Bad Karma for Melo’s Nuggets




Monday night New Jersey was nothing but net shooting a blistering 60 percent from three point range en route to a season high 115 points. Floor general Devin Harris showed that sharing is caring recording a career high 18 assists to go along with nine points. The Nets and Nuggets played wire to wire action with New Jersey’s 16 point win proving bitter sweet.

Avery Johnson’s Nets had an extra pep in their step with the dust completely settled from the “Melodrama” trade rumors. Speaking of Mr. Anthony, #15 finished with 37 points and 8 boards, yet he and his teammates seemed disinterested on the defensive end. The Nuggets have allowed their last 11 opponents to score at least 100 points, a span in which Denver is remarkably 7-4.

Brook Lopez led all Nets' scorers with 27 points while Travis Outlaw caught fire from the perimeter converting on 8 of 14 field attempts for 21 points. The Nets have played solid at “The Rock,” boasting a 13-12 record in Newark. New Jersey’s road woes have been well documented with their three road wins opposite 23 losses.

The Nets can savior their victory over Denver as it validates New Jersey’s youth movement has a bright future and it may behoove them to continue to develop their core. Fans should trust in the Russian billionaire as Mr. Prokhorov will be pleased that his Nets sent the Nuggets back to the Pepsi Center with a loss.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Timmy !!!





The Knicks offense shined, reaching the 30 point plateau in all four quarters of Sunday night’s victory. New York’s breakout performance came from the most unlikely of sources; their seven foot rookie Timofey Mosgov. (You heard correctly) Mosgov collected 23 points and ripped down 14 boards en route to New York’s 124-106 outlasting of Detroit. The Russian rookie secured career highs in points, rebounds and minutes which spans over 25 games this regular season.

The Knicks are searching for a front court mate to keep Amare Stoudemire fresh and have been actively pursuing a trade for a backup power forward or center. The answer to New York’s search for a viable backup may be right under their nose in Mosgov. Coach Mike Dantoni is notorious for playing a short rotation of players, but by Dantoni providing Mosgov significant playing time against Detroit the rookie proved his worth.

The unsung hero for New York was forward Danillo Galanari, whose timely shooting was instrumental in helping the Knicks put the game out of reach late. Detroit and New York were deadlocked at 91 at the end of the third quarter then the Knicks caught fire and opened the flood gates. The man they call Gallo finished with 29 points on 7 of 12 from the field to go along with 5 rebounds.

MVP candidate Amare Stoudemire poured in 33 points and snatched six boards, all in a day’s work for the man at the heart of New York’s resurgence in the East. The Knicks will have the next two days off, before playing host to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday Night. The Knicks matchup with Dallas will be a good barometer in an effort to determine whether New York is a possible contender or a mere pretender.

Prediction: Dallas 114 Knicks 111

Player of the Game: Dirk Nowitzki 32 points, 5 rebounds 4 assists.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Not Your Average Joe!




Following Thursday night’s battle of goggled superstars (Amare’ Stoudemire and Dwayne Wade respectively), the Knicks experienced a hangover effect Friday against the Hawks. New York put forth a lackluster effort on the defensive end. Atlanta attacked the rim at will producing highlight reel jams along with 23 trips to the free throw line. Atlanta shot 51 percent from the field and a superb 87 percent from the charity stripe. Joe Johnson led all scorers with 34 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists.

The Knicks trailed by 24 points at the midpoint of the third quarter, but New York’s late game surge closed the deficit to five points with 4:05 remaining in the game. The Knicks were unable to close the gap further as they fell 111-102 at Phillips Arena. Atlanta dealt the Knicks their fifth consecutive road loss with New York’s road record dipping to 12-13 on the season. Five of New York’s six upcoming contests are at home; where the Knicks’ bench thrives feeding off the electricity and energy of the Garden crowd.

On Sunday, the Knicks play host to the Detroit Pistons, a team littered with talent, but struggling to find their identity. New York has a propensity for playing down to the level of their opponents and if they hope to avoid the letdown they will have to show a commitment to defense. The Knicks can clearly score with the best in the league, hovering around 106 point per contest, but a consistent effort on the defensive end will be the key for a rise to the East’s elite.

Prediction: Knicks 110 – Detroit 97 F

Player of the Game: Danillo Gallinari 25 points, 6 rebounds 4 assists.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Pacers have a Field Day at Conseco



The Nets were trampled at Conseco Fieldhouse suffering their worst lost of the season, 124-92 at the hands of Indiana. The Pacers shot a torrid 63 percent from the field and 55 percent from beyond the arc. Mike Dunleavy made good on 6 of 7 three point attempts, splashing in 30 points along with 5 assists. Points in the paint told the story of this game with Indiana muscling in 58 points to the Nets measly 24.

New Jersey put up no resistance as the Pacers seemingly scored at will, totaling 32 or more points each of the first three quarters. Pacers Coach Jim O’brien called off the dogs in the final stanza salvaging what otherwise would have been a catastrophic defeat. Just when optimism pervaded the Nets fanbase, the team laid an egg, getting outplayed by an Indiana squad that had lost six straight contests coming in to Friday night's matchup.

Nets Coach Avery Johnson was fuming as he rotated players in and out of the lineup desperately trying to find someone willing to put forth a defensive effort. New Jersey’s putrid showing dropped their road record to an embarrassing 3-22, the fourth worst road mark just ahead Washington,Cleveland and Minnesota. New Jersey has a quick turnaround taking the court tomorrow night to face off with the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee holds claim to the NBA’s worst scoring offense which will bode well for a Nets team that showed no tenacity or fight against Indiana.

Prediction: Nets 99-Bucks96
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

KNICKS HEATING UP




In front of a star studded Garden crowd, most notably Donald Trump, Howard Stern and Alicia keys, the Knicks put on a rousing performance. New York sent Lebron James and his talents back to South Beach with a 93-88 loss. A nicked up Miami squad played without Chris Bosh who has missed five of the last six games with a sprained ankle.

Dwayne Wade has been battling migraine headaches forcing him to wear tinted goggles that judging from his play gave the man they call the “Flash” extra super powers. Wade dropped in 34 points on 14 of 22 shooting while snatching 16 boards and dishing out 5 dimes. Despite Wade’s brilliance, Miami’s offense was stagnant as Flash’s sidekicks stood motionless apparently mesmerized by his play. Wade’s partner in crime, Lebron James, tallied 24 points on only 7-24 shooting, struggling to find the touch from the perimeter.

The Knicks played unselfish team ball whipping passes around the arc, and in and out of the paint; patiently finding the open shooter. Amare Stoudemire led New York with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Stoudemire told members of the media that the Knicks were not intimidated by the Heat and his squad came out and delivered the goods on Thursday night.

Following a six game losing streak, the Knicks have regained their footing winning their last two contests. On Friday night, New York travels to Phillips Arena to take on Joe Johnson, Al Horford and the Atlanta Hawks. New York lost their first meeting with Atlanta 99-90 at Madison Square Garden on November 27th. The Knicks are eager to return the favor to a fifth seeded Hawks squad that sits 4.5 games ahead of the Knicks. With the NBA Allstar break just around the corner, the Knicks aim to build a new winning streak and close the first half of the regular season riding high.

Friday’s Prediction: Knicks 111 Atlanta 104 F

Player of the Game: Amare Stoudemire. 32 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Home Sweet Home



The New Jersey Nets wrapped up their five game home stand at 4-1, with Wednesday’s 93-88 win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Five Nets scored in double figures with every player on their 11 man active roster tallying a basket with the exception of forward Stephen Graham. The Nets continue their torrid shooting from the great beyond, splashing in 9 of their 17 three point attempts. Avery Johnson’s squad hit their stride late, outscoring Memphis 33-22 in the final stanza.

Shooting guards Anthony Morrow and Sasha Vujacic from the perimeter along with big men Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries in the paint proved too much for the Grizzlies to handle as their defense crumbled down the stretch. New Jersey’s fab four dropped in 64 combined points while shooting a blistering 25 of 47 from the field. Floor general Devin Harris scored 9 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter spurring New Jersey’s late rally.

With wins over Utah, Detroit, Cleveland and now Memphis, the Nets have gained some steam and find themselves a mere five games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the east. Five of New Jersey’s upcoming six opponents boast a sub .500 record, ushering in all the more reason for optimism in the Garden State. Albeit New Jersey’s hot streak has come against the league’s bottom dwellers, the Nets have played unselfish and fundamental team basketball.

