NFL schedule announcement week is always an interesting time. Now we all get to weigh in on why the Jets’ schedule will be or won’t be good for business in the fall.
Before getting into one area of concern, I’d like to tip my cap to the league’s schedulemakers. They do a great job of wrestling this 17-week monster to the ground every year. There are always macro, league-wide issues that need to be addressed, as well as the micro desires that each team submits for consideration each year. The scheduling team does a neat job and its handiwork is on display every April at this time.
But of course not everything is perfect.
What’s bothering me? Actually, not the Jets’ three-game road trip to Oakland, Baltimore and New England in Weeks 3-5. That’s not ideal and the NFL tries to avoid those three-weeks-of-travel stretches. Yet every season since 2000 there has been at least one team with a three-game road trip. The eight trips scheduled in ’00 are the most in that span.
As we mentioned Tuesday, the Jets haven’t had a scheduled regular-season three-game trip since the end of the 1982 season. But they’re not the only team being told to hit the road this year — six other teams also received three-game trips in the just released schedule.
No, that one I can live with. But the schedule wrinkle I’m not fond of occurs in Weeks 10 and 11 in November. That’s the Sunday night home game against the Patriots followed by the Thursday night NFL Network game at Denver.
My complaint is not with second-half-of-the-season Thursday night games in general. They are what they are, as Laveranues Coles might say. They’ve been part of the NFL’s primetime landscape since 2006 and they appear to be here to stay.
It’s just that reducing a team’s prep time from the usual six days down to three days is tough enough on the mind and the body. And now the league has told the Jets, “You’re not even going to get Sunday night off before this year’s Thursday game. You’re going to play your archrivals the Patriots on Sunday night, then you’re going to get Monday and Tuesday to heal and prepare for the Broncos, then you’re going to get on a five-hour plane ride to Denver on Wednesday.”
This is not something that I recall ever being done to an NFL team since before the league did away with four-game road trips in the mid-Seventies. Since 2006, only one team has been scheduled at home on Sunday night and then on the road on Thursday night. That was Denver in 2006, which lost to San Diego, then lost at Kansas City. And only one team has been scheduled to fly west two time zones for a second-half Thursday night game. That was Chicago in 2009, which lost to Arizona, then lost at San Francisco.
Never before has a team been scheduled to play on Sunday night, then fly west two time zones to play on Thursday night.
The thing the Jets have going in this history-making stretch is Rex Ryan. The head coach and his staff of coaches, trainers and doctors have devised a detailed approach to faraway games. And when the Rex Jets have played a game six days or fewer after another game, they are 6-2 (including 2-0 on Thursday nights, in Toronto vs. the Bills in ’09 and home vs. the Bengals last Thanksgiving night).
Plus Ryan has the quintessential positive coach’s spin about these short weeks. As he told reporters yesterday: “Like I always say about those Thursday games, they’re great as long as you win, because you can almost treat it like a little mini-bye after that.”
More Schedule Trivial Pursuit
The Jets open with a home game (vs. Dallas on Sept. 11) for the second consecutive season, the first time that’s happened since 1979-80. … With their three Sunday night games, that means the Jets will be shown on NBC three times. That’s the most times they’ve appeared on the Peacock Network in one season since it declined to renew its rights for the AFC games following the 1997 season. … The Jets are scheduled to play 10 primetime games in 2010 and ’11. That’s as many as in their previous six seasons combined. … The bunching of three of their four NFC East foes in December reminds us that this is the year the Jets must do something about their record against that division. Since the realignment in 2002, the Jets have gone 0-8 against the NFC East.
Pereira’s Winning Image
Here’s a big, exploding fist bump to New York Jets team photographer Al Pereira, who received honorable mention for one of his photos in the prestigious annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Photo Contest.
The contest winners were announced today and the only Jets photo of the 16 combined that were singled out in the “action” and “feature” categories was the shot snapped by Al P in the visitors’ locker room at Invesco Field at Mile High. The shot, titled “Pregame Prep,” shows James Ihedigbo alone in front of a bathroom mirror, wearing uniform, headphones and game face, and applying eyeblack.
The honored image will be a part of our Al-Cove photo slideshow that we’ll post on newyorkjets.com later this week.
Tags: 2011 schedule, Al Pereira, Laveranues Coles, Rex Ryan
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