Archive for December, 2008

Well we are here – another NFL regular season is in the books and the playoffs are just around the corner.

Now is the time for my NFLFANINENGLAND 2008 NFL (Regular Season Awards)

Chad Pennington has shown the way in 2008 with 11 wins

Chad Pennington has shown the way in 2008 with 11 wins

Team of the Year – Miami Dolphins

You do not go from 1-15 to 11-5 and division winner without some truly mindblowing changes to the football program. Losing Zach Thomas (Cowboys 2008 no playoffs) and Jason Taylor (Redskins 2008 no playoffs) seemed bad enough, but this only seemed to strengthen a team that had been humiliated in 2007. Behind the pinpoint precision of Chad Pennington, robbed of a deserved Pro Bowl spot by Brett ‘no playoffs’ Favre, and the running of both Ronnie Brown and Ricky ‘lets go fly a kite’ Williams the Dolphins brought back the single wedge, to bemuse and befuddle defensive coordinators. Whatever happens here on out for the Florida fish 2008 is a huge success, and drafting an OT (Jake Long) over a fancy dan QB has turned out to be one helluva wise decision.

Coach of the Year – Mike Smith – Atlanta Falcons

When your franchise quarterback is behind bars, you have to get an unproven starter free agent running back, you then draft a rookie QB and throw him in the deep end and have a defense that is full of no names, then you have a recipe for about a 4-12 record. On top of that you have a head coach who is making his NFL debut as the main man. The Falcons were a team with little expectations by owners and fans alike, so to get to 11-5 and earn a playoff place is a real achievement. Matt Ryan has had his struggles but head coach Mike Smith has been there to offer encouragement at all times. This is a real case of overachieving, and with the NFL’s 2nd ranked rusher (Michael Turner) and burner Jerious Norwood in the backfield this could be a team that still has a few upsets to come in the proverbial applecart.

Comeback player of the Year – Antonio Bryant– Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout

Being out of the game in 2007, and with his third team in four seasons there was not a great expectation on Antonio Bryant to become a stud that could prove to the Cowboys, Browns and 49ers (all teams that packed his bags) wrong.  Well Antonio had other ideas, as he set career bests for catches (82), yards (1, 248) and touchdowns (7). OK his Buccs did not reach the playoffs but Bryant managed over 500 yards receiving in December. That is pretty damm good.  

Biggest disappointment player – Marion Barber – Dallas Cowboys running back

When the Cowboys decided to hitch up all their wagons on a stud horse by the name of Barber (the third to be precise), and ledt go of Julius Jones, they were expecting Barber to compete with Adrian Petersen for the NFL rushing title.  Yes Barber did end up playing 15 games and he did get 1,300 yards from scrimmage, but he had a career low 3.7 yards a rush and only 885 yards on the ground and a lowly 7 touchdowns. True he had some sort of toe injury but this was a back that fantasy fans were expecting 1,500 yards rushing and 16-20 touchdowns.

Biggest disappointment team – Cleveland Browns

The Dawg Pound had about as much bite as Paris Hilton’s pooch in 2008, finishing 31st in passing yards per game despite the explosive weapons that include Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow Junior. Derek Anderson was supposed to steer this team to the playoffs, with Brady Quinn waiting in the wings. When your season dies on its ass with Bruce Gradkowski you know it doesn’t get much worse.  31 points in their last six games has to be one of the worst last six games of offense in NFL history.

Rookie of the year – Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans running back

The Titans stated the season with Vince Young having a bit of a mental breakdown, and that gave the keys to Kerry Collins. Gulp. No need to worry Jeff Fisher said lets run over teams with some blubber (LenDale White) and some finnesse – namely Chris Johnson who finished with 1,228 rushing yards and a mightily impressive 4.9 yards a carry. With 43 catches added and 10 total touchdowns that is one great rookie effort. The opening chapter of Johnson’s book is still unwritten as the Titans have the #1 AFC seed and will look to take their hard nosed play all the way to the Superbowl.

Rookie disappointment of the year – the entire Washington Redskins 2nd round

When Coach Jim Zorn drafted Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly (both wr) and Fred Davis (te) the Redskins fans thought they were going to be unstoppable. Instead they went vanilla average finishing 8-8 and out of the playoffs. Thomas, Kelly and Davis combined for a pathetic 21 catches for 165 yards in the air and 4-50 on the ground with Thonas getting one td on a gadget play. This is not what was expected, and with the likes of DeSean Jackson and Eddie Royal, and even Donnie Avery showing up at wr the Redskins crop could be the biggest group of busts assembled since the remake of Giant Jugs 7 – Revenge of the Boob Monsters.

What other awards would you like to see?

402 yards gets a place in history

402 yards gets a place in history

I have to admit it I love NFL single season records.
Whenever I play Madden on my PS2 or Wii I only consider a season good if I break an NFL record, such as rushing yards or passing yards.
Playing on a console however is not reality, however Drew Brees the New Orleans Saints quarterback is real (trust me I saw him for real at Wembley Stadium earlier this year) and he has a chance to break a record that has stood since 1984 – Dan Marino’s 5,084 yards passing in 16 games.
Brees needs 402 yards against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday to break the record that has stood for almost a quarter of a decade.
The former Purdue QB has had four 400+ yard passing games in his career;
– 421 yards @ Denver (Sept 2008)
– 422 yards @ Atlanta (Nov 2008)
– 445 yards v Jacksonville (Nov 2007)
– 510 yards v Cincinnati (Nov 2006)
He has had a very mixed bag of Week 17 games in his career (yards passing);
2002  – 332 yards v Seattle (for Chargers)
2003 – 97 yards v Oakland (for Chargers)
2004 – 290 yards @ Indianapolis (for Chargers)
2005 – 68 yards v Denver (for Chargers)
2006 – 46 yards v Carolina (for Saints)
2007 – 320 yards @ Chicago (for Saints)
Carolina have only given up 300+ yards passing in one game in 2008 (375 yards v Kurt Warner’s Arizona Cardinals). The Panthers also have the #11 ranked pass defense (by yards).
With Deangelo Williams on fire and rookie Jonathan Stewart an excellent backup (who has slowed down towards the end of the season) the Panthers will in my humble opinion spoil the Brees ‘5085’ party.
If Brees does get 402 yards it will be a minor miracle. He does have an incredible supporting cast with Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson (bad hands good speed), Jeremy Shockey, Billy Miller and running backs Pierre Thomas and Deuce McAllister and even Aaron Stecker and Mike Bell. He does have a bloody quick release, but I think it will be lack of time of possession that will eventually kill off Brees attempt at the record.
My prediction – Brees gets 273 yards and two or three touchdowns passing but he throws one costly interception and ultimately fails to get the record.
Blame the Panthers running game for not giving Brees enough time.

Merry Christmas everyone who has read my blog in 2008 – It has been a pleasure and an honour to have you read my words. 

Nothing like a good old fashioned optimist !

Nothing like a good old fashioned optimist !

For the New England Patriots to go 16-0 in the 2007 regular season is a feat that is highly unlikely to be replicated for potentially another 25 years.

Equally if the Detroit Lions falter in chilly climate of Lambeau Field on Sunday and become the first team in the 16 game era to not to win a single game they to will become the benchmark for incompetence for the next quarter of a century.

There have been a number of truly awful teams in the 16 game era who have managed just one lone victory.

Most recently the 1-15 Miami Dolphins, in 2007, who had to rely on a long Greg Camarillo touchdown to keep them from hoisting the Crown of Crap onto their heads (before fumbling it and failing to recover it).

The top of the 16 game season flops also include the following

  • 1990 England Patriots (1-15) Led by Steve Grogan QB on their only win 16-14 v Colts 
  • 1991 Indianapolis Colts (1-15) Led by Jeff George QB on their only win 28-27 v Jets
  • 1980 New Orleans Saints (1-15) Led by Archie ‘dad of two Superbowl winning sons’ Manning QB on their only win 21-20 v Jets
  • 2001 Carolina Panthers (1-15) Led by Chris Weinke QB, this Panthers team actually tied the Lions with 15 consecutive losses, but bizarrely they won their first game of the year 24-13 v Vikings
  • 1996 New York Jets (1-15) led by Frank Reich QB on their only win 31-21 v Cardinals
  • 1989 Dallas Cowboys (1-15) led by Steve Walsh QB on their only win 13-3 v Redskins
  • 2000 San Diego Chargers (1-15) led by Ryan Leaf on their only win 17-16 v Chiefs

Already the 2008 Detroit Lions are in the Hall of Shame with 15 losses, now they just have to do what they do best and concede about 35 points whist Kevin Smith runs his heart out and Calvin Johnson gains about 100 yards on 6 catches.

I personally think that any team that uses 5 quarterbacks (John Kitna, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton, Drew Henson and Dan Orlovsky) and still cannot muster one win deserves to become the champion of chumps.

We all know it is wrong to watch a train wreck, a motorway pile-up or even a player who is injured and lying motionless on the ground, but we can’t look away.

We look at the mangled metal, we stare at the broken glass on the road and the smoke billowing into the night sky and we squeam and then pray for an injured player lying prostrate on the ground to show a sign of movement.

This 2008 Detroit Lions team is a proverbial player who has been hit harder than whoever got in the way of Lorenzo Neal when he sprung Leron McClain free for that 82 yard touchdown for the Ravens against the Cowboys (week 16 2008).

Laying on the floor with just one ounce of of energy and a spoonful of willpower that will allow this franchise to wipe away the blood gripping out of their nose, the Lions will push their palms onto the snowy Green Bay floor and hoist themselves up for one last battle.

Can they beat Green Bay? Nope

Will they put up a fight? Yes for sure

Everyone loves an underdog, especially in England, but the Lions are no underdog, they are so far under they should change their name to the Detroit Moles.

Just admit it (as long as you are not a Lions fan) watching a team go 0-16 has a morbid kind of curiosity to it.

Merry Christmas to all of you – along with all the Lions fans worldwide.

As it is the time of giving I have a couple of free suggestions for the Lions

1) Change kit – get a combination of black and electric blue and then change that weird Lion outline to something with more teeth – literally – get a roaring lion head

2) Remember that you DO NOT have to draft a WR in the first round of EVERY draft.

3) Make sure Santa Claus gets your list this year – Fed Ex all 612 pages before its too late.

Matt Forte deserved a Pro Bowl spot as a rookie - he was robbed

Matt Forte deserved a Pro Bowl spot as a rookie - he was robbed

It’s that time of year for the annual farce that is the announcement of the Pro Bowl squads, you know that list which tends to get a bit boring after you have voted for your favourite quarterback or running back. 

The list where people will vote for players where they recognise the names (in the majority of cases) as opposed to researching every player in every position.

Lets be honest how many of you can honestly say you can name all 32 number one special teams gunners. Hence the reason why Brendon Ayanbadejo has reached his third consecutive Pro Bowl. He may well deserve his place, but I am sure there are many other gunners that have shown a similar set of qualities but have absolutely no media profile.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that the squads are announced with two full weeks of games still to play.

So with the starter and backups announced NFLFANINENGLAND would like to announce their own Pro Bowl reject  players overlooked, snubbed, and not shown any love, that deserve a big ol hug.

(All stats after just 14 games)

Matt Forte – Running Back – Chicago Bears – 1,115 yards rushing, 58 catches 424 yards – 11 tds – Forte has BEEN the Bears since Week 1 and without him the team look empty. When you talk about Pro Bowls you should be talking about the most VALUABLE players not the most popular ones. Forte has over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and he is only a rookie. This guy is the heartbeat of the team and should be in Honolulu in a few months.

Chad Pennington – Quarterback – Miami Dolphins – 3,218 yards 14 tds 6 ints and 0 lost fumbles – Pennington has turned the squished fish into the pride of Florida, steering his team to a 9-5 record – not that bad, but when you consider the team was 1-15 last season it is again an MVP type performance that should be recognised by ladies in hula skirts. Pennington is criticised for not throwing the deep ball, but he is accurate as hell – 66.3% in 2008.

Barrett Ruud – Inside Linebacker – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 117 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 interceptions – The Buccs have shown that their defense is yet again tough as old boots, and Ruud is becoming one of the top inside linebackers rather quietly. He stands behind the personalities of Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, but in 2008 he has come out of their shadow and is becoming a leader that deserved a little more sunshine in Feb.

John Abraham – Defensive End – Atlanta Falcons – 15.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles – It may have been the Matt Ryan show and to some degree the Michael Turner coming out party, but one of the main reason the ‘Clean’ Birds are not going to the dogs is Mr Abraham, who has had his best sack season in his NFL career. Show him a Hawaii invite, ah go oh.

More to come – I have Heroes to watch !

He has 3 rings but can he become a London legend in 2009?

He is a legend throughout New England and the whole of North America for that matter, but after the announcement today that the New England Patriots will play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley in 2009 one question remains – can Tom Brady recover from his injury to lead his team to victory in the 3rd annual NFL International Game to be played in London in three years.

Getting to see many players who have won Superbowls will bring extra spice to the game as the Pats and Buccs combine for 7 Superbowl appearances in their history and four wins between them (three to the Pats and one to the Buccs).

This game could go back to a similar point-scoring pattern that was experineced by NFL fans in the UK when they came to watch NFL pre-season games in the late 1980s and the early 1990’s.

I think the NFL pulled a mater stroke by getting the firepower of the Chargers and the Saints to combine for 69 points (and very little defense) in the NFL International game this year, as it was a great way to get new fans into the game.

The 2009 game will be a lot less work for the scoreboard staff, but to get to see a Buccs D and a Pats D face off in a game that matters will be yet another treat for all fans who get tickets.

The NFL has yet again made a great contest – and if you check back on my blog I predicted in August that the Buccs could be at Wembley in 2009 – guess it pays to be on the know !

A lot more to come on this blog over the next few days including my thoughts on Plaxico Burress and his dead leg !