This latest surge only confirms the notion that the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors disturbed the Nets chemistry and focus. On Friday, New Jersey departs for Indiana, a team that sits two games ahead in the race for the eighth seed. If New Jersey hopes to make a serious bid for a playoff spot, they will have to carry the momentum they’ve gained and string together wins against losing ball clubs.

Prediction:

Nets 102-Indiana 95 F

Leading Scorer:

Brook Lopez 27 points 7 rebounds 2 blocks
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Resilient Rex


If anyone is capable of rebounding from two consecutive AFC title losses it’s Rex Ryan. An eternal optimist and the Jets charismatic leader, Ryan possesses an unwavering confidence and unbridled enthusiasm that has inspired his players to believe in him and most importantly in themselves. Critics are enjoying a feeding frenzy berating Ryan for his unfulfilled Super Bowl proclamations while questioning his methods and philosophy. Rex Ryan seems unfazed by the pessimism.

“The good thing about the way I handle our team is that I'm just myself and I'll always be myself,” exclaimed Ryan. “Hopefully, I'll be around a long time and we'll win a bunch of Super Bowls. One day when they tell me to leave, I hope they tell me to leave and to take [my] Super Bowl trophies with [me] [smiling]. I hope that happens. That's the way to go. I never see myself retiring from this position, so eventually, they're going to have to get tired of me. I think my style is sustainable for a long time because every day is different.”

If one thing is for certain, Rex Ryan will not change his coaching style or his verbose nature as they have been instrumental in sparking Gang Green’s playoff push. In only his second year, Mr. Ryan has transformed the culture of the Jets organization, rallying his squad around the “us against the world mentality.”

"One thing I told our players was to be proud to be a Jet," said Ryan. "There's a lot to be proud of. The fact that we didn't reach our goal this year, clearly that's a disappointment, but it doesn't mean we had a bad season. We had a heck of a season when you look at it. How close are we to realizing our goal? We're pretty darn close. We're the only team of the final four teams that went [to the conference championship round] last year, to make it back to the final four. I think that's something for optimism, that we're a pretty good football team."

For all the negativity surrounding the Jets, they must be doing something right to attract all the media attention while capturing the public’s interest. Rex Ryan vows to come back next year and with a vengeance not bemoaning Sunday’s loss instead talking big and dreaming even bigger.

"I think that our best is still yet to come," proclaimed Ryan. "I think we have a lot of young core players that I think are ascending, and I think they're only going to get better. Start with the quarterback [Mark Sanchez ]. He's still one of the youngest players in this league. The great thing about [having] a great quarterback is then you can have a heck of a football team and have a heck of a run. That’s obviously what we plan on doing."
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

AFC Title Game- A Tale of Two Halves




CHEER:

Mark Sanchez played valiantly in the second half, dusting himself off after a nightmarish opening stanza. The man they call the Sanchise finished the game completing 20 of 33 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Trailing 24-3, with 12:20 remaining in the third quarter, the Jets faced a third and four from the Steelers 45 yard-line. Sanchez dropped back, faked a hand off to half back LaDanian Tomlinson and unleashed a bomb to a wide open Santonio Holmes who cradled the ball against his chest for the score. The touchdown spurred New York on to 19 unanswered points as they nearly completed the greatest comeback in title game history. Despite the Steelers making the Jets offense one dimensional, Mark Sanchez showcased his big-game prowess playing with poise and confidence against arguably the NFL's best defense.

JEER:

Rashard Mendehall gouged the Jets run defense stepping through tackles and shedding would-be defenders. New York had no answer for the Steelers’ ground and pound game as Pittsburgh took the fight to New York and dominated the line of scrimmage. Inexplicably Gang Green came out flat playing tentatively on both sides of the football culminating in a 21 point first half deficit. Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling was perplexing setting the Jets up with third and long yardage scenarios time and time again. A woeful first half proved too much for the Jets to overcome as their second half rally fell a final scoring drive short of securing a Super Bowl berth. Somebody should have told Gang Green the game started at 6:00PM and not at 8:00PM.

BIG STAT:

The Jets have not scored an opening quarter offensive touchdown since Week 4 of the regular season against the Buffalo Bills.

HEAR HEAR:

"We played a good half. We never played a good game, and that was the difference," said head coach Rex Ryan. "You get to this point, you've got to play a great game against a great opponent and we played a good half and that was it."

FINAL THOUGHT:

Sunday’s AFC title game was a tale of two halves, with the first miserable and the latter magnificent. The Jets came out on the short end of a 24-19 decision. Ben Roelisberger beat the Jets, not with his arm, but with his legs; running on several third a long plays to extend drives. Two years running the Jets have been on the doorstep of a Super Bowl berth only to have their dreams fall one game shy. The Jets faithful can take solace in the fact that Rex Ryan is a resilient leader and he along with the general manger Mike Tannenbaum will do everything in their power to get the Jets over the hump. For Gang Green, it’s signora until the 2011 regular season, unless of course Rex and the boys are up for an encore of HBO’s hard knocks!
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

AFC Title Game Radio Review


Showtime:
Sunday, January 23rd at 11:00PM

Show details:
Rick Laughland, Daniel Feuerstein and Mike San Filippo will review the AFC Championship Game as the New York Jets travel to Heinz Field to face the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Nets feel like a Kidd again



The Nets are playing inspired basketball, this following owner Mikhail Prokhorov calling off his team’s pursuit of Carmelo Anthony. New Jersey offered Denver virtually every player on their roster with the exception of center Brook Lopez.

The Nets were evidently pre-occupied with the trade rumors as they were mired in a six game skid prior to nixing the Carmelo Anthony deal. Since Prokhorov’s announcement detailing the team’s withdrawal from the Melo-sweepstakes, the Nets are riding a two game winning streak.

All players involved with the trade talks are relieved now that they have some closure on the situation and can fully focus on basketball free of distractions. The Nets have won the first two games of their five game homestand, defeating the Jazz 103-95 Wednesday night and the Pistons 89-74 on Friday night. New Jersey seems reenergized and enthused, finally putting an end to trade talks that have been swirling since training camp.

The Nets are shooting a scorching 13 of 26 from beyond the arc over their past two games, outscoring their opponents by an average of 7.5 point per contest. On Saturday night, the Nets play host to Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks. A former franchise savior, Kidd helped the Nets ascend from obscurity to the doorstep of NBA glory.

Meanwhile, this year’s Nets are still desperately recruiting the franchise’s cornerstone superstar. Although the divorce of Kidd and the Nets ended on a sour note, fans will never forget his rousing play and team-first attitude which helped propel New Jersey to two consecutive finals appearances. Saturday night, Kidd and his Mavericks stand in the way of New Jersey’s first three game winning streak of the season; a long stretch from NBA glory, but heck it’s a start!
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Jason Taylor’s Last Hooray?



In twelve seasons as a member of the Miami Dolphins, Jason Taylor served as Jets public enemy number one. Taylor was notorious for voicing his disdain for New York, while terrorizing the Green and White on the field. Now, the man they call J.T., is a key cog in Gang Green’s defensive attack. Taylor reflected on whether he ever imagined he would be a step away from the Super Bowl, wearing a Jets uniform.

“No, of course not,” admitted Taylor. “I don't think anybody did, on the Jets side or on the Dolphins side. This is what I came here for. I'm happy to be here and I'm glad I'm here. I've enjoyed the whole journey all year, from the moment Rex (Ryan) and Mike Tannenbaum sat down in my living room and talked to me, to this point. It’s been a fantastic journey.”

Taylor has gathered his share of individual accolades, but is still chasing that all elusive Super Bowl title. J.T. understands the gravity of the Jets upcoming game and is looking to serve as the impetus to a Jets victory.

“14 years to get to where we are today is a long time,” said Taylor. “I've seen a lot of
highs, seen a lot of lows and had a lot of individual success, but didn't get a chance to taste that team success. This is the ultimate team game. That's what you want. All of the other things are great and the Pro Bowls are fine, but if you're not winning as a team and getting a chance to be a champion it's not worth it.”

Taylor, a Pittsburgh native, is eager to return to home, as it stirs childhood memories. Much like his head coach, J.T. has the utmost respect for the city’s tradition and success of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise.

“It’s pretty cool. I was born and raised a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and really idolized that team and those players, heck, until I got drafted in '97,” noted Taylor. When you grow up in a city like that, you can't help but be a Steelers fan. To go back to where it all started at a long time ago when I was 16 years old is pretty cool.”

Jason Taylor elected to sign with the Jets as coach Rex Ryan and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum convinced him he would have an opportunity to win a championship. Now, knocking on the door of a Super Bowl berth, J.T. is savoring the opportunity.

“The game is big for so many reasons,” admitted Taylor. “It's been a long journey to get to this point in my career. I never doubted it would happen, but I didn't always expect it, either. Coming here to New York, this is where I expected to be and the situation that I expected to be in. Thank God it's played out to this point, but we are not done yet.”
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

AFC TITLE- RADIO PREVIEW


SHOWTIME: Friday,January 21st, 1:30PM

Rick Laughland, Daniel Feuerstein & Mike San Filippo preview the New York
Jets second consecutive trip to the AFC Championship Game as they face the Pittsburgh Steelers At Heinz Field.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Devils show Philly Hell



The New Jersey Devils are rising from the depths, extending their winning streak to three games with Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Winners of five of their last six, the Devils have ratcheted up their play of late. Skating with a purpose, the Devils bested the NHL’s best team, the Philadelphia Flyers led by Patrick Elias’ two goals, his ninth and tenth of the season. Goalie Johan Hedberg spelled Martin Brodeur stymieing 26 Flyers shots including a diving save with 2:40 remaining in the game preventing a game-tying goal.

An all around superb effort against the defending Eastern Conference Champion Flyers has the Devils believing again. Seeking their 15th consecutive playoff appearance, the Devils have been a model of consistency in the NHL for well over a decade. After a disastrous start, New Jersey seems to have found their stride, not giving up on their playoff hopes. On Sunday, the Devils travel up the turnpike and back home to Newark to face the Florida Panthers. With two games remaining before the NHL all-star break the Devils are aiming to close out the first half of the season on a high note.

In the 2010 postseason, the eighth seeded Canadians and the seventh seeded Flyers matched up in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils understand they need only qualify for the playoffs to have a shot for Lord Stanley’s cup.

Prediction:

Devils 3 Panthers 2

Illya Kovalchuk 2 goals and 1 assist spurring New Jersey to their fourth straight victory.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Deal or No Deal?



On Wednesday afternoon, Mikhail Prokhorov voiced his displeasure with the Melo-drama fiasco, effectively halting New Jersey’s pursuit of superstar Carmelo Anthony. The Russian owner declared the Nets will withdraw from the trade talks for Denver’s talented shooting forward and are resolute in their desire to move on.

Prokhorov believes that the month long soap opera has taken its toll on his players and does not wish for trade rumors to hang over their heads any longer. New Jersey offered the Nuggets a combination of young talent, top draft picks and salary cap relief, but Denver appears determined to squeeze every last asset out of New Jersey.

The straw that may have broke the camel’s (or in this case Russian’s) back came when the Nuggets threatened to trade Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks if the Nets continued to make trade talks public. Nets general manager Billy King worked tirelessly to make a Carmelo deal come to fruition, seeking out a third and even fourth team to help finalize the trade. Denver will likely play trade talks close to the vest, holding out for the best possible deal before the February 24th trade deadline.

The Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and even the Dallas Mavericks have emerged as possible destinations in the Melo-sweepstakes; now that the Nets have vacated the idea of bringing Anthony to Newark. Meanwhile, Anthony continues to play to a chorus of boos in front of the Pepsi Center crowd, as his departure from Denver appears imminent.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Not a friendly Holmes-coming for Santonio



For the second time this season, Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes returns to the city that unloaded the former Super Bowl MVP. Holmes admits he was stunned when he got wind of his trade to New York, but is thankful for the chance to revive his reputation and career. This follows Santonio serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

“I was very happy to get a second opportunity to play football and not really be concerned about what was going on,” admitted Holmes. “I had talked to Hines Ward prior to that happening. These type of things happen to big-time players. All you can do is just keep replenishing your career. If you get an opportunity to move somewhere else, don't give up on yourself because someone else did. That’s exactly what I didn't do.”

Santonio reflected on his four seasons in the Steel City marveling at the play of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. Holmes hinted that the Jets will need to find a way to neutralize Polamalu if they hope to hoist the Lamar Hunt trophy on Sunday.

“With all due respect, I honestly think Troy Polamalu is probably the greatest player I've ever played with or ever seen play in person,” declared Holmes. “He's jumping over the line of scrimmage at the snap of the ball. He's tackling running backs in the backfield. He's jumping up, intercepting balls one- handed. He's returning it for touchdowns. Having him keyed in and keeping the ball away from him, playing sound football and not turning it over and giving him any opportunities to make those type of plays can definitely keep him from disrupting our team.”

Santonio Holmes views the Steelers as merely a hurdle for his Jets to overcome in order to reach their ultimate goal. Holmes has brushed aside his personal battles and insists that his teammates should follow in suit.

“The personal game was (Week 15) when we played the Steelers,” noted Holmes. “This time it means everything, everything for myself, for this team, for this organization. We're trying to get to the Super Bowl. Those guys are in my team's way, which is the New York Jets. We have one goal, which is to beat those guys, and everything personal that happened (will be reflected) two or three weeks after. If we win the Super Bowl, then everything is personal. That's a slap back in those guys’ face for trading me. Right now, it's not even a focus of mine, and it shouldn't be the focus of any one of my teammates or anyone in this organization.”
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP- Jets Keys to Victory


SUNDAY’S STORYLINE:

New York finds itself in familiar territory, making their second consecutive appearance in the AFC title game. Rex Ryan’s boys intend for this year’s version to feature a positive outcome. After the Jets were given virtually no chance of emerging atop the AFC, they are merely one win away from their first Super Bowl appearance in 41 years. Led by a second year coach and second year quarterback the Jets are on the precipitous of playing for NFL glory. The Jets and Steelers are near mirror images; each playing fast and physical defense while boasting a punishing ground game. Jets coach Rex Ryan and Steelers head man Mike Tomlin have a mutual respect for one another, recognizing that the winner of Sunday’s game will be well-deserving of a Super Bowl berth

KEYS TO VICTORY:

1. Win the turnover battle

In their divisional matchup with the Ravens, Pittsburgh forced a fumble on running back Ray Rice along with a fumble and interception of quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore’s three miscues translated to 17 Pittsburgh points proving to be the difference in a 31-24 Steelers win. Jets sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez will need to keep ball security paramount especially opposing a ball hawking Steelers defense. The Steelers offense lost two fumbles in their divisional round game showing they are prone to their fair share of mistakes. Gang Green’s defense is playing at an elite level more than capable of forcing turnovers and producing points on Sunday.

2. Win the rushing battle

Pittsburgh represents the NFL’s top rushing defense, allowing only 62.8 yards per contest while having held the Ravens to 35 rushing yards in the divisional round. If New York is hopeful of upholding their reputation as road warriors they will need to sustain drives and break through against a menacing Steelers front. With wintery conditions and moderate winds in the forecast, an added emphasis will be placed on keeping the ball on the ground and grinding out first downs. Sunday’s contest promises to be hard hitting, as Rex Ryan labeled it “a triple chin strap game.”

3. Mike Wallace vacationing on Revis Island

The Steelers’ second year receiver Mike Wallace is as good a deep threat as there is league wide. Perhaps this week Wallace will meet his match in all world cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis has a reputation for silencing top flight receiving talent and this week intends to add Wallace’s name to a long list of guests on Revis Island. Wallace runs a great deal of vertical routes and if Darrelle Revis can jam him at the line and impeded his progress it could be a long day for the Black and Gold’s number 17.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Jets and Steelers Catch-up at Heinz Field




Following their dismantling of the Patriots, the Jets look forward to Sunday night's AFC title game in the Steel City. New York and Pittsburgh battled Week 15 of the regular season with the Jets soaring out of Heinz Field with a 22-17 victory. In Week 15, the Steelers played without their defensive extraordinaire Troy Polamalu, who sat out the game in order to rest his sore Achilles.

During their regular season meeting, Gang Green was outgained by Pittsburgh 146-106 on the ground. New York held claim as the only team to eclipse 100 yards against the Steelers in the 2010-2011 season. The Green and White will aim to rev up their ground and pound as they’re pitted against the top rushing defense in the NFL.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Rapid Reaction: Brady's Bunch


Tom Brady applauded the Jets defensive adjustments noting that Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine devised a stellar game plan.

