The hypocrisy of the NFL’s crackdown on bounties

A couple of terms that you may hear frequently associated with the National Football League are “Winning is everything” and, “The NFL is a business.”

It has recently come out that current New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been incentivizing big hits, forced fumbles, interceptions and sacks with cash to his players. According to former Washington Redskins strong safety Matt Bowen in a Chicago Tribune column, this system was in place when he played in DC as well.

No – it’s probably not right to try to knock a player out of a game for money, but try to tell me that defensive players don’t try to knock out key players anyhow. Not only that, they get rewarded by media and fans on highlight reels and Top 10 plays. A middle linebacker leveling a receiver could be the main talk around the water cooler the next day.

Even in a known case of Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offering $10K to knock Brett Favre out of the 2009 NFC Championship, Favre didn’t seem upset at all.

“I’m not pissed. It’s football,” Favre told Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King. “I don’t think anything less of those guys. Said or unsaid, guys do it anyway. If they can drill you and get you out, they will.”

Enough said – players get it. Players have incentives in their contracts for reaching milestones at the end of the season, why not have a microcosm system rewarding clean, hard play during it? Bowen didn’t seem to have any problems with it and even continues to praise Williams.

“I don’t regret any part of it. I can’t,” Bowen said. “Williams is the best coach I ever played for in my years in the NFL, a true teacher who developed me as a player. I believed in him. I still do. That will never change.”

I’d be interested to get your thoughts in the comments:


Super Bowl XLVI Prediction

For the past two weeks we’ve had to endure analysis about everything from Rob Gronkowski’s ankle to Tom Brady’s haircuts. Enough of the crap – Here’s the straight facts on what will actually affect the Super Bowl tomorrow:

What the Patriots need to do to win:
– Run the ball more to set up the play-action pass. If BenJarvus Green-Ellis doesn’t show up (or they don’t use him), the Patriots will have the Giants front four in the backfield all day long. Passes in the flat the “The Law Firm” could be effective in slowing down the pass rush as well.

– Make Giants offense one-dimensional. Patriots DT Vince Wilfork needs to clog up the line like he has in the other playoff games. If the Patriots D-Line can stop Bradshaw and Jacobs from running wild, it will significantly help their chances.

– Get Gronkowski involved. Guaranteed that Gronk will be hurting for this game but the Patriots need to make the Giants fear him. He’s a match-up nightmare and he’s been a weapon for Brady all year. Somehow, he needs to make an impact.

What the Giants need to do to win:
– Get to Brady without a blitz. If they are to win, the Giants will have to pressure Brady without blitzes. If they can get him out of the pocket, Brady will get uncomfortable and make mistakes. Interceptions were how the Giants won in their last meeting – they’ll need them again.

– No free releases off the line for receivers. While the Patriots receivers are still within five yards from the line of scrimmage, the Giants secondary needs to rough them up – especially Wes Welker. If not, Brady will nickel and dime his way down the field, even if the Giants get to him quickly.

– Throw deep to your weapons. The Patriots were one of the worst teams during the regular season on pass defense. They’ve been much better in the playoffs but Tim Tebow and Joe Flacco aren’t exactly as passing proficient as Manning. The Patriots will have problems containing Cruz, Manningham and Nicks – Use them.

Final thoughts:
Just like the last few years, this Super Bowl should be fantastic and go down to the wire. If it doesn’t, at least the ads will be good.

Winner: Giants, 31-27

Agree or disagree? Let me know your winner and thoughts in the comments.

My Pro Bowl solution

I’m not sure if you watched the Pro Bowl yesterday. I know I didn’t.

Just like the rest of the country, I saw it, not watched because what was on the screen could be more aptly described as pirouetting than football. I mean seriously, we go from two of the best Conference Championship games to that? They’re not allowed to blitz, they barely hit and intentional grounding is allowed among other things. As they say on Monday Night Football Countdown: C’mon Man!

So, instead of just complaining, I actually have a few different solutions to amend the Pro Bowl problem:

Cheerleader Powderpuff Bowl:
This wouldn’t have the same ratings as the Super Bowl, they would be better. Put the cheerleaders of the AFC teams against the cheerleaders from the NFC teams in their cheerleading uniforms for a full contact game. Or, instead of a stupid TV show to decide the next Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, let them audition by seeing how well they play football. Jerry Jones might even find someone more suitable to play quarterback than Tony Romo that way.

