Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
Mike Pettine comes off as a my way or the highway type of guy. One thing that is evident when watching the coach is he comes off very stern. That tough guy mentality was supposed to transform the Cleveland Browns and make them tougher. A move that is usually beneficial in a sport as gritty as pro football. Pettine’s ways didn’t translate well at the pro level however. For how beneficial his attitude was supposed to be in the NFL, Pettine’s poor personnel decisions and lack of team execution cost him. At one point it was clear that Pettine had a dislike for former first round draft pick Johnny Manziel. Even putting that aside though, the team still has fallen to a 3-12 record up to this point in the season. Showing that regardless of what Pettine’s strengths or weaknesses are one thing was still evident. The team wasn’t getting the job done on the field. The NFL is a win now football league meaning coaches are on a very short leash and will be let go quickly if they don’t perform well in games. Performing well means winning football games something the Cleveland Browns simply didn’t do during the Mike Pettine era. For a guy who was so much about pointing the finger at others and questioning their accountability. Pettine himself was very reluctant to look in the mirror and hold himself accountable. Browns owner Jimmy Haslam likely picked up on this and that is why it was announced that the Browns would look to part ways with the head coach in the near future. While Pettine has underperformed, it wasn’t all his fault. General Manager Ray Farmer didn’t put enough talent on the field for Pettine to compete. The miscommunication between the two sides when it came to handling Manziel was also a big factor in their destruction. If they didn’t want Manziel, that first round pick could have been used at another position to help the team out. So that was a wasted pick during both Farmer and Pettine’s era. Now they are both paying for those misfortunes.
Eric Weddle has been a solid player for the San Diego Chargers for the last 9 seasons. After being a stand out player at the university of Utah. Weddle was then drafted in the second round by the Chargers. Weddle immediately had an impact. He recorded over a 100 tackles in 3 different seasons during his career. Also recording 19 career interceptions for San Diego’s defense. Weddle is player who has “paid his dues” with the San Diego Chargers and you would expect his employer to treat him accordingly. That hasn’t been the case however in San Diego. The Chargers have done a number of things that are borderline unethical regarding Weddle. These actions include fining Weddle for staying out for halftime to watch his daughter perform as a cheerleader during a Chargers game. Denying Weddle a seat aboard the team’s plane during a game to Denver. Finally the Charges placed Weddle on injured reserve even though Weddle claimed his groin injury wasn’t that serious. Imagine if your employer was taking action against you and doing everything in their power to make it impossible for you to do your job. That is exactly what the Chargers have been doing to Eric Weddle. Well finally Weddle had enough. The Chargers safety ran sprints Thursday in front of the media to show that he was unfairly placed on injured reserve. Quarterback Rivers said “I hate it that he’s not going to be out there for his last one and finish this season with all of us.” Showing that the team’s starting quarterback understands the significance of Weddle’s impact and also showing his concern with how the team has handled the issue. There has been a lot of changes going on for this franchise and if they want to keep fan support from waining they better do a better job of taking care of their people. Weddle’s contributions to this organization when the team never gave any returns back to the public can’t be undervalued. Weddle was there even when the Chargers put a bad product on the field. He deserved better. The Chargers should be ashamed for not giving him that.
The Vikings and Packers will meet up sunday with the NFC North division championship on the line. The Packers were able to handle the Vikings 30-13 in their first match up. A game in which most people thought the Vikings were going to win because of their success earlier in the season at that time. However since then both of these teams have been somewhat inconsistent. The Vikings who had a solid lock on this division regressed and let Green Bay back in the picture. Now in the last game of the season everything is at stake as both teams enter the game with 10 wins and 5 losses on the season. If the Vikings want to win this match up Teddy Bridgewater has to step up and play his best football on the big stage. The games are only getting bigger from here on out and Bridgewater has a great opportunity to show what kind of player he can be in this league. You do that by winning football games for division championships and winning games in the playoffs. Who knows, if Bridgewater can hit stride late in the year the Vikings might have a legitimate shot of making a deep postseason run. It all starts with that elite level play at the quarterback position though and it will be up to Teddy Bridgewater to get the job done. For the Packers they have to get pass their offensive woes they’ve been having lately. Usually the Packers score between 28-30 points offensively. However there has been a few match ups where the Packers have had trouble against good defensive lines and as a result struggled offensively in games. That seems to be the key for the Packers offensive success. Make sure they can protect Rodgers upfront. If they can do that, the sky is the limit. If not then this team will stumble like they did against Detroit and Arizona. It will be a good match up and even though Green Bay beat the Vikings in their first match. Look for Minnesota to pull the win out. If they play their cards right they can win, they just need to feed Adrian Peterson and have Bridgewater come up big when the time comes.
Mario Williams openly spoke out against a number of Rex Ryan’s schemes this year. The tenth year player out of North Carolina State University felt that the team had regressed from 2014’s pass rushing production and also felt that Ryan’s scheme was a big factor in that regression. It’s never a good situation when a player openly criticizes a coaches philosophies and every time William’s did, it opened up a case for more players to follow William’s lead. From a coaches perspective you almost want your players to take their own personal thoughts out of the strategy and would rather just have players do what they are told and execute. Give credit to Rex Ryan on how he handled the situation. Rex stated that the “Bills will always have an open discussion policy.” Meaning that Rex embraced his players voicing and thinking on how to get the job done more effectively. While Rex is playing that card on the surface, internally he is most likely wishing that all of his players would let him coach and they stick to playing. Players have so much to process on the field it’s almost ideal that we have coaches who do the thinking for them. That is why the game is already set up that way. However every once in a while a players ego will get out of line and they feel the need to speak up. It’s hard to say if this was the case with Williams. While Williams did do something a player should never do. Speak out against their coach. He did have some merit behind his points. The defense had been better in the past compared to now which Wiliams seen stumble from a first hand perspective. The defense was dropping some of the team’s best pass rushers into coverage. A very inefficient move on the Bills behalf. Yet you have to take up those matters in the office with your coach privately rather than publicly with the media. Williams personal production was down significantly as well from the past. Whether he agreed with how things were going and yea the system could of hindered his own personal stats. Williams still should of handled things better and the Bills themselves will likely be better off. Having an aging vet who always has to go against the grain when it comes to the team is not a formula for success. It will cause chemistry and cohesion problems throughout the team. Ryan and the Bills do have to make some adjustments but they will be better off without Williams. Mario Williams will get a fresh start with a new team and hopefully will be playing under a system that better suits his talents. So hopefully he will be happier and better off as well. Regardless it looks like their time together will be over this offseason.
Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr. / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
When the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks meet up this weekend for their week 17 match up. The thing that will be most on the line is momentum. The Cardinals have already clinched a first round bye in the playoffs and the NFC West division title. Yet a loss to the Seahawks would give Seattle the confidence they need to compete with Arizona later on in the playoffs. On the other hand if the Cardinals can rout the Seahawks sunday it will be a big step in showing that they are indeed the big dog on the block. Seattle has been to two straight Super Bowls and will be reluctant to yield their position to any team. Yet the Cardinals are the team of the present and look like they are poised to have a deep run in the playoffs. That is why this match up is so crucial. The last thing you want if you’re a team like the Cardinals is to stumble and have problems heading into the postseason. Don’t expect that to happen though. This Cardinals team has been phenomenal all season long. They are number 1 in a number of different publication’s power rankings for a reason. They’ve been one of the most dynamic teams in pro football if not the most dynamic. While the Seahawks have been more of a story of overcoming adversity. After losing a number of players last offseason and having to deal with a number of other off the field issues (Kam Chancellor holdout). The Seahawks have managed to battle back after stumbling early on. Russell Wilson managed to find his game during midseason and rattled off 5 straight weeks without throwing an interception. That streaked ended last week when the Rams were able to pick Wilson off. Regardless though that strong play from the quarterback position has certainly been a big factor in the Seahawks success. Look for it to be a good match up Sunday however it will be tough to beat the Cardinals. Bruce Arians has this team playing outstanding.
Charity of the day: Breast Cancer Research Foundation
When Martha Firestord Ford seized control of the Detroit Lions many people in the Detroit area didn’t know what to expect. They figured they would be getting the same old production as William Clay Ford Sr. gave the team. However Martha believe it or not is more hands on than William ever was. When things were going south early on in the season for the Detroit Lions. Instead of letting the situation play out and ending up 0-16 like the Lions did in 2008. Martha instead took action. She fired the team President Tom Lewand and General Manager Martin Mayhew after the team stumbled to a 1-7 start. What stands out most about that move is the fact that Firestone Ford wants to win now. Rather than wait around for things to get better she decided shaking things up was the best solution. That has resulted in the team turning it around and now the Lions are sitting at 6-9 on the season now. Showing that Firestone Ford’s determination to win had a ripple effect throughout the team. They say it starts from the top and trickles down well if that is the case the lions should be happy. They seem to have a lionhearted leader as their owner. One other thing that stands out about Martha Firestone Ford is the fact that when the team was struggling. She wrote a letter to season ticket holders with one underlining message. “You deserve better”. It was clear Martha Firestone Ford was going to go above and beyond to give the Motor City a true winner. Just like her grandfather Harvey Firestone breathed life into the tire and rubber business. Martha Firestone Ford is breathing life into the Detroit Lions. Something Lions fans should be pleased with. Martha is doing her due diligence.
Chip Kelly has been fired by the Philadelphia Eagles just 1 game shy of completing his 3rd season in the NFL. Kelly who was an outstanding coach at the University of Oregon finished his tenure in Philadelphia with a 26-21 record. A brilliant x and o’s guy Kelly struggled with personnel and managing marquee talent. For all his ability to put people in a position to succeed on the football field. Kelly had an equally detrimental habit of alienating the people around him off the field. That wasn’t limited to just players but also other coaches and other employees in the building as well. One thing I will say is Chip Kelly made moves that cleared a lot of cap space for the Eagles. So as much as we knew he shipped away talent it was only going to get brighter later on for the Eagles. That cap space would of been mighty useful for bringing in players that fit Kelly’s overall scheme. Now the next coach will get to use that cap space and will look like a hero. Yet if Kelly truly irked as many people as the rumors were saying. It just goes to show that maybe ownership preferred a more likable personality at their head coach position. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a talented football coach cast out because of being unlikeable. Jim Harbaugh was in a similar situation just a year before. We know how that panned out for him. Regardless of what the popular opinion is in the Philadelphia area the Eagles might come to regret this decision.
Peyton Manning’s accuser recants statements about Manning’s HGH use
The Al Jazeera reported that Charles Sly had a hidden camera investigation that observed Peyton Manning receiving HGH supplements shipped to his house. The shipments were apparently during the year Manning was recovering from neck surgery in 2011. Charles Sly is now backing off those statements saying that never happened. You have to wonder if Al Jazeera had second thoughts of making those statements after Manning’s legal team threatened to sue them. Manning was clearly frustrated with the allegations saying “they are garbage and completely made up.” That is the problem with the generation today anyone can have a voice. When people use that voice to do harm like slander someones name for their own personal gain. Sometimes they forgot those actions have consequences. Sly and Al Jazeera’s creditability are forever tainted and they got put in their place quickly. They should think twice about making irresponsible statements about someone’s character and credibility.
