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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

Despite our every intention to consistently write about the 2011 football season, life has a way of derailing even the most ardent blogger.  With a work schedule that demolishes every Saturday and Sunday, it is nearly impossible to enjoy the games AND write about them.  Choosing work over tailgates and games is a serious dilemma for a real football fan, but given the economy and the cost of shoes, what’s a Gridironglamourgirl to do?  So as we approach the half-way point of the NFL season, here are a few of our observations on what is good, bad and ugly thus far.

THE GOOD: 

The Packers, Saints, Patriots and THE 49ERS?!!

The Packers, Saints and Patriots continue to top the NFL power rankings.  But after many disappointing seasons, the 49ers are the surprise team of 2011, standing at 5-1 and first in the NFC West.  Much of the turnaround can be traced to the off season.   The road to success was paved last January when Trent Baalke was named GM and Stanford University Coach Jim Harbaugh was hired as Head Coach.  Their off season acquisitions have proved to be brilliant.  From their decision to re-sign a bewildered and beaten down Alex Smith at QB –  to their choice of linebacker Aldon Smith as 7th overall in the draft – to the addition of a slew of talented players during the draft and free-agency – the decisions made thus far have been masterful and show real insight and aptitude.  With a schedule over the next 4 weeks that includes the struggling Cardinals, Redskins and Browns, the 49ers look to solidify their place among the top teams in the league.

Is Cam Newton as Good as All the Hype?

The franchise QBs that never fail to disappoint – Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees –  are posting impressive stats.  Their numbers and performances are nothing out of the ordinary for QBs of their stature.  Perhaps the most unpredictable surprise amongst QBs this season is Cam Newton.  The Carolina Panthers QB has demonstrated that his number one spot in the draft last spring was deserved.  While the Panthers are struggling with a 2-5 record, Newton is proving he can make the transition from college to the NFL.  Newton had plenty of critics, including me.  But the guy has legitimate talent and is challenging defensive coordinators to recognize and address his dual threat capabilities.

His 7 rushing TDs tied Vince Young’s record for most in a QB’s rookie season and there are still 9 games remaining.  While he has more INTs than TDs, each week he is showing signs that he is capable of leading his team.  His confidence and ability to master a full array of play calling are impressive for a rookie.  It will be fascinating to watch Newton develop the rest of the season, but if his start is any indication, he may just find his name mentioned among the elites very soon.

THE BAD: 

The St. Louis Rams

Pre-season predictions had the Rams winning the NFC West.  They now stand winless at a pitiful 0-6 record.  As the Saints come marching in this weekend, could it be that the Rams end up 0-7?  It’s quite likely.  St. Louis is suffering from a multitude of injuries and has had 7 different cornerbacks this season.  QB Sam Bradford missed the last game and is questionable against the Saints.  The receiving corps is not performing and the defense is ranked 29th in the NFL, giving up and average of 410 yards per game.  The Rams may very well be the worst team in the NFL right now.  The only solace Rams’ fans can take is that their team will likely get some early draft picks as a result of their abysmal season.

Rex Grossman

Washington QB Rex Grossman is just plain BAD.  He has the highest interception percentage over the years since he was first drafted.  This season he threw 6 TDs and 9 INTs, but unlike Newton, shows no signs of improvement.  In fact, when questioned about his performances, he seems downright delusional.  We wouldn’t be so harsh if perhaps Grossman could recognize his mistakes, but he seems blissfully ignorant of his lack of fundamentals and poor decision making at game time.  For that reason, he gets our vote as just plain BAD!

THE UGLY:

Is Michael Vick the Cause of the Eagles’ Ugly Season?

Any devoted reader knows that no blog is complete without discussing our favorite player, Michael Vick.  But putting him under a heading with the title “ugly” is downright wrong!  Sure, the Eagles look ugly – as though their wings have been clipped by a hedge clipper – but our faith in Vick remains strong.  What looked like a dream team at the beginning of the season has now turned almost nightmarish.  With free agency acquisitions that had owners and managers throughout the league green with envy, the only green Vick has been experiencing is his body implanted in the turf.

So how did a much touted team with a roster full of talent find itself with a 1-4 start?  There’s no easy answer, but part of the failure is due to new coaches, young players on the O-line and games plagued with turnovers.  So far this season, Vick has thrown 8 INTs, been sacked 8 times and has committed 7 fumbles.  Compare that to the entire 2010 season, when he had a mere 6 INTs and 11 fumbles, and you can begin to discover at least PART of the reason the Eagles have stumbled and Vick has found himself running for his life against defenders.

Vick’s passing numbers are decent – 9 TDs and over 260 yards per game passing – but they do not compare to the phenomenal numbers he posted last year. The victory two weeks ago over Washington ended Philly’s losing streak and left them with a 2-4 record.  Combined with a bye last week and three home games ahead of them, the Eagles hope to keep the momentum going.  If Vick can work on making better reads and getting rid of the ball more quickly, he could salvage the remainder of the season.  The bottom line is this:  Vick is a scrapper AND a dual threat that makes defenses respect him in and out of the pocket.  Head Coach Andy Reid has an extraordinary record coming off a bye week – 12-0! – and he will use Vick to continue that winning streak.  With Vick’s leadership, unparalleled athleticism and grit, the Eagles will once again soar.  Vick can then be removed from the “ugly” category and return to his rightful place as a football fashionista’s favorite!  Let’s face it, only Vick can turn flip flops, shorts, and a jacket and tie into a good look!

A Shock and Awe Opening Week in the NFL

Week one in the NFL brought some amazing rookie performances, a few shocking results, but as always, the best entertainment a fan could ask for.  With the official start of the season, the universe finally seems back in balance!

Are these “shock and awe” moments fleeting flukes that will fade away as the season progresses?  Or are they indicative of what lies ahead for the rest of the season?  Here’s our take on some of this week’s memorable moments.

Cam Newton’s  422 Yard Opening Game Performance

Carolina Panthers QB and Heisman winner Cam Newton silenced his critics with an astounding game against Arizona Sunday.  He threw for 422 yards and made his way into the record books with the most yards by a rookie QB in an opening performance.  Newton looked composed and in control and seems to have made a natural transition from the Auburn spread offense to NFL play.

Was this performance a fluke or is Cam the real deal?  There’s no doubt Newton is a fierce competitor and his drive to win will undoubtedly bring him success this season.   But before we get too carried away in Cam-mania, the reigning Super Bowl Champion Packers will bring a reality check this week.  Sure, Green Bay’s defense gave up over 400 yards to the Saints last week, but that was against veteran (and former Super Bowl MVP) Drew Brees.  Green Bay’s 3-4 defense is somewhat similar to Arizona’s, but the Packers bring Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson on Sunday and it’s likely Cam will face a far greater challenge than he did against the Cardinals.  Still, there’s no denying that Cam’s opening day was a stellar one that will be remembered for years to come.

Tony Romo’s Baffling 4th Quarter Pass

Tied at 24 with 59 seconds left in the game, Dallas QB Tony Romo tossed a soft pass that was intercepted by NY Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.  The decision to throw that kind of ball, with mere seconds left in the game and the team within field goal range, is mind boggling.  Revis returned the INT 34 yards to set up the winning field goal for the Jets.   That interception, coupled with a 4th quarter fumble, was enough for the Jets to come back after trailing 24-10 early in the 4th quarter.  While Romo performed well for most of the game, throwing for 342 yards and 2 TDs, it is the mishaps, fumbles and inexplicable decisions he often makes that cause fans to question his leadership and ability to win the “big games”.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Steel Curtain Looks Rusty

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers certainly didn’t look like a team who played in the Super Bowl last year.  They suffered a humiliating 35-7 defeat by their conference rival, the Baltimore Ravens.

Don’t throw in the Terrible Towel just yet.  While the Steelers got off to a shaky start, it is a long season and one bad opening game does not determine a team’s fate.  Big Ben threw 3 INTs and fumbled twice (and as he is my starting Fantasy QB, I will admit I was not a happy camper on Sunday), but I doubt it is an indication of any gloom and doom to come.  I expect the Steelers to make a big statement this weekend against the Seattle Seahawks.  Seattle’s defense is vulnerable against the run AND the pass, so expect Big Ben and RB Rashard Mendenhall to make their own “shock and awe” moments this weekend!

Our Favorite NFL Player – Michael Vick – Leads the Eagles to Victory

Vick’s showed his dual abilities against the Rams by throwing for 187 yards and 2 TDs and rushing for 97.  Thanks to DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, my fantasy team earned an impressive 41 points and  helped me win my first game of the season. Fly, Eagles, Fly!!

