Category:NFL
Posted on: August 2, 2011 7:56 pm
 

All up to Vick?

It took till July 25 until football was on for the 2011 season.  Part of the new collective bargaining agreement meant the salary cap was reinstated, along with a salary cap floor.  But with the way the Philadelphia Eagles keep signing players one would think we were still in the uncapped year.

 

The Eagles continued their free agency dominance on Tuesday with the addition of former Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown.  Brown has had much of his success in a running back tandem with Ricky Williams in Miami, so he should have no problem sharing a backfield with LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia.  For some teams, having signed Brown would have been the highlight of their offseason thus far.  But Philadelphia has traded for DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, signed DB Nnmandi Asomugha, and signed defensive ends Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins.  It is as if GM Howie Roseman and head coach Andy Reid are putting together a fantasy squad here.  Actually some people do not even have fantasy squads with all of these names on one roster.  It as if they are finding ways  to work within the cap like Madden players do in the game’s Franchise mode.  Without question they will be the team most used by Madden players when the game drops on August 30, and this time not just because they have Michael Vick at QB.

 

But perhaps that last part is the most telling, Michael Vick will enter the year for the Philadelphia Eagles as the starting QB, a title he has not held entering a season since 2006 with the Atlanta Falcons.  And the pressure is on Vick to stay healthy, and perform at a high level as he did in 2010 inheriting the starting job in Philly.  The knock against Vick has always been that his style of play will not win a Super Bowl.  And if the Eagles fail to make it to at least the NFC Championship in 2011, look for Vick to shoulder much of the blame.  But Vick has won in the playoffs before, most notably when he took the Falcons into Lambeau Field on New Year’s day 2003 to defeat the Packers in what was the first time they ever lost a postseason game at Lambeau.  Vick has more talent around him in 2011 then he ever has before, can the kid that once knocked off the legendary Brett Favre and Green Bay Packers lead a team to a Super Bowl?  Only time will tell.



Category: NFL
Posted on: April 13, 2010 5:18 pm
 

Hearts of Steel or Smart Business?

When I turned on SportsCenter Sunday night after the baseball game, I was in a state of shock with the opening story.  The New York Jets had acquired WR Santonio Holmes from the Steelers for a draft pick, which pick was unkown at the time.  I frantically searched the internet to confirm the report, and make sure it wasn't a dream.

Holmes was awarded the Super Bowl MVP award in a Super Bowl XLIII victory for the Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals thanks to his 9 catches for 131 yards and one of the most iconic TD catches in Super Bowl history.  Following that performance, Holmes took a step forward in 2009 with 79 catches for 1248 yards, both career highs, and added 5 TD catches to that line.  Holmes has improved his catches each season since his rookie year of 2006, as well as his yardage in all but one season.  He arguably had become the Steelers number one receiver, so why did that trade him?  The Rooney family are one of the most respected owners in the NFL, so what drove them to trade away one of their top young talents?  With Holmes recently in the media for abuse charges, as well as a now reported four-game suspension to start the 2010 season, perhaps the Rooney family had finally had enough of Holmes.  After all, they have also had their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, in the news facing potential charges, until Monday when it was announced no charges would be filed.  With all the negativity facing two of the team's most recognizable figures, and perhaps the two top talents on the offense, it is easy to see that the Rooney family wanted to get rid of some of that bad publicity.  But only obtaining a fifth round pick for Holmes, was that really a smart move?

It has been reported since the trade that the Steelers would have dropped Holmes had they not found an offer for him.  But, could it be possible that absolutely no other team offered Pittsburgh a more lucrative offer than the Jets, especially with so many needing talent at the WR position?  And the talent they gave up in Holmes, they will most certainly not replace with the fifth round pick they acquired from the Jets.  Perhaps the Steelers feel confident in Mike Wallace, who showed flashes of brilliancy last season, but as the third WR for the Steelers.  Regardless, the Jets may have wound up with another steal this off season, if Holmes can get on the field and produce like he did in the 2009 season.  The Jets ownership is showing that they will open up their hearts for any player, regardless of past personal issues, in hopes of topping the Patriots in the AFC East this season.  If everything works on the field, they could make a run at another AFC Championship game, and who knows where else they may go.  There is no denying Holmes' talent, and what he could bring to the Jets, now it's just up to him to prove it, and Roger Goodell not to suspend him.
Posted on: April 1, 2010 12:58 pm
 

Trading for McNabb Would Regain Creditability

Since a return to Oakland in 1995, a span of fifteen seasons, the Oakland Raiders seemed to have gone astray from their slogan of “A Commitment to Excellence.”  There has just been three winning seasons in Oakland since 1995, although one of those seasons did include a trip to Super Bowl XXXVII (a 48-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).  But since that trip to the Super Bowl, the Raiders have failed to win more than five games in a season.  A failed string of coaches and player acquisitions have been at the forefront of the blame of owner Al Davis.

Coaches during the time period after the Super Bowl include Bill Callahan (whom lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl in his first year as a head coach, following the departure of Jon Gruden, who lead the Bucs to the victory over the Raiders), Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, and current coach Tom Cable.  Cable was also in the conversation last season of being fired.  Despite being criticized as Kiffin’s replacement midway through the 2008 season, Cable does seem to have the respect of many of his players, despite stories of problems with other members of his coaching staff.  The Raiders are 9-19 under Cable, which is actually a step in the right direction for this dormant franchise.

But coaching changes have not been the only criticism in Oakland, a string of bad personnel moves by Davis has also drawn criticism.  WR Randy Moss was acquired for LB Napoleon Harris, the Raiders 2004 first round pick (7th overall – Troy Williamson) and their seventh round pick.  Moss was a bust in two seasons in Oakland, and was then traded for a fourth round pick to the Patriots in 2007, where Moss has gone on to shine with a record breaking season.  There was also the acquisition of DB DeAngelo Hall for a second and fifth round pick in the 2008 draft.  Hall was then signed to a seven-year $70 million deal prior to the 2008 season.  Hall was then released after eight games into the season, for “failing to adapt to the Raiders system”.  Also prior to the 2008 season, safety Gibril Wilson signed a six-year $39 million contract with the Raiders, only to be released after one season.  And also prior to that 2008 season, Davis signed WR Javon Walker to a six-year $55million deal.  Walker played a total of eleven games for the Raiders, starting seven, compiling fifteen catches for 196 yards and a touchdown.  But the criticism is not just on veteran acquisitions, high first round picks have failed to live up to the hype including QB JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, and Darrius Heyward-Bey

Acquiring Donovan McNabb could help silence the critics of Davis for the time being.  McNabb would give the Raiders the elite quarterback they have lacked since the retirement of Rich Gannon prior to the 2005 season.  McNabb has the arm to run the deep passing game that Davis is infamous for promoting with his team.  Although none of those failed veteran acquisitions are still around, McNabb could help those first round picks live up to their potential.  McFadden, who will enter the 2010 season at twenty-three years of age, arguably has more athletic ability than Brian Westbrook (McNabb’s main counterpart at RB in Philly) had in the prime of his career.  McFadden has the ability to be a dual threat out of the backfield, like Westbrook, and proved in college that he has the ability to make some big plays.  Heyward-Bey, perhaps the most criticized picks at the time of the selection, has the speed Davis desires from his WRs.  McNabb just had a successful season with another fast WR in DeSean Jackson.  Perhaps the numbers that Jackson put up are far too lofty of expectations, but similar output is possible as Heyward-Bey does have the talent to find success in the NFL.  Finally, there is Russell, who would find himself back on the bench with the acquisition of McNabb.  But McNabb is not the most durable QB, so Russell may find himself some playing time.  But with a similar build to Donovan, albeit a bit heavier, perhaps McNabb could provide the tutelage, and light a fire under the young QB, so that he can make strides towards living up to his pre-draft potential.  Another player who should prosper with the possible acquisition of McNabb would be TE Zach Miller.  Miller has shown the ability to excel in the NFL in the past, and McNabb has shown the ability to find his TEs.  With McNabb under huddle, Miller could become one of the top TEs in the NFL in 2010. 

A trade for McNabb would finally bring some stability to the QB position in Oakland, and could help diminish, for a time, talks of a string of bad acquisitions in Oakland.  McNabb has the ability to make the players around him better, as he has done for eleven years in Philadelphia.  And in the weak AFC West, making a play for a wildcard spot in 2010 is possible.  If owner Al Davis wants to continue to promote “A Commitment to Excellence,” a trade for McNabb is a must.


Posted on: February 9, 2010 1:06 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2010 11:25 am
 

Colts Loss adds Fuel to Patriots Fans Fire

Super Bowl XLIV is over, and what a great game, at least in the second half, it was.  The game was much closer than the final score of 31-17 would indicate.  Congratulations to the Saints, and more importantly to the city of New Orleans, who nobody can doubt deserved this title as much as any NFL city.  The party is in full swing in New Orleans, with the parade this evening, and should continue on through next week with Mardi Gras.  But there is a party going on in a different part of the country for almost the exact opposite reason.  New Englanders are rejoicing because not only did the Indianapolis Colts lose the Super Bowl, but also Peyton Manning’s late interception, which was returned for a TD by Saints DB Tracy Porter, arguably lost the game for the Colts.  For New England fans this loss adds fuel to the “We Hate Peyton Manning” fan club. 

 

In New England, probably more so than any other part of the country, the “Quarterback of the Century” debate is, and has been, in full swing for the decade.  Some of it is pride in their team and pride in their quarterback, as well there should be as they have on three Super Bowls this decade.  But then there is the line of Tom Brady support, and Peyton Manning hate that is often crossed.  No matter the outcome, New England fans just cannot seem to give Peyton his due as even an equal to Tom Brady.  The fact of the matter is New England fans, Peyton Manning is equal and possibly even surpassed Tom Brady as the quarterback of this decade, and there are stats to prove it.  Taking a look at Manning vs Brady during the regular season, since 2001, when Brady assumed a full time role as a starting quarterback:

 

  •                         Brady                                                               Manning
  •                            97                                   Wins                              105
  •                         30,838                             Yards                          37,841
  •                           4,218                           Attempts                        4,852
  •                           2,672                            Completions                    3,218
  •                         63.35%                     Percentage                        66.32%
  •                           225                             TD Passes                            281
  •                            99                                 INTs                                  123

 

With the leader of each category in bold, Manning leads each category except for interceptions.  Unbelievable stats over a ten-year span for Manning, who also has three more years of stats tacked on for his career, which is not shown here.  Manning has thrown more, which will skew attempts and completions a bit, but despite that he still has the higher completion percentage.  He has 8 more wins, despite the fact that Brady missed pretty much the entire 2008 season, and 56 more TD passes, a number Brady probably wouldn’t have put up even if healthy in 2008.  But then the Manning haters will say look at the playoff numbers, well after taking a look at each player’s career in the playoffs, they are not as different as many New England fans might think.  After Super Bowl XLIV, each player has played in eighteen career playoff games, and their playoff stats are as follows:

 

  •                       Brady                                                                  Manning
  •                            14                                 Wins                                    9
  •                           4,108                              Yards                               5,164
  •                           630                             Attempts                          691
  •                           396                           Completions                         436
  •                         62.86%                         Percentage                      63.10%
  •                            28                             TD Passes                             28
  •                            15                                 INTs                                     19

 

In the playoffs, the stat sheets are similar to the regular season.  Brady has fewer interceptions, but Manning has more yards, attempts, completions, and a higher completion percentage.  Each player has thrown for twenty-eight postseason touchdowns, but the key stat Patriot fans will point out is that Brady has fourteen wins in eighteen tries, and three Super Bowl rings as opposed to nine wins and one Super Bowl ring for Manning.  The Super Bowl rings argument will continually be brought up by Patriot fans as to why Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning.  But are Super Bowl rings really the only thing that determines the value and place in history of an NFL quarterback?  Yes, there has been Super Bowl winning quarterbacks who are not great quarterbacks, and the name that will be brought up in that discussion is Trent Dilfer.  And yes, there are some great quarterbacks who never won a Super Bowl, and anyone who wants to argue that Dan Marino was not a great NFL quarterback better have much more than his lack of Super Bowls wins in their defense.  But if one was to go by Super Bowl rings to determine how great an NFL quarterback is or was, then Terry Bradshaw would have to be considered the greatest quarterback of all time, and I don’t see anyone taking his side on that argument.

 

The fact is there is no system or formula to determine how truly great an NFL quarterback is, or to compare quarterbacks from different centuries besides the stats.  And if there were one developed, there would still probably be those who disagree with some part of the formula.  The fact is New England fans, like it or not, Peyton Manning deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Brady.  There is a line between passion and support for your team, and being in sports denial.  Love them or hate them, and even if they play for the rival teams, there are great athletes outside of New England that are as good or better than even some of the greatest athletes in New England sports lore.  






Posted on: February 6, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Super Bowl XLIV Could Be One for the Ages

For fantasy football diehards, this has to be one of the more enticing Super Bowls in terms of the match up at QB.  Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have been arguably the two best fantasy football QBs since 2006, Brees first season with New Orleans.  Manning and Brees have combined for 35, 237 passing yards in that four-year span (18,298 for Brees vs 16,939 for Manning) and have thrown for 244 TD passes (122 for each player).  Their offenses have been at the top of the league, with each QB doing it their own unique way, producing similar statistical results. 

After a 10-6 season in 2006, Brees and the Saints went 7-9 in 2007, and 8-8 in 2008, before dominating their competition on way to a 13-3 record in 2009.  Scoring points has never been much of a problem for these Saints in recent years, but the obstacle was scoring more than their defense was giving up.  The defense has improved in recent seasons, and put together a better effort in 2009, ranking 20th in the NFL with 21.3 PPG allowed.  But with a league-leading offense scoring 31.9 PPG, a 10.6 PPG difference, the Saints are still able to win despite giving up just over 3 TDs per a game.  As Brees and the players around him continue to mature, they have put together a more well rounded offense, ranking fourth in passing and sixth in rushing in the NFL on offense in 2009.  It is that type of offensive balance that will be a necessity if the Saints want to beat the Colts on Sunday.

For Peyton Manning and the Colts, winning has become the norm.  With at least 12 wins in every season since 2003, the Colts became the winningest team of any decade in the NFL in 2009 with 115 regular season wins from 2000-2009, for a .720 winning percentage.  Manning has arguably become the greatest current QB in the NFL, and is becoming one of the greatest of all time.  Unlike the balance that the Saints have shown on offense, the Colts ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing this season, and second in the passing game.  Since the departure of Edgerrin James, the Colts have been unable to find a running back that can carry the full workload.  Despite some nice performances from Joseph Addai, he has not lived up to the hype as James' successor in Indy.  A lack of a running game has not been totally harmful to Indianapolis; they won Super Bowl XLI and have been a mainstay in the playoffs since 2002.   But some of those playoff exits have been because of the one-dimensional offense of the Colts.  But if there is one QB in the NFL today who can still beat a defense who is keying in on specifically stopping him and the passing attack, it is Peyton Manning.