Revis says Jets General Mangers Mike Maccagnan should be up for Executive of the Year:
Darrelle Revis has came out and stated that he believes his teams’ General Manager should be up for the Executive of the Year honors. After Mike Maccagnan brought in big name talents like Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, and Ryan Fitzpatrick the Jets have became relevant again. Now with the end of the season looming the team is looking poised to make a playoff spot. They will need a win Sunday to really solidify themselves and claim that spot. Regardless after a 4 win season in 2014, a 10 win season with a game left in the season is much more promising. Revis believes much of the praise must go to Maccagnan. It’s hard to argue with him.
The Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs both enter week 17 with a 9 game win streak. Stop and think about that for a second. Nine consecutive games both the Chiefs and Cardinals have been able to beat out their NFL opponents. It’s so hard to just get one win in the NFL and that is why 9 wins is such an impressive feat. The Chiefs got their last win in week 16 over the Cleveland Browns. Where they were able to hold Johnny Manziel in check for most of that outing. The Chiefs have success by playing fundamental football. That is the whole philosophy behind Andy Reid’s approach. He is a coach that is going to do the little things right. That traditional approach has paid big returns for this Chiefs football team and they will get the privilege of measuring themselves in the postseason. The Cardinals are another story. They have success by lighting you up on the scoreboard. The Cardinals can make good competition look lackluster. Overwhelming you with their vast collection of weapons who can put up points quickly. Carson Palmer has been playing at such a high level that the Cardinals are a serious Super Bowl contender. There is an old saying in football that goes “you’re only as good as your quarterback.” Fortunately for the Cardinals they have an outstanding quarterback who has thrown for 34 touchdowns and 4,542 passing yards. When you also factor in the Cardinals have a pretty impressive defense as well, you understand just how talented this team truly is. The final team that deserves an honorable mention for hottest team in the NFL is the New York Jets. The Jets have managed to achieve 5 straight wins and seem to be clicking at the right time. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a big reason for that success throwing for 29 touchdown and 3,724 passing yards on the season. When you also take in account the other playmakers on this team like Brandon Marshall who has contributed 13 touchdowns and 1,376 yards receiving on the season. You understand just how dynamic this Jets attack has been recently. The Jets also have a very stout defense who have a habit of making opposing quarterbacks crumble. This team is similar to the Cardinals but not quite as dynamic or explosive. Truthfully all three of these teams are a match up nightmare in the playoffs for any team. Look to see if they can keep blazing the path towards the Super Bowl like they’ve managed to do this far.
Two young quarterbacks faced off looking to prove their worth in Monday Night Football last night. For the Denver Broncos it was Brock Osweiler who took over the reins for the Broncos after Peyton Manning was sidelined with an injury to his foot. Osweiler has managed to impress in his short time as the Broncos starting quarterback earning a record of 4-2 over that span. On the opposite sideline former Alabama quarter A.J McCarron made the start for the Bengals. McCarron impressed early on looking sharp on several passes. The Bengals even had the Broncos defense on their heels early on. That was before the Broncos defense slowly started to come alive later on in this football game. After surrendering 14 points in the first half. The Broncos defense would tighten up and only allow a field goal in the second half. McCarron finished the day with 22 completions out of 35 passing attempts for 1 touchdown and 200 yards. A mediocre performance after how hot the 1st year player was able to start early on. On the other hand Osweiler stepped up and made the plays that he had to, to win the game. He finished the game with 27 completions out of 39 passing attempts for 1 touchdown and 299 yards. Osweiler’s rating of 100.3 compared to McCarron’s 87.8 shows that extra efficiency from the quarterback position goes a long way. Other notable performances for the Broncos were turned in by C.J Anderson who finished the game 73 rushing yards and a touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders was the Broncos main receiving threat. He finished with 4 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. At the end of the day the headline of this match up is the Broncos being able to persevere and soar back against this tough Bengals team. Give credit to the Broncos defense for overcoming adversity and making the the necessary adjustments when they needed to. Also give credit to Brock Osweiler for showing he can be a big time player when his team needs him to be.