Tag Archives: Football

College Football Week 5 Observations. Angry Football Gods Edition.

Georgia Tops LSU In A Shootout 44-41

Yep, the angry football gods. As in the people that the University of Georgia must have pissed off to have a schedule like this one. It’s one of the toughest opening schedules in recent memory. Now part of that is just par for the course when it comes to being an SEC team. They play tough competition in conference play annually. This does not however, make Georgia’s schedule any less preposterous.

They played, Clemson ranked #8 at the time (a game they lost), South Carolina ranked #6 at the time, and after a bit of a respite against North Texas they ran in to the third possible stumbling block in four games. LSU ranked #6 in the nation was going to be a tough test for a Georgia team, that had already taken tough tests.

Thus the hypothesis about the angry football gods. Perhaps Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray spent his offseason kicking puppies or something, because this is one rough way to start a season. However, since the (presumably) puppy kicking Aaron Murray is one hell of a quarterback things turned out okay. Actually, things turned out better than okay. A 3-1 start is a best case scenario considering the circumstances.

Gone are the days of the old defensively driven ground and pound SEC teams of years past. Gone like my respect for people who listen to Drake. Replacing my respect is a slow burning pity. Replacing the old ground and pound game is something much more useful than pity, it’s an all out aerial assault. Georgia versus LSU was representative of this fact as both signal callers were slinging the rock all over the field. Aaron Murray threw for 298 yards and 4 touchdowns and ran for another touchdown, overshadowing his single interception. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger passed for 372 yards and 3 touchdowns despite a loss.

Georgia receiver Chris Conley was the primary benefactor of Aaron Murray’s generosity, hauling in 5 receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown. He was one of 9 receivers targeted by Murray that game.

Jarvis Landry caught 10 passes from LSU’s Mettenberger, for a total of 372 yards and 3 touchdowns.

There was not a lot to say about either defense because neither team really stopped the other, though the Georgia defense did get the last laugh when the stopped LSU’s final drive to put the game on ice. But when Georgia has 494 yards of total offense with 298 of them through the air, and LSU has 449 total yards of offense with 372 of those yards in the passing game; it is extremely difficult to give either defense credit for anything at all.

The good news for Georgia? They managed to make it through the most difficult part of their schedule. Their next test is more like a quiz compared to others as they take on the Florida Gators four weeks from now. In the mean time, they should seriously consider keeping Aaron Murray away from puppies (allegedly).

Another Big 12 Team Bites The Dust As West Virginia Upsets Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State had found their guy at quarterback. His name is J.W. Walsh and his game is speed. The Cowboys were running an uptempo offense through him and he seemed perfect for it. He does everything fast. Walsh runs fast and throws fast. The perfect formula running through the anemic West Virginia Mountaineers defense, while keeping their even more anemic offense off the field. Right?

Wrong.

Despite the fact that West Virginia was outclassed in every way. They managed to gut out a victory. Now when I say they were outclassed in every way, I do mean every way. West Virginia’s defense had just given up 37 points the week before to Maryland, in the same game the Mountaineer offense was held scoreless. In this game against Oklahoma St., West Virginia was on their third quarterback this season. They were outclassed.

When the game started, it looked like the game everyone was expecting. A lopsided Cowboy victory. Oklahoma State started their attack with quarterback J.W. Walsh picking apart the Mountaineer defense and scoring almost immediately when Walsh found Josh Stewart for a 73 yard touchdown. From here things get interesting.

First, West Virginia’s defense gets a pick six and keeps them in the game.

Then, the third quarterback of the season, the transfer from Florida State who hadn’t even been with his playbook during the summer, Clint Trickett (who looks like Rev3’s Max Scoville with Don Drapers hair) decided to be a game changer. He started off the game looking like he was going to be a manager, nothing exciting, just hang on and hopefully win the game late. To everyone’s surprise (and Oklahoma State’s chagrin) Trickett threw the ball surprisingly well. Any time he found a receiver in one on one coverage, he let the ball fly. While he wasn’t always successful, more than a few of those passes connected and proved costly for the Cowboys.

Finally, the special teams really played a big part in this game. Big special teams plays and snafus rocked the game’s momentum back and forth. From two laughably short punts from the Cowboys’ Kip Smith, which included a 13 yard punt and 16 yard punt that gave West Virginia incredible field position.

I know I keep mentioning Clint Trickett but, he was truly the surprise of the game. I’m not sure which was more impressive, his stat line, 24/50 completed passes for 309 yards and 1 touchdown (despite 2 interceptions), or his grittiness. Trickett left the game in one series to tend to his injured throwing arm , returning in the next series and driving his team all the way down the field, including to 17 yard passes to keep the drive alive and help his team acquire a 30-21 victory of the Oklahoma St. Cowboys.

