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Joe Anello

2013 NFL Draft: Rounds Two - Seven Recap posted by Joe Anello

It was an eventful and unpredictable NFL Draft, even after the craziness that ensued in round one Thursday night. Friday night showcased rounds two and three, while Sunday wrapped up the draft with rounds four through seven. Let’s run through the major storylines that came out of the 2013 NFL Draft!

*Pardon for the delay. This is what happens when life throws the draft, C2E2, and the impetus to change jobs all in one weekend.

 

-After slipping through the first round despite several reported landing spots, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became a San Diego Charger. The Chargers traded picks 45 and 110 to the Cardinals for pick number 38, allowing them to move up for Te’o. At that point in the draft, the drama-laden linebacker had great value. The Chargers run a 3-4 scheme, but he can still be a valuable inside presence for them.

 

-On the very next pick after Te’o was selected, the New York Jets saw a “franchise” quarterback fall right into their laps at number 39 overall with Geno Smith. Smith increases the QB count on the Jets roster all the way up to six, which includes Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy, and David Garrard. Yeah… someone’s gonna get cut. The obvious cut is Tebow. But then who? Do you cut the veteran Garrard, whom you just brought in? Or do you take the massive cap hit and release Sanchez? Or are you giving up on the idea that McElroy can be anything? The drama is ratcheted up in New York, and I’m gonna love every minute of it.

Continue reading "2013 NFL Draft: Rounds Two - Seven Recap"


Joe Anello

2013 NFL Offseason: Quarterback Craze! posted by Joe Anello

Aside from a few relatively noteworthy transactions in NFL free agency, the past few days have been all about the quarterbacks. There’s been news aplenty regarding some premiere and not-so-premiere signal-callers across the league and the ramifications of their movements. Let’s get through all the news!

Dallas Cowboys extend QB Tony Romo with a six-year, $108 million deal ($55M gtd.)

So we’ve all heard about the basic numbers here, but there’s definitely some “fine print” to this contract. The extension does give Romo $55 million in guaranteed money, but that includes the $11.5M he was scheduled to make next season. He did get a $25M signing bonus, which is pro-rated over the life of the deal (which technically ends after the 2019 season).

This is the contract the Cowboys needed to get done. Through an odd contract loophole, Romo could have become a free agent after the 2013 season… but also after the franchising period ended. So he would have been able to simply walk out on Dallas and get into the free agent market directly, without fear of being franchised. So without a better plan in place or being in any sort of position to draft a quarterback, Dallas made the right, sensible move here. They locked up their franchise quarterback for the long-term.

QB Kevin Kolb signs a 2-year, $13 million deal with the Buffalo Bills

WHOAH. Did NOT see this coming. Can I still get partial credit for saying he’d land in the AFC East? Kolb somehow skirts the sideshow that is the Jets quarterback competition and lands in Buffalo, where he currently only has to beat out Tarvaris Jackson, who isn’t exactly Jim Kelly. Don’t expect this move to stop the Bills from taking a quarterback somewhere in the first two rounds. Kolb might be better than Ryan Fitzpatrick. But at least he’s not making a ludicrous amount of cash.

Continue reading "2013 NFL Offseason: Quarterback Craze!"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: Super Bowl XLVII posted by Joe Anello

So you watched the game, right? I don’t need to talk about it at all, right?

Ugh. Fine. Here’s The Final Drive of Super Bowl 47. You owe me.

(14-6) Baltimore Ravens 34
(13-5-1) San Francisco 49ers 31

After an illegal formation penalty killed a 20 yard pass play on the Niners’ first drive, the Ravens came out and took advantage of a short field. A 20-yarder to Torrey Smith and an offsides penalty on Aldon Smith put the ball at the ‘Frisco 13, where Flacco threw a dart to Anquan Boldin, who made a leaping grab to come down with it in the endzone. All of a sudden the Niner defense was on their heels and Phil Simms was already calling the game over at 7-0.

Kaepernick had a few exciting scrambles on San Francisco’s ensuing drive. A 24 yard pass to Vernon Davis found Dannell Ellerbee way out of position and gave my prediction of Davis for MVP with an early surge. But a poor scramble on a misfire to Crabtree and a 10 yard loss on a sack by Paul Kruger led to a David Akers field goal. Hey, he MADE one! That’s a good sign, right?

San Francisco finally got the read option going on their next drive, feeding Frank Gore and LaMichael James. But then James went and coughed up the ball, draining any and all momentum garnered from the few plays they managed to run. Kaepernick never really got into a groove, seeing more pressure than he had in recent weeks. The Ravens were obviously sending a rusher his way if he handed it off to the running back or not. So many times Terrell Suggs would finish a play by contacting Kaepernick in an attempt to get physical with the QB. They were sending a message early and often.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: Super Bowl XLVII"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Super Bowl XLVII posted by Joe Anello

The time for talk is over. (Well, almost.) The time for football is now. (Well, a bit later.) The time for beet and food is now? (Yes. That is accurate.) After taking apart the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens earlier in the week, we are now ready for The Opening Drive of Super Bowl 47!

 

Super Bowl XLVII

(13-6) Baltimore Ravens at
(15-4-1) San Francisco 49ers
6:30 PM ET, CBS 

San Francisco’s Offense vs. Baltimore’s Defense

After seeing Colin Kaepernick tear apart a hapless Green Bay front seven for 181 rushing yards, the Atlanta Falcons overcompensated and kept the QB in the pocket the entire game. Unfortunately, that left Frank Gore in the clear on read-option plays, on which he scored two touchdowns. Kaepernick picked the Atlanta secondary apart in the second half of that contest, proving he has accuracy to go with the arm strength and mobility. The Raven defense excels at maintaining their edges, meaning they don’t let the ball-carrier get outside of them to the sidelines. They like funneling the ball back inside so Ray Lewis can get inflated tackle numbers. (Which he does.) But what do they do against the read-option? Crash the corners and use the safeties to cover? Assign a defensive end to lay out the QB while a linebacker fills in against the running back? The Ravens have had two weeks to prepare for this mobile QB, so I’d be surprised if he busted too many long runs against them. Instead, we’re probably going to see a lot of Frank Gore and LaMichael James used to test Lewis as the game wears on.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Super Bowl XLVII"


Joe Anello

Super Bowl 47 Preview: San Francisco 49ers posted by Joe Anello

In my first preview of the teams facing off in the Super Bowl, I’m going to take an in-depth look at the team representing the National Football Conference, the San Francisco 49ers. Having barely won the NFC West with a regular season record of 11-4-1 over the Seattle Seahawks (11-5), the Niners had their issues and drama during the regular season. Injuries to key contributors and a swap at quarterback highlight a season of significance for Jim Harbaugh’s squad. Let’s break them down as they head for their sixth Super Bowl title!

 

NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers

The Offense

Had this game been taking place ten weeks ago, I would have been describing to you how the Niners were going to be held back by Alex Smith’s inability to consistently find targets down the field. Instead, Smith was concussed during the season, giving way to former second round pick Colin Kaepernick. The second year pro came into the league with lofty expectations, fronting a team that was dealing with expectations of its own. Colin quickly demonstrated his athletic prowess, becoming one of the most dynamic players in the league. He can run as quick and as effective as any other QB as he showed in their playoff win against Green Bay, but his accuracy isn’t to be laughed at, as he showed when the Niners took down the Falcons. Behind Kaepernick, the Niners won five of their last seven regular season games and stormed through the playoffs.

Continue reading "Super Bowl 47 Preview: San Francisco 49ers"


Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Conference Championships posted by Joe Anello

Conference Championship Sunday left two teams in sheer jubilation while two other squads will be left at home for the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at how two road teams pulled out the win in The Final Drive!

(13-4-1) San Francisco 49ers 28

(14-4) Atlanta Falcons 24

The first quarter of this game looked almost exactly the same as the Falcons’ last game, with a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. San Francisco mounted a whopping -2 yards on offense in the opening frame, stifled by a Falcon defense that had a surprisingly decent pass rush in the quarter.

Julio Jones came out ready to play for keeps, racking up over 100 yards in the first quarter. He was held relatively in check for the rest of the game, totaling “only” 182 yards. Matt Ryan seemed to be able to expose the Niner secondary all day, especially safety Dashon Goldson, who was torched by Jones on his first score. A second crazy catch by Jones to start the second quarter made the score 17-0 in favor of Atlanta. Luckily the Niner offense figured it out eventually, getting two touchdowns in the second period to make the game competitive again. But after the Falcons drove right back down in the two minute drill to pull away at 24-14, I was left to wonder: where was that vaunted Niner defense everyone kept telling me about? I think they forgot that this was an elimination game. Someone must have told them at halftime, because San Fran’s defense came out and utterly shut down the dirty birds.

As their Niner defense tightened, recovering a fumbled snap to Ryan, Colin Kaepernick and the offense thrived. Kaep continued to make key passes from inside the pocket. The read-option plays became deadly, especially at the goal line, where Frank Gore scored two rushing touchdowns. The Niners went up 28-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter and never looked back.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Conference Championships"


Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Conference Championships posted by Joe Anello

Okay everybody, Conference Championship Sunday is here and I could not be any more excited. Aside from the drama that is surrounding each of these fantastic games (you know, because whoever wins plays in that little Super Bowl), I’m also 3-5 on my picks going into the day, meaning the only way I get above .500 for the postseason is if I get everything right from here on out. No pressure. There’s been some movement on these lines (San Fran got a lot of juice and is now a four point favorite. Baltimore saw some action while the line was at 9 points, whittling it down to 7.5), so as an FYI I’m picking against the spread as the odds are currently, not where they began. Let’s stop prattling on and get into The Opening Drive!

*As always, lines pulled from VegasInsider.com. 

 

(12-4-1) San Francisco 49ers at

(14-3) Atlanta Falcons

3:00 PM ET, FOX

You’re going to be hard-pressed to find any unit in this game that favors the Falcons. The Niner offensive line is playing the best of any unit still in the playoffs, as they’ve been utterly dominating defensive fronts at the line of scrimmage. There’s a reason Colin Kaepernick ran utterly untouched against the Packers. Even as he gets a bit older, Frank Gore is the best running back in this game. Michael Crabtree has been stepping up as of late, looking at times like the number one receiver he was always supposed to be. Randy Moss is a somewhat credible threat on the outside, but this team really suffers from the loss of Mario Manningham. But Kaepernick might be able to reproduce a similar performance from last week with the benefit of a dome and faster turf. Without a fully healthy John Abraham (ankle), are the Falcons

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: 2013 Conference Championships"


Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: 49ers 32, Bears 7 posted by Joe Anello

In case your various social media timelines didn’t tell you, the Chicago Bears played the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. It did not go well. Specifically, it was one of the most embarrassing performances of football I’ve ever seen. With that in mind, it’s time for the Gameday Review.

  

(7-2-1) San Francisco 49ers 32

(7-3) Chicago Bears 7 

The opening drive Monday night gave a small preview of what was to come, as Colin Kaepernick completed four passes en route to a David Akers field goal to gain the lead. A sack of Jason Campbell on third and short led to a punt back to San Fran. Kaepernick took that possession, and found Kyle Williams streaking down the sidelines 57 yards, setting up a 3 yard pass to Vernon Davis for the score. That put the Niners up 10-0. And I was worried. Chicago moved the ball 24 yards following the kickoff, but was forced to punt yet again after a third and long. Then came the continued dominance of the ‘Frisco ground game. It wasn’t overwhelming yardage-wise, but it routinely moved the chains and kept the offense on the field. A 14-yard Kendall Hunter run put the Niners up 17-0. And that was all I needed to know that game was over.

If you needed statistical examples of Chicago’s inability to move the ball, let me educate. The Bears garnered 66 passing yards and 85 rushing yards on 28 attempts. That’s 151 total yards, in case you were wondering. They were 3 for 12 on third down and turned the ball over twice (in the form of two interceptions.)

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: 49ers 32, Bears 7"

Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Preview: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers posted by Joe Anello

After a Sunday without the typical flurry of activity and emotion surrounding a Bears game, Chicago fans get to see their team Monday night on ESPN as they take on the San Francisco 49ers. One of the best teams in the NFC, the Niners are right behind the Bears in the standings in the hunt for a two seed in the NFC playoffs. Adding a different flavor to the night’s contest is that fact that both of these teams will be without their starting quarterback. Let’s get to the break-down!

 

(7-2) Chicago Bears at

(6-2-1) San Francisco 49ers 

The Offense

Let’s get this right out of the way. This offense is not the same without Jay Cutler. Jason Campbell doesn’t have the same mobility or the innate play-making ability that’s made Jay so effective. However, with a week of first-team reps (something he doesn’t get any of during a normal work week), Campbell will be much better-suited to compete than he was coming out of the tunnel at halftime of last week’s loss. Aiding his effort will be a large dose of Matt Forte and Michael Bush. Campbell has a decent deep ball, so if the Niners draw in to stop the run, there could be plays to be made deep.

Off the edge, Chicago must be aware of the Smith’s, linebacker Aldon and end Justin. They’re going to keep the Bear tackles busy all night long. NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis are two of the best linebackers in the game, and they both can snag passes over the middle. In the secondary, Carlos Rogers is San Fran’s best corner, so he’ll see Marshall with regularity. Donte Whitner is a reliable ball-hawk, so Campbell has to make sure he bites on the play-action fakes before hurling down the middle of the defense.

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 Gameday Preview: Chicago ..."


Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 NFL Preview: The NFC posted by Joe Anello

I simply cannot wait for football to start. I’m been diving into preseason film, tearing through roster moves, and keeping myself awake at night pondering the possibilities of the 2012 season. Since the season kicks off with the Cowboys and Giants Wednesday night on NBC, let’s get right into my season predictions for the National Football Conference! As a preface, let me just say that this entire process is weird. I’ve looked a decent amount of schedules, but these records (which, when all totaled with the AFC, will equal out correctly) are more akin to indications of how good/crappy I think these teams will be. Let’s break it down!

The NFC East


Last year the NFC East turned into a slaughterhouse, with no team able to break the double-digit win mark. That didn’t stop these teams from making headlines on a daily basis though. With Philly re-charged for another run, a franchise QB finally in D.C., the Cowboys in a pivotal year and the Super Bowl champs looking to repeat, there won’t be any shortage of news in the NFC East. To preface these predictions, this division is a crap-shoot. The only team I’m sure won’t win the East is Washington. Otherwise these teams will just beat up on each other, ensuring that no one breaks away.

Philadelphia Eagles

Last year’s dream turned into something more like a nightmare as Andy Reid’s Eagles failed to meet expectations. Injuries and soft play contributed to their woes, as Michael Vick couldn’t stay on the field (as usual) and DeSean Jackson was worried about his contract situation. LeSean McCoy was a bright spot, but he couldn’t carry this team beyond its mediocre finish. Drafting Fletcher Cox and trading for linebacker DeMeco Ryans should boost second year coordinator Juan Castillo’s defensive unit quite a bit. If they can maintain that pass rush, Philly’s excellent corners will be able to take advantage of their match-up’s and show glimpses of the unit they were supposed to be in 2011. They’re primed to improve, but their over success still depends on Michael Vick’s health.

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 NFL Preview: The NFC"

San Francisco 49ers News

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Calvin Pace latest Jet to puff out his chest: 'We’re the best' defense in NFL (Shutd

If the New York Jets are going to go down, there are going with their egos riding high. Shortly after Dee Milliner, who was roundly tested by opposing quarterbacks as a rookie, proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the NFL , his defensive teammate had some more boastful things to say. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] Calvin Pace was less about self and more about team, but equally as bold, when he told the New York Daily News that the Jets are owners of the best defense in the NFL. “(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S---, man, we’re the best," Pace said. “You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year." Pace might have been on vacation out of the country when the Seattle Seahawks made a mockery of the 606-point Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, one that we might add was played on Pace's home field at MetLife Stadium this past February. But for a moment, let's give Pace the benefit of the doubt ... Even with statistics only telling part of the story, it is a fact that the Jetsranked 11th in yards allowed a season ago, which would be solid enough to suggest that — with improvement — the Jets could find themselves far closer to the top five this season. If Milliner and Calvin Pryor upgrade the secondary, and Pace and a capable group of linebackers play well, the Jets own a defensive line as talented as any in the NFL, even rivaling the St. Louis Rams' devastating front. Head coach and defensive savant Rex Ryan can work with this unit and do some very respectable things. Frankly, we can't wait to see what Year 2 of the Muhammad Wilkerson-Sheldon Richardson duo up front, with scheme wrecker Damon Harrison — a starting-grade talent — coming off the bench. When you have those forces up front, it takes major pressure off the guys behind them and allows for some really creative pressure and coverage packages. “There’s a certain type of aggression when we come ... you know we’re going to come with a lot of stuff and teams don’t want to see that,” Pace said. “They want to see a vanilla defense, that just lines up and you know where they’re going to be.” But now let's return from dreamland ... Pace is wrong. Hey, if you're of the mindset that players should be confident and believe they're the best, I can get behind that. The Jets were always at their best under Ryan when they were boastful (when it didn't ring hollow, or as being insecure) and carrying that bravado out on the field.  But there's just no realistic way to argue that the Jets, as thin as they are at a few locations and with a few passable starters on defense, can be the best unit in the league. They might have been 11th in yards allowed, but they were 19th in points against. Go ahead, Calvin — say what you want, but no statistic or unexpected slew of injuries to the Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs or whomever else will convince me otherwise. Heck, you could make the argument that the Jets aren't even guaranteed to have the best defense in their division. The New England Patriots have loaded up with (ouch, former Jets) corner Darrelle Revis, and the Buffalo Bills, even with Kiko Alonso's injury and Marcell Dareus' limbo status, sat higher in the defensive rankings a year ago. Still, Pace remains undaunted and seems to have a sharper recall of 2009 or 2010 than he does of last season. “We’re the benchmark when we’re doing well,” Pace said. “I’ll take these guys and Rex and this system any day.” I won't. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Calvin Pace latest Jet to puff out his chest: 'We’re the best' defense in NFL (Shutd

If the New York Jets are going to go down, there are going with their egos riding high. Shortly after Dee Milliner, who was roundly tested by opposing quarterbacks as a rookie, proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the NFL , his defensive teammate had some more boastful things to say. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] Calvin Pace was less about self and more about team, but equally as bold, when he told the New York Daily News that the Jets are owners of the best defense in the NFL. “(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S---, man, we’re the best," Pace said. “You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year." Pace might have been on vacation out of the country when the Seattle Seahawks made a mockery of the 606-point Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, one that we might add was played on Pace's home field at MetLife Stadium this past February. But for a moment, let's give Pace the benefit of the doubt ... Even with statistics only telling part of the story, it is a fact that the Jets ranked 11th in yards allowed a season ago, which would be solid enough to suggest that — with improvement — the Jets could find themselves far closer to the top five this season. If Milliner and Calvin Pryor upgrade the secondary, and Pace and a capable group of linebackers play well, the Jets own a defensive line as talented as any in the NFL, even rivaling the St. Louis Rams' devastating front. Head coach and defensive savant Rex Ryan can work with this unit and do some very respectable things. Frankly, we can't wait to see what Year 2 of the Muhammad Wilkerson-Sheldon Richardson duo up front, with scheme wrecker Damon Harrison — a starting-grade talent — coming off the bench. When you have those forces up front, it takes major pressure off the guys behind them and allows for some really creative pressure and coverage packages. “There’s a certain type of aggression when we come ... you know we’re going to come with a lot of stuff and teams don’t want to see that,” Pace said. “They want to see a vanilla defense, that just lines up and you know where they’re going to be.” But now let's return from dreamland ... Pace is wrong. Hey, if you're of the mindset that players should be confident and believe they're the best, I can get behind that. The Jets were always at their best under Ryan when they were boastful (when it didn't ring hollow, or as being insecure) and carrying that bravado out on the field.  But there's just no realistic way to argue that the Jets, as thin as they are at a few locations and with a few passable starters on defense, can be the best unit in the league. They might have been 11th in yards allowed, but they were 19th in points against. Go ahead, Calvin — say what you want, but no statistic or unexpected slew of injuries to the Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs or whomever else will convince me otherwise. Heck, you could make the argument that the Jets aren't even guaranteed to have the best defense in their division. The New England Patriots have loaded up with (ouch, former Jets) corner Darrelle Revis, and the Buffalo Bills, even with Kiko Alonso's injury and Marcell Dareus' limbo status, sat higher in the defensive rankings a year ago. Still, Pace remains undaunted and seems to have a sharper recall of 2009 or 2010 than he does of last season. “We’re the benchmark when we’re doing well,” Pace said. “I’ll take these guys and Rex and this system any day.” I won't. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Chiefs QB Smith focusing on football, not contract (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Calvin Pace latest Jet to puff out his chest: 'We’re the best' defense in NFL (Shutd

