Archive for July, 2008

With under three months to go until the San Diego Chargers take on the New Orleans Saints at Wembley Stadium, in the second regular season NFL game to take place in Europe, I felt now is a good time to look at the prospects of the Saints and the Chargers first round 2008 rookie picks.

Both teams sensibly went for defensive upgrades in areas of need – all goos so far, so lets look in some more detail;

Saints – Pick Number 7 overall – Selection – Sedrick Ellis – Defensive Tackle – College – USC Trojans – Contract status – 5 year contract signed – 6ft 1 – 307lbs – Shirt #98

Sedrick Ellis - Saints #1 pick

Sedrick Ellis - Saints #1 pick

Lawrence Vos’s Position analysis

Ellis comes into a Saints defensive that was 13th overall in the NFL against the run in 2007, but its the pass defense that was awful last season finishing 30th out of 32 teams, giving up a league worst 7.9 yards a pass. The defensive tackles clogging up the running lanes for the Saints in 07 included old warhorse Hollis Thomas (5o tackles and 3 sacks), Brian Young (who made just 18 tackles in 8 starts) and Antwan Lake (whoooo ? – well he started 7 games and had 18 tackles). Not exactly an all-star lineup you must agree. Ellis will be an immediate upgrade and will be pushing to get in the starting lineup from the opening snap of pre-season. Ellis was a monster at USC in 07, with 8.5 sacks and a reinforced shelf full of awards. Whilst his height and weight are not prototypical of a dominating defensive tackle Ellis has the motor of a transatlantic cruise liner, and is an excellent fit for the Saints. I’m not convinced that every fan inside Wembley Stadium in October will fully appreciate the skills of Ellis in the middle of a mud filled trench war, but I will be straining my eyeballs towards number #98 when the game begins. 3 tackles and a sack would be a fantastic day out for Ellis in London.

Chargers – Pick Number 27 overall – Selection – Antoine Cason – Cornerback – College – Arizona Wildcats – Contract status – 5 year contract signed – 6 ft 0 – 191lbs – Shirt #20

Antoine Cason - Chargers #1 pick

Antoine Cason - Chargers #1 pick

Lawrence Vos’s Position analysis

The Chargers were just one game away from the Superbowl, but two Tom Brady touchdown passes were enough to kill San Diego’s prospects of a second Superbowl appearance. What does Coach Norv Turner do to immediately address the problem – he got rid of Drayton Florence and upgraded to Antoine Cason, to go alongside 2007 All World corner Antonio Cromartie. Cason had 253 tackles and 15 interceptions as a Wildcat in the desert, quite impressive stats for a cornerback. At Wembley in October Cason will be going up against the likes of Devery Henderson, David Patten, Robert Meachem or even Jeremy Shockey, which will be a stern test for Cason. Rookie cornerbacks can often be picked on and by mid-season it will become apparent if Cason is going to sink or swim. With a father and two cousins that have already played in the NFL Cason will have the bonus of years of advice and guidance about being a professional athlete. Being a first round pick there will be expectations by coaches and fans that Cason will be game ready from game one. My prediction for his game in London – 2 tackles and one pass defended, and one huge mistake. 

Anyone else got any thoughts on Ellis or Cason ? Feel free to comment……

My banner went to Wembley Stadium in 2007 and Raymond James Stadium in 2007

My banner went to Wembley Stadium in 2007 and Raymond James Stadium in 2007

FLASHBACK – Feb 2 2008 – After the agony of seeing Art Monk, the former Washington Redskins (OK and Jets and Eagles) wide receiver fail to secure a place in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame seven consecutive times, it was with slightly frosty baited breath that I sat watching a live broadcast on www.nfl.com earlier this year as the Class of 2008 was announced.

It didn’t help that my streaming video quality was about the same quality as a portable television in a Swiss Alpine goat herders hut.

My wife gave me that familiar ‘don’t worry there’s always next year’ look and our two friends who were round for the evening wondered why the hell there was so much tension in the air.

When Art Monk’s name was announced through the crackly, stammering signal, I wasn’t initially sure if his name was being cited in vain or in celebration. My eyes bulged and I tapped the side of the laptop for a better signal, again nothing – a frozen screen.

Then finally (well in reality 10 seconds later) there it was on a graphic at the bottom of the video stream – ART MONK HOF CLASS OF 2008.

Hall of Fame Class of 2008

Hall of Fame Class of 2008

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, instead I launched myself out of my front door and stood under a street light, pointed to the heavens and screamed at the top of my lungs yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees, yeeeeeeeeeeeeees. I then ran into the back of the house to grab my signed art lithograph of Art Monk and proceeded to dance with it – again much to the bemusement of our guests and my relieved wife.

I do feel that I can take a minuscule slice of the credit for the former Syracuse wideout’s deserved place amongst the good and the great of the NFL at Canton.

My banner (pictured above) went to the first ever regular season NFL game played in Europe – when the New York Giants beat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 at Wembley Stadium in London. After some furious banner waving I even managed to get it filmed on the JumboTron in the 4th quarter – 80,000 fans saw my banner !!!!!

The banner then went on a USA vacation as the Redskins played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Florida. Everyone cheered my banner, and one particularly keen American even stopped me so he could take a a picture. Suffice to say the Redskins lost (it was actually the weekend that Sean Tayor went back to Miami after his injury) but it was great to see even the Buccs fans agree that Art Monk deserved his own bronze bust in a certain building in Ohio.

I know for sure that on Saturday (August 2 2008) its going to be emotional.

Art Monk deserved his place in the Hall of Fame many years ago – just look at his stats .

Mr Monk I salute you.

He's Electric Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee's gone Touchdown Hester

He's Electric Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeee's gone Touchdown Hester

I have a confession to make to you all – I love Devin Hester.

There I said it, I feel cleansed. I’m not a Chicago Bears fan, and I dont even support the Miami Hurricanes (his college team) I just love watching Hester give NFL special teams coordinators the heebie -jeebies as they decide to squib kick or grow a set of balls and just kick directly to him.

I am therefore relieved that Hester has signed a 4-year contract extension today – Well done Mr H. I think for Hester to hold out would have been an incredible loss to the Bears and a loss to the NFL as a whole.

Watching Hester’s electrifying opening kickoff go all the way to the house in Superbowl XLI made me spit out a mouthful of popcorn and peanut M&Ms and make general whooping noises.

Having Hester on one of my 55 man roster fantasy teams in the AMFL (Art Monk Football League) is like knowing you can go into a sweet shop every week for 16 weeks and six times pulling out a Wonka bar with a winning ticket. Even though I lost my fantasy game this week 35-38 Hester returned a punt for a touchdown and caught an 18 yard pass for another score.

In fact in 12 games in the AMFL Hester has scored 2 punt return tds 2 kick return tds and his stats are 45 kick returns for 1072 yards (23.8 yards a return) and only 19 punt returns – but a whopping 14.6 yards a return (278 yards), he also has 4 catches for 66 yards and a score.

Back to reality – and the REAL Hester – he is even scarier. With an insane 11 return touchdowns in just two seasons (plus two receiving tds) Devin is without doubt the most exciting athlete in the NFL – yes more exciting than Tom Brady, Brett ‘who cares if he comes back’ Favre, and even the likes of fellow hot returners like Leon Washington and Joshua Cribbs.

I’m gonna be bold and predict Hester gets 4 combined return touchdowns and 5 to 8 catching touchdowns. I know that the Bears are planning to use Hester as a quality wideout, but lets hope they do not cut of their nose to spite their face by reducing Hester’s return time.

I reckon Hester can get 45-55 catches for about 600-700 yards, but for god’s sake Lovie Smith don’t be a madman and take Hester off return duties.

So NFLFANINENGLAND blog readers ….how many return touchdowns (combined kick and punt return) do YOU think that Hester will get in 2008 season?

