Michael Vick with New York Jets – Is DeSean Jackson following Him?

San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia EaglesThe New York Jets have already made some big moves this offseason. They dumped polarizing quarterback Mark Sanchez and his bloated contract after the five-year veteran and four-year starter failed to play a single snap in 2013. Drafted fifth overall in 2009, following a stellar career at USC, Sanchez failed to put up the numbers of a true franchise QB, ending his Jets career with 12,092 passing yards, 68 TD’s, 69 interceptions and just a 71.7 passer rating. He suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during the 2013 preseason, which ultimately ended his Jets career.

New York certainly didn’t waste any time in signing a new quarterback to fill Sanchez’s spot. They inked a one-year deal with Michael Vick that is said to be worth $5 million. Vick led off our list of top 2014 free agent quarterbacks, so we’re not surprised to see him land with a team where he’s got a legitimate shot at the starting job.

Another reason why this isn’t surprising is because his former offensive coordinator in Philadelphia, Marty Mornhinweg, is now the OC in New York. Mornhinweg is as pumped as anybody to have the duel-threat quarterback aboard as he stated the following:

We are excited to acquire Michael Vick. He’s a great talent who’s won many games, including playoff games, in this league. He has the respect of both his teammates and opponents. He’s here in a role where he’s going to compete and push Geno Smith to become the very best that he can be. Michael will be able to go in and play at a high level and a winning level if called upon.

michael-vickOver his 11-year career, Vick has proven to be a much better option that Sanchez ever was for the Jets. He’s thrown for 21,489 yards, 128 TD’s and 85 INT’s, generating an 80.9 passer rating. What really makes Vick special for a quarterback is what he’s done with his feet, rushing for 5,857 yards and 36 touchdowns. He’s the only player in NFL history to pass for 20,000 yards and rush for 5,000 yards.

But Vick certainly doesn’t come without his drawbacks. The 33-year-old is still faster than most QB’s in the league, but he’s also years removed from the 4.33 forty-yard dash that he ran at the 2001 NFL Combine. More worrisome than a slight loss in speed is how injury prone the former Eagles QB is. Since winning the starting job in Philadelphia in 2010, he never missed fewer than three games in a season. Last year was especially bad as Vick played in just seven games due to a hamstring injury.

If Vick could stay healthy, there’s chance he could unseat Geno Smith as New York’s starting QB. Smith started his rookie year and put up fairly poor numbers, throwing for 3,046 yards, 12 touchdowns and 21 INT’s. Now that Vick is in town, Smith will have to improve if he wants to start in his second year. It doesn’t help matters that Smith (4.78 forty) is slower than Vick, which is significant because Mornhinweg encourages the QB to run in his offense.

Interestingly enough, Vick is already campaigning for DeSean Jackson to join him in New York. Jackson’s attitude has worn thin in Philly, and he’s due to make $10.5 million next season. So the Eagles are actively shopping the 27-year-old receiver, who’s coming of a career year where he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. So far, the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers have all shown interest in the 5’10” speedster.

desean-jackson-jetsYou have to figure that with Vick already in management’s ear, the receiver-needy Jets will show some interest. New York’s top pass catcher last year was Jeremy Kerley, who grabbed 43 balls for 523 yards and three TD’s. This is a team that could really use a dynamic playmaker with speed in the receiving core. And Jackson, who runs a 4.35 forty, definitely fits this description.

But is this enough to convince New York to put up with everything that comes along with Jackson? Furthermore, is he worth the third-round asking price that Philadelphia wants and a $10.5 million salary? There’s little question that Jackson could create more headaches for Jets coach Rex Ryan. But then again, it can’t be half as bad as the headaches that a rookie quarterback throwing 21 interceptions or a punchless offense causes. That said, don’t be surprised if the Jets make a play for Jackson.

Mark Sanchez: From Disgraced Backup to Guaranteed Starter?

mark-sanchezWith all but two teams eliminated from NFL title contention this year, many players have an eye towards the offseason and free agency. New York Jets backup QB Mark Sanchez is one of these players since he’s coming off a year where he didn’t play a single snap, yet he makes $8.25 million a season. Add in the fact that he’s due a $2 million signing bonus in March, and it only fuels speculation that the Jets will part with the 27-year-old.

With New York likely sticking to their second-year QB Geno Smith, there’s little reason to keep an overpaid backup. Sanchez hurt his shoulder in a preseason game while working behind the second team offensive line. He remained injured the rest of the season, though, it was largely reported that Smith had already won the starting job in the preseason anyways.

Assuming the Jets do cut Sanchez, there’s at least one team that guaranteed they would make him a starter. An anonymous head coach told the New York Post the following regarding the five-year veteran, “We’d take Sanchez. He’d be the starter as soon as he walked in the door for us.”

When looking at Sanchez’s numbers over the four years that he started, they don’t exactly scream high-profile free agent. He’s thrown just 68 touchdowns against 69 interceptions and has a career passer rating of 71.7%. But despite the subpar numbers, Sanchez’s talent has always intrigued teams.

mark-sanchez-1He was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and quickly assumed the Jets’ reigns in his rookie season. He also started twice in the AFC Championship game, just missing out on trips to the Super Bowl both times.

Given his experience, there are multiple teams that would be interested in a player like Sanchez. The Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders all enter the offseason with huge questions under center. It’s very possible that one of these teams could have the mystery head coach with Sanchez on his wishlist.

When you put Sanchez up against some of the other free agent QB’s this year, he’s especially attractive. Michael Vick and Josh McCown lead the 2014 free agent class, while Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Shaun Hill and Matt Schaub (likely to be cut) will all draw interest too. Top NFL draft picks that’ll warrant heavy consideration among the league include Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr.

Still, that’s only 10 total quarterbacks when you consider both free agency and top-flight draft picks. So it’s no wonder that at least one head coach is already discussing how he’d start the veteran Sanchez in a heartbeat. The QB is currently rehabbing his shoulder in Birmingham, Alabama after having surgery last October. Assuming he can get back to full strength by the summer, there’s a great chance that he could land a starting job somewhere.

Is there a Future for Eli Manning in New York?

eli-manning-futureIf you placed any bets or did some live wagering on the New York Giants this past Sunday, you were the victim of a MAJOR letdown. Most if not all of the Giants’ problems in a 23-0 loss to the Seattle Seahawks stemmed from Eli Manning’s five interceptions. To add insult to injury, Manning tallied just 158 passing yards and, as the score indicates, 0 touchdowns. And we thought Geno Smith was bad!

Actually, Smith is a good guy to bring up here because it was looking like he might overtake Eli for the league lead in interceptions. After all, Manning had been playing decent as of late and had leveled his interception total at 20 through 13 games. Not exactly MVP caliber, but at least any discussion of him breaking the all-time record for INT’s in a season came to a halt. Then Sunday happened…

The five interceptions that Eli tossed against the Seahawks brought his total to 25 this year. With just two games remaining, it’d be almost impossible for him to break the all-time record, which George Blanda set in 1962 when he threw 42 picks in just 14 games. But Manning still has time to throw at least 30 interceptions, which would put him into a tie for seventh place all-time.

eli-manning-future-1Given his propensity for throwing the ball to the other team, we have to wonder if how the Giants organization is viewing Eli’s future. Sure he’s won two Super Bowls, with the most recent coming two years ago. But on the other hand, Manning has been in the league for 10 years. As a 32-year-old, it definitely seems like he should have some juice in the tank. However, his 2013 performance has to make you wonder.

Even coach Tom Coughlin said that “obviously there’s concern” about if Manning’s performance this year could indicate a steep decline. But he’s also not ready to bail on his championship QB, arguing that this season’s struggles aren’t all Eli’s fault.

He’d be right in this assertion too, when you consider how Manning’s been asked to carry the offense many times, amid a weak rushing attack (28th in league). The defense hasn’t been at the same level as years’ past either. So it’s doubtful that New York would even consider making a big move on another quarterback this offseason. However, you certainly have to think that one more year of this type of performance will have New York eyeing a new signal caller.

The NFL is a very fickle league…even if you’ve won two Super Bowls in the past seven years.

Best Bet to win Last AFC Wild Card Spot in 2013

new-york-jets-wild-cardIn most cases, NFL Wild Card teams need at least 9 or 10 wins to secure a postseason berth. However, this year is shaping up to be quite special since eight teams have a legitimate shot at grabbing the last AFC Wild Card spot. And this has created quite a bit of excitment heading into the last few weeks of the season.

Looking at all of the teams that have records ranging between 6-6 and 4-7, an 8-8 record might even be good enough to grab the AFC’s sixth seed. So which of these mediocre teams could find themselves competing against the league’s elite in the postseason? Let’s take a look by ranking the eight teams that still have a realistic shot at the playoffs.

1. New York Jets (5-6) Geno Smith may be playing terrible right now, but he hasn’t killed the Jets’ playoff chances yet. This is especially the case when you consider that they have the easiest remaining schedule out of any other team. They face Miami (home), Oakland (home), Cleveland (home), Carolina (away), Cleveland (home) and Miami again (away). The two games between New York and the Dolphins could potentially decide the Wild Card. Look for the Jets to go 3-2 or 4-1 the rest of the way, with road losses to Carolina and maybe Miami.

joe-flacco2. Baltimore Ravens (6-6) – The Ravens seemingly have the best chance on this list since they boast the top record and have head-to-head wins over the Jets and Dolphins. However, it’s hard to like their remaining schedule, which includes games against Detroit (road), New England (home) and Cincinnati (away) to close out the season. Their only cupcake is Minnesota at home, which could potentially be their lone win in these four contests.

3. Tennessee Titans (5-6) – Before Baltimore won, Tennessee was sitting in the Wild Card spot since they hold all of the tiebreakers. Their schedule ranks somewhere in the middle with two easy games in Jacksonville (away) and Houston (home) to end the year. But they must win at least one of their next three contests (@Indianapolis, @Denver, Arizona) for these final two to matter.

4. San Diego (5-6) – The one saving grace for San Diego is that a couple of their toughest games are at home, as they host Cincinnati and Kansas City. They also play the Giants and Oakland at home, but must travel to Denver in a couple of weeks. San Diego stole a win in Kansas City; can they do it again at Mile High?

5. Miami Dolphins (5-6) – Most people wrote the Dolphins off after the Richie Incognito bullying scandal. But they’ve since stayed in the hunt by going 2-2. Their remaining schedule isn’t impossible, but it does include three road games. Here’s a look at how they finish out the year: @NY Jets, @Pittsburgh, New England, @Buffalo, NY Jets.

cj-spiller6. Buffalo Bills (4-7) – Based on record alone, the Bills are going to have a tough time making the postseason. However, they come out of the bye week with a healthier CJ Spiller and a somewhat favorable schedule: Atlanta, @Tampa Bay, @Jacksonville, Miami, @New England.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) – Pittsburgh lost the big matchup against Baltimore on Thanksgiving Day, and now find themselves needing to win at least 3 out of 4 to make the playoffs. The best thing that they have going in their favor is scheduling: Miami, Cincinnati, @Green Bay, Cleveland. However, Aaron Rodgers should be back for the Green Bay game.

8. Cleveland Browns (4-7) – The Browns caused some excitement earlier in the year after starting 3-3. But they’ve since cooled off, having lost 4 out of their last 5 games. They could jump back into the playoff picture with a home win over Jacksonville this weekend. But it’s entirely possible that they lose these four games to end the year: @New England, Chicago, @NY Jets, @Pittsburgh.

Whoever make the playoffs out of this list will be a big underdog in their first-round game. Of course, this could still make for some interesting spread betting and live wagering opportunities, depending upon what the playoff matchup ends up being.

Should the New York Jets draft a QB in 2014?

geno-smith-jetsWhen the New York Jets took Geno Smith with the 39th overall pick this past draft, many thought New York was drafting their quarterback of the future. Sure there were questions regarding Smith’s professionalism and late-season decline at West Virginia. But his talent was evidently enough to warrant an early second-round draft choice.

The buzz around Smith only grew as he beat out a banged-up Mark Sanchez for the starting QB job. The young signal caller fared pretty well in his first game, completing 24-of-38 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown. Smith also showed off his 4.59-forty speed by adding 47 yards on the ground. More importantly, he led New York to an 18-17 win over Tampa Bay.

Since this time, Smith has been up and down, with mostly downs to speak of lately. His statline reads of a quarterback who’d normally be benched by this point: 2,227 passing yards, 8 TD’s and 18 INT’s.

It’s worth mentioning that Smith has also added 178 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground. But this isn’t nearly enough to make up for the 18 interceptions that he’s geno-smith-jets-1tossed so far. The last four games have been particularly bad, with Smith throwing for zero touchdowns and 7 INT’s. And if the Jets had a reliable veteran at quarterback this season, you have to wonder if they’d be much better than 5-6.

This might be the question that New York management asks themselves throughout the offseason. Going further, is it already time for the Jets to start thinking about taking another quarterback next year?

It’s certainly too early to completely write Smith off at this point. After all, starting in the NFL as a rookie is an extremely tough task, especially when you’re not a guaranteed franchise savior like Andrew Luck. But if Smith is to truly be the Jets’ QB of the future, he’s going to have to make some significant improvements in accuracy and getting rid of the ball on time.

