AFC East: Joe Namath

One of the reasons I like Joe Namath's commentary is that, despite his obvious passion for the New York Jets, he's not afraid to tell it like it is even though fans may not want to hear it.

Namath's take on the current quarterback situation is particularly astute because he touches on an issue that could turn messy, depending on how things play out over the summer. And that issue is this: Right now, the best quarterback on the team (Michael Vick) is the underdog in the competition/non-competition (or whatever you want to call it). From all indications, it's Geno Smith's job to lose.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick and Geno Smith
AP Photo/Julio CortezMichael Vick (left) is the better quarterback right now, according to Joe Namath, but the team wants Geno Smith to step up and take the starting job.
"Right now, they have two quarterbacks that they’re talking about and, given help, given great blocking and great defense, they can win with those two quarterbacks," Namath said Monday night on the NFL Network. "But, come on, there is no doubt who has the most experience and is probably the better quarterback now. But there is no doubt where the Jets are trying to go in the future. They want Geno to step up to be that man."

This could lead to problems if the same perception exists in late August. That's why Smith must emphatically state his case in the preseason; he must absolutely show he's the best man for the job. Most people think a "tie" would go to Smith, but he needs to do better than a tie. A tie wouldn't eliminate the questions. This is why I believe it should be a truly open competition, as I wrote recently.

From what I've seen and heard, Smith has outplayed Vick in OTA practices (most of which have been closed to the media), but as Namath noted, "You’ve got to go out there and prove that you’re better than the other guy, day in and day out, but especially in the games. OTAs, practice -- we all look sensational when no one is coming at us as quarterbacks for the most part." That's so true.

We'll continue to chronicle the quarterback situation through this week (the final open OTA is Wednesday) and through next week's mandatory minicamp (June 17-19). But things won't perk up until late July, when they report to training camp. That's when it'll get serious.

Who would Namath pick as his starter? He said he doesn't have enough information right now to express a strong opinion.

"Both quarterbacks physically have wonderful talent, good talent certainly," he said. "What goes on in the head? What goes on in the head in the course of a game when the heat is on you? How do they behave there? Can they take you to a championship? Do you expect both of these quarterbacks or one of them to be of championship-caliber? That remains to be seen. I don’t know."

When Namath says he doesn't know, it's telling.

Green Day: To Canton via New Jersey

November, 15, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When Ed Reed is selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019 (assuming he retires after this season), his time with the New York Jets will be a footnote in his long, impressive résumé. He wouldn't be the first Hall of Famer in that situation.

Reed would join John Riggins, Ronnie Lott, Art Monk and, some day, Brett Favre, LaDainian Tomlinson and Ty Law (probably) as former Jets whose Hall-of-Fame careers were defined by their time with other teams. In other words, the Jets are good at grabbing guys when their star has faded. The exception is Riggins, who began his career in New York before bolting to the Washington Redskins.

For the most part, none of these moves were disasters. The Jets got productive seasons out of Lott (1993), Law (2005) and Tomlinson (2010). Favre was terrific in 2008 for 11 games, until his right arm fell off. Monk (1994) was just a pedestrian player at that point in his career.

What about Reed? At 35, he's near the end, but we're only talking about a seven-game run here. Basically, he's a hired gun for the stretch drive.

"It seems like a good move, but, obviously, Rex (Ryan) knows more than I do," Joe Namath, the Jets' only true homegrown Hall of Famer, said Thursday in a phone interview. "Rex coached him and he must feel Reed can still be part of the winning formula. I don't think he'd sign him to be an assistant coach or a talker."

ICYMI: Here's the full story on Reed's arrival -- how it happened and why it happened. ... The last time Reed didn't wear No. 20 was Little-League baseball. On Thursday, he was given No. 22. The man who wears No. 20, Kyle Wilson, got all weird when questioned by reporters about the possibility of giving it up for Reed. ... Second-year safety Josh Bush introduced himself to Reed: "Hi, Mr. Reed, how you doing? I'm your shadow." You gotta love it. ... A big-picture view of the Reed signing: The Jets are in it to win it. As Willie Colon said, "All our chips are going to the middle of the table."
New York Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath usually doesn't have many good things to say about his former team. So any time "Broadway Joe" offers a compliment to Gang Green, it becomes noteworthy.

Surprisingly, Namath offered praise this week for embattled Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is a major target in New York. Sanchez led the NFL in turnovers the past two years and briefly lost his starting job late last season. Now, Sanchez is in a four-way competition in New York with fellow quarterbacks Geno Smith, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms. Many Jets fans want the team to hand the ball over to Smith, this year's second-round pick, in order to start a new era.

But Namath says pump the brakes on a quarterback change, because Sanchez is due for a good season.

“I know Sanchez is going to play better,” Namath said, according to the Associated Press. “He went through some major distractions last year. Now matter how much you say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t bother me, that’s not a focus breaker.’ I promise you you’ll see a different guy.”

Namath is referring to the immense distraction of Tim Tebow, who was recently released by the Jets. Sanchez did not respond well to “Tebowmania.” In fact, Sanchez regressed significantly last year.

It’s clear that Sanchez is not the long-term solution in New York, but Namath believes he’s the answer in 2013. Sanchez will make $8.25 million guaranteed this season and most likely will be released from his expensive contract after this season.

“As far as Sanchez goes, even if he’s not with the Jets, he’s going to play as long as he wants to,” Namath said of Sanchez's future. “He’s that good. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll be in the NFL.”

Joe Namath: Don't blame Mark Sanchez

December, 19, 2012
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You can't have a New York Jets quarterback controversy without getting the opinion of Joe Namath. The outspoken Hall of Fame quarterback had some interesting opinions on his former team, which made a quarterback switch this week to third-stringer Greg McElroy.

Sanchez
Namath told ESPN's "Mike & Mike" radio show that he feels sorry for former starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. In Namath's opinion, Sanchez was never given a chance to succeed this year.

"Well, I know he's gotten a bad shake," Namath explained. "I don't think he's had the right kind of coaching. I don’t think he's had the right kind of help offensively. It is a team game. I know Mark's looked really bad these last several games and has played poorly. But I do believe he's not as bad a quarterback as he's made out to be or as he's played these last few games."

Namath went on to say that Sanchez "deserves better at this stage." Most of the national criticism has been on Sanchez for committing five turnovers in Monday's loss to the Tennessee Titans. But Namath is one of the few coming to Sanchez's defense.

Namath still believes Sanchez is a viable starting NFL quarterback. Namath just doesn't think the Jets are a viable NFL franchise.

"I think he's going to be around for a long time," Namath said. "I hope for his sake it's not with the Jets."

Morning take: Aaron Hernandez returns

November, 8, 2012
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Here are the most interesting stories Thursday in the AFC East: Morning take: Hernandez hasn’t been the same since his tough ankle injury. He missed the Patriots’ last game against the St. Louis Rams but should be back after the bye week.
  • Surprise! Former quarterback Joe Namath is back to ripping the New York Jets again.
Morning take: This is the most predictable news of the week. Namath has been a longtime detractor of his former team. This time he goes after owner Woody Johnson.
Morning take: Tennessee must find out if Locker, a former first-round pick, is the long-term solution. Miami’s defense has a chance to confuse and batter Locker in his first game from injury.
Morning take: The Bills haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999. That streak will probably continue in 2012 unless the Bills have a sudden turnaround. It would have to start this week against the Patriots.

Joe Namath rips Jets, Wildcat

August, 29, 2012
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In the least shocking news of the week, Joe Namath is back to ripping the New York Jets.

The former Jets quarterback and Hall of Famer didn't hold back during an interview with Adam Schein on Sirius NFL radio. It doesn't appear "Broadway Joe" is a big fan of the acquisition of popular backup quarterback Tim Tebow.

"I'm concerned with how the Jets are trying to build a team and win a championship," Namath said. "They seem more interested in the headlines."

Ouch!

But Namath did not stop there. He also had choice words for the Jets' offense and the Wildcat package. New York has yet to score a touchdown this preseason.

"The only reason to run the Wildcat is if your offense isn't working," Namath said, according to Schein.

The good news is Namath predicts the Jets to win nine or 10 games, mostly due to the defense. That's higher than most people in our AFC East community project. The AFC East blog set the over/under at 8.5 wins, and more than 70 percent took the under.

Is "Broadway Joe" right about the Jets, their Wildcat package and win total this season?

Video: Namath calls Tebow a publicity stunt

August, 6, 2012
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Rob Parker and Skip Bayless discuss Joe Namath's comments about the Jets trading for Tim Tebow.

AFC East links: Sanchez gets Namath vote

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Buffalo Bills

The experience of head coach Chain Gailey and quarterbacks coach David Lee helped sell new addition Vince Young on the Bills, he told Chris Brown.

Leo Roth of the Democrat and Chronicle throws Bill Polian's name out there as a possibility as the Bills' next general manager.

Miami Dolphins

Quarterback David Garrard is a fan of the fast-paced offense Miami's new coaching staff is installing, he tells the team's official site. "We’re going to be snap that ball at 33 seconds every time," Garrard said. "It’s going to be non-stop, and defenses will be tired because they won’t even get to put their hand on the ground."

Omar Kelly answers some of the questions he posed earlier about how good the Dolphins could be in 2012.

New England Patriots

Julian Edelman was pleased to hear that fellow receiver Wes Welker had signed his franchise tender. "He’s one of our better players on our team and he’s only going to make us better," Edelman told ESPN Boston. "I think that's great." Defensive back Devin McCourty, meanwhile, expects business as usual from Matt Patricia following his elevation to defensive coordinator.

Back with the Patriots after serving jail time for manslaughter and on the heels of lackluster seasons in Baltimore and Washington, receiver Donte' Stallworth says he's a changed man. "I’m in a better place, mentally, physically," Stallworth told the Boston Herald.

New York Jets

Mark Sanchez definitely has the edge on Tim Tebow in the quarterbacking department, Joe Namath told ESPN New York. The legendary signal-caller also said he gets bad vibes whenever he crosses paths with Jets owner Woody Johnson.

A day after signing running back Terrance Ganaway, the Jets added one of Ganaway's former Baylor teammates, guard Robert Griffin. Griffin, who blocked for Ganaway and the "other" Robert Griffin, Heisman winner and first-round pick Robert Griffin III, was taken one pick after Ganaway in the sixth round of April's draft.

You just knew it was a matter of time Wednesday before New York Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath weighed in on the Tim Tebow trade/no trade.

Namath offered his take on the situation and thinks it will affect Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.

"I think Sanchez should be angry about what’s taken place," Joe Namath said on ESPN's 1050, via ESPN New York’s Jane McManus.

New York and Denver have hit a snag in the trade, because the Jets didn't realize they would have to pay $5 million to complete the swap. Denver wants the trade to go through, and the Jets -- for five million obvious reasons -- are backing out.

Namath issued harsh criticism of the trade, calling it "a publicity stunt." Namath said he hopes the trade falls through, which is a strong possibility.

"Absolutely!" Namath said of voiding the trade. "And I'm a Tim Tebow fan. But I'm a bigger Jet fan than I am a Tim Tebow fan."
Here are the most interesting stories Friday morning in the AFC East:
  • Former New York Jets great Joe Namath says the Jets can't land Peyton Manning because they don't have their act together.
Morning take: This is no surprise, as Namath has been arguably the Jets' biggest critic. He does have a point about New York's in-house issues, but it's unknown if that's a huge deterrent.
  • Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino thinks Manning would be a good fit in South Florida.
Morning take: The Dolphins haven't had a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback since Marino. Manning has a friendship with Marino and respects his opinion, which could help.
  • Contract extensions for starting tight end Scott Chandler and receiver Steve Johnson prove players want to stay with the Buffalo Bills.
Morning take: This is a good sign that Buffalo could be onto something. The Bills are keeping their young talent. But the bigger challenge is convincing top outside free agents to come to Buffalo.
Morning take: Finnegan is arguably the top free-agent corner on the market, but I'm not sure he's a good fit. For starters, he will be pricey. But I also think the Patriots want more athleticism in the secondary.

Joe Namath can't have it both ways

January, 26, 2012
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Former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath revealed at the presentation of his HBO documentary "Namath" that he regrets not having a better relationship with his former team.

Namath -- who won the Jets' only Super Bowl -- has been one of the team's harshest critics. Predictably it hasn't been well-received by New York's current regime of owner Woody Johnson, coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

"I feel awful about it, I feel awful about my relationship with the Jets right now," Namath said "I don't want them upset with Joe, but...I have to say what I see, what I think, what I feel. I think they can do some things better, no doubt."

Namath has been poignant in his criticisms. During regular radio appearances in New York, he's blasted everyone from Ryan to Santonio Holmes to the front office.

Perhaps what bothers the Jets the most is nearly everything Namath says makes big headlines and becomes national news. New York coaches and players often have to answer questions about Namath's criticisms which, right or wrong, causes a distraction.

Namath says he wants a better relationship with the Jets, but the choice is really up to him.

If Namath wants to be closely tied in with his former team, he needs to leave the harsh, public criticisms to the local and national media. There is plenty of that to go around, including in the AFC East blog.

Otherwise, the former Jets quarterback can continue to join the fray of the local and national media and be treated like an outsider. Namath can't have it both ways.
Here are the most interesting stories Friday morning in the AFC East: Morning take: Yes, because they have to. The reality is Fisher is a good coach and he has all the leverage. Fisher is taking his time because he can, and the Dolphins and Rams won't back out.
Morning take: Is anyone surprised? Namath has been one of Rex Ryan's biggest detractors and this is another jab. I agree there are some questions. But Namath knows what he's doing.
  • Who ya got: the New England Patriots or Denver Broncos?
Morning take: I don't know many people picking Denver, except the Tim Tebow fans that send messages to my AFC East inbox. This is the biggest mismatch of the divisional round and it would be shocking if Denver advanced.
Morning take: This is an important position, because Lee works closely with Ryan Fitzpatrick. His development will be key these next few years to see if Buffalo can turn it around.
Here are the most interesting stories Tuesday in the AFC East:
  • After taking criticism about his team from former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, head coach Rex Ryan offered a sly jab at Namath.
Morning take: Both guys like to talk. So maybe both should come to an agreement not to poke at each other in the media. Ryan has a football team to coach and Namath can move on to other things.
  • It is backup linebacker Gary Guyton's time with the New England Patriots in place of the injured Jerod Mayo (knee).
Morning take: Mayo will be missed. But New England's defense still has a lot of room to grow. It couldn't do much worse than the first few weeks.
Morning take: You have to wonder how much of this is financial. Ross just gave Sparano a contract extension in the offseason. Firing him after four games would not be a good return on that investment.
  • Buffalo Bills rookie left tackle Chris Hairston will make his first career start in place of the injured Demetrius Bell.
Morning take: Buffalo's offensive line played well above expectations during the first month of the season. But this unit lacks depth, and that will be tested Sunday against Philadelphia.

AFC East update: More Namath on Jets

October, 3, 2011
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Here are the latest happenings Monday evening in the AFC East:
  • Former New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath didn't rip coach Rex Ryan this week. But he did have a lot to say about Jets receiver Santonio Holmes, offensive line coach Bill Callahan and the personnel department.
  • The Jets also lost linebacker Bryan Thomas (Achilles) for the season.
  • Should Buffalo Bills fans be surprised about their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals?
  • New England Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo will miss several weeks with a MCL sprain in his knee.
  • Here is more on the "Suck for Andrew Luck" campaign, which is growing in popularity in Miami.

Final Word: AFC East

September, 30, 2011
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» NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

Strength vs. strength: What happens when the NFL's highest-scoring team meets the league's third-rated defense? We are about to find out. The undefeated Bills (3-0) travel to play the Cincinnati Bengals (1-2). Despite their struggles, the Bengals have been solid defensively under veteran assistant coach Mike Zimmer. The Bills and their spread offense will present plenty of challenges. Buffalo is averaging 37.7 points per game.

[+] EnlargeBuffalo's Chan Gailey and Ryan Fitzpatrick
Kevin Hoffman/US PRESSWIRECoach Chan Gailey, left, hopes Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Bills can handle success.
No letdown: Bills head coach Chan Gailey offered a new challenge to his players. Gailey wants to see how his locker room handles praise and success after Buffalo's surprising start. The national media is all over Buffalo this week, and the players are enjoying the unusual spotlight. This is a young group not accustomed to success. "It's a double-edged sword. If you play great you get [attention], but you've got to learn how to handle it," Gailey said. "If you can't handle it, then it won't be around long because you'll not play the way you’re capable of playing. I’m talking to a lot to these guys about handling all this stuff and making sure they don't get away from what got us to where we are."

Must-win for Sparano: Last week's game against the Cleveland Browns was a must-win for Miami as a team. Now, it appears the Dolphins are headed for their third consecutive non-playoff year. But Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers (2-1) could be a must-win for Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. Ownership will be watching closely to see if the Dolphins still play hard for Sparano, who is in the hot seat after a poor start. Miami has a bye after the Chargers game, which could be dangerous for Sparano. If the Dolphins fall to 0-4, that gives the front office plenty of time to reevaluate the coaching situation for the remainder of the season.

Bounce-back Brady: New England Patriots quarterback and reigning MVP Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career in Week 3. He threw for a lot of yards but had four interceptions in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. For perspective, Brady threw only four interceptions all last season. Brady rarely has two bad games in a row. Also, the matchup against the Raiders sets up pretty well for New England's offense. Oakland has the NFL's No. 28th-ranked defense. The Raiders also are 28th against the pass.

Focus on preparation: If not for former Jets quarterback Joe Namath, no one would pay attention to New York's focus and preparation this week. Namath criticized Jets coach Rex Ryan for the way he prepares his team. Namath also hinted that the Jets are overconfident. Expect New York to give its best effort against the Ravens in a prime-time showdown. The teams share mutual respect and have similar styles. This is a big game for New York, which travels to New England for another huge game in Week 5.

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