Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 7

Week 7 has come and gone. With it, a lot of QB questions are starting to arise. Carson Palmer rushed into action way too early, Tim Tebow was awful for three quarters but somehow changed water to wine and Christian Ponder looks like he is ready to lead the ship in Vikingsland.


DeMarco Murray, RB Dallas: The rookie ran for a Cowboys franchise-record 253 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown that's the second-longest in team history. Murray's performance is the 9th best in NFL history.

Drew Brees, QB New Orleans: Redemption. A week after having one of the worst performances of his career, Brees completed 31 of 35 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns as the Saints set a franchise record for points and victory margin in a 62-7 spanking of the Manning-less Colts.

Cam Newton, QB Carolina: Newton passed for 256 yards and rushed for another 59 yards. He ran for his 7th touchdown of the season on a 16-yard keeper tying a record for most rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback since the NFL merger.

Matt Forte, RB Chicago: Forte ran for 145 yards and one touchdown. Looks like Chicago needs to pony up some cash to get his contract extended.

Plaxico Burress, WR NY Jets: Burress only had four catches for 25 yards, but three went for scores leading the Jets to a come from behind win over San Diego.

Arian Foster, RB Houston: Foster ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and added 119 more receiving with a 78-yard score.

Jacksonville Defense: Jacksonville didn't allow a first down until the 5:26 mark of the third quarter and held the Ravens offense to only 146 yards.


Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee: I gave Johnson the week off last week from this list, but he earned his way back with a pathetic 18 yards on 10 carries. He has only been able to muster 268 yards on 93 carries for an abysmal 2.9 yards per carry. Johnson is now the 32nd leading rusher in the league and just for giggles DeMarco Murray almost outrushed his season total on Sunday alone. How much is he being paid again?

Miami Dolphins: The Broncos scored two touchdowns in the final 2:44 of the fourth quarter to force overtime, and a Matt Prater 52-yard field goal allowed the 'fins to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And, to make matters worse, they have allowed the nation to drink the Tim Tebow kool-aid.

Baltimore Ravens offense: They made the Jags defense look like the '85 Bears. Simply awful.

Oakland Raiders QBs: Kyle Boller tossed three picks in the first half and Carson Palmer came in to match that with three interceptions himself. At least JaMarcus Russell didn't get picked off on Sunday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 6

There is only one undefeated team left in the NFL as Green Bay goes to 6-0. And, their head coach Mike McCarthy says they can be better. Scary thought!


Naaman Roosevelt, WR Buffalo: Experts said he was too slow to make it in the NFL and his battle has been uphill trying to earn a spot on the Bills. On Sunday, the local product catch a short pass and burned the Giants defense for a 60 yard touchdown, hopefully the first of many for Naaman.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NY Giants: The workhorse for the G-Men ran for 104 yards and a career high three scores to lead the slumping Giants to a much needed win.

Michael Turner, RB Atlanta: Turner ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns, coming back to defeat the Panthers.

Devin Hester, WR/KR Chicago: The most interesting guy to watch in the NFL. Hester snagged a 48-yard touchdown catch then scored on a career-best 98-yard kickoff return. Hester is the best kick returner in NFL history. Period.

Josh Freeman, QB Tampa Bay: The much underrated Freeman threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns leading the Bucs to an impressive win over division rival New Orleans.

Oakland Raiders Special Teams: On the day they paid tribute to AL Davis, the Raiders and special teams coach John Fassel pulled a few rabbits out of their hats with a 101 yard kick return by Jacoby Ford and a fake field goal as punter/holder Shane Lechler threw to a wide-open Kevin Boss for another score.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Buffalo: Fitz who has been a major part of the Bills resurgence this year under threw Stevie Johnson twice on the same exact play and was picked off both times, the last when Buffalo could have gone in for the game winning score.

Minnesota Vikings WR: Yes, Donovan McNabb has struggled this season, but his wide outs are not helping by continually dropping passes that hit them in their hands. The Vikings WR have had the worst case of the drops all season. Maybe they will learn how to catch now that it looks like Christian Ponder will soon take over.

Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator Dallas: The Ryan brothers presentations have really become tiresome. Rex continues to boast about his under performing team, but he was outshadowed by his brother Rob boasting about how he has Tom Brady's number because his Browns defense held him in check last year. On Sunday, Ryan's D was shredded on the final drive basically letting Brady do whatever he wanted as the Pats left with a win. So much for having his number Rob.

Drew Brees, QB New Orleans: It pains me to do this because he is such a nice dude, but his three picks against the Bucs with the last in the end zone with the game on the line is just not like him.

Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz, head coach San Francisco and Detroit: With all the great action from Sunday, we are seriously focused on the ridiculous hand shake flap? Both guys need to have thicker skin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sports Shorts October 14

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to World B. Free?