Despite the potential for record setting numbers by the offenses in Super Bowl XLIV, it may be the all important other factors that make or break the game.  How about Indy's defense?  The Colts ranked eight in the NFL in the 2009 regular season with 19.2 PPG allowed, and have been even better allowing just 10.0 PPG in two postseason games.  Numbers that may go unrecognized, if the Colts defense can continue that type of production on Sunday, Drew Brees may not have the chance to match Peyton Manning point for point.  And for the Saints the key factor may be the former Heisman Trophy Winner, RB Reggie Bush.  If Bush can run like he did against Arizona, not rushing for 16.8 yards per a carry, but with the power and determination that he showed, Bush could be the highlight reel player on Sunday.  Bush has always had the athletic ability, and has shown it on a grand stage, in the 2006 Rose Bowl, so the potential is there for Super Bowl XLIV. 

So with two great statistical QBs in the game, Super Bowl XLIV has the possibility of being a record setting Super Bowl, in a decade filled with memorable games.  Some of the records to look out for are:
Team Records
Most Yards Gained, Game - 602 yards, Washington (Super Bowl XXII vs Denver)
Most Yards Gained, Both Teams, Game - 929 yards, Super Bowl XXII (Washington vs Denver)
Most Points, Game - 55 points, San Francisco (Super Bowl XXIV vs Denver)
Most Points, Both Teams, Game - 75 (Super Bowl XXIX San Francisco vs San Diego)

Individual Records
Most Yards Gained, Game (Passing) - 414 yards, Kurt Warner (Super Bowl XXXIV vs Tennessee)
Most Touchdown Passes, Game - 6, Steve Young (Super Bowl XXIX vs San Diego)

And there are more, but those are some that people will be looking for on Sunday.  The individual team records may be more difficult to come by.  There is one Super Bowl record sure to be broken on Sunday however, the Miami area will host its record tenth Super Bowl, surpassing New Orleans, which has hosted nine Super Bowls.  Whether or not it becomes a record setting game, Super Bowl XLIV should be fun to watch nonetheless, featuring two of the premier players in the NFL.

Posted on: January 25, 2010 3:19 pm
 

Is it Time for a Change?

It's a rule that gets debated often among the airwaves of the media, does the NFL need to change its rules for overtime.  Or maybe just a change to the overtime rules for the playoffs.  We have seen two great games in this year's playoffs that have lead to overtime, the 51-45 Wild Card game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers, and yesterday's NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.

First, the Wild Card game.  Arizona did not win the coin toss, but won the game off of a fumble recovery by LB Karlos Dansby.  So, the coin toss may not have been the deciding issue in this game, the Packers just blew it.

Then, the NFC Championship Game.  The Vikings had a chance to win it, and the old Brett Favre showed up at the wrong time of the year, again.  But should that game have ended off of one posession in overtime?  Some will argue that the Vikings and Favre had their chance to win the game in regulation, while others say despite that fact, that such an important game should not have been determined by a flip of a coin. 

Here's an interesting stat on overtime games in the playoffs, prior to the start of this season's playoffs.  Before the start of the 2009 season, dating back to 1958, 25 postseason games have gone into OT, and in 21 of those cases both teams have had an offesnive posession.  So is the system totally flawed?  And if changes were to be made, what would they entail?

College seems to have an adequate system where both teams get a possession, and starting in the third OT, both teams must go for a two-point conversion, to speed up the game.  But the college game places the ball at the 25 yard line.  That would not be adequate for the professional game, especially in yesterday's game featuring two of the premier QBs, and offenses, in the league this season, not to mention in a position where most NFL kickers should be able to hit a field goal from.  Starting at the 50 would make teams need to make at least one first down to make it into field goal range.  Starting at a team's own 20 yard line would possibly prolong the overtime longer than most casual fans would care to watch.  So perhaps it's time to let each team get a chance from the 50, and have at it.  The question is not whether the rules committee will discuss a possible change this offseason, but whether or not it will get enough support to make a change.  Love him, or hate him, how many true NFL fans wanted to see an icon like Brett Favre possibly end his career without a chance to redeem himself?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com