Thursday, August 25, 2011

Is the Colts Franchise In Trouble?

As the 2011-2012 NFL season gets ready to kickoff on Sept. 8, the Indianapolis Colts are sliding further and further away from their solidarity.

Their usual comfort zone of having Manning at the beginning of every season is uncertain for this upcoming one. According to multiple sources, quarterback Peyton Manning is doubtful to make his 209th consecutive start during Week 1. Manning is still recovering from neck surgery that he had after last season, and with his health in question who knows if he'll every play another down of football again.

According to Skip Bayless, top debater on ESPN's First Take, Manning will return to the field by Week one, but his counterpart, Rob Parker believes that Manning should choose health over the love of the game and retire. Many analysts are split between what the future holds for the potential Hall of Fame quarterback, but when looking at his career and past success, it is hard to disagree with the people who believe Manning should turn to a new chapter in his life; the life after football.

Manning is entering his 14th season in the NFL. He has won a Superbowl and a Superbowl MVP in 2007, threw for over 54,000 yards and 399 touchdowns, completed 65 percent of his passes and has a 95.0 quarterback rating for his career. After experiencing the highest of the highs and now the lowest of the lows as a NFL player, Manning does not have anything else to prove.

His toughness should never be questioned because he has never missed a game after enduring 13 entire seasons of the brutal wear and tear of professional football.

Although he's tough, Manning's health is still the biggest concern for the Colts' organization, but they also have many other concerns. They have a young inexperienced offensive line, and they do not have the same receiving core that helped Manning earn his prestigious accolades. "It only takes one missed assignment by an offensive lineman," Rob Parker, ESPN First Take debater said. One missed block, a clear path and hard hit from a defender on Manning can end his and any other NFL player's football career and possibly hinder their life after football. Should Manning take that risk? His toughness may say yes, but who knows if his mind and his family will vote in favor of returning for another NFL season.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grid Iron Gang Sleepers

There are a lot of talented teams on the rise in the NFL this upcoming season. From the Oakland Raiders to the Green Bay Packers, every team has improved themselves for the 2011-12 season.

The notable teams (also known as "sleepers") are those same Raiders, the Tamba Bay Buccaneers and the St. Louis Rams.

For starters, the Raiders surprised a lot of teams and fans last season when they went undefeated (6-0) within the AFC West division. Even though they ended up 8-8 and missed the playoffs, they showed a lot of upside. Wide receiver Louis Murphy had a productive 14 game season last year for the Raiders with 41 receptions, 609 yards and two touchdowns. Another player in Jason Campbell, who's a reliable passer has a full year under his belt as the Raiders quarterback and they just drafted Terrelle Pryor out of Ohio St in the NFL Supplemental Draft earlier today. Pryor is a QB, who many analyst think will not make it as a quarterback, but has the athletic ability and potential to be a tight end or linebacker. If they can put together four or five wins outside of the division it is hard to see the Raiders not in the postseason in the 2011 season.

The Buccaneers are another "sleeper" in today's NFL. They came within the final game of the regular season before missing the playoffs at 10-6. Quarterback, Josh Freeman is an athletic and gifted young man. He gives this team hopes of turning back clock to the past to recapture that winning a Superbowl feeling this franchise experienced in 2003. Last season, Freeman (first-year as full-time starter) threw for 25 touchdowns, only six interceptions, over 3,400 yards and completed 61 percent of his passes. They also have another young talent in second-year running back LeGarrette Blount. In 13 games he ran for over 1,000 yards at five yards a carry for six touchdowns. Having a 11-5 or 12-4 record this year will still be tough to win the NFC South, but it still will give them a high chance of getting into the playoffs.

Last, but surely not least the Rams lost their playoff hopes during the final game of the regular season as well when they lost to their division rival Seattle Seahawks (earned last playoff spot). The Rams have a lot of upside with Sam Bradford as their starter quarterback and Stephen Jackson as their running back. Both are very talented and young. If they can put together some pieces for the receiving core and on the defensive end then this team can run away with the NFC West (who isn't known for good records). Their division winner, Seahawks had a 7-9 record, so it is safe to say that having a .500 or above .500 record could help any team in this division win it and make the playoffs. The Rams have that potential to do so for years to come and even this season.

"Sleepers," can be found throughout the NFL, but these three teams mentioned have shown bright spots that can get even brighter during the 2011-2012 season. The upside about all these teams is that they're all young and show a lot of promise. The Rams have the best chance opf making the playoffs out of all these notable "sleepers."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Five NFL QBs

There are many talented players in today's NFL, especially at the quarterback position, but there are five guys that separate themselves from the rest.

1. At the top spot as best QB in the NFL, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is a clear number one. The sixth-round 199th overall pick of the 2000 NFL draft has won three Superbowls (2002, 2004, 2005). According to multiple sources, Brady and Joe Montana are the only players in NFL history to win multiple MVP and Superbowl MVP honors (2 League MVPs and 2 Superbowl MVPs). Brady also holds the record for most touchdown passes in a single season with 50, which he accomplished in 2007. Not only does his stats speak for him, but this overlooked super star has a charisma of no other. His leadership and poise is exceptional on and off the field. Not to mention, Brady's arm and pin-point accuracy has helped make a name in the NFL not only for himself, but for his wide receivers as well.

2. The second-best player at the quarterback position is the Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning. He's a humble and confident player, who has won one Superbowl ring and Superbowl MVP in 2007. Manning is arguably the best on the field play-caller in NFL history. His ability to read and adapt to defenses is out of this world. He can make even the best defensive backs look like rookies. Manning's connection with his long-time receivers Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne was a great collaboration to watch until Harrison broke up the trio due to retirement. Besides Wayne, Manning has a young receiving core who are talented, but are just that much better because of the man who's throwing them the ball. Manning has also started every game since he was drafted as a rookie by the Colts in 1998; 208 consecutive games. Those who are NFL fans know how hard it is to stay healthy for at least half the season, let alone an entire one.

3. The third best quarterback today is the speedy lefty, Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick started his career with the Atlanta Falcons and was known for the speed of his legs more than the speed of the ball after it left his hands. In 2006, Vick accumulated over 1,000 yards rushing along with over 2,400 yards passing. This past season (with the Eagles), Vick has reshaped his game and became more of a pocket-passer. He changed games with his arm, more than his legs and helped the Eagles come within one play of advancing to the second-round of the playoffs before they loss to the eventual Superbowl champion Green Bay Packers. Vick threw for 21 touchdowns to only six interceptions in 12 starts last season. His ability to be a threat as a passer and runner poses many problems for any defense, which is why Philadelphia is a legitimate contender to win it all.

4. The best thing to happen to Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints was the San Diego Chargers letting him go after injuring his throwing shoulder in 2005 because the Saints were then given a gift in 2006. Brees had surgery on his shoulder and came back stronger and with more zip in his throw than ever before. Brees threw two more touchdowns (26) and four less interceptions (11) in his first season with the Saints than he did in his last season with the Chargers. In 2009, after a 4,388 yards, 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions regular season, Brees brought a Superbowl to the city of New Orleans and was the MVP of the championship game. This high powered offense thrives on the performance of Brees's surgically repaired throwing shoulder, and they should not have any complaints. He has thrown for 155 touchdowns to 79 interceptions in five seasons with the organization. The 32-year-old will keep this franchise up and running as long as he's healthy and playing at an optimum level.

5. Last, but surely not least is the Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers; the successor of future Hall of Fame QB Brett Favre. In his third season (last year, 2010) as the full-time starter in Green Bay, Rodgers led his 10-6 (wild card) team to a Superbowl championship. They played every game as the underdog and came out as the best team. Rightfully so, Rodgers ended as the Superbowl MVP. His off-balance throws and powerful arm catapulted the Packers to champions. He threw for a QB rating of 101.2, 28 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions last season. He completed 65 percent of his passes and averaged 261.5 yards a game. Rodgers seems to be running farther and farther away from Favre's shadow after each football season. He will become a Hall of Fame quarterback when his career as a NFL player comes to a close.

These five quarterbacks are the best-of-the-best and will be for the next 5-10 years (some longer than others). They all are talented in similar ways, but they all also have a unique characteristic within them that separates them from the average QB. 2011 will be an exciting NFL season and expect these five QBs to make a lot of highlights in each and every game.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Underdogs Seeing The Postseason Light?

With under 50 games left in the MLB season, the Cleveland Indians (58-56) are two games behind the Detroit Tigers (61-55) for first place in the AL Central.

The wild card spot for the playoffs looks to be locked up and will go to either the Boston Red Sox (72-44) or the  New York Yankees (70-45), so the Indians only hope of temporarily breaking the "Cleveland curse," making it into the postseason and having a legitimate chance at becoming Major League champions is by winnig the AL Central.

The Indians are on a little win streak (two games), while the Tigers are on the losing side of the hill (three game losing streak). Cleveland needs to take advantage of the turn of events, win 10, maybe 11 games in a row and hope the division leading Tigers continue to skid and accumulate losses.

It's late in the year, and if a team is hot during this part of the season they usually are the team who breaks through and becomes the winner of their division.

The Indians are playing some good baseball, but they need to continue to play competitively and win well over majority of the games they have left, so they can bring some joy to the faithful fans and city of Cleveland.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Open Field Of Play

Now that the dreaded NFL lockout has ended, and multiple teams have "splashed" in this year's flooded free agency pool, the 2011-2012 NFL season will be an unpredictable one.

In previous years, it was always those handful of teams that were destined to make a legitimate run at a Superbowl title, but this year the top of the totem pole is "open for business."

Philadelphia dominated the free agent market by signing multiple NFL starting-caliber players, such as former starting Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young, former starting Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, former starting Arizona Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and the former primary lock down technician Oakland Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha to Philly's already talented roster.

Philly made some noise in free agency, but so did other teams like the New York Jets, who brought back their star receiver in Santonio Holmes and signed WR Plaxico Burress (6-foot-5 232-pounds), who gives them a much needed target in the redzone to score some easy touchdowns. The New England Patriots also were very productive in acquiring WR Chad Ochocinco (as a Bengals fan this hurts) from Cincinnati and getting a great defensive stopper in DT Albert Haynesworth.

With that being said, teams like the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts for the AFC, and the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears for the NFC have always been in the mix for a chance to win the title in the past few years; this year is no different.

The field has opened up tremendously though because you cannot count out the defending champion Green Bay Packers, who have brought back majority of their young talented core for this upcoming season, the Atlanta Falcons are legitimate threats also with Matt Ryan as their QB and Michael Turner running the ball for them, as well as the Tamba Bay Buccaneers, who have improved their team over the years, and are now a true contender in the NFC South.

Don't be surprised if it comes down to the last game of the season to decide the Detroit Lions playoff hopes too. They're defense is tremendous (44 sacks last year) and if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy their offense will have a lot of success throwing the ball for not only this year, but years to come.

In the AFC, the Houston Texans are looking like they can finally beat the Colts out as the top team in the southern division. They have one of the best wide receivers in the game in Andre Johnson, and their defense is beginning to get healthy with LB DeMeco Ryans coming back from injury. Also, the San Diego Chargers are always a dark horse with Philip Rivers as their quarter back.

All these teams mentioned, (to me) have a chance to do some great things this season, and maybe even shock the football world. NFL fans get ready for some exciting smash mouth football because our dream has finally become true; THERE IS AN NFL SEASON THIS YEAR, and we are locked in for the next seven to 10 years as well.