Superfan Bowl:
Who has the most pride in their team? Only one way to find out. Who wouldn’t want to see Fireman Ed from the Jets wreck those dudes from the Raiders? Pretty sure this would involve the most physical contact, except for the…

Legends Bowl:
Just imagine, Joe Namath playing for one team and getting interviewed by Suzy Kolber on the sidelines after a great play. Instead of asking for a kiss he might ask for some warm milk. The other team would have Joe Kapp as their QB and captain. Both Namath and Kapp would be able to draft their Legend teams. Think Kapp would draft Angelo Mosca? Not likely. However – THAT would be some serious entertainment and I’m pretty sure there would be more harding hitting than yesterday.

Like these suggestions or have others? Let me know in the comments:

2012 NFL Playoff Predictions

Here are my predictions for the upcoming NFL playoffs. Surprisingly, the Broncos don’t make the Super Bowl. What a shocking revelation!

NFC Wildcard Round

5 Falcons vs 4 Giants
I like Matty-Ice and the Falcons but fact is they don’t perform well outdoors in the playoffs. Couple that with the fact that the Giants will be able to get a solid pass rush without a blitz and the Falcons will have a hard time winning this game.

Winner: Giants

6 Lions vs 3 Saints
Safe to say this will not be a defensive struggle, so it comes down to quarterback play and the weapons that each one of them possess. Advantage: Drew Brees

Winner: Saints

AFC Wildcard Round

5 Steelers vs. 4 Broncos
As I mentioned earlier in the season, NFL defenses have figured out Tim Tebow’s gimmicky style. It won’t help that he’s going against the top defense of them all. Despite a hobbled Roethlisberger and no Mendenhall at tailback, the Steelers cruise in this one.

Winner: Steelers

6 Bengals vs 3 Texans
Despite the Texans sucking of late, the Bengals haven’t been able to win against a real playoff-caliber team all year. That doesn’t even include the fact that Andy Dalton is sick with the flu.

Winner: Texans

NFC Divisional Round

4 Giants vs 1 Packers
The Giants won’t have the home/cold advantage anymore when they go to Green Bay. Their team won’t have the advantage either, because they’re just not as good as the Packers.

Winner: Packers

3 Saints vs 2 49ers
The 49ers defense is good and will hold the Saint offense to less than people expect. However, Alex Smith and the Niners offense still won’t keep up.

Winner: Saints

AFC Divisional Round

5 Steelers vs 1 Patriots
Unless the Steelers running game all of a sudden gets effective without Mendenhall, they will not be able to keep the Pats off the field. Despite his ankle likely still hurting, Big Ben will have a big day against the Pats secondary, but not good enough.

Winner: Patriots

3 Texans vs 2 Ravens
The Ravens big signature wins have come against the Steelers this year, They’ve also had some awful losses to the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks (all on the road). With their aging defense having a week of rest and much of the Texans team injured, the Ravens roll.

Winner: Ravens

Note: If the Bengals pull out a win against the Texans, the Steelers will face the Ravens again. If that happens, the Steelers won’t lose to the Ravens three times in one year.

NFC Conference Championship

3 Saints vs 1 Packers
The Packers defense was exposed a few times this year and the Saints played them close, at Lambeau Field, in the first week of the year. Almost everyone on Earth thinks the Packers are going to the Super Bowl and winning it. Not I.

Winner: Saints

AFC Conference Championship

2 Ravens vs 1 Patriots
The Ravens have been pretty inconsistent on the road against awful teams. What will happen against a high-powered offense with an aging Ravens defense?

Winner: Patriots

Super Bowl XLVI

Saints vs Patriots
Welcome to the new age of the NFL. This season, and the new trend,  is all about high-powered offense and lack of dominant defenses. Drew Brees and his receiving weapons are too much for the Pats’ secondary to handle. Brady will keep pace for most of the game because the Saints aren’t stout either, but the Saints will pull it out.

World Champion: New Orleans Saints

Agree, disagree with these picks? Let me know your thoughts in the comments:

State of NFL defense and other quick hits

NFL defense is dead.

Quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady both broke Dan Marino’s 27-year record in the past two weeks and neither one of them made it look very hard; Matthew Stafford was only off the 1984 mark by 46 yards (Think he’s in the same breath as Marino?). Beside those three QBs, three others surpassed the 4,600 passing mark this season. Aaron Rodgers back-up Matt Flynn almost did that in one game against the Detroit Lions with 480 yards and 6 TDs, another playoff team.

Another way to get the zeitgeist is to look at the playoff teams. The top seeds in the AFC and NFC in the Patriots and Packers. Either known for stingy defense? Not exactly.

Chicks dig the long ball (both home runs and a 60-yard bomb downfield). The NFL has created an era of spread offense because that’s what the fans want to see. Gone are the days of the Monsters of the Midway, Steel Curtain, Orange Crush or Purple People Eaters. Yes, some teams still have “good” defenses, but none are dominant. They have been watered down by penalties. No hitting the quarterback high or low, no “illegal” contact after five yards, a much higher incidence of pass interference and the list goes on.

Does the saying “Defense wins championships” still hold true? I guess we’ll see.

The Guarantee

Before the 2011 season, Jets head coach Rex Ryan publicly guaranteed the Jets would be in the Super Bowl. They were in the AFC Championship the past two years so that wasn’t too much of a stretch. However, tell the entire world you’re going to be there, you better make it or you look like an ass at the end of the season. I know he won’t change I’m not suggesting he does because I love Ryan’s soudbites, but next year just tell your team that you have confidence in them privately. That is, if he does actually have confidence in them next year. Man, the Jets suck.

Colts get Luck-y, or not?
It what seemed inevitable the entire season, until the past couple weeks when the Colts actually won, Indianapolis lost the the Jags to get the first overall pick in the 2012 Draft. It will be interesting to see what they plan to do: Stick with Manning and trade the pick, Trade Manning and have Luck be the QB of the future, Let Luck mature behind Manning on the bench or draft someone other than Luck (RGIII anyone?). I have no doubt this topic will come up again later in the offseason.

Let me know your thoughts about any of these topics in the comments:

The REAL reason Tim Tebow keeps winning

I’ve finally figured it out.

Want to know the real reason Tim Tebow wins? It’s not skill, luck, tiger blood or even divine intervention. The people Timmy thanks for his improbable winning this year when he’s “Tebowing” is the proud employees of Buffalo Wild Wings. Witness below:

Just think about the latest win against the Chicago Bears. How else could you explain Marion Barber “tripping” out of bounds or the ball slipping out of his hands when the Bears were in easy field goal range for Robbie Gould?

This week the Broncos will face NFL royalty when they play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. In order to win, Tebow will have to exploit the Patriots deplorable pass defense. However, if the Redskins could keep with the Patriots, so could Tebow and the Broncos.

If it’s close in the 4th quarter, watch out for those sprinklers or some other Buffalo Wild Wing phenomenon to work in the Broncos’ favor.

It could happen, just sayin’.

Pujols made the right move to Angels, but the wrong choice

I can’t blame Albert Pujols for taking 10 years, $254 million and a no-trade clause to go to a class organization like the Angels. That being said, he should’ve stayed with the Cardinals.

First I’ll say why it was the right move: When Pujols becomes unable to play the field, the Designated Hitter option will be there. That same option extended Vladimir Guerrero’s career quite a few years. Obviously no matter how much the Cardinals or Marlins offered, they would never be able to let him be a DH.

That’s where the positive aspects end. Here’s why it was the wrong choice:

A few Angels in flux:
There really isn’t a question about the Angels rotation, especially after adding C.J. Wilson to the stable of Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. However, in the next few years, they’ll have some key players that will be a little too elder to produce. Torii Hunter is the proposed clean-up hitter and his arc is almost to the end.  Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu are in the same spot. The Angels up-and-comers will fill in the gaps but they had 200 runs less than the AL West Champion Texas Rangers last season. With just a few years left in Pujols’ prime, the Angels need their offense running on all cylinders.

Some Lost Legacy:
I know this doesn’t really mean anything to anyone anymore, but by staying in St. Louis he would’ve been in the same breath as St. Louis greats Stan “The Man” Musial, Bob Gibson and Lou Brock. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still get his number retired and probably get a statue outside the stadium, but there’s just something special about guys like Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken, Jr. staying on the same team their entire careers. Now Cardinal fans will view him as a sellout until the wounds heal – or forever.

Do you think Pujols tainted his legacy forever in St. Louis by leaving? Let me know your thoughts in the comments:

The Occupy BCS Movement

All the BCS games got it right, except one VERY notable exception.

I called the LSU-Alabama championship game the day after they played, so I’m fine with that. WVU playing Clemson? Nope, other than the Big East Conference joke of an automatic qualifying bid, I’m fine with that one too.

No. 13 Michigan (10-2) vs No. 11 Virginia Tech (11-2)? Wow, that’s an awful game.

Michigan lost to Michigan State and Iowa and were the third-place team in the Big 10. Virginia Tech got drubbed by Clemson twice this season, including the ACC Championship, and played in the second weakest AQ conference (behind Big East). Their only win against a ranked team was against Georgia Tech, a team that was No. 21 at the time. GT isn’t even close to being in the top 25 now.

So, let’s talk about the teams that should’ve actually been in the Sugar Bowl game : No. 7 Boise State  vs No. 8 Kansas State.

The Broncos beat down on SEC East champs No. 16 Georgia and their only loss was to No. 18 TCU by 1 point. Their reward? Stuck in the Las Vegas Bowl playing the hapless Arizona State Sun Devils.

Kansas State played four ranked teams this season and split those games, defeating Baylor and Texas and losing to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Want to know why that game didn’t happen? Greed. The Sugar Bowl committee thought that Michigan and Virginia Tech would draw better than the alternatives. It’s sad when it comes down to putting butts in the seats rather than the integrity of the system. I’m sure the Sugar Bowl was praying that Alabama would drop down to No. 3 for the best possible draw.

It’s been said by nearly every fan of college football but maybe if it’s heard for a billion and one times it will finally sink in: PLAYOFF SYSTEM

Bears offense needs to replace Hanie…fast

I never thought I’d see the Chicago Bears offense get worse than when Rex Grossman was leading it – Boy, was I wrong.

With all apologies to Colorado State alums, Caleb Hanie can’t throw his way through a paper bag, leading the Bears to a 10-3 defeat at the hands of the lowly Kansas City Chiefs.

The defense did their job. The only touchdown came off a bogus “hail mary” that didn’t get knocked down quite enough. I can’t say the same thing about the offense. Without Matt Forte to make it look respectable, the offense looked like a geriatric pirate with two peglegs moving down the field – totalling just 181 total yards and going 0-for-11 on third down conversions.

When Jay Cutler was in, the team was on a roll with a 7-3 record – The playoffs looked inevitable. Now at 7-5, and the rest of the NFC crawling up their backs, it looks like it’s inevitable that they WON’T get a wildcard spot.

Dear Bears management: At this point, if you want any chance of making the playoffs, it’s time to bring someone else in. I don’t care if it’s Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre or Vinny Testaverde. Just find someone, anyone.

Think the Bears should stick with Hanie or bring someone else in? Let me know what you think in the comments:

Urban Meyer will change Big 10 mentality

For as long as anyone can remember, the Big 10 Conference has been known as “Linebacker U” for the plethora of top-talent linebackers it has produced. I’m not even mentioning the massive offensive lines  that reside within the conference (See Wisconsin Badgers).

Enter Urban Meyer as the new head coach at The Ohio State University.

Write it down now: Meyer will change the coaching philosophy in the Big 10 Conference from size to speed.

Hear me out. Meyer is a monster in recruiting and will be able to pull talent from anywhere he wants. Two shiny nation championship rings can do that for you. To compete at first, he must build the Ohio State defense for the typical Big 10 offense a.k.a. pounding the ball. That means he’ll need huge d-lineman but I think the next two “layers” is where he will start to differ. Meyer will look for hybrid linebackers that are decent-sized but have speed. His secondary will be built for pure coverage and speed. As far as offense, look for the same system he built at Florida, as soon as he gets the talent.

There’s a reason for all of this: Someone from the SEC has won the national championship the last 5 years. If it’s LSU-Alabama in the ‘ship this year, make it six. There were three SEC teams in the top three BCS spots last week. To win the big-time games, teams have to start competing with the best conference in the land. The Big 10, or any other conference you pick out of a hat, hasn’t been able to do that thus far.

It’s time for a change. Meyer is capable of forcing everyone in the Big 10 to change their gameplan from the typical ground and pound to keep up. Don’t think he won’t.

Will it be the same Big 10 as usual or will the offenses start shifting to speed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments: