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NFL: championship weekend

shonn greene

Shonn Greene

Just because my beloved Dallas Cowboys were rudely bounced from the playoffs does not mean that I’m not watching football this weekend. I continue to be amazed at the New York Jets. They figure out ways to win.

New York Jets versus the Indianapolis Colts. A lot has been made of this rematch from week 16. The Indianapolis Colts, in a tight game, pulled all their “main” starters towards the end of the third quarter. The Jets took advantage of a second string quarterback who had not really seen the football field in years. The dream of a perfect season went down the tubes. For the New York Jets, the dream of making it to the playoffs went one step closer to becoming reality.

There are lots of ways to look at this game. In some ways, the Indianapolis Colts are much like the San Diego Chargers. They have an okay defense coupled with a high-powered offense. The Jets kept the game close against the San Diego Chargers. Their defense continued to pressure Philip Rivers, who, up until that game, played a nearly flawless season. From deep in his territory, Philip Rivers throws a pass up the seam to nobody. The Jets intercept and the momentum which had been pretty even up until that moment, swings towards the Jets. So, can Peyton Manning avoid the big interception? Can the Colts offensive line give Peyton Manning enough time? I think the answer is yes. I think it is important for Peyton Manning and the Colts’ offense to control the ball. Scoring quickly is not going to help their defense. I think that the Jets’ defense is most vulnerable in the middle of the field. I think the Peyton Manning will look for a second or third receiver in the middle of the field. I think going after Darrelle Revis is foolhardy. He’s proven he can play in this league. I think the Jets will put him on Reggie Wayne and sometimes on Dallas Clark. Peyton Manning will look for receivers who are covered by linebackers or safeties. I think that’s where you will find most of his success.

On the other side of the ball, the New York Jets’ offense has a bruising running attack. They averaged over 170 yards per game on the ground. They have simply run over their last three opponents. The Indianapolis Colts are going to have to win first and second downs. If they’re able to get the New York Jets in the third and long, they will win the game. I don’t think that Mark Sanchez can consistently beat most defenses. On the other hand, if the New York Jets are always in third and short and play action pass with bootlegs and rollouts come into play. Mark Sanchez is perfectly capable of making these types of throws. The Jets have to play mistake-free football. No turnovers. No penalties. This is how they win. It is hard to play football with almost no margin of error every single week, but that is what the New York Jets have been doing for the last 8-10 weeks. So, can they do it again? Maybe. I don’t count them out.

I also think that the Jets are going to try to be very aggressive on special teams. Look for a fake punt or possibly a fake field goal.

Minnesota Vikings versus New Orleans Saints. The Vikings’ defensive front four completely manhandled the Dallas Cowboys last week. I think that Tony Romo is still in the sauna trying to get the soreness worked out. The New Orleans Saints are going to have to figure out how to protect Drew Brees. If he has time, it is clearly possible to take advantage of that secondary. I think this is the key to the game right here. Jared Allen and Ray Edwards are playing at a high level. The New Orleans Saints tackles are going to have to figure out how to block these guys. I’m not sure they’re going to be able to do it. If Drew Brees has time, you will find receivers. The New Orleans Saints are going to have to run some draws and screens in order to slow down the rush. The running backs are not going to have to pick up the blitz. Reggie Bush needs to have another game like he did last weekend!

The Minnesota Vikings’ offense can be slowed down. In spite of their dominating win over the Dallas Cowboys last week, I still say there’s something wrong with the offensive line. Adrian Peterson is not getting to the second level without being hit. He has not had an explosive run in weeks. In spite of this, the Vikings have been winning. Brett Farve has had his best year ever. He’s throwing the ball more accurately. He has not been turning the ball over which has plagued him his whole career. If the Saints are going to win this game, they’re going to have to get pressure on Brett Farve. If you can hit Farve early, you could throw him off his rhythm. He’ll start to press and that’s when the turnovers began. We saw just a little bit of this when the Vikings played the Steelers earlier this year. Darren Sharper has a little extra incentive to play well this week, as he was cut by the Vikings. He’s having one of his best years for the Saints, with five or six interceptions. He would like nothing better than to take one back to the house. I wonder if a safety blitz is in his future.

I think he ran for two very good games this weekend. Although I’m choosing the New Orleans Saints to go to their first Super Bowl and the Indianapolis Colts to go to their second Super Bowl in four years, I think both of these games are to be very close. Because the teams are so evenly matched, turnovers were be very important and will tip the scale. I’m looking forward to this.

By |2010-01-24T02:31:12-04:00January 24th, 2010|Sports|Comments Off on NFL: championship weekend

NFL – Who are the top 5 quarterbacks in the league right now?

As we enter week seven in the NFL, who do you think the best quarterbacks in the league are? I think we have the usual suspects – Tom Brady, after last week’s performance, Peyton Manning, who may be playing the best football of his NFL career. Then who would you list?

peyton manning
Here are my top five in order
— There’s Peyton Manning. I think, bar none, he is the best in the league. Then we have Drew Brees. Yes, he dissected the New York Giants like they were the hapless St. Louis Rams, but he’s been playing great football for the last two years. Maybe San Diego made a huge mistake by trading him. Next there’s Eli Manning. As a Dallas Cowboys fan, it pains me to say this, but this guy’s been playing great. He has only three interceptions and has 11 touchdown passes. His quarterback rating is over 100. He may not look graceful, but he gets the job done. Then we have Ben Roethlisberger. More pain. When I look at this guy, he seems indecisive and almost lucky. Nobody can be this lucky. I guess I need to get my glasses adjusted. He has 10 touchdowns, compared to six interceptions. He takes a lot of hits. He’s already been sacked 16 times this year and still manages to win games. Aaron Rodgers is my last pick for my top five. He has a makeshift offensive line and has been sacked 25 times but he still has a passer rating over 100. He has eight touchdown passes versus only two interceptions. He is getting harassed constantly yet he has only thrown two interceptions. He’s a player.

Honorable mentions go to Matt Schaub, Kyle Orton and the old veteran Brett Farve.

Head scratchers — Carson Palmer, Mark Bulger and Tony Romo. Also, not quite sure what to make out of David Garrard.

So, who would you put on your list? Do you want to manage the game? Who do you want to run your two-minute drill for the winning touchdown?

By |2009-10-23T08:00:46-04:00October 23rd, 2009|Sports|Comments Off on NFL – Who are the top 5 quarterbacks in the league right now?

Brett Favre; what I liked about 80s basketball

So #4 is back. He will be in a Vikings uniform. My question is why? Brett Favre is no doubt a first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. He has a number of league records and has won a Super Bowl. This will be Brett Favre’s 19th season in the NFL! Very few players can match him for longevity. Heck, most coaches can’t match his longevity. But, back to my question. Why did he decide he had to come back and play for the Minnesota Vikings? Last year, he played for the New York Jets. One could argue that he had three or four good games early in the season, yes, but his play could be described as disastrous towards the end of the season. He cost the head coach his job. I would argue that another quarterback might have taken the Jets into the playoffs. I hope the Minnesota Vikings know what they’ve purchased for $25 million over two years. (There is no doubt that Sage Rosenfel and Tarvaris Jackson were not impressing the Minnesota Vikings staff but a 40-year-old quarterback?) As for the Packers fans, what can I say? Farve wanted to play and the Packers didn’t think he could any more.

I saw an article on Sports Illustrated’s website entitled 25 things we miss in basketball, which I thought was rather clever. I thought Iwould comment on some of the 25 things, because the game I see today is not the game I grew up with.

GeorgeGervinGeorge Gervin. There were lots of beautiful things to see in 1980s basketball. Magic Johnson running the floor on fast-break. Larry Bird rocketing and not looking pass to one of his teammates. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s skyhook. Adrian Dantley shooting free throws. George “The Iceman” Gervin and the finger roll. George Gervin was probably a prototype for the modern basketball player. He was a scoring machine. Don’t expect any defense because there was none. On the other hand, if you throw him the ball, you can sit back and watch some fabulous move and then the elegant finger roll.

Silence. Frank Deford talked about this several years ago. Basketball games used to be relatively quiet. We were able to hear the squeak of the tennis shoes on the hardwood floors. You could hear the coaches barking out signals and instructions. You can take your son or daughter to a game and actually explain what was going on. Now, basketball games are more like a rock concert because “We Will Rock You.” As a matter fact, these aren’t basketball games, they are Sporting Events. The stadium announcer wants you on your feet and yelling frantically for the whole game. It just isn’t the same.

Michael Jordan-Larry Bird. Although I really liked the Boston Celtics versus the Los Angeles Lakers, the Michael Jordan — Larry Bird rivalry really endures. Maybe it was because of their McDonald’s commercials. I don’t think they made more than two or three of them but they were playing H-O-R-S-E. the game, the commercial, which starts off with one of them shooting a fairly benign shot like a free throw. Then they were shooting from the bench area. Then they were shooting from the rafters. The commercial would end with them shooting somewhere outside of the stadium, miles away, and you just hear the swoosh of the basketball – “Nothing but net.”

Georgetown, University of Houston, University of Michigan. I didn’t follow NCAA basketball as closely as some of my friends but I always paid attention to March Madness (I really don’t remember when they had the tournament as March Madness.) Georgetown always had a great team. They somehow found great players. John Thompson found a way to make these players play together as a team. The University of Houston and the University of Michigan have two very memorable teams during this time period – Phi Slamma Jamma and the Fab Five. The University of Houston was led by Clyde Drexler who brought near sprinter speed to the basketball court. If he has the ball in the open court, no one was going to catch him. The team is rounded out with Benny Anders, Hakeem Olajuwon (One of the greatest centers to ever play the game in my book), Larry Micheaux, Michael Young and Rob Williams. The Fab Five were a young team in the early 1990s (sorry this is just outside of my time frame). They played some phenomenal basketball. They played with plenty of attitude and skill. There were five of the best college players I’ve ever seen play together. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson. (I know that I didn’t mention any of the Duke teams or University of North Carolina teams. Sorry. It’s not that I didn’t like those teams. They had some very memorable and great teams but to me they just were quite as memorable as the three that I mentioned.)

Team basketball. This is what I miss more than anything else. There was a time in the NBA when teams actually passed the ball — more than once. There were more plays in the playbook than just isolating the superstar. Rebounding and boxing out were important. There was more of a team concept to defense. There was hustle away from the ball. Now this team concept seems to have gone the way of the Ford model T.

By |2009-08-18T23:08:59-04:00August 18th, 2009|Sports|Comments Off on Brett Favre; what I liked about 80s basketball
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