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Jets-Bengals: 7 Players That Must Excel For The New York

Published: January 7, 2010

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For the New York Jets to advance to the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, seven players must bring their “A” game to Cincinnati come Sunday:


1. Nick Mangold

The Jets All-Pro center and anchor of the offensive line needs to ensure pass protection as well as big holes for Thomas Jones and company. If the Bengals rattle Mark Sanchez in passing downs due to a lack of protection and time, the Jets will lose and lose badly.


2. Alan Faneca

Another Jet All-Pro that needs to bring his best stuff to Cincinnati, especially on passing downs.

If Faneca starts opening huge holes that leads Thomas Jones to the open field, it could be a long day for the Bengals. His play along the offensive line is critical. Sanchez cannot be harassed in the pocket and the running game needs to be firmly established in the first series of downs.


3. Jay Feely

The usually reliable Jet’s place kicker needs to ensure the team converts all possible red zone opportunities should Sanchez fail to get the team into the end zone.

This has the look of a low scoring game and a win could come on the leg of Feely in the closing seconds if the weather determines a role in the play calling come Saturday afternoon.


4. Braylon Edwards

The Jets brought Edwards to New York to stretch the field and take the pressure off the running game from time to time.

While Edwards has looked great on some catches, he’s looked awful on balls right in his hands.

For the Jets to win, Braylon Edwards need to hold on to the football and keep the defense honest by getting himself open in obvious passing situations.


5. Mark Sanchez

Mark Sanchez must manage the contest and not be put in the position to have to win the game by passing the ball more than 25 times.

Short screens, short routes, and reliable pass routes will compliment a solid running effort by Thomas Jones. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to keep the Bengals honest with some wrinkles in the Wildcat and not be afraid to stretch the field on first down should a lead develop early.

This game is about confidence and Mark Sanchez will feel the pressure of being in the playoffs the first time.

He’ll need to stay calm, cool, and collected and let the moving parts around this offense do the job.

Forced throws down the field and wild scrambling will spell disaster for New York if Sanchez deviates from what got them to this point thus far.


6. Thomas Jones

In my mind the team’s MVP, Thomas Jones, has quietly rushed for his best total ever as a pro and his fifth consecutive 1,000 yard season.

Now over 9,000 yards lifetime, Jones is without question one of the most underrated players in the league and this game is his opportunity to shine.

If Thomas Jones has a big day against Cincinnati and rushes for more than 150 yards, the Jets will not lose.


7. Darrelle Revis

The best cover man since the days of Ronnie Lott, Aaron Glenn, and James Hasty in a Jet uniform, Darrelle Revis has shut down Andre Johnson, Randy Moss twice, and Chad Ochocinco with relative ease.

The absolute leader of this defense I like to call the “Monsters of the Meadowlands,” Darrelle Revis needs to provide that key turnover that will be the game changer that ultimately delivers victory for the New York Jets come Saturday’s contest.

If Darrelle Revis can force the Bengals to turn the ball over, the Jets should dispose of the Bengals.

These are the seven players that must perform well for the Jets to win in Cincinnati.



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The Buffalo Bills 2009 Roster: 80 Players But Who Is Coming Back?

Published: January 7, 2010

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We are going to take a break from the numerous Buffalo Bills head coach rumor articles for one day to remember that their is a team of football players that deserve some attention as we analyze the past season and look to the future.

2009 was a forgettable season if you are a Buffalo Bills fan. At least 20 players were lost to the Injured Reserve list at various points throughout the season. Some early on, some later on, but each move brought in another warm body to fill their roster slot.

There was a football movie made in 2000 called “The Replacements” which starred Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. That movie could easily have been playing on a never ending loop in the lobby at One Bills Drive all season, as one new player after another would show up for a tryout.

Who knows, if the players union and the NFL can’t iron out a new agreement, maybe the premise of the movie will come to fruition if the league sees a players strike. I hope not.

For all of the personnel that were hired by the Bills, how many of these replacement guys might still fit in to their plans in 2010?

The article is understandably premature in nature, because until the next head coach is inked to a contract, and the draft is concluded, some of these players that were thought to be part of the core, may find themselves to be expendable.

But, if we can gain some reasonable amount of conversation going from this article, about which players Bills fans want to see come back, and which players Bills fans want to see go, then this exercise will have served its’ purpose.

We will go ahead and list the players that saw time with the Bills this year, position by position, and will list them randomly. You can go ahead and rank them according to your own preferences. 

Legend for the roster includes the following abbreviations:

I.R. = Injured Reserve   UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent  PS = Practice Squad Member

RFA = Restricted Free Agent   ERFA = Exclusive Rights Free Agent

UFA/RFA If no new labor deal is negotiated, these UFA’s will then become RFA


Defense —Weak against the run. Very good against the pass, and at creating interceptions. Needs to be more durable as a unit, and be able to finish stronger in the second half. Could use some help at linebacker and on the defensive line.

Defensive Line —(14)—Aaron Schobel, Ryan Denney (UFA), Marcus Stroud, Kyle Williams, John McCargo, Spencer Johnson, Chris Kelsay, Chris Ellis, Aaron Maybin, Rashaad Duncan (PS), Corey Mace (PS), Lonnie Harvey (PS) Marcus Smith (I.R.), and Jermaine McGhee (I.R.)

Overview—Schobel showed new life in coming back from his foot problems of 2008. He is currently considering retirement. It would be a big blow to Bills if he opts to hang them up.

Kyle Williams and Marcus Stroud had productive years, and Denney, Johnson and Kelsay had their moments. McCargo had a couple flashes and Maybin was M.I.A. Defensive line applied steady pressure on opposing QB’s which led to a number of interceptions by the opportunistic secondary. 

Linebacking Corps —(10 1/2)—Jon Corto (ERFA), Chris Draft (UFA), Paul Posluszny, Keith Ellison (UFA/RFA & I.R.), Kawika Mitchell (I.R.), Bryan Scott (UFA, LB/S) Nic Harris (I.R.) Marcus Buggs (I.R. & ERFA), Ashlee Palmer, Josh Stamer, and Ryan Manalac (PS). 

Overview—I am counting B. Scott as a half-LB and half-Safety, due to splitting time at both positions during the season. This unit was ravaged by injuries, with all three starters missing considerable time during the year.

Posluszny turned in some nice interceptions, but his sideline to sideline quickness and ability to be taken out of running plays due to poor gap decision-making is still a concern. What degree of health do Mitchell and Ellison have for 2010, and do they even come back? Rookie Nic Harris showed some promise for the time he was in there.

Defensive Secondary —(13 1/2)—Reggie Corner, Drayton Florence, Cary Harris (ERFA), Ellis Lankster, Bryan Scott (UFA), John Wendling, Donte Whitner, George Wilson (UFA/RFA), Ashton Youboty (UFA/RFA), Jairus Byrd (I.R.), Todd Johnson (I.R. & UFA), Terrence McGee (I.R.), Leodis McKelvin (I.R.), and Lydell Sargeant (I.R.).

Overview—This unit was largely responsible for the large increase in turnovers generated by the 2009 team versus the 2008 edition. Buffalo finished tied for second place in the league in picks, as they were led by Pro-Bowl rookie safety Jairus Byrd. Byrd can be something very special if he learns to be a little more physical player against the running game.

Other strong campaigns were turned in by Florence, Scott, and McGee. McKelvin’s season ended way too soon, and Whitner had some moments, but has not lived up to his lofty draft position so far with the Bills.

The rest of the group—Youboty, Corner, Harris, Lankster and Wendling will be fighting for nickel and dime coverage spots and special team roles. Wendling make a number of plays in special teams this year.


Offense —Needs to stay on the field more, get a steady offensive line that can play together for a season to gel. Do a better job on first and second down so that they have more manageable third down conversions to keep driving ball down the field.

Offensive Line —(15)—Eric Wood (I.R.), Andy Levitre, Geoff Hangartner, Jamon Meredith, Brad Butler (I.R.), Jonathan Scott (RFA) Richie Incognito (UFA/RFA), Kendall Simmons (I.R. & UFA), Christian Gaddis (ERFA), Nick Hennessey, Andre Ramsey, Demetrius Bell (I.R.), Jason Watkins (PS), Marvin Philip (I.R.), and Seth McKinney (I.R. & UFA).

Overview—There were at least 10 different starting line combinations used during the year. Levitre and Hangartner were the only two able to stay healthy all season, and they will be counted on next year as well.

Wood shows lots of promise, and Butler was counted on but had a lost year due to early injury.The line rallied late in the season to help Fred Jackson rush for over a thousand yards.

Demetrius Bell is a project that has some upside, as does Jamon Meredith. Curious to see if the Bills bring back either Incognito or Simmons to add to the mix next season. Jonathan Scott also has some upside, but was injured often.  

Quarterbacks —(4)—Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brian Brohm, and Gibran Hamdon (UFA/RFA). This group underperformed as a whole and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there is at least one and possibly two new additions to this group next year.

Overview—Between the veterans Edwards and Fitzpatrick, neither one was able to consistently get the ball to wide receivers or find ways to convert enough third down plays to have long sustained drives. Fitzpatrick won more, but had very meager stats during most of his starts.

Brohm showed some promise but Perry Fewell only allowed him the one start, so he was basically under wraps during his time with the Bills. A QB coming in the draft is something that could happen in Round One, Two or Three, based on who falls when. Somebody like Bradford or Tebow could find themselves headed to Buffalo.

Running Backs —(5)—Freddie Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Justice Harrison (I.R. & ERFA), Bruce Hall (PS) and Corey McIntyre. Fred Jackson is the class of this group and the Bills should continue to feature him next year. 

Overview—Fred Jackson emerged as a special back this year, becoming the first player in NFL history to gain over 1000 yards rushing, and having more than 1000 yards in the return game in the same season. Jackson was also a solid receiver out of the backfield, ran the Wildcat formation and proved that he can be an accurate passer.

Lynch had a disappointing year, starting with the three game suspension, and then by not doing much with the games he was starting. Lynch is in need of someone coming in that can give him some discipline, while lighting a fire under him at the same time.

As bad as Lynch was, I think you need two backs in the league now, so I do not want to see the Bills trade him away, as tempting as it may be.

Wide Receivers —(9)—Terrell Owens (UFA), Lee Evans, Josh Reed (UFA), Roscoe Parrish, James Hardy, Steve Johnson, C.J. Hawthorne (I.R.), Justin Jenkins, and Felton Huggins (PS).

This unit was counted on to produce big things but the numbers were not up to expectations, due to quarterbacks not having enough time to get the ball down the field to the home run hitters—Evans and Owens. There were flashes of those kind of plays for both, but it didn’t happen often enough to keep defenses honest.

Owens did more in the second half of the season than he did in the first half, and may have earned a return invitation next year. Whether or not he comes back depends on the coach that is hired, who the QB will be, and finding a way to fix the offensive line.

It was a lost year for both Johnson and Hardy, as neither caught many passes or got involved in the offense to further their development. Josh Reed was ignored for the most part, and is a free agent that may not be back with the team.

Tight Ends —(5)—Derek Schouman (RFA & I.R.), Derek Fine (I.R.), Shawn Nelson, Jonathan Stupar (ERFA), Joe Klopfenstein (UFA/RFA). Shouman and Fine going on the I.R. caused the Bills to go with Nelson and Stupar. Except Nelson got hurt, suffered from migraines, and wasn’t really featured very much when he did play.

Schouman started off the year fine, so he and Nelson should be back.


Special Teams

Kicker and Punter —Rian Lindell and Brian Moorman. Both had fine seasons and the Bills kicking game is in good shape. Each kicker is an asset to the team and needs to be kept here.

Long Snapper —Garrison Sanborn. Did not have one bad hike on a punt all season. You can’t beat that consistency he provided, so he should return as well.

Overview—The positions that need to be addressed range from offensive line, defensive line, quarterback, linebacker and a wide receiver if T.O. doesn’t return.

I am not opposed to looking at a tight end, especially one like Jermaine Gresham, if he falls down far enough due to the injuries he suffered.

So, there you have it, the entire 2009 roster. If I missed someone, please drop me a comment, and I will make the correction. If you feel strongly about a certain player or want to talk about your favorite players, feel free to add your two cents.


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5 Potential Players the Giants Should Consider Drafting in The First Three Rounds

Published: January 7, 2010

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If there is one thing the New York Giants have done exceptionally well over the last few years, it’s been the draft. Since 2002, Ernie Accorsi, and now Jerry Reese, have drafted several players who have contributed right away and have been impact players in the NFL (Jeremy Shockey, Osi Umenyiora, Philip Rivers, Chris Snee, Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, Brandon Jacobs, Steve Smith, Kenny Phillips and Hakeem Nicks.) The Giants have a pick in each round, that’s seven picks. Any follower can expect the Giants to do some serious damage with those picks. Here are my thoughts on five potential picks that New York may make with the 15th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. (Subject to change after NFL Combine).

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One and Done: Irreplaceable Players for 2009-10 NFL Playoff Teams

Published: January 4, 2010

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Only days away from entering the tournament bracket that will yield the two combatants for Super Bowl XLIV, we are reminded that football is a team sport, and that contributions both large and small throughout the season helped the twelve teams get to where they are right now.

Be that as it may, there are some guys a team just can’t survive without, especially in the playoffs. Expect early exits for these teams if the following playmakers can’t get it going in the post-season.

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Does Resting Players Translate to Alienating Fans?

Published: January 2, 2010

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Resting key players late in the season in games where there are no playoff implications has become a trend of late, with mixed emotions from both the media and the team’s fan base.

From one viewpoint it’s hard to disagree with a coach’s decision to rest his star players when nothing is on the line. It has been said that the football gods favor the bold, but then again you can’t go wrong with playing it safe and preparing for the long run, can you?

This is often times is a lose-lose situation for the head coach. Rest your players, and face the heat from the media and your fanbase, but play the players and risk injury.

Coach Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts chose the first route, resting quarterback Peyton Manning in the second half of their game against the New York Jets. Manning would watch from the sidelines as the Colts lost their five-point lead and would go on to lose by two touchdowns with backup quarterback Curtis Painter in the game.

The Colts entered the game 14-0, seeking to become the second team in NFL history to go undefeated in a 16-game regular season, and the first team to ever go undefeated throughout the playoffs and Super Bowl and finish the season 19-0.

Caldwell knew he would take the heat, and did so accordingly. It was obvious by the look on Manning’s face, as he watched the Colts quest for perfection from the sidelines come to an end, that he did not want to give up on rewriting the history books.

By resting his key player did Jim Caldwell help prepare his team for a run at arguably the most glorified and respected feat in sports, winning the Super Bowl, or did he just kill the momentum and emotion of not only the Colts organization, but their fan base and supporters as well.

It doesn’t take much to satisfy the average NFL fan. Win, consistently, but more importantly give them a reason to show confidence in the team and organization. Go hard every week and show your fans that you want to not only win, but dominate every week.

This brings up the question, does resting players translate to alienating fans? After winning the first fourteen games of the season, it will be hard for Colts fans to think of anything else but losing again, with the next loss coming in the playoffs.

Are the Colts instilling confidence in their players and fans heading into the playoffs? I think not.

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NFL Teams and Players Will Suffer In An Uncapped 2010

Published: December 30, 2009

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Unless the NFL and the NFL Players Association miraculously come to an agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the next two months, 2010, the last year of the collective bargaining agreement, will be uncapped.

Executive director of the NFLPA, DeMaurice Smith, recently reiterated a statement made by his predecessor, the late Gene Upshaw, that if the cap goes away, the players will never agree to it again.

That belief might be misplaced, for a number of reasons.

There is one reason why some teams won’t like an uncapped year: the “Final Eight Plan,” which prevents teams in the Divisional Round (the second week) of the playoffs from going on New York Yankees-like spending binges.

Teams that lose in the second week will be limited in their ability to sign unrestricted free agents. They’ll be able to sign one UFA to a large contract (more than about $5 million per year), and as many players as they want to small contracts.

Teams that reach the Conference Championships, however, get both presents and coal in their stockings. Win or lose, by being one of the final four teams, they will be subject to three major limitations:


  • They can resign their own players with no additional restrictions beyond those placed on any other team.
  • Beyond that, however, they can only sign one free agent for each one they lose, and the departing free agent’s new contract sets a limit on the size of the new player’s contract.
  • The teams can trade for players given franchise and/or restricted free agent tenders, but they cannot circumvent the above rule by trading for a player they couldn’t sign as a free agent.
  • The teams are free to sign players that clear waivers, but not all players go through the waiver process before becoming unrestricted free agents.

In very simplistic terms, if 2010 is uncapped, 2009 is not the year a team wants to be  Cinderella showing up at the ball.

We already know three teams that will be subject to the Final Eight Plan: Indianapolis, San Diego, and New Orleans. The NFC team that claims the other first-round bye is guaranteed to be the fourth, and the Wild Card winners will be the other four.

But there are more reasons why players won’t like it.


1. Two years of free agents are thrown under the bus.

Right now, it takes four years of service for a player to reach unrestricted free agency. In 2010, however, the lack of a salary cap also triggers a clause in the CBA that pushes the bar to free agency to six seasons.

Thus, all the players from the classes of 2005 and 2006 with expiring contracts will potentially be restricted free agents, subject to one-year tenders at rates of $1 million to $3 million, rather than unrestricted free agents.

According to the Associated Press, 212 players will be affected by this change, including Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin, New England Patriots guard Logan Mankins, and San Diego Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman.

Moreover, each team still has its franchise tag, which could further reduce the availability of free agents.

2. The “Final Eight Plan” will limit the demand for free agents.

As mentioned above, the Final Eight Plan limits the demand for free agents. And what happens when demand drops?

Prices tend to fall. Even if something is rare, it’s cheap if there’s no market for it.

With fewer blue-chip players available, those few that do reach free agency might get top dollar, but it’s likely that a lot of other players will earn less than they might have with a larger market.

3. There’s no “dead money” to worry about.

The CBA allows teams to spread out the bonus money a team gives a player over the length of the contract. If a player is cut or traded, however, any remaining bonus money from future years “accelerates” onto the current cap and/or the next year’s.

For example, the Redskins could not have cut Albert Haynesworth this year, as they would have had to cut other players just to fit his signing bonus into this year’s cap.

With no cap in 2010, though, teams might be able to cut such “dead weight” with little or no impunity. It wouldn’t be surprising to see some first-round draft busts, such as the New York Jets’ Vernon Gholston, or “problem children” such as the Patriots’ Adalius Thomas, handed their walking papers next year.

4. Owners don’t have to pay as much.

A tiff erupted between Smith and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell over the possibility that the NFL could reduce disability and/or pension payments for disabled payments (which the NFL wisely chose not to do). Similarly, the owners won’t have to contribute to pension plans and other benefits for current players.

More importantly, while the CBA places a maximum amount that teams can spend on player salaries, it also places a minimum amount; this year, teams are required to spend 87.6 percent of their salary cap allotments on player salaries.

When the salary cap goes away, though, that floor will go away as well, so stingy owners could decide to save money by simply spending less on their rosters. Moreover, other benefits, such as contributions to the players’ pension plans, would also be suspended in an uncapped year.

It’s hard to say exactly what will happen if 2010 turns out to be uncapped. But it stands to reason that many people who might be looking forward to it now will be unhappy if it actually comes to pass.


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Odd One Out: Cincinnati Bengals Players Dont Make Pro Bowl

Published: December 30, 2009

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Out of the 32 teams in the league, you’d think they’d give at least one team one player in the Pro Bowl right?  Wrong.

The Bengals, today, became one of the teams not to feature a player in this years Pro Bowl, which will be held at the end of the postseason. 

Remember that kid that used to always get left out during a school yard football game during recess?  Yeah, that’s how Carson Palmer must feel.  The sad thing is this time, has Cincinnati really done anything wrong not to earn at least one player in the big game?

A shoe in for the playoffs at this point with a 10-5 record and a game in hand against the Jets, Cincinnati’s play has been arguably good and balanced all season.  After falling down to a crushing injury last season, to bouncing back and leading his team to an above .500 record this year, is a remarkable feat that only a true great quarterback could achieve.

21 Touchdowns on the year and 3094 passing yards so far, surely that’s enough.

But no Pro Bowl vote?

Maybe Carson Palmer doesn’t float the voters boat. 

Well how about Chad Ochocinco?  By the time he gets there, his name will have changed twice, but his stats don’t lie either.  72 receptions, 1047 yards, and nine touchdowns are solid figures.  Even Chad himself thought he would be visiting Miami come January, he obviously jinxed himself.

For a team that has won the AFC North, to not receive at least one player is a joke on the system and on the voters behalf.  Most of us can understand why players from below .500 teams such as Detroit and Tampa Bay did not make it, but for former Pro Bowl players like Carson Palmer to be overshadowed and basically overlooked, gives Bengals fans a sour treat to suck on as the end of the season draws near.

Not to worry though.  Often, the Pro Bowl is overrated and Bengals fans and players will more than likely agree that the playoffs is more important.  As long as they remain focused and don’t get distracted on this issue, they still have a good shot at the AFC Championship.


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Former Vanderbilt Players Shine in Chicago Victory Over Vikings

Published: December 29, 2009

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Quarterback Jay Cutler had spent much of the 2009 season steadily losing the support and confidence of the famously fickle members of Bears Nation.

He did quite a bit to halt that trend Monday night.

The embattled former Commodore completed 20-35 passes for 273 yards and a season-high four touchdowns in a poised performance against a Minnesota team fighting for a first-round bye in the playoffs. His last pass was the best, finding Devin Aromashadu (a name we should hear a lot next season because this guy is a stud) behind the Vikings secondary for a 39-yard score with a perfectly thrown ball to win the game in overtime, 36-30.

For the last 10 weeks, the Bears had looked like a joke. They had lost eight times, four by 20 points or more, and Cutler had been, to not put too fine a point on it, awful. He had thrown 20 picks and twice had been unable to lead the team to a single touchdown in a game. The only wins Chicago had mustered in that time were over the Rams and the Browns, who sport a remarkable combined record of 5-25.

It was a welcome change to see Cutler make big plays and take good care of the football, although his one interception thrown tonight was another head-scratcher, and increased his league-leading total to 26 on the year. But for one night, in a game where the Bears were playing for nothing but pride, Cutler looked like the stud that Chicago banked so much on in its off-season trade in April.

As mind-numbing as Cutler’s performances had been this season, I knew he could be the star the Bears envisioned, given the kinds of throws that only he and a few other people in the nation can make. One game a star does not make, especially not after the eggs he’s laid this season, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Other former Commodores were heroes in this game for the Bears as well, none bigger than linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer.

After the Vikings forced a three-and-out on Chicago’s second possession of overtime, Adrian Peterson caught a swing pass from Brett Favre and turned upfield for a big gain, but Hillenmeyer caught him from behind and punched it loose just before Peterson’s knee hit the ground, where it was recovered by the Bears at the Minnesota 39. The very next play, Cutler threw the game-winner. Hillenmeyer not only deserves props for the forced fumble, but also for not giving up on the play after the nimble Peterson beat him around the edge.

Receiver Earl Bennett caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, the first time Chicago had scored in the final stanza in seven games, and Chris Williams did a terrific job at left tackle against the menacing Vikings pass rush. Cutler looked comfortable in the pocket all night, a testament to a solid performance by an offensive line that had been like Swiss cheese during Chicago’s prolonged slump.

Giving up 30 second-half points and blowing a 17-point lead were indicators that this is still a team with a lot of problems. Great kick-off returns by Danieal Manning to give the Bears good second-half field position and a blocked extra point were major factors in the victory.

Honestly, tonight, I couldn’t care less though.

To see the Bears, and Vanderbilt alumni, win on a national stage against a heavily favored opponent was a welcome change from the previous 10 weeks of misery to which we Chicago fans had grown accustomed.

Maybe next year, they can be accustomed to seeing star performances from the Commobears on a week-to-week basis. With Vanderbilt alumni at four key positions on the roster, their fates are fairly entangled.

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NFL Quick Hits (Dec. 24th): Big Name Players Going on Injured Reserve

Published: December 24, 2009

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Matthew Stafford Done For Year

Stafford has officially been ruled out for the rest of the season with shoulder and knee injuries. The Lions liked what they saw from their rookie franchise passer, and don’t feel rushing him back for two meaningless games would benefit their future.

Drew Stanton is expected to make the start over the recently ineffective Daunte Culpepper. Lions fans shouldn’t overly enthused.

Anthony Gonzalez Won’t Play This Season

Gonzalez will finally be placed on injured reserve after attempting to get back after injuring his knee in Week One. Gonzalez never really had a chance after suffering two setbacks and going under the knife two times since the initial injury.

The emergence of Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie also didn’t help Gonzalez’s cause to return. He is expected to be fully ready for off-season training camp.

Jake Delhomme Placed on IR

Delhomme had been dealing with an injured finger, and with the solid play of Matt Moore, there was no reason to keep Delhomme on the active roster.

Delhomme was flat-out horrible for much of the season anyways, and is a strong candidate to be cut in the off-season.

DeAngelo Williams Misses Wednesday’s Practice

Williams is dealing with an ankle injury that knocked him out of last week’s win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Jonathan Stewart missed Wednesday’s practice with a toe injury, as well, but Williams’ injury is the more serious one. If you’re still fighting for your championship in your league, Williams would still be a heck of a start against a weak New York Giants run defense. Monitor his status leading up until game-time on Sunday.

Jeremy Maclin Practicing in Full Again

Maclin is dealing with a serious foot injury, but is already way ahead of schedule for a return to game action.

It’s still possible that the Eagles hold him out this week as a precautionary measure, but it’s clear he’ll be ready for the playoffs. Monitor his status all week if you’re planning on using him as a WR3.

Percy Harvin Completely Healthy

Head coach Brad Childress took a step away from the “Childress vs. Favre” saga to address Percy Harvin’s status, and gave him full clearance.

Harvin was dealing with extreme migraines for the past week and a half, but did manage to play some of Sunday night’s loss to the Carolina Panthers. He should be ready to go and makes for a solid WR3 this week against a horrible Chicago Bears pass defense.


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Three Players Mike Holmgren Has To Keep If He’s Next Browns GM

Published: December 21, 2009

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Mike Holmgren has lots of decisions to make.

First, he has to decide if he wants to come to Cleveland.

If he does come to Cleveland, he’ll be confronted with questions concerning the future of Eric Mangini, questions about the quarterback, and countless roster decisions and personnel moves.

Three things should be easy decisions. The Browns must rework Josh Cribb’s current contract, and they should work on new contracts for free agents to-be Jerome Harrison and Lawrence Vickers.

Josh Cribbs once again took the Browns on his shoulders to keep them in the game in the first half. His electrifying returns have thrilled fans for years, and this year he seems to have taken on a locker room presence that resonates not only with the other players, but also with the community.

Before the Steelers game, Cribbs rose everyone’s expectations and clearly stated that the Browns could win. His big return on special teams and success in the wildcat formation led the Browns to victory.

Now the Browns have won two in a row and look like a team that believes in their ability to score.

The front-office’s resistance to signing Cribbs a new deal this offseason has probably cost them millions, but they must have a new deal in place this offseason to keep Cribbs in Cleveland for the rest of his career.

Jerome Harrison has always been an intriguing prospect. He had a strong rushing average (6.8 ypc) in limited action during his young career. Yet the two knocks on Harrison have always been his size and ability to pick up the blitz on passing downs.

Harrison has proved in the last several weeks that he can be a tremendous offensive weapon. He has proven to be a reliable receiver out of the backfield (62 yards and 2 TD’s against San Diego). This week, he racked up the third highest single-game rushing total in NFL history with 286 yards. He scored 3 touchdowns in the second half, including the winning touchdown, a 28 yard scamper with 44 seconds left.

Harrison carried the ball 34 times, proving he’s no stranger to a heavy workload. During his senior season at Washington State, Harrison carried the 304 times, or over 27 times a game. He also totalled 1900 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Brown’s brass and Mike Holmgren have two games to see if Harrison is capable of being a feature back, but evidence to this point suggests that he can carry the load quite capably.

If you watch the highlight reel of today’s game, you’ll see Josh Cribbs returning kicks and Jerome Harrison gashing the Chief’s defense for huge gains.

If you look more carefully, you’ll see Lawrence Vickers going to work blowing up defenders and paving the way for Harrison. The fullback position is often a thankless job, but Vickers will certainly get his due from Harrison for a record setting performance and praise from his coaches and teammates in the film room this week.

Vickers has been a good fullback in the league for a while. He blocks well and he can catch the ball out of the backfield. The Browns should lock him up and make sure he stays in Cleveland.

If Holmgren does indeed come to Cleveland, he must make sure Harrison, Cribbs, and Vickers are all in a Browns uniform next year.

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