By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — New York City is home to more than 8 million human beings. The surrounding metro area includes a total of more than 20 million people.
Some of those people are fans of the New York football Jets.
Those poor, poor souls.
Really, given all of the money and interest and attention thrown the way of the New York football Jets, there’s no rational or reasonable reason that the organization from top to bottom should be a laughingstock. Yet every so often, the team finds a new way to reinvent incompetence.
This week, of course, it came in the form of an announcement that the team would be releasing running back Le’Veon Bell.
This is the same Le’veon Bell who so badly wanted out of Pittsburgh that he took a year off. It’s the same Le’Veon Bell whose final game with the Steelers came after he stayed up late to send out poor predictions via Twitter. It’s the same Le’Veon Bell that most teams knew to stay away from prior to the 2019 season.
That, of course, didn’t stop the Jets from throwing $61 million at him, with $35 million of it guaranteed. Not long after the ink dried on that contract, it was reported that — WHOOPS! — new Jets head coach Adam Gase didn’t really want Bell. That news came not long after the Jets fired GM Mike Mike Maccagnan … the man who signed Bell to that contract and ran the team’s draft.
Gase may have been right in not wanting Bell, but it’s hard to take him too seriously these days. He’s seemingly destroyed any potential progress being made by Sam Darnold, he’s struggled to connect and reach his players, and — oh yeah — he’s compiled a sterling 7-14 record as head coach of the Jets. Whoever could have seen that coming after Gase went 23-25 as head coach of the Dolphins?!?!
An “offensive genius” who (oddly) received praise for obsessing over work instead of living a normal life, Gase has also seen his former players thrive without him: Ryan Tannehill, Robby Anderson, DeVante Parker and Damien Williams are all players who have enjoyed their careers without Gase a lot more than they enjoyed their careers with Gase. Now Gase is defiantly brushing aside criticism for his use or misuse of Bell and for his play-calling, while dragging his assistants into it.
Gase said he talked to his staff about the play-calling question — the people who work under him — and they agreed he’s the best guy for the job. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) October 14, 2020
Gase also recently threw Mekhi Becton onto the field while injured, which is a perfect way to really welcome the No. 11 overall pick to the New York football Jets franchise.
Back to the Jets as a franchise: They’re currently on their fourth GM since 2012. They’ll assuredly be on their fourth head coach since 2014 sooner than later. They made Jamal Adams — one of the most dynamic young defensive talents in the NFL — so disgusted with he team that he demanded a trade. Owner Woody Johnson, lest we forget, faced some unsavory accusations this summer in a matter that has yet to be resolved. (Johnson denied the accusations of him making racist and sexist statements.)
Fascinatingly enough, the Jets haven’t had any stability since the cantankerous wild card known as Rex Ashley Ryan was running the show. (And trust me: The Jets under Rex were a cirrrrcus.) The Jets got rid of Rex after his act ran its course and the Jets went 4-12. In the five-and-a-quarter seasons since, the team owns a 31-54 record, with zero playoff appearances.
Now, here in mid-October of 2020, the playoffs are farther away from the Jets than even Jim Mora could envision. Heck, “moderate competency” remains a pipe dream. Worst yet, for all of those poor guys and gals who were born into their Jets fandom, the road map out of this mess is nonexistent.
Unfortunately for those of us whose happiness does not depend on the football outcomes of the New York football Jets, we won’t get to see thousands of angry Jets fans screaming at their mess of a team on Sundays. That would have made for some good TV — certainly better than what the Jets are displaying on the field every week.
But at least, in these uncertain times, the dysfunction of the Jets remains as prevalent as ever.
Now, picks! (Spoiler alert: I’ll be picking against the New York football Jets this week.)
(Wednesday lines; home team in CAPS)
Cincinnati (+7.5) over INDIANAPOLIS
Folks, we have simply GOT to protect Joseph Burrow. Seven sacks last week. EIGHT sacks two weeks prior. This is no bueno, people. We’ve got a real crisis. It’s reaching David Carr levels.
Have you ever looked closely at David Carr’s rookie season, by the way? After taking six sacks in his NFL debut against Dallas, he was sacked nine times at San Diego. Cleveland got hiim eight times. Philly seven. Indy also got him for six sacks. Two teams sacked him five times, and five got him four times, and by the end of the year the young man was sacked 76 times. Incredible.
Anyways. Protect Joe Burrow. And also, Phil Rivers is toast. Thank you for your time.
MINNESOTA (-3.5) over Atlanta
I can’t believe Dan Quinn was actually fired. The man had done quite literally everything possible to get fired over the past few years but finally it was a standard, run-of-the-mill loss to Carolina that did him in.
Shoutout to those clocks he installed in 2017 though.
Dan Quinn's office clock pic.twitter.com/FgcmQ2h69L
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) August 13, 2017
That clock friggin’ rocks.
Seems like a solid guy, too. That’s the NFL, though. Hey, speaking of which …
NEW YORK GIANTS (-2.5) over Washington
It’s crazy, really, that the same people who will tell you “FOOTBALL IS THE ULTIMATE MERITOCRACY! IT IS A MAN’S GAME! NOTHING IS GIVEN! EVERYTHING IS EARNED! NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU’VE DONE; THEY CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN DO!” All of those folks are tripping over themselves to declare Alex Smith as the Comeback Player of the Year.
Like, yeah, it’s awesome that Alex Smith is not only a mobile human being but is fit enough to play in the NFL. Unbelievable. Who wouldn’t be happy about that? But with the way literally every single media member has reached the brink of fainting when assessing his return last weekend, you’d never know that the man completed nine of his 17 passes for 37 yards while taking six sacks. Generally, the Comeback Player of the Year Award requires the player to actually … you know, play well. I guess Alex Smith is the exception.
It also distracts from the fact that Ron Rivera benched Dwayne Haskins despite no major gaffes from the second-year QB, so he could start his own personal project in Kyle Allen, who was a stunning 9-for-13 for 74 big yards before getting hurt.
It’s wild how dysfunction just permeates everyone in that organization.
Oh, also, they’re still called “Football Team.”
Baltimore (-7.5) over PHILADELPHIA
Comparing common opponents is an inexact science. Actually, it’s not a science at all.
The Eagles lost by 10 to Washington (Football Team) and tied Cincinnati. The Ravens beat Washington (Football Team) by two touchdowns and beat the Bengals by 24 points.
Feeling good about the Ravens here, in this battle of birds.
Pittsburgh (-3.5) over CLEVELAND
You can be as analytical and logical as you want, but sometimes the brain just refuses certain realities. For instance, the Browns? Of Cleveland? In Ohio? The 4-1 record?
Brain says no. Not happening.
Chicago (+2.5) over CAROLINA
Neither team inspires me, so I’ll peel back the curtain here to reveal my dumb reason for picking the Bears: I don’t believe the Panthers are good enough to win four straight games.
Is that rooted in stats or facts or even reality? Nope.
But deal with it. My picks. My rules.
JACKSONVILLE (+3.5) over Detroit
Adrian Peterson is still doing this thing. At 35 years old. Incredible.
I wrote him off three years ago. I would assume many did. The year away from football, the declining output, a year with the … Cardinals? The issues in New Orleans. Smell ya later, you know?
He has since run for almost 2,220 more yards and 13 more touchdowns, adding to his Hall of Fame totals. Crazy stuff.
And no, I didn’t have much else to say here about the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Detroit Lions. Not my problem.
MIAMI (-9.5) over New York Jets
HEY! MISTER FLACCO! GOOD TO SEE YOU.
NEW ENGLAND (-9.5) over Denver
TENNESSEE (-3.5) over Houston
Credit to the Titans, I guess, for turning their massive COVID outbreak into a rallying cry?
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 14, 2020
I don’t know. Times are weird. Whatever.
Green Bay (-2.5) over TAMPA BAY
I’ll admit it: Seeing Tom Brady commit a downright Jetsian gaffe on national TV has shaken me to my core. Say whatever you’d like about Tom Brady — and people surely have over the years/decades — but the one thing that was always objectively wrong was any suggestion that Brady was anything but the best clutch performer in the history of the sport. Down two, down three, down six, down eight — didn’t matter. As long as there was time on the clock, Brady was the guy you’d want leading that comeback.
And then … he forgot the downs.
That it was fourth down.
I am shaken.
I do think that Brady — having already screamed at his teammates on the sideline for committing 100,000 penalties — was trying to do all the thinking for everyone else and it disrupted his thought process. I have to believe that, because if there was any other reason for a brain fart of those proportions then, well, we’re just going to have to shut this whole season down.
As for the pick? The Green Bay Packers are pretty damn good. Have you seen them doing the football this year? Exquisite stuff. Aaron Rodgers had 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. LOL! He’s also averaging 8.7 yards per attempt while completing over 70 percent of his passes. Yowzer. Not bad.
Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Some teams lose the Super Bowl and come back with an impressive sense of focus and determination. Others return to work the next season and can’t ever quite find that gear at which they operated the previous season.
It’s probably too early to write off the last-place, 2-3 San Francisco 49ers. But with Prince Ali Jimmy G. getting flat-out benched last week, and with the injuries still posing a significant problem up and down the roster, it’s not looking good for the boys from the Bay Area.
Kansas City (-3.5) over BUFFALO
The Bills are good, but they really find a way to face-plant in big games. Both Patriots meetings last year, the playoff loss in Houston, and now the impromptu Tuesday night game where they got blown out by a team that had barely practiced for weeks. Not loving them in big games, if we are being truthful here.
Arizona (-2.5) over DALLAS
Can I say something? Of course I can. This is my picks column.
So I will say something.
That something is this.
You know, sometimes you look around this world, and this country, and this godforsaken internet, and you think … man, everybody STINKS. Humanity? Look, I don’t think we’re at an all-time high. Just the view from here, folks.
Yet when we all watched in horror as Dak Prescott’s ankle snapped on our televisions, and as we saw his unfathomably calm reaction, followed by his emotional release while getting carted off? It sure seemed like all of us were feeling the same thing at the same time: empathy.
I’m not going to sit here and right some fluffery about how sports brought us all together, as a nation. No. It didn’t. Everyone went back to stinking up the joint 10 minutes later.
But, well, I don’t know. Frankly it was nice to see it and feel it. Doesn’t come around too often these days. And it certainly never happens when Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys are involved.
It is, however, wildly unfortunate that it came at the expense of Dak Prescott’s ankle. That’s unfortunate.
Going to go ahead now and pick against Andy Dalton on a Monday night. Thank you very much.
Last week: 8-6