Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kris Dielman Update

The Chargers have officailly scheduled a press conference for 10:00 tomorrow to announce the retirement of Kris Dielman. Dielman, who went undrafted out of Indiana, spent all nine seasons of his career with the Chargers. I will try to find a link to the press conference, either video or podcast, for you all to see. Here is to Kris Dielman, monster in the middle.

Kris Dielman to Officially Retire

The San Diego Chargers will start training camp for the first time in 9 years without one of their best lineman, and more importantly, one of the nicest players on the team. Guard Kris Dielman, who suffered a concussion late in the 4th quarter of a game against the New York Jets last year, is set to officially announce his retirement tomorrow during a press conference. Dielman didn't leave the game after suffering the concussion. On the team's flight home, Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure during the flight. Dielman has not played since then. It is sad to see anybody end their career due to injury. Dielman has been an outstanding guard for the Chargers, earning multiple trips to the Pro Bowl. While Dielman will be remembered as a great player on the field, we shouldn't forget about his character. Dielman, who was a free agent in 2007, was offered a huge contract by the Seahawks that year, yet Dielman turned it down to remain a Charger. To Dielman, San Diego was home. I have to respect the man for not chasing the money. It seems to be an all too common practice these days. Having someone do that is always a good thing to see. In the end Dielman will be remembered for his great play, his tireless effort, and his intelligence. So to Kris Dielman we wish the best of luck. San Diego will always think highly of you.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eisen Sets Personal Best for Combine 40.

Rich Eisen has made his annual 40 yard dash a part of the combine. It is always fun to watch. The guy tries hard each run and is absolutely hilarious to watch. I have to give props to Eisen for running each year. The saddest part is that he could beat me easily. Here is the video courtesy of :

Charger Madness now has a Facebook Page

Charger Madness has launched a facebook page. Just search Charger Madness on facebook and like to join.

A Run Around the Rumor Mill

Rumors are just a part of the off-season. They will not go away, so why not take a look at a few of them?

The rumor out of San Diego, even appearing on ESPN, is that the Chargers are going to DE Luis Castillo. Castillo, who is 28, suffered a broken leg in the first game of the 2011 season, missing the entire season. Castillo, a seven year veteran, is reportedly going to be cut to save cap room. Cutting Castillo would likely save the Chargers roughly 1 million in cap space. Here is the link to Bill Williamson's short report on the rumor from ESPN:

Another issue that keeps coming up is the possible retirement of Guard Kris Dielman. Dielman, who has been with the Chargers for 9 seasons, suffered a concussion during the season last year. While this is not something uncommon in the NFL, what was a problem was that Dielman went back into the game. Following the game,Dielman suffered a seizure on the team's flight home. The rumors have been flying the past few weeks as to the fate of Dielman's career. Up until just a few days ago, many expected Dielman to return to the team, but over the last few days, it appears that Dielman is moving closer to retirement. Dielman has been a great lineman for the Chargers, but if he retires, I have to applaud him for placing his health at such a high priority. Yahoo writer Mark Miller had a short piece on Dielman. Here is the link:

As per usual, all of this must be taken with a grain of salt. Are these moves likely? maybe. We will see in due time. For the time being, we wait.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Top 5 Quarterbacks in the NFL

As the league continues to move more and more towards the pass, the value of a quarterback is higher now then it has ever been. With that in mind, Chargermadness ranks the top 5 quarterbacks in the league today*. (Due to the unknown nature of the Peyton Manning situation, this list may or may not end up revised)

1) Tom Brady: As much as it pains me to say this, Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league. The guy has 3 rings, holds the single season touchdown mark, and has consistently produced regardless of the talent around him. Brady is a first ballot lock for the HOF. He has great touch and just always seems to know what to do with the ball. He isn't afraid to throw to any receiver or against any look. Brady seems to always find the open man. While his career may be coming to an end sometime in the next 5 or so years, i expect him to earn at least 1 more ring.

2) Aaron Rodgers: Remember what I said about quarterbacks being valuable? See Rodgers for the perfect example. Rodgers is only just beginning his career as a starter, having rode the bench behind Brett Favre for several years. Rodgers is surrounded by great talent and has the ability to make all the throws and has one of the best deep balls I have seen as of late. Rodgers is mobile enough to make a difference, but what may be his most valuable asset is his leadership ability. Already in possession of 1 ring, Rodgers and the Packers are poised to make many more deep playoff runs.

