Drafting Darnold: Through The Eyes Of A Jets Fan

A top five pick in the NFL Draft was nothing to new to the Jets, and millions of fans waited anxiously around the country, anticipating the name of the future for this infamous franchise.

In New Jersey, thousands of New Yorkers came to MetLife Stadium, while others crowded bars and family rooms. The Jets are coming off their second straight 5-11 record, and missed the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.

However, on a comfortable night on the East Coast, a name is being circulated around the franchise, a new hope to a team that hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1969.

That hope is 20-year-old USC quarterback Sam Darnold, who now knows that he’ll not be going number-one in the draft on Thursday night, after Cleveland made it known they’ll be selecting Baker Mayfield with the top pick. Darnold, now, has the possibility of dropping to the Jets at number-three.

2,248 miles away from New York City, Mike sits in front of a television, though he stands for most of the night. The 21-year-old native of Monmouth, New Jersey, sports a battered Wayne Chrebet jersey.

“We’ve put up with a lot of crap the last few years,  I don’t know how much longer I can do this,” Mike says. I then asked Mike how many times he’s said that line after a Jets season. “Every year I say it.”

Its obvious that Mike, along with the rest of Jets nation, wants Darnold, and who wouldn’t? Until Thursday morning, most NFL mock-draft boards had him going number-one, and is considered the most ready out of all the quarterbacks in this years class.

Darnold had a stellar career at one of the most recognizable schools in America, USC, capturing a Rose Bowl in his first year with the Trojans, and piling up a 20-4 record. At 6″3 221, the kid, don’t underestimate the word kid, looks like an NFL quarterback.

“He’s perfect. It’s been a long time since we’ve had someone like that taking the snaps.  Sanchez was a tease, Pennington left us, and thats it, nobody,” Mike says with his thick Jersey accent that sounds like he’s from outer space out here in Idaho.

The Draft starts, and as expected, Mayfield goes first, much to the delight of Mike, and New York fans everywhere.

Next is the the Jets roommate, the Football Giants. Though Saquon Barkley is still available, Mike is nervous. “I mean, Eli is old, they need a QB, and I know that if they take Darnold, we’d be dumb enough to take Barkley.”

Though taking Barkley wouldn’t necessarily be “dumb” I see where Mike is coming from. The missing part from the Jets having success since, well, the 1960’s, is the quarterback position. The last QB from the Jets that made a Pro Bowl…..Brett Favre in 2008, whose stint in a New York uniform was so short that Mike completely forgot about him being his starting quarterback for a season.

Meanwhile the Giants are on the clock, and they take Barkley.

The Jets are next.

Mike is standing, as he has been since the beginning of the draft, and now pacing in his small living room, but looks confident, but still can’t stop moving.

He tells me of a story that his father tells him every time the draft rolls around. His dad, a lifelong Jets fan, who grew up going to games at Shea Stadium, remembers the 1995 Draft. In that April, a certain player by the name of Warren Sapp, drops in the draft because of off-the-field issues, and New York all of a sudden has a chance to take this future Hall-of-Famer.

“My dad is sitting there watching on tv, so excited that the Jets are about to draft Sapp, and we take Kyle Brady……..WHAT DID HE EVER DO???”

So frankly put, bad draft selections aren’t too rare of an occurrence with the Jets.

Roger Goodell stepped up the microphone, and called out…..Sam Darnold, quarterback, USC.

No words by Mike, just clapping of the hands. New York has their franchise quarterback, and their future.

The very next day, on the front cover in the sports page of Newsday, Darnold, not Barkley, is printed large enough for the 82,500 fans that will pack MetLife Stadium this fall.

 

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Miami Marsh: Heat Lose Game Three, Whiteside Struggles Continue

All Heat fans wanted was Miami to win one of the first two games in Philadelphia, and give the Heat a chance in the series. A game two victory accomplished that, and fans really thought that this series was going to go to Miami.

Then, Thursday night in the Triple A, it was as if the Miami Heat and its fanbase got punched in the stomach. A 128-108 loss to the 76ers, now trailing in the series 2-1, tonight couldn’t have gone worse.

There, right in the middle of the embarrassment that was the Heat tonight, is their 7-foot center, their franchise player, Hassan Whiteside, with yet another disappointing, almost let-down of a performance.

Whiteside,  had been criticized for his performance in the first two games in Philly, where he scored a grand total of 6 points, was again missing in Miami for game 3. On Thursday night, Whiteside was on the court just 13 minutes, scoring 5 points and pulling down two rebounds.

Now of course, the loss can’t be pinned on just one player. After all, Miami was able to pull off the upset in game 2, even with Hassan’s struggles. Unlike Monday night, there was no Dwyane Wade magic on Thursday, going just 2-for-10 from the field.

The final score presents a game that was a blowout, though it didn’t seem like that in the slightest. The first three quarters, the game was neck-and-neck, with teams trading leads, and tensions flying high. In the second quarter, 76ers Justin Anderson and Wade got into it underneath the basket, resulting in a double-technical.

Trailing by just two after three quarters of basketball, you honestly felt as if Miami was going to pull it out. In the two years that have passed since the Heat have hosted a playoff game, you forget that some of the magic during the Big 3 era is gone, completely.

Though, it just seemed like it was going to happen. Then, in a blink of an eye, it was over, Philly was up 15.

And what a perfect night to defeat Philly too. Joel Embiid was out there looking like Batman, and yet he scored 23 points. In the defensive hellish nightmare that was game one for Miami, when the Sixers hit 18-three-pointers, they matched that number again on Thursday.

But man it almost felt like the good ole days, with the all the fouls and shoving, and face-to-face action. It reminded you of the playoffs several years ago when Miami would play the Pacers or the Bulls. Or for you elderly Heat fans, the epic battles with the Knicks in the 90’s.

The only difference between that Miami team four-five years ago, and now? LeBron would go off for 35 points, and the Heat would advance no problem. Now, we’re going crazy when Justise Winslow scores 19 points.

Now of course the series isn’t over, game four will be Saturday afternoon, where Miami will desperately try to even up the series, before heading back to the Wells Fargo Center.

But right now, as Heat Nation tries to re-coop, that 2-1 deficit looks like a mountain.

Red Sox vs Yankees Is BACK!!!

Growing up, you knew what the big rivalry was in baseball. You knew very well that whenever the Red Sox and the Yankees played each other, it was important. It was important for two reasons, one because these were the two best teams in baseball, and whoever won usually won the American League. Two, because they absolutely hated each other, and something memorable and sometimes violent was going to happen.

2003 through 2004 was the golden era for this rivalry. Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Pedro Martinez (he still calls the Yankees his daddy) drills Yankee batter Karim Garcia. Then the next inning, Roger Clemens (we miss him so much) sends a fastball right above the head of Manny Ramirez, and that sets it off. Both benches clear, and Pedro tries to show his manliness by pushing 72-year-old Don Zimmer to the ground.

The next year, this time in the regular season, again at Fenway. Newest Yankee Alex Rodriguez gets drilled by Bronson Arroyo, then gets into it with Sox catcher Jason Varitek, another fight ensues.

14 years have passed since then, and to be honest, the rivalry has been desperately lacking some spice and hatred. I believe the hostility grew in the off-season, when New York signed slugger Giancarlo Stanton. It brought back memories of the 04 signing of A-Rod, when the Yankees stole him from Boston, though Stanton was never interested in going to the Red Sox (shocking right?).

Since those days at the turn of the century, and back into the 1970’s, the rivalry is different. The two teams haven’t met in the postseason since, the new Yankee stadium is half full, even when Boston is in town. You don’t have the Yankee fans chanting “WHO’S YOUR DADDY” at Pedro. The players have a ho-hum attitude towards each other, there’s just no hatred, its almost as if they like each other.

Then, on Tuesday in Fenway, like a phoenix arose from the ashes, something glorious and unbelievable happened. In the third inning the benches cleared briefly, when Tyler Austin’s cleats clipped Brock Holt’s leg on a slide into second base.

Fast forward to the seventh inning. Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly hit Austin in the side. This resulted in Austin slamming his bat to the ground with a force that I believe only comes from years of built up Yankee frustration with the Red Sox. Austin charged the mound, Kelly not backing down, and the teams went at it.

Let me say this: I’m not the kind of fan who loves to see fights in sports, at least not all the time. To be frank, I love it when my teams get into fights. When the Heat and Pacers were getting chippy in the playoffs a few years back, it got me fired up.

When it comes to the Red Sox and the Yankees, I love the hatred, they call it a rivalry for a reason. I’m a journalist (not a very good one) so technically I’m not supposed to be a fan, but screw that, I hate the Boston Red Sox. To me this is the best rivalry in all of sports. It has been a long time coming, but I sure hope, and I believe all of America is rooting for this rivalry to be back. Sports are better, baseball is better, life is better when the Red Sox and Yankees hate each other.

My Case Against Josh Allen, The Obsession Over Big Arms

The NFL Draft is three weeks away, and the talk of this years class are all the quarterbacks available. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield are all great talents, and some say all five will go in the first round.

Allen, in my opinion, is the most interesting prospect out of these passers. Coming out of Wyoming, this giant of a man, is known for, well, his giant hands, and a huge arm. Allen went the junior college route out of high school, playing his final seasons for the Cowboys.

After an impressive sophomore campaign, in which we saw him throw for over 3,000 yards, Allen decided against declaring, and entered his junior season with high expectations. Though he was injured for some of the year, when he did play, he showed promise.

Coming into the draft, Allen’s draft stock is all over the place, but most have him going in the first round. Mel Kiper Jr. has Allen going number one to the Browns.

Physically, Allen looks like a number one pick. He has the skill set that some professional quarterbacks can only dream of, especially his arm size, which people are drooling over.

So after all of this, you probably expect that I’m a huge fan of Josh Allen. Now, let me tell you why you shouldn’t draft him, HIS STRONG ARM.

Let me take you back to 2003. The Baltimore Ravens were looking for a quarterback, and targeted Kyle Boller out of Cal. Boller was very similar to Josh Allen, big arm! In the combine, Boller threw 50 yards from his knees, can’t miss prospect right?

Another stat, Boller’s competition percentage his senior year was 53.4%. Allen’s completion percentage his senior year? 56.3%. Boller was a bust in the NFL, throwing just 48 touchdowns in his career, along with 54 interceptions.

Big arms mean a lot of things, that you can throw a 70-yard bomb. It also means that your arm could throw away a lot of games. Would you rather have accuracy or arm strength coming from your quarterback?

Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round, you know why? His draft profile said he lacked speed, his size, and his lack of a big arm, he couldn’t throw a tight spiral. This past season in 2017, Brady led the league in completion percentage.

Let me take you to 2007. The Oakland Raiders have the first overall pick, and are looking at LSU’s JaMarcus Russell. Russell coming out of college, was described as the best prospect since John Elway, and an arm that made Brett Favre look like Danny Wuerffel. A big arm, can’t miss! When was the last time you heard anything good about Russell’s NFL career?

Long 80-yard touchdown deep throws are exciting, but would you draft a guy like Allen, who can’t make consistent touch throws? Allen is a gunslinger, and while sometimes that does pay off with guys like Brett Favre, do you take that risk?

Though I think he’ll go in the first round, to think that teams would take him over Sam Darnold or Josh Rosen at number one or two is ridiculous.