* If the NBA cancels games and nobody cares what does either side need to do to make themselves relevant? The first two weeks of the season have already been bagged with more likely to come. Unlike the NFL work stoppage, it doesn't seem anyone is really concerned about not having the league around. If I was David Stern, that would be my biggest concern. Hopefully, both sides will learn that with the struggling economy, very few will feel bad that these guys are missing paychecks.

* Theo Epstein is now the GM of the Chicago Cubs. If he can do half of what he did in Boston, will he go down as the greatest baseball executive in history? Epstein, who became GM of the Red Sox at 28, built a team that brought Boston not one, but two World Series championships after 86 years of disappointment. The Cubs history is so much worse and a much harder fix. Many bright minds have failed to deliver at Wrigley so it will be interesting to see if lightning can strike twice for Epstein. It will be even more interesting to watch how patient Cubs fans will be for Epstein to work his magic.

* In the last two years, the Rochester Knighthawks have traded away their biggest stars with the final one, Shawn Williams, heading to Edmonton this week. This comes after shipping John Grant, Jr. to Colorado prior to last season, Scott Evans to Edmonton early last season, and Shawn Evans to Calgary last month. These four were the cornerstone of the Khawks franchise for a decade winning the 2007 NLL title, but GM Curt Styres is looking to get younger and faster. While the trades may not be popular with longtime fans, these moves are meant to build the foundation for the next decade. Styres, the reigning executive of the year, has brought in two-time Defensive Player of Year Ryan Cousins, young up and comer Alex Kedoh Hill and the guy many believe will be the next indoor superstar in Johnny Powless among others. Fans will miss their heroes of the past, but Jamieson, Powless, Vitarelli, Vinc, etc are ready for the next step.

* Yet another sign college football is out of control is both Boise State and Air Force are being sought by the Big East. Both teams play two time zones away. I don't recall my geography classes in college mentioning the Rockies being anywhere near the East Coast. While getting into a BCS conference is huge for Air Force, Boise State can do much better. The Big East with the loss of Syracuse, Pitt and the defection of TCU before they even got there, clearly makes the league a basketball conference instead of a football heavyweight. Boise State would be better off working to rehabilitate the Big XII rather than hope the Big East will get them what they need.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 5

How 'bout them Lions? 5-0 for the first time since 1956! Add to that the Bills and 49ers are both 4-1, the little brothers are the darlings of the NFL midway through October. And, Tim Tebow is now a starting QB in the league, this is just a strange season.


Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo: Jackson had 196 all-purpose yards and a touchdown to lead the Bills past the alleged Dream Team.

George Wilson, DB Buffalo and Nick Barnett, LB Buffalo: The Senator gave Michael Vick fits all day finishing with 11 tackles, three pass defended and an interception. Barnett picked off Vick twice with one going for a touchdown and the other stalling what may have been a game tying drive by the Eagles.

Oakland Raiders: A day after the owner and face of their franchise, Al Davis, passed away, the silver and black's Michael Huff intercepted Matt Schaub in the end zone to preserve the victory. In true Raider fashion, they "Just won, baby."

Matt Cassel, QB Kansas City: Cassel threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns, as Kansas City scored the final 21 points to pull out a 28-24 victory over the winless Colts.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings held a big lead! Adrian Peterson rushed 29 times for 122 yards with three first quarter touchdowns and Donovan McNabb ran in another score as the Vikings made it 28-0 in the first quarter. For the first time this season, Minny did not blow a huge lead and remembered they had the best RB in the NFL.

Brandon Browner, DB Seattle: The former CFLer returned an interception 94 yards when it looked like the Giants were going in for the game winning score with just over a minute to play as the Seahawks won 36-25.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh: Big Ben tied a team record with five touchdown passes despite playing on an injured left foot. The five touchdown passes tied a single-game team record Roethlisberger already shares with Mark Malone and Terry Bradshaw.

Jahvid Best, RB Detroit: Best carried the ball 12 times for 163 yards including an 88 yard score, the second longest in Lions history beating division rival Chicago on Monday Night Football.


Chicago offensive line: The Bears line committed numerous false starts and nearly send Jay Cutler home on a stretcher. Cutler was sacked three times, but was running for his life all night.

Mark Sanchez, QB New York Jets: Playing against the worst rated defense in the NFL, Sanchez could only muster 166 yards and just 225 yards of total offense in a critical division matchup vs. New England.

Kyle Orton, QB Denver: Orton was awful in the first half. He completed just six of 13 passes for 34 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. With that performance, Orton has ushered in the Tebow era in Denver.

Michael Vick, QB Philadelphia: While Vick did pass for 315 yards and rushed for another 90, his career-high tying four interceptions sparked an opportunistic Bills defense as Philly falls to 1-4 overall.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

NFL Quarter Report

The first quarter of the 2011 NFL season is in the books. The Bills and 49ers are off to a surprising starts while the Packers and Lions are the only 4-0 teams. We have also seen some crazy passing and receiving numbers. With that, lets hand out some first quarter awards. Some were easy picks, others were more difficult.

