Now that cooler heads have prevailed, the Green Bay Packers are happy to welcome former quarterback Brett Favre back with open arms.Share:
When Rex Ryan became the head coach of the New York Jets in 2009, he unleashed a brash bravado that stuck out more than that of his father Buddy. Buddy Ryan was the former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals as his teams were always known for their physical style of play. The elder Ryan also clashed with authority figures during his time as a defensive coordinator in the National Football League. As a defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears during the 1980′s, Ryan clashed with head coach Mike Ditka, while during his time as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Oilers in 1993, he delivered a punch to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride during a game. In taking over the Jets, the younger Ryan let it be known from his first day on the job that he wasn’t there to kiss the rings of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick who has dominated the AFC East during his tenure. In Ryan’s first two years with the Jets, he went 3-2 against the Patriots including a playoff victory. But things have changed drastically for Ryan since then.
In Ryan’s last four years as the Jets head coach, New York never had a winning record and they were 1-7 against the Patriots. This past January, Ryan was fired as the Jets coach, but he quickly landed on his feet when he was hired to be the new head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Ryan’s name alone brought excitement to the Bills, but it is still the same old story for him as a head coach because Buffalo remains a mediocre team.
Make no mistake about it that Ryan is a tremendous salesman as he could sell water to a whale if he needed to. Ryan is a player’s coach and his guys will run through a wall for him. Ryan’s brash bravado nearly got the Jets to the Super Bowl in his first two years in New York before the nostalgia wore off. But as Ryan has always been at the forefront of giving solid pep talks to his team, he was never able to do a good job of drafting and developing talent as he never became a good X’s and O’s guy on the offensive side of he football. And Ryan has picked up right where he left off with the Bills.
Through 10 games this season, the Bills are 5-5 as they’ve been the epitome of an inconsistent team. The Bills are 22nd in total offense, 17th in total defense, and they are also the second most penalized team in the National Football League this season. And typically when a team commits a slew of penalties, it falls on the notion that they are undisciplined bunch which the Bills are as that falls into the lap of Ryan.
In Week 2 against the Patriots, the Bills were penalized 14 times for 140 yards as they lost 40-32. In Week 4 against the New York Giants, the Bills committed 17 penalties for a grand total of 135 yards. Of those penalties, seven resulted in first downs for the Giants with five of them being of the personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct variety. But in Ryan’s post game press conference, he shot down the notion of the Bills numerous penalties and instead opted to praise Buffalo for their fight. Ryan has also been hell bent on getting the best of Belichick and the Patriots. But for the Patriots, they operate in a different fashion as whichever team that is coached by Ryan is just another team on their schedule which makes it no surprise that New England typically leaves the field victorious against him.
The Bills are coming off of losing to the Patriots again this past Monday night by a score of 20-13. The Bills did play a physical brand of football as they were always within striking distance of the Patriots, but playing good enough to win and winning are two different things in the National Football League. In Ryan’s career as a head coach, he is now 1-9 in his last 10 games against the Patriots as New England is way out his league due to the fact that they worry about the X’s and O’s of football, while he worries about winning the battle at the podium in front of the media every week.
If this were college basketball, Ryan’s teams would always be on the bubble for the postseason. At 5-5, the Bills find themselves in a four-way tie for the final playoff spot in the AFC with a critical road game coming up this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs who have won four games in a row. And this is the time of year where the disciplined teams that have focused on fundamentals tend to have the most success.
To me Ryan should have taken at least one year away from the National Football League to sit back, reflect, and analyze what went wrong for him the first time around with the Jets. But due to Ryan’s name having some clout, he was in demand last off-season and he wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to remain in the AFC East to face the Jets and Patriots each twice a year. Ryan’s Bills were motivated in Week 10 when they went on the road to face the Jets as they won 22-17. But with just a combined four games against the Pats and Jets, Buffalo has to find a way to play with that same intensity and passion in the other 12 contests during the regular season.
