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Archive for the tag “Drew Brees”

Potential Solutions For The Houston Texans At Quarterback

(photo courtesy of Eric Christian Smith/AP)

(photo courtesy of Eric Christian Smith/AP)

The Houston Texans have had quarterback issues since the first game of the season. In that game versus the Kansas City Chiefs, Brian Hoyer was yanked in favor of Ryan Mallett due to his poor play. He eventually would get the job back. And during that time, Mallett found himself getting cut after missing a team flight to a game in Miami. But Hoyer would miss some games along the way this season due to concussion issues. And when he did, he was replaced by quarterback TJ Yates and Brandon Weeden (acquired off waivers from Dallas). The Texans were able to get it together enough to win the AFC South and make the playoffs. Despite playing with four quarterbacks this season, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins had a spectacular season. His 111 receptions for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns were even more of an amazing feat considering the inconsistent quarterback play and the lack of someone to take the pressure off of him offensively. All the success and hard work to make it to the playoffs was all for naught though, as they faced the Chiefs again and were beaten 30-0. The score was ugly and so was the performance of quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was healthy enough to play in this one. The veteran quarterback from completed only 44% of his passes and threw four interceptions. Needless to say, that performance did not leave the Texans and their fans feeling good about the state of their quarterback position. So going into the offseason, quarterback is one thing that they definitely need to address. There are many ways the many ways the Texans can address that position. But here are a few that may have a chance to happen.

The way the Texans are constructed, they need a quarterback right now in hopes of them getting to the playoffs and ultimately the Super Bowl next season. With no time to waste, they could go get a veteran quarterback immediately. One guy that could be available is Peyton Manning. The Broncos made it apparent that they are trying to move on from Peyton this year. But Brock Osweiler never cemented himself as the unquestioned starter there after he replaced Manning. So Manning has a shot again right now in the playoffs, but it is not likely that he will be back in Denver. But don’t look for Manning to retire just like that. He could be released if the Broncos commit to going in a different direction. And when or if he is, look for the Texans to give him a call. Even though Manning is not the same guy he once was, he still is better than the quarterbacks they have right now. And even with him and his playoff history, he will give them a better chance to win games when they count. Of course, the Texans would have to work out the financials and knowing Peyton, the money will have to be there for him to make this move. But the good thing is he would have a good defense with him and all the defenses he would be facing in the division would not be that good.

But Manning is not the only option of the veteran variety. Drew Brees is still an option that could be out there. Of course, it all depends on if he and the Saints can work something out. Brees has a $30 million salary cap hit next season and New Orleans has to figure that out. Although it may not look like they will, it could still happen. If it does, that will take him off the market and he will retire as the quarterback of the New Orleans Saints. But if they are not able to work something out there, then he could be available to anyone. The Texans do have some cap concerns when it comes to Drew and they would be essentially trading for him on a one-year deal (barring an extension being worked out in Houston before a deal is done). Adding him to what they have offensively would make them even better than they are now. Like Manning, Brees is older. But unlike Manning, he has icewater in his veins when it comes to playoff time. Brees and that defense along with Hopkins would be a good fit and would definitely be something to take the Texans to the next level, especially with those defenses in that division.

Manning and Brees are two options, but there could also be a younger free agent on the market. The Broncos could decide to go the other way and keep Manning in Denver (although highly unlikely). If they do that, then Brock Osweiler will be available. The young quarterback got a chance to play this season and show that he has some skills. But unfortunately for him, he was pulled in favor on Manning in the last game of the year. And there could be some hard feelings there from him towards the organization. If that is the case or not, there will be teams looking for him on the free agent market. And with the Texans needing someone to lead them, he could step in and be that guy. Of course he does not have much experience as a starter. Hoyer has more honestly. But the potential of what he can do is something that could help this team. The other bad thing is that he may not be an instant hit there if he came to Houston. It may take him some time to get used to the new system and that may be time the Texans do not have. If he does not catch on as quick as they would like, then he could be catching the first thing smoking out of town.

Other than players that are currently in the NFL, there is also the draft. Texans head coach Bill O’ Brien was a coach at Penn State before he came to the Texans. And when he was there, he recruited and coached a quarterback named Christian Hackenberg. Well, Hackenberg has decided to make himself eligible for the draft this year. Seeing that he is familiar with the Hackenberg, it could be possible that he drafts his former college quarterback to his team. The acclimation to the NFL would be sped up because of the familiarity with O’Brien’s offense. But the familiarity could only carry Christian but so far. He has the arm strength and the mental capacity to be an NFL quarterback, but is he too shell-shocked to do it? When O’Brien left Penn State, new head coach James Franklin came in and coached the team. And in doing so, the offense there exposes Hackenberg to hit after hit after hit. And because of that, he may be shellshocked. If that is the case, then he will not be very good in the NFL and will be about as good as another quarterback O’Brien drafted, Tom Savage.

The Texans have a situation on their hands and they have to get it rectified. They have not had a quarterback in the whole Bill O’Brien era and it’s time to solve that riddle. But it will be interesting to see which way they go. Will they go with a veteran, a young up-and-comer or a rookie? We shall indeed see what the braintrust of the Texans decides to do.

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The End Of The Road For Drew Brees In New Orleans?

(photo courtesy of Jonathan Bachman/AP)

(photo courtesy of Jonathan Bachman/AP)

Drew Brees was thought of as damaged goods was at one point in time. Having his best season to date for San Diego in 2005, Brees tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder the last game of the season. With then backup Phillip Rivers already in place, this injury made the decision for the Chargers, as they decided to let Brees test free agency. And from there, Brees was left in limbo. Would teams hold his shoulder injury over him or would someone give him a chance. The lowly New Orleans Saints, who had been struggling to get some consistent quarterback play, were willing to take a chance on Brees and his surgically-repaired shoulder and signed him to a six-year, $60 million contract. And from there, the pairing of Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton became great. The Saints became a prolific offense and even won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. But eventually good things have to come to an end.

The Saints have been struggling over the last few years and they are also in salary cap purgatory. The one person that is eating up most of that cap going into next season is quarterback Drew Brees. Of course he is the face of the franchise, but at one point does that cap number become too much? Next season, Brees will count for a cap hit of at least $30 million. No team can rebuild and field a good team with that massive a hit by one player in this era. So with Brees aging and the team breaking down around him, is it realistic that he could be playing somewhere else next season? The possibility of him taking an extension to spread that money out over some years is there, but there have been no indications either way. So the possibility of the greatest quarterback in Saints history playing in another uniform next year is real this offseason. If the Saints want to move forward, they unfortunately have to make a tough decision about Brees. This past offseason, they had to get rid of All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham because the cap was so bad. The cap issue is not going away unless they do something right now. And Brees unfortunately is going to be the casualty this time if he does not come to some kind of agreement with the Saints on an extension.

If Brees is indeed on the market, then there will be a few teams that will look to add his services. One team that could be an interesting addition for him would be the New York Jets. They got solid play from Ryan Fitzpatrick this past season. But honestly, there is not many that even expected him to play as well as he did. Needless to say, there is not many that will expect him to play the same way he did next season, should he be in New York. With Brees in that offense, the quarterback play goes to another level for the Jets. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker become even scarier as a tandem with Brees, but he will also help that third or fourth wide receiver become a weapon as well. And the pressure the Jets’ defense feels each game would be less because they could depend on the offense, led by the veteran signal-caller. Of course the Jets would have to make some sacrifices in regards to some players on their team now, but it would be worth it for them to do so just to have a shot at a Super Bowl. But the Jets are not the only team that could use a guy like Brees. A team that has a ton of cap space that could add him would be the San Francisco 49ers. One possible scenario for the 49ers would be getting Sean Payton as their new head coach and using the multitude of picks they have to trade for Brees as well. His insertion to that team does not make them a Super Bowl contender, but it does make them a team that can contend for a playoff spot potentially. Also, his insertion to that team does not cripple their cap space, as they will still have money to pay other players to come there to play. And another thing he could add to the 49ers is someone who could potentially tutor a young quarterback if they are to add one in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The Saints are on the clock and a decision has to be made in terms of Brees. And from the outside looking in, it may be the end of Brees in New Orleans. The ride the Saints and the veteran quarterback have had together has been very successful. But with Payton potentially on his way out and the team in salary cap trouble, it may be time for the Drew Brees era to end in New Orleans. And when that officially happens, you better expect many contenders to be lined up and ready to acquire his services.

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The General’s Six Drafting Rules All NFL Teams Should Follow

The draft is coming and there is definitely some interesting things that could happen. (photo courtesy of www.nfl.com)

The draft is coming and there is definitely some interesting things that could happen. (photo courtesy of http://www.nfl.com)

The NFL Draft is nearing with each passing day and many rumors are out there. You hear of rumors of teams not wanting certain players because of character concerns and also because of the fear their abilities will not translate to the professional level. One thing that can be proven over the years is that drafting players to fit a team is an inexact science. The best player on the board could end up being a colossal mistake. And that draft pick you passed over that you did not put much into scouting could end up being the best player many looked over. All in all, there is high stakes at the draft that could make or break teams and also gets some general managers, coaches and scouts fired. There is a lot of trust in what you see. But there is also a lot of trust in some basic principles. Whether teams admit to it or not, there is a fundamental belief as to why they draft players when they do. And those fundamental beliefs have led some organizations to success and others to the depths of despair. Well, what if you were a general manager and you were building an organization? What would be your strategy or rules to go by? Well, since the draft is near, it’s time for the General’s six rules for drafting.

Rule 1: Never Take a Quarterback in the 1st Round

There have been great quarterbacks taken in the first round and they have put up good numbers and some have even won Super Bowls. But you don’t necessarily need a 1st round quarterback to win the championship. For example, in the last six years three 1st round quarterbacks have won title (Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers, Eli Manning with the New York Giants and Joe Flacco with the Ravens). But there were also three quarterbacks that were not drafted in the 1st round that won Super Bowls for their organizations. Drew Brees won the title in 2010 as his New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts. The former 2001 2nd round draft pick of San Diego led one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL that season. Ironically, he left San Diego in free agency after a shoulder injury allowed the Chargers to replace Brees with former 1st round pick Phillip Rivers. The Chargers have won nothing while the Saints have some jewelry from the Drew Brees era. Russell Wilson was another quarterback that was not drafted in the first (3rd round pick of Seattle in the 2012 NFL Draft). The Seattle Seahawks were all ready to go with quarterback Matt Flynn the year they drafted Wilson, but they were wowed by the play of Wilson and decided to go with him as their starter. Good thing they did because he has helped lead them to two Super Bowl appearances in three years and has won one Super Bowl. But last but not least there is Tom Brady. The former University of Michigan quarterback was not even given the mere thought of as being a starting quarterback in the NFL, let alone a star. But with his last championship this past February, the former 2000 6th round pick now has three titles and six championship appearances. So with that, there is evidence that a 1st round quarterback is not needed, only good scouts that can actually understand quarterback play.

Rule 2: Only take a running back in the 1st round if you feel it’s necessary

Some of the same rules apply when it comes to taking a running back in the 1st round. If there is an absolute stud in the 1st round, then by all means take him if he fits your scheme. For example, when the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson 7th overall in 2007, he fit seamlessly into what the Vikings wanted to do. And off-field issues aside, he is still one of the most solid running backs in the NFL and he is the focal point of that offense. But if you take a look around the league, teams are starting to go more to the passing game and less with drafting the bellcow running backs in the 1st round. Look at the starters of the past five NFL champions and you will notice that there was only one running back that was drafted in the first round started for their team (Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks). You can get better value for running backs later in the draft than you can in the 1st round. And time after time, many teams continue to prove that while teams like the Cleveland Browns swing and whiff at the supposed “stud running back” in the 1st round, only to be disappointed.

Rule #3: When an edge pass rusher is available, take him as soon as you can

The NFL has turned more and more into a passing league every single year. Gone are the days where you can put hands on wide receivers when they run down the field. It seems like all the rules are titled towards the offensive side of the ball. So, to even that out, you draft a pass rusher. There are some teams that are stout against the run, but they cannot put pressure on quarterbacks and that can cost them. For example, if the Dallas Cowboys would have had an elite pass rusher last season like they potentially have now in Greg Hardy, they would have beaten the Packers in Green Bay because Aaron Rodgers was limited in his mobility. The best thing a team that does not have stud defensive backs can do is draft a pass rusher to put pressure on the quarterback. The better a pass rush your team has, the more your defensive backs can be covered up and the less time quarterbacks have to find them and exploit them. Elite pass rushers are a very highly valued commodity and in the NFL, they can put your team over the top. Look at the Seahawks defense for example. They have the Legion Of Boom in their secondary, but they also have two great pass rushers in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett and those two help make the Legion Of Boom look better while giving the quarterback less time. Drafting a pass rusher in the 1st round is not as huge a gamble for your franchise also.

Rule 4: Draft for depth for your defensive lines

The middle of your defense should be solid. With the speed of the NFL, teams should not be able to beat you running sideways. If you have a defense that is getting beat by a East/West runner, then the defense is not very good to begin with. The good defenses over the years like the Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals have all been stout up front. And consequently, those teams have all been very successful over the last few years. You can never have too much depth up to keep guys as fresh as possible inside. From the 1st round to the 7th round, there are always players that are found that can plug a hole on your defense and fit the scheme with which you decide to run. And with that depth, you can wear down an offensive line and then really let loose when it is winning time. The Seattle Seahawks have been using that formula for the last three seasons and no one seems to have an answer for it at all. They tend to find piece after piece throughout the draft and just plug those guys into their system. And in the NFL, it’s a copycat league and many are beginning to learn the value of having depth along the defensive line.

Rule 5: Get as many offensive weapons as possible offensively

Like was mentioned before, the league has turned into an offensive explosion for the most part. Many teams are putting up numbers each and every week. And if you look around offenses in the NFL, there are many teams that are following the same formula. Even though some teams may have had weapons the previous season, they are going out and drafting more weapons at the same position or another position. The more weapons a team has that complement each other, the more chances you can put defenses in compromising positions. Draft for need, but also draft a little for depth with weapons offensively because things like injuries and suspensions can happen unexpectedly and you have to be prepared as much as possible for that to happen. If you are not prepared, then the lack of depth at a position and the lack of weapons offensively could come back to haunt an offense and be the difference between a playoff spot and an early vacation.

Rule 6: Draft offensive lineman with very athletic backgrounds

This may seem like a dumb statement, but there are actually some lineman in the NFL that are not very athletic. You need lineman that are athletic for things like pulling, blocking guys in space and also making that one last incredible block to free your running back for a touchdown. And example of a team drafting athletic lineman is the San Francisco 49ers.If you look at their offensive tackles, Anthony Davis and Joe Staley, both can move in space and can maul the defensive lineman in front of them. And because of these two and the other pieces that surround them up front, the 49ers were known as one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in football over the last couple of years. Athleticism is a key ingredient for lineman to be able to keep up with the speed of the defensive lineman. And with a good offensive lineman doing their assignment well, the quarterback has time to make plays through the air and the running back will have holes to run through.

These are the General’s six rules for drafting and with these strategies, you would have a stout defensive team with a value pick at running back and quarterback that could cost less but be effective on the field. You would also have a team that has an athletic offensive line and depth on the defensive line that can be the lynchpin to what you need to win a title. Building from the inside out is a key essential in making a team that not only is good but has staying power.

The Decision On Jimmy Graham Could Change The NFL Forever

jimmy graham

New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham is a physical specimen. Standing at 6’7” and weighing 265 pounds, he has become a huge weapon for Drew Brees. His 86 receptions for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns had some thinking he was the best tight end in football. And the Saints were getting all that production out of him as he was getting paid only $1.323 million in salary. But a good bargain deal can only last for so long and Graham is up for a new deal. However, a new deal for him comes with one wrench in the plans: how is he classified?

Despite being labeled as a starting tight end, Graham hardly does things that normal tight ends would do. He is not known as a good in-line blocker despite his size. But what he is known for lining up in the slot or out wide, creating serious mismatches for defenses. And it’s because of the way he has been used that has him thinking he should not be paid as a tight end. Graham may end up having the franchise tag placed on him this offseason. And if that happens, he will more than likely be tagged as a tight end. The problem is he and his agent feel that he has been used more as a wide receiver than a tight end due to unconventional ways the Saints use Graham. His agent is reportedly getting prepared to file a grievance should Graham be classified as a tight end and in this scenario and Graham and his agent have a compelling case.

graham splitting out

The difference between Graham being classified as a tight end or a wide receiver, should he be franchise tagged, is very significant. For those that don’t know, when you receive the franchise tag, the salary you are paid for that year is the average of the top five players at that position. In regards to the tight end position, Graham would be looking at around $5 million a year to play for New Orleans. If he were to be classified as a wide receiver, Graham would be looking at $6 million more for that one year of playing for the Saints. But the decision on Graham would not only affect him, but the future of the tight end position.

Many offenses are starting to redefine the way tight ends are used these days. Gone are the days where the tight end is an in-line receiver that lines up next to the offensive tackle. More often, tight ends are used as slot guys as the position becomes even more athletic than it once was. And as a result, you could classify some of these guys as a hybrid between a tight end and a wide receiver. With the changes at that position, if Graham was to win that case, it would fundamentally change the tight end position and its importance. Gone would be the days where tight ends are viewed as a level below the wide receiver. Monetarily, the pay grade for tight ends would rise if Graham was to challenge and win a ruling to be classified as a wide receiver. That would completely alter the way franchises construct teams offensively due to the allocation of funds. A new model would have to be come up with as players like Denver’s Julius Thomas and Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta are about to get paid eventually.

dennis pitta

In the end, this decision on Graham’s deal has more to do with the NFL and less to do with him. He could fundamentally change the game fiscally forever and I think he just might do so. He’s earned big money and it’s time to open up the pocket book New Orleans.

For more sports conversation, follow me on Twitter @General_MP or check me out on Facebook at Mike Patton-The General .

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.

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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: Detriot Lions vs New Orleans Saints

There have been boring games, exciting games and games that were just downright ugly all season. Well, this game is sure to be of the entertaining variety. Its put up or shut up time for too offensive teams as the Lions head to the Superdome to take on the lethal New Orleans Saints.

QB Matt Stafford has been incredible this year. That’s in part to him being healthy all year for the first time in his career. And we all got a glimpse of how good he can be when he is healthy( 5038 yards, 41 passing TDs). But no QB can do it by himself and Stafford has had one of the most dominant forces in the NFL at WR at his disposal in WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson(1681 yards, 16 TDs). The Saints will try to double and even triple team him like they did the last time these two teams matched up in the regular season. The thing that goes against the Lions is their lack of a running game. The Lions running game got so bad that they brought a guy in off the streets (Kevin Smith) to play for them. Smith has been effective, but he hasn’t given the Lions the balance they need. And with the Lions passing a lot, expect Saints S Roman Harper to be blitzing a lot. Harper is pretty much their best guy rushing the passer, as odd as that sounds. He’s tallied 7.5 sacks this season. But for as good as he is in rushing the passer and blitzing, he’s a liability in pass coverage. If I’m the Lions, when Harper isn’t blitzing, I’m throwing right at him. And besides Megatron, the Lions have rookie WR Titus Young and WR Nate Burleson and TE Brandon Pettigrew. If this offense gets rolling, the Saints could have some problems. Another guy that needs to be watched for the Saints in this game is S Malcolm Jenkins. He’s a difference-maker, so expect him to make a big play or two. All the Lions WRs and TEs need to know where Jenkins is because Jenkins punishes people when he gets to them.

Just like the Lions offense can create problems for the Saints, MVP candidate Drew Brees and crew can cause problems for the Lions. Besides Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers, Brees has been the best QB in the NFL this year (5476 yards, 46 passing TDs). Brees will be going up against a Lions defense that was taken to task last weekend by backup QB Matt Flynn and the Green Bay Packers. Expect Brees to tear into this defense from the word go. And the thing that’s so dangerous about the Saints is that they have so many weapons. But of all their weapons, the most important ones are TE Jimmy Graham (1310 yards, 11 TDs) and RB Darren Sproles. Graham and Sproles always seem to make the big plays, so expect a lot of attention to be given to them by Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and crew. The best plan of attack for the Lions would be to try to get pressure up the middle on Brees and that task falls on DTs Nic Fairley, Ndamakong Suh and Corey Williams. For all that Brees can do, he is only 6 foot tall and needs throwing lanes in order to make his passes and if these guys are in his face, he can’t see where he’s throwing. Another key thing the Lions need to do is stuff the run. If they are able to take that part of the New Orleans offense away, then the pass rush of the Lions can just pin their ears back and attack Brees. The bad thing is they haven’t been good at stopping the run all year.

Expect this game to be a high scoring affair in the beginning. But the longer the game goes on, the more the power of the Saints will take over. Its been a good season Lions, but its time to start the off-season.
Prediction: New Orleans 38, Detroit 24

The Everyday Mailbag- 12/28/11

Basketball season is here! The NBA just cranked up. Sadly, the NFL is gearing down. But in between the excitement for the beginning of a new NBA season and the movement towards the NFL playoffs, there are plenty of questions that arise. Let’s see what the Sports World wants to know!

Q: Do you think 35 bowl games is too many?
-James R., Nashville, TN

A: I do think that 35 bowl games are too many. I believe that going to a bowl game has lost its specialness and that eventually, there may be some bowl games cut. I think that’s only right.

Q: What’s the more impressive record breaking season? Marino in 1984 or Drew Brees in 2011? Obviously the year they set/broke passing records.
-Andrew V., Frederick, MD

A: I think that Marino’s was more impressive. Marino played in an era where DBs could hold and grab and physically assault receivers out there and he still put up numbers. Brees breaking the yardage record is impressive, but the game is built more for the offensive to succeed and succeed he did.

Q: What’s your Pacific Division predictions for NBA?
-Bobby C., Sacramento, CA

A: I think that in the Pacific division, its gonna be interesting. The Clippers are good. The Lakers, even though they are not up to their usual level, are also good. The wildcard in this division is Sacramento. They are talented but young. Now that youth can either help or hinder them. It should be interesting to see which it does. And lastly, the Suns are just bad all the way around. I don’t see them making the playoffs this year. As far as the order of the division this year, I have the Clippers, then the Lakers, then the Kings and bringing up the rear, the Suns.

Q: What should the Jets do with Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez?
-Dallah S., Manhattan, NY

A: I think that the clock is ticking on whether or not Mark Sanchez is the future at QB for the Jets. I think that next year is the make or break point for his career in green and white. Also, Rex Ryan’s act is starting to wear thin on the league. It seems to not have as much of an effect as it did to start his tenure. Maybe its time he did more coaching than talking. I think he’s ok right now, but the tide could turn going into next year. Its quite possible.

Q: Who impressed/ disappointed you in the NBA this weekend?
-Kareem H., Chandler, AZ

A: I think that the Mavs disappointed me this weekend. I knew they would lose, but they looked so listless and disinterested out there on the court. They aren’t the same team as last year and it shows. Two straight home blowouts. The Wizards also were disappointing. When you have a big lead, you have to finish a team. They are young, so hopefully they will learn that. As far as impressive teams, I think the Heat were very impressive. They throttled the Mavs. I also would say the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony was impressive. He carried the Knicks to the finish line like a star is supposed to do.

Q: ‎​How do u think the T-Wolves will do this year?
-Joey K., Los Angeles, CA

A: I think the Timberwolves will be better this year. With all that being said, they will still miss the playoffs, but I don’t think they will miss the playoffs by much.

Thanks to all who sent questions and remember, if you have sports questions, I have answers.

#SportsBlogMovement

Ballers And Wankstas Of The Week- Week 15

We’re in crunch time now in the NFL season and now its time for the men to be separated from the boys. The prime-time players to be separated from the bench setters. Here are this week’s Ballers and Wankstas of the week!

Ballers Of The Week

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints(32/40, 412 yards, 5 TDs)
The New Orleans Saints have been putting in serious work offensively and no one is a better representative of the work that’s been put in than Brees. He’s been a machine in the pocket and has been mowing down the competition. Mr. Marino, your passing record is about to be broken this year.

Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions(9 receptions, 214 yards, 2 TDs)
Megatron and Matt Stafford went to work on the weak Oakland secondary to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Megatron was the main attraction in the comeback. He couldn’t be contained by the Oakland Raiders and was pretty much doing whatever he wanted. Seems like the Calvin Johnson we saw at the beginning of the season has returned.

Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins(25 carries, 203 yards, 1 TD)
Bush went to Buffalo and had a flashback to the days when he played for USC in college. He was breaking tackles and running away from defenders with ease. If Bush keeps this pace up, he will have his first 1000 yard rushing season of his career.

San Francisco 49ers Defense
The 49ers wouldn’t even let two power outages stop their assault on the Steelers offense. The Niners forced four turnovers and gave Big Ben fits all night long in the pocket. This could be a bad sign for the rest of the NFL if they can perform this well without all-everything linebacker Patrick Willis.

Wankstas Of The Week

Caleb Hanie, QB, Chicago Bears(10/23, 111 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs)
Hanie and his performance should be an example as to why you want to put money into backup quarterbacks. You can’t just put anyone there to play that position, which it seems like the Bears did. And now the Bears are fading fast down the stretch and could possibly miss the playoffs. Lesson learned by the league here.

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags were missing Thursday night. They may have been there physically, but they weren’t there mentally. I wonder if this is rock bottom for them or if there’s worse to come in the last two week. We shall see.

Tennessee Titans
They came. They saw. They laid an egg. The Titans may as well not even showed up Sunday because they let the Colts run all over them to the tune of 205 yards rushing. Good teams win the games they’re supposed to, but good teams always bounce back. Which one are the Titans?

New York Jets
The Jets must have had the Jet warming at the airport with the effort that they put together. You would think a team that’s vying for a pplayoff spot would have shown more effort than this. Fourty-five points allowed for a team that was supposed to be good defensively is terrible. I guess we had the Jets all wrong this year. Maybe they are overrated.

These are my Ballers and Wankstas of the Week. If you have anymore Ballers and Wankstas of the week to add, feel free to drop a comment!

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Ballers And Wankstas Of The Week- Week 13

The players played. The ballers balled. And some players and coaches just flat-out didn’t get it done. Without further adieu, here are the Ballers and Wankstas of the week!

Ballers Of The Week

Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans (23 carries, 153 yards, 2 TDs)
CJ has started to pick up steam the past few weeks. This is his second big game in a row and he looks like he has that homerun gear back as well. It should be interesting to see what he does against the New Orleans Saints this week.

Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens (29 carries, 204 yards, 1 TD)
The Ray Rice train was running on all cylinders this past Sunday in Cleveland. When he gets the ball, the Ravens make things happen offensively. Maybe they need to feed him the ball more every game. Just a thought.

Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints (26/36, 342 yards, 3 TDs)
Brees was cool as the other side of the pillow Sunday night vs the Lions. He dissected the Lions this past Sunday night and it should be interesting to see what happens this week when he takes on the Tennessee Titans.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks (22 carries, 148 yards, 2 TDs)
Lynch was in beast mode this past week in the NFL. He did any and everything he wanted to do. Maybe he needs to have the Skittles more on the sideline. They have special powers.

Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos (4 receptions, 144 yards, 2 TDs)
Thomas was in rare form against the Vikings. When he came out of Georgia Tech he was considered a beast and he sure looked like that Sunday. The Broncos just keep on rolling.

Wankstas Of The Week

Jason Garrett
For those that don’t know, Jason Garrett is the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys were tied at 13 with the Cardinals and had moved into field goal range and had a chance to kick a field goal to win the game. The snap. The set. The kick is GOOD!! Except we have one problem. Jason Garrett called timeout right before the kick. Garrett’s timeout was effective for the Cardinals and ineffective for his own team as PK Dan Bailey missed the second attempt at the kick and Dallas went on to lose in overtime to the Cardinals. The hits just keep coming from Garrett. Icing your own kicker is at the top of the list of gaffes for him.

St. Louis Rams
How do you go a whole NFL game and don’t score any points? Well, that’s a questions that the Rams have to answer. I know the 49ers defense is stingy, but you’re pros St. Louis! At least give me three points.

Jacksonville Jaguars
For those that didn’t watch, the Jaguars were the co-stars of the Disappearing Acts sequel. The second half was a total shame and even though I expect the Jags to be bad, when they play against the hapless Chargers, they have to give me at least some kind of competitive game.

Vince Young, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (17/29, 208 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs)
Young’s career may be getting old quick. He hasn’t shown any improvement in reading defenses and he threw some passes that had me asking: “Who is he throwing the ball to?”. Vince, if you want to stay in the NFL, you gotta read a defense better than that.

These are my Ballers and Wankstas of the Week. If you have anyone you feel should have made either list, feel free to drop a comment.

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