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Somehow, optimism remains for Jets

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Somehow, optimism remains for Jets

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) The numbers and their recent level of performance indicate the New York Jets are done for 2012.

Their comments say otherwise.

Somehow, in the wake of two awful outings in losses to Miami and Seattle, the Jets talk about remaining confident, about turning things around, about eliminating the mistakes that are killing their chances.

Indeed, after coach Rex Ryan again emphasized that Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback despite his sinking play, Sanchez mentioned Monday how ``once things go right, they turn around so fast it will make your head spin.''

Others might call that spin. The Jets (3-6) describe it as staying optimistic.

``I'm confident in who I am and my abilities, and I've said it a million times, I'm confident in the guys who coach with me and play for me,'' Ryan said after the Jets dropped the ninth game in their last 12, including the 2011 collapse in which they lost their final three games to miss the playoffs for the first time in his tenure.

``I know we have the talent, not just as players but in our coaching staff. We're going to get this thing done.''

Getting anything done, beginning next Sunday in St. Louis, must start with cleaning up their on-field act. Although they are in the middle of the pack with a minus-2 turnover differential, the Jets are destroying themselves in the red zone. In Sunday's 28-7 loss at Seattle, Sanchez pretty much threw away at least six points and perhaps more with bad decisions.

Richard Sherman's interception on third-and-goal despite Sanchez having plenty of time to survey the field was costly. So was a fumble on a sack.

``Two plays really stood out,'' said Sanchez, who turned 26 Sunday, but had nothing much to celebrate. ``The sack-fumble and the interception, especially as well as our defense was playing in the game early. We had a chance to take the lead and I have got to make better decisions. Careless mistakes. Totally on me.''

The loss was not totally on Sanchez, although he was a mere 9 for 22 for 124 yards, and the Jets' only TD came on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson's fumble return. The slump has been a team effort, prompting questions about whether the Jets have enough talent to compete. For the last month, the answer would be no.

Compound that with all kinds of gaffes - missed blocks, poor tackling, penalties, wrong routes run by receivers, blocked kicks - and the Jets have the look of an also-ran heading for a losing record under Ryan for the first time since he arrived in 2009.

``Week after week, we continue to punish ourselves,'' safety Yeremiah Bell said. ``Self-inflicted wounds, time after time. That's something that as players we have to get corrected.

``We're going out there, being competitive, we're playing hard. But in this league you can't help teams win.''

All the losing has ramped up calls for Tim Tebow to get more action at quarterback - he was in for 11 plays, although three wound up as penalties, in the 28-7 loss. It's also brought into question the play calling by new coordinator Tony Sparano; whether Shonn Greene is a No. 1 running back; if any of the receivers are capable of consistently getting separation; and whether the defense can avoid yielding big plays.

There doesn't seem to be a groundswell seeking Ryan's job, and it's not something that enters his mind anyway.

``With me, I will never waver,'' he said. ``I am not going to make a decision to save my job. I am in it to win games.

``I'm not sitting back concentrating on how do I save my job. I am concentrating on how do we win.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler