Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin got his way and was traded away from the Minnesota Vikings partly because of his reported feelings about his former quarterback Christian Ponder.
Ponder has wasted very little time stepping to the proverbial podium and letting it be known that he could care less what Harvin says, does or thinks. The Pioneer Press ran a variety of statements from Ponder that started off assertive but eventually became pretty direct. Ponder started off by stating that he and Harvin had a nice relationship and that since he did not hear the words come out of Harvin’s mouth, it didn’t matter much.
“The thing is, there’s no quote strictly from Percy that he was the one saying it,” Ponder said. “I haven’t put too much thought into it. If that was his opinion, that’s unfortunate. But he’s a Seahawk now, so it doesn’t really matter.”
That turned into this.
“People have their opinions. There were things I could have done better (last season). But now that he’s on a different team, his opinion doesn’t really mean much.”
Ponder is right it doesn’t mean much now. This is especially in light of the fact that Harvin made it a point to thank Ponder’s predecessor Brett Favre at his intro presser with the Seahawks on Tuesday. There is obviously not a lot of love lost between these two. (more…)
BY CHRIS EDWARDS, Feedcrossing.com syndication
Since he’s been a man without a team Donovan McNabb has come off as cocky and bitter in recent interviews.
He still thinks he should be on an NFL roster and thinks it’s Mike Shanahan’s fault that he failed in Washington. Furthermore, he thinks if the Redskins draft Robert Griffin III that Griffin also will fail in Washington. He went on to say that Shanahan hasn’t won jack since John Elway hung up his cleats. While the latter is true, he keeps being smug and cocky when he shouldn’t be.
In an online interview, McNabb once again stuck his neck out for himself by saying he deserves inclusion into the NFL Hall of Fame.
“Absolutely,” McNabb said. “See, one thing that people don’t realize — I never played the game to make it to the Hall of Fame. I played the game because I love it. I played the game to win. I’m a competitor. When I step out on the field, I feel like I’m the best player on the field. Even these last two years, when people may look at it and say, ‘Oh, he’s done, or whatever.’ I’m 34, 35 years old but still, I played at the pinnacle, I played at the highest level of my career. I played there. And I would vote for myself for the Hall of Fame.”
Led by cannon armed passing aficionado Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ high-powered offensive aerial assault lit up the highlight reels and posed a significant threat to even the most talented defensive secondaries. The “who dat” Saints racked up an impressive 13-3 regular season record and entered the playoffs with unrelenting momentum and confidence. They went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV, earning the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
Yet the Saints success was much sweeter then just their championship.
They singlehandedly helped revitalize the world-weary city of New Orleans and bring it from the depths of despair into a new era of optimism. Many Saints players were active members in the community, and could be seen helping clean up Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. The team was much more than a successful sporting franchise to New Orleans: it was a beacon of hope and renewal, and gave the citizens an emotional outlet to heap their hopes and dreams upon. At the helm of this revolution was the illustrious young coach Sean Payton, a man who represented every positive quality an individual could ever ask for.
Now, after the recent revelations of the Saints bounty system, Payton has been suspended for the entire 2012 season. All the pride and glory has been swept away. The gaudy images of the Saints hoisting the championship trophy seem warped and distorted, a distant memory that is slowly eroding before our very eyes. (more…)
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
When NFL teams are forced to rebuild their franchises from the ground up, some do it subtly over the course of a few seasons, leaving fans in the dark while their reason for waking up Sunday mornings receives a facelift. Some fans aren’t that lucky, though. They might watch their favorite football squad attempt to completely start over in one offseason. It appears the Indianapolis Colts are headed down that scary, unpredictable road.
It shouldn’t be a complete shock to Colts faithful, but sudden change can be a dangerous thing.
Indianapolis started its reformation by firing its lead decision makers, vice chairman Bill Polian and his son, Chris, who served as the team’s general manager. And if you thought it would end there like I did, you were dead wrong. In what I thought to be a surprising move, the Colts fired head coach Jim Caldwell after three seasons. Indy will now join the Dolphins, Raiders and Buccaneers in the search for new coaching blood, but the Colts might be entering the race too late.
Indianapolis is a sexy destination for any NFL head coach. The management is gone and probably would be one of the perks offered to a new coach if they are experienced. An opportunity to truly run the team is exactly what held up Jeff Fisher’s decision to join the Rams or the Dolphins. St. Louis offered Fisher almost total control while the Dolphins wanted him just for coaching duties. And unsurprisingly, Fisher joined the Rams this week. Who could blame him?
BY STAYSON ISOBE, couchsideshow.com writer
The old adage is defense wins championships.
Finally after a regular season that was dominated by explosive offenses and record-breaking performances, the two teams headed to the NFC Championship proved that a defense that will smack you in the mouth still prevails in this league. Both the 49ers and the Giants seemed to face an uphill battle coming into the weekend, faced with the task of attempting to slow down two of the NFL’s most unstoppable offensive attacks. The Packers and Saints, led by the league’s top two MVP candidates in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, were the two highest scoring teams during the regular season and two of the top three in total offense with the other being the Patriots.
