I’ve been a fan of the New Jersey Devils for just about as long as I can remember. The team originally came to New Jersey from Colorado back in 1982 — when I was 4 years old. So during the time I’ve followed them, I’ve been there from the lowest of lows – routinely finishing in the basement of the Patrick Division to the highest highs of their existence – making it to the Stanley Cup Finals 5 times, and winning the Cup three times. Unfortunately, we’re back to one of those low points in the franchise’s existence. Since making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012 and losing to the LA Kings in 6 games, the team has certainly fallen on hard times.
Currently occupying the basement in the Metropolitan Division for the last few years, the Devils have managed to add a couple of first overall draft picks in both 2017 (Nico Hischier) & 2019 (Jack Hughes) to bolster their offense which was headlined by another former first overall draft pick that the team had traded for back in 2010 with the Edmonton Oilers, Taylor Hall. Hall had also done something no other Devils player in history had, when he won the league MVP in 2018, leading the team back to the playoffs by posting some really terrific stats. Since then, the Devils had been attempting to return to the playoffs while doing their best to improve the team in all positions to try to persuade Hall that this team was for real and on the cusp of becoming a perennial contender again to lure him to re-sign with the team when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. Well clearly, that hasn’t happened as the Devils are once again in last place in the Division, second-to-last in the League.
So on December 3rd, the team fired coach John Hynes after this disastrous start to the season and hasn’t rebounded much since that move. Following his dismissal, the team continued on their losing ways and now, have traded Taylor Hall to the Phoenix Coyotes for a package of prospects and draft picks in the coming two drafts. As I’ve said to a few people, moves like this are so disheartening, to know that the team is seemingly directionless and in severe need of help from a talent perspective. I lone for those parking lot parties in the Meadowlands, when the Stanley Cup would arrive fashionably late via helicopter.
Speaking of being directionless, let’s take a look at the 2019 incarnation of the New York Jets, shall we?
Being a Jets fan has to be one of the toughest franchises to be a fan of for the sheer fact that since winning Superbowl III in 1968 (a game where their opponents, the Baltimore Colts were the heavy favorites) haven’t done squat. They’ve returned to the AFC Championship Game a total of 4 times (1982, 1998, 2009 & 2010), only to lose every time.
It’s not easy being a Jets fan. Year in & year out, it’s always “wait until next year!” or you hear people mocking the name as Just End The Season and the like. We’ve had a number of coaches that gave us hope in various forms…the ones who came in & took the team to the playoffs (Bill Parcells, Rex Ryan & Herman Edwards), some who came in with no clue of what to do to win in the league (Rich Kotite, Pete Carroll), and others who had varying results (Eric Mangini, Al Groh, Todd Bowles). Of which, we’ve had some really great quotes from Rex Ryan’s “I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s rings” to Herm Edwards’ “You play to win the game!” Certain coaches have really been a hit with me in terms of how they have dealt with the media & the craziness that comes with coaching in the New York market.
And then there are others that really leave you scratching your head…like the current bumbling idiot in charge of the Jets: Adam Gase. Why this guy was ever hired in the first place is beyond my comprehension!
Following a few years of payroll clearing & franchise rebuilding, the Jets were poised to make a big run this year. They needed a new head coach, had a ton of money to play with for free agent signings & a top draft spot (as we had become accustomed to in recent years). It would appear that this could be a good landing spot for a number of coaches — a team ready to spend to get players that it’s new head coach would want to cater their offenses around, a good draft position to again have your pick of enticing young players to work with and cater your plays around, and a young signal caller with a lot of potential.
Of the coaches interviewed for the job, former Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy & former Dolphins head coach, Adam Gase seemed to be the two front-runners. Naturally, the clueless ownership hired the former Dolphins head coach on the suggestion of Peyton Manning. Like who’s Peyton Manning as it pertains to the Jets franchise??
So after Gase is hired as head coach, Gregg Williams is hired as defensive coordinator, and GM, Mike Maccagnan does a nice job of landing some quality free agents and even lands the guy who most perceive as THE top free agent out there: Le’Veon Bell, the dynamic running back who has been a cornerstone in Pittsburgh’s offensive system for the last few years, who sat out last year in a contract dispute and is ready to come back & prove that he’s worth more than the franchise tag that Pittsburgh put on him last year. Along with these new players obtained via free agency and the high draft position, it’s also time for a new look for the franchise with all new logos & uniforms to signal a new era for the team. The team’s beat reporter, Sweeney Murti even writes a few columns saying how Adam Gase is the right man for the job, about how he’s going to turn Sam Darnold into the franchise quarterback that Jets fans have long dreamt of while Gase said in his introductory press conference that he’ll “make sure the Jets are playing meaningful games in December.” Spoiler: Sweeney’s sure changed his tune as the season has progressed!
So here we are as Jets fans, we’ve got a quarterback with great potential, fresh young players from the draft & some new exciting free agents that were picked up, a new defensive coordinator, new head coach who’s labeled as a “Quarterback Whisperer”, who’s supposed to help our franchise quarterback to realize his full potential that even Peyton Manning says is great….and we’re 5-9 entering week 16. Our doofus owner was sold a bill of goods by a failure of a head coach who makes excuses and alienates players he doesn’t want on his team. Case-in-point: Mike Maccagnan went out and signed Le’Veon Bell, a dynamic running back who’s great at catching passes as well, and here is Adam Gase, didn’t want Bell on his team and has used him so seldomly that Bell has had the worst year statistically of his career.
At one point during the November 3rd loss in Miami to the previously winless Dolphins, Gase even retreated from the sideline back to the bench to rework his playbook! Now I’ve been watching pro football for quite some time & I’ve NEVER seen a head coach leave the sideline and go sit by himself on the bench, away from the action. For as hard as it is to believe, I think that the Jets now are worse off than they were a year ago under head coach, Todd Bowles. They’re also the first team in NFL history to lose to TWO winless teams 0-7 or worse in a single season. And the worse part in all of this is that Gase has ostensibly been given the keys to the castle as he’s had the previous General Manager, Mike Maccagnan ousted with the former VP of Player Personnel from the Philadelphia Eagles, Joe Douglas installed in his place. So the reality facing Jets fans who were excited going into this failure of a season is that one or possibly two of the best players currently wearing “Gotham Green” this year won’t be next season as Douglas is expected to shop both Le’Veon Bell & also Pro Bowl safety, Jamal Adams. And Jets’ owner, Christopher Johnson has also confirmed that Gase is here to stay for next year as well in response to all the fans & media calling for his firing.
At least on the flip side, the Yankees appear to be poised to be the odds-on favorites to win the World Series next October, because for as many headaches as the Devils & especially the Jets tend to induce, the Yankees are one of the best run professional sports franchises in history. This amazing team we had last year that dealt with a record-shattering 30 players hitting the injured list throughout the season, still managed to run away with the AL East, winning an astonishing 103 games, losing 1,149 days — over 600 more than any other team in all of Major League Baseball! And all the while, the one glaring issue in the makeup of this team (aside from injuries) was the lack of reliable, top-level starting pitchers. Beyond Masahiro Tanaka & Domingo German, J.A. Happ, James Paxton & CC Sabathia were certainly not shutting the door on opposing hitters while Yankees ace, Luis Severino sat out injured most of the season. And with German being suspended by MLB for the postseason due to domestic violence charges, Aaron Boone didn’t have a lot of reliable starters with which to stock his postseason rotation.
Well, that all changed the other morning when it was announced that Brian Cashman had once again worked his magic and brought home the hottest free agent on the market in signing Gerrit Cole to a record 9-year, $324 million contract! Deals like this are what make being a Yankees fan so rewarding — not that I somehow know that with signing Cole, that the Yankees are now guaranteed to win X amount of World Series or anything like that — but just to have an owner who is willing to foot the bill to go out and get guys like a Gerrit Cole whose stat line from the last few seasons have been just incredible speaks volumes for the franchise! They’re serious about winning at whatever costs, and as a sports fan, what more could you really ask of your team’s ownership? I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it here: Sometimes, I feel like being a Yankees fan makes being a Jets fan tolerable.
How many more days until pitchers & catchers report to spring training?
Thanks for reading!