With Vick’s propensity to use his legs comes the risk of injury.  Against the Rams, he was sacked three times, while taking 11 other hits.  This week he faces the Falcons who will undoubtedly bring the pressure.  Last week Atlanta had 5 sacks against the Bears.  They have something to prove after their embarrassing 30-12 loss and would love nothing more than to silence the naysayers with a strong performance against their former QB.

If Vick can stay healthy and absorb the punishment he will be receiving all season long, the Eagles can be a serious Super Bowl contender.  Vick’s athleticism and risk taking make him a thrill to watch, but those same attributes can also lead to both his and the Eagles downfall should he get taken out on one of the inevitable hits coming his way.

So with the first week wrapped up and in the record books, we are well on our way to a season full of more “shock and awe” moments.  Join us as we share our (often random) thoughts on the latest developments both on and off the field!

We’re Back and Ready to Go!!

We’re backkkkkkkkk!!!!   Like the NFL’s owners and players, Gridironglamourgirl has had a tumultuous off-season as well!  Now that the pre-season is in full swing, college football is mere days away and fantasy drafts are popping up around the globe, we’ve been inspired and decided it was time to strap on a helmet and get back on the field!

Over the next few months, we will offer up a glamourgirl’s viewpoint about the latest news on the gridiron.  This season is shaping up to be full of excitement, controversy, and most importantly, fun!  We may not always be fair and balanced (can you say, Tom Brady and his pretty boy looks?), but we do promise to provide a unique perspective on your favorite college and NFL teams and players.

So join us as we embark on another exhilarating football season!  Nothing beats the guts and grit of the gridiron.  It truly is the greatest game on earth and we look forward to sharing the highs and lows with you over the next few months!!

Now, ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL???!!

NFL 2010..One Roller Coaster of a Season!

The 2010 NFL Season had more ups and downs than all the roller coasters in Cedar Point combined!  We love roller coasters and since the NFL season had just as many thrills and chills, we thoroughly enjoyed these past months on the gridiron.  Here are just a few of our favorite highs and lows….

High Points:

Michael Vick’s comeback! 

This is no doubt the “feel good” story of the year.  Vick’s phenomenal performance after being incarcerated on dog fighting charges and being relegated to back up behind both Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb could truly be a movie script.  The perfect ending may have to wait, though.  Only a Super Bowl Championship seems like the larger than life finale fitting Vick, Andy Reid and the Eagles.

Ndamukong Suh PAT attempt 

In early November in a game vs. the NY Jets, 307 pound Ndamukong Suh, a rookie tackle for the Detroit Lions, lined up for the extra point attempt after the starting kicker got injured.  While he missed the extra point, the sight of Suh making the attempt was definitely a highlight of the 2010 season!

Celebration dance by B.J. Raji 

In the NFC title game vs. the Bears, Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji intercepted a Bears pass and “ran” 18 yards for a TD.  His hula hoop-like dance was one of the most amusing, fun moments of the playoffs!  Click below to see Raji in motion.

The Chicago Bears

The Bears made it to the NFC title game, despite the preseason prediction by most pundits who beleived they were a below average team with little hope.  In 2009, they went 7-9 and had failed to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year.  The Bears ended the 2010 season at 11-5.  Some people believe that luck was a big factor in their winning season, as they faced a number of back up QBs and a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team in the playoffs.  In Week 1 against the Lions, a Detroit TD was overturned by a little known, controversial call with just a minute to play, giving the Bears the win.  Lucky or not, it was good to see the Bears return to the playoffs once again!

Aaron Rodgers 

The Packers’ QB finally emerged from Brett Favre’s shadow.   His stellar play this season earned the Packers a Super Bowl Championship, but nearly as important, gave Rodgers the recognition he deserved.  During the regular season, he earned a passer rating of 101.2 – the third best in the NFL.  He also ranked third in rushing yards by a QB.   In the post season, Rodgers had a passer rating of 109.8 and showed his composure and exceptional ability to read defenses.  What we love most about the Aaron Rodgers 2010 story is that in addition to being a great QB, he seems to be a genuinely good guy as well!

Low Points:

Mike Shanahan   

Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan started a streak of behavior in October that slowly spiraled into a complete lack of respect for veteran QB Donovan McNabb by the end of the season.  Trailing by 6 and with less than 2 minutes left in a game against Detroit, Shanahan benched McNabb and put in back up Rex Grossman.  On the next play, Grossman fumbled the ball, Detroit returned it for a TD.  After that fiasco, most coaches would have tried to apologize for their poor decision.  But Shanahan went in front of the media and awkwardly tried to explain his decision by first claiming he benched McNabb because he didn’t feel he could run the 2 minute offense.  His statement was perceived as a criticism of McNabb’s intellectual ability by many in the public, so Shanahan changed his reason, stating that he actually thought McNabb didn’t have the physical endurance to effectively run the two minute offense.  Later, he modified his statement once again and claimed McNabb was suffering from sore hamstrings.  The tension between Shanahan and McNabb was quite evident.  Later, with only 3 games left in the regular season,   Shanahan benched McNabb in favor of Rexman and actually publicly demoted him to 3rd string.  The Redskins had a myriad of problems this season.  But it appears that Shanahan chose to focus on McNabb rather than recognize other issues hurting the team, including the coaching staff and their poor decision making over the course of the season.

Peyton Manning’s streak of INTs

11 INTs over a three game span brought forth criticism about Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning.  Some questioned his age, while others questioned his ability.  Manning had to deal with a porous offensive line, a slew of injuries to his receiving corps and no running game all season.  Despite his 4700 yards of passing this year, Peyton could not carry the team alone.  But to question Manning’s ability is absurd and short sighted.  It was one of the low points in the season for us, but Manning himself seemed unscathed by his critics.  That focus and drive makes him one of the game’s all time greatest QBs!

Vince Young meltdown 

In a game vs. the Redskins, Young injured his hand.  When Titans coach Jeff Fisher put back up Kerry Collins in, Young became agitated and a childish tantrum ensued.  He paced the sidelines, swearing and mumbling to himself, and then tossed his shoulder pads and jersey into the stands as he stormed into the locker room at the end of the game.  That day was his last as the Titans’ starting QB.  Owner Bud Adams recently announced that Young will not be on the roster next season.  He will either be traded or released. 

Inconsistent fines by the NFL 

The NFL established a reactionary, subjective policy early in the season in response to a number of head injuries.  While we applaud their efforts to protect players, this policy fell short and needs to be revamped before next season.

Super Bowl XLV seat fiasco  

In the most technologically advanced and extravagant stadium in the history of football, Jerry Jones’ Cowboys Stadium came up short on the most important day for the NFL.  400 fans attending the Super Bowl were unable to be seated because their seating area was not completed in time.  The seats were valued at $800 and the NFL issued a refund of $2400 to each of those affected.  Fans had the option to watch the game in the $350 “Standing Room Only” section or on monitors in the North Field Club.  Despite these allowances by the NFL, fans were understandably upset.  There is no excuse for incomplete seating areas in a venue like the Super Bowl!

New York Jets Tripping 

The Jets Strength and Conditioning coach, Sal Alosi, admitted he intentionally tripped Miami’s Nolan Carroll as he raced down the sideline on punt coverage.  Alosi’s role in the NFL was to help players become physically stronger and healthier, yet he showed a complete lack of judgment when he tried to trip an opponent running at full speed.  Alosi was subsequently fined and suspended by the Jets.  Later, the NFL levied a $100,000 fine against the Jets.  Alosi announced his resignation from the team January 31st.

The NFL’s decision to postpone the Eagles vs. Vikings game 

In late December, the NFL postponed the Eagles/Vikings game because of a predicted winter storm expected to dump 18 inches of snow on the city.  Since when does FOOTBALL get postponed due to weather?  This isn’t soccer and the NFL set a bad precedent by postponing the game when both teams were in the city and capable of playing.  Vince Lombardi must have turned over in his grave!

We hope you have enjoyed our review of our favorite ups and downs of this past season.  It truly was an exhilarating ride, but like any good roller coaster, seemed much too short!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We here at gridironglamourgirl would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!  For the next day or so, we will be enjoying the festivities, but will be back soon to bring you the latest from the gridiron.

Happy Holidays!  Eat, drink and be merry!

-Your Gridironglamourgirl Team

Things That Make You Go “Hmmmm”…

Well, the NCAA once again has us scratching our heads and saying, “huh?”.  After ruling earlier this month that Heisman winner Cam Newton’s father was involved in a “pay to play” scheme, the NCAA ruled that the Auburn QB was unaware of the scheme and therefore eligible to play.  It is hard to believe that Cam did not know about his father’s actions, but that is indeed what the NCAA ruled at the time.

Now, just weeks later, the NCAA announced that 6 Ohio State University players committed NCAA bylaw violations by selling memorabilia.  The players sold their Big Ten Championship rings, personal and team awards, jerseys and cleats.  Several of the players also received tattoos at discounted rates in exchange for their personal autographs.

Tradition is an integral part of college football, especially in a high powered program like OSU.  It is disheartening that these players have such little regard for what the memorabilia they sold represents.  Selling a championship ring or the “gold pants” charm that OSU players receive if they beat rival Michigan smacks of irreverence.  Even if the players were unaware that selling such items violated NCAA rules (which is quite hard to believe), didn’t it feel just plain WRONG??!

The NCAA announced that quarterback Terrelle Pryor, running back Daniel Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas will be suspended for the first 5 games of the 2011 season.  A sixth player, Jordan Whiting, will miss the first game.  In addition, the players will have to repay the University for the Items they sold and for the free or discounted benefits they received. 

At first glance, these penalties seem fair.  But the NCAA also ruled that these same players can play in the January 4th Sugar Bowl versus Arkansas!  If there is enough evidence to suspend the players for 5 games next season, what possible justification is there for playing in a bowl game in just a few weeks?  The NCAA provided an “explanation” about their ruling, saying in part that the players “did not receive adequate rules education during the time period the violations occurred.”  Are we really supposed to believe that, given the stringent NCAA  rules and guidelines that they were certainly made aware of as student-athletes, that they did not think selling their OSU jerseys was a violation?!

Pryor and Posey have been discussed as potential early round draft selections following next season.  Rather than miss a large portion of their collegiate season and have their draft value decline, it is likely they would simply enter the draft this year.  Now they can play in the Sugar Bowl, enter the draft and basically avoid the NCAA’s punishment.   Perhaps if the Buckeyes defeat Arkansas they can earn a championship ring to sell once they enter the draft in the next few months.   Like the decision regarding Cam Newton’s eligibility, this NCAA ruling defies common sense.

Show Me the Money!!

This season, helmet-to-helmet hits have become a hot topic in the NFL.  With a rash of concussions and other player injuries from these dangerous hits, the NFL decided to take a tough stance.  While we applaud their efforts to try and protect players, it seems the guidelines they have put into place defy logic.

Clearly, a “cheap shot” or flagrant dirty hit should be penalized.  But on most helmet-to-helmet hits, players are simply trying to make a play.  The current NFL guidelines are penalizing only defensive players for what they deem dangerous hits.  But, what about a big, Brandon Jacobs-like running back who lowers his head in a punishing run against his defenders?  That kind of play can result in an injury, but simply because an offensive player is the one delivering the hit, it is disregarded.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been fined four times this season for a total of $125,000.  The latest fine, this past weekend, has caused a number of players to question the logic behind the NFL’s new policies.  Brian Urlacher, a Chicago Bears linebacker, calls the fines for hard hits “outrageous”.   In an ESPN radio interview yesterday, he showed his frustration with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the current policy. 

I think it’s bull, the way they’re doing it. The thing I don’t like about it is, if they say it, you pay the fine. That’s all there is to it, and I don’t know who makes the decision. I don’t know if there’s one guy, two guys, but I don’t think it’s fair. I think we should have a panel of guys who look at those hits and go over them.

Hines Ward, of the Steelers, agrees that the current policy needs to be re-evaluated. 

We’re going to keep playing the way we always have been playing.  If they fine us, they fine us. It’s football. I don’t care what type of rules you do, you can’t protect (against) the physicality of this game. It’s always going to be a physical ballgame.

This past weekend, the on field brawl between Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson also drew fines from the NFL.  Each player was fined $25,000 dollars for the fight.  This is the same fine levied against James Harrison for a hit that the NFL deemed dangerous.  In the heat of the game, trying to make a tackle, it can easily be argued that Harrison’s hit was unintentional.  But Finnegan and Johnson made the decision to fight, long after the play was over.  To fine these players the same amount of money is illogical.  It is just one example of how the NFL’s current policy seems to have been haphazardly put together in reaction to concussions and helmet-to-helmet hits early in the season. 

The new NFL standards are reactionary, rather than a well-thought out policy.  The policy is so unpredictable and subjective, and in the end, simply unfair.  With so many players, former players and coaches speaking out against it, we hope Goodell and the NFL will re-evaluate their stance and let players play the game.

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