It doesn’t help the former Mountaineer’s case that the 2014 NFL Draft is loaded with talent at the quarterback position. There are potentially 5-6 signal callers who could be major game-changers at the next level. Fresno State’s Derek Carr, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd lead the seniors, while Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and UCLA’s Brett Hundley head up the draft-eligible underclassmen.

geno-smith-jets-2The latter three prospects are virtually guaranteed a first-round selection, while the three seniors could go late in the first round or at some point in the second round. In any case, the Jets are going to have plenty of chances at drafting a good QB, even if they don’t trade up in the 2014 Draft.

Of course, everything is up in the air for New York right now. Geno Smith could suddenly come out and play much better, leading his team to several more wins and instilling some confidence among management. Given that the Jets are still very much alive in the AFC Wild Card race, Smith leading them to the postseason would really boost his stock.

But at the moment, with his 7 interceptions in the last four games, he’s really going to have to show something over the next few weeks. Or the Jets could be welcoming their new QB of the future on the draft podium next spring.

NFL Power Rankings for Week 4 (Sept. 25th, 2013)

jamaal-charlesEvery year there are teams that flip flop from one NFL season to the next. But this trend has gone to the extreme in 2013, with non-playoff teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears all starting off 3-0. The Chiefs are especially noteworthy here because they’ve already beaten their 2012 win total of two games. Few people expected the Dolphins to be so competitive early on either.

On the other side of the equation are traditional powers like the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings. All expected to compete for a playoff spot, but these teams are now 0-3. The Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers haven’t been much better since last year’s NFC Championship participants are sitting at 1-2. So how does all of this affect our latest power rankings? Here’s the answer…

1. Denver Broncos (3-0); beat Oakland Raiders 37-21, retains same ranking – With 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns, Peyton Manning and this offense have looked nearly invincible. We don’t expect the Broncos to cruise through every game as they’ve done in their 3-0 start. But it’s also hard to see anybody stopping them in the near future.

2. Seattle Seahawks (3-0); beat Jacksonville 45-17, retains same ranking – Denver and Seattle are in a class all by themselves in the early going. Sure Seattle is coming off a victory over the lowly Jaguars, but their blowout of San Francisco still remains fresh in our minds.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-0); beat Arizona 31-7, retains same rankingThe Saints ended any misconceptions about Arizona being able to compete with the big boys. After a disappointing year where they missed the postseason, New Orleans looks like the NFC South favorite.

4. New England Patriots (3-0); beat Tampa Bay 23-3, moves up 2 spots – After numerous worries about their young receiving corp, the Patriots got on track thanks to two Kenbrell Thompkins TD’s. New England was fortunate enough to have three cupcake teams in a row to tune up their new-look offense.

5. Chicago Bears (3-0); beat Pittsburgh 40-23, moves up 5 spots – Every time that the Steelers got close, the Bears defense came up big by forcing a turnover. The Major Wright 38-yard interception return for a TD right before halftime was huge.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1); beat Green Bay 34-30, moves up 3 spots – This is an impressive win by the Bengals against a tough opponent, especially when they surrendered four turnovers to the Pack. Cincinnati could go a long way if they can ever figure out how to utilize all of their offensive weapons.

7. Miami Dolphins (3-0); beat Atlanta 27-23, moves up 4 spots – Miami ryan-tannehillpassed their first true test of the season with flying colors. Ryan Tannehill rebounded from a poor first half to post numbers of 236 passing yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT.

8. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0); beat Philadelphia 26-16, moves up 4 spots – This team has a number of questions in the passing game, where Alex Smith doesn’t exactly throw the long ball too well. However, the Chiefs’ defense has been outstanding in their first three games.

9. San Francisco 49ers (1-2); lost to Indianapolis 27-7, drops 4 spots – Getting beat up by the Seahawks in Seattle was understandable. Getting beat up at home against the Colts is a little different story. Colin Kaepernick and this offense have to get going after scoring just 10 points in the last two games.

10. Baltimore Ravens (2-1); beat Houston 30-9, moves up 3 spots – Up until last weekend, the Ravens hadn’t shown anything worthy of being able to defend their Super Bowl championship. But the defense finally gelled as a unit against the Texans, shutting down their vaunted run game in the process.

11. Houston Texans; lost to Baltimore 30-9, drops 7 spots – Houston started this game strong, but quickly lost momentum with their offense failing to move the ball. Part of this was the Ravens defense, but part of it was also QB Matt Schaub’s failure to convert big plays.

12. Atlanta Falcons (1-2); lost to Miami 27-23, drops 4 spots – The Falcons offense is still fairly high powered, even in the absence of Steven Jackson. However, the defense hasn’t looked too good over the first three games.

13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1); beat San Francisco 27-7, moves up 3 spots – The Colts showed a lot by going into Candlestick Park and dominating the 49ers. The defense came up huge against Kaepernick. Indianapolis may finally have a strong run game too with both Ahmad Bradshw and Trent Richardson carrying the ball.

14. Green Bay Packers (1-2); lost to Cincinnati 34-30, drops 7 spotsjohnathan-franklin-fumbleGreen Bay lost the ball four times, including a crucial Johnathan Franklin fumble on fourth and inches that was returned for a touchdown. Give credit to the Bengals for playing well, but take credit away from Green Bay for playing so carelessly.

15. Detroit Lions (2-1); beat Washington 27-20, retains same ranking – The NFC North is starting to look pretty crowded with the Bears, Packers and Lions all vying for playoff spots. If Detroit can keep Reggie Bush healthy, they’ll be right in the thick of the division title race.

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-1); beat St. Louis 31-7, retains same ranking – The Rams must hate DeMarco Murray. Two years after he torched them for 253 yards as a rookie, Murray racked up 175 yards on the ground against St. Louis last Sunday. Hopefully Dallas doesn’t forget about the run game again after this performance.

17. Tennessee Titans (2-1); beat San Diego 20-17, moves up 4 spots – Jake Locker had his best game as a pro after throwing for 299 yards and running for another 68 yards. But Locker and the Titans can’t get too cocky since San Diego had three starters out.

18. New York Jets (2-1); beat Buffalo 27-20, moves up 9 spots – Many people thought that the Jets would be laughable this year, thanks in large part to their quarterback debacle. However, rookie Geno Smith cleared up the debacle and has given this team a real weapon. Bilal Powell has emerged as a feature back after rushing for a career-high 149 yards against Buffalo.

19. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2); lost to Kansas City 26-16, drops 5 spots – Following a breakout first game, Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense is failing to produce wins. Michael Vick completed just 13-of-30 passes for 201 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.

20. San Diego Chargers (1-2); lost to Tennessee 20-17, retains same ranking – With most teams losing behind them and several injured starters, San Diego stays put at number 20. This team is really just a few plays away from being 3-0.

21. Carolina Panthers (1-2); beat New York Giants 38-0, moves up 8 spots – After putting a thorough home beating on the Giants, Carolina moves up amidst so many back-end teams losing. The defense was stout while Cam Newton finally put up some good numbers (223PYDS, 45RYDS, 4TD, 1INT).

22. St. Louis Rams (1-2); lost to Dallas 31-7, drops 4 spots – St. Louis demarco-murray-ramsreally got gashed by both Tony Romo and Murray. This hurts bad after beating Arizona and losing by just a touchdown against Atlanta.

23. Arizona Cardinals (1-2); lost to New Orleans 31-7, drops 4 spots – Nobody expected the Cardinals to beat New Orleans. But they at least have to protect Carson Palmer, who was sacked four times.

24. New York Giants (0-3); lost to Carolina 38-0, drops 2 spots – Are the G-Men really this bad? Probably not, but they’d better show something soon because New York fans are getting impatient.

25. Buffalo Bills (1-2); lost to New York Jets 27-20, drops 2 spots – Buffalo has played very competitive this year, and if they can get CJ Spiller going, the ground game will be extremely tough.

26. Washington Redskins (0-3); lost to Detroit 27-20, drops 2 spots – The Redskins secondary is once again terrible and this team can’t stop anybody. At least RG III is putting up yards though.

27. Cleveland Browns (1-2); beat Minnesota 31-27, moves up 5 spots – Having been written off by everybody after the Trent Richardson trade, Cleveland came out and won on the road with backup QB Brian Hoyer. Don’t expect a lot more of these winning efforts though.

28. Minnesota Vikings (0-3); lost to Cleveland 31-27, drops 3 spots – A week after losing to Chicago in a close one, Minnesota comes out at home and loses to the lowly Browns. So where does this leave the Vikings?

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3); lost to Chicago 40-23, drops 3 spots – Few people expected Pittsburgh to be in the AFC North cellar after four games. But the offense just can’t produce when it counts.

30. Oakland Raiders (1-2); lost to Denver 37-21, drops 2 spots – Yes, this is still the Raiders and they never really challenged Denver. But there is some excitement in the air over Terrelle Pryor and the energized offense.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3); lost to New England 23-3, drops 1 spot – The Josh Freeman era in Tampa Bay looks to be over as the fifth-year veteran was replaced by rookie Mike Glennon this week.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3); lost to Seattle 45-17, retains same ranking – At least the Jaguars were able to muster some offense in a game this season. They scored 17 second-half points, but the game was already out of hand.