Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ten Interesting Facts

Holy monkey, this is a boring off-season! I love summertime and all, but this time of year is really tough to get through. Even the soccer tourney is over. Team USA will be in the upcoming Gold Cup soon, but we are supposedly just sending our "B" team to that.
Since there is little news to report right now, here's a list to occupy your time. It's ten interesting facts from the '08-'09 season.

Sept. 7, 2008
Two rookie coach-quarterback combos (Baltimore Ravens with John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco, Atlanta Falcons with Mike Smith and Matt Ryan) won in Week One—something that had never happened since the NFL/AFL merger.

Sept. 21, 2008
In the Chiefs' third game of the season, they started their third different quarterback and lost for the third time.

Sept. 28, 2008
Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski attempted a 76-yard field goal. He didn't make it.
Still haven't heard Kiffin give an explanation on that one.

Oct. 5, 2008
The Colts embarrassed the Texans by becoming the first team ever to trail by at least 17 points in the final five minutes and win in regulation.

Oct. 26, 2008
During the first halftime speech of his NFL coaching career, Mike Singletary dropped his pants and pointed to his posterior to illustrate what he thought of his 49ers' performance so far. He then went on to rant for more than three minutes before hoisting them back up.

Nov. 2, 2008
The Raiders gained minus-two yards of total offense in the first half against the Falcons—the first time since 1992 a team finished with less than zero yards of offense before halftime.
Nov. 30, 2008
Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams became the first player ever to record four one-yard rushing touchdowns in a game.

Dec. 28, 2008
Green Bay Packers running back Ryan Grant had an 80-yard run called back in his final game of the year when replay showed that his knee was down 21 yards into the play, depriving him of a $1.35 million incentive bonus for reaching 1,250 yards. Ouch.

December 28, 2008
The Detroit Lions—the only undefeated team in preseason—became the first to finish an 0-16 regular season.

Please feel free to leave a comment with anything that may have been left off the list.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Peppers is Still a Panther

Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has opted to settle for a one-year, $16.7 million guaranteed salary. Wow! Sucks to be him.
“Over the past few months we have had regular communication with Carl Carey, Julius’ representative, and all indications were that Julius would be signed to report to training camp,” General Manager Marty Hurney said. “Julius obviously is a very valuable member of our team and we look forward to the 2009 season.”
Peppers originally tried to pout his way out of Carolina, but was as successful as Chad Ochostinko. Well, maybe a little more successful considering Pep will be making ridiculous money this year with his franchise tag. If the Panthers were to use the tag on Peppers again in 2010, the team would be required to offer him a one-year salary of $20.04 million. That's way more than I make.

After listening to Charlotte sports station (WFNZ), and reading various Panthers' message boards, I can tell that many fans are not happy with this signing. They are kind of adopting the Broncos/Boston College mentality of, "if you have any thoughts about not wanting to be here, then we don't want you." I say that is stupid.
This is a business. The Panthers need Peppers on the d-line, and he needs to play (well) this year if he EVER hopes to get a Haynesworth type contract. Since nobody showed much interest in forking over enough to trade for Peppers, he really had no choice but to re-sign with Carolina. I guess he could have sat out, but that would have just hurt his own chances of getting what he wants next year. He needs to show that he isn't a big baby, and that he is worth what he wants to get paid.
I look for Julius to have a solid season, as he did in 2009. Maybe he will work well with Ron Meeks, and even decide that he wants to finish his career as a Panther.
Either way, this is a good thing for Carolina fans. So get off your high-horse, and be glad about this.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DeAngelo Williams does - "WHO AM I?"

"In 2008 I rushed for 1,515 yards on only 263 carries. I led the league with 18 rushing touchdowns. My 5.5 yards per carry (200 carry minimum) was also first in the league. And my two games of four rushing TDs? First. Did I mention that I had zero fumbles?
Who am I? L.T.? Clinton Portis? Brandon Jacobs? Steven Jackson? Larry Johnson? Willie Parker? I out rushed them all. In fact, I out rushed every back in the NFL, but two. Their names? Michael Turner (who had 103 more carries than me) and Adrian Peterson (he had 90 more). Given Michael Turner’s work load, I would have rushed for over 2,000 yards at my 5.5 YPC average.
Still don’t know who I am? How about a few more hints.

Coming out of college I was labeled as too small, yet I weigh as much or more than Adrian Peterson, Thomas Jones, Willie Parker, Frank Gore, Matt Forte, and Marshawn Lynch. Lots of Pro-Bowls on that list.

I’ve been labeled as a situational, third down, or “scat back.” One scouting report actually said definitively, “(DeAngelo Williams) is not a power back…,” yet I had more carries (102) and more yardage (593) up the middle than in any other direction in 2008. For those of you who weren’t math majors, that’s an average of 5.8 YPC UP-THE-MIDDLE. And how does my up the middle average stack up against the league’s top “power backs” such as Brandon Jacobs (4.6), Jamal Lewis (3.7), Lendale White (3.5)? I smoked them all.

“They” said I couldn’t carry the load, that I would wear down over the course of an NFL season. Yet I got stronger as the year wore on.

Carries/Yardage By Month
Sept.- 54 carries @ 3.7 YPC
Oct.- 66 carries @ 4.9 YPC
Nov.- 73 carries @ 5.9 YPC
Dec.- 80 carries @ 7.0 YPC

I was labeled as often injured, fragile. Yet I have played in 45 of a possible 48 games as a professional. Did I mention that 2008 was my first full year as a starter?

So if you don’t know my name now (or you can’t read the title), don’t worry. Chances are you will know it very, very soon."

(I found this on the Bleacher Report website.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

ESPN Loves the Falcons

John Clayton has officially downed the Atlanta Kool-Aid, as is evident in a recent ESPN.com article. Based on this latest article (and others) by Clayton, I'm pretty sure that ESPN is shifting it's love affair from the Saints to the Falcons. I just hope it pays off as well for Atlanta as it did for N.O.
"General manager Thomas Dimitroff comes from the Bill Belichick school of evaluators and has quickly established himself as one of the league's better personnel minds." Clayton continues, "Mike Smith is the perfect head coach for Atlanta. A brilliant defensive coach, Smith hired a great staff and won over players by being honest and establishing a consistent voice."

Clayton also goes on to list "five things other than Ryan that make the Falcons a winner."

1. "Improving Defense" - HAHA!!! You've got to be kidding, right? Well, I guess to be fair, it would be hard to get much worse. Their "big" pickup for leadership is Mike Peterson...a guy who was benched by Jack Del Rio for insubordination last year in Jacksonville.

2. "This team can really run" - Turner/Norwood will give the Falcons a solid 1-2 punch, sure. They still aren't even the best running duo in the division. I'd much rather have Williams/Stewart on my side.

3. Solid offensive line - Not bad, but I don't see any Pro Bowlers on that roster.

4. "Development of Harry Douglas" - I thought we weren't going to look at Matt Ryan's weaons in this list. Sure, the offense will be alright. Ryan is a capable QB, and that running-back duo is okay too. I don't think Harry Douglas will truly be that big of a factor this year.

5. "Underestimated D-line" - It's hard NOT to underestimate this defensive line. Abraham is supposed to be the stud there, and he's only solid for about 20 snaps a game. Anderson is a joke, and Babineaux is a rotational DT at best. I guess a lot of hope is in the Peria Jerry camp. Good luck there! He's already gotten hurt (since the draft) and he spent a lot of his college career injured.

As a University of Tennessee fan, I'm already programmed to disagree with most of what ESPN has to say. This is another no-brainer for me! I cannot wait to see John Clayton backtrack after his swing-and-miss on this one.

Face it John, "THE FALCONS SUCK!!!"

Friday, June 19, 2009

NBA Mock Draft - Fictional Players

Okay, so this has abolutely nothing to do with the NFC South (or even hating on the Falcons, for that matter), but I wanted to do something different today. Since the NBA draft is just a couple of days away, I thought it might be fun to look at how each team might draft...if fictional players were in-play. Here's how it might look.

1. Clippers - Neon (Blue Chips) -Perfect big-man for what they need
2. Grizzlies - Saleh (The Air Up There) - A little raw, but good value there
3. Thunder - Kyle Watson (Above The Rim)
4. Kings - Troy Bolton (High School Musical) Need PG to sell tickets/entertain
5. Wizards - Deshaun Hardell (90210)
6. T.Wolves - The Teen Wolf (Teen Wolf) - STEAL OF THE DRAFT
7. Warriors - Billy Hoyle (White Men Can't Jump)
8. Knicks - Steve Urkel (Family Matters) - Could be the leader this team needs
9. Raptors - Quincy McCall (Love and Basketball)
10. Bucks - Clarence (Semi-Pro)
11. Nets - Zack Morris (SBTB) - Just don't let Belding in the locker room
12. Bobcats - Calvin Cambridge (Like Mike) - Solid pick if he's still got those shoes
13. Pacers - Mark Cooper (Hangin' With Mr. Cooper) - Givin him another try
14. Suns - Ricky Roe (Blue Chips) - Strong PF
15. Pistons - Kenyon Stone (Coach Carter)
16. Bulls - Derek Vineyard (American History X) - Very...uh...passionate!
17. 76ers - John Tucker (John Tucker Must Die)
18. T.Wolves - Jackie Moon (Semi-Pro)
19. Hawks - Air Bud (Air Bud) - Michael Vick is gone now, so this shouldn't be a problem
20. Jazz - Jim Chitwood (Hoosiers) - Heck of a steal this late in the first round
21. Hornets - Sandy Lyle (Along Came Polly) Large mass for inside power
22. Mavs - Monica Wright (Love and Basketball)
23. Kings - Sydney Deane (White Men Can't Jump) - I like his hat
24. Blazers - Jamal Wallace (Finding Forrester)
25. Thunder - Lola Bunny (Space Jame) - As MJ said, "this girl's got skills!"
26. Bulls - Jim Carrol (Basketball Diaries) - Leo!
27. Grizzlies - Chubby (Teen Wolf) - He's got heart
28. T.Wolves - Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Bel Air) - He ruled that mini-court in high school
29. Lakers - Kenny Tyler (Sixth Man) - He's got a ghost helping him
30. Cavs - Damien Carter (Coach Carter) - Excellent team leader

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Freeman Really Could Win the Starting Job in Tampa

It looks like Bucs' QB Josh "Tito" Freeman really might play his way into some significant PT this season. Originally, the coaching staff planned to play McCown or Leftwich, and just let Freeman ride the pine. Now, it looks like neither of those two really seem to want the job enough to take it, and Freeman is coming along quicker than expected.
It sounds like the new plan for Freeman might be to give him a shot to compete for the starting job in training camp and the preseason. Not a bad idea. He's going to be the quarterback for the long term anyway. If he's ready to start, go ahead and start him. If he's not, go back to the original plan.
This time a year ago, the Falcons had no idea whether Matt Ryan would open the season as their starter. They saw some promise in offseason workouts, but they really didn't know what they had until training camp. They simply let Ryan compete in camp and he stepped up and won the job, along with a very masculine endorsement deal with Axe Hair Spray.
Tito could end up doing the same thing. I'm going to go predict that McCown will be the starter for at least the first seven games. After their bye week, Freeman just might be taking the snaps.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sears Loses His Job in Tampa

It remains a mystery as to why exactly Bucs' OG Aaron Sears was a no-show at their mandatory mini-camp this week.
What isn’t being kept behind closed doors, though, is the change in Sears’ status on the depth chart. Sears, who was also absent for previous voluntary workouts, is no longer the Buccaneers’ starter at left guard, having been replaced by Jeremy Zuttah, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. Sources differ as to whether or not he was excused from the mini-camp. Considering the pressure Raheem Morris is putting on Sears to win his job back, it would seem that his absence from camp was in-fact unexcused. Morris has made it clear that Sears would have to show up and compete with Zuttah to try to win back his old position.
“I look out there and I see that number so that’s our guy starting for us right now,” Morris said regarding Zuttah. “That’s his role, that’s his job.”
However, previous reports from Pewter Report have indicated that Sears may be dealing with concussion issues that might prevent him from playing football at this time.
Yet, the reaction from Morris in supporting Sears’ replacement seems to suggest that there might be a little more than meets the eye on this one.
As a former Volunteer, I wish him the best of luck.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Aaron Rodgers is a Cool Guy

Alright, so today's entry has nothing to do with the NFC South. Sorry for that, but still, I'd like to share the story of my weekend which includes meeting an NFL starting QB.

I spent the weekend in Washington D.C. as my wife and I were attending a wedding for some good friends. My wife was even a bridesmaid for the big event. The rehearsal dinner was on the roof of the Hay-Adams Hotel, and the reception was in the Capitol Hill Suites. Along with various members of Congress, the wedding had a fun cast of characters in attendance. To start with, there were several current UT players there (V.Richard, D.Williams, G.Williams, etc.) along with Coach Phil Fulmer and his family. Then, I noticed that I really recognized a dude that was there with one of the other bridesmaids. After staring him down for a while, I realized it was Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers.
He was very approachable, and truly a cool guy. I told Aaron about the time that my friend (who played for UT) was asked to host a party and show this high school recruit around (trying to get him to sign with Tennessee). That recruit was Brian Brohm, also of the Green Bay Packers. He was the dorkiest football star I had ever met. He refused to have any sort of fun at all, and just acted miserable from the moment he got there. I told Aaron that story, and he just came right out with it...he said, "I love Matty Flynn." Flynn of course is the Packers' current #2 QB. Brohm is #3. Rodgers continued, "he's got a lot of talent and he's a cool guy...but Brohm is a big douche. He has zero personality, and it's just awkward to be around him."
Other highlights of my conversation with him were when he promised to put up "big numbers" this year for fantasy football, and when he made fun of Vince Young a little bit. I also thought it was interesting to learn that he met his girlfriend in Nashville when he was in town hanging out with Chad Clifton not too long ago.
I really wanted to ask him how it felt when Julius Peppers nailed him out of bounds last year, but I completely chickened out.

Still, the best part of the weekend was watching Coach Phil Fulmer tear it up on the dance floor, while firmly biting his bottom-lip. It was also pretty fun when I was able to teach Gerald Williams how a real man dances...sarcastically, of course.
It truly was an amazing weekend! I just hope Brian Brohm doesn't end up reading this. At least we know he won't have the stones to confront anyone about it, even if he does.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Top Ten Defensive Backs of the Division

Yasinskas's list of the top ten defensive backs in the NFC South.

1. Chris Gamble, CB, Carolina. Perhaps the only true shutdown corner in the division.
2. Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay. Talib has the potential to join Gamble as a shutdown corner, if he can build on a promising rookie year.
3. Jabari Greer, CB, New Orleans. It feels weird to rank a New Orleans defensive back this high, but there's a reason why the Saints paid Greer a bunch of money.
4. Ronde Barber, CB, Tampa Bay. Yeah, I know there are some people who think he's washed up. But the Bucs kept him for a reason and all those Pro Bowl trips are tough to overlook.
5. Erik Coleman, S, Atlanta. Might be the most underrated player in the division.
6. Chris Houston, CB, Atlanta. Some people still question Houston, but he was Atlanta's best cover guy a year ago.
7. Tracy Porter, CB, New Orleans. Had a great start to rookie year before suffering season-ending injury.
8. Roman Harper, S, New Orleans. Some Saints' fans will disagree, but Harper's better than a lot of people realize. He's a strong safety, who got hung out in coverage too much in the past. With better cornerbacks, he'll be a factor.
9. Chris Harris, S, Carolina. Not a great cover guy, but he can hit and is one of Carolina's vocal leaders.
10. Malcolm Jenkins, CB, New Orleans. I'm taking the rookie over veteran safety Darren Sharper because I think Jenkins' impact will last much longer. He may end up replacing Sharper at free safety in the future.

Linebackers of the NFC South

Pat Yasinskas's linebacker rankings for the NFC South.

1. Jon Beason, Carolina. The best defensive player in the division.
2. Jonathan Vilma, New Orleans. Had a solid season last year, but should be much better with an improved defense around him.
3. Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay. The only proven building block as the Bucs overhaul their once-great defense.
4. Thomas Davis, Carolina. Has emerged as a playmaker after a rocky start to his career.
5. Curtis Lofton, Atlanta. Stood out in the middle as a rookie and will be counted on as an every-down player this year.
6. Stephen Nicholas, Atlanta. I see this guy as one of the division's breakout players this season. 7. Scott Fujita, New Orleans. Nothing fancy about him, but he does what the Saints ask.
8. Mike Peterson, Atlanta. Getting up there in age, but has something to prove after last year's clash with Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville.
9. Angelo Crowell, Tampa Bay. Bucs went after this guy hard in free agency, so he must be in the plans.
10. Na'il Diggs, Carolina. Doesn't stand out in any area, except he rarely makes mistakes and that's why the Panthers keep bringing him back.
Up next, defensive backs.

Ranking NFC South D-Linemen

Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com will be ranking different positions in the division over the next few weeks. This is his latest set of rankings. It's a look at the defensive linemen of the NFC South.

1. John Abraham, DE, Atlanta. Sure, go ahead and call him one-dimensional. But aren't dominant pass-rush skills the dimension you want most from a defensive end?
2. Julius Peppers, DE, Carolina. Easily the division's most-talented defensive lineman. But there are questions about his motivation and intensity with Peppers wanting out of Carolina. Those questions aren't really new.
3. Jonathan Babineaux, DT, Atlanta. Very quietly, he's become the most solid interior lineman in the division.
4. Will Smith, DE, New Orleans. No, he didn't play to his potential last year and he's facing a four-game suspension at the start of this season. But this guy plays the run well and has shown pass-rush skills in the past.
5. Sedrick Ellis, DT, New Orleans. Has the ability to unseat Babineaux as division's top tackle and could do that very soon.
6. Gaines Adams, DE, Tampa Bay. You can argue that this ranking is way too high. But look at the rest of the division. Adams had 6.5 sacks last season. If he adds a couple of moves, he easily can reach double-digit sacks.
7. Peria Jerry, DT, Atlanta. He's only a rookie, but there's little bust factor with this guy. He should be a force right away.
8. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina. We're going to rank him ahead of the rookie Brown based on the promise Johnson showed last year. He had six sacks in a part-time role and has the potential to do big things.
9. Ma'ake Kemoeatu, DT, Carolina. He doesn't do anything except take up space. But that's his job.
10. Charles Grant, DE, New Orleans. Exact same story as his teammate Smith. But the guy does have a couple of double-digit sack years in his background and you never know what new coordinator Gregg Williams might be able to pull out of him.

My only issue with this list is that rookie Peria Jerry is ranked ahead of Carolina DT Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

Coming soon, Yasinskas's look at linebackers, and defensive backs in the division.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"The Xbox Kid"

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has apparently written a screenplay. It's got everything most guys dig: sports, video games, and natural disasters. No word yet as to whether or not he plans to have Phoebe Cates climb out of a swimming pool. I'm just a strong believer that if he really wants to do this thing right, he should at least consider the idea.

The movie, currently titled “The Xbox Kid,” is about a boy from a poor family in New Orleans who starts controlling the outcome of NFL games through a refurbished Xbox given to him by his grandfather following a devastating hurricane.
“I just wrote about four pages, piddling around with it,” said Payton, who later turned the idea over to a professional screen writer to flesh it out. I wonder if they'll have a role for Johnny Drama.
Is it me, or does this sound like a dumb idea for a movie? If I could have real life mirror my Xbox games, then I'd be a rich dude. I won the Heisman four times and was drafted #1 overall after saving the draft class to Madden. Then, I went on to win numerous Super Bowls in a row. I'm probably the greatest QB to ever play the game.

Unless this movie is done up like a Disney sports movie, I don't see anyone showing up to see it. A movie about a video game just doesn't excite me as much as a brilliant screenplay like Rookie of the Year. Didn't the movie The Wizard bomb in 1989? That even had Fred Savage in it, and who didn't love Fred Savage in 1989???

Payton is shopping the script in Hollywood now, and why not? It’s not like he has a season to prepare for or anything. It's not like his team finished last in the division in 2008. Wait...nevermind.
Wow! That's two video game posts in a row.

Monday, June 8, 2009

DeAngelo Hall is Still a Loser

NFL players get moved all around from team to team quite often. Still, if someone rubs you wrong while playing for a certain team, you may decide to hold it against that team forever. This can happen in any sport, and on any level. For instance, I grew up supporting N.C. State and pulling against UNC. It was a mild disliking at first, then Eric Montross screwed the Tarheels forever in my eyes. I approached him in an airport (I was a little kid by the way) for an autograph. He snapped at me and stormed off like he was the child. I'll never forget the way he made me feel on that day, and I'll always keep that d-bag on my long list of reasons why I can't stand that entire university.
This brings me to the point of today's blog...DeAngelo Hall is the worst! I know he hasn't played for Atlanta for a few years, but he really is part of why my hatred for the Falcons burns so passionately.
Obviously, I still love to see the news whenever he continues to make an ass of himself. Oh, and I still consider him a Falcon!

Apparently, DeAngelo is now complaining about his ranking on the new Madden game. A few years ago, he was rated as one of the best defensive backs in the league, with an overall 93 rating. Now, he's been dropped down to a 68 overall, and is even saying that he might even try to get his entire likeness pulled from the game entirely. It is believed by most that after learning of his 25 point drop on the game, Hall spent the rest of the day with his bottom lip sticking out like Blue on Forest Gump.
"So i just found out that Madden killed my rating. Its all good after this season i'll be back at the #1 spot haha" (www.twitter.com/dhall23).
In a blog published on the Redskins' official site, Matt Tirl interviewed Hall and asked him about the Madden rating. "I heard that, but it had kinda been in one in ear out the other. But as the release date gets closer, I'm starting to get a little bit more paranoid, I'm thinking about trying to get my name and likeness pulled off the game entirely. 'Cause this is bull."
Asked about EA Sports' in-season roster updates, Hall responded:
"They do that as the season goes on, so hopefully if I grab 10 or 12 (interceptions), and get my respect back, my dignity back...we'll see."

I just hope Hall can move up to the starting lineup by October 11th. That is when the Redskins roll into Charlotte to take on the Panthers.
I'd love nothing more than to see Steve Smith continue to get in his head, and embarrass him once again...for old time's sake!
Oh, and just one more thing...IT'S A FREAKING VIDEO GAME!!!