Posts Tagged ‘Aaron Rodgers’

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!

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Post Season Awards! Brady Earned NFL MVP, But We Still Don’t Have to Like Him

The Super Bowl is over and it’s time to reflect upon the past season.  What were the highs and lows?  What player or team was the biggest surprise and who left fans feeling disappointed?  Which coaching and owner decisions were successful and which were foolish?  There’s plenty to discuss about the 2010 NFL season and playoffs, but before we delve into these issues, let’s take a look at a few of the major post-season honors recently awarded to some of the gridiron’s greatest players.

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was named the NFL’s 2010 MVP.  The award is bestowed by the Associated Press and voters consist of 50 members of the media from throughout the U.S.  For the first time, the vote for MVP was unanimous, with Brady receiving all 50 votes.  In 2007, with a 16-0 record, Brady received the MVP award with 49 votes. 

This season Brady passed for over 3900 yards.  With 36 TDs and a mere 4 INTs, his TD:INT ratio of 9.0 set a record for the highest ratio in NFL history.  The previous record was set by Brady in 2007.  Brady also set another incredible record this season with 334 consecutive throws without an interception.  His pretty boy looks, coupled with his exceptional athletic ability, make him one of the most popular NFL players among women – just not us!  But we will concede that he truly did deserve this award.

The 33 year old Patriots QB was also named AP Offensive Player of the Year.  He led his team to a 14-2 regular season record, the best in the NFL.  Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick shared the spotlight as well.  He was named NFL Coach of the Year, receiving 30 of the 50 votes by members of the AP.  Since joining the Patriots in 2000, Belichick has led the Patriots to 3 Super Bowl Championships, 4 Conference Championships and 8 Division titles.  This is the 3rd time he has received Coach of the Year honors.

The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year was a much closer vote, with Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu edging out Green Bay Packer linebacker Clay Matthews by just 2 votes.  Polamalu received 17 votes, Matthews earned 15 and fellow Steelers linebacker James Harrison received 8.  Polamalu had 63 tackles this season, along with 7 INTs in 14 games.  His game-changing play ability, coupled with his natural instincts, helped Pittsburgh earn its #2 defensive ranking and get them to the Super Bowl.  In the end, however, Clay Matthews earned the NFL’s most sought after award – a Super Bowl title.  His forced fumble in the 4th quarter was a MAJOR momentum changing play in the game and helped seal the Packers’ victory.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, another award was given out Sunday night.  Aaron Rodgers became Super Bowl XLV MVP after he and the Green Bay Packers defeated Pittsburgh 31-25.  Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards.  He had 3 TDs and no interceptions.  The victory was the first Super Bowl title for the Packers since 1997.

Finally, we come to an award that is perhaps our very favorite this post-season – the Comeback Player of the Year.  Michael Vick was recently honored with this AP award, receiving 29.5 votes.  After limited play in 2009 as a back up to Donovan McNabb, the 30 year old Vick began the 2010 season as a back up to Eagles QB Kevin Kolb.  When Kolb became injured in the first game of the season, Vick stepped in and his exceptional performances earned him the starting position for the rest of the season.  This season, Vick threw for over 3000 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs and had an impressive QB rating of 100.2.  His spectacular scrambling and running ability earned him 9 rushing TDs and almost 700 yards on 100 attempts.  After his 18 month incarceration for dog fighting, his success both on and off the field this season deservedly earned him the Comeback Player of the Year honor.

Stay tuned for more post-season discussion!  Next up:  the highs and lows of the 2010 NFL season!  With more drama than a cat fight on an episode of “The Bachelor”, this past season had many thrilling ups and downs that are both entertaining and interesting to look back on.  The season may be over, but a true fan never tires of gabbing about the gridiron!

Can the Packers’ Contain Polamalu and the Steelers?

Tomorrow is the big day – Super Bowl XLV is shaping up to be a classic.  Two tough, physical defenses look to make this a low scoring, hard hitting game.  Since we have Super Bowl party platters to prepare, let’s take a quick look at the Steelers’ defense.  Will the Steel Curtain be able to close the window on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?  Here is our take on this crucial aspect of tomorrow’s game.

Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was recently named the Associated Press’ Defensive Player of the Year.  He deserved it.  He is the leader of the Steelers’ #2 ranked defense and will be perhaps the number one threat to Aaron Rodgers in Super Bowl XLV.   Polamalu had 7 interceptions and 63 tackles in 14 games during the regular season.  Polamalu is a hard hitter, but what is most impressive about him is his natural and uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time on the field.

Other key players on the defense are outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.   Harrison enters Super Bowl XLV with 13.5 sacks, while Woodley has 12.  Woodley will pass rush on the right side of the Packers’ offensive line, forcing Rodgers to his left to throw.  This pressure could possibly impact Rodgers’ accuracy, so expect the Steelers to blitz Woodley all game.  Harrison has become notorious for his ferocious hits, as well as his ability to apply pressure to QBS.  Given Rodgers’ two concussions this season, the Packers will need to account for Harrison and keep him away from the pocket.

The Steelers have the #1 ranked rush defense and will likely limit the Packers’ running game.  Although Green Bay’s James Starks has established a running game late in the season, the Steelers should be able to contain him, forcing Rodgers to win the game through the air.

The Steel Curtain vs. Aaron Rodgers – who will win this intense battle of two powerful, unrelenting forces?  While it is hard to bet against the Steelers’ defense, we give the slight edge to Green Bay.  In order for the Packers to win, they will need to keep the ball away from Polamalu as much as possible.  Rodgers’ accuracy and quick release should allow him to make big plays downfield.  With the weakest part of the Steelers’ defense at cornerback, look for Rodgers to work the perimeter.

As we close out this week’s 4 part Super Bowl XLV analysis before the big day tomorrow, we have given the edge to Green Bay’s defense over the Steelers’ offense.  We also believe that Aaron Rodgers will find a way to score and prevail over the Steelers’ dominant defense.  Look for a low scoring, close game with Green Bay walking away with the Lombardi Trophy.

The Packers got to the Super Bowl with sheer guts and determination this year.  Finishing the season with an award named after their legendary coach – who believed in hard work and determination above all else – would be the perfect ending for Rodgers and the Packers.  Prediction:  Green Bay 24-Pittsburgh 21.

Flying Ace Aaron Rodgers is the Man in Command!

A few weeks ago, we wrote a feature about Aaron Rodgers being accustomed to being overlooked.  He was snubbed for the Pro Bowl.  He was not offered any Division I college scholarships coming out of high school.  He was passed over in the draft to a much lower spot than predicted and, finally, he had to live in the shadow of Brett Favre for three long years. 

Rodgers flourished “flying under the radar” in the past, but he no longer holds stealth status.  Instead, he is like a state-of-the-art fighter jet pilot.  On Sunday he will fly into Cowboys Stadium and try to blast the Steel Curtain to shreds on his way to winning the Lombardi Trophy.   Let’s take a look at Green Bay’s offensive weapons and what they need to do to overcome the Steelers’ #2 ranked defense.

Aaron Rodgers is indeed the “pilot” of Green Bay’s offense.   In the post season he has been soaring high, completing over 70% of his pass attempts for nearly 800 yards and an impressive 113 quarterback rating.  In those 3 playoff games, he threw for 6 TDs.  His accuracy and quick release have been a thing of beauty this post-season, rivaling the elegance and finesse of a seasoned Blue Angels pilot performing his aerial show.  Combined with his strength, often underestimated mobility and composure, Rodgers just oozes Super Bowl MVP potential.

Greg Jennings is one of Rodgers’ favorite downfield targets.  With 76 catches for 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns, he received his first Pro Bowl bid this season.  Rodgers has other powerful weapons in his arsenal as well.  Twelve year veteran Donald Driver is the Packers all time leading receiver and has been selected for the Pro Bowl three times.  Jordy Nelson and James Jones have made great contributions this year, especially in third and fourth down situations.  With a number of offensive passing threats, Jennings is less likely to be in double coverage, which gives the Packers a greater scoring opportunity.

Most of the season, the Packers’ running game has been practically non-existent.   More recently, RB James Starks has been able to contribute to the rushing game which has helped balance the offense.  During the regular season Starks was injured and played in only 3 games, rushing for a mere 101 yards.  During the post season, he has accumulated 263 yards.  Facing the Steelers’ #1 ranked rush defense will likely limit Starks’, but his power and speed will get him the tough, short yardage when most needed.

Keeping pressure off Aaron Rodgers is a necessity for the Packers’ offensive line.  Rodgers suffered two concussions this season and a brutal hit to the head in the NFC Championship game.  The Packers cannot afford to let Rodgers take a blow to the head on Sunday.  The O-line is an experienced group, including Pro Bowl tackle Chad Clifton who has been on the team since 2000.  Center Scott Wells and left guard Daryn Colledge have played in their current positions since 2006.  While the O-line is not an outstanding unit, it adequately gets the job done.  Rodgers’ mobility and ability to get rid of the ball quickly help make up for this average O-line.

As we look at the overall Super Bowl scenario it appears that, offensively, the Packers will be forced to almost exclusively rely on Rodgers since the running game will be limited.  The key for Green Bay will come down to how effectively they can contain the Steelers’ intense pass rush and how well the receiving corps matches up against Pittsburgh’s secondary.  The battle should be intense, but Aaron Rodgers seems poised and ready to take command, just like the celebrated fighter pilot he has become!

Who Will Make it to the Super Bowl? Here are Our Predictions!

Today will determine who will be going to the Super Bowl on February 5th.  Will the Chicago Bears win today in the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL?  Or will the Green Bay Packers represent the NFC and make a run for the ultimate title?  In the AFC, will the Steel Curtain be lowered on the Jets or will New York find a way to soar above Pittsburgh’s tough, stingy defense?  Whatever the outcome, this is shaping up to be an electrifying day for gridiron fans!  Here’s our take on who emerges victorious today.

Chicago has home field advantage, but we think the Packers’ overcome the crowd, weather conditions and the Bears’ defense and win in a close game.  Aaron Rodgers is playing phenomenal football and we think he will do whatever it takes to win the game. The keys to a Green Bay victory are…

  1.  Keeping the game from being one dimensional.  Most of the season, the Packers relied almost exclusively on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.  When they found a running game, they became a much more balanced offense that is simply harder to defend.  The Bears have the #2 rushing defense in the NFL, which will make it a real challenge for Packers RB James Starks.
  2. The Packer’s defense needs to pressure Bears QB Jay Cutler.  Last week against the Seahawks, Cutler had 274 yards passing and 2 TDs, but that was against a Seahawks defense that did little to pressure him.  The Bears have the #5 pass defense in the league, which means Cutler will be facing a much different situation than he did last week.
  3. The Packers need to stop Matt Forte.  Forte poses a threat as a running back and a wide receiver and is peaking at just the right time.  If the Packers don’t have an answer for Forte, he may just win the game for the Bears – especially given the frigid, wintry conditions expected at Soldier Field today.  Since the Packers are better at pass defense than run defense, Forte could be a real game changer.

 

The Jets/Steelers game is a tough one to call.  Big Ben has the experience to take the Steelers into the Super Bowl and is hard to pick against.  But the Jets are coming off a huge upset win against the Patriots and sometimes sheer momentum is enough to beat even the toughest opponents. We pick the Jets in what should be another close one!  For our prediction to come true here is what has to happen.

  1.  Real pressure on Big Ben.  Last week the Jets defense pressured Tom Brady, causing him to lose his rhythm.  Big Ben has the physical size, strength and mobility to escape that pressure.  For the Jets to win, they MUST find a way to disrupt the two-time Super Bowl winning QB.
  2. Contain strong safety Troy Polamalu and head hunter linebacker James Harrison.  If the Jets cannot control these two defensive dynamos, Sanchez is in for a very long day – much of it on the ground looking up at the sky!
  3. Make Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson key components in the offensive game plan today.  For the Jets to win, they must run a balanced offense, using their two RBs and using a game plan that allows Sanchez to make quick, short throws downfield.  This will be an enormous challenge, given the relentless rush defense of the Steelers.

Given all these seemingly impossible tasks, why have we picked the Jets over the Steelers?  Jets coach Rex Ryan has lost two AFC Championships in a row and simply won’t tolerate a third.  Combined with the momentum the Jets are on after last week’s defeat of the Patriots, we think he and his team will back up their season long tough talk with a victory over the favored Steelers.

Flying Under the Radar – Why Aaron Rodgers Thrives on Being Stealth

Snubbed by the Pro Bowl this year, overlooked by most of the media and having endured playing in the shadow of Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers is now making his presence known.  Even Troy Aikman stated this week that if he had a team, he would choose Rodgers as his starting QB.  As Rodgers leads his Packers into the NFC Championship, he is playing like not just a would be Pro Bowl QB, but quite possibly an MVP.

His path to the NFC title game was not easy.  Coming out of high school, Rodgers was not offered a single Division I scholarship offer.  Never one to give up, he went to Butte College, a small community college in California and led them to a 10-1 season and number 2 national ranking.  His performance there caught the attention of the University of California, who offered him a scholarship.  As a Golden Bear, Rodgers once again played exceptionally well and set a number of passing records as a sophomore.  He led his team to a victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl and elevated himself to national recognition. 

Rodgers entered the 2005 draft and was considered to be the top QB and likely number one overall pick.  But Rodgers was overlooked by the teams many considered would take him and was finally chosen by the Packers as the 24th pick.  Unfortunately, he found himself on a team with one of the most elite QBs in the history of the game – Brett Favre.  For the next three seasons, Rodgers waited for his opportunity to play.  Upon Favre’s departure in 2008, he earned the starting position.  Despite his solid play, the Packers had a losing season and fans directed their anger and disappointment towards their new starting QB. 

In 2009, Rodgers led the Packers to an 11-5 record and a wild card spot in the playoffs.  While the Packers lost in the first round of the playoffs, Rodgers had a very successful season.  He was the first QB to throw for over 4,000 yards in both of his first two seasons as a starter.  Rodgers was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2009.

This season, he was the top ranked NFC QB with a rating of 101.2.  He passes with incredible accuracy and is the epitome of a pocket passer.  His incredible ability to read defenses quickly and pick them apart is reminiscent of Peyton Manning. Like Manning, he also changes the play at the line of scrimmage when he sees a better read – that is a true testament to the confidence his coaches’ place in him. Rodgers also has the ability to run and was the Packers’ leading rusher this season, rushing for nearly 400 yards and 4 TDs.

While most of the attention in last week’s playoff game focused on Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan who was selected for the Pro Bowl, it was the QB NOT selected by the Pro Bowl who had the big day.  In that game, Rodgers was 31 of 36 for 366 yards, 3 TDs and a 48-21 victory.  It seems Rodgers thrives on the underdog status, playing like a man with something to prove.

Flying under the radar is something Aaron Rodgers has become accustomed to.  From his early days when he was overlooked by Division I colleges, to being passed over in the draft and living in the shadow of Favre,  Rodgers has maintained his dignity, while preparing for his day in the spotlight.  That day has finally arrived and it seems Rodgers is fully prepared to take center stage.   With this new found attention and hype, will Rodgers’ hot hand continue?  Or does he perform better when he is the underdog and plays with a chip on his shoulder?  Sunday’s game should answer that question and I, for one, cannot wait to discover the answer!

Next Up: NFL Conference Championship Games!

With less than 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves tied with the Baltimore Ravens.  With Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in charge, was the outcome ever in doubt?  The calm, veteran QB gathered the team in the huddle and simply stated, “I’m going down to score.  Who is coming down with me?”  With that, he and the Steelers put together an 11 play drive that resulted in the game winning TD by Rashard Mendenhall. 

The Steelers 31-24 victory earned them a spot in the AFC Conference Championship game next week.  This is Pittsburgh’s 4th AFC title game in seven years.  They will face the New York Jets at home.  The Jets defeated the top seeded New England Patriots yesterday 28-21.  After a week of trash talking from Jets head coach Rex Ryan and some of his players, Gang Green backed up their words with their on field play.  The key to the game was stopping Tom Brady and the Jet’s defensive strategy did just that – sacking the likely MVP 5 times and intercepting him once.   Prior to yesterday, Brady had not thrown an INT in 335 pass attempts.  

The Steelers versus the Jets!  Game time is 6:30 pm ET Sunday.  Make sure to check back this week for the latest news and analysis of what promises to be an exciting AFC Conference Championship!

Meanwhile in the NFC, the Green Bay Packers manhandled the NFC’s top seeded Atlanta Falcons Saturday, defeating them 48-21.  We stated before that Packers QB Aaron Rodgers seems to be a man on a mission and he certainly played like one.  Rodgers completed 31 of 36 passes for 366 yards and three passing TDs, plus a rushing TD.

Green Bay will travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in the NFC Conference Championship game.  The Bears defeated the Seahawks yesterday 35-24.  The Bear’s offense overwhelmed the Seahawks and Bears QB Jay Cutler, in his first post-season appearance, threw 2 TD and rushed for 2 as well. Despite a valiant effort by Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck, the Seattle offense simply could not get things going.  The question remains – were the Bears that good, or were the Seahawks really that bad?

The Packers and Bears have a long-standing rivalry, dating back to 1921.  They have met 181 times, but this is the first time they have are playing for an NFC title.  Sunday’s game will air at3 pm ET.  We look forward to breaking down this traditional, storied rivalry in the days to come!

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