Brady is available in two of my vacant fantasy teams

Brady is available in two of my vacant fantasy teams (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

I have two vacancies in the AMFL – Art Monk Football League – 24 team non cap FREE to enter league.

I have one vacancy in the BBFL – Britball Football League – 20 team non cap FREE to enter league.

Both AMFL and BBFL are/will be using – 2007 NFL stats and Action PC 2008 Football game

Draft status – AMFL  Free Agency draft concluded for 08, Rookie 08 draft concluded (rooks drafted do not play till 2009)
Draft status – BBFL Free Agency draft concluded for 08, Rookie 08 draft takes place in August 2008 (rooks drafted do not play till 2009)

Websites with rules – www.freewebs.com/amfl and www.freewebs.com/britballfootball  

AMFL – We are in Season 2 and from Monday 21 July – Mon 28 July is Week 12 

BBFL – We are in the offseason – Season 3 begins in September 2008

Vacancies – AMFL Miami Dolphins currently lead division at 8-2 and Minnesota Vikings 6-4 and still in playoff race
Vacancies – BBFL Indianapolis Colts (in offseason)

AMFL Dolphins roster includes – Brian Westbrook and Jerius Norwood, Plaxico Burress, Donte Stallworth, Jeff King, Alge Crumpler, Trent Edwards, Jake Delhomme, Cleo Lemon, an awesome oline featuring Steve Hutchinson 10+ and Jordan Gross 9, Shaun Rogers, John Abraham, Cato June, Jerry Porter, Aaron Ross and Dawan Landry. 

AMFL Vikins roster includes – NFL MVP Tom Brady, Derek Mason, Chad Johnson, Deshaun Foster, Ronnie Brown, Eric Johnson, Mike Vrabel, Nick Mangold, Tony Ugoh, Mike Wahle, John Henderson, Jason Taylor, Aaron Schobel, Bradie James, Leroy Hill, Marcus Trufant and Ken Hamiln

BBFL Colts roster includes – NFL MVP Tom Brady, Willis MacGahee, Joseph Addai, SHaun McDonald, Kevin Walter, Laverneus Coles, Greg Olsen, Owen Daniels, Shaun Andrews and some solid oline, Kevin Williams, Aaron Kampman, Aaron Smith, Brian Urlacher, John Beason, Keith Brooking, Champ Bailey, Troy Polamalu and Ndai Asomugah

Please email me on lawrencevos@yahoo.co.uk or find me on AOL IM. My tag is monkeymutton44

I can email over rosters to check pretty quickly, and a league file.

Both leagues are NON Cap.

All games are aimed to be played played head to head.

Rosters are 55 in BBFL and in AMFL 56 active including YOU as a 3 skilled ILB (a special teams gunner).

Owners are mostly American, howeve I am a Brit, and we have Brit owners, an Itailan, a Mexican owner and a Welsh one.

Many of the owners have teams in both leagues.

I encourage game reports and have a system to ensure games are played every week.

thanks

Lawrence. 
lawrencevos@yahoo.co.uk 
https://nflfaninengland.wordpress.com/

By Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

By Gregory Shamus, Getty Images

I was very interested to read the the Detroit Lions 7th round rookie pick in the 2008 NFL draft, Army safety Mr Caleb Campbell will now not realise his NFL dream anytime soon as he has been called back into service for his country.

No longer will he defend his team from pigskin bombs from the likes of Tom Brady or Tony Romo, he will now defend bombs that kill.

It is not for me to decide the rights or wrongs of Army college graduates wishing to pursue careers in sports, and I know for sure that in the USA there is certainly mixed opinions on whether Campbell should have been drafted in the NFL at all, the whole issue has however made me think.

As someone who knows quite a  a lot about NFL history and also someone who has lived in England for 33 years and followed football (or soccer as you people over the pond call it) I cant help but contrast the vast differences between the USA and the UK when it comes to both sports and academia and sports and military service.

I know that the Army, Navy, and Air Force in the USA have college American football rivalries that are awesome, and the Army v Navy game is up there as an annual spectacle with a Rose Bowl or a National NCAA Championship. I also know that legendary NFL superstar and Cowboys former quarterback Roger Staubach served in the Navy. Recent NFL starters including Chad Henning was in fact serving in London, England, when he found ot he could play in the NFL.

When Pat Tillman RIP left the Arizona Cardinals to serve in Iraq it was seen an a bold move and I for one was saddened when news filtered back that he was killed on duty. Not for one minute can I imagine selfish money grabbing egotists such as Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Arsenal’s Emanuel Adabeyor suddenly waking up one day and saying they will serve for the Portuguese Army or the Togolese Air Force.

Over here in the United Kingdom there is no equivalent national obsession with sports in the UK Army or Navy or Royal Air Force. Whilst there may well be fiercely contested tug-of-war, rugby or even rowing contests between the UK Army and the UK Navy, it certainly is not televised and it is not the ‘water-cooler’ gossip of the offices up and down the country that week.

A scene from the Superbowl 18 months ago

A scene from the Superbowl 18 months ago

As a Brit who has visited the USA four times (to San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Washington DC and Orlando) I have seen first hand how people in the USA use sporting events, and even a Shamu show at Sea World to pay tribute the the armed forces. Giant stars ands stripes flags draped over the field at kickoff, standing ovations and tributes to fallen heroes, and even a round of applause to all former or current members of the military before Shamu does his thing in the pool.

In England we have one minute silences to former English football players who die, but I cannot recall a large sporting event where everyone is given a St Georges flag (England) or a Union Jack (United Kingdom) to wave as we all stand there teary eyed paying tribute to the Parachute Regiment or the SAS.

In fact it may surprise you that there have been displays of complete disrespect to soldiers in the United Kingdom. Check here  or here for just two examples – something I’m sure would be seen as unforgivable in the USA.

If you are in the UK do you think we disrespect our own military ? If you are in the USA do you think that you pay enough respect to the military or even too much – would love to get opinions from both sides of the pond …….

Shockey warming up at Wembley, London in 2007

Shockey warming up at Wembley, London in 2007

Some people think tight-end Jeremy Shockey was traded to the New Orleans Saints from the New York Giants earlier this week because he wants to start afresh in the Superdome.

Some say he could not cope with the fact Kevin Boss (spot him in the picture above Shockey) was one of the New York Giants stars in the Superbowl (XLII) in February, whilst Shockey sat injured and unable to play.

I can however reveal the real reason that Jeremy Shockey has signed for the Saints – he wants to COME BACK to England and strutt his stuff at the second ever NFL International game in Europe.

Taking place again at Wembley Stadium on October 26 2008 Shockey will be once again crossing the pond and getting changed in the London locker room for an England based NFL regular season encounter, this time the Saints against the San Diego Chargers.

it can be exclusively revealed on NFLFANINENGLAND that Shockey asked to be traded to the Saints so he could come back to London, for the following reasons…..

1) Shockey is addicted to the English delicacy of Fish ‘n’ Chips, with mushy peas, a pickled onion, a small pot of curry sauce and a can of Tizer (which is available to buy in England despite Scottish people thinking it is exclusively their drink), this after his first visit to London in 2007 as a New York Giant

2) Shockey in fact likes English women, citing that he has the hots for Elizabeth Hurley, Kate Moss and after 10 pints of Spitfire Ale a bit of Amy Winehouse

3) Shockey’s family insist that young Jeremy brings back at least four boxes of PG Tips tea, so the Shockey family can experience the full English tea drinking experience back in the land of Uncle Sam

I for one already have my tickets paid for and on their way for the Saints v Chargers game in October.

Maybe this time Shockey can punch one in the end-zone himself, after all just because we had a bit of rain does not excuse the Giants and Dolphins from only managing a total of 23 combined points in 60 minutes.

