Football News

Just How Far Would You Go?

Published: January 5, 2018

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When you think of sports fans, especially NFL fans, you know they will go quite the mile to support their team. Heck, take a look at how many fans sit out in the freezing cold temperatures just to watch their favorite star quarterback throw the winning touchdown pass. It is no surprise that many people […]

Sorry Rex, But It Isn’t Happening

Published: January 9, 2010

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Jets head coach Rex Ryan proclaimed his team as a Super Bowl favorite a couple of days ago when assessing how his football team would fare in the playoffs.

This is the same guy who thought his team had no shot of making the playoffs after a frustrating home loss to the Falcons. He said nothing for the last couple of weeks of the regular season.

It took the playoffs for the bombastic head coach to finally get back to do what he does best.

Joe Namath begged to differ with Ryan on how this team would do.

Ryan is not wrong for believing in his team, which has the talent to make a January run with a great defense and a great running game. But January football features quarterbacks that need to make the big plays that win games in the postseason.

This is why the Jets are not going to do much in the playoffs. Mark Sanchez is not ready to play on this stage just yet.

It’s hard to think Sanchez will do much tomorrow unless he surprises everybody. Palmer can be trusted to put up at least one or two touchdowns, and a bounce back performance by the Bengals quarterback is why Cincinnati will defeat the Jets in the wild-card game. So this is going to be short-lived for Rex’s bunch.

It should be a close game, with great defense and an efficient running game. Look for both teams to score points to the point the game will come down to the fourth quarter. In fact, itmight just come down to the final possession of the game.

But does anyone think Sanchez has what it takes to lead in that stretch? Can he engineer a long drive that can give the Jets a chance to finish and win the game?

He’s shown so far that he can’t. For example, against the Falcons, when the Jets had a shot to win the game, he threw an interception to dash all hope.

To be fair to him, though, he gave the Jets a chance to win by scoring a late touchdown against the Jaguars. The Jets led with two minutes to go, but the defense failed to finish as Maurice Jones-Drew ran for a touchdown.

It’s possible he might do the same, but what evidence is out there that he can. He showed no progress late in the season and struggled to understand what Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Jets quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh was teaching.

It was so bad that Ryan got involved in trying to help his beleaguered quarterback by bringing in Yankees manager Joe Girardi to help him how to slide not to mention showing those color-coded plays to help him.

Sanchez never had to do much in the final two weeks since he was told to give the ball to Thomas Jones. Now, he has to utilize the running game if the Jets are going to win a game in January.

Ryan believes the Jets can get by with a quarterback who does not have to do much. Afterall, as a member of the Ravens coaching staff in 2000 he witnessed Baltimore win a Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer of all quarterbacks.

That said, that was a fluke. It’s hard to go far without a great play by the quarterback. It’s something Ryan should remember when he watched Joe Flacco struggled in the AFC Championship game last year.

No one expect Sanchez to go throw 25 times here; he doesn’t have to air it out for the Jets to win. He needs to execute on third down at every opportunity and put his team in a position to get points.

A touchdown would be nice, but field goals would be good enough here.

Maybe Sanchez proves everyone wrong. That’s the beauty of sports. We always expect the unexpected in postseason games where great moments formed.

Unfortunately, don’t expect it.

That’s why it was not wise of Rex to open his mouth unless he is really sure.

It’ll be up to his quarterback to make him look like a prophet not a fool.

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Super Bowl Predictions: Five Stat-Free Reasons Why the Eagles Will Reach The Super Bowl

Published: January 9, 2010

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Sometimes in sports, you just gotta believe.

Unfortunately, that’s not good enough to maintain journalistic integrity. Nor is voodoo magic—unless you’re a Saints fan, in which case you can take the bag off.

But while as a fan I want to believe the Eagles can make the Super Bowl, the fact is that as a journalist, I truly CAN believe the Eagles can get there.

Sure, you can throw out numbers and stats and visual facts to disclaim that. I could do the same for any other team.

But it’s always the intangibles that make a good situation great, and the Eagles have five on their side that could be an unwitting boon to their preparation and game planning in their quest to fly south for the winter.

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Seahawks Attempt to Turn Corner With Heavy Pursuit of Pete Carroll

Published: January 9, 2010

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Pete Carroll appeared cool and relaxed on the telecast of Thursday night’s BCS Championship. He calmly questioned Texas coach Mack Brown’s decision to run a shovel pass just before halftime, resulting in an interception for a touchdown and a 24-6 Alabama lead. The USC coach, though, did not seem on the verge of a major career move.

Roughly 12 hours later, Carroll emerged as the leading candidate in the Seahawks’ coaching vacancy after the firing of coach Jim Mora on Friday.

A proposed deal between Carroll and the Seahawks to become the team’s new coach is likely, according to multiple reports. The former New England Patriots and New York Jets coach is set to sign a five-year deal at approximately $7 million a year to become the Seahawks’ president and coach, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Earlier in the week, Carroll met with Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times. During a Wednesday press conference, Mora sidestepped a question on whether Leiweke guaranteed his return next season, telling reporters “I haven’t talked to Tod in a day, (he’s) busy with some other things.” The comments may suggest that Leiweke could have been courting Carroll in the days following the Seahawks 17-13 season-ending loss to the Titans.

“We’ve made a tough decision today,” Leiweke said in a statement Friday. “It became apparent after conducting an extensive internal audit, that a new direction was needed to provide an opportunity for the organization to be successful. Today’s decision, while difficult, is part of the process in building a franchise with a new vision in 2010.”


Since USC won the second of back-to-back national titles in January of 2005, Carroll has been approached by several NFL teams, most notably the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. The previous deals have reportedly not included an opportunity to serve in a front office capacity, a probable sticking point. A spokesman in the USC Sports Media Relations Department said rumors of Carroll’s return to the NFL have surfaced for the past several years at the end of the college football season.

“Pete’s name comes out at this time every year,” the spokesman said in a statement. “In the past, he hasn’t commented on such reports. At this point, we have nothing to report.”

Ironically, Carroll’s four-year record of 33-31 with the Jets and Patriots is similar to the 31-33 record Mora has compiled in four seasons as a head coach in the league. In the postseason, Mora is 1-1 after leading the Falcons to the NFC Championship in January of 2004, while Carroll is 1-2 in the playoffs. Since Carroll left the Patriots following the 1999 season, however, he has won more than 83 per cent of his games at USC, including seven straight Pac-10 titles from 2002-2008.

During Carroll’s tenure at USC, Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu anchored the Trojans’ defense for two years and received First-team All-American honors in the 2004-2005 season.

A year later, Tatupu earned the starting middle linebacker position in Seattle and led the Seahawks to the NFC Championship. In the week leading to the Super Bowl, Seahawks safety Michael Boulware told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that USC would have won the national championship, and the Seahawks would not have captured the NFC title had Tatupu remained in college.

“He (Carroll) sets the bar highit’s like a pro team down there,” Tatupu said in an interview with the Press-Enterprise. “It’s very structured, like a job. You’re expected to perform well.”

Either by fortune or design, Carroll’s defense is structured in the same manner as the scheme used by Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley during the 2009 season. Bradley is a disciple of former Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and operated a system based on the “Tampa Two,” which frequently employed two and three-deep zones.

Kiffin also served as a mentor for Carroll at the University of Arkansas in 1977, when the young coach was an assistant in the secondary in the defensive coordinator’s system. It is there Carroll learned the principles of the 4-3 under blitz, predicated on jamming the box with up to eight defensive players.  

“In principle, we want to give our players a chance to know exactly what they have to defend.  We also want to give them an attitude in which to do that.  We want to be an attacking, aggressive football team,” Carroll said in a speech during a Nike coaching clinic. “We want to attack into the gap at the snap, get off the ball to play on their side of the field and get after the quarterback.” 

One Seahawks’ player familiar with Carroll’s tendencies on offense is wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The former Cerritos (Calif.) College wideout has spent the past several offseasons working out with Trojans quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs. This past summer, Houshmandzadeh took extensive repetitions with USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley.

“One can only assume coming from SC, (Carroll’s) had a lot of success,” Houshmandzadeh told Seattle-area radio station ESPN 710 on Friday. “Guys are going to listen to what he has to say because of his track record. I think his experience will help him out.”

Before a deal with Carroll is finalized, the Seahawks must fulfill the requirements of the league’s Rooney Rule by interviewing a minority candidate for both their coaching and general manager vacancies. John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Minority Alliance, said in a phone interview Friday afternoon that he spoke with Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier earlier in the day.

Wooten said Frazier expects to meet with Seahawks officials, despite previous reports that the Minnesota assistant coach declined an interview. Frazier is expected to interview with the Seahawks on Saturday in Minneapolis, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The chairman of the alliance also said Seahawks officials have indicated they will create two separate positions for president and general manager of the team. Wooten said he provided Seahawks officials with a list of minority candidates that includes: Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross, Lions Vice President of Pro Personnel Sheldon White, Texans Director of Pro Personnel Brian Gardner, Chiefs Director of Pro Personnel Ray Farmer and Titans Director of Pro Scouting Lake Dawson.