Ohio State Overcomes First Real Challenge Of Season, Beating Wisconson 31-24

Braxton Miller returned to reclaim his job as starting quarterback of Ohio State and in so doing, proved why he is an early season Heisman candidate. He made a number of throws all over the field. Most of which found their way to his favorite receiver/full-time security blanket Philly Brown.

Wisconsin’s defense actually did a good  job of containing Braxton Miller in the first half, and keeping the Badgers in the game. Unfortunately for the Badgers with moments to go in the second quarter Braxton Miller tossed a touchdown that really broke the back of Wisconsin. The Badgers, not unlike the US government, remained competitive but quite frankly were never a factor.

On a side note Chris Borland, the senior Wisconsin linebacker, was practically omnipresent on the field. He registered 10 solo tackles in the game. Borland seemed to be involved in every defensive play. He broke up passes and stuffed runs. If a guy in a red jersey got hit, the odds that it was Chris Borland hitting him was extremely high.

In the end, Wisconsin didn’t have the fire power to beat Ohio State and they were entirely too conservative. Joel Stave is a good quarterback for the Badgers and he’s got a solid receiver in Jared Abbrederis, who caught 10 passes for 207 yards in the game, but they weren’t enough for Ohio State. There was no way Stave was out dueling Braxton Miller. With about 7:00 minutes to go in the game on 4th down in a short yardage situation, head coach Gary Andersen opted to punt the ball and rely on his defense rather than give the offense an opportunity to continue their drive. By the time they got the ball back from Ohio State, they needed a miracle and were out of timeouts.

Wisconsin is a quality team but, Ohio State has national championship aspirations with all the man power to do it.

Oklahoma Out Runs Notre Dame, Keeps Season On Track

Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma Sooners went into Notre Dame’s house, ransacked their kitchen, watched their TV, and generally took what they wanted. The Notre Dame fighting Irish offered resistance of course but in the same way that Canelo Alvarez’s face offered resistance to Floyd Mayweather’s fists. Not a whole lot. Notre Dame’s quarterback Tommy Rees, God bless his heart, is a smart guy. For a college athlete to make all of the pre snap reads that he does is pretty incredible. Mike Mayock even acknowledged during the broadcast that most college quarterbacks aren’t changing plays at the line as often as Tommy Rees.

Three plays into the game was all it took for the Fighting Irish to realize that none of it mattered. In the third play of the game the Irish defensive line missed a blitzing Sooner, who promptly clobbered Rees from his blind side resulting in an interception. Rees would go on to throw two more interceptions in the half.

The fact of the matter is that Oklahoma was faster than Notre Dame in every facet of the game. This game was won on the ground, and the Sooners dominated there. Running backs Brennan Clay and Damien Williams picked up first down after first down when they got to the edge. Damien Williams was especially dangerous in space. While the Fighting Irish also ran the ball well with George Atkinson who had 148 yards and 1 touchdown, a lot of short yardage situations fell flat because Oklahoma was able to get to Atkinson quickly and bring him down. Notre Dame had 6 rushing first downs.

Under center for the Sooners, was Blake Bell nicknamed the Belldozer because of his 6’6″ and 250 lbs. frame, which he used as a battering ram to pick up first downs for Oklahoma. Bell also did a decent job in the passing game. On one play Bell completed a pass to Lacoltan Bester for a 26 yard touchdown, showing great poise and allowing the play to develop. He had a few errant throws however that I’m sure the Sooners would like him to overcome as he gains experience.

On the defensive side of the ball. The Sooners were faster and they knew it. The interception that I mentioned earlier was returned for a touchdown with a Notre Dame player in sight. In fact, all three of Notre Dame’s early turnovers were turned into Oklahoma points in one way or another. The Sooners played man coverage most of the game and dared Tommy Rees to pick it apart. Because of their speed and his *cough* inaccuracy *cough* Notre Dame was not able to do anything about it. The last time being Irish looked this miserable there was a potato famine. What? No? Oh yeah, the national championship blood bath against Alabama was pretty bad too.

In football the most deadly kind of poison is speed, and Oklahoma gave it to Notre Dame in large uncompromising doses. The football gods had nothing to do with that at all.

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An Open Letter To RGIII: Please Stop Talking.

I need to preface this by stating that I’m a Redskins fan. I have been since 1999, which is more than half of my life at this point. I should also mention that because of this fact, I really like Robert Griffin III. He’s the best player on my favorite team. So that makes sense. What I’m about to say, given my fandom, will not. You don’t bash the guy who gave your favorite team it’s first divisional title in 13 years (which is my entire time as a Redskins fan). However, I don’t feel like I would be doing my job if I ignored this.

(redskins.com)

Dear Robert,

Shut up. Please. I understand that you have recovered from your knee injury faster than anyone could have anticipated. Which is great for all of us because we get to see one of the league’s exciting young players back in action. That’s great. What’s not great though is the incessant whining that the coaches aren’t letting you do enough, sooner.

We get it. You’re an uber-competitor, with the will to win and we all applaud that…sort of. What you fail to understand is that the coaching staff is under a lot of pressure to get this right. So going to the media and telling them that you want to move from 7 on 7 team drills to the full 11 on 11, is neither the time nor the place. When you do things like that, you put them in a bit of a catch-22. If they start you and (God forbid) something bad happens they get blamed, if they don’t and something bad happens they get blamed. This is why you do not air your dirty laundry to the media.

The coaching staff will be extra careful in bringing you along because you’re the franchise. In the city of Washington, that’s everything. The Redskins are everything. Your knees are the most important knees in that entire city. Yes, even more important than President Obama’s knees.

While one would think that you are best qualified to speak on the subject of your own knee, I respectfully disagree. If memory serves correctly, the last time we listened to you say you were ready to play, you were collapsed in a depressing heap at FedEx Field with Redskins fans the world over holding their collective breaths. Present company included. We already look forward to seeing you week 1 against the Eagles. It is going to be the first of 16 games that I will watch all year in which my heart is firmly planted in my throat.

So, what’s the rush? Let the coaches do their job. Don’t add any more pressure than there has to be. I think that’s what everybody wants.

-Keon R., Sports Cloud

P.S.- Have a good season and keep beating the Cowboys. That never gets old.

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Johnny Manziel Is Not A Smart Man

Johnny Manziel is being investigated for allegedly selling his autograph for a five figure fee. This information came from ESPN’s Outside The Lines.  Two witnesses say that they saw Manziel sign products but that they did not see him receive payment. While the NCAA is very good at investigating things, it’s difficult to believe that this particular investigation is going to bring much result. The circle of information is too small and unless Manziel tells on himself (officially making him dumber than I thought) he wouldn’t get caught for his alleged actions.

While the alleged action of selling autographs isn’t smart, especially given the fact that Manziel’s family is quite wealthy, that’s not why I think Johnny Football is being pretty stupid.

I think Johnny Manziel is being stupid because at this point, he’s displayed the maturity of a six-year-old child. A six-year-old, for those of you who have never been around one, doesn’t think about the future. They can’t grasp the concept of their current actions having future consequences. And why should they? They’re six. When I was six wanted to be a Power Ranger or a Stegosaurus, I can’t quite remember which.

The problem?

Johnny Manziel is 20 years old. He isn’t a child. He’s an adult, and more importantly, he’s an adult that wants to be in the NFL. This is a notion that is becoming increasingly more difficult to believe with every incident. It was the summer of Manziel in the worst way imaginable. In a summer in which Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder and Tim Tebow joined the Patriots, Johnny managed to dominate the headlines.

The first questionable decision in a conga line of questionable decisions by Johnny Manziel goes back to December 20th of last year in which Johnny had court side seats to see the Dallas Mavericks host the Miami Heat. This is not a bad decision in and of itself but, people questioned how Manziel got his seats, he took to twitter. Which is always a bad idea.

Then January 5th of this year Manziel takes an instagram picture with a fist full of cash and tagged it “casino ballin” which again isn’t wrong, but maybe the world didn’t need to see that. Johnny again seems to be living his life as though he didn’t have the scrutiny of being a Heisman winning quarterback. When the (completely justified) scrutiny came. Manziel again took to twitter. Do you see a theme developing?

Source: (@jmanziel2)

I could do this all day. There is a laundry list of incidents. There was the bottle of Dom Perignon January 6th, the reported shoving a graduate assistant in a March 23rd practice, that thing with the Manning Academy or the twitter rant after a parking ticket on June 16th.

Johnny actually deleted this tweet but a simple google search proves that nothing is really deleted from the internet.

What’s the point? Johnny Manziel is extremely talented. However, he’s short standing at 6’1″ and there are questions about his arm strength. Legitimate questions about Johnny Football’s on the field measurables mean that he should not invite extra questions about his off the field ones. It doesn’t make any sense. Many said that media coverage of these stories were making mountains out of mole hills but, Manziel has provided quite a few mole hills because of the situations that he puts himself in. Then he compounds it by tweeting about all of it.

There is such a thing as “good will,” be it with public perception or the media. When a person runs out, especially a celebrity, it’s difficult to get more. It’s a perfectly adult thing that players coming out of college to enter the pros know. They are aware that their actions can put things in jeopardy. Maybe Manziel doesn’t realize he’s running out. A sure fire sign is usally when you can’t sneeze in any direction without the media reporting it. Johnny may not care what anybody thinks, but he should. The media will continue to exist, criticize and scrutinize  after he becomes a pro and NFL general managers are keeping tabs on everything he does right now. Johnny’s draft stock is being affected as you read this. All of his actions have very real world consequences for him. No team wants to waste a high draft pick on a guy with more red flags than an air craft carrier.

Does he realize this? Because that would be a perfectly adult thing to do. Any thing less would be, well, stupid.

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A Tale Of Two Cities: Examining Derrick Rose and Robert Griffin III

In two different cities, two young leaders of two burgeoning franchises, playing two different sports suffered two separate ACL injuries. These young men, both possessing the most important knees in their respective cities have one more thing in common. A single question that haunts them, and their fan bases.

When do I return?

The Season Derrick Rose, the Bulls point guard, is known for his quickness and devastating crossover. He tasked himself with carrying the offensive load of his team in his fourth season. He also became a solid defender as well. In the 2011-12 NBA season, Rose led his Bulls to the league’s best record and the number 1 seed in the eastern conference. That season, Rose 21.8 points per game and 7.9 assists per game. While not career highs, these are extremely impressive numbers all the same.

The Injury When the playoffs began, the Bulls faced the surging Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia was inconsistent all season but, had won four out of their last five games heading into the post season. Still, the Bulls were heavy favorites going into the matchup with the upstart eighth seed 76ers. Then it, happened.

With 1:22 left in the game, Derrick Rose jumped off his left in the lane as he attacked the basket. This is a routine move for Rose but, this time, he didn’t finish the play. Lacking elevation, he fell to the ground and crumpled in a heap. He attempted to stand but simply could not. Rose had torn his ACL.

The Return Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls in the 2012-13 season, are playing playoff caliber basketball. Not quite at the level that they were a season ago, when they were considered championship contenders. With a current record of 39-31, the Bulls sans Rose are more than capable of holding their own. They displayed their mettle when they ended the Miami Heat’s historic winning streak at 27. The Heat with the best player in basketball, playing the best basketball of his career are all but a shoe in to return to the finals. The kicker? They did it without the team’s second best player, Joakim Noah.

There are obvious downsides to Derrick Rose missing games. Prior to the injury, Derrick Rose was the focal point of the offense. Since then, his Bulls have had to find ways to win in his absence. There will definitely be chemistry issues when he returns. However, by not playing, Derrick Rose and the Bulls staff are hoping to  prevent further injury. This is a great decision. It hurts the Bulls now, but if Derrick Rose is the player that everyone believes he can be, and reaches the heights that fans believe that he can reach, Chicago has everything to gain.

Which brings us to Robert Griffin III.

The Season Fresh off of his Heisman winning season at the University of Baylor, the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft was ready to take the league by storm. He did exactly that. Griffin passed for 3,200 yards and completed 65.6% of his passes. He threw 20 touchdowns and accounted for 7 touchdowns on the ground. He threw 5 interceptions, all season. The Redskins began the season an underwhelming 3-6 but, won 7 straight games to win the NFC East title for the first time since 1999 and make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The Injury The week 15 matchup between the Redskins and eventual Superbowl champion Baltimore Ravens marks the beginning of a two part tale. In order to get a first down Robert rolled out of the pocket and scrambled upfield. As he attempted to get down he was hit by Raven’s tackle, Haloti Ngata. The weight of the 330 lb Ngata hit the leg of Griffin causing his knee to bend momentarily in the opposite direction.

Griffin led the Redskins down the field twice in the first quarter of the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Twice they scored but, on the second drive, Robert’s knee buckled in an attempt to elude defenders. It is at this point that Robert Griffin III should not have been in the game. Whether the coach, staff or player is at fault is the question that still needs to be answered.

The Seahawks rallied and climbed back into the game. The Redskins were deep in their own territory with 6:15 to go in the 4th quarter, and they needed a drive to hold off the Seahawks. The ball was snapped low and as Griffin reached to pick it up, his knee gave out. The Seahawks recovered the ball and scored.

The Return Orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who is overseeing the recovery of Griffin had only great things to say about his recovery so far.

He wants his recovery to be fairly private, but I can tell you he’s way ahead of schedule. His recovery has been unbelievable so far.

– Dr. James Andrews

This statement and the an interesting Adidas ad almost make it seem like Robert is trying to come back for week 1 of next. This is not smart. When a team trades two first round picks and a second round pick to take a guy, they expect to build around that guy for the next ten years. Robert is that guy. He’s got to be smart and learn from Derrick Rose. Comeback 100%. If that’s week 1, which is unlikely, then it’s week 1. If it’s week 7 then so be it. However, if  Griffin needs to miss the whole season, he needs to accept that that’s just how it’s got to be. Everyone is wondering if he, and the Redskins will make the same mistake twice. If the Redskins make the wrong decision and set him back, then it won’t matter if he’s superhuman or not.

Two young players, two big decisions, and two very bright futures on the line.

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Lights Out! Or How The Ravens Survived the Surging 49ers to win Superbowl 47

A Super Bowl review four days after the big game?! Unthinkable. I thought so too but, now I get to cram all the delicious post-Super Bowl action into here. No body has to lose any sleep over this. Even if (disappointingly) this my first post since the “fail mary” that lifted the Seahawks past the Packers and made Aaron Rodgers angrier than Rich Eisen covering a Brett Favre comeback.

So, without further ado, the notable moments of Super Bowl 47 and it’s after math.

The San Francisco 49ers Start Slow and Pay For It.

In my opinion, San Francisco was too conservative in the first half. This hurt Colin Kaepernick’s rhythm , because San Francisco did not line up very often in the pistol formation nor did they use the read option very much. This is odd because the Ravens’ defense showed a susceptibility to it against the Redskins earlier in the season, and later in the game. The Ravens respect for the run game makes the read option effective against them by opening up holes in their secondary. A weakness the 49ers did not exploit until the second half.

Kaepernick was often times indecisive with his throws early in the game, which led to a 1 interception and no touchdown half for the second year quarterback.

On defense, San Francisco was determined not be beaten by Baltimore’s speedy receiver Torrey Smith. They double teamed him on nearly every play he was in the game, though the Ravens took shots in his direction anyway ( I assume in an effort to keep the defense honest). This allowed slant passes and other underneath routes to be highly effective against them. Torrey Smith didn’t do nearly as much damage Anquon Boldin and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson did. This was eventually their undoing on the defensive side because the Ravens picked up a number of crucial third and longs by winning those routes.

The Baltimore Ravens Soared Early and Held On Late.

The  much maligned Joe Flacco ended his post season with 11 TDs and no interceptions, including his 3 TD first half performance that netted him the game’s MVP award. Flacco, in a contract year, played like a franchise player deserving of his self glossed elite status.

There was however, more to this game than Joe Flacco. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones turned in his own MVP-worthy performance as well, receiving 1 TD pass and returning a record setting 108 yard kick return at the beginning of the second half to keep the Ravens in the driver’s seat.

Despite Flacco’s stellar first half, he came to earth and was pretty human in the second. The power outage may have had something to do with this, stymieing the Ravens momentum but, regardless Flacco was not playing at his first half level in the second half as far as red zone play is concerned. The Ravens were still moving the ball well but settled for field goals inside the 20 yard line on a couple of possessions that may have iced the game.

The Ravens game plan was very balanced. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell deserves credit for that. Running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce shared 32 carries between the two of them. Flacco threw the ball 33 times. The Ravens disproportionately racked up yards in the air with 287 passing yards as compared to their meager 92 rushing yards. However Flacco was hot for most of the game and the 49ers have an especially stout run defense. 49ers linebackers Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis made sure that life on the ground was going to be tough for Baltimore.

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens played smart and out witted Kaepernick for much of the game. Especially on Colin’s first half interception. This was a typical Ed Reed performance where, he made deep passes a dangerous option for the opposing quarterback. Reed tracked the play from beginning to end, and as he often does, found himself in the perfect position to make a play on the football.

After the power outage the Ravens had trouble with the mobility of Colin Kaepernick. However, on crucial plays the found ways to hold firm.

Officiating

The referees let the players play in the big game. There were only 7 penalties committed on Sunday by either team.

The most notable officiating moment is the no call on Ravens defensive back Jimmy Smith who made contact with receiver Michael Crabtree at the end of the game. A no-call, that in my opinion, was a good one. Both Smith and Crabtree made contact prior to the ball being thrown and Crabtree pushed off after the ball was thrown.

The Aftermath 

After the Super Bowl 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh (obviously) took offense to the game ending no-call.

Joe Flacco called himself “a Raven for life” which is important because this is the end of his contract. The Ravens can re-sign him or slap him with the franchise tag. He also learned that the MVP of the Super Bowl wins a car.

Colin Kaepernick took blame for his teams’ loss, citing early mistakes as a reason.

John Harbaugh said his brother was the best coach in football as he won a brotherly rivalry for big brothers everywhere.

Ray Lewis did one last squirrel dance after the parade for all of the Baltimore fans, and it was as epic as you thought.

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What We Learned: NFL Week 2 (Better Late Than Never)

Week 3 of the NFL starts in a few hours so a review of Week 2 of the NFL is way overdue. Here’s a look at week 2 in the NFL season, and what we learned.

Alex Smith takes a shot to the face in the 49ers victory over the Lions on Sunday Night.

Steve Sabol, president of NFL Films, dies at the age of 69.

Steve Sabol passed away this passed week of brain cancer. Sabol was the son of NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, and a true visionary like his father was. Ed wanted to bring fans closer to the game. What Steve did, was take that idea and run with it. He brought fans to the game by telling a story. His use of visuals, music, as well as on-field sound served to provide football fans with a cinematic experience. Steve Sabol’s ideas have since been used in other sports. The NBA’s The Association and the MLB’s The Franchise both use techniques that Sabol invented that are now an industry standard. With his ability to take games beyond the scoreboard and turn them into stories, Steve Sabol forever changed the NFL and sports.

We Need The Real Officials Back

Steve Young said earlier this week that the NFL doesn’t care about good officiating or player safety. He couldn’t be more right. As each week passes, NFL defenses begin to test their boundaries with these replacement officials. I watched the Redskins play the Rams last week and that game was a mess from the very beginning. The real officials would know how to take control, especially of a game like that, which was an intense game from beginning to end. Their was a helmet-to-helmet collisions by Janoris Jenkins on Fred Davis that went uncalled, a couple of touchdowns for the Rams that should have been touchdowns but weren’t, and a lot of extracurricular activities after the whistle by both teams.

The replacement refs seemed out of their element. Out of their league. The speed of the game was too much for them to handle and it showed. Division III referees are simply not going to cut it. Young is right the fans will watch even when their team gets screwed out of a game or worse, if a player gets seriously injured because of a game that got out of control.

Peyton Manning Is Still A Work In Progress

Peyton Manning started his first 3 series against the Falcons on Monday Night Football, with three interceptions. This put his Broncos in a hole early. A hole that despite a pretty good game from Manning, after the early INTs, the Broncos would never fully recover.

Peyton Manning missed an entire season of NFL football. He’s going to have his ups and downs as he attempts to return to the form that we know him for. And while I don’t believe he’ll ever get back there, he can get very close. It’s just going to take some time. Knee jerk reactions will leave many looking foolish in regard to Manning. He’ll have some great games but, guess what? There are going to be some stinkers in there as well.

The 2012 NFL Rookie Class Will Be One of the Most Amazing We’ve Seen

Trent Richardson tee’d off on the Bengals last week and with that added support, Brandon Weeded showed what he was capable of. The Bengals still beat the Browns but Cleveland looked a whole lot better offensively than before, thanks to it’s two new rookies.

Andrew Luck was able to play a much, shall we say, nicer defense in week 2 in that matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Reggie Wayne helped out. Luck’s arm is pretty monstrous regardless of what the critics say. He also showed that he can use his mobility to extend plays and pick up first downs when necessary. Remember Andrew Luck’s 40 yard dash is right up there with Cam Newton’s.

Robert Griffin III looked less impressive than he did in week 1 against the Saints. The Rams are a tougher defense than New Orleans, though. They did slow down the high powered Detroit Lions offense in week 1, picking off Matthew Stafford 3 times. Griffin was intercepted once but he accounted for 3 touchdowns. He had one in the air and 2 rushing TDs.

Ryan Tannehill bounced back after a rough outing in week 1. He like Luck, faced a weaker defense than the one they played a week prior. Tannehill threw for a touchdown and ran for another. He had no turnovers. He looked good and showed poise most likely because he didn’t have to bear the offensive load. Let’s say he received a bit of assistance from Reggie Bush, in the form of 172 yards and two touchdowns.

There’s the recap. What will we learn in week 3?

 

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What We Learned: NFL Week 1

Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books. There are lots of things to look at this week; the five rookies that started, the return of some prominent running backs, and more. Let’s jump in it!

The Giants Need Receivers and The Cowboys Have a Secondary.

Tony Romo and Kevin Ogletree after their victory over the Giants last Wednesday.

The Dallas Cowboys helped kickoff the NFL season last Wednesday with a 24-17 drubbing of the New York Giants. Tony Romo looked electric, as threw the ball all over the yard. Romo offset his one interception by throwing 309 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dez Bryant ran rampant, showing the elite playmaking ability that Dalas was looking for when they drafted him. Kevin Ogletree stepped up in a big way with 8 receptions for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns.

I don’t know if the Cowboys secondary is permanently cured of the knuckle headed play that has plagued it in the past but, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has the Cowboys disrupting Eli’s rhythm all night. The pass rush played a part of course gathering 3 sacks and making Eli Manning uncomfortable.

The Giants struggled offensively. It’s pretty clear that losing Mario Manningham to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason has hurt them. They tried running the ball, which they were worst in the league last season in doing, and they failed miserably at it. They were unable to stretch the field. Both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks received special attention from the Dallas defense. Nicks was pretty much shut down with 4 receptions for just 38 yards. Victor Cruz had opportunities but dropped a number of passes. While this isn’t a sign of things to come, the Giants need a third option to emerge for Eli or they’ll be in a lot of trouble.

Quarterback Nightmares

What do Michael Vick, Brandon Weeden, Matthew Stafford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andrew Luck, and Ryan Tannehill have in common? A metric crap ton of interceptions between them. All of these quarterbacks threw three interceptions on Sunday. Noteworthy: 3 of the 5 rookies starting at quarterback are here. 

Michael Vick and Brandon Weeden were apparently playing to see who could throw the most interceptions. They both tied at 4, I suppose. However what’s interesting about the Eagles is that Michael Vick threw the ball 56 times. 56 times! What kind of game plan is that? This simply adds another chapter the play calling blunders in the book that is Andy Reid. Does Andy Reid know who LeSean McCoy is? Apparently not because McCoy  had just 20 carries.  When you ask a quarterback to throw that many passes some of them are going to get taken away.

Brandon Weeden looked about as lost and confused as a man can get. Beginning with him getting trapped under the American Flag at the start of the game and continuing into the game.

Weeden had some good plays but he threw no touchdowns to go along with is 4 picks and he overthrew a number of open receivers  including what would have been a touchdown to Alex Smith who was wide open in the end zone.

Matthew Stafford was able to help the Lions escape with a victory after throwing 3 interceptions. He threw all of the interceptions in the first half. Then became captain clutch in the waning moments of the game to help his team top the Rams 27-23.

Adrian Peterson looks glorious in his return, Blaine Gabbert looks good.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had 84 yards and 2 touchdowns on 17 carries as the Vikings beat the Jaguars in overtime 26-23. Peterson looked like the same dominant player he was when he left. He tore his ACL only 8 months ago. That’s pretty impressive stuff. He was making all of the sharp moves and cuts as always. Furthermore, he was able to take some pretty big hits and keep rolling like we know him to do so well.

Last season, I called for the Jaguars to start Gabbert. Almost as soon as the Gabbert era began, I ate those words. They were very bad tasting words and I can honestly say that Gabbert was the worst quarterback in the league last season. He looked terrified in the pocket and inaccurate out of it. He got his season off to a good start, despite the loss; by completing 26 of 39 passes and throwing for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Shock! 

The Jets shocked the media, and not me,  by scoring points this Sunday. Lots of them. 48 points to be specific. In this age of overanalysis, the media saw the Jets unable to score points of any kind in the preseason and assumed it would carry over to the regular season. That’s not how this works. Mark Sanchez looked golden and Stephen Hill looked great as well, as the Jets steam rolled the revamped Bills offense.

The Redskins shocked the media, and me, by scoring 40 points on the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. Led by rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III who threw 320 yards and 2 touchdowns, on 19 of 26 passing. Griffin had a perfect quarterback rating at halftime and ended with the best quarterback rating in the league by the end of week 1, with a rating of 139.9. The rookie running back Alfred Morris out of Florida Atlantic contributed another 2 touchdowns. The defense was tenacious and harassed Drew Brees all day long. On a side note: Griffin handles press conferences like veteran. 

The Oakland Raiders had a ton of penalties. Just kidding. The Raiders are still as undisciplined as they always have been and racked up the penalties, including two offsides penalties by Tommy Kelly which kept San Diego’s drives alive, in a 22-14 loss to the Chargers, shocking absolutely no one. Even the media.

I can tell already, this is going to be a great season. This is going to be a great season.

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5 Things To Wonder About This NFL Season.

The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants 24-17 to start the season. The first half of that game was a snooze fest. During that time I started thinking ahead to the rest of the NFL season. Here are some things that might be in store for us.

5. Russell Wilson Beats Matt Flynn For The Starting Job

I don’t know what this is a bigger indication of. The skill of Russell Wilson. The suck-itude (yeah I just made that word up) of Matt Flynn who was payed $26 million for 3 years with the Seahawks, and still couldn’t beat his undersized rookie competition. Or how crazy general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll are for paying a man $26 million and then starting a rookie instead.

If this works for Seattle, Carroll and Schneider, will look like geniuses. If not they’ll look insane, which of course, they totally are.

4. Is Kevin Ogletree the next Victor Cruz?

The Dallas Cowboys under achieving wide receiver Kevin Ogletree had his coming out party against the Giants Wednesday night. He hauled in 8 receptions for 114 yards and 2 touchdowns. He ran his routes perfectly and used some very crafty moves to beat his man off the line. He also displayed speed down the field and was generally a nuisance to the Giants defense as a whole. The Cowboys always believed that Ogletree had skills but he had never displayed them consistently. He may be in line for a break out season, just like Victor Cruz was last season.

Bonus Question: Can Victor Cruz be Victor Cruz?

That same night was an off night for the previously mention Giants receiver. Cruz was targeted 11 times and only caught 6 of the passes. Many of the drops were in his hands, especially in situations where he could have done more damage to the Dallas defense with runs after the catch. The loss of Manningham seems to be hurting Cruz as he is now more heavily relied upon in the offense, and of course more heavily guarded as a result.

3. Can Mark Sanchez keep his job?

If it were up to me he would. Under no circumstances would I put Tim Tebow in for Mark Sanchez. I would not be pressured by the fans and media into doing something so silly. Tim Tebow is an awful quarterback and until that changes I wouldn’t think twice about sticking with Marky Mark to lead the funky bunch. A quarterback that can’t complete more than half of the passes he throws is hardly a quarterback at all. It’s not up to me though.

If Rex Ryan was serious about returning to the “ground and pound” then Sanchez is in luck. He can manage the game. Which he’s very good at. If Rex was just joking then, it was a cruel joke indeed, and it’s not all that funny. Mark hasn’t proven he can go out and win a game. He’ll need run support.

2. Who will win the NFC North?

The NFL’s toughest division is the NFC North. No doubt about it. Aaron Rodgers is a monster and seems to dominate any game he wants to, which is most of them. The Bears have Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall a tandem that will do more than it’s fair share of damage. Chicago also has it’s stifling defense. The Lions have a combo of their own in Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. The Vikings are going to look better this season. Jared Allen is a sack master. Christian Ponder looks poised to take the next step and if Adrian Peterson a.k.a. the best running back in football is healthy, any Sunday is going to be the wrong Sunday to mess with Minnesota.

I think Chicago wins it though. They are the most well-rounded team in the division. They depth at every position. Matt Forte and Michael Bush on the ground, Brandon Marshall and the very impressive rookie Alshon Jeffery at receivers, and Devin Hester can still change the game in special teams.

1. Rise of the rookies quarterbacks?

In addition to the previously mentioned Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, and Brandon “old man” Weeden will be starting week 1 for their respective teams. This seems to be the trend that NFL teams are leaning towards. However, every year there is a dud. Last year was Blaine Gabbert. He looked ready up until he wasn’t. He looked lost bewildered and confused. Here’s where the current class stands:

Success from RGIII and Andrew Luck are expected, no matter how unfair that is. Too many gaffes from them may have their fans worrying. Especially, Redskins fans.

Ryan Tannehill has no receivers or defense to rely on so most losses won’t be just his fault. However he does know the offense and should be ahead of the curve.

Russell Wilson is in a position to keep something that wasn’t going to be his the first place, the starting job.

Brandon Weeden has the most to lose. He’s on a terrible team, he’s old (at least in football years), and the guy who’s behind him is a serviceable NFL quarterback. Yet he’ll still be expected to perform decently well. Because of his age he won’t have as much time to make mistakes as other quarterbacks.

If most these quarterbacks don’t succeed they may set future rookie QBs  back a bit. Coaches will still take risks on them, but start them? We’ll see.

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Too Much Stock In The Preseason?

There’s a saying that goes like this; “America has two favorite sports. Football, and waiting for football to come back.”

So it makes sense that in our football crazed society that as soon as we see anything that looks like professional football we go nuts. It’s easy to forget that; these games don’t have any meaning so far as score is concerned and there are a lot of mismatches. By mismatches I mean starters against second stringers, as well as the typical tradition that coaches have of saving their real schemes for the regular season.

While there are some indicators that we can take from the preseason, it is in no way itself, an indicator of  regular season success. It is important to not fall prey to this misconception after watching your favorite team lead a solid drive into the endzone. It is similarly important not to be chicken little and exclaim that the sky is falling based on exhibition matches.

For instance, the Jets whose offensive woes can simply number as many, cannot simply be written off for struggling in the preseason. The 20 snaps that starters get during the preseason is not nearly enough to determine how a team will perform during the flow of a game. It can’t tell us how good the Jets may be at bouncing back from rough starts. Both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are late game performers (in the case of Tebow, very late).

Another example of preseason overreaction is how we view rookies. The comparisons to Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck seemingly never end. If one of them looks like a rookie at any point, everyone gets worried. Both ESPN and the NFL network talk about both guys scoring their “first NFL touchdowns” as if that were a thing that could happen in the preseason. It can’t. These stats count for nothing. If we all recall Cam Newton had a preseason to forget last year but, took flight during the NFL season. Conversely, Ryan Leaf looked better than Peyton Manning in the preseason and one source even called Peyton Manning “ordinary.” We all know how those careers went.

What does a fan in the preseason look for? We don’t get the view that the coaches and players get when they watch film. Very true but there are things to really look for without firing up the hype machine.

Look for each players skills. By this I mean look for shiftiness in running backs and just general speed. Quarterbacks need to make reads and go through progressions. If you look at where the quarterback is looking you can see him go through his progressions as his head moves from one part of the field to another. Also look at ball location. How much time does the quarterback have to throw? Oppositely, check the pass rush and see where their strong points are.

Try not to look at the score so much. In the preseason it can be misleading and is rarely a good indicator of how the team is actually doing. At this point you’re just better off chilling out. The regular season is only ten days away.

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