The Everyday Man's Sports Blog

Follow Mike Patton aka The General as he puts his thoughts in on sports.

Archive for the month “January, 2012”

The Sports Blog Movement

I want to thank all my viewers for reading my blogs and commenting on them as well. As you all know, I’m not a professional writer (yet), but I try to voice the opinion for the everyday man and make the word plain so everyone can enjoy sports. Well, if you read and love my blogs, you will definitely love the crew that I’m a part of, the Sports Blog Movement. The Sports Blog Movement is a crew of writers who love talking and writing about sports in hopes of taking our voices to even higher levels.

If you have the time and enjoy hearing about sports from across the nation and Canada, feel free to check me and my crew as we bring a refreshing view to talking sports. Here is the website: http://sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com. Go check out our work there and sign up to receive e-mail blasts when a new blog is put on the site. Also, give us a follow on Twitter (@SprtsBlgMovemnt) and Facebook (http://m.facebook.com/SportsBlogMovement?refid=0&_rdr#201388423293624).
Sports Blog Movement is here folks. I promise you will not be disappointed in what all the crew brings to the table.

A Tale Of Two Coaches

For those that have not heard by now, the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hired former Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano as their new head coach. Some have questioned his limited experience in the NFL. But he does have a passion for the game. What is crazy to think about is that this job almost went to Oregon head coach Chip Kelly first.

Kelly is the mastermind behind the high-octane offense at Oregon. Sure, he has the flashy cards with pictures of players, animals and things on them that signal something to his players, but the fact of the matter is he gets it done on the collegiate level. Kelly reminds me of a Steve Spurrier type coach in one sense: he’s stubborn in regards to his offensive beliefs. Some would say that he is a little brash at times as well. Now we all know what happened when Spurrier went to the NFL. It was a disaster with the Redskins from the word “Go”. He tried to do his usual rotating QB schemes, his fun-and-gun offense and even tried his antics on the media. All were to no avail, as he eventually left the Redskins and headed back to college. For that reason alone, I think Chip Kelly made the right decision to stay the course at Oregon. I think he would have ended up being the next Steve Spurrier and his spread, high-paced offensive attack would have failed miserably.

Schiano is more of a meat-and-potatoes guy. He’s took on a challenge when he became head coach of Rutgers University in December of 2000. At the time he took over, Rutgers was the laughing stock of the Big East. No one was coming to their games and I even think some had entertained the thought of jettisoning them to another conference in football like the conference did the Temple Owls. After being there for a while, getting the top recruits, like running back Ray Rice, and going into Florida to get some talent, Schiano had the Rutgers program back on the map. He was consistently leading them to bowl games and made them respectable.

With all that being said, this job in Tampa is over his head. First, he really doesn’t have a lot of pro experience(coached from 1996 to 1998 with the Chicago Bears). The time that he spent in New Jersey breaking down film will need to be multiplied now due to scouting, combines and gameplans every week. Also, his sense of authority will now be gone and at the professional level and many former college coaches struggle with that part. All in all, I wish Schiano well, but he will be returning to the college game soon. The success that 1st time NFL coach Jim Harbaugh had is very rare for college-to-NFL coaches. Kelly made the right decision. Longevity in college football is easier to maintain than in the NFL. Barring any unforeseen issues, he should be at Oregon for a long time.

Who’s The MVP?

The season is ending and the time has come to give out the awards. The most prestigious of these awards is the MVP. And this year, the award comes down to two quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Some are yelling that Drew Brees should win it. Some are yelling Aaron Rodgers should. In my opinion, two key statistics make the decision easy. It’s Aaron Rodgers who is the MVP.

The first set of numbers is wins. Drew Brees had 13 wins this year. A lot of people will say that all this was because of Drew Brees. Well, that suggestion isn’t exactly accurate. Brees and the Saints, despite their explosiveness, were a team that could run the football as well. Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas combined for 2013 yards as a whole. Rodgers, on the other hand, sported a 15-1 record, while not having anywhere near the amount of ground support from Ryan Grant and James Starks that Brees had from his foursome(1137 yards). That alone makes Rodgers and his 15-1 record even that more impressive.
Advantage: Rodgers

My next set of numbers is interception-to-turnover ratio. There’s no doubt that Drew Brees had an outstanding year. He eclipsed Dan Marino’s passing yardage record in a season(5476 yards) and he also threw a career-high 46 TD passes. Brees obviously threw the ball a lot to get those numbers. And with throwing a lot, that means interceptions will happen. Brees also had 14 interceptions this year. Let’s compare what Brees did this year to what Rodgers did. Rodgers passed for less yards(4643) and TDs(45) but he also threw only 6 interceptions all year. Looking at Rodgers’ touchdown-to-interception numbers and combining these numbers with the fact that Rodgers didn’t have a running game make his stats look even better.
Advantage: Rodgers.

