Posts Tagged ‘Chris Johnson’

The Most Surprising and Disappointing Players of 2010

It has not even been two weeks since Super Bowl XLV and we are already feeling lost.  Sure, basketball is entertaining, but NOTHING beats the thrill and excitement of the gridiron.  As we look back, we are highlighting some of the players whom we personally found to be the biggest surprises and disappointments of the 2010 season.  Before long it will be time to move on and talk about the possible impending NFL lockout, the 2011 draft and other player, coach and team issues.  But for now, let us bask just a bit more in last season and some of its hot and not-so-hot players!

Biggest Player Surprises

Arian Foster

Houston RB Arian Foster ranked 1st in rushing in the NFL during the regular season, running for over 1600 yards and 16 TDs.  Foster also had over 600 receiving yards and 2 TDs, which ranked 1st for running backs in the NFL.  Foster has come a long way.  I remember being at the 2007 Outback Bowl in Tampa when Penn State played the Tennessee Volunteers.  Foster was playing for the Vols. and with the score tied in the fourth quarter, Foster fumbled the ball near the goal line.  A Nittany Lion returned it 88 yards for a TD and PSU ultimately went on to win 20-10.   That notorious fumble gave him a reputation for inconsistent ball handling, and in 2009, Foster entered the league as an undrafted rookie.  That season he started in just one game.  But he started off 2010 in a blaze of glory.  In the first game vs. the Colts, Foster had 231 yards rushing and 3 TDs.  It was the 2nd best rushing performance on opening day in NFL history, falling just 19 yards short of O.J. Simpson’s 1973 opening day performance.

T.O.

Terrell Owens ended his season early with the Cincinnati Bengals due to a torn meniscus.  T.O.’s season was a pleasant surprise.  He had 72 catches for almost 1000 yards and 9 TDs.  T.O’s supreme confidence and his constant desire to talk about himself and his athletic abilities have created a large number of haters and skeptics.  Like him or not, he had a surprising comeback season.  Unfortunately, the Bengals had an abysmal 4-12 season and failed to make the playoffs.  Since T.O. is a free agent, it is anyone’s guess what team he will end up on.

LaDainian Tomlinson

31 year old Tomlinson had a resurgent 2010 season with the NY Jets.  Many considered him past his prime and believed he would serve as the backup to Jets RB Shonn Greene.   But Tomlinson got more carries than Greene and rushed for over 900 yards and 6 TDs.  These may not be mind blowing stats.  But given the pre-season predictions regarding L.T., he certainly surprised many fans, critics and media members with his important contributions to the Jets.

Michael Vick

Ahhh..one last chance to talk about our favorite player!  You really didn’t think we would keep Michael Vick off this list, did you?!  If you’re a regular reader, you already know how deep our love for Vick runs.  We have always been believers, but many considered Vick a non-factor for the 2010 season.  Pundits predicted the Eagles would use him in limited “gimmick” plays for short yardage.  But when Kevin Kolb got injured, Vick seized the opportunity and showed he had not missed a step from his playing days before being incarcerated.  In fact, Vick’s hard work and off field preparations were evident and he played better than ever.  He rightfully earned the starting position and threw for over 3000 yards, 21 TDs and had a passer rating of 100.2.  He rushed for nearly 700 yards and 9 TDs.  At 30 years of age, Vick’s comeback was one best surprise of the season!

Biggest Player Disappointments

Chris Johnson

In 2009, Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson tore up the NFL as he rushed for 2006 yards.  Football enthusiasts had high hopes for Johnson this past season.  In fact, he was the number one draft pick in most fantasy football leagues.  Prior to the start of the season, Johnson himself predicted he would rush for 2500 yards.  It was a bold prediction to make and he fell considerably short.  Johnson rushed for over 1300 yards and 11 TDs, ranking 4th in rushing overall in the NFL for the regular season.  These are impressive numbers, but given pre-season hype and expectations, we can’t help but be a bit disappointed.

Brett Favre

We have always loved Brett Favre.  His place in NFL history can never be taken away.  This past season, though, was a difficult one to watch as Favre dealt with struggles both on and off the field.  His scandal with a former NY Jets employee, coupled with his injuries and on the field play – 11 TDs and 19 INTS – were unfortunate ways for the “gunslinger” to leave the NFL.  Favre’s streak for consecutive starts was ended this season as well.  After 297 consecutive starts over 19 seasons, the 41 year old legend finally succumbed to an injury to his throwing shoulder that he simply could not overcome.  We will forever love and respect Favre.  It seems jumping on the “anti-Favre” bandwagon has become fashionable.  But we refuse to ignore the incredible legacy he built both on and off the field, despite the way this particular season unfolded.

Randy Moss

Another player people love to hate is the never dull Randy Moss.  Sure, he may be brash and outspoken.  But Moss still possesses the raw athletic ability, speed and capacity to out jump even the most talented cornerbacks.  We contend that he can find success with an NFL team in the future, but it needs to be with a team that uses him correctly and can handle his personality.  But his selection to 7 Pro Bowls was not a fluke.  Moss has talent that cannot be denied.  This season, he was the center of a number of controversies and was traded by both the Patriots and the Vikings.  He played his remaining games with the Tennessee Titans, but they have announced that his future with them is uncertain.  Given the right circumstances, we believe Randy Moss can shine once again.  Unfortunately, he did not shine this season, which is quite sad for those of us who still believe in his talent.

Our list of surprises and disappointments is, of course, incomplete.  There were many players that, like a phoenix, seemingly emerged from the ashes and had brilliant seasons.  Others simply crashed and burned.  This unpredictability is what makes each season so captivating.  While players’ surprising and/or disappointing performances can frustrate our most carefully planned fantasy teams (we speak from personal experience!), we would not trade it for the world!

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Under Pressure

“Mm ba ba de
Um bum ba de
Um bu bu bum da de
Pressure ..pushing down on me
Pressing down on you… no man ask for
Under pressure…”

If Peyton Manning is singing in the shower today, he may very well be belting out the words to Queen’s famous song “Under Pressure”.  Basically, his performance tonight will determine whether the struggling 6-6 Colts can pull off a win and keep moving towards a playoff spot.  While it seems unfair that Manning’s play tonight is “do or die”, he simply is the key to a Colts victory.

Manning’s recent slump has been a hot topic these last few weeks, with some questioning his ability and age.  As we pointed out in our recent blog “Peyton Place  – A Football Soap Opera??”, Manning’s slew of interceptions comes down to three major issues:  lack of a running game, poor offensive line protection and an injury-laden receiving corps.

The Titans come into tonight’s game at 5-7, having lost 5 in a row.  They have not scored an offensive TD in 13 quarters and an overtime period.  Starting QB Vince Young is out with an injury, leaving backup Kerry Collins to try and salvage the rest of the season.

With two teams desperately trying to break out of their slumps and have a shot at the playoffs, tonight’s game is critical.  Here is our take on the matchup.

Titans Offense vs Colts Defense

With the loss of Vince Young, QB Kerry Collins has been struggling to establish a passing game.  Their passing offense is last in the AFC and 31st in the NFL.  Randy Moss was recently added to the roster and there is no doubt he has the ability to make big plays, although he has had a lackluster run with the Titans so far.  Wide receiver Kenny Britt will return tonight after missing the last few weeks with a hamstring injury.  Prior to his injury, he led the team in TD receptions.  If Collins can get the ball to Moss and Britt, it could be the key to victory. 

A passing threat would also open up the running game and, given the opportunity, Chris Johnson is simply lethal.  Johnson has been a superstar the past few years, but has been unable to shine this season.  He is averaging slightly over 85 yards per game.  With little or no passing threat, defenses can key in on Johnson and effectively shut him down.

While the Colt’s offensive struggles are well known, Indy’s defense has also been problematic as well.  Against the Cowboys last Sunday, they gave up more than 200 rushing yards.  The Colts run defense is ranked 29th in the NFL and they are giving up over 142 yards per game on average.  If they do not contain Chris Johnson, this can be a game changer.  Like Manning, Johnson has a great deal of pressure on him to carry his team tonight, given the Titan’s ineffective passing game.

While the Colt’s run defense has been vulnerable, they have had a very effective pass defense – ranked 4th in the NFL.  However, on Tuesday, Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers was put on IR on with a broken arm.  In addition, safety Bob Sanders has been out with an injury since the season opener.  He was finally placed on IR and yesterday the Colts signed rookie defensive back David Pender to replace him.    A weakened Colts secondary could give Moss and Britt the opportunity to make big plays.

Colts Offense vs Titans Defense

The Colts rushing offense ranks last in the NFL.  It is basically non-existent.   Opposing teams know that the Indy’s offense is all about Manning and the passing game.  With running backs Joseph Addai, Mike Hart and Donald Brown out with injuries, the Colts are left with rookie Joique Bell, who they only signed in mid-November.  Their other RB is rookie Javarris James, who was cut from the Colts in September, then signed with the Patriots and was cut a month later.  James next signed with the Redskins for one day, until returning to the Colts in October.  Clearly these 2 rookies do not pose a rushing threat, which makes the Colts a one dimensional team.

Despite their recent woes, the Colts rank 1st in passing in the NFL and 4th in overall offense.   The 11 interceptions Manning has thrown in the last three games have definitely impacted the outcome of some of the games, especially when a number of those interceptions were returned for TDs by opponents.  Manning has taken the blame for his poor play of late, which is not surprising given his character and his role as leader.  But he is not shying away from passing because he knows it is THE only way the Colts will find any offensive success.  There is a great deal of pressure on Manning to exploit a Titans passing defense that has also struggled and is ranked 23rd in the league.

For the Colts to win, the O-line needs to step up and protect their 4 time NFL MVP, who has always played his best when he has a protected pocket from which to pick apart opponents.  If the Titans can disrupt the pocket and force Manning out of his comfort zone, interceptions are more likely.  Titans’ linebackers are salivating at the chance of picking off a Peyton pass, so keeping pressure off of Manning is vital.  The Titans have had a great deal of success pressuring QBs, with 33 sacks this season.

Under Pressure… Who Will Rise and Who Will Fall?

When the season began, it was expected that tonight’s Colts/Titans game would be a matchup between two high flying teams battling for first place in the AFC South.  No one predicted that the defending AFC champion Indianapolis Colts would be 6-6 and that the Titans would hold a pitiful 5-7 record.  Both teams now find themselves struggling to simply stay alive in the playoff picture. 

The pressure for both teams to pull off a victory is tremendous.  But when the season is on the line, we believe Peyton Manning is the player who will rise to the challenge.  Look for Manning to regain his poise and use the indefinable quality he possesses to turn adversity into success.   Our prediction:  Colts 31, Titans 24.

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