“I think they played a lot more coverage today - probably similar to what they did last week, noted Brady. "They mixed it up quite a bit. They certainly have a lot of calls. I think it was a good plan by them and you've got to give them a lot of credit.”

Brady reflected on the devastating loss that brought the Patriots' exceptional season to a screeching halt.

“It's like you're on the treadmill running at 10 miles an hour and then someone just hits the stop button,” said Brady. “I think we certainly expected to play better today. I think we're a pretty good football team, but not when we play like today. Like I said, a lot of the credit goes to the Jets and the way their players performed. It's disappointing the way we performed. I certainly wish I did a better job.”

The Patriots were supremely confident entering Sunday’s game and the stunning loss has yet to resonate with New England. Tom Brady attributed the defeat to a lack of execution and most of all the Jets playing mistake free football while making all the big plays down the stretch.

“I think they spun the dial pretty well on their pressures and coverages,” credited Brady. "I think we had some opportunities to make some plays that we really didn't. It just felt like we were fighting hard out there to gain yards. We were trying to stay balanced out there. I think it probably turned into more of a passing game for us as we got behind. We talked all week about fast starts and getting ahead of these guys and playing ahead and we had some opportunities there in the first quarter and really let those slip away. And we made it a dog fight and ultimately couldn't really dig ourselves out of the holes we made."
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

CHEERS AND JEERS- REDEMPTION TIME!






CHEER:

Following the Patriots failed fake punt attempt, the Jets would turn the miscue into six points. On the first play of the ensuing drive, LaDanian Tomlinson busted into New England’s secondary rumbling for sixteen yards. Two plays later, a third and four from the Patriots 15 yard-line, Braylon Edwards hauled in the reception and wrestled free, whirling into the end zone. The Jets secured a 14-3 advantage, a lead they would not relinquish. New England’s risky play calling backfired with New York capitalizing on the Patriots special teams’ gaffe. The Green and White didn’t look back holding on for an exhilarating 28-21 victory.

JEER:

On the Patriots first offensive possession, Tom Brady marched New England down to New York’s 28 yard line, moving the ball with relative ease. On a first and ten play, Brady targeted running back BenJarvus Greene-Ellis, but sailed the ball high over his head and into the hands of linebacker David Harris. Harris lumbered his way down the sideline eyeing the goal line, but ran out of steam. Patriot’s tight end Alge Crumpler caught Harris from behind bringing him down at the twelve yard line. The Jets would go three and out; forced to kick a 30 yard field goal. Nick Folk booted a sidewinder that flailed over the left upright with the officials indicating a missed field goal, when the replay showed that the kick was actually good. New York would not challenge the call, forgoing three points, a deflating moment for Gang Green in the early stages of the game.

BIG STAT:

The New York Jets are the first team since 2001 to defeat the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in back to back games.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

With 1:57 remaining, the Patriots sprung an onside kick that bounced around New York’s hands team. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie scooped up the football and galloped all the way to the 20 yard-line. Cromartie showed great wherewithal securing the recovery and making a spectacular return which set up the Jets decisive score.

HEAR HEAR:

“They took something from us and we came to retrieve it and I think we got it back,” exclaimed Bart Scott. "It’s a tremendous program, don’t get me wrong. We have a tremendous around of respect for the New England Patriots and what they do. We’re not getting pushed over anymore. We came here to make our mark. I think we marked a little territory. This is how rivalries start. Rivalries start when both teams take something from the other team”

FINAL THOUGHT:

The New York Jets backed up their talk, shocking the world and ousting the big bad 14-2 New England Patriots. Rex Ryan outcoached Bill Belichick, with Ryan’s defense responding well to their 45-3 shellacking in Week 13. The Jets defense stood tall playing sound coverage and tackling with ferocity and fervor. Gang Green exposed a young and inexperienced Patriots defense converting on four of their five red zone attempts. New York was superb in all facets, conquering their hated division rivals with Braylon Edwards’ back flip punctuating the emphatic win. The Jets venture to the Steel City, clinching their second AFC Championship berth in as many years. Next Sunday, the Jets have a chance to make their first Super Bowl appearance since 1969 with their eyes fixated on the NFL’s ultimate prize.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Fox-buried !


Rick Laughland, Daniel Feuerstein and Mike San Falippo review the Jets triumphant 28-21 win in Foxboro. Rex Ryan and his boys certainly walked the walk after talking the talk
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

MELO JERSEYS 50% OFF





Perhaps the most telling sign that the Nets and Nuggets are nearing a deal has surfaced from a discount offered by the Denver Nuggets' store. On Sunday night, Carmelo Anthony jerseys were discounted fifty percent with Denver insisting that the team needed to unload surplus merchandise. Denver fans are hardly convinced the sale is not connected to the impending trade, while fans in the Garden State are salivating at the prospect of obtaining Anthony.

Although the terms of the trade have yet to be finalized, it seems abundantly clear that Denver is ready to part ways with their mega star.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author





Saturday night, Head Coach Rex Ryan invited former Jets defensive end Dennis Byrd as New York's keynote motivational speaker. During the 1992 season, Byrd suffered a career ending neck injury to his C5 vertabrae in a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dennis was temporarily paralyzed by the injury sending shockwaves through the NFL. The following season Bryd made a remarkable improvement using crutches to make his way onto the Meadowlands Field.

Byrd received a warm of reception as fans applauded his courage, perserverance and undying optimism that may very well have helped him overcome paralysis. The current Jets squad was inspired by Byrd's story as it was reported there was not a dry eye in the house following the riveting speech.

In his two seasons as Jets head man, Rex Ryan has served as the emotional leader for his squad, renown for his own stirring locker room speeches. Ryan deferred to Byrd, a living life example of resolve and bravery, two characteristics the Jets will need to exude when they battle the Patriots Sunday.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Net Impact





Losers of nine of their last ten, the Nets are mired in a rut amidst their four game west coast swing. New Jersey will travel to Golden State Monday followed by a return to Newark to face the Jazz on Wednesday night. Although the Nets have been competitive; playing the Suns, Blazers and Lakers down to the closing moments, New Jersey lacks a superstar who can singlehandedly catapult them out of mediocrity.

That player may very well be Carmelo Anthony, but New Jersey’s patience is running short, with the Nuggets seemingly increasing their demands day by day and hour by hour. Mikhail Prokhorov took the reins of ownership with the intention of transforming the beleaguered organization into an NBA champion in three years.

With only four remaining players from last year’s embarrassing twelve win season, the Nets are desperately trying to shed the reputation as the NBA’s doormat, marketing a fresh “new” start. The 2010 NBA season ushered in a renewed sense of hope and optimism for a franchise seeking to ascend from obscurity and irrelevance, to NBA glory.

A disappointing offseason, followed by a 10-29 record has made that optimism fade. The Nets youth movement has certainly seen its share of growing pains, as fans implore the front office to actively pursue a trade. The Nets may very well be at a crossroads in their history with the February 24th trade deadline fast approaching.

Should New Jersey continue to develop their youth or trade them as bargain chips in favor (or Favors no pun intended) of landing a superstar talent like Carmelo Anthony? Fans are without question in favor (again no pun intended) of wooing Anthony to the Garden State, as they remember how the addition of Jason Kidd revitalized the franchise. The next month will be a decisive period for the Nets as they aim to meet the lofty championship aspirations set by their ambitious owner.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF PICKS



NFC

Seahawks 20 Bears 14

The Seahawks pull a second straight stunner, forcing Jay Cutler into 3 interceptions en route to the upset. Seattle proves once and for all they belong in the playoff mix.

Packers 30 Falcons 24

The Packers keep rolling as Aaron Rodgers outduels Matt Ryan and the dirty birds. Ryan's late red zone interception helps the Pack secure a six point win.

AFC

Ravens 20- Steelers 17

Baltimore outlasts Pittsburgh as Joe Flacco and Ray Rice lead the charge finally toppling a Big Ben led Steelers squad.

Jets 27-Patriots 21

And finally, the New York Jets respond following their 45-3 romping in Week 13, playing sound fundamental defense and capitalizing on Patriots miscues. The Jets emerge victorious clinching their second AFC championship berth in as many years.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Divisional Playoff Preview with WEEI's Chris Price



On Friday, January 14th at 1:00PM: Rick Laughland, Daniel Feuerstein, & Mike San Filippo will be joined by Boston Sports Radio Station WEEI.com's Chris Price to Preview the Divisional Playoff Game as the New York Jets travel to Foxboro and face the New England Patriots.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Drew Coleman Injures Knee in Thursday's Practice


On the final play of Thursday's practice, Jets nickel back Drew Coleman injured his knee and has been sent for a precautionary MRI. Coleman was able to walk under his own power off to the sidelines. The extent of the injury is unknown and Coleman's status for Sunday's game with New England is uncertain.

Prior to New York's Week 13 game with New England, safety Jim Leonhard suffered a season ending injury to his tibia during a violent collision with rookie wide receiver Patrick Turner. The Jets are hopeful that Coleman's fate will be better than Leonhard's.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Oh Brother!



In a game that pitted brother against brother (former Stanford University teammates Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez), Brook’s Nets came out on the short end of a 118-109 overtime decision. With 9:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, New Jersey built a sizeable lead at 90-75. The Suns would outscore the Nets 28-13 down the stretch to force the extra session. In overtime, Phoenix took complete control winning the extra period 15-6. The loss was a deflating one as the Nets’ fourth quarter dry spell cost them the victory.

In what was billed as a battle of the Lopez brothers and with Nets fans placing a watchful eye on ex-Net Vince Carter, the point guards stole the show. Suns point Steve Nash dished out 16 helpers, dropping 23 points and snaring seven rebounds. New Jersey's point man Devin Harris collected 15 points, 15 assists and three steals in the loss. The Nets had no answer for Nash who was wheeling and dealing, stepping in and knocking down contested shots late in the fourth quarter and into the overtime period.

Vince Carter finished with 23 points, five rebounds and two assists. As for the battle of the Lopez’s, Brook scored 16 points and hauled in 8 boards, while twin brother Robin had 11 points and only two rebounds, but earned the all important victory. New Jersey’s next opponent will be a mammoth sized challenge as they travel to Staples Center on Friday, January 14th at 7:30PM, to face the two-time reigning NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Mr. Belichick-All Business


New England head coach Bill Belichick is a man of few words, and preaches to his Patriots to let their play do the talking. In what has been a week filled with bantering by Rex Ryan’s Jets, Belichick has beseeched his squad to ignore Gang Green’s pregame chatter. New England’s head man acknowledges that Sunday’s contest will be a challenge, noting that the Jets are a formidable opponent.

“They’re a good football team all the way across the board,” recognized Belichick. “They’re good on offense, defense (and) special teams.” “(They) beat the Colts in Indianapolis. We all know how tough that is. Everything concerns me. They’re good all the way across the board.”

Belichick takes special notice to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and his ability to rally Gang Green in the closing moments of games.

“He’s done a great job this year,” mumbled Belichick. “There have been a lot of close games and (he has) brought them from behind, like in the Detroit game and the overtime games.” “(In) Cleveland, he made a bunch of big plays there. He’s done an excellent job in some tough situations and brought the team back and won for them.
I think anytime a quarterback does that, that’s what you want on your résumé.”

On the Patriots side of the ball, their offensive brilliance stems from the use of multiple personnel groupings; creating a dynamic and versatile attack. The Jets will have to be cognizant of New England’s packages and substitutions in order to identify the matchup they’re trying to exploit.

“I think in every game, you’re always looking for matchups,” noted Belicheck. “You try to create the ones that you feel give you an advantage and try to minimize the ones that you think don’t give you an advantage or give your opponent an advantage.” “However you want to look at it. I think that’s part of every game, whether it’s offense, defense (or) special teams. It really transcends through any sport. You try to find matchups that are advantageous. If you can find them, you try to utilize those and get the most out of them.”

Belichick was then asked whether he is going to have a pregame race with Rex Ryan. The Patriots coach responded true to form.

Belicheck stated, “I think we’ll do our best to win on Sunday.”
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Radio Show: Special Guest SNY's Jeane Coakley



Listen in Today, Wednesday January 12th at 4:00PM as Rick Laughland, Daniel Feuerstein and special guest Jeane Coakley preview this Sunday's Jets @ Patriots game.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

NETS WILL SEE V.C.



With trade rumors swirling regarding Carmelo Anthony, Wednesday night the Nets clash with former New Jersey superstar Vince Carter. Carter landed in the valley of the sun when Orlando shook up their roster December 19th, sending Marcin Gortat, Mickael Pietrus and Vince Carter to Phoenix in exchange for Jason Richardson, Earl Clark and Hedo Turkoglu.

The Magic would also ship Rashard Lewis to Washington and in return receive troubled but talented guard Gilbert Arenas. In six games with Phoenix, Vince Carter is averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. Carter’s four plus seasons with New Jersey saw the Nets make three playoff appearances, falling short of the NBA finals each time.

Current Nets Devin Harris and Brook Lopez played with Vince Carter in 2008 and will be sure to exchange pleasantries with Carter prior to Wednesday night’s game. Although Vince’s era in New Jersey fell short of expectations, fans were electrified by Vinsanity’s high flying dunks and acrobatic shots. Carter played exceptionally well alongside Jason Kidd in New Jersey and now finds himself in Phoenix’s backcourt with two-time league MVP Steve Nash.

The Suns are vastly underachieving this year boasting a 15-21 record but still hold claim to the NBA’s second best scoring offense at 105.9 points per contest. The Nets embark on their four game west coast trip, winning only three of twenty road games thus far this season. If New Jersey is hopeful of capturing their fourth road victory, they will have to be sharp in transition defense and guard a Suns team that shoots a blistering 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.

PREDICTION:

110-98 Suns. Vince Carter 24 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds against his former squad.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

HUMBLE PIE VS. CHERRY PIE



SUNDAY’S STORYLINE:

Mouthy versus reserved. Cherry Pie versus Humble Pie. Spygate versus Footgate? The contrasts are abounding between bombastic Jets coach Rex Ryan and the Patriots standoffish head man Bill Belichick. There is no love lost in this bitter rivalry as these division foes collide in what promises to be quite an affair. The all-time series between the Jets and Patriots is gridlocked at 51-51-1, dating back to the franchises’ first ever meeting on September 7, 1960, at New York’s historic Polo Grounds. Upon being hired, Rex Ryan declared that he is not in the business of kissing Bill Belichick’s rings as he aims to topple the 14-2 AFC east champion Patriots this Sunday. In Week two of the regular season, New York defeated the Pats 28-14, with New England more than returning the favor Week 13 at Gillette Stadium with a 45-3 romping of Gang Green. New York disregarded their memory of that game by literally conducting a burial of the game ball under the turf at their Atlantic Health Practice Facility in Florham Park. The Jets will look to conduct a public burial of New England in front of 80,000 Patriot faithful on Sunday.

KEYS TO VICTORY:

1. Start Fast!

In New York’s Week 13 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots, Gang Green faced a 17 point first quarter deficit in the blink of an eye. The last time New York scored an opening quarter offensive touchdown was Week 4 against the lowly Buffalo Bills. The Jets have a propensity for sluggish starts as Mark Sanchez struggles to settle in and find his cadence with his receivers. Look for New York to open up the play calling early on, capitalizing on an inexperienced Patriots defense, which ranks last in both passing yards allowed and third down conversions. New England will likely stack the line of scrimmage tempting Sanchez and the Jets 22nd ranked pass attack to beat them.

2. Make the Tackle!

The Jets didn’t look like they wanted any part of tackling New England’s speedy receiving core, or shifty running back Danny Woodhead back in November. If New York hopes to limit New England’s prolific offense they will need to replicate their tackling performance against Indianapolis and bring it to Foxboro Sunday. The Patriots have a knack for turning short crossing patterns and screen plays into six points. New England does not have the vaunted vertical aerial assault they boasted in 2007, but Tom Brady is an expert at finding the open man and spreading the wealth amongst his receivers.

3. Force Tom Terrific into mistakes

Tom Brady enjoyed a phenomenal year for New England tossing 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Two of those picks were registered by New York’s Antonio Cromartie and Brodney Pool respectively in Week 2. The Jets will need to find a way to dial up the pressure and flush Brady out of his comfort zone in the pocket. Both of Brady’s Week 2 picks transpired because he was under duress, but Brady’s offensive line has done an impeccable job of keeping him clean in the pocket this season. Gang Green’s star studded duo of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie will be entrusted with locking down wide receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch. If New York plans on pulling the upset their tenacious defense will have to force Brady into mistakes by applying pressure and capitalizing on any errant throws.
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Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Melo Drama Continues


In the blockbuster of all trades, the Nets, Nuggets and Pistons are at a bit of a stand still as Denver appears gun shy; not pulling the trigger on the mega deal just yet. On Monday night it seemed the teams were close to finalizing the terms of a trade, but Denver developed cold feet when the Nuggets tried to include Al Harrington as part of the deal. Harrington, who still has four years and 28 million remaining on his contract, is a salary burden New Jersey is not willing to take on. This sticking point has precipitated the Nets to seek out a fourth team to include in the trade.

Denver point guard Chauncey Billups told reporters he would even consider a buyout if he was sent packing to the Garden State. To make matters even worse, sources reported Tuesday night that if the Nets don’t keep trade talks private, the Nuggets have threatened to trade Carmelo to the Knicks! The imminence of a deal getting finalized has faded, but Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has been unrelenting in his pursuit for Mr. Anthony. General Manager Billy King indicated that if not for Prokhorov’s ardor to sign Carmelo, King would have shifted his focus to other trading targets by now.

Nets coach Avery Johnson told reporters that he plans on playing the entire team on New Jersey’s upcoming four game road trip, beginning in Phoenix Wednesday Night. The Nets trail the 76ers by five games for the 8th and final playoff spot, and by adding the trio of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Carmelo Anthony into the fold, New Jersey could make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
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Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Captivating Images from the Devils 6-3 win






Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Grades Are In!


PASSING OFFENSE:

The man they call the Sanchize was less than stellar but the second year quarterback performed well in the clutch. #6 directed the Jets on a five play, 41 yard drive, punctuated by Nick Folk’s game-winning 32 yard kick. Mark Sanchez would complete 18 of 31 pass attempts for 189 yards, one interception and a measly rating of 62.4. If not for Sanchez’s late game heroics, New York’s lackluster passing game would have absorbed the blame for what could have been a disappointing loss. New York will need to establish an early rhythm through the air if they hope to pull the upset in Foxboro.

Grade: C+

RUSHING OFFENSE:

A herculean effort by vivacious tailbacks Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson dominated the second half, carrying New York to victory. The Jets menacing offensive line pancaked Colts defenders blasting vast creases for Greene and Tomlinson to exploit. All totaled New York amassed 169 yards on 39 carries with L.T.’s pair of one yard touchdowns catapulting Gang Green to a late game surge. The Jets found their ground and pound game, making minced meat of Indianapolis’ porous run defense.

Grade: A

PASSING DEFENSE:

The Jets pass defense was brilliant, disguising their coverages and forcing Peyton Manning to audible to running plays. Gang Green featured a defensive front including five defensive backs as well as shifting safety Eric Smith into the linebacking territory. The Jets tackling was exceptional, particularly Eric Smith whose ten wrap-ups led New York. Despite a lack of a pass rush and virtually no disturbance of Manning in the pocket; the Jets found a way to contain the Colts top ranked aerial assault.

Grade: A-

RUSHING DEFENSE:

The Colts run game was tepid as the combination of Joseph Addai and Dominick Rhodes ran the ball 27 times for 93 yards, with a long run of 14 yards. Indianapolis’ tailbacks were stymied by the likes of David Harris, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace who wrestle Rhodes and Addai to the ground on multiple occasions. The Colts 24th ranked ground game looked every bit the part as they were unable to break off any big runs or find the end zone for six.

Grade: B+

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Antonio Cromartie’s 47 yard kickoff return on the Jets last offensive possession of the game ignited Gang Green’s scoring drive. Nick Folk was true on his 32 yard game-winning kick, proving that the erratic place kicker does have ice water in his veins. Punter Steve Weatherford averaged 50.4 yards on four punts, downing one inside the twenty yard-line. Santonio Holmes’ bone-headed decision to let the Colts opening punt bounce through his legs was confounding, but overall a superb effort by those special teamers.

Grade: A-


COACHING:

Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine devised a terrific game plan; featuring formations stacked with defensive backs daring Peyton Manning to audible to running plays. The Jets scheme worked as they executed it to perfection, with New York’s run game keeping Peyton Manning on the sidelines in the second half. Kudos to Rex and his staff for containing one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. The Jets will be certain replicate the blue print they utilized against Peyton Manning and bring it to the unfriendly confines of Gillette Stadium as future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady awaits their arrival Sunday.

Grade: A
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

FOLK HERO



CHEER:

The Jets ground and pound was on full display in Indy as the tandem of Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson battered a diminutive Colts defensive front. The Jets opened the second half with a ten play 63 yard drive capped by Tomlinson’s one yard touchdown rumble. Gang Green’s offensive line trampled Indianapolis, paving the way for a 169 rushing performance. New York’s best defense was their offense’s ability to sustain drives with Peyton Manning watching helplessly from the bench as the Jets outscored Indy 17-9 in the second half. #18 would lead his team on three field goal scoring drives but alas Mark Sanchez’s late game heroics spurred the Jets to a thrilling 17-16 victory.

JEER:

With less than one minute remaining in the first half, Mark Sanchez’s errant throw in the red zone cost Gang Green dearly. On third and ten from Indy’s 20 yard-line, Sanchez took the snap out of the Shotgun formation surveying the field with ample time in the pocket. #6 peered to the right side of the field then shifted his vision to Dustin Keller along the left sideline and sailed a ball high in Keller’s direction. New York’s athletic tight end attempted a circus catch, but to no avail with Colts cornerback Justin Tryon snaring the ball for the pick. The turnover proved costly as the Jets red zone trip would come up empty, with New York producing zero first half points.

BIG STAT:

On Saturday night, the New York Jets became the first team since the 1997 Minnesota Vikings to win a playoff game by a single point.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Trailing 16-14 with 53 seconds precious seconds remaining, Colts kicker Pat McAfee blasted the kickoff 3 yards deep into the end zone. Cornerback and kick returner Antonio Cromartie fielded the boot and dashed 49 yards up field; bestowing the Jets with favorable field position at their own 46 yard-line. Antonio’s return provided the Jets with a golden opportunity to drive a short field and kick the game winning field goal.

HEAR HEAR:

“We’ve been in some close ones this year,” quipped Rex Ryan. “To come out and pull this game out against a great football team, against a great quarterback; it took a herculean effort by our team.” “I’m just thankful for the men I coach, the coaching staff and Nick Folk. I’m thankful I finally got to beat Peyton Manning. I challenged our guys, especially at halftime, to be able to come back in that locker room and to be able to look each other in the eyes after that game. {I told them} you will know and your teammate will know that you gave everything you had. And that’s what it showed today.”

FINAL THOUGHT:

Mark Sanchez and the Cardiac Kids made their encore performance on Saturday Night at Lucas Oil Stadium. In an evenly matched heavy weight bout, the Jets dealt the final haymaker as Nick Folk’s 32 yard field goal spun through the uprights at the gun. Gang Green outlasted an Indianapolis squad that pulled the rug from New York’s magic carpet ride just one postseason ago. Rex Ryan delivered as promised as his Jets stormed in to Indy and captured an exhilarating win. The Jets march on to Foxboro, Massachusetts, as they set their sights on Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the reviled New England Patriots. Kickoff is slated for Sunday January 16th at 4:30PM; a game that is not recommended for the faint of heart.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Hello Melo?



The Nets have revamped the Carmelo Anthony trade talks as they are in discussions with Denver and Detroit to try and swing a three-team deal. The proposed trade would see Nets point guard Devin Harris and at least two first-round picks sent to Denver while rookie forward Derrick Favors, and Troy Murphy’s expiring contract would be shipped out to the Motor City.

In return, the Nets would receiver Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony from Denver along with shooting guard Richard Hamilton from the Pistons. The final piece to the deal includes New Jersey sending Anthony Morrow to Denver and Johan Petro to Detroit to balance salaries. The latest trade proposal is amongst several attempts by the Nets to whisk Anthony away from the Knicks.

Denver rejected New Jersey’s initial offer of Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy and at least two first-round picks, because it behooves the Nuggets to wait until the February 24th trading deadline to pay Murphy’s salary. In what was an offseason littered with free agent talent, the Nets swung for the fences striking out on Lebron James, who took his talents and massive ego to South Beach.

Nets general manager Billy King and Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov have had their sights set on Anthony since training camp and hope that adding the Brooklyn Native will be the first-step to building a title contender. If New Jersey is able to land Carmelo it is believed that point guard Chris Paul would be enticed to join Anthony (as a free agent in the offseason) as the Nets aim to transition from Newark to Brooklyn and hopefully for obscurity to prosperity.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Nobody Beats the Wiz? NETS 77 WIZARDS 97 F


The Nets put on a listless performance facing an 8-25 Wizards squad that was anything but unbeatable. New Jersey was outscored 30-13 in the first quarter and never awoke from their slumber. Washington’s newly acquired shooting forward Rashard Lewis dropped 16 on the Nets as the Wizards had five players in double figures. Devin Harris, Travis Outlaw and Sasha Vujacic combined to shoot an unthinkable 3-29 from the field.

The Nets were dealt a capital punishment in D.C., looking every bit the part of an Eastern Conference bottom dweller. New Jersey committed 17 turnovers only dishing out 13 dimes in what was a forgettable performance for the Garden State’s bunch.
The Nets have a quick shot at redemption on Saturday at 7:00PM as they play host to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Prudential Center in Newark. Both the Bucks and Nets will be playing the second game of a back to back; look for bench points to be a key statistic in this upcoming matchup. The Nets recorded 48 rebounds on Friday night in Washington, while Bucks center Andrew Bogut ripped down 27 rebounds on his own against Miami. New Jersey hopes that some home cooking will energize them as they look to earn their second win in three tries.

Milwaukee is 5-13 on the road this season holding claim to the worst scoring offense in the NBA at 90.5 points per game. The Bucks also rank last in assists averaging 17.3 a game. The Nets are second worst in points per game (92.4) as well as assists (18.1) in what promises to be a clash of the offensively inept the game may be decided a single basket. Keep an eye out for bounce back games from Vujacic and Harris who will be chomping at the bit to find nothing but nylon after coming up empty Friday Night.

Prediction Time:
A Wisconsin native, Devin Harris will go off: 20 points, 5 assists and 2 steals, leading the Nets to a 94-89 win over Milwaukee
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Brook and Devin Efficiency Leaders


It comes as no surprise that the Nets cannot sniff the top ten in NBA team rankings, yet point guard Devin Harris and center Brook Lopez find themselves among the NBA’s elite with regards to player efficiency ratings. John Hollinger of ESPN (and creator of player efficiency ratings) ranks Lopez tenth amongst centers (+17.81) and Harris seventh amongst point guards (+19.95). (Just in case you were wondering Carmelo Anthony ranks third amid shooting forwards (21.01)). Brook and Devin are projected to contribute 8.7 wins this year; a significant statistic considering the Nets have nine wins to date.

According to NBA.com, New Jersey’s most efficient starting five includes: Devin Harris, Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, Travis Outlaw and Brook Lopez. This lineup boasts a +23 efficiency rating, yet being grossly undersized the unit enjoyed merely nine minutes of game action this season. New Jersey is deficient offensively averaging 92.3 point per contest slating them 29th just ahead of the NBA’s worst scoring offense, Milwaukee. Head Coach Avery Johnson is likely to prolong his rotational carousel as he shuffles around multiple lineups, searching for the most productive and efficient player combinations.

The player efficiency metric provides coaches, general managers and fans insight into a player’s overall contribution utilizing a detailed formula to produce a single rating. (I would leave the calculations to Hollinger and the experts). The Nets can proudly state they have top flight efficiency players at their respective positions in Brook Lopez and Devin Harris. With the trade deadline fast approaching,
New Jersey may search for reinforcements to help bolster their lineup as they seek to ascend up the NBA’s ratings. Rest assured Avery Johnson and Billy King are consumed with only one statistic, that being the Nets win total as they will explore all options to improve upon New Jersey’s underwhelming performance thus far this season.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Jets v. Colts Review Show



Rick Laughland, Daniel Feuerstein and Mike San Falippo review Saturday's primetime showdown between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts.

www.blogtalkradio.com/the-green-and-white-report/2011/01/09/wild-card-playoff-review-at-colts
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

New York Mets-historical overview


The New York Mets were founded in 1962 as one of major league baseball’s first expansion teams. With the relocation of the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles and the New York Giants to San Francisco in 1957, New York was left without a National League team until the arrival of the Mets in 1962. The Mr. Met mascot debuted in 1961singing and dancing to the “Meet the Mets” theme song; creating a memorable character and promotional tool to help build the Mets brand.

During the first two years of the franchises existence, the team played at the historic Polo Grounds, and in 1964 moved into newly constructed Shea Stadium, named for William Shea an attorney who lobbied for the inclusion of the Mets as a major league expansion team. The team won world championships in 1969 and 1986, winning National League pennants in 1973 and 2000.

The Mets have lived in the shadow of the New York Yankees who have won 5 titles since 1996, to the Mets zero. Currently, the team is re-branding and re-indentifying itself following a slew of disappointing seasons. New York’s former general manager (2004-2010) Omar Minaya was aggressive in his pursuit for top flight talent, often times overpaying for marginal players, or players who were past the prime of their career, much to the ire of ownership. In 2006, the Mets won 97 games, reaching game 7of the NLCS, only to see their magical season come up an extra base hit shy of a World Series berth.

In the subsequent four seasons, the Mets would miss out on the playoffs despite boasting a top five payroll in baseball. Ownership put the reins on general manager Omar Minaya, limiting his autonomy in personnel decisions insisting he exercise frugality while targeting new players. The Wilpons’ were reportedly impacted by the Bernie Maddoff’s Ponzi scheme, as they lost millions in securities and investments. Citi-group’s stock plummeted with the economy mired in a recession, as Citi unsuccessfully tried to back out of the naming rights deal for the Mets new ball park.

Following back to back losing seasons, Minaya was ousted and the Wilpons chose Sandy Alderson as his successor. Mr. Alderson brings a wealth of experience and shrewd business tactics to an organization that has floundered to excel on the field, while managing its finances. Aldersen was in the front office when Billy Bean started the new wave of “money ball” whereby smaller market teams could stay competitive by stockpiling their farm system and not paying for overpriced free agents.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Sasha the Slovenian Sensation


The Slovenian Sensation, otherwise known as Sasha Vujacic, has brought unbridled enthusiasm and clutch shooting to the Garden State. A former 27th pick in the 2004 NBA draft, Vujacic provided instant offense during his five plus seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

A landmark moment in Vujacic’s career came with 11 seconds remaining in game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals. The Slovenian hit two cold-blooded free throws extending the Lakers’ lead to four points over the Celtics. The Lakers would hold on for a dramatic 83-79 triumph, hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy for the second consecutive year. Vujacic was heralded for his clutch performance in a decisive game seven on the grandest stage in the NBA. As if his year couldn’t get any better, this past October Vujacic engaged to marry Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova.

In December, instead of embarking on a quest for a three peat with Los Angeles, Sasha was traded to the New Jersey Nets, a team looking to improve upon a league worst record 12-70 from just a season ago. Sasha has relished an increased role with the Nets imparting an upbeat and positive attitude on a New Jersey squad in desperate need of inspiration and most importantly wins.
In nine games with the new-look Nets, Vujacic is averaging 11.4 points, 1.9 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals while shooting a blistering 41.5 percent from beyond the arc. On New Year’s Day against Minnesota, Sasha tied his career high of 22 points while dishing out four helpers. Vujacic’s biggest splash as a Net came during Wednesday night’s thrilling 96-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

With 11 seconds remaining and the game knotted at 94, Devin Harris lofted an alley-oop intended for Brook Lopez, but the ball was batted away into the hands of Sasha Vujacic whose lay-up caught nothing but nylon. An exuberant Vujacic revved up the Newark faithful, embracing teammates as his game-winner halted the Nets five game skid and in turn ended Chicago’s five game winning streak.

Vujacic’s contribution goes beyond his silky smooth jumper or his charming personality; his intangible assets have boosted the Nets’ morale. Sasha’s feisty competitiveness and unwavering confidence appear to be infectious in teammates. New Jersey is reaping the rewards of unloading a loafing Terrence Williams in exchange for the energetic and bubbly Vujacic. Sasha seems be right at home in Jersey as his recent late game heroics helped the Nets get off the snide. The Nets may consider adding Vujacic to pre-game pageantry and half-time entertainment as his jubilance rallies the home crowd bringing everyone to their feet. Vujacic’s two rings are second fiddle to future-wife Maria Sharapova, who has three major tennis titles to her name. I guess we know the real bread-winner in that marriage!
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Preview- Colts v Jets


SUNDAY’S STORYLINE:

New York has a shot at redemption as they face Peyton Manning and a Colts team that ousted New York from last year’s postseason; one win shy of a Super Bowl berth. The Colts are 3-0 at home on Wildcard weekend outscoring their opponents by an average of 24 points; making New York’s upset bid doubly difficult. In 2003, New York’s last Wildcard meeting with Indianapolis, the Jets obliterated the Colts 41-0 much to the delight of a lively Meadowlands crowd. Overall, Indianapolis is 5-1 against Rex Ryan’s defenses as Peyton Manning has fired 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions over that span. Jets Coach Rex Ryan has been outspoken in his desire to return the favor to Manning; making him feel the disappointment and misery that Ryan experienced nearly a year ago.

KEYS TO VICTORY:

1. Antonio Cromartie vs. Pierre Garcon

In last season’s AFC title game, Pierre Garcon victimized New York collecting 151 receiving yards on 11 receptions including a third quarter go-ahead touchdown. The addition of Antonio Cromartie equips Gang Green with a viable lock-down corner as he will likely oppose Garcon on Saturday night. Cromartie will need to win the battle at the point of attack disrupting Garcon’s timing with quarterback Peyton Manning. Head Coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine are optimistic that Cromartie will prevent Garcon from putting on a repeat performance from the teams’ last postseason encounter.

2. New York’s offense producing sustained drives

New York’s best defense will certainly be their offense’s ability to move the chains; thereby keeping Peyton Manning on the sidelines. Sustaining drives proved instrumental in Super Bowl XLIV as the Saints limited the Colts’ offense to seven possessions. Tailbacks LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene can help Gang Green’s cause by pounding the Colts 25th ranked rushing defense; maintaining prolonged offensive possessions. The Colts retained six offensive possessions alone in the first half of last year’s AFC title game with New York going three and out on four separate offensive possessions. New York will aim to reverse their fortunes and dominate the time of possession battle on Saturday night.

3. The Jets pass coverage between the numbers

A glaring weakness of Gang Green’s defense has been the ability for New York’s burly linebackers to drop back in coverage and protect the middle of the field. Jets’ opponents have been honing in on exploiting New York’s linebacking corps by sending speedy slot receivers and physical tight ends between the hash marks often exposing their sluggish covering skills. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jay Cutler enjoyed success by steering clear of stud cornerback Darrelle Revis and to a lesser extent Antonio Cromartie on the outside; instead, picking on New York’s nickel and dime defensive backs, undersized safeties and lumbering backers. Expect New York to combat their speed disadvantage by making personnel adjustments utilizing dime and nickel packages in obvious passing situations.

4. Gang Green’s front three applying pressure to Manning

Defensive ends Shaun Ellis and Mike Devito along with nose tackle Sione Piouha will have a tall order in breaking through a Colts offensive line that surrendered a league best 16 sacks during the regular season. Last year’s AFC title game linebacker David Harris demolished Peyton Manning for the Jets only to two sacks on afternoon; doing so on the Colts first two offensive possessions of the game. New York’s defensive line has struggled to unleash a consistent pass rush forcing Rex Ryan to send additional blitzers to produce pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Manning has a knack for burning blitzes and New York will need to rotate backups Marcus Dixon and Trevor Pryce to spell the starting three and provide a spark for New York. If the Jets are able to harass Peyton Manning in the pocket with their down lineman, it will provide an enormous lift to the defense; possibly forcing a game-changing turnover.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

AFC Wildcard Radio Preview- Colts vs. Jets


Listen in as Daniel Feuerstein, Mike San Falippo and Rick Laughland preview a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game as the New York Jets travel to Lucas Oil Stadium and take on the Indianapolis Colts


Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

Manning Respects Rex's Defense


the Jets; putting an abrupt halt to Gang Green’s magical playoff run. Manning’s brilliance included completing 26 of 39 drop backs for 377 yards and three touchdowns as he surgically shredded New York’s secondary. In preparation for this Saturday’s Wildcard meeting Manning praised Gang Green’s defense noting the Jets’ upgrades in personnel as #18 has done his homework.

“I played (the Jets) twice last year and they are as good as they advertise,” admitted Manning. “They are excellent from a scheme standpoint and I think player-wise, they are better than they were last year.” They’ve added some really good players and from the film I’ve seen so far, we are cramming to get caught up since it’s a Saturday night game. They are playing really well on defense. They can get you in a lot of bad downs and distances. A lot second-and-longs and third-and-longs and those are just hard to overcome. Like I said, the addition of some new players, has made them even better I think.”

Meanwhile, Rex Ryan aims to exact revenge on Peyton for sending the bombastic coach and his Jets squad packing last January. Manning refused to get wrapped up in a personal battle with Rex, yet offered praise and admiration for Ryan’s defensive schemes. Peyton also credited Gang Green’s cornerback tandem of Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis for giving opposing quarterbacks fits.

“I know that he is an excellent football coach,” acknowledged Peyton. “Every time we played him, he’s always had good players, but I’m not sure he’s had players as good as he has now.” He has excellent corners when you talk about (Antonio) Cromartie and (Darrelle) Revis outside, those are two excellent cover corners that can play man-to-man and just make a lot of plays. They have experienced linebackers, so it’s a combination. They have a great scheme and great players and that’s why it will be tough.”

Peyton Manning, a renowned NFL film junkie, has watched nearly all of this season’s Jets games along with his seven prior matchups with Rex Ryan. Manning is a student of the game and his film study and preparation have been instrumental in elevating #18 to legendary quarterback status.

“When you play, a coach in his first year at a (ball club), it’s worthwhile to look back at (where) he has been, especially when you play against them,” noted Manning. “It’s a part of the normal routine from a studying standpoint.” There are plenty of films from this year to look at and they continue to give you a lot of different looks. They have good players and that’s what allows their defense to do some of the things that they do because they have so much confidence in the abilities of their players and they should.”
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

T'WILL WE MEET AGAIN


Nets’ shooting forward Terrence Williams possesses a world of talent but his lack of commitment to the organization forced New Jersey’s hand as they have agreed in principle to ship out their former #11 pick in the 2009 draft.

Williams caught the ire of Avery Johnson and the Nets coaching staff when he arrived late to practices and was dismissed from a game earlier in the season for failing to comply with team policy. New Jersey demoted Terrence to their D-league affiliate, the Springfield Armory, sending a clear message that they meant business. In three games with the Armory, Williams averaged a triple double, with his most important interaction not coming with head coach Avery Johnson or general manager Billy King but 13 year old Carlos Gonzalez Jr., a D-league ball boy. The young buck questioned Williams’ attitude and dedication to the team, while making light of the fact that people would die to play in the NBA and to value his opportunity.

The stern talk aimed at inspiring Terrence to get his act together and re-dedicate himself to the game of basketball has not translated on the court. Williams’ relationship with the coaching staff appears irreparable as he saw limited action against the Lakers this past Sunday and was deactivated prior to New Jersey’s game with Philadelphia Tuesday night.

Terrence (or T.Will as he is known by fans and teammates) will join the Rockets in a three team deal involving the New Jersey Nets, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers. In exchange for Williams, New Jersey receives Lakers’ shooting guard Sasha Vujacic, Los Angeles’ 2011 first round draft pick, along with Houston’s 2012 first round draft pick. Vujacic will reunite with former Lakers teammate Jordan Farmar hoping to bring championship pedigree and a winning attitude to a Nets squad mired in an eight game losing streak. The Lakers receive journeyman power forward Joe Smith from New Jersey, providing them with a veteran presence and much needed depth to their front court. Anticipating Terrence Williams’ addition to their squad, Houston has dealt second year guard Jermaine Taylor to Sacramento for a future second-round pick. All the pieces are in place but the deal cannot be finalized yet as New Jersey’s Joe Smith is an offseason signee with NBA rules prohibiting him being traded until December 15th.

A change of scenery may provide Terrence Williams the opportunity to flourish and refine his skills, or Houston may have a problem. The outcome remains to be seen but the Nets are content with their compensation in the deal landing a pure shooter and pesky defender in Sasha Vujacic, along with 2011 and 2012 first-round draft choices. New Jersey has stockpiled draft picks earning five first-round selections over the next two seasons. The Nets are in prime position to fill their roster with young talent via the draft or opt to employ their picks as valuable trading chips to score a marquee player. General Manager Billy King has indicated that his club will continue to actively pursue trades as the front office tries to find the right mix of players to produce a winning formula.
Rick Laughland Rick Laughland Author

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