First Quarter Offensive Rookie: QB Cam Newton, Carolina. The #1 overall pick is completing almost 60% of his passes and averaging 346 yards passing per game with limited talent around him. He has basically rejuvenated the career of WR Steve Smith.

Honorable Mention: QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, and WR Julio Jones, Atlanta.

First Quarter Defensive Rookie: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Washington. Kerrigan has been impressive for a Washington team that is exceeding expectations. He has 2.5 sacks, four pass defenses, an interception returned for a score and two forced fumbles.

Honorable Mention: LB Von Miller, Denver and LB Mason Foster, Tampa Bay.

First Quarter Coach: Chan Gailey, Buffalo. After the preseason, many experts thought the Bills were all-in for the Andrew Luck-athon. Gailey is using a roster of undrafted free agents and low round picks to be the pleasant surprise of the early season. No one expected the Bills to be a confident 3-1 team at this point.

Honorable Mention: Jim Schwartz, Detroit and Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco.

First Quarter Disappointing Team: Philadelphia Eagles. Taking a page out of Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s playbook, the Eagles won the off-season with many big name free agent signings including one to dub the Eagles the “Dream Team.” Philly has been more of a nightmare and are barely looking like a .500 team, much less a Super Bowl contender.

Dishonorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers.

First Quarter Surprise Team: Buffalo Bills. Although they were upended by Cincinnati this week, Buffalo was thought to be the worst team in the NFL heading into the season, not the leaders of the tough AFC East after four weeks. The test for the Bills will be in these next four games as they play Philadelphia, New York Giants, Washington and the New York Jets.

Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers.

First Quarter Disappointing Player: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee. You would think with the Titans off to an impressive 3-1 start that the alleged best player in the NFL would be a major part of the success. After pouting all training camp, claiming he should get quarterback money which he eventually got, he has not at all lived up to the paycheck he now cashes. Johnson currently sits 24th in the NFL in rushing with only 199 yards in four games for a pathetic 2.9 average per carry.

Dishonorable Mention: QB Kerry Collins, Indianapolis and WR Chad Ochocinco, New England.

First Quarter Defensive MVP: CB Ed Reed, Baltimore. This was a tough one, but Reed has been impressive as the Ravens defense has looked like the vintage Ravens of the early 2000’s. Reed has six passes defended, two picks, a forced fumble, a sack to go along with 17 tackles and is consistently making offenses rethink their game plan.

Honorable Mention: LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore and DE Jared Allen, Minnesota.

First Quarter Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay. This may have been the easiest award to hand out. Rodgers is completing a ridiculous 73% of his passes while being 4th in yards, 2nd in touchdown passes leading the top offense in the NFL.

Honorable Mention: WR Wes Welker, New England and QB Drew Brees.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 4

The NFL is finished with their first quarter (Quarter Report coming later this week) and only the Packers and Lions remain undefeated. Lot of crazy things happened yesterday, both good and bad so lets hand out some game balls and penalty flags.


Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: What he did yesterday was just ridiculous! Rodgers threw for a career high 408 yards to go with a career high tying four TD passes and ran for another 36 yards scoring two more TDs. Just downright impressive.

Mike Martz, Bears Offensive Coordinator: Martz has never liked his teams to run the ball and his pass happy philosophy has cost him many games so when he allowed his offense to actually run the ball leading to a win, we have to recognize that. Plus, Chicago averaged 7.2 yards per carry with Matt Forte taking the majority of the load with 205 yards on 25 carries.

Arian Foster, Houston: Battling injuries the first few weeks, Foster ran for 155 yards and the go-ahead TD. Looks like the defending rushing champ is fully healthy.

Ravens Defense: Baltimore's three touchdowns on defense were the most in franchise history. Jameel McClain took a fumble six yards for a score on New York's first offensive play when Ed Reed sacked Mark Sanchez forcing him to fumble, Jarret Johnson scored on a 26-yard fumble return and Lardarius Webb put the Ravens up 34-17 in the third quarter by taking an interception 73 yards into the end zone.

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers Head Coach: Harbaugh is working his magic in the NFL now. The team worked out all week in Youngstown, OH instead of going back to the West Coast prior to the Philly game. The Niners overcame a 20 point deficit to upend the self-proclaimed "Dream Team." Harbaugh's crew is 3-1.


Steelers Defense: The once proud Steel Curtain is showing its age and lack of quickness. They have only one takeaway this season. At 2-2 with many injuries, Pittsburgh is reeling.

Rob Ryan, Cowboys Defense Coordinator: He declared earlier this week that his defense did not need to double team Lions WR Calvin Johnson. Even on a play where the Cowboys defense had 12 men on the field, they chose single coverage on Johnson as he and QB Matt Stafford toasted them. It may be time to stop talking a good game and designing one for your defense.

Tony Romo, Cowboys QB: Being the new Brett Favre is not really something to be proud of. Romo sprayed the ball all over the field tossing three INTs with two being returned for scores while blowing a 14 point fourth quarter lead.