However if we as people do not learn from our past mistakes, we are indeed destined to repeat them. Ryan’s mouth put him on the back page of the tabloid papers in New York City, but you also must walk the walk in Gotham. And as Ryan hasn’t adjusted his coaching style which is to be boastful and give pep talks, the Bills shouldn’t expect that much of an increase in the win column anytime soon.Share:
When the 2015 National Football League season began, the Baltimore Ravens were once again expected to be a playoff contender. Since 2000, the Ravens have made 11 trips to the postseason with 2000 and 2012 each ending with Baltimore winning the Super Bowl Championship. And after last season ended for the Ravens with a tough loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Divisional Playoffs, they were confident about their chances in 2015. But the 2015 NFL season has never been able to kick start for the Ravens.
During training camp, the Ravens lost their starting strong safety Matt Elam for the season to a biceps injury. In Week 1, the Ravens lost to the to the Denver Broncos 19-13. And late in that contest, the Ravens lost their emotional leader in outside linebacker Terrell Suggs for the season with an Achilles injury. Like Suggs, Week 8 saw veteran wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., go down to an Achillies injury while quarterback Joe Flacco was lost for the year this past Sunday after suffering a torn ACL versus the St. Louis Rams. In the same contest, the Ravens also lost running back Justin Forsett for the year to a broken arm. And once you factor in the notion that the Ravens first-round pick this past spring, wide receiver Breshad Perriman never played this season as a knee injury kept him sidelined, Baltimore will look like a totally different team coming down the stretch of the regular season. In all the Ravens have placed 18 players on injured reserve this year, and with six weeks left to go in the regular season, there’s a possibility that the number could increase due to the overall physicality that is exuded in the National Football League on a weekly basis.
Even with this past Sunday’s victory over the Rams, the Ravens currently find themselves with a record of 3-7 as they are on pace for their first losing season under head coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh will find himself in an unfamiliar spot when the Ravens take on the Cleveland Browns this Monday night as Flacco has been the only starting quarterback that he has used. But now with Flacco on the injured reserve, the Ravens will look to veteran quarterback Matt Schaub to be their signal caller for the remainder of the regular season.
Aside from the injuries, what has hurt the Ravens the most this year has been their inability to close out games. In five of the Ravens seven losses this season, they’ve held a fourth quarter lead, but they have been unable to seal the deal. For years the Ravens were a team that was personified by veteran leadership from the likes of Suggs, middle linebacker Ray Lewis, free safety Ed Reed, and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata who all reveled in making the big plays with the game on the line. But with Suggs on injured reserve, Ngata now a member of the Detroit Lions, along with Lewis and Reed being retired, that leadership council that was once a backbone of the Ravens is now non-existent. And for the Ravens brain trust of Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome, the 2016 National Football League season has already begun as you can rest assured that they will use these final six weeks to evaluate the entire 53-man roster which is something that they typically don’t begin doing until late January.
For Harbaugh, he doesn’t know the definition of the word quit and he will not allow his players to give up either in spite of the Ravens current record 3-7. Regardless of the injuries, the Ravens will look to be a competitive team coming down the stretch of the regular season in spite of the fact that they are staring their first losing season since 2007 in the face. And as the Ravens are in the process of licking their wounds, you can expect Harbaugh and Newsome to set their eyes on seeing if they’ll be able to discover new leadership that will be emerging in their locker room.
Heading into 2016, the Ravens must get younger while also building depth. Throughout Newsome’s time as the Ravens general manager, he has been a tremendous talent evaluator which has seen him draft current Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, Lewis, Reed, Suggs, Ngata, and Flacco who have all contributed to Baltimore’s winning legacy since 2000 as they are only a few of the solid National Football League players that have worn the purple and black on his watch. The Ravens are hoping that Suggs and Flacco will be able to return to form next season while they must attempt to coax Smith Sr., into returning for a 16th National Football League season after he announced that he would retire in 2015. But the remainder of this season will be an opportunity for those that are currently on the Ravens roster to show Harbaugh and Newsome that they have what it takes to suit up for the team in 2016.Share:
When the Nets left New Jersey in favor of Brooklyn, New York in 2012, they brought with them a ton of excitement. The Nets won 49 games in their first season in Brooklyn and the future appeared to be bright for them. And although the Nets have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, their win total has declined in each year. But for a franchise that’s all-time winning percentage is just .439, the Nets are off to one of the worst starts ever. The Nets lost their first seven games to begin this NBA season and even though they’ve been able to be more competitive in their recent games, Brooklyn’s record is now 2-11. A championship cannot be won this early into the NBA season, but a start like the Nets have had can surely diminish their chances of being a contender.