PS – Shockey is in my BBFL fantasy team roster so I wish him all the best and hope he has a 60 catch 750 yard season in New Orleans, which I think is not beyond the realms of possibility.

So what do YOU think Shockey’s stats will be in 08 as a Saint ? Please post a response

My own pic of the 40ft Jason Taylor outside Wembley Stadium in 2007

My own pic of the 40ft Jason Taylor outside Wembley Stadium in 2007

It was a bizarre enough experience being faced with a 40ft tall Jason Taylor (see the real people standing under umbrellas) when I went to Wembley last year for the first ever NFL regular season game to be played in England.

To find out that Jason Taylor will now be suiting up in the burgundy and gold of the Washington Redskins is possibly even more bizarre.

This means that somewhere someone is in possession of a giant #99 Dolphins shirt that is now as useful as as a marshmallow knife set.

I had a few thoughts………….

1) Maybe the shirt can be unstitched, layed out flat the Fins can reuse the material to make shirts for the 08 season?

2) Maybe the shirt can be be used as a sail on a boat, I know the GB team are good at yachting Olympic style, but do the NFL want to diversify into boat sponsorship ?

3) Get JT to sign the thing and put it on eBay, but dont tell anyone the size, just sell it with normal size shirts, and then sting the winning bidder at the end with the postage cost !

4) Get Mtv to pimp the shirt and get Xzibit (US version) and Tim Westwood (UK version) to fight over who actually gets to do the business (btw Tim Westwood to all you USA based readers is the white son of a vicar who thinks he is a gangsta and runs a nationally syndicated hip hop radio show). 

5) Cut the shirt up and sell it to Topps who can do a Game-Used NFL Jason Taylor card – only problem is the limited edition bit would be a bit lacking as you would likely have over 1,000,000 swatches of shirt.

I’m sure the NFL blogging world will be buzzing with all the cliches about Dan Snyder buying a team, the second coming of the Over the Hill Gang, and the fact both the Skins and the Fins get good deals, but I bet a whole king-size PayDay that no-one has considered the consequence of a 20 ft tall Jason Taylor shirt !!!!!!!

PS – Get well soon Philip Daniels.

Devin Thomas is NOT a smurf

Devin Thomas is NOT a smurf

Ok – yes the Washington Redskins did reach the playoffs in 2008 . And yes their two smurf like wide receivers Antwan Randle-El and Santana Moss did indeed each score fourth quarter touchdowns in the Wild Card game against the Seahawks.

It was all not enough though as the Skins collapsed after those two scores and in the last 10 mins of the game the team representing the Nation’s capital curled up and died.

My point ? Well if you are a Redskins fan you know that we needed BIGGER wide receivers, ones that are not blue, ones that do not wear white socks on their head, and ones that do not live in mushrooms.

It was announced Friday (18 July) that the Redskins signed rookie WR Devin Thomas, having signed rookie WR Malcolm Kelly earlier in the week.

Today the team also signed rookie sleepyhead TE Fred Davis, meaning the Redskins have signed all 10 draft picks.

If you are a Redskins fan you would have been spending at least the last three seasons screaming for the Burgandy and Gold war room to sign some TALL wideouts, those above 5ft 8 and those with a body frame outside of a pop warner kicker.

For the Skins to trade down and manage to get Thomas, Kelly and Davis in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL draft was in my opinion a master stroke. Risky yes, but after there were no wideouts drafted in the 1st round it seems like the GM and Coach Zorn managed to gauge the mood to perfection.

So now the Skins have some height, lets have a little look at the rookies …….

Devin Thomas is 6 ft 2 – from Michigan State (where Superbowl winning td catcher Plaxico Burress played college ball)

Malcolm Kelly is 6 ft 3 – from Oklahoma (where he is 2nd all-time in their records with 21 career tds)

Fred Davis is 6 ft 4 – from USC (where he won the John Mackey Award as a senior, the first USC Trojan TE to even become declared the best TE in college football)

Yes it’s too early to say what impact these three have made, as they have not suited up and played a down yet, but adding three weapons all 6 ft 2 and over should signal the evenual death of loyal but smurf-like wideouts Santana Moss and Atuwan Randle-El.

After all this is not the 1980s, the Skins are doing the right thing by getting some height, and I for one look forward to Coach Zorn getting Thomas, Kelly and Davis on to the field, and frightening some d-backs – hopefully burning the likes of Roy Williams (hell I could probably get open against him) and Prat-Man Adam Jones.

2008 NFL season BRING IT ON !

Which 2nd round Redskins rookie do you think will make the biggest impact on the Redskins offense this upcoming season?

Chambers wearing an NFL europa Hamburg Blue Devils kit (Pic courtesy of BBC)

If you live in the USA I’m pretty confident that Dwain Chambers, the disgraced English sprinter will not have even registered on your sporting shame radar. However if you live in England or any part of Great Britain for that matter then today’s news will be dominated by the High Court decision to say if Chambers can compete for team GB in the 100m (and possibly 4x100m relay – which Team GB currently hold the GOLD medal in !!!) in the Beijing Olympics.

Why am I rattling on about Chambers you may ask in an NFL blog? Well it is a little know fact that Chambers had a failed tryout for the San Francisco 49ers in 2004 – this after being given a two year global ban from competing in any athletics (track and field to you guys over the pond) meets.

Chambers also suited up in NFL Europa for the Hamburg Blue Devils – but unfortunately this did not turn out to be a Kurt Warner moment, and he did not get the call to the NFL.

I’m not sure what the likes of Champ Bailey or Charles Woodson would have made of Dwain hugging the sideline of an NFL field, guess we will never know.

One thing for sure Chambers is THE #1 ranked GB 100m sprinter after coming first in the GB Olympic trials last week, and I have a sneaky feeling that he will win his court battle and get to take on the likes of Tyson Gay and the Jamaican speed demons in a month or so.

Chambers wearing an NFL Europa Hamburg Blue Devils kit (Pic courtesy of BBC)

It’s an intersting prospect to think that we could have seen Terrell Owens, Jerry Rice and Dwain Chambers on an NFL field together – quite bizarre if you sit down and picture it in your minds eye.

I for one think Chambers should compete in the Olympics for team GB, he has served his time for taking illegal substances, and represents a chance (not a big one mind you) at a medal.

After all if he doesn’t make it the UK media will be full of news about completely useless toffee nosed sports such as showjumping and yachting – who needs that ?

Big Ol Jamal (Getty Images)

Big Ol Jamal (Getty Images)

After just a few days of posting my desperate need for a quality defensive tackle, the bait of Plaxico Burress was just too tempting for my esteemed BBFL league owner Mark Christy and his black hole residing Oakland Raiders.

New York Giant Superbowl winning wideout Plaxico Burress and 2007 Indianapolis Colts rookie DT Ed Johnson are heading to the silver and black area of California, in return for……drum roll…… Jamal Williams the awesome San Diego Charger DT and Pittsburgh Steelers backup wideout Nate Washington.

On the face of it it was a DT and a WR for a DT and a WR, but in reality it gives my Redskins team 13 out of 16 regular season games (don’t forget we play 55 man teams using real NFL stats from 2007) a hard nosed, space eating monster, who according to the Action PC gods is rated a 9 against the run (out of 10).

Yes Jamal will miss 3 games (at an undetermined time in the 16 game season) but he is an immediate and HUGE upgrade.

Getting Nate Washington is a bonus as I lose 70 catches with the loss of Burress, but I get 29 catches for 450 yards and a very respectable 15.5 yards a catch. I remember watching Washington last season and he looked like he could be a keeper.

I will ceratinly miss Ed Johnson, but as he never played a down for my Skins team its a case of what could have been, not what was.

Above all I think it was a fair trade with all parties very happy. Mark – I hope you add a comment – and any other blog readers please give me your thoughts – who got the best deal ????????