To me, winning and not hurting your team are the biggest things that lead to making you a valuable piece. Rodgers hurt his team less and he was surgeon-like while he shredded teams on his way to leading the Packers to a 15-1 record. Brees had a great season, but give credit where credit is due. Rodgers was masterful this year.

#SportsBlogMovement

The Everyday Mailbag-1/18/12

Welcome back everyone! The Everyday Mailbag is back folks! And I’ve got some great questions! Without any further adieu, here are this week’s questions!

Q: Will the Jets Mark Sanchez survive another year?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I don’t think he does. Next year could quite possibly be it for him in New York because with him at QB, I don’t think they will ever be a team that will threaten you on a consistent basis in the passing game. Now he does have all next year to prove me wrong, but I don’t know if I see Sanchez doing that.

Q: ‎​Will Donovan McNabb be in the NFL next season?
-Joey K., Los Angeles, CA

A: I will say this, if Kyle Boller is still playing in the NFL, then McNabb should be too. But I just have a feeling McNabb will be on a pre-game show for some network next year.

Q: Should Locker sit another year behind Hasselbeck or should there be open competition for the starting position next season?
-Getahn W., Nashville, TN

A: I think that it would surprise me if Locker gets a chance to be the starting QB. At one point, I did say that you keep Hasselbeck to be a backup QB next year, but in retrospect, I will say that Hasselbeck will start next year unless things get bad. If that happens, Locker will be the starter.

Q: Who is the Rookie of the Year so far in the NBA?
-Tiffany P., Antioch, TN

A: To me, its between Ricky Rubio and Norris Cole right now. Both are PGs and both have made both of their teams better and been very important in the success of their teams. Another guy that deserves some Rookie of the Year mention is Knicks G Iman Shumpert. He has been playing pretty well so far this year.

Q: Give me your top 5 draft picks and what the Steelers and the Cowboys need for next year. I think defensive back help is needed for both teams.
-Lyorant T., Antioch, TN

A: Well, I will say that it’s a little early for the Top 5 picks, but the guys that will definitely be in the Top 5 are Alabama RB Trent Richardson, Stanford QB Andrew Luck and USC OT Matt Khalil. Other than these three, I believe Baylor QB Robert Griffin III or LSU CB Morris Claiborne will be cracking the Top 5 as well, but that’s not a guarantee for these two purely based on what teams need. One position that you mentioned for Pittsburgh and Dallas to look at in the draft was defensive back. I think that the more pressing need for Pittsburgh is offensive line help. Then they need to get a DB after that. As far as Dallas, they need help at all levels of their defense, not just the defensive backfield.

Q: What’s going on the with the Lady Vols subpar play this year?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I think this answer is two-fold. The Lady Vols don’t get as much talent that they used to get because there are many other viable programs out there across the country. The second factor is that Pat Summitt isn’t exactly the same person on the sidelines. I’m not trying to downgrade or talk bad about Patt Summitt. I think she’s one of the greatest coaches to ever coach, male or female. But, it just seems like she isn’t her usual self on the sidelines this year and that is affecting her team somewhat.

Thanks to all who read and contributed this week. Hopefully there will be even more people contribute next week! And to who view my mailbag, just remember if you have sports questions, I have answers!

#SportsBlogMovement

Can You Be A Difference-Maker?

Today is a tremendous day in history. We observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr today. He was one of the best leaders this country has ever seen. I’m sure some don’t understand his impact, but I’m sure a lot do. I’m sure thankful for him having graced us with his presence on this Earth.

But today isn’t just a holiday folks. I’m not going to treat it that way. Today is a day to take time and delve into what Mr. King Jr was all about. If you haven’t visited the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN, I believe you need to. Nothing is more educational than a walk thru that museum. You get a feel of what all he went thru and the actual spot where King Jr was shot is memorialized. I visited this museum in 2010 with the AAU basketball team I was coaching at that time. That visit was very tremendous and emotional for me.

From that visit and from Martin Luther King, Jr, I learned that we all can make an impact in changing the way society is. Never underestimate the power that you have. One statement or one action that you make could affect many. Like Martin Luther King Jr did, we must stand for what we believe in and fight for what we think is right. That’s how you make a difference in America.

I want everyone to think of what Martin Luther King, Jr meant to you and what kind of effect he had on your life, whether you were alive when he was here or have heard about him growing up all these years. I want you all to really examine his life, his actions and his mission. What will you take from his mission and what can you do today to help his mission succeed? What will you take from what he did? What difference will you make in the world?

TEM’s Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview: New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers

The Pack have been the favorite since the beginning of the year. The Giants weren’t even supposed to be here in some people’s eyes. But no matter what we all think, what we do know is that these two teams had a really competitive game in the New Meadowlands. Now we get to see Round 2, except this time, its in Green Bay.

QB Eli Manning was hitting the big play with consistency last week. And no player was bigger for him in the passing game than WR Hakeem Nicks. This week, expect Nicks to have the advantage again in his matchup. He will more than likely be facing CB Sam Shields while CB Charles Woodson will be in the slot. But for as good as the Giants were in the passing game, they must be equally impressive in the running game. If RBs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs are effective, they keep Packers QB Aaron Rodgers off the field. Another thing the Giants have to do is account for LB Clay Matthews. He can wreck a game if the Giants don’t control him and Eli could be under duress all game.

QB Aaron Rodgers is the MVP. Contrary to all the Drew Brees lovers, he’s the man in my opinion. Now with that being said, Rodgers has to come out and carry his offense again this week. For him to do that, the Packer offensive line must protect Rodgers from the Nascar pass rush of the Giants, led by DEs Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. If the Packers protect Rodgers, then the Giants secondary could be in some trouble. No offense to the Giants, but they don’t have enough DBs to cover TE Jermichael Finley and WRs Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings and James Jones. Another player to watch this game when the Packers are on offense will be James Starks. He is the most physical of the Green Bay RBs and he must be somewhat effective to help the offensive line keep some of the heat off of Rodgers.

This game should be interesting and high-scoring. But, like most games, it comes down to defense. Whoever makes more plays defensively will win the game. I will take the team that creates more turnovers to win this game, the Green Bay Packers.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 34, New York Giants 31

TEM’s Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview: Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens

The Texans made the playoffs for the first time. They also won their first playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals last week. This weekend, they try to make another first happen as the Texans head to Baltimore to play the Ravens for the right to go to the AFC Championship.

QB TJ Yates has been a cool customer in the pocket. He has made the throws when he needed to, but the biggest weapon on this team is RB Arian Foster. Foster was a man amongst boys last week as he shredded the Bengals defense. For the Texans to be successful against the Ravens, Foster must come up big again. The Ravens will more than likely crowd the line of scrimmage with S Bernard Pollard, who’s like a linebacker playing safety, to help slow Foster down. LB Ray Lewis and defensive lineman Haloti Ngata will play a huge roll in stopping the run as well. If the Ravens are successful in stopping the run, then all the pressure falls on Yates and that will not be good, especially with S Ed Reed lurking in the shadows. But even with Reed lurking, I expect Texans WR Andre Johnson to make some plays because he does have the advantage against the Ravens CB’s. The question is can he make enough?

QB Joe Flacco has been ridiculed for everything from his performances this season to his mustache. Well, one thing you cannot ridicule Flacco for is his performance in the post-season. Flacco just seems to come up strong in post-season play. In this game, he will be asked to make some plays in the passing game due to the Texans being so stout against the run. Now even with the Texans stuffing the run, that doesn’t mean RB Ray Rice doesn’t get his touches. Trends are meant to be broken sometimes and the Ravens are a better offensive team when Rice is involved. He must get 20+ touches this game. Also, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron must be stubborn with calling running plays to help his quarterback settle in and be successful. If Cameron is stubborn with the run, I expect WRs Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin to make some big plays due to the run setting up the pass. Also expect the Ravens’ TEs (Ed Dickson and Dennis Pita) to also factor in. Jonathan Joseph and the Houston secondary will be tested this game more than against the Bengals. Another factor in this game is for the Ravens to get a handle on LB Brian Cushing. If Cushing is allowed to be his normal, game-changing self, then that could be serious issues for the Ravens.

As for how the game will go, I expect the Ravens to come out with a lot of energy. If the Texans can withstand that initial surge, then I think this game is a close game. If not, then this game could get ugly really quick. I think the Texans hang around for a little while, but with the run taken away from them, the Ravens eventually take over the game.
Prediction: Baltimore Ravens 30, Houston Texans 13

TEM’s Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview: Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots

The energy was crazy as the Denver Broncos won on the strength of Tebow’s arm, Demaryius Thomas’ legs and the great play of their defense. This week, the task gets even harder as the Broncos travel to Gillette Stadium to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots, as they begin what they hope is a big run. The pressure will be on a different level. And like they say about pressure, it bust pipes and it makes diamonds too.

QB Tim Tebow wasn’t exactly the most efficient passer last week, but he sure did make each pass count. Tebow completed 10 passes for 316 yards against the Steel Curtain and targeted Ike Taylor almost every single time. Like last week, Tebow must continue to pull the trigger as John Elway said. The Patriots do have a pretty bad defense, so expect them to give up some plays to the Broncos receivers. But as long as DT Vince Wilfork, LB Jerod Mayo and crew can stop the run, then the Pats have the Broncos right where they want them. RB Willis McGahee must run the ball well to keep the Pats from just sitting in zones. Tebow has gotten better, but at this point in his career, he isn’t ready to carry this team with his arm. And that could be a bad situation for the Broncos if he is forced to carry the team with his arm. The Broncos definitely want to control the tempo and keep the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands.

The Patriots are a team that many had as Super Bowl favorites. After an exciting regular season, the Pats enter the playoffs as healthy as they’ve been since the start of the year. Expect the Pats to continue to use TE Rob Gronkowski (90 receptions, 1327 yards, 17 TDs). Gronk is a huge matchup problem and is especially a matchup problem for the Broncos. I see Gronk getting lose again and scoring yet another TD. If Gronk isn’t open or if the Broncos double-cover him, expect Brady to look for guys like TE Aaron Hernandez (79 receptions, 310 yards, 7 TDs), WR Wes Welker (122 receptions, 1569 yards, 9 TDs) and WR Deion Branch(51 receptions, 702 yards, 5 TDs). And just when Brady and crew get you thinking about the pass, that’s when the Pats hit you with the Law Firm, RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis is by far the Patriots best RB and can grind it out if that’s what the Patriots want to do. LB Von Miller is a big key this game. The Broncos must get pressure on Brady all game long. Brady has shown that when pressure is on him, he does tend to make mistakes. If the Broncos can keep the pressure up, than Brady won’t be able to get into a rhythm and that makes the game a bunch easier on the Broncos.

This game will be exciting in the beginning moments. But as the game wears on, the Broncos emotional high will come down. Once it does, expect the Pats to make the Broncos pay. Tebow has shown us some great things and has pulled off some great victories, but like all good things, they come to an end.
Prediction: New England 38, Denver 24

TEM’s Divisional Playoff Weekend Preview: New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers

There are great offenses. There are great defenses. And then you have the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. These two teams have been the standard bearers for the NFL offensively and defensively respectively. And now they meet in the divisional round of the playoffs in the city by the bay.

QB Drew Brees has been out of this world this year. And he carried that over with his 33/43, 466 yard and 3 TD performance against the Detroit Lions. But for those that watched the game, the Saints didn’t really start going until they got some big plays via the run and short dump pass to RB Pierre Thomas. Thomas, along with jitterbug RB Darren Sproles, have the unenviable task on taking on the best run defense in football. The 49ers have allowed only 2 rushing TDs this year to go along with only allowing a league-best 77.3 rushing yards per game. As we all know, the Saints like to put the ball in the air, but the running game will play a role if the Saints are to win. Another key thing to watch in this game will be the pressure on Drew Brees. DE Justin Smith will be key in producing pressure in Brees’ face. The pressure up the middle seems to affect Brees more than pressure coming from the outside. If Smith, DE Ray McDonald and crew clog the middle and make their presence felt, then Brees, who is barely six foot tall, will not have the throwing lanes he needs to be successful. The final key of the game is the presence of 49ers LBs Navarro Bowman and Patrick Willis. These two guys, along with safeties Donte Whitner and Dashon Goldson, will be key in taking away Brees’ best weapons, TE Jimmy Graham and RB Darren Sproles. The more San Francisco can limit these guys, the more they enhance their chances. If these two get going, it could be a long day for the Niners.

QB Alex Smith has had his best season ever as a professional. But even with that, many folks doubt he can produce in a pressure-filled situation. The time is now if he is to prove the doubters wrong, but not in the way that most would think. Smith must continue to get the 49ers offense in the correct sets and plays against a Saints defense that can be vulnerable. The Saints have been opportunistic, but they cannot be as opportunistic if you play smart and take care of the football. RB Frank Gore had another productive season (282 carries, 1211 yards, 8 TDs). And he will again be counted on to be the focus of the offense. Gore must make the Saints pay for being pretty porous in run defense. The more effective the 49ers are on the ground, the less possessions Bress has to wreak havoc on the field. Another key matchup will be the Saints DBs vs Michael Crabtree and the 49ers passing game. Crabtree, along with the presence of TE Vernon Davis, have been giving teams fits when the Niners pass. He must continue his strong play down the stretch to give Smith a big-time threat down the field. Saints S Malcolm Jenkins will more than likely draw the assignment of keeping Davis in check. If Jenkins allows Davis to stretch the Saints defense, that makes the 49ers even that much more dangerous. Also, if S Roman Harper is caught covering anyone, the Niners must look to take advantage of him. Harper’s more trouble rushing the passer(7.5 sacks) than in the passing game. Lastly, WR/PR/KR Ted Ginn must be paid attention to. He could take it the distance every time he touches the ball.

As far as the game, I expect the 49ers to come out throwing before they settle into the running game to break their tendencies offensively. This Saints will come out gunning like they usually do. The difference in this week and last week is they are playing a better defense and a better team than the Lions were. Pace and tempo along with the crowd and the outdoors will be in the 49ers favor. That, along with a big play from Ginn in the return game and some good field goal kicking, will lead the 49ers to a win against the Saints in Monster Park.
Prediction: San Francisco 27, New Orleans 24

TEM’s Wild Card Weekend Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos

Denver is the Mile-High City. Its also the home of Tebowmania. Tebowmania will definitely be tested this weekend when the Pittsburgh Steelers, complete with their fans bearing terrible towels, invade Denver.

QB Ben Roethlisberger(4077 yards, 21 TDs, 90.1 passer rating) has been the model of a toughness this year. He’s broken his nose, sprained his ankle and had other assortments of injuries over the years and he still has played in games. He’s the unquestioned leader of the Steelers offense. This year he’s gotten the chance to pass the ball a whole bunch more. WRs Mike Wallace(72 receptions, 1193 yards, 8 TDs) and Antonio Brown(69 receptions, 1108 yards, 2 TDs) have been explosive all year for him. But the key for the Steelers is the running game in my opinion. With leading running back Rashard Mendenhall(928 yards, 9 TDs) injured and out for the post-season, expect RB Isaiah Redman and RB John Clay to get the bulk of the carries. These guys must fill in well for Mendenhall. That will allow Big Ben opportunities to hit the Broncos up for the big play due to Denver having to respect the run. If they don’t, that puts it all on Big Ben’s shoulders. An immobile Big Ben throwing a ton of passes with the likes of rookie LB Von Miller(11.5 sacks) and LB Elvis Dummervil(9.5 sacks) lurking isn’t a good recipe for a victory.

QB Tim Tebow(1729 yards, 12 passing TDs, 72.9 passer rating) hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire with his statistics. But, for what he hasn’t done statistically, he more than has made up for in intangibles like leadership and clutch play. But clutch play can only lead you so far. Tebow must get back to valuing the football and doing the things that made him successful. One of the things that helped him was the success of the running game. RB Willis McGahee(249 yards, 1199 yards, 4 TDs) found the fountain of youth this year and he must be effective in keeping the Broncos offense on schedule. If they fall into unfavorable down and distance situations, then the advantage goes to the Steelers. And with OLB James Harrison and S Troy Palamalu lurking on the Steelers defense, that’s a scary proposition for Tebow. Another thing that helped Tebow was being smart with the football. Tebow must make the throws to players like WR Eric Decker(44 receptions, 612 yards, 8 TDs) when they are open and throw it away when those plays aren’t there.

All in all, this game will be ugly. I expect points to be at a premium. And in a game where points are at a premium, I trust the team that has more offense. Big Ben and the Steelers win this game in a close one.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Denver 13

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