Posts Tagged ‘Jay Cutler’

Little Things and The Playoffs

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Little Things from the NFL’s 2009 Season:

88 players in the NFL had at least one carry of 25 yards or more, including New York Jets punter Steve Weatherford. Not among the 88: Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook and Indianapolis Colts RB Joseph Addai.

Eight RB’s finished with at least 1250 rushing yards, including the St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson, who was 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards despite being on a 1-15 team.

Two Carolina Panthers RB’s, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart rushed for at least 1100 yards.

Jerome Harrison of the Cleveland Browns averaged 143 yards rushing in the four games in which he carried the ball more than 16 times, including 286 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15.

Adrian Peterson finished 5th in the league in rushing yards with 1383, despite only topping 100 yards in a game three times during the season.

Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans topped 2000 yards rushing on the year; he is only the 6th RB in NFL history to do so.

Johnson averaged 5.6 yards per rushing attempt on the season. Jamaal Charles averaged 5.9.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson both averaged 3.3 yards per attempt.

Reggie Wayne caught 100 passes on the year. 73 of them were for first downs.

The Top 21 players in the NFL in receiving yards include three tight ends: Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, and Jason Witten. All 21 had at least 11 receptions of 20 yards or more, except Wes Welker, who led the league in catches, 123, and was second in yards, 1348. He had eight plays for more than 20 yards.

The Blind Side book/movie subject Michael Oher, rookie RT for the Baltimore Ravens, had the fewest yards receiving in the NFL in 2009 with -8.

Oakland Raiders rookie WR Darius Heyward-Bey, 7th pick overall, played in 11 games, caught 9 passes for 124 yards and scored one TD.

San Francisco 49ers rookie WR Michael Crabtree, 10th pick overall, held out until after Week 5, then played in 11 games, caught 48 passes for 625 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Austin Collie, 4th round pick of the Colts, and Percy Harvin, 1st round pick of the Minnesota Vikings, led all rookie WR’s in receptions with 60. Harvin and New York Giants WR Hakeem Nicks led rookies in receiving yards with 790.

Ten QB’s threw for over 4000 yards this season. Seven of them are in the playoffs. Kurt Warner, the 8th playoff QB, threw for 3753 yards.

41 QB’s completed at least one pass of more than 45 yards. Kurt Warner did not.

155 players in the NFL caught a pass of at least 35 yards. Larry Fitzgerald did not.

14 QB’s threw at least 500 passes. Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler led them (and all other QB’s) in interceptions with 26. Peyton Manning was 2nd with 16. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers had the fewest at 7.

Jon Ryan, punter of the Seattle Seahawks, completed the longest pass by a non-QB, 42 yards. He finished the year with a 118.8 QB rating.

The Cleveland Browns won four games in a row after going 1-11 in their first twelve.

The Pittsburgh Steelers lost five games in a row after winning five in a row.

The Denver Broncos won six in a row to start the year and lost four in a row to end the year to finish 8-8.

The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints started the season 14-0 and 13-0, respectively. The Colts lost their last two and the Saints lost their last three.

The San Diego Chargers started the year 2-3 and then won their last 11.

The Tennessee Titans went 0-6 to start the year. They went 8-2 after that to finish 8-8.

BLACK MONDAY

Coaches are cleaning out their lockers today. So far Jim Zorn, who was for all intent and purposes relieved of his duties with the Washington Redskins somewhere around Week 6 or so, and the remainder of the Buffalo Bills coaching staff and have been told their services are no longer needed, wanted, or welcomed.

There is talk that Wade Phillips needs to win a playoff game to keep his job. Apparently an 11-5 season, the third playoff seed, a home playoff game, and a shutout to win the division in the season’s last game is not enough in Dallas to feel any sense of job security.

The expectations are different for Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. In Houston, Gary Kubiak will retain his position after the organizations first winning season, going 9-7 and being a loss by either the Ravens or Jets on the season’s final day away from making the playoffs. Plus Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson led the league in yards at their respective positions.

The Carolina Panthers are keeping John Fox around… maybe? Because in Carolina, a winning season every other year is good enough. I think it is probably safe to say though that the John Fox-Jake Delhomme duo has reached its end. Delhomme threw for 8 TD’s and was picked off 18 times on the season, while backup Matt Moore started the last five games for the Panthers and threw for 8 TD’s and only 1 interception.

There are a lot of rumors flying around about Raheem Morris losing his job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay was horrible, but Morris is a first year coach brought in to turn around a terrible team. You have to give the guy more than a year or two to do his job – unless of course you have Bill Cowher, his chin, and his mustache on the radar.

Maybe one case where it makes sense to fire a first year coach is in Oakland, where ironically nothing makes sense. Tom Cable allegedly hit a co-worker. That behavior is generally frowned upon. And Al Davis is Al Davis, so he may bring in a shuffleboard buddy of his who won a fantasy football league last season to coach the team.

PLAYOFFS

The Dallas Cowboys threw a donut at the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East. With a win, the Eagles would have had a first round bye and a home playoff game. With the loss, they’ll travel to Dallas and play the Cowboys again this weekend. Donovan McNabb to DeSean Jackson and Tony Romo to Miles Austin are two of the more dangerous big play QB to WR combos in the league.

And speaking dangerous QB to WR combos, Chad Ochocinco/Johnson would like me to mention his and Carson Palmer’s names right now, but if I’m playing the Cincinnati Bengals I’m more concerned about Cedric Benson. Maybe the New York Jets backed into a playoff spot and maybe they didn’t, but Mark Sanchez is in the post-season and will do a very nice job of handing the ball off until he is absolutely required to throw it. Thomas Jones, get ready to see nine guys in the box against Cincinnati this weekend. Jets fans can mail cards to the Colts and Bengals thanking them for mailing it in in Weeks 16 and 17.

Following Philly/Dallas and New York/Cincy, the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers will square off in the third rematch of a Week 17 game this weekend. The Packers rolled over the Cardinals who had nothing to play for and did most of the rolling over all by themselves. There are some health concerns for Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, Anquan Boldin, and Charles Woodson going into this game.

Baltimore travels to New England to play the Wes Welker-less Patriots. Welker tore up most of the _CL’s in his knee on Sunday. Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Ray Lewis and company will look to put to rest Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the Pats. Should that happen, the media will surely spark up the “Has Belichick lost it?” debate. For that reason alone, I’ll root for the Pats.

Brett Favre may or may not be on a tractor in Kiln, Mississippi this week. The Vikings can thank the Cowboys for beating the Eagles and getting them a first round bye. Favre loved Sidney Rice this season to the tune of 1312 yards and 8 TD’s. I don’t know what that tune sounds like, but it works for the Minnesota offense.

The New Orleans Saints are also waiting around for somebody to play football against. Drew Brees and his band of guys who can run fast and catch the ball will not have won in nearly a month when they take the field next.

The Colts are planning a really intense bye week in Indy. Somewhere Jim Caldwell is sitting with no expression on his face. The San Diego Chargers are taking it easy in a sunnier place where Philip Rivers can frolic on the beach and wait around for somebody to fly west to play a game.

THE NHL WINTER CLASSIC

The Boston Bruins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in OT at Fenway Park in the NHL’s 2010 Winter Classic. Check out all our Winter Classic gear in this week’s items of the week!

Week 9: When Fungus is Acceptable

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight

Last week Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers played 34 minutes and recorded 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. He managed two steals and two personal fouls and without those you may not have even know he was there.

Michael Wilbon made a brief argument on PTI that Fisher is a guy who does the “other things” to help his team win. I’m sure he was moving the ball, screening, playing some defense, and being a leader and a nice guy, but in 34 minutes you think he would pass it to a guy who would make a shot or he would accidentally run into a rebound. Fisher was just hiding in plain sight, not contributing anything noticeable.

Flashback to 2006:

*Comedy Central airs the last new Chapelle’s Show on July 23rd. Borat opens the first weekend of November at the top of the box office. The confluence of these two events that happened just 3+ months apart created a venn diagram overlap in pop culture relevance where it became virtually impossible to escape people quoting Chapelle/Borat, especially if you were in college at the time. Chapelle was on safari and done with the show, but new episodes aired with many re-runs of the old ones and three and a half months was not long enough for some people to beat those jokes to death. And then Borat happens. So the quote wheel keeps spinning for the frequent repeaters out there.

*The Chicago Bears are going 13-3 on their way to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at QB.

*Terrell Owens leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and has 1,180 yards receiving.
*Michael Vick throws for 2,474 yards and runs for 1,039 yards and combines for 22 TD’s.
*Larry Johnson is second in the league in rushing and rushing TD’s, with 1,789 yards and 17 TD’s. He also added 410 receiving yards and 2 receiving TD’s.

Now those three fantasy football studs are hiding in plain sight. Vick is out of jail and on the bench. TO is in Buffalo not doing a whole lot and Larry Johnson has been cut by the Chiefs for vomiting his thoughts on Twitter.

Many professional athletes and celebrities and people not famous have not yet evolved the filter between the brain and the fingertips. And it is not their fault. Evolution takes time and social networking is relatively new. The brain to mouth filter was not even fully evolved in many and now they are under stress to develop a second filter on the fly to protect themselves from their thoughts escaping through their fingertips to Twitter and the world. Maybe we should cut all these athletes who type stupid stuff a break because evolving that kind of ability will take generations.

Ups, Downs, and Laterals

Of course sports are cyclical and players begin to decline once they’ve reached a certain age, but TO, Vick, and Johnson seem to still have enough ability to offer a team something productive. Instead they are just being hidden in plain sight by their own specific circumstances.

While individual players find a way to hide in plain sight, it is very difficult for teams to hide team weaknesses. And at the half-way point of the NFL season, with the playoff picture forming, those weaknesses are apparent to everyone.

Three – maybe four – of the divisions are all but mathematically clinched. It would take a melt down of New York Mets proportion for the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, or Minnesota Vikings not to win their division.

The Colts and Saints both remain undefeated after getting challenged hard by the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. A missed FG by Kris Brown of the Texans prevented Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and DeMeco Ryans from taking a shot at Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and company in overtime. The Colts have played two tight games in a row.

The Panthers were marching, nearing FG range, down three with less than three minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Jake Delhomme fumbled and New Orleans recovered. Three and out for the Saints, followed by a DeAngelo Williams fumble returned for a TD by New Orleans on Carolina’s ensuing possession put the Saints up 10 with 2:00 to go and there’s your ball game.

The Vikings sat the week out on a bye and still gained ground in the division with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers losing. No word yet on any team boating excursions during the week off. Had there been some sort of team building exercise, I’m sure Twitter would have been a flutter. Maybe Brad Childress would have been in a drag. You never know.

The Saints have played three close games in a row which they won by one-possession scores. The Colts have played two close games in a row, winning the two by a combined seven points. The Vikings are a missed FG and a Brett Favre to Greg Lewis 32-yard TD with 0:00 on the clock away from being 5-3. There is no NFL team this season that is going to march over every opponent they play. Even the teams with the best records have won fugly a time or two and escaped with a win.

The New England Patriots not winning the AFC East would not be a Mets-type collapse, but probably more of a Minnesota Twins sneaking up on the Detroit Tigers sort of let down. It might be possible for them to get caught all season long, but nobody will believe it can happen. Tom Brady is connecting with Randy Moss like it is 2007 and they have a linebacker who is in his forties in Junior Seau.

The Show

Remember in Bull Durham when Crash Davis tells Ebby “Nuke” LaLoosh that he needs to get new shower shoes?

“You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

I think the same goes for bad mustaches and facial hair that looks more neglected than grown. At 6-0, it is something to joke about, but now with two Bronco losses in a row, it may be time for Kyle Orton to think classy. He’s had it off and on throughout his career, but it might be time go now.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting on top of the AFC North in a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals after beating the Denver Broncos on Monday night. The Bengals are coming off a win over the Baltimore Ravens. Cedric Benson rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season against the Ravens. Maybe that vaulted Ravens-Ray Lewis-D that earned Trent Dilfer a ring is finally showing its age. Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward hooked up for two TD’s last night in their win over the Broncos.

The Dallas Cowboys went to the Philadelphia Eagles and took away a big win that, coupled with the San Diego Chargers victory over the New York Giants, puts the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East.

Tony Romo has 9 TD’s and only 1 interception during his team’s four game winning streak. Miles Austin continues to be a big play guy, catching only one pass but for a 49 yard TD.

Philip Rivers took the Chargers down the field and threw a TD pass to Vincent Jackson with 0:21 on the clock to give San Diego a one point win. Eli Manning was 25-33 for 215 yards and 2 TD’s, but the Giants were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties which will stop any team from gaining momentum in any direction.

The bye week for the Giants this week is sorely needed. DeMarcus Ware is salivating at the opportunity to play the Green Bay Packers and their O-Line this week. And the Eagles have to fly all way across the country to San Diego, which, for the sake of the entire city of Philly, I hope goes better than their trip to Oakland did.

The New York Jets come off their bye for a Week 10 match up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Jets and Jags are both 4-4 with neither team having a realistic shot at winning their division, so this game is huge for both teams in the scope of Wild Card spots. Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL with 11 rushing TD’s.

Matt Cassel stuck it to all Dwayne Bowe fantasy owners by throwing 2 TD passes to Chris Chambers, who had been on the Chiefs for about eight seconds.

Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals went to Soldier Field and inspired the crowd to boo loudly the home team Chicago Bears. Tommie Harris went ahead with a punch to the face of a Cardinal O-lineman to get ejected four plays into the game. We like your enthusiasm there Tommy, we just need you to direct it in a more positive way. Warner and Jay Cutler both had big statistical games, but the Bears could not overcome 89 yards of penalties and or their inability to convert on third down.

The Packers were probably hurt most by their Week 9 performance, losing to first time starter rookie Josh Freeman and the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers was bludgeoned again and the defense did not do much in the way of stopping a bad offense. Two weeks ago Minnesota, at 6-1, was coming into Lambeau Field to play a 4-2 Packers team. A Packer win gives both teams two losses and sets up the Pack up to tie the division at Tampa Bay with Minnesota on a bye. Instead, the cheese falls to 4-4 in an ugly way. Three of their four wins are against one-win teams: Lions, Browns, Rams.

Speaking of the Lions, Browns, and Rams… the Browns and Rams were spared by being on a bye, but the Lions suffered another loss. So did the Washington Redskins.

Calvin Johnson returned to the line up for the Lions and they played the Seattle Seahawks tough, but could not find a way to win it, in part because rookie Matthew Stafford had five learning opportunities in which the ball went the other way on him. Matt Hasselbeck spread the ball around. Six Seahawks had five or more catches. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught his only TD pass.

The Atlanta Falcons beat the Redskins to move to 5-3 and put themselves in a nice position for a Wild Card birth. Michael Turner had a huge game, 166 yards and 2 TD’s and Matt Ryan hooked up with Tony Gonzalez for a TD. Clinton Portis left the game and with him took Washington’s only hope.

The Tennessee Titans won their second game in a row and handed the San Francisco 49ers their fourth loss in a row. Vince Young is 2-0 as a starter and Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing yards.
The Niners have lost their last three games by one possession scores. Next week Mike Singletary squares off against his old team, the Chicago Bears, in what will be a critical game for each team’s drive for the post-season.

To Week 10:

Thursday night games begin with the Bears and 49ers.
The Bengals and Steelers play to break the tie for the AFC North lead.
The Patriots go to Indy for an always fun game to watch.
And either the Chiefs or the Raiders will win because they play each other.

The New York Yankees 2009 World Series Championship is still only less than a week old and there is plenty of World Series gear here for you to commemorate #27.

The item of the week this week is some real NFL sideline apparel to help you get ready for cold weather.

NFL Week 7: A Review

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Another week is in the books as we rapidly approach the season’s halfway mark. Meanwhile, Michael Crabtree’s wondering where all the time went.
Let’s start with the shocker of the week…sorry Bears fans.
 

Chicago Bears v Cincinnati Bengals

Chicago Bears v. Cincinnati Bengals

I’ve been saying the Bears are overrated all along and the Bengals’ season start is no fluke but…WHOA! Before you could say “Al Afalava,” it was 31-0. Carson Palmer (Five TDs – four in the first half) played USC quarterback to the Bears’ directional school secondary all game. But (his words, not mine) Bears coach Lovie Smith claimed they, “gained some momentum with a field goal” to end the half. A 45-10 loss later, and Lovie was still waiting for old ‘mo to kick in. Speaking of “kicking in” – how about the CedBen show. Cedric Benson entered this game in hopes of demoralizing his former team. 37 carries and 189 yards sounds pretty demoralizing to me. Fortunately for Chicago’s defense, the offense was equally offensive. Matt Forte still can’t run. And Jay Cutler, fresh of a contract extension – how soon is too soon – threw three interceptions and was eventually removed from the game. Fortunately, maybe Chicago radio will get off the “Super Bowl-bound Bears” bandwagon. They may soon be hopping onto a different kind of wagon.

