ever take that away from me. For years now, every day has gotten just a little bit better. The weight is slowly being lifted, if not pound-by-pound then ounce-by-ounce. I can breathe freely again. I still have my slip-ups and bad days, but they are far and few between at this point in my life, and if that’s as good as it’s going to get, I’m damn happy with that.

Happiness is not a myth, but perfection is. It is human nature to never be truly happy. We always strive for more, for better, and rarely is it enough. Being happy does not mean being perfect, it is accepting who you are and that you ARE enough, even though you might not see it that way. It’s taken me years to see that, and it’s taken some people longer. We see people splattered over media who are seemingly perfect, and with Bojack, we finally have an imperfect character who can relate to us. He’s the perfect anti-hero, because he’s the anti-hero of his own story and his own life. And this is how people who suffer from mental illness often feel.

I’m far from saying this silly show saved my life. But it has provided me such immeasurable comfort in knowing my struggle is not alone. That I am not the only one who had to wake up and hate themselves, or the only one who puts on a mask to prevent the world from seeing what’s really there–or at least, my perception of it. This show has been a beautiful reminder of that. You are not alone. If you need help, get it. It has taken Bojack Horseman 6 seasons to finally begin to accept himself for who he is, it has taken me almost 7 years to accept myself and to love myself. It is the most freeing, beautiful feeling in the world to do so. I was scared to work on myself, to look in the mirror and confront my demons. It took years of therapy and work to get to where I am now, but I can say in all honesty it has worked, and been the most rewarding feeling of my life.

As the Horsin’ Around theme song says, “We were lost, and now we’re found, and we’re…Horsin’ Around”. I was lost, scared, and isolated. I had no idea who I was and couldn’t have listed anything I liked about myself. After all these years, I found myself. So goodbye, Bojack, and thank you. From the bottom of my heart, you’ve been with me for years and I owe you for the lessons you taught me. It feels fitting to close with this quote from Season 2, where a baboon comes across an exhausted Bojack, who has just tried to take up running. “It gets easier. Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day – that’s the hard part. But it does get easier.”

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Bojack forever.

The Return of Russ

Last night was incredible. It was special. It was something I have never experienced before in my life. Last night, Russell Westbrook returned to Chesapeake Arena for the first time as a visiting player, in a blowout win for Oklahoma City.

I could spend time here talking about the game, but I don’t want to do that, because last night was about more than one game. To be precise, it was about 821 games, and a million more moments. It would have been so easy for him to leave OKC earlier than he did, with star after star leaving until he became the last man standing.

The love was apparent from well before the video (I’ll get there), as this video has made me drop into a puddle of pure emotion on 7 separate occasions today.

The night officially started with the first video tribute in the history of the Thunder organization, and oh buddy was it something.

The waterworks began for me at about the 0:01 mark. This was followed by an ovation so loud it shook the foundation of the very organization Westbrook has known and loved for over a decade. Then, an intro that made even the hardest hearts turn to butter.

And then, something very special happened. Maybe nobody understands the significance of what happens here, but don’t you dare tell that to any Thunder fan, because it happened. He did the thing.

He’s done this for a long time now, but the way that this resonates with a crowd that prides itself on the Loud City reputation it got during those early 2010’s playoff runs is incredible. It pumps them up, giving them the assurance that no matter what, 0 was going to show up and bring the energy.

Last night was unforgettable. It had me and damn near everybody in their feelings, and rightly so. This was not a regular homecoming. As is par for the course with Russell Westbrook, it was vibrant, it was emotional, it was so uniquely Russ.

Russell was a flawed player on some flawed teams and the 30 for 30 on that OKC Dynasty That Never Was will probably punch me in the chest with the force of a thousand Westbrook dunks. None of that is being disputed.

There have been better players in history, there will be better players to come. But last night was about the love between a man and a city, and a bond that will never be broken. All of the defending we did on Twitter about his triple doubles never felt like a chore, because it wasn’t. He’s your favorite player’s favorite player for a reason.

To my New York friends who just don’t get it, or those of you who will make the RANGZ argument, the stat padding arguments, we don’t care. Does that stop you from celebrating players like Henrik Lundqvist or David Wright? Of course not. Philly has Allen Iverson, Utah has Stockton and Malone, the Knicks have Ewing. They are and will forever be adored where they are, and beyond.

The worst thing in sports has become Ring Culture. If you don’t win a championship you’re a failure. You need a ring to have a legacy. Last night was the ultimate showing of resistance against that.

I will tell my kids about Russell Westbrook, and the utterly unique joy he brought me during my time rooting for him on the Thunder. I will make damn sure my kids tell their kids about him. And that’s a damn legacy.

Russell Wesbrook, forever and ever.

 

Who Owes Teanna Trump: An Investigation

Today, Teanna Trump, who’s work I personally am incredibly unfamiliar with tweeted this:

Oh

Apparently she is an adult film actress, which I am blissfully unaware of as the only time I like seeing people on their knees is in church praying to the Lord for forgiveness (probably for watching her videos).

However, as the resident DMR Thunder fan, I cannot let this go unaddressed. You might be saying, “oh but you write about basketball, shouldn’t you be researching advanced analytics?” to which I reply, “You can’t spell Analytics without ana[redacted]”.

I cannot and will not allow them to be slandered, but I wanted to do some investigative journalism to narrow down the potential culprits. For your pleasure, I have provided a tier-system so we can get to the bottom of this. Strap in.

Not A Shot It Was Them

Russell Westbrook: Don’t slander my beautiful son. He has 3 children and his wife Nina is his college sweetheart and an absolute queen who we Stan. This was easy.

Steven Adams: He’s way too innocent, has too much joy in life, and in all likelihood actually doesn’t know who she is. Find a new slant.

SGA: Nope. Can’t explain it, just not him.

CP3: He’s too much of a basketball head to get caught up in this outside noise.

Nerlens Noel: He’s 9 feet tall, I cannot imagine that she wouldn’t be able to look at the roster and figure out it was him. Also, I’m a longtime member of the #NerlensHive so I will not move on this.

Unlikely, But…

Anyone on a rookie/minimum deal: This would knock out a lot of the roster. Terrance Ferguson, Mike Muscala, Bazley, Patton, Hall, and Burton seem to be in the clear. However, her lack of payment would maybe lead me to suspect that it’s somebody who doesn’t have the financial means to afford her services in a timely manner, so it opens the door to the possibility. I just refuse to believe any of these kids would break their purity for this.

Abdul Nader: I don’t know enough about the man to say one way or the other, so he lands right in the middle.

Danilo Gallinari: Italians are naturally focused from centuries of Lodge Family Breeding. I don’t think it was him, but there’s every chance that he misses LA nightlife and just wanted a small taste of it again. Either way, he’s just too damn good looking to have to stoop to that level.

This Might Be Problematic

Dennis Schroder: He’s got the contract to afford it, and this all happening around the Melo signing in Portland might have triggered some sort of PTSD for Dennis (he was traded for Melo last offseason). The streak in his hair indicates that he is, in fact, a wild boi. He’s not playing great basketball, and this might be the distraction as to why. However, that hair is distinct and I feel as if Miss Trump would have recognized it.

Mike Muscala: He was offered the chance to back out of the OKC deal this offseason when the team went into rebuild mode. I’m not sure why he stayed. Maybe he knew he had a pre-arranged agreement with the lady. He did only play 4 minutes in an overtime game against Philly…exhaustion perhaps from a night on the town? I will not speculate.

Paul George: He has a noted past with promiscuous women, and though Miss Trump does not appear to be one, the trade request came seemingly out of nowhere. Kawhi and Doc Rivers aren’t devious enough to have set this all up, right? I think he might be our most likely suspect here.

Andre Roberson: Contract? Check. Mysterious injury and therefore time to take off? Check. Has literally not been seen outside of grainy practice videos? Check. God I hope it isn’t him.

Wildcards

Billy Donovan: I don’t think it’s him, but it’s interesting that ball movement has increased this year on the team, a known strength of Teanna Trump. Billy is a Long Island kid, and being from the area I know many people like him, so it wouldn’t SHOCK me. He’s a darkhorse candidate.

A Player On Another Team: There’s a chance someone from another team did this! They might have flown her out to OKC to join them on the road, and caused mass confusion in the process. The likely candidates include: Deangelo Russell, David Lee, Anyone on the Magic, and Anyone on the Bucks not named Giannis.

So, Who Was It?

After running through the analytics, and some deep investigative journalism, I’ve come to the conclusion that the culprit was…Khris Middleton.

Think about it. His last game before an injury was in OKC. He’s now out with a thigh injury.

Does this look like someone that could give you a thigh injury? This was her last Instagram post…on November 10th. The morning of Thunder-Bucks. The picture was taken in Newark, but planes exist now. She could have flown there, or tagged the picture to throw off her fans. The caption “I need a personal freak when I call u just b ready”. The thigh injury would seem to show that Middleton was–indeed–not ready.

In conclusion, nobody on OKC would ever do anything immoral because they have an outstanding culture and everyone is so fun and pure. It couldn’t have been them. All signs point to Khris.

How the Jets Can Slay The Dragon

The Patriots are inevitable. Much like death, taxes, Thanos, and regretting getting that extra quesadilla at Taco Bell, the Patriots are just something you have to deal with in life (I’ve never personally had to deal with Thanos, but we Stan the MCU and if Tony Stark had to deal with him damnit so do we). At 1-4, the Jets face a wounded Pats team, and are hoping to build off their impressive win over Dallas in week 6. But there’s a reason why the Pats are 10 point favorites. Bill Belichick is the best game planner in the history of the sport, and Tom Brady can rack up 250 yards, 2 TD’s, and complete 67% of his passes with a gaggle of 5th Avenue homeless people as his WR corps. So, how do you beat the machine that just keeps going, and going, and going…

Sammy Slingshot

The first and last bullet point when it comes to the Jets. Sam Darnold will be the best quarterback the Pats vaunted D has faced so far this season. It’s not their fault, and Darnold showed what he’s capable of last week. Now, he must play nearly flawless football, under the lights, against the greatest dynasty in football history. It’s silly to say this, because…well, Tom…but Sam Darnold has to be the best quarterback on the field, and it’s up to Gase to make sure he can do that and put him in positions to succeed.

The Pats are so, so good at taking away a teams greatest strength. Expect them to overload the Jets’ front with multiple stunts and to lock in on Le’Veon Bell. The Cowboys tried to shut down Bell and let Darnold beat them, and he was happy to do so. If the Pats are keying in on Bell early, it’s a sign they think they can rush Darnold with 4-5 man fronts and force him into making mistakes. Sam is good, possibly great, and maybe GREAT – and he will need to be against this Pats defense that is absolutely feasting on turnovers. They will try to make him overthink and bait him into some really bad throws. They simply cannot have a miscommunication like last week where Darnold threw a red zone INT on a disconnect from Jamison Crowder.

I understand this isn’t Luke Falk (thank goodness), but the Patriots have made better QBs than Sam look Falk-ish. Sam must be dealing and dealing early.

Play Smart Football

Plain and simple, to beat New England, you have to beat them because they will simply not beat themselves. They don’t make silly mistakes often, and when you do you absolutely must capitalize on them. You cannot settle for threes. Field goals do not win football games against elite competition. You can’t give away free yards and first downs with stupid penalties. To beat New England, you have to execute a gameplan to perfection.

Part of this is viewing it as just another football game. Yes it’s the Pats and yes, it’s Monday Night. But if you put this game on a pedestal, you play overly emotional, and mistakes are made. The Jets will be playing (hopefully) with a ton of fire, led by Jamal Adams and CJ Mosley, but they must keep their heads.

Knowing the Patriots, they will run constant stunts and send pressure where you least expect it. The OL cannot get fooled and they cannot make crucial holding penalties that take a 3rd and 3 to a 3rd and 13. Every yard is crucial and every penalty has the potential to be a mini-dagger. Playing this team isn’t taking uppercut after uppercut. It’s death by a thousand paper cuts. They know exactly when to go for the knockout. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. This applies to every game, but this one more than most due to the nature of the opponent.

Step On Their Throats

If you have the chance, of course. If the Jets were to get out to a lead, they must kill the game off. They blew a lead Week 1 at home to Buffalo, and they nearly blew last weeks win to Dallas. Put your foot on the gas and don’t stop pressing until the clock is at 0:00. Pedal to the metal, this is damn #PatsWeek.

Have Some Fun

Open up the playbook. Go out there and ball. But you’re 1-4. You have almost nothing to lose. Just go out there and do the job, but if the Jets approach this with a rigid mentality and show no flexibility, they will lose and humiliate themselves. If Luke Falk can cover on the road in Foxborough, Sam Darnold can go out there and get a franchise-altering win. But at the end of the day, one game is one game.

Gregg Williams

He’s been as good as advertised. Gregg can scheme with the best of them, and he’s going to have his hands full again. Due to the lack of a pass rush, he’s going to send heat Brady’s way. Tom is the best in history at getting the ball out before the defense can touch him. Get his jersey dirty. Put a helmet in his gut. For the love of God please cover the crossing routes. Playing the Pats is so frustrating, especially when you see how easily they pick up 5-7 yards at a time. They run you out of gas. Brady has to face third and longs, you cannot allow him to pick you apart on third and 3 or second and 4. This has to be a huge game from Leo/Quinnen Williams. We know Leo isn’t that good, but Quinnen was a monster last week, and if he can earn some double teams, he’s going to cause a whole lot of issues for this Josh McDaniels offense.

 

And that’s it! You might be telling yourself, “Oh, that’s ALL you have to do to beat the Pats? That sounds easy!” Buddy, it’s not. Let’s check in tomorrow and see how it goes, but it’s a tough task before the schedule finally softens and the Jets start facing teams they can actually say they might be better than.

 

Jet up. See you at MetLife.

It Took One Game For The Jets To Ruin The Next Four Months

The New York Jets blew a 16-0 lead to the Buffalo Bills to fall to 0-1 on the season. On a whole, I can list six players who can hold their heads up and be proud of themselves: CJ Mosley, Jamal Adams, Henry Anderson, Jamison Crowder, Neville Hewitt, and Le’Veon Bell. That’s it. When you have a 53 man roster and approximately 10% of them can hold their heads high, that’s embarrassing. I’m going to rip this team to shreds and it’s going to be therapeutic.

 

Every three or so years, something beautiful happens. The Jets bring in a new head coach, said coach has his opening presser, and in that presser mentions something along the lines of “establishing a winning culture” or “changing the culture”. Guess what? I’ve been alive for 25 going on 26 years, and the culture has not changed a single time in my lifetime. Maybe for 2 years of the Rex Ryan era, but even then the team was a joke and a constant punchline. So what would make Adam Gase, he of the losing career record and “quarterback guru” any different? I’ll tell you: this year they had new uniforms! Oooooh, look out for these guys. They looked sharp in them too! On their way to blowing a lead and generally doing awful things to their fan base, not a single person in the crowd said “damn at least the jerseys look fire!” Nope, as it turns out, the jerseys did not suddenly have a Like Mike effect on the team and turn them into world beaters. Stunning development. 

 

I’m going to start with a handful of positives. First, they were incredible on defense when CJ Mosley was out on the field. He’s a genuinely incredible player and his impact goes far beyond the linebackers. What an incredible player. Jamal Adams made numerous “Jesus dude” plays, and that’s meant in a good way. As in, how did he possibly make that happen? He’s THE tone setter on this defense and his energy is infectious. Le’Veon had NO right to get as many rushing yards as he did. None. He was constantly hit in the backfield, and on 4th and 1 with the game on the line, he picked up 1 yard when it should have been a loss of 3. His two point conversion was unbelievable, the guy is such a baller. This is why you pay him the big bucks. Jamison Crowder caught a lot of passes and—to his credit—tried to do the most he could with them. It’s not his fault for designing plays where he’s in charge of picking up 8 YAC on every reception. He did what he could.

 

Where to begin? How about at the top? Mike Maccagnan did nothing well as a General Manager. Nothing. Pulled off some trades that I would deem range from “he did fine” to “I can’t believe this guy has control over the channels on his TV remote, let alone over a football team”. He let his Pro Bowl kicker go, and guess what happens week 1? The Jets kicker went 0/1 on extra points and 0/1 on field goals. People were asking, “How could you fire a GM after the draft and free agency?” This is how. Granted, this should have been done after the season, and quite frankly, immediately after he took Christian Hackenberg in the second round. Or after he traded a 5th round pick for Rashad Robinson, who suited up for one game in between suspensions and being cut. Or after he doubled down on a horrific corner situation and MADE DARRYL ROBERTS THE STARTING CORNERBACK. Not a single Jets fan who knows a damn about the team thought this was a good idea, let alone having him be the team’s FOURTH corner. Guess what happened. Darryl Roberts gave away the game winning touchdown. On a play where he was called for Pass Interference—normally a penalty you only take to prevent somebody from catching a pass—buddy, not Darryl! Don’t think it’s only his fault. Oh no. Trumaine Johnson is on year two of his “rob Christopher Johnson of all his money” plan and it’s going swimmingly. He was attacked the entire second half and gave up about 7 first downs while being allergic to tackling. He’s totally mailed it in. It’s pathetic, but par for the course for a lot of this team.

 

Let’s go farther down the ladder to the coaching staff. Poor Gregg Williams and Brant Boyer. Williams had to contend with the worst starting CBs in football, and masked them brilliantly against Buffalo’s horrible game plan. His defense gave up 17 straight points, but I refuse to blame him when 3 starters go down to injury. Brant Boyer turned Jason Myers into a Pro Bowl kicker, watched his GM let him walk, then was asked to be a miracle worker with a rotating kicking staff and—wow—it didn’t work! I want to talk about the offense. Adam Gase was known for running a slow, extremely vanilla offense in Miami. We were promised a different Gase. Woo boy were we wrong. The MetLife Stadium crowd gasped in shock any time a ball was thrown more than 3 yards down the field. He’s now proven in 3 games that he’s extremely good at limiting Sam Darnold (who was ineffective in both games vs. Miami last year). The guy hasn’t been a good coach in 5 years. Wow, Peyton Manning recommended him? Cool, what has he ever done to prove that he knows a damn about how to hire a good coach? This afternoon, Gase held several people accountable—not a single one being himself, of course. When pressed about the lack of use of Ty Montgomery, his answer was, “I can play who I want”.

By the way, he “played who he wanted” in the preseason, and it resulted in Avery Williamson playing with backups and tearing his ACL. The Jets could have used him yesterday when Mosley went down. It’s pathetic and I’m sick of him already, but the good news is he’s only *checks notes* one game into his tenure. Awesome. 

 

Finally, I want to rip into the players. They are certainly not blameless. I can blame the kicker all I want and I have, but that’s not his fault that he was brought in 3 days ago. Sure, you should be able to make XP’s and 45 yard field goals if you’re an NFL kicker, but this falls on Maccagnan and new GM Joe Douglas, though it’s hard to blame a GM who was brought in just a couple of months ago. Sam Darnold looked nothing like the QB who lit up the league the last 4 weeks of the season last year. His regression—albeit over only one game—was alarming in that he only seemed to have two reads the entire game. He was constantly pressured, sure, and that falls on the scheming and on new center Ryan Kalil. But you have to adjust and he didn’t and he cannot be blameless as he starts year 2. Robby Anderson stopped running on a potential game winning touchdown route. Inexcusable. Marcus Maye lost focus on a duck from Josh Allen and dropped the ball, with Buffalo eventually getting an important 3 points at the end of that drive. Again, when you’ve won less than 10 games in 2 years, there’s no excuse for not doing simple things, and it shows up in the loss column more often than not. The entire team seemed ill-disciplined when it came to penalties. 

 

This team should be humiliated, but when humiliation has become the standard, it’s hard. The bar is set so low on a constant basis, and somehow this loss hurt way more than any game in a 16 game season should because, once again, the promise of a culture change seems to have come up short. It’s pathetic, and utterly embarrassing, and at the same time, so New York Jets. You cannot ask fans for their patience and optimism (and money) every season and then churn out the same garbage year after year. It’s inexcusable and not a single thing about this franchise is endearing right now. I understand it’s one game, but what an awful tone they set. If this is what a culture change looks like, count me out because I’ve dealt with this same culture for my entire life, and most Jets fans for longer. It’s sad and pathetic even for a franchise that has spent 50 years being called sad and pathetic. But hey, at least they looked good in their new uniforms!