(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
The new year sure didn’t get off to a good start for the Jets as they were eliminated from the NFL playoffs after they lost to the Bills in Buffalo while the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cleveland Browns to wrap up the last wild card berth on Sunday. This marks the fifth straight season that the Jets will miss participating in the post-season.
Even pulling the overly hyped Rex Ryan revenge factor out of the equation, the Bills were a good team who underachieved this year. Losing to them was not the indignity that some angry Jets fans and sportswriters made it out to be.
And as easy it is to trot out the “same old Jets’ line, and I have certainly done that in this column over these many years, the reality is that Gang Green, under first year head coach Todd Bowles, made remarkable progress as they went from a record of 4-12 in 2014 to 10-6 this season.
This was certainly the best season of veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career. The Jets signed him with the expectation was that he would serve as a backup and mentor to Geno Smith. Fate intervened during training camp when Smith broke his jaw after getting sucker punched by a now ex-teammate in a dispute over a small amount of money.
As nice a story as Fitzpatrick’s season was, the reality is that he is 35 years old and there is no guarantee that he will be able to repeat his magic in 2016. It must also be noted that with the exception of Archie Manning, no quarterback in NFL history has started more regular season games without experiencing a playoff game than Fitzpatrick and his drought continues.
The Jets solid defense will also be tested next year. Linebacker Mo Wilkerson broke his leg in the Buffalo game and was scheduled to become a free agent as soon as the season ended. Given the NFL’s stringent salary cap rules the odds are that the Jets will let Wilkerson walk away.
The Giants and Eagles played an entertaining game to finish out the season at MeLife Stadium even though neither team had anything at stake. Both teams’ defenses behaved as if they did not want to get their uniforms dirty as tackling seemed to be an afterthought in the Eagles’ 35-30 win. The Giants’ MVP in the finale was running back Rashad Jennings who rushed for 170 yards.
After the game longtime Giants head coach Tom Coughlin repeated his frustrations about his team never being able to finish off games and therefore always winding up losing the close ones. The conventional wisdom was that this would be his last game coaching Big Blue. Judging by the way he smiled and joked with the media at his postgame press conference, particularly after yet another close loss, it sounded like he had accepted the inevitable.
The Brooklyn Nets were not expected to be a good team going into the NBA season and they were plowing along as expected the first two months of the season. They started the year by beating the Boston Celtics 100-97 on Saturday which marked their tenth win of the season. At the very least they won’t have to worry about erasing the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers’ mark for the worst season in NBA history. The Sixers went 9-73 that season.
The bad news that day was that point guard Jarrett Jack, who has been on one of the Nets’ few consistent bright spots the last two seasons, tore up his right knee and will miss the rest of the season. It will be a miracle if the Nets win more than 20 games this season.
I get the fact that young single NBA players want to have a little fun after their game is over. I am not trying to moralize here but it may not be the smartest idea to go to after-hours clubs where bad occurrences are becoming more common for players. Earlier in the season former Knicks forward Chris Copeland was stabbed outside of a New York nightclub. A few weeks ago, Knicks forward Derrick Williams met two young ladies at a club who then robbed him of jewelry and others assets valued at $750,000 after he took them back to his apartment. Last week Knicks forward Cleanthony Early was shot in a vehicle outside of a Maspeth gentleman’s club.
Nearly everyone was saddened to learn of the passing of Harlem Globetrotters legend Meadowlark Lemon. The Globetrotters were pioneers in combining entertainment with brilliant athleticism. Many baby boomers will fondly remember the annual Harlem Globetrotters specials that were hosted by Howard Cosell on “ABC’s Wide World of Sports.”
I had a chance to play tourist with a friend who was visiting New York from Los Angeles last week. I accompanied her on the Turner Classic Movies bus ride around Manhattan that is operated by On Location Tours. Yes, it was fun to see the locales for such films as “On The Town,” Annie Hall,” “ Ghostbusters,” and “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” as well as showing quick clips from those movies on the overhead screens in the bus.
Surprisingly, On Location Tours does not have a bus that takes tourists to Queens to see where films as “Men In Black,” Goodfellas,” “Now You See Me,” “Coming To America,” “Cadillac Man,” “Wolf Of Wall Street,” “Boiler Room,” “Queens Logic,” “Frequency,” and so many more were shot.
For years NBC has had Carson Daly compete with Ryan Seacrest on ABC on New Year’s Eve. In the past though, Daly has based his show around Rockefeller Center while Seacrest has petty much owned the Times Square area. This year, NBC moved him into a remote part of Times Square to get closer to the action. It was a big mistake as it just made Daly, who is a pretty good host in own right, look second rate to the very polished Seacrest and his team, many of whom have been working on this show going back to when the late Dick Clark started “The New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” show in Times Square.