The Seahawks could fulfill the requirements of the Rooney Rule by naming Carroll as team president and a minority candidate such as Ross as general manager, the Seattle Times reported. Wooten added that Seahawks officials indicated to him that they would begin the interviewing process for general manager next week.

In terms of minority coaching candidates, Wooten said the list he provided to Seahawks officials includes: Frazier, Dolphins wide receiver coach Karl Dorrell, former Buffalo interim coach Perry Fewell, Saints wide receiver coach Curtis Johnson, Broncos running backs coach Bobby Turner, and Ravens defensive backs coach Mark Carrier. Carrier earned First-team All-American honors as a safety at USC.

Houshmandzadeh said the possibility of Carroll’s hire could invigorate a locker room in strife at the tail-end of the season. The Seahawks finished 5-11 and lost their final four games by a combined margin of 123-37. As the players cleared out their lockers on Monday, several openly questioned their trust in the offense.

“Everybody has something to prove,” Houshmandzadeh said of the possibility of playing for Carroll. “It’s like meeting a woman for the first time (and) taking her on a date, man. You got to do everything you can to impress her. We are all on high alert, we have to come out and do our best.”

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Bill Cowher Unlikely to Coach in 2010

Published: January 9, 2010

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Former Head Coach Bill Cowher wants to coach again, that is a certainty.

Cowher’s options are seemingly limited as this year as head coach firings are few and far between, especially considering the number of other high-profile coaches available. So far, his options run the gamut from the Buffalo Bills to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

At this point and time, other teams like the Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, and Chicago Bears are high contenders as well, but their current coaching contracts prohibit them. Each team’s current wheelmen have uncertain futures with their teams, so only time will reveal the result.

Cowher isn’t simply settling for a vacant headset and a wad of cash, he is looking for a position similar to Mike Holmgren’s when he was in Seattle. Cowher wants control over the personnel and overall direction of the team.

Tampa Bay has offered Cowher a $6 million deal, but, Shanahan’s $7 million contract with the Washington Redskins nullifies Cowher’s chances for taking such a low bid. Buffalo also has a chance at nabbing Cowher but their small market and marginal roster talent won’t be enough to attract “the chin.”

Cowher’s most likely destination is Charlotte. The Carolina Panthers have promising young talent on both sides of the ball and a potential franchise quarterback in Matt Moore.

John Fox has one more year on his contract and Jerry Richardson has made it clear that Fox will retain his position through 2010 but, with General Manager Marty Hurney’s contract expiring in June, the Panthers are in terrific shape to give Cowher a big, fat contract and unlimited control at the start of the 2011 season-that is, if Cowher is willing to wait.

The threat of a lockout in 2011 and the end of the current CBA is also a concern for both team and Cowher but he will sign with a team regardless. Also, Cowher has lived in North Carolina for a number of years and will, no doubt, have the support of his family if he opts to stay in the area.

Cowher may not commit to any team this year, but that doesn’t mean his talents won’t be missed.

Next year, there is sure to be a number more of head coach firings and, while Carolina will likely remain at the top of Cowher’s short list, a number of other teams will be vying for his leadership.

Any decision that Cowher makes needs to come quickly, though. His Super Bowl win in 2005 is slowly becoming a moot point.

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Underdog Ravens Must Focus On Four Key Points Sunday

Published: January 9, 2010

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Amongst the other three anticipated matchups of the weekend, one that isn’t getting a load of exposure is the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. 

Maybe it’s due to these two teams being fairly familiar with one another, or the fact that the Ravens are basically being written off as people feel they don’t stand a chance against Tom Brady and his Patriots.

For a number of reasons, though, there is a case to be made for the Ravens in this wild-card game. Sure they are clear underdogs against an equipped Patriots team that has been well-balanced all season, but Baltimore has all the weapons needed to contain the Patriots at Foxboro.

1. Defense

When you think of Baltimore, you think of defense. If you have the opportunity to catch the pre-game warm ups, pay close attention to the Ravens huddle. Linebacker Ray Lewis will be more fired up than ever, and he has reason to be for this game.

Ranked third in total defense on the season, and fifth in stopping the run, the Ravens will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Laurence Maroney.

In the past, the Ravens defense has rattled Brady. Besides Lewis, expect a few corner blitzes early from cornerbacks Chris Carr and Domonique Foxworthy. The two have combined for six interceptions on the year, and if one of these guys gets a hand on the Patriots quarterback, be prepared to see a half throw and a loose ball on the ground.

Ed Reed is also a talking point in this one. Last season, he kept the Ravens alive in the postseason, and is the backbone of the Ravens defense. Although he’s been injured for parts of the season and has barely padded his stats, Bill Belichick will be well aware of his presence.

2. Get Ray Rice Going Early

Another positive that the Ravens have is the ability to mix and match running backs between Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Few teams in the league have the freedom, and the Ravens need to take advantage of it.

The underrated running back out of Rutgers, Rice has made a name for himself in his second season in the NFL. Seven touchdowns and 1,339 yards on the year speaks for itself.

Burst after the tackle is one of Rice’s strengths. If the Ravens get a quick turnover from the Patriots deep in their own territory, handing the ball to Rice to pound some yards would be the best option.

3. Less Time Joe Flacco Has the Ball, the Better

Like I said, giving the ball to Ray Rice is the better option. Although Flacco is still developing and really finding his arm in the NFL, he still isn’t the type of guy that you want to rely on too much in a playoff game of this importance.

After starting the season off poorly, things gradually got better. Twelve interceptions for twenty one touchdowns on the season aren’t bad numbers on the season for a second year starter, but with a defense like New England’s to face (especially with Vince Wilfork right across from centre), having Flacco bide time with the ball in the pocket isn’t an option for Baltimore.

4. Penalties

For those of you who watched the Monday Night Football game five weeks ago against Green Bay, you’re pretty much used to the color yellow by now.

The Ravens aren’t the most penalised team in the league, but they suffer enormous yardage loss on pass interference calls.

Offensively and defensively, they simply cannot afford to making mistakes that cost them yards. A team like New England is dangerous, whether you give them a one-yard advantage or a 15-yard advantage. 

Ravens wide receivers need to avoid the pushing and shoving game on the offensive side of the ball. Physicality is a must to win, but the Ravens are only doing themselves harm when they get too hands on when covering deep routes.

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NFL Playoffs: Opening Round Predictions and Scores

Published: January 9, 2010

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The NFL Playoffs have finally arrived and for the first time in several years, there is no real favorite to win it all. The Super Bowl is wide open this year and what about the possibility of a Rodgers vs Favre playoff rematch? How about Manning vs Brady again? The battle of the USC quarterbacks should be interesting on Saturday as well. Or perhaps McNabb will finally break through and win a ring.

Last postseason I did picks just like these and predicted the Cardinals would play in the Super Bowl, they did. Let’s hope I can be as accurate as last year and hopefully we have a January to remember! Feel free to give me your predictions as well, it is always great to hear other opinions. Let the predictions begin…

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Possible Cleveland-Miami Trade For Cribbs If No Deal Is Reached

Published: January 9, 2010

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Browns offer Cribbs new deal…..

Cribbs is disgusted…..

Browns say offer is final…..

Cribbs and agents act very unprofessional…..


If Cribbs can’t act professional and a deal cannot be negotiated, the Browns should deal him. It shouldn’t matter if we can just bench him. The value we can get over benching him is too much.

Therefore, I have a possible trade between the Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins. It is definitely lopsided towards the Browns, but not too lopsided.

The Miami Dolphins get:
-KR/PR/WR/RB Joshua Cribbs
-QB Brady Quinn
-CB Bradnon McDonald

The Cleveland Browns get:
-QB Chad Henne
-SS Yeremiah Bell
-WR Ted Ginn Jr.
-CB Nate jones or Jason Allen

Miami gets the king of the wildcat offense and the best special teams player in the NFL, or maybe even all time.

They also get a quarterback who can manage a game and play well with a good offense like Miami’s and has experience under the wild-cat offense.

McDonald is somewhat of just a throw-in in this trade but could really help the Dolphin’s defense in the secondary.

Cleveland gets a new and young and successful quarterback who, not exactly 100% proven, is better than both Quinn and Derek Anderson.

They also add a defensive leader in Bell, who can intercept the ball (had three this year), sack a quarterback (7.5 in his career), and is a tackling machine.

They get Cribb’s replacement in Ginn who is a better receiver than Cribbs, and has blazing speed which could help open the Browns running game up.

Lastly, they get a player to add depth into the Browns secondary. Either Jones or Allen could start, or play behind a player the Browns acquire in the offseason, hopefully the draft.

Yes, like I said, the trade is lopsided and favors the Browns, but Miami loves the wildcat. Cribbs could run it better than anyone.

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Eagles Will Beat Dallas: Roll On, Super 5, Roll On

Published: January 9, 2010

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As my four regular readers know, I met Donovan McNabb, or as he is referred to in this space, Super 5, three weeks ago. He is my favorite athlete is the history of Philadelphia sports.

Today, Rich Hoffman of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote a piece saying that Super 5, barring a run to the Super Bowl, will not be back next year.

I am a big fan of Rich Hoffman. He is the best Philly columnist since the legendary Bill Lyon. I happen to agree with him here. I have said, repeatedly since April, that the Eagles will not bring Super 5 back without at least a conference championship.

Here’s where Rich and I differ: I believe that the Birds get it done this year. And it starts Saturday.

Yeah, I know, the Cowboys have exercised the December demons. They finished the season 3-2, including a win over the NFC’s top seed, New Orleans.

They swept the Eagles, including a 24-0 shelling in the final week of the regular season. In 19 third meetings involving teams with a regular season sweep in NFL history, the team that finished the season sweep has won the third game 12 times.   

Tony Romo dumped that bad luck heifer Jessica Simpson.

The Cowboys got this, right?


Because we have Super 5.

Look, 3-2 is nice, but the Eagles were 6-1 down the stretcha fact everyone seems to be forgetting. Andy Reid has never (AND THE ROCK MEANS) ever lost his first playoff game. Wade Phillips has never won his first playoff game.

Romo is playing well, but he’s never won under the playoff crucible.

Super 5 has won nine times in the playoffs. He, also, has never lost his first playoff game.

The Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game since 1996, but, really, that is more a function of circumstance. They had some really bad teams in there, and some really bad coaches too, so we’ll throw that one out. The bottom line is, this game will come down to one thing: the play of Donovan McNabb.

Here’s the thing. He wasn’t very good last week. There has been an enormous amount of negativity around him and the team this week. There is some sentiment that it is time to move on. His back is against the wall.

Every timeevery single timeMcNabb has been backed into a corner, he comes out fighting. Last year, he played seven of the worst quarters of football I have ever seen from any player, at any position. He was benched at halftime in that brutal Baltimore game.

How did he respond? Oh, all he did was light up Arizona for 260 yards and four touchdowns to kick off a stretch where the team finished the regular season 4-1 to make the playoffs and go to the NFC Championship for the FIFTH time in his career.

Speaking of NFC Championships, let’s go to the 2004 game. The Eagles were in their fourth one in a row, and there was talk that McNabb should be traded because he was going to lose AGAIN. Michael Vick and the Falcons, fresh off beating Brett Favre in Lambeau, were going to come to the Linc and beat the Eagles, too.

What did McNabb do then? Well, he didn’t lose there, either, winning 27-10.

At the end of the regular season that year, the Eagles sat their regulars for the last two games, and there was talk that they would be rusty and McNabb would lose the first playoff game. McNabb was so rusty that he outdueled Daunte Culpepper for the win, 27-14, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns.

Earlier that year, the Eagles lost to the Steelers, and all the focus was one the “argument” that McNabb and Terrell Owens had on the sidelines. All week, the talk was about McNabb’s lack of leadership, Owens’ lack of respect, and how the team would come apart. What happened?

He had 345 yards and four touchdowns. Against the Cowboys. In Dallas. Including a 14.1 second, Playstation-esque, if I hadn’t seen it and you told me about it I wouldn’t have believed it scramble.

And now we have Tony Romo. The up and coming Dallas superstar is going to pass McNabb by, right? He will shred the Eagles defense, right? McNabb will struggle and choke, just like he always does, right?

When I met McNabb, he had a friend with him. I told them what a big fan I was, about the article I wrote calling him the greatest player in Philly sports history of my lifetime, and how I was so sick of the haters.

His reply? “We love the haters. They make us stronger.”

So count him out. Write him off. Call him a choker. I won’t. Not now, not ever.

Eagles 38, Dallas 24.

Stone Cold Lead Pipe Lock.

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How the Giants Front Seven Translate to a 3-4 Defense

Published: January 9, 2010

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With the New York Football Giants and 3-4 defensive guru Romeo Crennel rumored to be mutually interested in discussing the Giants vacant defensive coordinator post it begs the question of how well the Giants current defensive front seven would translate to a 3-4 defense. The following slideshow will provide individual assessments of how the current Giants front seven would fare in a 3-4 defensive scheme.

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