If the New York Jets are going to go down, there are going with their egos riding high. Shortly after Dee Milliner, who was roundly tested by opposing quarterbacks as a rookie, proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the NFL , his defensive teammate had some more boastful things to say. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] Calvin Pace was less about self and more about team, but equally as bold, when he told the New York Daily News that the Jets are owners of the best defense in the NFL. “(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S---, man, we’re the best," Pace said. “You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year." Pace might have been on vacation out of the country when the Seattle Seahawks made a mockery of the 606-point Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, one that we might add was played on Pace's home field at MetLife Stadium this past February. But for a moment, let's give Pace the benefit of the doubt ... Even with statistics only telling part of the story, it is a fact that the Jets ranked 11th in yards allowed a season ago, which would be solid enough to suggest that — with improvement — the Jets could find themselves far closer to the top five this season. If Milliner and Calvin Pryor upgrade the secondary, and Pace and a capable group of linebackers play well, the Jets own a defensive line as talented as any in the NFL, even rivaling the St. Louis Rams' devastating front. Head coach and defensive savant Rex Ryan can work with this unit and do some very respectable things. Frankly, we can't wait to see what Year 2 of the Muhammad Wilkerson-Sheldon Richardson duo up front, with scheme wrecker Damon Harrison — a starting-grade talent — coming off the bench. When you have those forces up front, it takes major pressure off the guys behind them and allows for some really creative pressure and coverage packages. “There’s a certain type of aggression when we come ... you know we’re going to come with a lot of stuff and teams don’t want to see that,” Pace said. “They want to see a vanilla defense, that just lines up and you know where they’re going to be.” But now let's return from dreamland ... Pace is wrong. Hey, if you're of the mindset that players should be confident and believe they're the best, I can get behind that. The Jets were always at their best under Ryan when they were boastful (when it didn't ring hollow, or as being insecure) and carrying that bravado out on the field.  But there's just no realistic way to argue that the Jets, as thin as they are at a few locations and with a few passable starters on defense, can be the best unit in the league. They might have been 11th in yards allowed, but they were 19th in points against. Go ahead, Calvin — say what you want, but no statistic or unexpected slew of injuries to the Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs or whomever else will convince me otherwise. Heck, you could make the argument that the Jets aren't even guaranteed to have the best defense in their division. The New England Patriots have loaded up with (ouch, former Jets) corner Darrelle Revis, and the Buffalo Bills, even with Kiko Alonso's injury and Marcell Dareus' limbo status, sat higher in the defensive rankings a year ago. Still, Pace remains undaunted and seems to have a sharper recall of 2009 or 2010 than he does of last season. “We’re the benchmark when we’re doing well,” Pace said. “I’ll take these guys and Rex and this system any day.” I won't. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Calvin Pace latest Jet to puff out his chest: 'We’re the best' defense in NFL (Shutd

If the New York Jets are going to go down, there are going with their egos riding high. Shortly after Dee Milliner, who was roundly tested by opposing quarterbacks as a rookie, proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the NFL , his defensive teammate had some more boastful things to say. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] Calvin Pace was less about self and more about team, but equally as bold, when he told the New York Daily News that the Jets are owners of the best defense in the NFL. “(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S---, man, we’re the best," Pace said. “You ask anybody around the league, we’re not the team you want to see coming in, even in a down year." Pace might have been on vacation out of the country when the Seattle Seahawks made a mockery of the 606-point Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, one that we might add was played on Pace's home field at MetLife Stadium this past February. But for a moment, let's give Pace the benefit of the doubt ... Even with statistics only telling part of the story, it is a fact that the Jets ranked 11th in yards allowed a season ago, which would be solid enough to suggest that — with improvement — the Jets could find themselves far closer to the top five this season. If Milliner and Calvin Pryor upgrade the secondary, and Pace and a capable group of linebackers play well, the Jets own a defensive line as talented as any in the NFL, even rivaling the St. Louis Rams' devastating front. Head coach and defensive savant Rex Ryan can work with this unit and do some very respectable things. Frankly, we can't wait to see what Year 2 of the Muhammad Wilkerson-Sheldon Richardson duo up front, with scheme wrecker Damon Harrison — a starting-grade talent — coming off the bench. When you have those forces up front, it takes major pressure off the guys behind them and allows for some really creative pressure and coverage packages. “There’s a certain type of aggression when we come ... you know we’re going to come with a lot of stuff and teams don’t want to see that,” Pace said. “They want to see a vanilla defense, that just lines up and you know where they’re going to be.” But now let's return from dreamland ... Pace is wrong. Hey, if you're of the mindset that players should be confident and believe they're the best, I can get behind that. The Jets were always at their best under Ryan when they were boastful (when it didn't ring hollow, or as being insecure) and carrying that bravado out on the field.  But there's just no realistic way to argue that the Jets, as thin as they are at a few locations and with a few passable starters on defense, can be the best unit in the league. They might have been 11th in yards allowed, but they were 19th in points against. Go ahead, Calvin — say what you want, but no statistic or unexpected slew of injuries to the Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs or whomever else will convince me otherwise. Heck, you could make the argument that the Jets aren't even guaranteed to have the best defense in their division. The New England Patriots have loaded up with (ouch, former Jets) corner Darrelle Revis, and the Buffalo Bills, even with Kiko Alonso's injury and Marcell Dareus' limbo status, sat higher in the defensive rankings a year ago. Still, Pace remains undaunted and seems to have a sharper recall of 2009 or 2010 than he does of last season. “We’re the benchmark when we’re doing well,” Pace said. “I’ll take these guys and Rex and this system any day.” I won't. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

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