Let’s move on to the (pitifully) non-shockers of the week…

San Diego Chargers v. Kansas City Chiefs

Instead of talking about San Diego’s 37-7 laugher, let’s discuss what transpired following the game. Chiefs’ running back Larry Johnson, having managing a mere 49 yards on 16 carries against one of the league’s worst run defenses, was mad. So did he express his frustration to his teammates? No. Did he discuss his anger with his coaches? Nope. So he must have voiced his displeasure to the media following the game, right? Wrong again. Affectionately known as “Grandmama,” LJ went all new-technology on us and tweeted away. He threw repeated jabs at head coach Todd Hailey, saying he had no coaching credentials or, more eloquently, “Nuthn,” and used gay slurs on several occasions to boot. He should be safe though. No one pays any attention to Twitter .

Green Bay Packers v. Cleveland Browns and New York Jets v. Oakland Raiders

Why did I group these together? Do I really have to explain? The Packers and Jets beat the pathetic Browns and Raiders a combined 69-3. Aaron Rodgers (246 yards and three TDs) torched Cleveland’s secondary and Thomas Jones (121 yards and one TD) and Shonn Green (144 yards and two TDs after Leon Washington’s season-ending injury) ran around, over and through the Raiders. But I’d like to discuss the fates of two miserable quarterbacks. There are 32 NFL teams and 35 quarterbacks that qualify in the QB rating category. Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell and Cleveland’s Derek Anderson rank 34th and 35th, respectively. Seventeen other quarterbacks in the NFL have a higher rating than these two – combined! Anderson stole millions from his team after one, seemingly illogical, good season. Russell just simply stole millions from his team. And he doesn’t even seem to care how bad he is. But don’t expect any drastic changes in Oakland – not while Al Davis is still alive.

Indianapolis Colts v. St. Louis Rams

At least the Rams are trying. Unfortunately, when you face Peyton Manning, trying won’t cut it. Manning threw three more touchdowns (but snapped his consecutive 300-yards passing streak to begin a season – gasp!) as the Colts rolled 42-6. Manning leads the league in passer rating and surpassed another milestone – passing Warren Moon for fourth on the career completion list.

New England Patriots v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

God Save the Queen? More like God save the Buccaneers – who lost a home game 35-7 to New England…in England. Pats safety Brandon Meriweather returned Josh Johnson’s pass for six on the game’s fifth play and Tom Brady threw three touchdowns. New England has now won their last two games 94-7. Yes, that was against the winless Titans and still winless Bucs. But tell me you don’t fear Tom Brady right now…look me in the eyes…I thought so.

Carolina Panthers v. Buffalo Bills

Another installment of the NFL’s “pillow fight” featured Buffalo’s 20-9 victory over Carolina. Despite totaling just 167 yards Sunday, the Bills somehow won by double digits. How, you ask? Jake Delhomme’s league leading 11th, 12th and 13th interceptions didn’t hurt. Nor did a 4th quarter fumbled punt. Don’t worry Panthers fans; John Fox will “evaluate” the quarterback position this week. Wonder what his findings will determine. In related news, I have evaluated the TO experiment in Buffalo…and my findings are disturbing. Seven games, 18 catches, 242 yards, one touchdown – and seven drops. Not exactly Miles Austin-esque.
 
Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys v. Atlanta Falcons

Speaking of Miles Awesome…err…Austin, the former undrafted rookie from Monmouth didn’t match his 250 receiving yards in his starting debut, but I think another six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns will do. His rapidly developing chemistry with fellow undrafted rookie Tony Romo showed in their 37-21 statement victory over the Falcons. Much maligned for most of the season, the Cowboys are tied in the loss column with the once super-New York Giants. Following another turnover-free Romo day, the emergence of Austin and the return of a Cowboys pass rush, led by a very wealthy DeMarcus Ware, that sacked Matt Ryan four times (after only twice all season previously) – the Cowboys may have finally found their swagger.

Philadelphia Eagles v. Washington Redskins

First off, enough with the Sherman Lewis bingo jokes. Yes, the newly-appointed Redskins offensive coordinator was calling out numbers at a senior home last week. But that’s like making fun of you grandfather. Not cool. Nor is what Daniel Snyder has done with this team. Jim Zorn still can’t coach. Jason Campbell still can’t lead. And the Redskins still can’t do anything right– including snapping the ball to the quarterback without throwing it off their own behind. Meanwhile, despite only three touches, DeSean Jackson led Philly in both rushing and receiving thanks to a 67-yard TD run and 57-yard TD pass. But four Redskins turnovers only resulted in a 27-17 Eagles victory, so who knows how different they really are from the team that lost to Oakland. We’ll find out next week when they welcome Eli Manning and…

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants

New York Giants v. Arizona Cardinals

…the New York Giants. Dare I say I’ve been right about them all season? After questioning their 5-0 record thanks to a cupcake schedule, (a factor almost every “expert” seemed to overlook) the Giants have lost two straight – and looked bad. As a Cowboys fan, I don’t know if there is any expression I enjoy more then Eli Manning’s “Oops…I did it again” look. But even Eli made Britney look good after throwing three interceptions in a 24-17 defeat. Arizona’s defense is making as many plays as their offense and the Cardinals have finally shaken off that Super Bowl hangover.

And now a three-part story on the exciting games of week 7.

San Francisco 49ers v. Houston Texans

With a 21-0 halftime lead, Houston seemingly had this one wrapped up. Enter Alex Smith. The former no. 1 overall pick replaced Shaun Hill and came within a possession of leading what was once “his team”, before falling 24-21. An interception on their last drive’s fourth down shouldn’t overshadow Smith’s three TD passes – all to Vernon Davis. Did it just take him this long to “get it”? We’ll find out this week after Mike Singletary tabbed him as the team’s starter. I can’t forget to mention Crabtree’s debut. Five catches for 56 yards – for those of you scoring at home.

New Orleans Saints v. Miami Dolphins

It was the sexy upset pick of the week. And with a 24-3 second quarter Miami lead, it seemed like John Q. Public had dominated Vegas once again (not that I would condone such a thing – stay in school kids). But then Ted Ginn Jr. forgot how to catch and Drew Brees remembered how to throw, and the Saints scored 22 unanswered in the fourth quarter to win 46-34. New Orleans, now the lone unbeaten in the NFC, has proven it can score on anybody. Let’s just say they may find themselves back in Miami soon and it won’t – or shouldn’t – be on the links or at the salsa bar.

Minnesota Vikings v. Pittsburgh Steelers

For the sake of time – and the fact that I’m over 1500 words – let’s skip to the game’s final seven minutes. Down 13-10, Brett Favre held the ball loosely – like he always does – and Steelers’ Brett Keisel stripped Favre and watched as LaMarr Woodley, and his convoy of blockers, rumbled 77 yards for a score. Percy Harvin then took the following kickoff up the sideline and broke a menacing Jeff Reed tackle attempt, mind you, for a touchdown. Still down 20-17 in the final minutes, and fresh off Adrian Peterson trucking over William Gay – you have to see it – Favre threw a simple screen pass to Chester Taylor. But Taylor let the ball slip through his hands and fall into Keyaron Fox’s lap. Eighty-two yards the other way later and Pittsburgh had knocked Minnesota from the ranks of the unbeaten, 27-17.

Thus concludes another riveting, and yet depressing for many, NFL week. Until next time…

NFL Week 6: The Review

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

NFL week six is in the books. We’ve officially reached the point where teams are who we thought they were – or are.

So what do you say…let’s say we get this party started right…Raider-style.

Oakland Raiders v. Philadelphia Eagles

“We went out and threw a fight on somebody and said, ‘Enough. Let’s play,’” said Raider coach Tom Cable after the game. And if you’re headed into a fight, who better to lead you than Tom Cable? Allegedly. JaMarcus Russell set season highs for completions (17) and passing yards (224) as the Raiders somehow defeated the mighty McNabb’s 13-9. Reverting back to form of year’s past, Philadelphia ran the ball just 14 times. Eagles coach Andy Reid has an extra day this week to let his visible disgust subdue. Fortunately for Eagles fans, next stop is the nation’s capital.

Washington Redskins v. Kansas City Chiefs

In what may best be described as an “offensive pillow-fight,” the Chiefs recorded their first win of the season, beating a pathetic Redskins team 14-6. Don’t let the score fool you – there were no touchdowns in this one. Washington converted just 2-14 third down conversions and held the ball for 23 minutes. Jason Campbell was benched in the second half. Jim Zorn was stripped of his play-calling duties. And Dan Snyder paid one million dollars for an up-and-coming hot dog vendor. I’ll let you decide which of those are true and which is false. Congratulations, Ryan Succop. The Chiefs kicker – and NFL Draft 2009 “Mr. Irrelevant” – went 4/4 and was apparently the only player who didn’t “Suck-op.”

Tennessee Titans v. New England Patriots

Speaking of sucking…have you seen the Titans? I know they’ve been hit hard by injuries…but 59-0? They gave up five touchdowns…in the SECOND QUARTER! Jeff Fisher should have walked off the field at halftime and never come back: “Okay guys…I’ve had enough. But keep at it…see you tomorrow.” Alas, he stayed – long enough to watch Brian Hoyer sneak in for the Patriots eighth touchdown of the day. Warren Moon – at the ripe old age of 52 – would have looked better in those Oiler jerseys then the Kerry Collins/Vince Young duo. Two completions…negative seven yards. That’s not a misprint. Oh…and Tom Brady threw for 380 yards and six touchdowns.

Houston Texans v. Cincinnati Bengals

Trivia time: Who leads the NFL in passing touchdowns?

It’s not Drew Brees. And it ain’t Peyton Manning. The answer is Matt Schaub. The Texans rode Schaub’s arm and a stout defensive front to a 28-17 victory. After a run of exciting finishes, the Bengals and NFL rushing leader Cedric Benson (another great trivia question) were held to just 46 yards on the ground. Making matters worse, Cincinnati also lost NFL sack leader, Antwan Odom, (yet another amazing trivia question) for the season. Time will tell if the Bengals can regroup and challenge for the division – or if it’s time to kiss the baby.

New York Giants v. New Orleans Saints

From a baby to a grown man – Eli Manning spent many a football Sunday at the Superdome – but never as a player. And he might want to keep it that way. In Manning’s hometown return, the other quarterback, Drew Brees, spoiled the party. Brees (369 yards and four touchdowns) and the Saints offense scored at will against what many considered the league’s no. 1 defense, winning 48-27. New York gave up 34 first-half points – matching the total they had given up in the first half of their first five games combined. The previously undefeated Giants benefited from a relatively soft schedule, and while they are still among the NFC’s upper echelon, don’t be surprised if they start to falter.

Minnesota Vikings v. Baltimore Ravens

Here’s your Brett Favre alert. The Vikings quarterback hit Sidney Rice on a 58-yard bomb on their final possession to set up Ryan Longwell‘s game-winning field goal. But don’t forget the Ravens came right back and positioned themselves for a 44-yard field goal – until Steven Hauschka missed it. Or the fact that they allowed Baltimore and Ray Rice to score 21 points in the fourth quarter, turning a blowout into a ballgame. The Vikings are 6-0. They’ve got the best rusher in the league, Adrian Peterson, and the best pass rusher in the league, Jared Allen, but they could very easily be 4-2. Looking forward to seeing how this – and by this, I mean Brett Favre – plays out.

Pittsburgh Steelers v. Cleveland Browns

When discussing the bottom-feeders of the NFL, let’s not sleep on the Cleveland Browns. Now 1-5, after a 27-14 defeat to the Steelers, the Browns remain incapable of doing anything right. Derek Anderson played like a Pro Bowler compared to last week, completing a whopping nine passes for 122 yards. He was just slightly overshadowed by Ben Roethlisberger’s 417 passing yards. I would like to personally apologize to Josh Cribbs. He deserves better. After returning a 98-yard kickoff to the house and rushing for 45 yards some team has to get him out of Cleveland – don’t they? And the Browns aren’t willing to pay the man! Pay the man his money! Unbelievable! I don’t know who I feel worse for – Cribbs or Cleveland fans?

Carolina Panthers v. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In the latest installment of “games you shouldn’t subject yourself to” comes Carolina’s 28-21 victory against the still-winless Yuccaneers. They’re baaack! They even get to wear their retro orange jerseys this season. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 362 yards rushing and three touchdowns, overcoming Jake Delhomme’s two interceptions and 65 yards through the air. There’s not much else to say about a game like this. It’s too bad somebody has to win.

St. Louis Rams v. Jacksonville Jaguars

Another winless team? Really? A week in which Maurice Jones-Drew publicly called out his coaching staff, the Jaguars rode their little bowling ball to a 23-20 overtime victory. Jones-Drew ran for 133 yards and three scores. Now, 0-6, the Rams have lost 16 straight games dating back to last season. And there really isn’t cause for hope. Fortunately, Sam Bradford is healthy and ready to turn one lucky team around…

Green Bay Packers v. Detroit Lions

How did the Packers manage two bye weeks in a row? Oh…right…they played the Lions. Take a bad team like Detroit, sit their best player, Calvin Johnson, and their starting quarterback, Matthew Stafford, and what do you have? A team incapable of scoring. Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton threw three more interceptions than touchdowns (zero) and Aaron Rodgers excelled at leading his team into the red zone – and letting Mason Crosby kick field goals – as the Packers won 26-0. In more cheerful news, Donald Driver passed Sterling Sharpe for first place on Green Bay’s all-time receptions list. And, no, Brett Favre did not come through the tunnel to carry him across the field.

Arizona Cardinals v. Seattle Seahawks

Matt Hasselbeck’s health was widely considered the Seahawks measuring stick for success. That is until Kurt Warner and the Cardinals debunked that theory. Warner threw for nearly 300 yards, tying Dan Marino’s record as the fastest to 30,000 career passing yards, and Arizona won 27-3. Adding injury to insult – Seattle lost Pro Bowl lineback Lofa Tatupu for the season. Adding insult to injury – it’s raining in Seattle right now.

Buffalo Bills v. New York Jets

Just when you thought we were done with terrible teams…”it” won! Buffalo allowed over 300 rushing yards and still managed a 16-13 victory in overtime. I’m assuming Mark Sanchez’s five interceptions didn’t help. Maybe it’s time to hold off on the photo shoots? Following a 3-0 start this season, Jets coach Rex Ryan finds his team at .500. Over/Under on swear word usage in the locker room this week? 362. Meanwhile, despite losing Trent Edwards, replacing him with Harvard great Ryan Fitzpatrick and Terrell Owens remaining as existent as Dick Jauron’s head coaching job after the season, the Bills are somehow two games out of first place.

Chicago Bears v. Atlanta Falcons

Sunday night featured two potential NFC sleepers. But penalties and turnovers doomed Chicago from the start – and ultimately, their final drive –in a 21-14 losing effort. Jay Cutler, who, at the moment, cannot be considered the best quarterback in his own trade, threw another red zone interception, Matt Forte fumbled on the goal line and the offense committed three penalties on the game’s final drive. Whether it’s been the porous offensive line or the adjustment to a new quarterback, Forte is in the midst of a sophomore slump of epic proportions. And who knows if he’ll ever climb out. On the subject of sophomores, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan continues his impressive play and has his team just a game behind the marching Saints.

San Diego Chargers v. Denver Broncos

This was to be the game when the undefeated Broncos faced reality. In their previous meeting with San Diego, they were demoralized 52-21. They couldn’t win another big game – especially on the road. But the Broncos stomped all over those sentiments about as fast as you can say “Eddie Royal.” The second-year receiver returned a 93-yard kickoff and 71-yard punt return for scores. The 5’10 Royal pumped those legs so fast his Bronco throwback jersey was almost tolerable – almost. The Chargers’ Darren Sproles returned the favor with a punt return touchdown, but it wasn’t enough. The Broncos defense has turned back the clock, going all-Tom Jackson on opponents – having allowed just 10 points in the second half this season – and Kyle Orton keeps winning. Go figure. Kudos to Josh McDaniels and defensive coordinator – and San Francisco 49ers vagabond – Mike Nolan. Apparently they didn’t get the message this team should finish with double-digit losses.

How can you not love the NFL? Unless you’re a fan of the Titans, Redskins, Rams, Rai…Scratch that. There are probably a lot of NFL-haters right now. Until week seven…

Big Weekend

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Big weekend in sports coming up. NLCS, ALCS, NFL, College Football, BCS implications, Rivalries, Cross-town Rival High School Games (somewhere probably), tailgating, etc. Lot of action. Lot. Of. Action.

The NLCS kicked off last night with a Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers out-hit the Phillies 14-8, but left 10 men on base, compared to Philly’s 5. Andre Either and Matt Kemp combined to go 5-10 but only managed to score once between them.

Clayton Kershaw, 21, took the loss and Cole Hamels got the win, though he didn’t pitch much better than his counterpart. James Loney and Manny Ramirez each homered off him before he was pulled after five and a third.

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez each homered for Philly and Ryan Howard drove in two runs. Brad Lidge came in to get the save, but not before walking one and giving up a hit.

Russell Martin and Shane Victorino jawed back and forth all game long. It is always fun when the series gets heated in the first inning of Game 1.

Game 2 this afternoon will see Pedro Martinez face off against Vincente Padilla in a 100% unpredictable match-up. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth will each be trying for their first hit of the NLCS.

Things I didn’t know before either today or last night:

Chan Ho Park can still throw 96.

The only guy in the Phillies starting line-up under the age of 30 is Victorino (except Ryan Howard, who will be 30 on November 19th). The Flyin’ Hawaiian will turn 29 in November.

If you throw the ball into the dugout on a double play try and can’t get out of the inning, Manny Ramirez will hit a home run and make you feel bad about it.

Jim Thome does a fist-pump-whoop combo when Manny homers.

Randy Wolf should wear his cleats at all-times because he just might pinch run. That’s how slow Jim Thome is. Do you think Thome even brings a baseball glove to the game?

Game 1 of the ALCS is tonight. I’m saying Angels in 7 over the New York Yankees. John Lackey versus CC Sabathia. Do you remember Sabathia down the stretch last year for the Milwaulee Brewers? Silly.

Torii Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Kendry Morales, and Bobby Abreu will bring some power into Yankee Stadium’s launching pad that may be tempered by some not ideal weather. Derek Jeter is used to it, Mr. November has been in cold weather playoff games enough in his career. Mark Teixeira a big strong dude, but it just seems to me that he is not going to be a big fan of cold weather. I have a feeling about this.

The biggest question concerning the weather though is will Alex Rodriguez’s lady friend be sitting in the front row if it is cold, rainy, and windy? This is a commitment testing event for their relationship. The many cuts to her cheering probably make Chris Robinson (her ex-husband) Jealous Again.

Did you know Kate Hudson’s dad, Kurt Russell, was a pretty good minor league baseball player before blowing apart his shoulder and returning to his acting career?

So that’s baseball. It’s also a huge weekend in the NFL.

Spotlight on New Orleans where the undefeated Saints play the undefeated New York Giants. It bothers me when radio and TV people say it’s going to be Drew Brees versus Eli Manning. It’s not. Brees and Manning will never be on the field at the same time until they do a man hug at the end of the game.

It is going to be Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, and the rest of the New Orleans offense against Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and the rest of the Giants defense.

And then it will be Manning, Steve Smith, Brandon Jacobs and the rest of the Giant offense against Darren Sharper, Charles Grant, Jonathan Casillas (yes, Casillas, I’m a homer, a little love to the Wisconsin Badgers) and the rest of the Saints defense.

The Vikings put their undefeated record on the line when they host the recently fined Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco is a guy I like quite a bit, and a guy I like to call Joey Delaware but I will not wince when Jared Allen cattle ropes him. If Cedric Benson can rush for 100+ yards on Baltimore then Adrian Peterson can rush for that plus a bunch more. Hopefully for Minnesota Brett Favre will be doing his post-handoff jump throw fake thing a lot while Peterson is breaking tackles.

The Chicago Bears go to Atlanta to play the Falcons. Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Michael Turner set the San Francisco 49er defense on fire last week. The Bears will want to see Jay Cutler find Devin Hester for some TD’s early so they can just run, run, run with Matt Forte.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns in what should be a close game for at least the first five minutes.

Speaking of the Steelers, check out the ESPN commercial with Snoop Dogg in the Reebok Ascent 2009 Sideline Drift Full Zip Fleece Hooded Jacket. Start looking for these and other Drift items on all NFL sidelines.

In the college game this weekend USC travels to South Bend to play Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley are another QB vs QB favorite match-up for the guys in the studios. So is Sam Bradford vs Colt McCoy when the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns go at in the Red River Rivalry. Those two teams love each other.

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide play the Ol’ Ball Coach and the South Carolina Gamecocks. My favorite college football player this season is Tide RB Mark Ingram.

Boise State already narrowly survived Tulsa and Cincinnati took care of South Florida to keep the hopes of BCS haters alive that someone outside of the Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC, Big 12, or ACC will make a run at the Championship Game.

Tim Tebow is probably receiving accolades somewhere, too.

It is a big weekend for sports. October is a terrible month for marriages and TV remote control control. This is my first October as a married guy. I think it will be important to set a precedent for future years that the MLB playoffs and the NFL and big college football games will be watched. So when I lose this battle, somebody please be prepared to link me to some highlights and provide detailed and accurate recaps.

In a Quarterback’s League, Do You Know Who’s Taking Your Snaps?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Here’s a post from one of our new copywriters. I’ve been promoted to President of Overseas Operations or (POO) as I now force my underlings to refer to me. This is Brent Widmark, and he’ll be thrilling you week in and week out with tales of Norse Heroes. Enjoy…

NFL teams cannot be in a “must win” situation in week 3, can they? Well, yes, they can. Only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after starting the season 0-3, the most recent being the 1998 Buffalo Bills, led by Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Doug Flutie in the twilight of their careers. In the AFC, after week two the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Jacksonville Jaguars all found themselves looking down the barrel of an 0-3 season. In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, and Detroit Lions were trying to replace the donut in their win column. The only two teams of these nine two scrape out a win were the Jaguars and the Lions, who ended a 19 game losing streak. Somewhere Matt Millen is breathing a sigh of relief and hoping he’ll never have to answer another question regarding his credibility as an ESPN analyst after being the architect of Detroit’s flawless 0-16 season in 2008.

Quarterback problems are a common link between teams who are still searching for their first win. Chad Pennington may be lost for the season for the Miami Dolphins. Jake Delhomme is frustrating Steve Smith fantasy owners. And the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas Chiefs are looking for stability at the QB spot. The Chiefs have the best chance at finding that as Matt Cassel continues to bounce back from injury. Also injured last week for the Chiefs was WR Dwayne Bowe. As Al Michaels would say, he had a hamstring. Brand new Chief Bobby Wade could be a sleeper fantasy WR option if Bowe’s hamstring doesn’t mend.

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks

The NFL is a quarterback league. Top quarterbacks can take a team up a level by themselves. That is why the Chicago Bears were aggressive in trading for Jay Cutler. If the NFL is a quarterback league, then the NFL media is a “What did you do last week?” entity. In Chicago, after a week of Cutler bashing on the radio after his week 1 four-interception-performance against the Green Bay Packers, it’s been nothing but praise as the Bears have beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks to go 2-1. Quarterbacks like Cutler, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger prove to be invaluable every season.

Last season Pennington led the NFL in completion percentage at 67.4 percent. His injury is not great news for wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr, who needs the most accurate passer he can find. If he catches the touchdown pass that went in and out of his hands near the end of the week two against the Indianapolis Colts, the Dolphins may very well be sitting at 1-2 and still dreaming of being the 11-5 team they were in 2008 and not the 1-15 team they were in 2007. The Miami Dolphins will turn to former University of Michigan QB Chad Henne. Also lingering on the depth chart is rookie, Wildcat specialist and former West Virginia Mountaineer QB Pat White.

When the Dolphins drafted Ted Ginn, Jr in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft, fans, commentators, sports writers, hot dog vendors, and Brady Quinn were shocked that the team did not draft Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. Quinn sat in the green room at the draft and sheepishly watched himself slip through the top 20 before being selected by the Cleveland Browns at number 22 overall. The Browns are now 0-3 and have thrown six interceptions on the season, the second most in the NFL, three by Quinn and three by his backup/quarterback controversy counterpart Derek Anderson.

If the Browns need to seek inspiration for turning their season around, they need only to look a little north to… Detroit? Yep, to the now 1-2 Detroit Lions. Before he was drafted number one overall, former Georgia Bulldog, Matthew Stafford publically welcomed the challenge of trying to turn the Detroit Lions around. He beat out Daunte Culpepper in training camp to earn the starting quarterback spot and the privilege of chucking it up to phenom WR Calvin Johnson. Stafford led them to a win over the Washington Redskins in week 3, their first win since December 23, 2007. After throwing five picks in the first two games, Stafford threw zero on Sunday and connected with Bryant Johnson for his second touchdown of the year. The Lions will now hope that RB Kevin Smith’s shoulder injury is nothing serious as they try to double their win total from the last 22 months next week against division rival Chicago Bears.

After losing to the Detroit Lions last week and barely squeaking out a 9-7 win against the winless St. Louis Rams in week two, the chair under Washington Redskin coach Jim Zorn may be beginning to feel a little warm. No costume Clinton Portis can conjure can hide the way the ‘Skins have played this year, but reason to celebrate is right around the corner as the next three opponents for Jason Campbell, LaRon Landry and company are a combine 0-9 right now. A 4-2 start to the season is Washington’s for the taking.

The only other 0-2 team, besides the Lions, to win in week 3 was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who got 119 yards and 3 TD’s from RB Maurice Jones-Drew. No coach looks better on the sidelines than Jack Del Rio and few coaches walked off the field happier than he did on Sunday. The Jags and QB David Garrard will face two 0-3 teams in the next three weeks and should have a good chance at finding themselves with a .500 record or better after week six. A Jags win may have helped Florida Gator fans forget Tim Tebow’s exit from Saturday’s game. Actually, no. The flags in Florida are still at half-mast and counselors are available on the University of Florida campus to help students cope with the fact that Tebow may miss the Gator’s next game in two weeks.

It’s a QB league and the New York Jets look like they have found a franchise QB in former USC Trojan Mark Sanchez. Sanchez comes from a brotherhood of USC QB’s that includes Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinal Matt Leinart, Kansas City Chief Matt Cassel, and John David Booty, who was bumped to the Minnesota Viking practice squad when Brett Favre unretired, swooped in and stole his roster spot and his number. Sanchez and Head Coach Rex Ryan, son of famed defensive wizard Buddy Ryan, have the J-E-T-S off to an undefeated first three weeks of the year after knocking off the Houston Texans on the road and the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans at home.

For several reasons, Sean Salisbury is not mentioned in the above list of former USC QB’s. No, there will not be a picture.

And speaking of 4, as we call him where I am from, Brett Favre version 2009 was Brett Favre version 1997 for at least one play on Sunday, throwing a 32 yard TD pass with two seconds left in the game to beat the San Francisco 49ers. On the receiving end was former Philadelphia Eagle WR Greg Lewis, who was signed by the Minnesota Vikings just before the season began. The Vikings remain undefeated, helped by a Frank Gore sprained ankle early in the game. Rookie, and former Alabama Crimson Tide RB, Glen Coffee took Gore’s place and rushed for 54 yards on 25 carries against the stout Minnesota Viking defensive line led by Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Jared Allen. The Vikings will try to improve to “Favre and O” against the Packers on Monday night. Favre might look across the way at Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and wish he was back in Green Bay. Or he might turn around and see Adrian Peterson and feel really good about being old in Minnesota, in the dome, where it is warm in December.

Joining the Jets and Vikings in the ranks of the undefeated are the New York Giants and Eli Manning, the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, the Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco, the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, and Denver Broncos and John Elway… err Bubby Brister? Nope. Kyle Orton is 3-0, Denver!

Looking to week four, New York Jets shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis has a huge challenge in front of him as he goes against Drew Brees’ high flying New Orleans Saints offense. Isaac Bruce will face his former team when the Rams and 49ers square off. Terrell Owens will try to start a new streak of consecutive games with a catch when Buffalo goes to Miami. TO’s record setting streak of 185 consecutive games with a catch was snapped on Sunday. Brett Favre will square off against the Green Bay Packers for the first time since leaving the team for retirement, before coming back and signing with the Jets, retiring, and then coming back again this year with the Vikings. Hopefully for the Vikings his muscle memory does not kick in when he sees a wide open green and gold clad Nick Barnett. That game is on Monday night and is expect to attract an enormous audience. If the Vikings lose, nobody in Minnesota or Wisconsin will be happy on Tuesday. I wonder what kind of questions the media will serve up to Aaron Rodgers all week…

In fantasy leagues, if you own Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Brian Westbrook, or Donovan McNabb, you’ll want to sit them this week. Their teams have the first bye week of the season.

Item of the week is this classic top seller. Support your alma mater, your favorite NFL player’s former stomping grounds, or just get a great looking long sleeve tee for the fall.