Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Norrrrrmmmmmmmm

Posted: April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 I love Cheers the 80s show about a bar in Boston. One of the repeat elements of this sitcom is when regular patron Norm Peterson comes into the bar and everyone shouts “Norrrrrmmmmm”. 

When the Washington Redskins managed to toast the success of signing All Pro cornerback Josh Norman I was repeating the Boston bar welcome in my head. After all everybody knows your name when you have just played in a Super Bowl. 

The Redskins can’t stay quiet for too long during an offseason (or non-playing season as some prefer), but they did not expect to get Norman and immediately upgrade a secondary that was looking no more than ordinary. 

It came down to the greenbacks Norman thought he was worth and as it transpires he would have re-signed with the Panthers  on a one year deal, but the longer deal and the larger sums being offered by Dan Snyder were piled too high to resist. 

Not an interception monster Norman has only picked off 7 balls in 53 games. That is not a stat to be worried about as he is a specialist in removing receivers from games through pressing coverage and physical execution, resulting in less passes being thrown his way. 

The Redskins have been weak in the secondary for a long long time. There has been no-one drafted or signed at cornerback to polish the boots of Hall of Fame enshrinee Darrel Green, with the possible exception of Deangelo Hall, a DB who is going to keep playing only as he has changed position to safety. 

Norman will be a huge topic of conversation for many months before playing a real Redskins game. Two main reasons for this, firstly the so-called bad blood between him and Odell Beckham Jr the New York Giants wideout (who he will now play twice a year), and the big question if he is a product of a superstar packed defense and system or if he is an exceptional cornerback regardless of team philosophy? 

Norman has age on his side, hunger (having lost in a Super Bowl to a cardboard cutout version of the now retired Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos), and a team that is ascending. 

Redskins fans will have shrugged their shoulders when signing Greg Toler, wishing they would get someone like Eli Apple in the 2016 NFL draft. With Norman now signed the Redskins will be furiously re-evaluating their draft strategy and can look at other needs such as inside linebacker and defensive tackle. 

The Cheers theme tune cites ‘taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot’. 

Signing Josh Norman before the draft sure gives Coach Gruden a big break.

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DSC02328 With a seven week old baby I have had no chance to keep this blog updated, but seeing as it is Super Bowl Sunday I have to at least give it a small go.

Here are my predictions – feel frre to copy and past your predictions in the comments section of this post.

1) Winning team? Seahawks
2) Winning margin? 3
3) Total points scored? (a point if within 6 above or below) – 51 (27-24 Seahawks)
4) First TD scorer? Montee Ball – Broncos
5) Last TD scorer? Demariyus Thomas – Broncos
6) First scoring play and team? half a point for each Seattle FG
7) Leading at halftime? (you can say tied if you want) Seattle
8) Player with most catches? Demayrius Thomas WR Broncos
9) Will there be a player record two or more sacks? yes
10) Total TDs? 6
11) Total successful field goals? 3
12) Will Demariyus Thomas get over 100 yards receiving? Yes
13) Will Marshawn Lynch get over 100 yards rushing? Yes
14) How many times will Peyton Manning say ‘Omaha’? (a point if within 5 above or below – and no I will not be taking a tally) 33
15) MVP? Marshawn Lynch – Seahawks – with 117 yards rushing 2 catches and 2 tds
16) Who will the MVP thank first in his podium interview? (e.g. God, Family, coaches, team-mates, fans, owner?) fans
17) Will Wes Welker score a TD? no
18) Will Percy Harvin still be playing after 50 minutes of game clock? yes
19) Who will be the ‘David Tyree’ unsung hero (because we all know qb’s get the MVP)?
20) Will there be a play from scrimmage over 50 yards? no
I see the Seahawks take a healthly lead and then the Broncos fight back in third before a Russell Wilson led drive and a Hauschka fg to win it as the clock runs out.
Popcorn, M&Ms and Bud’s ready – cant wait !!!

 

Jordan Reed has been a revelation as a Redskins rookie.

Jordan Reed has been a revelation as a Redskins rookie.

It’s happened again, nine weeks in and the Washington Redskins are in exactly the same position as last year, a 3-6 record and a season that is to all intents and purposes as dead as Richie Incognito being on Jonathan Martin’s Christmas card list.

The 2013 Redskins running game is firing on all cylinders, with some memorable three-touchdown games from two members of the backfield not named Alfred Morris, and despite a reservation at the start of the season to tuck and run Robert Griffin III has had a number of statistically great games in his second NFL season.

The offensive line has again been an under-appreciated but over-achieving unit led by Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.

The biggest addition since 2012 to the offensive weaponry at RG3’s disposal has been rookie 3rd round selection, tight end Jordan Reed who came from the Florida Gators. Expected to learn his craft under veteran Fred Davis, who was re-signed in the off-season on a one-year deal, Reed has been snapping away to the tune of 44 catches for 487 yards.

It would be a somewhat tough ask, but Reed could gain 1000 yards as a rookie, which would be up there with the achievement of Alfred Morris rushing for over 1600 yards as a rookie in 2012.

Unfortunately the Redskins defense has looked better on paper than it has on the field, getting terrorised to the tune of 388 yards a game and 31.9 points a contest, with only the lowly 0-8 Jacksonville Jaguars yielding more points a game (33).

This was a team that somehow managed to send three of its linebackers to the Pro Bowl earlier this year, somewhat ironic when the team’s weakness has been tackling. The teams two star outside linebackers Brian Orakpo, back from an injury filled 2012, and Ryan Kerrigan who has been the Redskins only real source of sacks (6.5 so far in 2013), have flashed their talent but have not shone, and 38-year-old London Fletcher is inevitably slowing down.

Fletcher had a tough time growing up and was always an outside shot at even making an NFL roster, but he has been an absolute rock in the Washington locker room and on the gridiron, but expecting him to shoulder the defense for much longer is not a viable option.

Washington’s secondary has been the biggest weakness, giving up big play after big play. Putting in two rookies David Amerson and Baccari Rambo has been one of the major reasons that teams have been confident to air it out. Rambo has looked more like Dumbo sometimes, and whilst Amerson has picked off two passes (including one for a touchdown) teams are picking on the new guys.

Like chewing gum on the sole of your flip-flops a few career backups have again stuck around to cover for injuries and dips in form. Both safety Reed Doughty and defensive tackle Kenrick Goldston have been living on the periphery of the Redskins roster for many years but they simply are too valuable to release.  If anything these are guys that personify what it is to be a player in the NFL. Not the most talented, rarely on highlights packages, but always ready to step in and sacrifice their body’s for the greater good.

The kicking game has been anonymous in 2013 and the return game has been poor. The Redskins miss having a true return talent and have to rely on backup tight-end Niles Paul to return kicks and plodding wide-receiver Josh Morgan to return punts.

Last season the Redskins were 3-6 and I wouldn’t have bet a single penny that the team would tear off seven consecutive wins en-route to a divisional title and a home playoff game.

Now in the same position with seven games left the Redskins are remarkably still in the hunt for a division title. The Dallas Cowboys top the division at present with 5 wins but the NFC East truly is the NFC least and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that an 8-8 record plus a tiebreaker situation that even Russel Crowe’s beautiful mind could not solve could see the Redskins again punch their ticket to hitch a ride on the post-season express train.

It’s more likely they will bump into Tom Hanks on the Polar Express but if you would have asked me if the playoffs were achievable 12 months ago I would have laughed in your face.

As I write Alfred Morris is leading the NFL in rushing and RG3 is on target to throw for 4355 yards. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon has been living up to his potential at last, and wideout Leonard Hankerson is even starting to show up, but 29 catches in 9 games is not going to turn you into a household name.

NFL FAN IN ENGLAND’S PREDICTION FOR THE REDSKINS FOR THE REST OF THE 2013 SEASON

Week 11 – @ Philadelphia – Win 31-28
Week 12 – Home to 49ers – Loss 17-34
Week 13 – Home to Giants – Win 29-23
Week 14 – Home to Chiefs – Loss 17-27
Week 15 – @ Falcons – Win 33-19
Week 16 – Home to Cowboys Win 30-27
Week 17 – @ Giants Win – 24-19

This would equate to an 8-8 record, which I think unfortunately will not be enough to win the division. Despite an emotional Week 16 victory I have a bad feeling that a Cowboys win over the Eagles in Week 17 will put Dallas at 9-7, enough to scrape a division title. I say all this because my predicting skills are not exactly on a parallel with Nostradamus.

It’s going to be another wild ride, lets hope the burgundy and gold train stays on the track until Christmas, what a present that would make for Redskins fans around the world.

EddieLacy_crop_northThis season marks the first time since I was an undergraduate in the 1990’s that I have not watched the NFL live on Sky Sports on a Sunday, for 1pm and 4.15pm EST kickoffs.

For my birthday I was fortunate enough to get an NFL Gamepass subscription, meaning I would be watching the bulk of my live game experiences in either my iPhone, my wife’s iPad or a laptop computer.

This has been a double win in my household as I have managed to avoid watching the UK Sky Sports NFL presenters Kevin Cadle (former basketball coach) and Neil Reynolds (former player in England and author of an NFL related book) who are not exactly the most dynamic duo. (I have no idea who the guest presenters have been this year, but in previous years they have been the only reason I have stayed with Sky as my viewing platform of choice.

Former British American Football legend Mark Cohen, coach of many different teams Jeff Reinbold and former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Cecil Martin have all been terrific behind the desk.)

The other win has been the brownie points I have won with my wife as she can watch the likes of Strictly and X-Factor on the main tv, instead of an NFL game that has no relevance or interest to her whatsoever.

So how has the coverage been online? Not perfect to be honest. For many of the early Sunday kickoffs the quality of the viewing has not exactly been HD, instead ranging from good to fair, to pixellated, to a black screen saying that video quality not good enough to stream live (but with the audio continuing).

By the time the second batch of Sunday games are on the quality of streaming seems to significantly improve, and I have moved from watching the game on a laptop in the living room to an iPad in the spare bedroom so my wife can get her sleep in the pitch black.

There are some major benefits to having NFL Gamepass which include;

  • Knowing you have an archive of games to view at your leisure, meaning you don’t have to suck the life out of your Sky+ box’s memory. Every NFL fan with Sky+ knows how frustrating it is that an NFL game recorded in HD can take up to a 10th of the box’s memory, especially as you always have to record the show after in case there is overtime or lots of additional time added due to a lengthy injury.
  • The condensed game feature is a revelation. Being able to sneak in a full three and a half hour game in 35-40 minutes, with no advert breaks by 9.00am before I get to work on a Monday and Tuesday is something I am really enjoying. I can get on the train, watch 15-20 minutes of uninterrupted game coverage, get into Birmingham city centre, grab a coffee and watch the second 15-20 minutes and still get into work well before 9 o’clock. This is a real bonus if it is either a game that you have little interest in as a fan, or if you want to see for yourself your fantasy players performances without having to watch a pre-game discussion or a half-time show.
  • Archived Redzone. Now I have to be fair Sky did introduce NFL Redzone as an interactive viewing option a few seasons ago, but this was just a direct feed. When you watch Redzone on tablet or laptop you can keep track of game scores, track stats and even re-live the whole experience whenever you like.
  • Permanent access to NFL Network and archive of NFL Network shows. I have to confess I have not taken full advantage of this feature, as I do not watch NFL Network every day. Being a dad of a two-year old my only man-time is around 9.45pm – 11pm to watch what I want, and after long days I prefer to watch some comedy on Dave or Pawn (that’s P-a-w-n) Stars on History. Sometimes the likes of an ‘in-your-face’ Warren Sapp can be a bit much when you want to relax.

So what are the not so good aspects of being in England and watching NFL Gamepass? Well the positives far outweigh the negatives but there are a few niggles.

  • No live playoffs. This is the biggest downfall. As Sky has the rights to broadcasting the NFL playoffs, these are not accessible on Gamepass. I am going to have to see if I can get a one month trial from Sky as I can’t be without live playoff coverage.
  • Blacked out games. Similar to the playoffs, as Sky broadcast two live games on Sunday these are blacked out as live games on Gamepass. There is a simple way around this though. Sky have not managed to get the NFL to stop the Red Zone coverage of the games they show exclusively live. So as long as you are prepared to watch all red zone opportunities from the games on at a particular time slot you will not miss out watching the team you support from hitting paydirt.
  • Poor live streaming. As I have experienced, and this may not be the case for everyone, I have has some pretty poor live streaming since the season began. All archived footage has always streamed in HD so it’s not all bad.

If you have made it this far you are probably wondering why there is a picture of Green Bay Packers rookie running back Eddie Lacy at the top of this post. Well in my eyes he is symbolic of my rookie NFL Gamepass experience to date – so far so good, alongside some dodgy bits (his first few games / my bad streaming experience), but a huge amount of potential to set the world on fire.

The year 2021, the date Sunday January 10, the venue the Budweiser Wembley Stadium, London, England…….

LONDON JAGUARS ROAR INTO DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS WITH O/T WIN AGAINST THE DOLPHINS

by Lawrence Vos reporting from London

THIRTY years ago the London Monarchs won the inaugural World Bowl in front of 61,108 fans inside Wembley Stadium. 

Fourteen years ago the NFL packaged two teams to play the first ever regular season NFL game in Europe in front of 81,176 fans inside Wembley Stadium.

Tonight the NFL’s first ever non-North American based franchise, the London Jaguars, played and won their first ever Wild Card playoff contest in front of 87,263 fans inside Wembley Stadium.

History was made when seven year veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron led the Jaguars through the wind and rain of North London on an eleven play touchdown drive, climaxing in a three-yard dive into the end-zone from fellow draft class of 2014 team-mate Melvin Gordon. 

The mud-splattered ball that crossed the goal-line in Gordon’s right hand was found on the sideline, and within days it will be flown first-class to Canton, Ohio to sit proudly in a perspex cabinet in one of the modern era wings of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The 26-20 win against the visiting Miami Dolphins will go down in football folklore as the first post-season win for an NFL franchise based outside the United States of America. 

Before uprooting wholesale from Jacksonville, Florida, to the London Borough of Brent (just 12 months ago) the Jaguars had already etched their name into some significant post-season history books, as they, along with the Carolina Panthers, reached their respective Conference Championships just two seasons after inception. 

The Jaguars lost to the New England Patriots in the 1997 AFC Championship game. 24 years later and the Jaguars again travel to Massachusetts to face the three-time Super Bowl winners, this time two games away from competing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

Said McCarron after prizing his grass-stained Gold and Teal helmet from his steaming but beaming head: “The fans kept us going in overtime, the noise was awesome, and I hope that they are already making travel plans for our game against the Patriots next week.”

……I could go on but hopefully you get the gist.

I think this my small curtain twitch into the future is going to be more than just a dream. There is no way the NFL goes from one to three regular season NFL games in the same season in the same city without some sort of master plan to move one of the current 32 franchises, lock, stock and smoking barrel from the land of Uncle Sam to the land of Auntie Beeb.

I have it fixed in my head that in 2020 the Jacksonville Jaguars will move to their new home across the pond and become known to the world as the London Jaguars.

There will be uproar (loud animal sounding pun intended) as Roger Goodell announces in the 2015 NFL AGM that the five-year plan to get an NFL franchise in London begins with immediate effect.

No doubt opinion will be divided in terms of this decision – ranging from being for the good of the NFL’s plan to take over the world to the other extreme that the state of the average Englishman’s teeth being that shoddy that players will not want to move continents to potentially risk dental hygiene distress.

No doubt the President and our Prime Minister will be involved in terms of the mainstream media’s desire to get non-sporting column inches filled with this story between now and 2020, but I don’t think any misquote or inappropriate audible by a political head of state will derail this particular locomotive.

Money talks, and there is no way that three NFL teams are giving up a home game in 2014 without being told that this is a long-term money spinner.

I think that moving a team over here, but keeping their original NFL nickname and identity, will be the level of compromise that will keep the Jaguars owner Shahid Khan happy.

Now all I have to do is get Mr Khan to confirm all of the above, for him to offer me a job on the communications staff of the London Jaguars and for me to persuade my wife to move the family to London.

Hell, if you don’t shoot for the stars then you end up shooting in the dark.

Everyone attending the Jaguars first ‘unofficial’ home game at Wembley Stadium tomorrow I hope you all witness a competitive and heartwarming game, and that most importantly you have a safe journey home.

It’s anticipated that there is a storm brewing over England on Sunday. If we end up with the Jaguars moving permanently to London in 2020, it could be the longest storm in North American sports history.

Bring on the thunder and lightning tomorrow (and I’m not talking about the resurrection of Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber).

DSC04213 Making my way towards Wembley Stadium for the first time in three years was a bit odd, as it was my first trip to the stadium without my wife for many years.

Instead I had ventured to London alone, but had the privilege of meeting up with a Minnesota native and Vikings season ticket holder for over two decades.

After some early confusion regarding car-parks we agreed to meet outside the giant inflatables. It was great to meet my pal Scott, who I had only ever know through playing an online american football game called Action PC Football.

Scott was a little shorter than I had thought from his Facebook pictures, but he certainly looked like he had been entertained by the day and nightlife of London during his week in the capital.

We walked to the NFL truck that had the Vince Lombardi Trophy inside, but the queue was over an hour long so we abandoned that and I was then forced by Scott to watch the cheerleaders who were performing outside.

After that Scott made me feel very humble as he had bought me an Adrian Peterson shirt and a Vikings top for my daughter, as well as a book on his homeland. All I could do was get him a beer, but I will be making up for this very kind gesture in the near future.

As we went to get a beer Scott told me he had spotted the Mayor of Minnesota – looking very ordinary – and took great pleasure in fist-bumping him when he walked past. Not sure I would have the courage to to go “Oi Johnson – wasuuup!” if Boris walked past.

During the beer queue Scott and I had a great NFL chat, and I said we should get our picture taken by the Booby Moore statue. It was at that point that he made me chuckle after he explained that Vikings legendary wide-receiver Ahmad Rashad who was actually born Robert Moore, but was known as Bobby Moore before he converted to Islam. Things get more bizarre when you read Rashad was married to Bill Cosby’s on screen wife from ‘The Cosby Show’ in the 1980s.

BREAKING NEWS – The NFL today announced THREE NFL games in London in 2014 – a home game for the Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons. DSC04237

DSC04224

The Vikings and Steelers season had been like these inflatables - full of hot air.

The Vikings and Steelers season had been like these inflatables – full of hot air.

Streaking, not a man with a shaved head and his shriveled tackle swinging side to side as he gets chased by stadium security, but the ability to do something consecutively.

Streaking is something I like to do, so it was with regret that I missed the NFL regular season games played at Wembley Stadium in 2011 and 2012, after watching games in the flesh between 2007 and 2010. I was unable to attend as I had more important matters to attend to, namely the birth of our daughter in October 2011, and her development as a 1 year old in 2012.

Going back to Wembley this year was a 2012 Christmas present, that I had to wait ten months to unwrap. I also had the rather unwanted gift of travelling down from Birmingham by coach alone, as my wife and almost two-year-old daughter were not going to have as much fun on the M6 with me.

After getting to Birmingham’s revamped coach station an hour before the coach arrived I was then told the departure time had moved and the coach would be leaving an hour after it was scheduled, so I had to take my time sipping my cappuccino, munching on some Polo mints and listening to the latest Rich Eisen podcast.

Wembley Way was packed.

Wembley Way was packed.

I didn’t open my mouth during the journey to Wembley, as the guy I sat next to looked rather angry and wanted to sleep. I listened to a few more podcasts, the latest ESPN Fantasy Focus Football podcast and Tuesday Morning Quarterback. I ate some Wine Gums and almost choked as the man beside me scoffed not one but two rather bulbous scotch eggs.

Arriving at Wembley was a bit frustrating as we drove straight past what I thought was the coach car park, around the back of the stadium, and to what must have been a smaller over-spill coach park.

As I arrived about 3.30pm the place was buzzing and there was an eclectic range of NFL shirts, worldwide NFL fans and sellers of unauthorised and inappropriate (as in irrelevant) dodgy game day scarves.

My first task of the day was to find my internet friend from Minnesota.