3) Drew Brees: Until he passed Marino's single season yardage marker, Brees had always played second fiddle to Brady and Peyton Manning, even the hype around his Super Bowl win died down. Brees has always kind of been the overlooked guy of this trio. Brees has an exceptional understanding of the game and is also surrounded by an incredible amount of talent, both on the offensive line and the skill positions. Brees has great accuracy with his throws and always finds the open man. Breaking Marino's record has only further cemented Brees as an elite quarterback.

4) Ben Roethlisberger: Big Ben is the definition of a tough quarterback. We have seen his game develop over the years, and this can is evident both in his numbers and the Steelers..... gasp..... passing the ball more! Roethlisberger has the all important ability to extend the play and stand tall in the pocket. With great weapons around him in receivers such as Mike Wallace and emerging youngster Antonio Brown, Big Ben should continue to put up great numbers. While he may not always throw the best ball, he gets the job done. He plays through pain and has matured greatly as a player over the last few years. He may not always have huge numbers, but he always seems to put the Steelers in a position to win.

5) Philip Rivers: Rounding out this list is Philip Rivers. The only thing really holding Rivers back is his lack of post-season success. Rivers has an amazing deep ball and has a fire to play the game with amazing intensity. How many other NFL quarterbacks would chase down a defender to make a tackle? Rivers fits Turner's deep passing game very well. With his leadership ability and arm strength, he should earn a ring at some point. It really just depends on how the team around him plays. We saw two years ago just how good Rivers really is when he basically dealt with reserve and practice squad players for a good majority of the year as numerous receivers battled injuries. Rivers still produced at an amazing level. He makes those around him look all the better. While he ma have one of the oddest throwing motions to come along before Tim Tebow, Rivers usually holds up his end of the bargain.

Honorable Mentions: Eli Manning, Matt Ryan

Saturday, February 25, 2012

How to Handle Two Good Kickers

San Diego found itself in a kicking conundrum just moment into the 2011 regular season. Kicker Nate Kaeding went down on the opening kickoff. San Diego finished the game using punter Mike Scifres as the place kicker. With Kaeding out for the season, San Diego signed Nick Navak to handle the kicking duties. Novak handled himself well (with the exception of urinating on the sidelines). Going into next season, expect Smith to keep both kickers around. Kaeding has an established record, and unless it is the post-season, is spot on. If he rehabs from his injury in time, he and Novak will duke it out through training camp to determine who gets the job.I have to say that the idea of a competition brewing this early (even if it is just between kickers) is something to keep an eye on.  It makes perfect sense to hang on to both of them for as long as possible.Competition may very well push both to become even better kickers, and that is never a bad thing. Either way, San Diego will have a good kicker suiting up for them on opening day.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is Philip Rivers Elite?

The term elite quarterback gets thrown around the leauge by the media often these days, but what really constitutes elite? Many say that Philip Rivers is elite. While this may be true in some regards, Rivers is still looking for that final piece to reach that level.  Rivers has proven to be a great quarterback for the Chargers. There is talk of him being a potential Hall of Famer, but until he at least leads the team to a Super Bowl, there will be those who question his ability. This is not to say that Rivers is not a great quarterback, rather, Rivers is simply good. With the possible retirement of Peyton Manning and the age of Tom Brady, we are closing in on defining a new generation of elite quarterbacks. Rivers is currently on the outside looking in, just as Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger are looking in. Both have an upper hand on Rivers due to having rings. I am not saying that Rivers is not a great quarterback, but at the moment, he is not elite. Rivers has the potential to get there, but the question is can he carry the team with him?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Combine Officially Starts

The NFL Combine officially started today. The event will run from today through the 28th. As usual, expect a few players to really shine. Updates will be posted daily.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stanford Routt Agrees to Contract with the Kansas City Chiefs

Former Oakland Raider Stanford Routt is staying in the AFC West. Routt has agreed to a 3 year, 19.6 million dollar contract to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs. Routt also had interest from Buffalo, Houston, Cincinnati, and Dallas. Routt signed a 5 year, riughly 54 million dollar contract with the Raiders just last season. Last year, Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha left in free agency, landing in Philadelphia. Routt, who had been the team's number 2 corner was expected to transition to the number 1 role. Routt was cut as one of the first moves of oakland's new ownership this offseason. Expect kansas City to let Brandon Carr walk in free agency. This move also ends the debate over who the Chiefs will place the franchise tag on, if they do at all. The debate had been between tagging Carr or star wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Kansas City will still have a great tandem at cornerback going into next season. While Routt is 28 (Carr is only 25), he plays well in man coverage. San Diego did not get off lightly here as they will still have to face this superb duo at corner twice a year.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jimmy Raye III: GM in the Making?

Chargers Director of Player Personnel. Could he become
the next GM in San Diego?
With the continued stumbling of the Chargers over the last several seasons, the cries to remove GM A.J. Smith have increased each year. It is impossible not to credit Smith with molding the team into a serious competitor. however, recent free agent decisions and questionable draft decisions have left San Diego with a startling lack of depth and has depleted the roster to the point that San Diego has been relegated to the role of a fringe contender. If Smith and Turner fail to make the playoffs this season, both will be cleaning out their offices. Even if the team does make the playoffs in what is arguably still a weak AFC West, both could conceivably be fired. This raises the question, who takes over as GM? Most times that there is a change in either the front office or the coaching staff, there is a high rate of turnover. The most likely situation is that San Diego would look for a new person outside of the organization to take the reigns. That only makes sense. Yet San Diego may be well suited to stay in house in looking for a new GM. Jimmy Raye III has been with the Chargers since 1996 and has been in the NFL since 1995. He now servers as the  Director of Player Personnel for the Chargers. Raye has been considered for multiple GM positions in the past, notably the Kansas City job, which went to Scott Pioli. More recently, he was one of 4 finalist for the Bears GM position. Raye is obviously on the radar of teams in the league. It may well be a good move for San Diego to retain him in the event of a staff change. Raye definably has experience in scouting and seems to be more than capable of taking over a position of such magnitude and importance. For all the trouble San Diego has brewing in the front office, the solution may be just a few offices away.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Scouting Combine is Fast Approaching

With the scouting combine approaching, fans are getting their first taste of draft fever this year. The annual scouting combine is held in Indianapolis. Every year, there are always some players who rise up teams draft boards due to a strong workout at the combine. Just as some players will rise, others will fall. In the end, these drills don't really show how good or bad a player will be. It does give teams a chance to see these players move in person (except not in pads). So for what it is worth, combine results aren't the final verdict on a player. Still, it can make or break someone's draft.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Draft Prospects: Riley Reiff

San Diego has a strong need for depth and quality on the offensive line. With that in mind, next up for ChargerMadness is Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

Position: OT
Height: 6' 6''
Weight: 300 Lbs.

Pros: Reiff is extremely athletic for his position, which may be due to the fact that he is a converted tight end. Reiff has good lateral agility and can prevent the bull rush. Reiff also has great reach and can reroute ends trying to speed rush inside. Reiff plays with a mean streak and has good footwork.

Cons: Reiff needs to work on his form as he sometimes overextends and needs to improve his posture. Sometimes can be pushed around by larger ends due and doesn't always have the best hand placement. he doesn't always get off the ball quickly, making up for this in college with his long reach. This will be an area that he will need to improve in, but it should come with coaching.

Reiff has the athletic ability to be a great tackle in the NFL. Reiff would be an immediate upgrade at right tackle over Clary and has all the tools to eventually switch over to left tackle.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Donald Butler: Proof of Good Scouting

In 2010, San Diego drafted linebacker Donald Butler 79th overall in the third round out of the University of Washington. Butler was injured early in his rookie year, not even dressing for a preseason game. Yet what a difference a year makes. Butler finished the season with 102 tackles, second on the team. He was also the only defensive player to record a sack, an interception, a fumble recovery, forced fumble, and defensive touchdown. Butler has shown that he can produce at a high level.  i expect Butler to get a nod to the Pro-Bowl sometime soon. He should continue to improve. While he was the second pick for the Chargers that year, it should be noted that the 2010 class produced at a high level as a whole. Cam Thomas recorded the most sacks by a defensive lineman this season, Ryan Matthews reached the Pro-Bowl (as an injury replacement), and Darrell Stuckey emerged as a star on special teams, performing well enough to earn a shot at starting at strong safety. I can't believe that I am saying this, but maybe some of the head scratching picks A.J. made last season may just pan out. Scouting is where it all starts. Without it, no team can succeed.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Randy Moss Wants to Make a Comeback

Randy Moss has recently announced that he would like to make a comeback. Moss, who did not play this season, ended his career on what can only be called an abysmal note. Moss started that year with the Patriots, was traded to the Vikings, and ended the season as a non-factor on the Titans. Moss, who is 35, was one of the most prolific receivers of the last decade. Despite his assertion that he can still play at a high level, I really wonder if he can. Moss has always been about being a deep threat, going up to get the ball and burning the competition. If Moss has lost a step, then I don't see a comeback happening. Secondly, with the amount of quality receivers that are free agents this year, Moss may have a hard time emerging from a full market. If Moss still has what it takes, and that is a big if, I expect him to end up with a team such as the St. Louis Rams or the Washington Redskins. Some have rumored that Chicago or even New England would be interested in him. The only way I see the Chargers going after Moss is if they are unable to resign Vincent Jackson. If Moss is unsigned at this point and willing to take a low contract, he may well fill an important void for the Chargers for a year or two.  Bottom line, Moss is only worth the headache for the right, and very low, price.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Balancing Needs and Desires

As free agents begin to negotiate with their respective teams and potential suitors, it is important to remember just how delicate these talks can be. One wrong statement or move by either party could doom talks. For example, San Diego says that it plans on doing everything that it can to make resigning Vincent Jackson a reality. What is important to note here is that in no way has the team actually said yes, we plan to resign him, regardless of issues. This cat and mouse game is what keeps this part of the season interesting. While many people see Jackson as a must keep player (and honestly, he is very talented), the sad truth is that the NFL is a business. In the end, it all comes down to putting the best product on the field. Would I like to see Jackson back in powder blue? You better believe it. But if it comes down to it, I would rather see a more complete team that, while it may not have as dynamic of a receiving corps, is much more balanced and has fewer holes. This is the dilema that A.J. Smith and owner Dean Spanos face. For now, every team will be walking on eggshells through these talks, and that is what makes this time so interesting. The fact that there is a salary cap in the NFL (although it is suspended this year), is what keeps teams so even. Records may not indicate that, but every  team operates under the same rules. The next few months is where the front office guys will really earn their pay.  So for the time being, sit back and enjoy the show.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How Will San Diego Approach the Draft?

San Diego holds the 18th pick in the draft. With the roster moves that GM Smith and coach Turner, expect this off-season to be chaotic. Free-agency may leave some serious holes for the team to fill. At the moment, San Diego has needs on both the offensive and defensive lines as well as in the secondary. The pass rush needs to be upgraded as well. We really won't know for sure what will happen until we get a clearer picture of the re-signings and departures from the team in the coming months. San Diego is in a prime position to either move up or down in this draft. If someone is looking to get a quarterback early, San Diego may be able to trade down. More picks would certainly help build the back half of the roster and provide critical depth at several positions. For now, we just have to wait and see what unfolds.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

San Diego Already Active in Reshaping the Roster

The San Diego Chargers are already making changes to the roster for next year, and in a big way. The team appears to be cleaning house. This is evident especially by the moves to not resign Vincent Jackson and the talks of several veteran players being asked to restructure contracts to free up salary cap space. It seems that the Chargers are going all in for next season with some risky roster moves. It seems that the team is willing to take a high risk high reward approach to next season. It should make for an interesting off-season. To give you an idea as to just a few of the changes.....

1) San Diego appears prepared to cut tackle Marcus McNeill. Mcneill also held out in 2010 for a better contract. He has twice been selected to the Pro Bowl, but missed time this year due to a neck injury. He has only played in 20 of the 32 games over the last two years. Expect San Diego to move quickly to sign Jared Gaither to be the starting left tackle (a job he excelled at last season).

2) Vincent Jackson, who has been asking for big money for the last two years, is once again a free agent. The Chargers were not interested in giving him that long-term contract for the last two years and it seems the team doesn't want to at this point either. Too many teams are in need of a high caliber receiver, and the list of free agents makes Jackson much easier to replace. In the end, this seems to be a decision that works out well for both parties. Jackson gets his money, and San Diego keeps valuable cap space as they rebuild the roster. There is certainly still a chance that the Chargers resign him, but I think this marriage is done.

3) Turner officially announced that Darrell Stuckey is expected to start at strong safety next year. Goodbye Steve Gregory. Stuckey stood out on special teams and has earned a shot to start. I am excited to see how this kid performs.

4) Several veterans may be asked to restructure their contracts to free up cap space. This list is rumored to include DE Luis Castillo and ILB Takeo Spikes. If either of these two refuse, and San Diego cuts either of them, the Chargers will have some serious holes to fill. Guard Kris Dielman may have the same situation presented to him. It does look like the team expects Dielman to play, but expect the team to look for some insurance either through the draft or free-agency.

Turner and Smith appear to be going all out to make this team a contender again. The only thing that is for certain is that it will be a busy off-season for the Chargers.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Vincent Jackson Rumored out of San Diego

Sources report that the San Diego Chargers are not interested in bringing receiver Vincent Jackson back and are ok with letting him enter the free agent market. San Diego has had issues with Jackson over the last few years, most notably his refusal to report two seasons ago. The departure of Jackson, if this is indeed true, leaves San Diego with a big hole to fill in the offense. Expect Malcom Floyd to be resigned very soon in order to preserve some depth in the receiving corps. Some are still saying that he will be signed to a long-term deal, but only time will tell. For now, we play the waiting game. If Jackson is cut, there are three teams that truly stand out to me as a destination for Jackson. St. Louis has a great young quarterback in Sam Bradford, and Jackson would give him a reliable target down the field. Jacksonville also has a young signal caller in Gabbert and the same applies here. To round out the trio, Minnesota finds itself in the same situation. ponder is the future of that team, and with the injury sustained by Adrian Peterson, this team may have to throw the ball more. The intriguing thing about the Vikings is that they do have Percy Harvin on the roster, so they have some flexibility and options to take some pressure off of Jackson, or the other way around. This issue isn't going away any time soon, so stay tuned for further updates.

San Diego and the Strong Safety

The Chargers are in the same position they were in last season in regards to the strong safety position. Bob Sanders was brought in to bring his physical style of play, but only lasted 2 games before succumbing to injuries yet again. This left Steve Gregory once again as the starter during the season. Gregory only had 13 starts this season and split time with Paul Oliver at the position this year. Both are free agents and I would be surprised to see Gregory resigned. His play has been inconsistent. I expect the Chargers to let him walk. Coach Norv Turner likes the progression of Darrell Stuckey, who played exceptionally well on special teams last season. Stuckey was injured his rookie season and was impacted heavily by the lockout in terms of development. Stuckey seems to have a great shot to earn playing time this season going into camp. There is also the possibility that the Chargers could move corner Quentin Jammer to safety, but I doubt that it will happen this year. If Stuckey doesn't pan out after this season, that move may take place, but for now, it seems like Stuckey has an inside track to start at strong safety next season barring a big draft move or free agent signing by the Chargers.

Check Us Out On Twitter!

As of today, Charger Madness is on twitter. Just search chargermadness to find and follow the site. There will be updates and links to new content, so make sure to give it a look.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ricky Williams to Retire

While not a Charger, one of the most intriguing players of the last decade or so is announcing his retirement. Ricky Williams has announced that he will not take the option for a second year in Baltimore and will retire from football. Williams is one of 26 players to rush for 10,000 career yards and broke that record in the Ravens final game of the season against the Bengals. Williams is often most remembered by two things, Mike Ditka trading the farm to get him in New Orleans (where he spent the first 3 years of his career) and for his multiple drug suspensions while with the Dolphins. Perhaps the most interesting thing about Williams was the fact that he accomplished what he did while dealing with social anxiety disorder, of which we only learned about late in his career. There is talk of Williams being a Hall of Fame player, but only time will tell. So here is to Ricky Williams, a great player and intriguing person, kick back and enjoy yourself.

New Linebackers Coach

Something that may have been lost during all of the Super Bowl hype would be the Chargers hiring a new linebackers coach. Joe Barry was hired February 4th to be the linebackers coach for the Chargers. Barry held the same position at USC from 2010-2011 and has 10 years of NFL coaching experience, with   two as a defensive coordinator (Detroit, 2007-2008). Barry served as the linebackers coach for the Buccaneers during their Super Bowl season and tutored under Monte Kiffen. It will be interesting to see what Barry brings to the table.

NFL Draft Order

Now that the Super Bowl is over, the next focal points are the draft and free agency. With that in mind, here is the official 2012 NFL first round draft order. As a refresher, picks 1 through 20 are ranked purely by overall season wins. There are several various tie breakers to break ties in record. Ties in wins that can't be broken this way are decided by a coin-flip. Picks 21 through 32 are decided by the playoffs and Super Bowl. In the event of a tie, an * will be used to indicate a tie.

1) Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
2) St. Louis Rams (2-14)
3) Minnesota Vikings (3-13)
4) Cleveland Browns (4-12)
5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
6) Washington Redskins (5-11)
7) Jacksonville Jaguars (5-11)
8*) Carolina Panthers (6-10)
8*) Miami Dolphins (6-10)
10) Buffalo Bills (6-10)
11*) Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
11*) Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
13) Arizona Cardinals (8-8)
14) Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
15)Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
16) New York Jets (8-8)
17) Cincinnati Bengals (From Oakland) (9-7)
18) San Diego Chargers (8-8)
19) Chicago Bears (8-8)
20) Tennessee Titans (8-8)
21) Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)
22) Cleveland Browns (From Atlanta) (4-12)
23) Detroit Lions (10-6)
24) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
25) Denver Broncos (8-8)
26) Houston Texans (10-6)
27) New England Patriots (From New Orleans) (13-3)
28) Green Bay Packers (15-1)
29) Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
30) San Francisco 49ers ( 13-3)
31) New England Patriots (13-3)
32) New York Giants (9-7)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Super Bowl Recap

New York and New England once again gave us a great Super Bowl. While not as good as the last meeting, this game provided plenty of excitement and thrill. Any time a game comes down to the last play, it is always a quality game. Once again, Eli Manning came through in the 4th quarter and earned MVP honors. There really are 3 moments that stand out as big plays in this game.

1) Manningham Makes A Grab
This play will go down as what really got the Giants moving down the field for the go-ahead score. Everything about this play looked good.

2) Wes Welker's Drop
Welker may be the most sure handed receiver in the game, but when crunch-time came, Welker did the unthinkable, he dropped a pass. While the pass wasn't the greatest for Brady, Welker should have made this catch. While not on the last drive, this could have entirely changed the outcome of the game.

3) Ballard Won't Go Down Without a Fight
While this didn't happen on the field, this is the embodiment of just how much this game means to the players. The effort just to get back in the game is commendable. Here is to wishing Ballard a swift recovery.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Halftime Review

With the first half of the Super Bowl in the books, all I can say is that I am impressed. Yes, there have been some mistakes by each team, but all in all it has been a great half. Both teams are playing their game well and minimizing their weaknesses. With that in mind, here are 4 factors that will decide this game in the second half.

1) Giants Pass Rush
The Giants have done an exceptional job getting after Brady and getting hands up in his passing lanes. Brady did drive down the field to end the half, this unit has been all over Tom Brady. If the Giants can keep the pressure up, expect a close game.

2) Patriots Secondary
This much abused unit has made some great plays today, but will the second half be its undoing? They must contain the Giants receivers on the outside. If not, expect Eli to carve up this group.

3) Steve Weatherford
He has done a great job pinning the Patriots back on each punt. The field position game may be the deciding factor in this game. Every little bit will help, and Weatherford is more than doing his share.

4) Bill Belichick
What will the master do to make adjustments. Perhaps nobody in the leauge is better at maximizing his players ability than Belichick. The changes that Belichick makes could determine the outcome of this game.

Stay tuned for a great second half.

NFL Awards Recap

The NFL just wrapped up its annual awards, and this years recipients were exceptional.

As expected, Aaron Rodgers walked away with the MVP award. Rodgers looked amazing during the season and will only continue to improve. I look for his name to be called for this award at least a few more times in his career. For the year, Rodgers finished with 45 passing touchdowns and threw for over 4600 yards.

Drew Brees won offensive player of the year, and rightfully so. Brees accomplished what so many have tried to do and failed. Brees broke Dan Marino's single-season passing mark of 5,084 yards by throwing for an astounding 5,476 yards.

On the defensive side, Terrell Suggs was named defensive player of the year. Suggs recorded 70 tackles (50 solo), 7 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, and 14 sacks.  Suggs turned in an amazing season. Ray Lewis may be the face of the Ravens, but without Suggs, this defense is nowhere near as good.

As expected, Cam Newton won the offensive rookie of the year, breaking Peyton Manning's rookie passing yards record, and Von Miller won defensive rookie of the year. Both turned in impressive performances and will be essential building blocks for their franchises for years to come.

Rounding out the awards, Matthew Stafford won comeback player of the year after returning from yet another shoulder injury to lead the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.  49'ers head coach Jim Harbaugh won the AP Coach of the Year Award by leading the 49'ers to an impressive 13-3 record and a botched punt away from the Super Bowl. Harbaugh inherited a 6-10 team and immediately turned the culture around. Expect the 49'ers to be a force for years to come.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Final Thoughts on the Super Bowl

With the Super Bowl just a day away, it is time to make a final prediction. Just like the last meeting between these two in the Super Bowl, this game should be a thriller. 7 Patriots and 15 Giants on these teams participated in the last Super Bowl. Even if they won't admit it, this is about revenge for the Patriots and cementing a legacy for the Giants. Manning has a much more talented team around him this year, but Brady has produced just as he has throughout his career. In the end, I still have to give the edge to the Giants. Look for a great 4th quarter, with a final score of New York 27, New England 24.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Draft Proflie: Janoris Jenkins

Next up is North Alabama corner Janoris Jenkins.

Position: CB
Height: 5' 10''
Weight: 182 Lbs.

Pros: Jenkins is a player with exceptional skill and severe character issues. Many look at Jenkins and see his school listed as North Alabama and question his ability. Jenkins was actually a three year player for the University of Florida, playing in the shadow of Joe Hayden (1st round pick of the Cleveland Browns) before stepping up to fill Hayden's place. Jenkins has exceptional reaction and anticipatory skills and while a bit on the undersized side, plays physically at the line. Jenkins can use his exceptional speed to turn and burn with a receiver down the field. Jenkins has exceptional closing ability and is a gambler always willing to go for the interception. Jenkins possesses great man skills and good zone skills. His speed allows him to jump routes and make big plays with ease. Jenkins also takes great angles in pursuit and is a good run support corner.

Cons: How did Jenkins, a player who started 37 of 40 games for the Gators, end up at North Alabama? Jenkins was sent packing by new coach Will Muschamp for two arrests within a four month span for marijuana possession. Ouch. Jenkins is a prospect who would be much higher had his character lapses not happened, but as it is he is still a very talented player. With his desire for interceptions, Jenkins sometimes goes for broke and misses, leaving his man wide open and going downfield. Jenkins also tends to lead with the shoulder trying to deliver the big hit and that causes missed tackles. Jenkins is a player who will make big plays for a team, but the team should also be prepared to have a few touchdowns or big plays given up due to that nature. Jenkins is a double-edged sword, plain and simple.

Jenkins erased any doubts about his ability by playing extremely well at the Senior Bowl. Jenkins may slip into the second round due to character issues, but expect him to be a serious option for a number of teams.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Moving Forward or Moving On?

A few seasons ago, the San Diego Chargers were sitting on a 14-2 regular season record. Fast forward to today, and we have a franchise that has posted a 9-7 and an 8-8 season the last two years. More telling though is the fact that they have failed to win the division or make the playoffs over that two year span. The team has failed to get off to a good start until this season, and even then they found a way to falter down the stretch. San Diego sits at a crossroad of making a decision to pursue a championship with the current roster or to call an end to this team and start building for the future. 

Perhaps no person can be given as much credit for this downturn as GM A.J. Smith. Smith, who has been in charge of the drafts for the Chargers have had over the last several seasons and has been part of the reason that several talented players have been cut or have left the Chargers as free agents. As much as people want to blame just Norv Turner, it is important to realize that Smith has not always put Turner in the best position to succeed. While I am not a huge supporter of Turner (I still dislike Smith for firing Marty), it is important to note that Turner isn't the only one at fault. Smith must bring in quality talent throughout the draft and give this team more depth if they are to succeed.  If the team struggles once agin this season, expect at least one if not both of them to be packing up their offices and looking for employment elsewhere.