Brees was the orchestrator of New Orleans’ attack, breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year single season passing yards mark this season, and was coming off a postseason record in regulation of 466 yards last week against the Lions. Rodgers on the other hand, showed pinpoint accuracy throughout the season as evidenced in his 45-6 touchdown to interception ratio, leading the Packers to the top seed in the NFC with a 15-1 record.
But on this weekend, neither would advance to the NFC title game. Instead, the 49ers and the Giants ramped up their defense and slowed down these two offensive assaults enough to make a statement. The two teams combined to force nine turnovers and produced seven total sacks of Rodgers and Brees.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
If the New York Jets didn’t give you enough to handle during the regular season, the team is already stealing even more headlines days before the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.
During wildcard week, two national stories surfaced about the Jets. And just yesterday two more hit the homepages of our favorite websites and the front pages of our sports sections. Now there’s no question that New York gets its fair share of ink. After all, the Jets are a historic franchise that demands success. But I can’t remember reading about New York almost everyday when Chad Pennington was at the helm, throwing passes to Santana Moss.
That’s because New York is the new Hollywood of the NFL and the Jets — not the Giants — are the team under the spotlight. And if you’re a common NFL fan, who doesn’t particularly care for the Jets, tough luck because you’re going to here about them. It does get tiring and news about the green and white is usually blown way out of proportion. So here’s the latest Jets headlines and translations of what they actually mean:
• The skinny: The headline says it all. The Jets hired former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who couldn’t finish out the season without being fired, as their new offensive coordinator. Sparano replaces Brian Shottenheimer and takes over a dismal offense that failed to make it to the playoffs.
• Translation: Shottenheimer actually had two years left on his contract and because he couldn’t put up with all the egos within the team, I think he chose to leave. A lot of people blamed him for New York’s offense being 25th in the league and for Mark Sanchez not being developed as much as he should be in his third NFL season. So the Jets go with Sparano. He used to get a lot of attention during his coaching days in Dallas and for sort of turning around the Jets, so he should fit right in. A perfect fit.
BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com contributor
The Arizona Cardinals made the right decision in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Instead of trying for a quick fix with their quarterback issues, the Redbirds went the defensive route, electing to take defensive back Patrick Peterson with the No. 5 overall pick. And the rookie has yet to make them regret that decision.
But first, why did the Cardinals decide to go with Peterson over the multitude of prospects that could have also helped them immediately? Simply put, its because Peterson is a freak of nature — in a good way. Listed as cornerback, he has a safety’s build at 6-foot-0 and 219 pounds and cornerback’s athleticism, possessing a 4.34 40-yard dash time and a 39 inch vertical. He was widely regarded as the best athlete in the draft, and many had him going first overall. When he fell to No. 5, Arizona did not have much of a choice.
Peterson compiled an impressive career as an LSU Tiger, playing every game of his collegiate career. The Florida native recorded seven interceptions, four in his junior year, and returned two punts for touchdowns. He spent only three years in Baton Rouge but his final year was stellar and earned him the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American nod. Peterson also received the Thorpe (best defensive back) and Bednarik (best defensive player) awards for his performance.
But, when he got to the big time, his process was halted by an ugly, heated standoff between NFL players and owners, thus reducing the amount of time Peterson would have to get used to the professional level. But the cornerback never seemed to miss a beat, adapting to Ray Horton’s defensive schemes quickly and earning a starting nod come opening day, where he made a grand debut by returning a punt 89 yards for the eventual game winning touchdown to beat the Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.
Peterson would not stop there. The rookie returned three more punts for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in overtime against the Rams to give the Cards their second win of the year. The four return touchdowns tied an NFL record for a season and he nearly got a fifth in the final game of the year against the Seahawks.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
Everyone knows a lot of headlines surround the infamous NFL playoffs.
It’s up to us fans to sort through them to come up with which one is the most intriguing. Now, it would be easy to go with Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos or the matchup between the Houston Texans and the Cincinnati Bengals, which features to rookie quarterback going head-to-head. Those are simple, good topics, heading into wildcard weekend. And I like simple. I like easy. So I’ll be breaking down what I believe to be the most intriguing headline for the wild card round: The new faces in the playoffs. It’s the Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions, which oddly enough both play on Saturday. Looks like I had better get started:
• Opponent: They’re at New Orleans to clash with the Saints at 8 p.m. EST
• Chances: Although the Detroit Lions have made the postseason before (15 times), the squad hasn’t played when it matters most since 1999. One could argue that the lack of experience will hurt Detroit when the Lions suit up for the Saints. But this Detroit team is different from those in the past. There is just a whole new swagger to the squad. I’m not going ot get fancy with the statistics here, but the Lions are what NFL teams are currently aspring to be. With young, athletic talent like Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, DeAndre Levy and Titus Young there’s no telling what this team could do in the future. And Detroit may just start making its name for the years to come this weekend. A lot of people expect the Lions’ matchup with the Saints to be an offensive battle and it should be nothing short of that. I don’t see Detroit coming out on top, though, because New Orleans is my Super Bowl pick, but it should be the most exciting game Saturday. The Lions could sneak by, however, because of the Saints aging secondary players and because the Seattle Seahawks took down New Orleans last year in the first round.
BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer
At 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, and boasting a 4.35 40-yard dash and 44 inch vertical leap, Calvin Johnson has always been a man amongst boys.
Ever since being selected No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft, the wide receiver known as “Megatron” has made opposing cornerbacks look like small children, compiling 5,628 yards receiving and 48 touchdowns since entering the league. For years he was the only legitimate offensive threat on a horrendous Lions offense that consistently ranked in the bottom half of total team offense every year. Johnson’s progression has been further hounded by minor injuries that plagued his first few seasons. Yet as the Lions emerge into relevance for the first time in over a decade, a healthy Calvin Johnson is reaping the benefits and establishing himself as the premier wideout in the NFL.
With one game left to play in the 2011 NFL regular season, Calvin has amassed 85 receptions, totaling a career-best 1,437 receiving yards with a league leading 15 touchdowns. In addition, he is 2nd in the league with 25 25-plus yard receptions and 1st in receptions of 40-plus yards with nine. Much of Johnson’s impressive production can be attributed to his stellar rapport with gunslinger Matthew Stafford, who has finally proved he can stay healthy over the course of a full season. Other offensive weapons include veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson, rookie burner Titus Young, promising tight end Brandon Pettigrew,
and the running back trio of Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, and Kevin Smith (too bad they all keep getting injured). Now that the Lions offense contains other playmaking weapons, defenses cannot key in solely on Calvin, which has allowed him to take his game to a higher level.
BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer
If you are fortunate enough to still be contending in a fantasy football league, chances are you had a little bit of good fortune this season.
For some managers, the benefit of a healthy team with minimal injuries is a recipe for smooth sailing into the league championship. For others, it could be the result of drafting a sleeper or combing the free agents throughout the season. Here’s a look at some of this year’s fantasy sleeper studs that likely have you playing in the championship and a few duds that may have ruined your season early.
• Cam Newton: The rookie has had a sensational fantasy season. Passing for over 3700 yards and running for another 600. He has nearly as many rushing touchdowns (13) as passing (17). Outside of a small percentage of leagues, Newton was drafted near the end of most drafts or picked up on the waivers after week 1. Just to show how good of a bargain Newton has been this season, take a look at these stats from a quarterback drafted in substantially higher rounds. 3900 yards passing and 30 total TDs (29 passing, 1 rushing). Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller? These stats belong to none other than Tony Romo. So Newton owners, you got your money’s worth.
• Fred Jackson: Before going down in week 10 with a broken leg, Jackson had amassed over 900 yards rushing, 39 catches for over 400 yards receiving, and 6 TDs. These are solid numbers for any back, especially if your league is PPR.
• Rob Gronkowski: Are you kidding me? Gronk and his partner in crime Aaron Hernandez both have the capabilities to put up solid fantasy numbers. The trouble that most fantasy owners saw in Gronk is whether or not he would be Brady’s go to guy on short yardage downs, or if Hernandez would get priority. This scared most owners away from taking either him or Hernandez. But those lucky enough to have gambled on Gronk saw huge dividends in over 1100 yards and 15 TDs. These are much better numbers than the highly valued Antonio Gates who has just 600 yards and 6 TDs this season. In our auction draft Gronkowski went for $5, Gates for $29.
• Victor Cruz: The NFL sophomore out of UMass has put up great numbers for many fantasy owners. His almost 1200 yards and 7 TDs put him in the top 10 in points scored for WRs, just behind Roddy White and AHEAD of Larry Fitzgerald.
BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor
There is always a handful of NFL teams with mediocre records that have high hopes to make the playoffs each season.
Most of the time, it’s teams with a .500 winning percentage (8-8 overall) or with one win over the .500 mark (9-7) that find the final spots in the playoffs. This season, there are 10 teams that could potentially post barely respectable records and still get in. With two weeks left, five squads from the AFC and NFC, respectively, are still in the hunt. It will make for an exciting finale to a season that was almost cancelled because of the lockout. The playoffs are where the excitement is at, but with so many teams on the bubble, the end of the 2011 season should be action packed.
I will be concentrating on the playoff hopes for the two worst teams of the 10 squads that could be playoff bound. With 6-8 records, it doesn’t seem like the Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles will be able to punch their cards into the wildcard round of the NFL postseason. The Chiefs and Eagles should be able to give others searching for that No. 8 spot a run for their money, though.
Here’s a look at what Philadelphia and Kansas City will have to do in order for the squads to make the playoffs: