Posts Tagged ‘Ladainian Tomlinson’

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!

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.

Third Time’s A Charm…

Here we go again.  For the third time this season, the New York Jets and New England Patriots meet in a game that has as much drama attached to it as a Kardashian reality TV series.  Rex Ryan, the brash head coach of the trash talking Jets has led the hype.   Jets CB Antonio Cromartie began the pre-game taunting this week when he told the NY Daily News that he “hates Tom Brady” and then called him an “a**hole”.  Let’s hope he can be as tough on the field.  

For the most part the Patriots have been pretty silent, except for WR Wes Welker who stood before the media this week and shrewdly made references to feet, alluding to Rex Ryan’s recent foot fetish scandal.  So the off field antics have been in full force leading up to tomorrow’s 4:30 game.  But, let’s take a look at what matters the most – the 60 minutes on the field.

For the Jets to win, they will need to have an effective rushing game that allows them to control the clock and keep Tom Brady off the field.  The Jets used RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene last week to pound away at the Indianapolis Colts defense and keep Peyton Manning off the field.  That same strategy will likely be used against Brady and the Pats. 

Defensively, the Jets will need to find a way to contain Brady.  In their last game, where they were defeated by 42 points, the Jets blitzed Brady too often.  For the Jets to slow down Brady, they will have to balance their defense a bit more than they did last time.  Last week, they kept their safeties deep and presented a base defense to Manning that did not shift until the ball snapped.  This ability to disguise their defensive schemes until after the snap of the ball may be the only way to prevent the cunning, intelligent Brady from scoring mega points.

For the Patriots to win, they will count on Brady to lead the way.  Brady’s performance this season has been epic – 36 TDs and a mere 4 interceptions.  In fact, Brady has not thrown an INT in his last 335 pass attempts. 

The last time the teams met, New England handed the Jets a humiliating 45-3 defeat in what was predicted to be a close game.  Earlier in the season the Jets beat the Pats 28-14.  So with each team having won a game, who will emerge victorious when it really counts?  The trash talk by Rex Ryan and the NY Jets leading to tomorrow’s game has been entertaining this week.  But come kick off time, all the words in the world cannot change the outcome of the game.  While the two teams match up evenly in many areas, Brady and the Patriot offense are simply too strong to contain.  We pick the Pats by 14, despite our personal dislike of the beautiful Brady!

Monday Night Football Marquee Matchup!

Monday Night Football…Tom Brady…New England Patriots….Rex Ryan…the New York Jets.  Yes, these are the ingredients for a big, prime time game. Last week’s MNF game between the Cardinals and 49ers was mind-numbing.  So much so, in fact, that re-runs of Law and Order replaced my usual Monday night football ritual.  But this is a marquee game, full of hype, drama and major playoff implications. 

Both the Jets and Patriots are 9-2 and tied for first place in the AFC East.  They met earlier this season, in Week 2, with the Jets winning 28-14.  The Patriots were leading 14-0 before they collapsed and the Jets turned on their afterburners for a second half comeback. 

Much has changed since that first meeting.  For the Patriots, their trade of Randy Moss and loss of running back Kevin Faulk to injury has forced Tom Brady to spread the ball around to a whole slew of different receivers, tight ends and backs.  The Patriots enter this game leading the NFL in scoring.  Here is our take on some key factors in this rivalry matchup.

The Tom Brady Factor 

He is playing in front of a home crowd where he simply rarely loses.  The last time a Brady-led Patriots team lost at home during the regular season was November 2006.  Coincidentally, it was the Jets who served up that last home defeat.  But since that game, 25 teams have played against Brady in Foxboro and every one of them has walked away defeated.

The Jets Defense vs. The Patriots Offense

The Jets run defense is tough and the Patriots will likely have a hard time gaining a lot of yards on the ground.  In their Week 2 matchup, they had only 52 yards rushing.  Tom Brady’s offensive line is designed to protect him while he picks apart defenses and this is where the Patriots will score their points. 

This week, Jets safety Jim Leonhard suffered a season-ending broken leg.  Not only was Leonhard a critically important player, but he was the on-field leader who called all the defensive plays.  It is a big defensive loss for the Jets and Brady will look to exploit this weakness.

Jets cornerback Darrell Revis is one of the best defensive players in the NFL.  He has done a phenomenal job of shutting down superstar receivers all season long.  But Brady no longer has that one big-play receiver since Moss’ trade.  That makes it a challenge for Jets Coach Rex Ryan in trying to determine who to cover.  While Ryan loves to blitz against the Patriots, Brady’s signature quick release will make it difficult to stop the pretty Patriot QB.

The Patriots Defense vs. The Jets Offense

The Patriots defense is considered weak.  They are surrendering about 399 yards per game.  Their pass defense is ranked 32nd and will allow Jets QB Mark Sanchez to find some of his favorite targets –   wide receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller.  The Jets have great depth in their receiving corps with Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner, and as of this weekend, Laveranues Coles.  Rex Ryan brought the veteran receiver back on board after releasing him this past summer.

Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson is having a productive season. At age 31, LT has (no pun intended) not missed a step this year.  He leads the team in receptions (45) and has carried the ball 166 times this season, resulting in 5 TDs.  Look for the Patriots to try to shut down the Jets running game and force Sanchez to throw.  With the depth in the receiving corps, Sanchez could have a big day if his offensive line can give him protection and time.

While Sanchez is not yet the caliber of QB that Brady is, he is becoming more poised as the season progresses.  He has pulled out some late comeback wins and won twice in overtime.  Many young QBs might feel intimidated by the prestige of Brady and the Patriots, but Sanchez will handle the pressure well.

The Final Word

Both the Patriots and Jets are entering tonight’s game very well prepared.  Both teams had 12 days of rest since their last game, which was on Thanksgiving.  Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick are two of the most meticulous and fiercely competitive coaches in the NFL.  Having so much time to prepare, there will likely be 2 well designed game plans.  Like an architect designing an intricate building, these coaches will have a detailed strategy dealing with every facet of the game. 

The outcome will be determined by the execution of those game plans.  Whichever team follows their coach’s strategy and committs less mistakes will emerge victorious.  While it is no secret that I am neither a Tom Brady nor a Patriot fan, I do believe they have the advantage in tonight’s game.    Look for a close game, with the Patriots winning by 3.

Draft Day Disaster

This past August I joined a fantasy football league.  After years of watching from the sideline and not quite comprehending how fantasy football actually works, I decided to strap on a helmet and give it a try.  Little did I know that I would actually need that helmet!  This is serious game play and is definitely not for the weak-hearted.

Our league has twelve teams, made up of ten college guys and just two girls.  Having never been part of a fantasy league, I scoured online fantasy draft pick information from all the leading “experts”.  On my desk sits an entire folder devoted to my pre-season research, along with every fantasy football draft magazine I could lay my hands on this summer.  My laptop has files of assembled information, including spreadsheets with categories like PPR (Points per Reception), rankings by position and bye weeks. Suddenly the letters SOS no longer meant an emergency cry for help, but something much more critical – Strength of Schedule.

Next came the dilemma of naming my team.  Did I want a fierce, intimidating name to scare the opposition into retreat?  Or a funny name that made my team the envy of those who wished they could be so clever?  Searching the web, I found a huge variety of “female” fantasy football names, many of which were just too crude to consider.  I wanted a name to represent me, yet have a football connection.  Finally, an epiphany!  My team would be called The Blonde Side.  It would pay tribute to one of my favorite football movies of all time, “The Blind Side”, while allowing me to make my team stand out from my male competition.  Oh, and it also embodied my natural (ahem) blonde hair color.

On draft day, we all assembled in the team manager’s tiny college apartment.  One of the guys had graduated the previous spring and so “attended” the draft through Skype.  We chose ESPN to host our league.  I was assigned the next to last pick, but was undaunted since I felt I had a great strategy in place.  I had my list of desired players and was certain I would be able to get at least some of them.

From research and talking to friends who had played in fantasy leagues for years, I decided to load up on running backs and wide receivers in the early rounds and not even think about my quarterback to the later rounds.  As a HUGE Peyton Manning fan, I desperately wanted him as my first pick, but decided to put my emotions aside and allow my diligently prepared plan of attack to play out. Other favorites, like T.O. and Ladainian Tomlinson would have to wait as well.  Instead, I would listen to the expert advice I had gathered and ignore the gut instincts that were telling me to make completely different choices.

As the draft began, I was shocked at how quickly the guys made their picks.  By the time it was my turn, the top ranked player remaining on my list was RB Frank Gore from the San Francisco 49er’s and I quickly grabbed him.  Next, I chose WR Reggie Wayne of the Colts and felt pretty secure about my choices.  But by the time the third round came around, my list of prospects had dwindled and I was suddenly scrambling to make a pick.  I scoured my spreadsheets, notes and brain for my next pick as the 2 minute draft clock ticked down.  Ochocinco, I shouted out, when I realized T.O. had already been snagged.

The rest of the draft is a blur as I frantically tried to choose my next player in round after round.  The other players, more seasoned and experienced, seemed to glide through their picks with ease.  Why did I feel so incompetent and disorganized?  After all, I had books and spreadsheets and files of information that should have made draft day a breeze!

By the end of the draft, my roster was complete – a complete mess, that is.  I had two players from my original list of prospects and the rest was a jumble of players I had haphazardly thrown together.  How did this happen?  I honestly am not sure, but part of my problem was that I ignored my women’s intuition AND fell victim to peer pressure!

So what did I learn from my draft day disaster?  Well, lots of things actually.

  • First, do your research.  It is important to know who the top prospects are and to understand how your league’s scoring system works.
  • Make sure you have information on the less known players.  Despite my spreadsheets, I was not as prepared as I should have been in this area and ended up making choices on players whom I barely had any knowledge about.
  • Don’t be intimidated by the boys.  I think of myself as a pretty independent person, with strong opinions, yet time after time was swayed into picking a player based on what others were saying at the moment.  I was a rookie and assumed the veterans knew more than me.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol during the draft!  Depending on how your league organizes draft day, it can end up being a party atmosphere.  As prepared and serious as I started out, I must confess that one too many Jager Bomb’s may have wreaked havoc on my roster.
  • Most importantly, listen to your gut instinct!  As women, we all know that inner voice that whispers (and sometimes shouts) out to us.  I don’t care what anyone says, that little voice is right 9 times out of 10!

So that pretty much sums up my draft day disaster.  As for the season thus far?  Well, let’s just say that there have been a few fumbles and missed tackles along the way.  In the next few months, I will share The Blonde Side’s victories and defeats in hopes of helping other ladies in their future fantasy football endeavors.  So like Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford, I view this season as a rookie learning experience. Hopefully next season will bring far less thrown interceptions and better play calling ability that will allow me to dominate my male competition!

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