AFC East: Darrell Revis
He was asked every which way about the possibility of a Revis trade, and Idzik did more dancing than a Rockette.
On Thursday, Idzik was reminded of last year's Revis frenzy. He smiled.
"Who?" he asked, playfully.
Idzik could afford to joke. Yes, he traded one of the best cornerbacks in football, incurring criticism, but he turned the draft-pick compensation into Sheldon Richardson. He was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
"Who" did well in his new home, making the Pro Bowl and making $16 million from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On Thanksgiving night, they were outdone by Ren and Stimpy.
The Cincinnati Bengals season would appear suitable for the Cartoon Network. Animated receivers Owens and Ochocinco have driven the storylines more than the team's success.
The Bengals are 2-8 despite Owens and Ochocinco's proclamations. Buffalo Bills receiver Steve Johnson, evoking the Joker with his "Why So Serious" undershirt, outperformed Owens and Ochocinco combined in Week 10.
On the most recent episode of "The T.Ocho Show" on Versus, Owens said New York Jets cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie were "more like 'Ren and Stimpy,' " the dim-witted Nickelodeon duo.
In a runaway Jets victory Thursday night at the Meadowlands, Ochocinco had four receptions (on nine targets) for 41 yards and no touchdowns, while Owens had three catches (on eight targets) for 17 yards and no touchdowns.
"The stats show," Revis said. "That's all I got to say. He called me average, and I showed him how an average corner plays.
"You can't hide away from the stats. You can't change the stats. You can't add a zero after the 17 [yards]."
ESPN Stats & Information noted Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer had a 6.3 passer rating (not a misprint) when throwing to Owens. Revis covered Owens almost every play.
Kristian R. Dyer took a look at their cartoonish posturing for "The Fifth Down" blog at NYTimes.com.
Dyer spoke to body-language expert Patti Wood for her opinion on what Owens and Ochocinco were saying subliminally when they suggest they'll dominate Revis and Cromartie.
"The guys were reading their prewritten lines off a teleprompter with a stiff, slow, awkward delivery. They are not showing the alpha power moves they think they are," Wood said. "Even when Ochocinco used the bullhorn, his body -- his head and shoulder posture -- didn’t go up with enthusiasm or forward with aggression, nor did his paralanguage such as voice tone, volume and speaking rate show he was energized."
In other words, whatever Owens and Ochocinco said, they didn't believe it.
So deep down inside, their doubts were justified -- again.
By the time the lunch bell rang, he would've traded his bologna for a PB&J, his pretzel sticks for a fruit cup and offered recess services for a pudding to be named later.
"Our needs don't call for tapioca at this time, but we can revisit when chocolate becomes available and keep Jell-O as a contingency," I can imagine him saying during those formative years in Needham, Mass.
Mike Tannenbaum seems born to make his trades. As general manager of the New York Jets, he has gained a reputation as the consummate wheeler-dealer, unafraid to pull the trigger on any move that might improve his roster.
"I applaud him," former Green Bay Packers vice president Ron Wolf said, "because he's at least willing to put his nuts on the line."
Wolf knows Tannenbaum through mutual friend Bill Parcells. Tannenbaum considers both mentors and has invited Wolf to visit with the Jets' scouting department at the team facility in Florham Park, N.J.
"Everybody there's got to be proud of what he's doing," Wolf said. "They're a viable team."
A substantial reason for the Jets' outlook is Tannenbaum's maverick approach to building the team.
Any time is a fine time to make a trade in Tannenbaum's world.
He'll do it at the draft, trading up to snag cornerback Darrelle Revis, linebacker David Harris, tight end Dustin Keller quarterback Mark Sanchez and running back Shonn Greene.
He'll do it after training camp starts, bringing Brett Favre aboard in August. He'll do it during the season, adding Braylon Edwards in October. He'll do it as a component of free agency, taking gambles on cornerback Antonio Cromartie and receiver Santonio Holmes in the spring.
Makes no difference to Tannenbaum.
"Opportunities come, and you just don't know when they're going to come along," Tannenbaum said. "We just take our sheet and say, 'Here are our needs. Here's the trade possibilities here, the restricted free agents here, the guys that got cut, and here are the UFAs that we can't touch. What's best for the Jets?
"That's our charge. That's our obligation. I love it. I draw everything from it and, hopefully, we take those opportunities."
Tannenbaum carries on like he's running a fantasy football team, and by the looks of the Jets' roster, that might not be too far removed from reality. He also has added highly decorated running back LaDainian Tomlinson and pass-rusher Jason Taylor through free agency in a bid to win the Super Bowl this season.
"Anything worth fighting for is going to require some risk," said Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway, who preceded Tannenbaum as GM. "Expectations are high.
"We feel like we've done a good job putting this team together. But it won't stop. Nobody's going to be fooled by getting to the AFC Championship game and think that we're OK."
The Jets were supposed to be handcuffed by the "final eight" plan, a mechanism put in place for the uncapped season to prevent teams that went deep into the playoffs from loading up rosters. Teams that reached the second round of the playoffs essentially had to lose an unrestricted free agent before they could sign one.
Taylor was the only acquisition that fell under that category. He joined the Jets after they lost kicker Jay Feely. The Jets collected the other players by working the phones and hammering out deals the old-fashioned way.
As the Jets did with Edwards last year, they found more risk-reward players who were available for less than market value. As a result, Cromartie and Holmes were added to the roster for a fifth-round pick this year and a third-round pick in 2011.
"You can play it right down the middle and swing nice and easy, or you can take a shot and swing hard," Bradway said. "But all the risks are calculated. In some cases, there's a risk-reward that we're aware of before we make a decision.
"People might look at it as fantasy football, but what really happens is a tremendous amount of research that goes into all these decisions. Mike is really good at gathering all that information, getting all the people pulled in the right direction and making the decision."
Tannenbaum surprised many last week by not making a splashy maneuver through the first three rounds of the draft.
But he made headlines Saturday, when the Jets cut perennial Pro Bowl guard Alan Faneca and dealt running back Leon Washington, a Pro Bowl kick returner two seasons ago, to the Seattle Seahawks.
"There's a lot of ways to improve your football team," Bradway said, "and I think what he has done, with his vision, is to work at every day and see if something makes sense. There's a lot of scenarios we talk about that never come about, but it's very stimulating conversation."
One prominent opposing team official contacted for this story declined to be interviewed, but before hanging up the phone stressed Tannenbaum shouldn't be lauded as some sort of mastermind visionary behind the Jets' success.
The official, while expressing deep respect for Tannenbaum as an organizational manager, claimed more credit should be given to head coaches Eric Mangini (now with the Cleveland Browns) and Rex Ryan and chief college scout Joey Clinkscales. The official lauded them for pushing Tannenbaum to pursue the players that make up the team's core.
"Mike is willing to be aggressive, and he deserves credit for that," the official said, "but somebody has to point him. He's not a talent evaluator."
Even so, Tannenbaum's intrepidness and faith in the support staff with which he has surrounded himself allows the Jets to make moves other teams seem to shy away from.
It's not like the Jets had exclusive negotiating rights on Favre, Edwards, Holmes or Cromartie. Other front offices had the opportunity to make similar -- or even better -- deals, but chose not to.
"If you like the player, go get the player," Wolf said. "It seems pretty simple between the two of us talking about it, but a lot of people don't do that.
"Why not take a shot? If you think the guy is good, why not take a shot? What's the risk here? The only risk is the guy's not good. If you go out and get four guys and only two of them play, shoot, that's two more than another team has. Even one out of four isn't bad."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Jets spent several days and pieces of many months, preparing for Sunday's showdown with the New England Patriots.
Even so, they still couldn't conjure up the name of the Patriots rookie who recorded game-highs in receptions and yardage in the Jets' 16-9 victory at the Meadowlands.
"I don't know the guy's name, No. 11," Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis said.
Patriots receiver Julian Edelman had the Jets racking their brains and reporters in the press box scurrying for their media guides.
"They had a young man step up for them that did a great job," Jets coach Rex Ryan said, conspicuously not mentioning Edelman by name. "I was shocked when Welker wasn't playing."
Patriots fans and regular readers of this blog know all about Edelman, the seventh-round draft pick out of Kent State, a quarterback Bill Belichick's staff converted into a receiver who plays an awful lot like Wes Welker.
Edelman made his NFL debut Sunday in place of Welker, who was scratched because of a knee injury. Edelman had eight catches for 98 yards and would have had a touchdown if Tom Brady hadn't overthrown him near the goal line.
"He was another Wes Welker guy out there," Revis said. "He made a lot of plays. We tried to treat him like Wes Welker coming in."
When it comes to a healthy Welker and Edleman, it's probably not a case of either-or. Edelman has been on the injury report with a sore ankle, and while we can't be sure whether he was deactivated for Week 1 because of the injury or a personnel choice, Brady indicated it was the former.
Welker and Edelman frequently were on the field together with the first-team offense early in training camp.
"He’s a tough kid, works really hard," Brady said. "I think he had a good week in practice, and he's going to build on this. He made some nice plays out there. He's done a pretty good job for being an ex-quarterback. He's kind of a tough competitor, so when Wes gets back it's going to be a good group."
A look at the key loss and his replacement for each team in the division:
Who's in: Langston Walker, left tackle
Outlook: The Bills couldn't cope with the prospect of another prolonged Peters holdout, so they traded away the headache -- even though he's one of the best in the business -- for some draft picks.
The Bills opted not to draft any tackles or sign any through free agency. Instead, they are slopping Walker from the right side and shifting right guard Brad Butler to right tackle.
Walker will be a drop-off from Peters. Scouts are skeptical the 6-foot-8 Walker will be mobile enough to handle some of the best pass-rushers in the game. The Bills will face several who finished among the top 10 in sacks last year.
Who's in: Jake Grove, center
Outlook: The Dolphins identified their biggest problem on the offensive line last year was their center. They didn't think Satele, who has been a starter since he stepped foot in the league, was physical enough against top 3-4 nose tackles.
Miami targeted Grove in free agency because he grades highly in run blocking and plays with a mean streak. Dolphins defenders say they notice a much more aggressive tone in the trenches since Grove arrived. He has been injury prone, but if he stays healthy he'll improve the run game.
Who's in: Pierre Woods, outside linebacker
Outlook: The most noticeable void on New England's depth chart is the one left by Vrabel's trade to Kansas City. His numbers regressed from his Pro Bowl season in 2007, but he still was a player opponents worried about.
The Patriots still could bring in another veteran before the season begins, but for now it looks like Woods will be the replacement. Woods seems to have Bill Belichick's trust, starting three games last year when Adalius Thomas went down.
Woods, an undrafted fourth-year pro, is decent against the run but hasn't demonstrated pass-rushing skills in a game yet. Barring any developments before training camp, it looks like the job is his to lose.
Who's out: Ty Law, right cornerback (free agent)
Who's in: Lito Sheppard, right cornerback
Outlook: The Jets plucked Law off the street in November when they decided rookie Dwight Lowery wasn't good enough to man the position opposite lockdown left cornerback Darrelle Revis. They didn't re-sign Law after the 2008 season and acquired Sheppard from the Eagles.
Sheppard is a playmaker because he attacks the ball. If he comes up with it, look out; he can go the distance. His coverage skills, however, are suspect. He couldn't retain his starting job in Philly, but the belief is that with Revis on the other side, the Jets can roll help to Sheppard's side.