Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles: The End of an Era

Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid gets handed a gameball in his last press conference as a head coach

It’s officially the end of an era for former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid with a devastating record of 4-12 for the 2012 regular season.   Eagles owner Jeff Lurie stood by his word as he bid Andy Reid farewell after an 8-8 record for the 2011 season.  For those fans clamoring that we should not have let Andy Reid go since he was the Eagles franchise most successful coach to date, the Eagles organization is still a business.  And if Jeff Lurie kept Andy Reid for another season as a coach or otherwise, Lurie would be made to be nothing more than a paper tiger at best and a pushover at worst.  In as much as some of us criticize Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for being a pushover, Jeff Lurie would made to look much worse.

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens and quarterback Donovan McNabb

Andy Reid became head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles on January 11, 1999.  It was not without criticism upon arrival in Philadelphia after he was lured from the Green Bay Packers. In 2000, the Philadelphia Eagles reached the playoffs with a 11-5 regular season record.  In 2001, the chain of playoff wins came.  With quarterback Donovan McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and safety Brian Dawkins coming to maturity, the Philadelphia Eagles was the team to beat in the NFC East with conference championships in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.  In 2004, with the acquisition of wide receiver Terrell Owens, the Eagles were at this time the cream of the crop of the NFC East and decisively the NFL.  The Eagles made it to Super Bowl XXXIX but was ultimately defeated by Tom Brady and his New England Patriots 24-21.  Donovan McNabb simply cracked under pressure in this Super Bowl, and with the Eagles essentially without a functioning quarterback, the New England Patriots won.

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia on the Sports Illustrated cover

After the stream of successes prior to 2004, the wheels of the truck began to fall off in 2005 as the disputes between Terrell Owens, Donovan McNabb and David Akers tore apart the team in the locker room. In 2005, the Eagles ended with a regular season record of 6-10.  In 2006, with the season-ending injury to Donovan McNabb in October, backup quarterback Jeff Garcia took over the reigns and nearly led the Eagles to another Super Bowl after defeating the Carolina Panthers, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. However, as Jeff Garcia led them closer and closer to the Super Bowl, Donovan McNabb came out of the woodwork and became disruptive from the sidelines in a sense.  This antagonism ultimately led to Jeff Garcia being released — and Donovan McNabb as well.

In 2008, the Eagles made their way to the NFC Championship game whereupon they lost to the Cardinals 32-25. The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins in 2009, and after McNabb’s departure, then backup quarterback Michael Vick was named starting quarterback in 2010.  Vick’s most notable game as a Philadelphia Eagle was the decimation of Donovan McNabb and his  Washington Redskins on the night of November 15, 2010. On that night, Michael Vick was unleashed as he had four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns with a passer rating of 150.7.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick after another loss

After Michael Vick’s spectacular run in 2010, the wheels began falling off the truck again.  Most teamis had developed a gameplan for Vick’s weaknesses and tendencies as the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys both built sufficient defense gameplan templates the season before.  The other teams in the NFL basically followed suit, adjusting their templates as needed.  And with Michael Vick not holding much better himself in the 2011 and 2012 regular seasons, the Philadelphia Eagles demise was gradual and climaxed in this regular season with compounding losses with ridiculous amount of turnovers.

Juan Castillo as Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator

With the loss of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson on July 28, 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles defense never was the same.  Sean McDermott took over, but he could never build the Eagles defense as Jim Johnson could.  Soon, even he was released to the Carolina Panthers on January 5, 2011.  And with the acquisition of Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie in the 2011 season, it seemed like a recipe for success.  Perhaps under the traditional defense of Jim Johnson.  With Juan Castillo and his implementation of the Wide-Nine defense, the defense collapsed unto itself as there were no leaders, only highly-paid players.

Andy Reid should be remembered for the successes he bought to the Philadelphia Eagles organization.  With few notable candidates currently to fill the void, 2012 Maxwell Coach of the Year Penn State’s Bill O’Brien seems to be the leading candidate.  Quite possibly, in my opinion, the former Chicago Bears Lovie Smith would be a potential option as well.  In either case, the options are not particularly tempting.  Reid went over his head with the promotion of Juan Castillo as a defensive coordinator, the firing of Sean McDermott and the wholesale acquisition of free agents. These are perhaps what did him in as a head coach.  Most likely, he will be acquired by the Arizona Cardinals as Ken Whisenhunt was recently fired.  A change of scenery will do him good.  Will it bring him as much success with the Philadelphia Eagles?  Perhaps, but I remain skeptical.

Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton: 2011 Year in Review and 2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

2011 Year in Review

2011 was one heck of a season for this rookie quarterback Andy Dalton for the Cincinnati Bengals.  With former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer gone, the Bengals got more than an adequate replacement, and Dalton provided the necessary intelligence and composure in his rookie season.  Although he faltered during the 31-10 AFC Wildcard playoff loss to the Houston Texans, he has given the once soft Cincinnati Bengals team hope for the future.

In his 2011 regular season as a rookie, Dalton had 3,398 passing yards, 2o touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 3 fumbles and a solid 80.4 quarterback rating.  He started off fairly strong in his first full start against the Denver Broncos with a quarterback rating of 107.0 with 332 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.  Against the tough defense of the San Francisco 49ers in the following game, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had his worst game of the regular season.  He had 157 yards passing, 2 interceptions and a dismal 40.8 quarterback rating. He got steadily better until week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts.  Facing the porous defense of the Colts, he performed well with a 111.5 quarterback rating on 264 yards passing and a touchdown.  Again, with the tougher defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in week 10 and 11, he didn’t perform quite as well with a 61.8 and 60.7 quarterback rating in those respective regular season games. In week 12 against the Cleveland Browns, he performed above-average with a quarterback rating of 105.6 on 270 passing yards and a touchdown. After that game, he faced tough defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Houston Texans, and the Baltimore Ravens.  With these defenses, his quarterback rating declined gradually, culminating in a 65.7 quarterback rating on 232 yards passing and no touchdowns. In the AFC Wildcard playoff against the Houston Texans, Dalton fell to a dismal 51.4 quarterback rating on 257 passing yards and 3 interceptions.

2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

Given this is his rookie season, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton still has a lot of growing pains ahead.  Given his statistics during the regular season, he has performed QB3 to low-end QB2 numbers.  With the Bengals getting into the playoffs, the schedule should be about the same next year with Andy Dalton facing some difficult defenses ahead.  Although he has 12th-ranked running back Cedric Benson, he can’t continuously lean on him as Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy learned with their running back Peyton Hillis.  Dalton should be able to produce low to mid-QB2 numbers next season and worth a seat on your bench.  He’s worth a gamble as he does have an upside.  However, he needs a couple of seasons more to mature, and in the 2012 regular season, he should be only played with favorable matchups or a bye-week replacement.

Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford: 2011 Year in Review and 2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

2011 Year in Review

The Detroit Lions had a great run this 2011 regular season, but the Lions could not contend with the dominating weapons of the New Orleans Saints offense and the great vision of their quarterback Drew Brees.  However, we are not here to talk about Drew Brees but to talk about the Lions veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford broke several records this season.  With his 5,000+ passing yards this season, he joined the company of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and New England Patriots quarterback  Tom Brady.  This is impressive, given some of the tougher games he had in the 2011 regular season.  And with his 41 touchdowns this regular season, he’s in the company of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.  Lastly, he was ranked fifth overall during the regular season in terms of quarterback rating with a 97.2.  He has matured and progressed since joining the Detroit Lions in 2009.

Matthew Stafford started out strong during the regular season with his first game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  In this game, he had a 118.9 quarterback rating on a whopping 305 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception.  He kept a 110+ quarterback through his next two games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings, but he slowly declined until his game with the Denver Broncos in week 8.  With the Lions defense harassing the Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow,  it was up to Matthew Stafford to ignite the offense, and he did such.  He passed for 267 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 130.8 quarterback rating. The next game was his worst game as he faced Chicago Bears Brian Urlacher and the tough defense.  Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had 329 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 4 interceptions and a dismal 46.3 quarterback rating.  In Stafford’s following game against the Carolina Panthers, it was an offensive shootout as the Lions won 49-35.  Stafford’s statistics benefited from this shootout as he had 335 passing yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 121.9 quarterback rating.  He had great last four games with ratings of 103+ against the Minnesota Vikings, the Oakland Raiders, the San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers.  Stafford had his best games the regular season against the San Diego Chargers.  In that game, with a dominating win of 38-10, he had 373 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and a stellar 137.6 quarterback rating.  All in all, Stafford had a fantastic season with ten games with at least 100+ quarterback rating.

2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has matured this season, and with Lions wideout Calvin Johnson at his side, he should be able to produce near those numbers this upcoming season.  However, he has demonstrated that he has difficulties with tougher defenses.  With the Lions entering the playoffs, one can expect the upcoming schedule to be tougher than this upcoming season.  He should still be capable of producing QB1 numbers, but I expect that he should become a low-end QB1 much of the 2012 regular season.  Stafford should be easily picked up within the first two rounds of the upcoming fantasy football draft, and I would heavily recommend picking him up if you can’t pick up New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees or Green Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs: Top 10 Things We Learned

The NFC Wild Card weekend was a grandiose display of offenses.  Quarterback Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints thumped the Detroit Lions 45-28.  The Lions could not handle the unadulterated offensive firepower of the Saints.  On the other side, the New York Giants Eli Manning played exceptionally well against the stifled Atlanta Falcons.  The Giants won handsomely 24-2 over the Falcons with the Atlanta Falcons unable to generate any significant offense.

Here are the top 10 things we learned about the NFC Wild Card playoffs:

  1. Atlanta Falcons Coach Mike Smith and the Playoffs Don’t Mix. Three playoff losses from his 2008 season is beginning to sound like a trend.  On the bright side (or not), the Atlanta Falcons has become the Philadelphia Eagles of the South.
  2. New Orleans Saints Drew Brees is the Man. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was spectacular as he had 466 passing yards, touchdowns and a 134.4 quarterback rating in his game against the Detroit Lions.  Currently, he’s the top quarterback in both rating and passing yards in the playoffs, and he’s the man to beat.
  3. Atlanta Falcons Need to Work on Their Fourth-and-Inches.  It does not bode well when a team can’t get inches to a first down.  Seriously.
  4. Who Needs Peyton Manning When We Have Eli?  Giants quarterback Eli Manning performed admirably against the hapless Atlanta Falcons.  He had 277 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and a 129.3 quarterback rating, second only to Drew Brees in the playoffs.
  5. The Running Back Tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are Dangerous. Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are ranked third and fifth respectively in the playoffs in terms of rushing yardage.
  6. Detroit Lions Wideout Calvin Johnson is Megatron.  With 211 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in his game against the New Orleans Saints, Calvin Johnson still remains the beast.  Now he’s just a beast without the playoffs…
  7. Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford Performed Well Despite the Loss.  Despite his two interceptions, Matthew Stafford performed well with a 97.0 quarterback rating in his game against the New Orleans Saints.
  8. The New York Giants Receiving Corps Are a Threat. Giants wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are passing threats, and just in time…
  9. The New Orleans Saints Receiving Corps Are a Threat. The New Orleans Saints receiving corps of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem should make the San Francisco 49ers defense shake in their boots.
  10. The Running Back Tandem of Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas Are Dangerous. Not only do the Saints have weapons in the air, they have weapons on the ground in Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.  Both are capable of breaking tackles, and both assist this high-powered offense.

The New Orleans Saints top-ranked offense will come head-to-head with San Francisco 49ers fourth-ranked defense. It will be harder for Drew Brees and company to overcome, but nothing a little Orleans magic won’t cure. Meanwhile, the New York Giants have a tougher hill to climb as they are facing Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers. With the top-ranked Aaron Rodgers in terms of quarterback rating of 122.5, his 45 passing touchdowns and his third-ranked offense during the regular season, can the New York Giants beat this Goliath?  It’s going to be bare-knuckle fight, that’s for certain.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs: Top 10 Things We Learned

What an exciting AFC Wild Card weekend! Quarterback T.J. Yates and running back Arian Foster of the Houston Texans thumped the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10.  And the thriller with the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers…Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could have never predicted the Denver Broncos would have posed a problem as Tim Tebow was almost considered bench material.  Tebow struck, when it counted, in overtime with the 80-yard bomb to his wideout Dimaryius Thomas and won the game 29-23.

And to sum it up, the 10 things we learned from the AFC Wild Card playoffs:

  1. Don’t Underestimate Denver Broncos coach John Fox. He spotted the weakness of the Steelers, their thinned secondary, and exploited it.  He let Tim Tebow go after rushing wasn’t successful with either Tim Tebow or their running back Willis McGahee.
  2. Don’t Underestimate Tim Tebow’s Magic. Tim Tebow’s magic came back when it counted — in the playoffs.  Dimaryius Thomas helped him greatly. (The New England Patriots won’t make it that easy even with their porous defense.)
  3. Houston Texans Running Back Arian Foster is Still The Man. No doubt Arian Foster helped the Texans win as he had 153 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in the game.  His presence was felt, and he will be in their next game against the Baltimore Ravens.  A tale of two running backs in this divisional game, you bet.
  4. A Hobbled Ben Roethlisberger Didn’t Help the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not just his mobility was off, but his accuracy was off as he had throw over the linebackers of the Denver Broncos even without the help of Brian Dawkins.
  5. Steelers Running Back Isaac Redman May Be in Line for the Starting Job.  Although not quite as strong as Rashard Mendenhall, he has the agility to break tackles.  Mendenhall may be looking in the mirror pretty soon.
  6. Broncos Wideout Dimaryius Thomas is Dangerous.  He was the savior for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.  Tebow would have benched for Brady Quinn if it wasn’t for Thomas’ awesome performance of 204 yards and a touchdown in his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers Number One Defense Counted for Nothing. Having the best defense in the league counts for little if they can get burned for long yardage.
  8. Texans Quarterback T.J. Yates Did Satisfactory in the Playoff Environment. He’s no Matt Schaub, but he has a future with the Houston Texans as their future quarterback.  If not there, then definitely somewhere else.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton Has Some Growing Pains. Dalton still needs some more experience in the NFL.  He has the talent and composure to succeed in the league, but he needs time.  He needs to learn that frustration does not breed success.  Ask Peyton Manning in his difficult games.
  10. Charles Barkley Shouldn’t Do NFL Halftime Shows. Ever. Seriously.  He shouldn’t.

Now Tom Brady and his New England Patriots will face the revived Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos.  Can Tebow bring the magic or will he fall to the tactics of Bill Belichick?  Two potent running backs, Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice and Houston Texans Arian Foster, will face each other to decide who is the better running back.  Don’t underestimate the underdog in this match; as it won’t be the size of the dog in this fight as much as the sheer will.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos: AFC Wild Card Playoff Post-Game Analysis

With the first-ranked Pittsburgh Steelers facing the declining cult Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, this game doesn’t look pretty for the Broncos. Eighth-ranked Denver Broncos Willis McGahee might be able to change the face of the game, but he shouldn’t be a significant factor against a dominating defense. However, a hurt Ben Roethlisberger could be a factor for the Pittsburgh Steelers offense and for that matter, the Denver Broncos defense.

Now the post-game analysis:

  • With the Pittsburgh Steelers first drive, they stalled, and kicker Shaun Suisham made the field-goal from 45-yards out at 11:19 in the first quarter to give them the 3-0 lead.
  • With the Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger leaning on his running back Isaac Redman in this series, Shaun Suisham kicked another field goal from 38-yards out at with 27 seconds left in the first quarter to bring the Steelers to a 6-0 lead.
  • Denver Broncos Tim Tebow threw two successive bombs to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and Eddie Royal.  With a 30-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal, the Denver Broncos take the lead 7-6 at 13:31 in the second quarter.
  • After a 58-yard bomb to Broncos wideout Demaryius Thomas, the Broncos score again with a 8-yard rushing touchdown by Tim Tebow at 10:41 in the second quarter.  The Broncos upped their score 14-6.
  • At 9:54 in the second quarter, Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers sacked Ben Roethlisberger and aggravated the quarterback’s ankle.  After that incident, Roethlisberger threw an interception to Broncos safety Quinton Carter at the Steelers 27-yard line.
  • After the interception, the Broncos drive stalled at the Pittsburgh 2-yard line.  Broncos kicker Matt Prater kicked an easy 20-yard field to bring the score 17-6.
  • After a 40-yard strike to his tight end Daniel Fells,the drive stalled again at the Pittsburgh’s 10-yard line.  Matt Prater kicked another field goal to bring the score 20-6 at 1:08 until halftime.
  • With a 32-yard pass to Steelers running back Isaac Redman, wideout Mike Wallace rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown at 4:33 in the third quarter.  The Steelers closed the score 20-13.
  • Continuing their drive from the third quarter, Broncos kicker Matt Prater kicked another field goal to bring the score to 23-13 at 13:14 in the fourth quarter.
  • After running back Isaac Redman’s 28-yard rush, Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham kicked for a field goal to bring the score to 23-16 at 10:03 left in the last quarter.
  • At 7:43 in the fourth quarter, Broncos running back Willis McGahee fumbled the ball on Pittsburgh’s 45-yard line. Capitalizing on McGahee’s turnover, Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Jerricho Cotchery 31-yard touchdown reception tied the score 23-23 with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter.

The first half was the battle of defenses as Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers brought pressure relatively easily on Ben Roethlisberger and Tim Tebow in the first few series in the first quarter.  However, Tim Tebow relaxed the Steelers defense by throwing bombs to his wideout Demaryius Thomas and other receivers.  Simply put, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow shredded the thin secondary of the Steelers in the first half.  With the aggravated ankle injury to Steelers Ben Roethlisberger, the Denver Broncos defense sensed it and feasted on the damaged quarterback.  The Steelers burned secondary, the driven Broncos defense and Roethlisberger’s ankle injury culminated in 20-6 Broncos lead into the half.

The second half began with the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers surging at times. The Pittsburgh Steelers  defense performed well at stopping Tim Tebow’s drives in the redzone, and through sheer will and accurate passing, Ben Roethlisberger willed his Steelers to tie the game with the Denver Broncos.  Steelers running back Isaac Redman did his fair share in this game with 121 rushing yards during regulation.

This playoff game was the first playoff game with non-sudden death regulations established during the tumultuous off-season.  However, in an instant, Denver Broncos scored a 80-yard touchdown from Dimaryius Thomas to win the game 29-23.

Overall, Broncos Tim Tebow performed better than injured Steelers Ben Roethlisberger with his 125.6 quarterback rating on 356 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Broncos wide receiver Dimaryius Thomas was exceptional as he had 204 receiving yards and a touchdown in this game.

With some Tim Tebow magic in overtime, the Denver Broncos win the Wild Card playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now Tebow will face New England Patriots Tom Brady with his third-ranked quarterback rating at 105.6 and second-ranked quarterback in terms of passing yards with 5,235. At Brady’s side is his wideout Wes Welker who had 1,569 receiving yards during the regular season and ranked second in terms of receiving yardage.  However, Wes Welker is recovering from an injury, and that may hinder Tom Brady slightly in their game against their game against the Denver Broncos.  Tim Tebow better bring some of his magic in the next game as he will face the New England offensive juggernaut.  On the bright side, both the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos defenses are average at best.

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Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants: NFC Wild Card Playoff Post-Game Analysis

This should be an interesting matchup as the New York Giants have gelled together late in the season.  Their defense has finally woke up from their slumber, but they awake to face the third-ranked Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner and eighth-ranked quarterback Matt Ryan with his 92.2 quarterback rating.  This could be a game of magic for the New York Giants — or not.  Giants quarterback Eli Manning has the magic to do it with his seventh-ranked quarterback rating at 92.9.  Lastly, this game should be a conservative one as both teams should rely on the run to establish the pace of the game.  Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith and New York Giants Tom Coughlin won’t take any unnecessary risks.

Now to the post-game analysis:

  • Atlanta Falcons get the first sack of the game against the New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Veteran Falcons defensive end John Abraham sacked Eli Manning for 7 yards at 10:57 in the first quarter.
  • After a drive fueled by Atlanta Falcons rookie wideout Julio Jones and running back Jason Snelling, the New York Giants defense ultimately stepped up and stifled a quarterback sneak on 4th and inches on the Giants 24-yard line at the beginning of the second quarter.  Falcons head coach Mike Smith took a gamble and lost.
  • With the intentional grounding by Giants quarterback Eli Manning, the Atlanta Falcons score a safety to take the lead 2-0 at 13:50 in the second quarter.
  • After some undue pressure from the Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham, Giants quarterback Eli Manning scrambled for 14 yards at 9:04 in the second quarter.  It’s nice and rare to see Eli Manning as a rushing quarterback since it’s not his usual element.
  • After the 34-yard run by Giants power running back Brandon Jacobs and some solid rushing by his teammate Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants score and take the lead 7-2 with 4-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks with 2:55 until halftime.
  • Giants cornerback Aaron Ross was sidelined at 12:38 in the third quarter with a concussion.  The Giants secondary are thinned even more.
  • After a 22-yard pass to Giants wideout Victor Cruz and a 30-yard rush by  running back Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants drive stalled at the Atlanta 4-yard line, and kicker Lawrence Tynes boots a field goal to extend the Giants lead 10-2 with 7:55 in the third quarter.
  • The Giants defense again stuffed the Falcons 4th and 1 quarterback sneak by Matt Ryan on the Giants 21-yard line at 4:21 in the third quarter.
  • With a big 72-yard strike to wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, the Giants up their lead to 17-2.
  • With 10:04 in the fourth quarter, Giants Eli Manning threw a 27-yard strike to his wideout Mario Manningham to extend the lead 24-2.
  • With 3:02 left until the end of the game, Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes misses the field goal.

The first half was the battle of defenses as both the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons stuffed the rushing of their respective running backs, pressured their respective quarterbacks and forced their quarterbacks to pass.  Through the use of their power running back Brandon Jacobs, the Giants finally broke through the Falcons defense and scored the first touchdown of the game. This first touchdown late in the second quarter sparked the Giants defense, and the momentum shifted to the New York Giants by the close of the second quarter. Like the New Orleans Saints-Detroit Lions Wildcard playoff game, the referees have posed problems with their marking of the football.

Beginning the second half, the New York Giants momentum carried over.  The Giants defense stepped up, and the offense continued its pressure with running back Ahmad Bradshaw, running back Brandon Jacobs, wideout Victor Cruz and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. The athletic Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner could never establish  the run, and quarterback Matt Ryan was under continuous pressure.  Compounding with their inability to gain short yardage, the Atlanta Falcons were beaten.

The Giants magic returned as their quarterback Eli Manning had a 129.3 quarterback rating on 277 passing yards and 3 touchdowns.  These numbers would make his brother Peyton Manning proud.  Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks was the homerun hitter as he had 112 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.  The tandem of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs had a combined rushing yardage total of 155.  Their presence was obviously felt by the Atlanta Falcons.

The New York Giants will face the prominent offense of the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Lambeau Field.  With first-ranked quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a 122.5 quarterback rating and ninth-ranked wideout Jordy Nelson with 1,263 receiving yards, this is an offense to be contested with, especially with their first-round bye to rest and prepare.  The Giants have third-ranked wide receiver Victor Cruz, but is that enough to overcome the potent Packers offense?  The Wildcard game with the Detroit Lions and their elite Calvin Johnson would say no, but anything can happen this season.

Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints: NFC Wild Card Playoff Post-Game Analysis

This is a game of dominating quarterbacks with second-ranked New Orleans Drew Brees against fifth-ranked Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions. While Stafford has the awesome Calvin Johnson as his wide receiver, Drew Brees has pocket presence and the pair of Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston. Both are potent wide receivers in their own right.  With record-breaking Saints quarterback Drew Brees playing at home in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, this is going to be a tough game for Matt Stafford and his Detroit Lions.

Now to the post-game analysis:

  • With 12:26 in the first quarter, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford drove down the field easily and throws a1 10-yard touchdown pass to his tight end Will Heller.
  • New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees answers back. Unfortunately, his wide receiver Marques Colston fumbles on the Detroit’s 18 yard-line and linebacker Justin Durant recovers with 8:24 in the first quarter.
  • The running game begins to pick up for the New Orleans Saints as running backs Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles both break for significant yardage near the end of the first quarter.
  • Saints running back New Orleans Saints Darren Sproles runs for a 2-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 14:06 in the second quarter.
  • Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford moves down the field again and with a 13-yard touchdown pass to his elite wideout Calvin Johnson to gain the lead 14-7 with 9:18 left in the second quarter.
  • Saints quarterback Drew Brees had the football knocked out by defensive end William Young and recovered by him on Detroit’s 38 yard line at 5:39 in the second quarter.  With the whistle by a referee on the field, Young was unable to gain any yardage (although through analysis of the real-time events on that entire play, Saints should have gotten the ball back.)  Luckily, the Saints put a stop to the Lions offense, and the Lions failed to capitalize on the turnover.
  • Saints wide receiver Marques Colston almost ties the game with a touchdown from his quarterback Drew Brees, but he did not maintain possession of the football with 21 seconds left until halftime.  With time as Brees’ enemy and failed touchdown passes, Saints had to rely on a field goal by kicker John Kasay to bring the score 14-10 Lions.
  • Saints Drew Brees strikes down the field with a 41-yard touchdown pass to wideout Devery Henderson to lead 17-14 with 13:17 left in the third quarter.
  • Saints Marques Colston gets a first down at 9:27  in the third quarter after receiving a 11-yard pass from Drew Brees although he received the ball quite short of the first-down marker.
  • After marching down the field with relative ease, Saints quarterback Drew Brees tosses a short 3-yard touchdown to Jimmy Graham to extend the lead 24-14 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.
  • Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford answers with an astonishing 42-yard pass to Calvin Johnson to the Saints 2-yard line.  Stafford himself rushes for a touchdown to bring the score to 24-21 Saints with 1:16 left in the third.
  • Saints running back Darren Sproles gets a rushing touchdown from 17-yards out at 9:58 left in the fourth quarter.  The hole was huge and an easy scamper for Sproles as he extends the score 31-21 Saints.
  • Saints wideout Robert Meachem scores on a 56-yard touchdown pass from Drew Brees to bring the score to 38-21 with 7:39 in the last quarter.
  • Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson answers with a 12-yard touchdown from Matt Stafford to close the score 38-28 Saints with 4:45 left on the clock.
  • The Saints recover the onside kick at 4:39, and almost instantly, quarterback Drew Brees throws a 41-yard bomb to Robert Meacham to bring them to the Detroit’s 1-yard line.  Saints running back Pierre Thomas finishes with a 1-yard touchdown and elevate the score to 45-28.
  • Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford’s pass to Nate Burleson was intercepted by cornerback Jabari Greer with 3:13 left in the game. The game was pretty much sealed at that point, if it wasn’t earlier.

The first half was a Thrilla in the Superdome as both offenses moved up and down with ease, exchanging blows.  Whereas the Detroit Lions moved quickly down the field passing, like the agility of Muhammad Ali, the New Orleans Saints relied on the run, pounding and grounding (even through receptions from their running backs and fullback)  like the late, great Joe Frazier.  The New Orleans quickness cost them two fumbles however as the second quarter drew to a close. Not helping either team through the first half, the referees were giving contradictory flags and signals.

After baiting the Detroit Lions with the run in the first half, the New Orleans Saints combined the run with the pass.  Saints wideout Marques Colston became marquee as the field opened up.  Like the first half, the referees weren’t doing any favors as they were giving contradictory flags and signals.  At one point, there was a beneficial first down given to the Marques Colston of the Saints despite him tackled at least a yard short of it.

This NFC Wildcard playoff game was indeed a battle of the quarterbacks in this game, and both teams relied on their powerful offensive weapons. Saints Drew Brees had a phenomenal night with 466 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and a 134.4 quarterback rating.  The Lions Matthew Stafford didn’t too bad either with his 380 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and a 97.0 quarterback rating. His wideout Calvin Johnson was as advertised tonight with 211 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, but Megatron could not overcome the Optimus Prime of Drew Brees. His fellow Autobots Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston and Robert Meachem was too much for the Lions to handle.  The New Orleans won the game assuredly with a score of 45-28.

The New Orleans Saints will face the dominant fourth-ranked defense of the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Divisional playoff game at Candlestick Park.  However, the Saints have not faced tough defenses through much of the regular season with the exception of the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars early on.  In both of those games, however, the New Orleans won handsomely by at least 10 points.  San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith will have to rely on his wits and weapons as he will have to overcome the overwhelming offensive weapons of the New Orleans Saints.  In the meantime, Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson will be doing his pumping on his bench at home.  Matthew Stafford had a great run, but the vision of Drew Brees and the potency of his available weapons was just too much.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans: AFC Wild Card Playoff Post-Game Analysis

This should be an interesting matchup as two potent running backs go at each other with fifth-ranked running back the Houston Texans Arian Foster against twelfth-ranked running back Cincinnati Bengals Cedric Benson. To top things off, veteran quarterback Houston Texans Matt Schaub has been sidelined and recovering from surgery.  The rookie Texans quarterback T.J. Yates will go against brilliant rookie Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in perhaps the most significant game of his career to date. This wildcard playoff game was played at the Texans’ Reliant Stadium.

Now the post-game analysis:

  • With a penalty from the Texans’ safety Glover Quin at 9:16 in the first quarter, it led to an easy touchdown by the Bengals’ Cederic Benson.
  • But the Houston’s return with theirs on the next drive with Arian Foster from 8-yards out after a penalty from Bengals’ safety Reggie Nelson. These offenses are already going at each other by the end of first quarter after they settle down.
  • The Houston Texans defense steps up and forces Bengals kicker Matt Nugent to miss a 50-yard field goal at 12:52 in the second quarter.
  • Bengals tight end Donald Lee has a 36-yard reception at 9:20 in the second quarter after breaking tackles.  Ultimately, the Bengals stall, and Mike Nugent kicks a shotput 37-yard field goal with 7:14 left.
  • Texans kicker Neil Rackers answers with 39-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 with 1:48 left until halfime.
  • A 29-yard interception by Texans defensive end J.J. Watt gives the Texans a 17-10 lead with 1:26 in the second quarter. He punctuated the second half by a sack on Andy Dalton with eight seconds left.
  • After miscues by Andy Dalton forcing time to call timeout early in the third quarter, the Cincinnati Bengals could not get into rhythm.  Meanwhile, the Houston Texans begin to roll.  Defensive end Antonio Smith gets a sack on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton with 6:25 left in the third quarter.
  • The Houston Texans score with a 40-yard reception from Andre Johnson to gain a 24-10 lead with 1:18 left in the third quarter.  The pass was phenomenal as the Bengals safeties lost containment of the Texans talented wideout.
  • Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell gets another sack on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton at the start of the fourth quarter. The Texans defense is still feeling the momentum, and Andy Dalton is feeling the pressure. To make matters worse, Dalton throws an interception to Texans cornerback Jonathan Joseph on a fourth down at 12:46 in the fourth quarter.  Clearly, the pressure has gotten to Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, and he has been shaken.
  • A tackle by Texans fullback James Casey on the punt at 7:38 in the fourht quarter sets Andy Dalton and his Bengals on the Cincinnati Bengals 9-yard line.  Yet another interception on Andy Dalton as the pass for A.J. Green is intercepted by safety Danieal Manning with 7:09 left.
  • Houston Texans running back Arian Foster scores a 42-yard touchdown after missed tackles by the Bengals.  The score is 31-10 Texans with 5:26 left in the game.
  • The Bengals were dazed and confused as Andy Dalton is forced to call their last timeout at 2:28 left, but it is to no avail as Johnathan Joseph breaks up the fourth down pass.

Cincinnati Bengals brilliant quarterback Andy Dalton had a rookie presence with 3 interceptions and a dismal 51.4 quarterback rating in this AFC Wildcard playoff game. T.J. Yates performed better with a 97.7 quarterback rating surprisingly despite it was only his third NFL start after injuries to starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart.  The first half became a battle after the teams settled down.  Whereas quarterback Andy Dalton was the factor in the first half for the Cincinnati Bengals, running back Arian Foster was the factor for the Houston Texans.

With the halftime show in tow, Charles Barkley was seriously out of place with his inane football discussion.  He should stick to basketball analysis instead. At least, with basketball, he’s conversant on the topic but not much better.

With the assistance of receptions and rushing by Arian Foster, Houston Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates found breathing room and rhythm he gained from the second quarter.  Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson finally broke through in the third quarter with a touchdown, and Arian Foster gained a touchdown in the last quarter.  Throughout the second half, the Houston Texans defense clinched down on Bengals Andy Dalton and with the 31-10 Texans lead, the defense played containment and held in the redzone.

Now the Houston Texans will face the Baltimore Ravens at M & T Bank Stadium in the AFC Divisional playoff game.  That should be an interesting matchup as one of the league’s fifth-ranked running back Arian Foster will go against second-ranked run defense in the league.  It’s going to be tougher sledding for this elite running back.

Philadelphia Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie: A View on His Pressing Conference

The Philadelphia Eagles fans have been calling for head coach Andy Reid‘s head over this past season like the past seasons, but this time, it was justified as the Eagles ended at .500 with an 8-8 record.  They demolished the hapless Washington Redskins in their last regular season game with a 34-10 win, but it was all for nought.  The New York Giants defeated the New York Jets the previous week with a score of 29-14 and sealed the NFC East title with their 31-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys.  The Jets win saved Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s job and winning the NFC East title gave them an opportunity to enter the Super Bowl.

On the topic of head coaches, Andy Reid was on the hot seat this season as his team could not gel together until midway through the regular season.  The “Dream Team” could not power offensively through teams like in past seasons, and it hurt them.  Quarterback Michael Vick’s above-average performance this season with 18 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and an above-average quarterback rating of 84.9.  It was only slightly better than his 2004 season with the Atlanta Falcons.  Vince Young did only worse with 4 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a depressing 60.8 quarterback rating.  Neither of them were salvaging Andy Reid’s head nor their offense.  Andy Reid is the NFL’s winningest head coach earning 136 total career victories through the 2011 season.  Reid may be a bit overdrawn at his coaches in important personnel positions — like Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator.  However, he does find gems in the rough on the field.  Running back LeSean McCoy is one of his hidden gems that came to fruition this season.

Concerning wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Lurie commented that he is a “terrific player,” and that he is.  But Jackson has also been toxic in the locker room.  Vince Young could relate as his problem with the Tennessee Titans former head coach Jeff Fisher.  There is no doubt the Eagles will attempt to keep DeSean Jackson.  How much money the front office is willing to separate to keep him is the question here.

One last note is that the front office will not be changed in any way.  At least, the   Philadelphia Eagles aren’t quite as desperate as the Jacksonville Jaguars nor as brain-dead as the Oakland Raiders.

Jeff Lurie didn’t say anything that wasn’t expected, given the failure of the Eagles this season.  He knows there is another season, but if Andy Reid ends up at .500 or less, Reid better prepare to pack up.  Lurie won’t have the patience, the money or the blindfold of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.