Lionel Hollins is in his second season as the Nets head coach which in itself is a miracle due to the fact that Brooklyn hasn’t had a head coach last more than one season since they crossed backed over the Hudson River. Hollins is a no-nonsense head coach that will hold his players accountable. Hollins’ approach led the Nets to buying out the contract of point guard Deron Williams over the summer which marked the end of his disappointing tenure with the club. And although the victories have not been there for the Nets so far this NBA season, Williams is one less headache that they have to worry about.
The Nets surely weren’t going to win with Williams, but this is a team that still needs an upgrade at the point guard position. Point guard Jarrett Jack was brought in last season to push Williams, but he ended up becoming the Nets starting point guard when Williams fell out of favor with Hollins. Jack is an NBA journeyman, but this season he is enjoying his best start as a professional as he is averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 assists per game. However, Jack is a solid backup point guard. And for the Nets, they have lacked a franchise player at point guard ever since they traded Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks in 2008 which is what they thought they were getting with Williams.
What the Nets currently have is a team consisting of a few solid players in center Brook Lopez, power forward Thaddeus Young, and shooting guard Joe Johnson. This is a trio of good players, but no of these players has the ability to put the Nets on his respective back.
But regardless of who is currently on the Nets roster, they must find a way to win in spite of their unfavorable schedule to begin this season. 13 of the Nets first 16 opponents this season were playoff teams last year which has included them losing four of their first five games by at least 10 points. And as the losses have piled up for the Nets, general manager Billy King is watching with a keen eye as it might be time to wave the white flag soon if this trend continues in Brooklyn.
Johnson is in the final year of his contract as he is earning nearly $25 million this season. Expiring contracts are like gold in the NBA and for a player like Johnson who is 12th on the NBA’s all-time list for made three-point field goals, he could provide a spark to a contending team should the Nets attempt to trade him. But at the same time, what the Nets need to practice most is patience.
When Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the Nets in 2010, he vowed to deliver a championship within five years. And in hoping to make good on that boast, Prokhorov allowed King to trade away draft picks along with young players in order to bring in veterans that he felt would lead Brooklyn to a title. But that hasn’t worked out as the Nets have not made it past the conference semifinals since coming to Brooklyn. And what the Nets need to do is to develop some patience while also attempting to get younger.
With Lopez and Young under contract with the Nets through 2018, the Nets should build around them which starts with bringing in a quality point guard. Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley Jr. is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. And although Conley is not a top-tier point guard, he is a player that is familiar with Hollins’ system from their time together with the Grizzlies while he is also a player that could potentially team with Jack to provide the Nets with two serviceable point guards which would improve their play. The Nets already have nearly $57 million committed to player salaries for next season which surprisingly puts them under the NBA’s salary cap and it could also give them flexibility to contend; as long as they discontinue their recent practice of taking on massive contracts for aging players.
This NBA season doesn’t have the makings of a good one for the Nets, but should Prokhorov and King decide to display some patience with Hollins, this is a team that could turn it around. But at the same time, it isn’t a good sign when you’re beginning to look forward to next NBA season for a team and we’re not even at Thanksgiving.
After falling short this past January in the NFC Championship Game, the Green Bay Packers came out like gangbusters to begin the 2015 National Football League season. The Packers won their first six games this season and it appeared that the road to Super Bowl 50 from the NFC side would be going through Green Bay. But things have changed rather quickly for the Packers as they’ve lost their last three games and in the process, the smooth ride to Super Bowl 50 for Green Bay doesn’t seem as guaranteed.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of the best in the business at what he does which is evident by his two National Football League MVP Awards along with his Super Bowl MVP Award. When Rodgers is operating inside of the pocket, he is as cool as they come while he is the process of picking apart opposing defenses. But in recent weeks it has not been as smooth for Rodgers and the Packers.
In Week 5, Rodgers was picked off twice by the St. Louis Rams which ended a streak of 587 pass attempts at home without an interception. The Packers were able to defeat the Rams by the score of 24-10, but in the past three games, the opposing defenses have gotten the better of Rodgers and the Green Bay offense.
In a battle of unbeatens, the Packers traveled to take on the Denver Broncos in Week 8. But Rodgers and the Packers offense were unable to get anything going as he only managed to throw for 77 yards and Green Bay lost 29-10. The Packers were looking to rebound in Week 9 when they traveled to face the Carolina Panthers as the winner of this game would more than likely have the inside as far as obtaining home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. The Packers fell behind the Panthers 27-3 by halftime before staging a furious rally in the fourth quarter. A late Packers touchdown cut the Panthers lead to 38-36. But when Rodgers failed to find a wide open wide receiver in Randall Cobb on the two-point conversion, it sealed the Packers fate in the loss. This past Sunday, the Packers found themselves hosting the Detroit Lions who Green Bay had not lost to at home since 1991. The Lions also came into the game with a meager record of 1-7 and it was expected that the Packers would cruise to a victory and get back on track. But the game was dominated by the Lions defense that recorded 3 sacks on Rodgers while keeping him and the Packers offense off balance. Packers kicker Mason Crosby missed a potential game-winning, 52-yard field goal as time expired which sent Green Bay to their third consecutive loss, and as they are preparing to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, this is a team that is indeed searching for answers.
The Packers offensive line has had their hands full recently as they have been unable to provide Rodgers with solid protection in the pocket while also failing to open holes for Green Bay’s running game. The Packers have only seen one running back (James Starks) gain at least 100 yards on the ground in a game this season and he did that in Week 6 versus the San Diego Chargers. This season the Packers are 17th in the National Football League in rushing, but they’ve lacked continuity due to the blocking up front. Questions have also arisen about the physical condition of Packers running back Eddie Lacy who’s bruising style is important to any potential Green Bay success. After gaining over 2,300 yards in his first two seasons with the Packers, Lacy has struggled this season and now a groin injury has him sidelined. And just as the Packers need Lacy on top of his game, the absence of wide receiver Jordy Nelson is beginning to loom larger.
Since being drafted by the Packers in 2008, Nelson has been Rodgers’ go-to wide receiver which resulted in him getting a four-year, $39 million extension in 2014 to continue catching passes in Green Bay. Last season Nelson enjoyed the best season for a Packers wide receiver in franchise history as he gained 1,519 receiving yards. But this summer, Nelson suffered a torn ACL in a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers which has put him on the shelf in 2015. The Packers brought back former wide receiver James Jones who does lead the team in receiving touchdowns with 6. But along with wide receivers Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams, Jones has not been able to make up for the loss of Nelson who opened things up in the passing game for the Packers.
Under defensive coordinator Dom Capers, the Packers defense is ranked 22nd this season, but they have enjoyed solid play in their front seven which is led by nose tackle B.J. Raji, along with outside linebackers Clay Matthews III and veteran Julius Peppers. But on this recent losing streak, the Packers just have not been able to string together enough big plays to lead to a victory.
The Packers are looking to get out of their rut, and it doesn’t help them that the Vikings have caught fire in the NFC North. While the Packers have lost three consecutive games, the Vikings have won their last five to take over first place in the division. The Packers and Vikings are set to meet this Sunday in Minneapolis with first place in the NFC North on the line in their first of two meetings this season. And with the temperature expected to be around 36 degrees at kickoff, the Vikings are looking to seize the momentum and potentially bury the Packers for good in the divisional race.
But for Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, he is a master motivator and he knows how to make adjustments in-game as well as during the week. As a head coach, McCarthy has a career winning percentage .655 which also includes the postseason. And as this is the Packers first three-game losing streak with Rodgers under center, they must find a way to get their rhythm back against a Vikings defense that is currently ranked 9th in the National Football League in total defense, while also looking to slow down running back Adrian Peterson who has been a runaway freight train in 2015 as he currently leads the NFL in rushing with 961 yards. Peterson is also on pace to gain at least 1,200 yards on the ground for the seventh time as a professional.
What the Packers must do is find a spark early that will get them going while also taking the Vikings home crowd out of the contest. And whether that it Matthews or one of his defensive teammates making a big play, or someone on the Packers offense stepping up to become an unsung hero, this is gut check time for Green Bay as this contest along with the next few weeks will make or break a season that earlier seemed destined to have the Vince Lombardi Trophy once again destined to return to “Titletown”.
For 18 years quarterback Peyton Manning has dazzled football fans with his superb play. Manning was the first overall pick of the 1998 Indianapolis Colts where he would become a rock for their franchise for 14 seasons and he would also become the most notable player for the team since Johnny Unitas. Manning was able to reach the top of the mountain in February 2007 when he helped the Colts win the Super Bowl and in the process, he was able to get the monkey off of his back as he finally won the big game. After neck surgery kept Manning on the sidelines in 2011, the Colts would finish that season with the worst record in the NFL. Colts owner Jim Irsay cited the need to get younger and he released Manning which led to him possibly being the most sought after free agent in NFL history. Many teams lined up for Manning’s services, but it was the Denver Broncos that won out. Manning commanded respect from his first day on the job in Denver where he led them to the AFC Championship in 2013. But after playing through injuries at the end of 2014, things have not gotten better for Manning this year.
This past Sunday saw Manning have one of his highest and lowest moments in his football career. Early on against the Kansas City Chiefs, Manning surpassed Brett Favre for the most passing yards in National Football League history. But after throwing 4 interceptions, Manning was benched by Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak in favor of Brock Osweiler. After the game, Kubiak claimed that he was simply trying to protect Manning when he pulled him. And since then the Broncos have announced that it will be Osweiler under center this Sunday when they travel to face the Chicago Bears as Manning is out with what the team is calling plantar fascia in his right foot. But what the Broncos are failing to address is the fact that Manning is simply finished.
Manning no longer has the zip on his passes that he once did, and year-by-year, week-by-week, game-by-game, quarter-by-quarter, and pass-by-pass, Manning is becoming less effective. Manning’s velocity has waned and it doesn’t help his case nor that of the Broncos that he will be playing in a climate over the next few weeks in Denver that is not conducive to a quarterback that does not have the best throwing arm as the end of one of the greatest careers in National Football League history appears to be coming to an end. And if that is truly the case, then Manning has nothing to be ashamed of as far as his accomplishments.
In becoming the face of the franchise for the Colts, Manning engaged in some great duels with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the games between the Colts and Patriots were definitely must see television. But Brady typically had a better team around him which led to the Patriots getting the best of the Colts in the postseason for the most part. And if it wasn’t the Patriots in January, Manning and the Colts would also have their problems with the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers in the postseason as they each denied him chances to win the Super Bowl. But it all came together for the Colts in 2006 when they were finally able to get past the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game before the right arm of Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman in Super Bowl 41 ensured Manning of hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
For Manning’s detractors they will look first at his struggles in the postseason as he was just 1-2 in the Super Bowl, but they will also overlook the fact that arguably no quarterback in National Football League history was asked to do more with less which was evident by the fact that when Manning was sidelined in 2011, the Colts went from being a Super Bowl contender, to being the worst team by far in the NFL. And by the time that Manning was able to get back to the Super Bowl with the Broncos, the velocity on his throws was beginning to decline while the young and hungry defense of the Seattle Seahawks was not ready to feel sorry for him as they denied him another chance at a championship.
But for Manning, he should be remembered as a guy that changed the game. Manning took his lumps as a rookie quarterback with the Colts in 1998 when he led the National Football League in interceptions with 28. And as the Colts were just 3-13 in Manning’s rookie season, they quickly rebounded to go 13-3 in 1999 to win the AFC East. Manning has been the master of the “no-huddle” offense and whether it was with the Colts or the Broncos, the home folks knew how to remain quiet when he was operating the offense. Manning took the term “student of the game” to another level as he has simply dedicated himself to his craft. Manning learned from his father Archie who was a quarterback in the NFL for for 14 seasons. But as Archie’s career was spent playing on very bad teams, he was still able to pass on his knowledge of the game to Peyton. And at the same time for Peyton, he has been able to see his younger brother Eli evolve as a quarterback which has included him leading the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl Championships.
And for Manning, his iconic no. 18 jersey truly defines him. While in college at the University of Tennessee, Manning wore no. 16, but he decided to switch to 18 when he reached the National Football League in order to honor his older brother Cooper. But regardless of the number on the jersey, Manning has been one of the best to ever do it.
Typically the end is not great for many professional athletes as they tend to be the last person to realize when their skills are gone and Manning is no different. But if this is indeed the end for Manning, he can walk away from the game of football with the admiration and respect of his peers, coaches, and fans alike, as he’ll be remembered as a person that left it all out there with no regrets whatsoever.Share: