Football, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, NFL, NFL Lockout, NFLPA, Sports, Sports Commentary, Stephen Ross, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Uncategorized

Running On Empty …………..


Running On Empty

I’m finally beginning to calm down given the situation concerning the NFL lockout as it pans out and the fact that over a prolonged period we have the team owners now saying that they are closer to a compromise. The season starts on the 3rd September and I fully believe that it will not start as the NFL believes as planned . The situation now stands where the players are having to plan their own workouts as there have been no preseason OTA’s and the new draftees aren’t able to be meet with the coaches and their respective trainers . To further emphasize the situation those very same draftees have yet to sign their contracts with their respective teams .

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Slideshow for your perusal .

With the owners , NFL hierarchy now meeting with their union counterparts led by NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith , union President Kevin Mawae the grandstanding by both sides continues unabated and at the same time this only further exacerbates the whole situation . Now as many of you are aware I reside in the central Florida area where the three NFL teams within the state are the Jacksonville Jaguars , Miami Dolphins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers . This past season all three teams in their own determinable way had what one might deem a modicum amount of success . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers missed the postseason having missed the playoffs having fell by the wayside in posting a 10-6 record within the NFC South and failing to dislodge the New Orleans Saints who finished ahead of them within the division. For coach Raheem Morris this was a splendid sophomore season as he and GM Mark Dominik were able to make great strides as this team made the type of improvements one wouldn’t associate with such a young team.

The foundations were laid in Buccaneers’ bright season because of the exhilirating play of quarterback Josh Freeman who simply showed that he’s now becoming one of the more dependable and young reliable players at the position within the league. And one only has to look at the strides made by Sam Bradford , Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan . Morris and his assistant coaches have simply gotten the players to buy into a simple system and that’s to play hard , enjoy the game but above all be held accountable for executing the play. Freeman for his part is seen as the leader on this team where he’s also ably abetted by a veterans such as Kellen Winslow Jr and Ronde Barber . On offense the play of running back LeGarrette Blount and wide receiver Mike Williams have made this Buccaneers so much more of a talented team to watch for their fans. If nothing else this upcoming season for the Tampa Bay Buccaners should be something special . And it bodes well for the organization as a whole as they look to become a contender within the conference and for the Superbowl . From a defensive standpoint the traits instilled into the Buccaneers still remain but simply with more aggression and finesse not seen before . Granted , there have been those inconsistent displays but the players have learned from that and it bodes well for their immediate future.

If anything I was somewhat surprised that Jaguars’ coach Jack del Rio simply was allowed to keep his job ! Given the mediocre season had by the team and the mere fact the coach and his staff simply did a lousy job . And simply put , I not so sure that the upcoming season we’re liable to see any type of improvement the team compared to last season .

In the AFC South where the Jacksonville Jaguars reside they have to contend with the Indianapolis Colts as well as the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans . I now firmly believe that if Del Rio cannot leaf this team into the playoffs this season then team owner Wayne Weaver in conjunction GM Gene Smith will have no other course but relieve the coach of his duties . Some may well feel that it is all too little , too late , and they would obviously be right but because of the NFL hierarchy enforced lockout I believe that a number of teams around the league seeking to make a managerial change sought not to because of the financial ramifications involved . Having to pay a coach that you have just fired when he still has a year or more left on his existing contract and then having hire and formulate a new multi year deal for a new coach can end up costing an organization countless millions. Simply ask the front office of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about that ? They are still paying former coach Jon Gruden two years after his abrupt firing and Gruden is now being handsomely paid by ABC/ESPN to provide both networks with on air college , NFL analysis and commentary . Not bad eh ?

If there’s one thing I learned from last season within the NFL it is that there’s a tremendous falloff from the top tier of quarterbacks and those at bottom tier of the ladder ! And anyone who witnessed the play of the quarterbacks on the Dolphins’ roster will know exactly what I am talking about . Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen at best are moderate backups within this league but somehow coach Tony Sparano believed that one if not both were reliable enough to lead this beleaguered team .Given the frailties of this team on both sides of the ball the Miami Dolphins simply did their utmost to disappoint their fans as well as their celebrity investors who are led by principal owner managing partner Stephen M. Ross . The owner in conjunction with GM Jeff Ireland have seen the promise first shown when Bill Parcells was brought in as a consultant , simply disappear as the team has struggled to find an identity . Parcells is no longer involved with the organization at all , having chosen to retire to a much calmer environment, where the rigors of the NFL would be the last thing on his mind. Now it is left to Sparano and his assistants to guide this team back into some semblance of competitiveness .

With the ongoing lockout showing no signs of dissipating a shortened season now may well become a reality . And in many respects it may well benefit a number of teams around the league . For the Miami Dolphins this may well prove to be fruitful but on the other hand given the fact that players aren’t allowed on team facilities for any sort of organized training activities because of the work stoppage , there’s no doubt in my mind that all of the NFL teams will be impeded and we may well have to endure some really bad football during what might be league induced shortened season. And for the Miami Dolphins their opening schedule for the 2011-12 season starts off with an divisional rival game against their AFC opponent the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium in Miami , Florida , on the 12th September 2011 .

Tony Sparano may well be in for a season where he and the coaching staff will come under a great deal of scrutiny. The Dolphins have essentially become a “one trick pony” with little to show other than their ” shot gun offense” . And even then, once they were found out by the opposing teams they were found wanting in showing any form of creativity on either side of the ball . That if anything out to be enough of an indicator as what one might expect from this team over the course of the season. There’s a great deal of expected of the team throughout this season and their task won’t be made any easier given the fact that within the division apart of from New England Patriots you also have a hungry New York Jets’ organization wanting to prove that they ought to viewed as perennial contenders within the NFL . The Buffalo Bills will simply want to hang tough while Chan Gailey and his staff will assess the strengths and weaknesses on the roster as he looks to make them a resurgent force within the division and league as a whole .

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Picture gallery for your perusal . By clicking on an individual frame you view that picture in its original formatted size .

Though the reverberations of this lockout has yet to be felt but we already know that a number of teams around the league are having some form of hardship though it hasn’t been well publicized . In a number of cases it has been noted that a number of teams have taken to actually cutting the salaries of their coaching staffs which has led to throng of opposition by the NFL Coaches Association as the coaches as such are caught in the midst of this saga. The idiocy of this lockout hasn’t been lost on the fans and the vast majority feel that that both owners , league hierarchy and the players are equally to blame . And now while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and his opposite number DeMaurice Smith seek some common ground and accord you simply get the feeling that this pissing contest is actually far from over . Both sides are actually out of gas , running on empty and simply looking for the other as such to cave in first .

What thoughts if any do you have on the points raised within this piece ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .

Alan aka tophatal ……………………………

http://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .

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(1) New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, right, throws a football as teammates watch during an unofficial workout at Bergen Catholic High School, Friday, June 10, 2011 in Oradell, N.J. The workout gives the players an opportunity to practice together during the NFL labor lockout. AP Photo/Julio Cortez ……

(2) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) greets Adrian Clayborn, 20 th overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …..

(3) Buccaneers’ number one draft pick Adam Clayborn (center) is seen here alongside Bucs’ team coach Raheem Morris (left) and GM Mark Dominik (right) at the team’s headquarters at One Buc Place. Dominik and the coach have made sure to fill the Bucs’ roster with players they deem that will be able to add quality and productivity to the team . Courtesy of St Petersburg Times .

(4) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Blaine Gabbert ,, 11th overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars, holds up a jersey during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images ….

(5) Head coach Jack Del Rio of the Jacksonville Jaguars watches his team play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a preseason game at Raymond James Stadium on August 28, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. J Meric / Getty Images North America …

(6) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses for a photo with Mike Pouncey, 15th overall pick by the Miami Dolphins, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …….

(7) Miami Dolphins’ coach Tony Sparano (left) is seen here with the team’s owner billionaire real estate mogul Stephen M Ross at the team’s headquarters at Sun Life Stadium , Miami , Florida. Sparano will have a great deal to prove this season if he’s to retain his position with the Miami Dolphins . Miami Herald / Walter Michot ….

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AFC South, AFC West, Darren Sproles, Indianapolis Colts, LaDainian Tomlinson, NFL, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers, Sports, Tennessee Titans

A Simple Twist Of Fate ………………


The game  last night between the San Diego Chargers  and Indianapolis Colts  was a game was played with such abandonment and passion . That it was hard to view and not wonder why there had to be a winner and a loser. In defeating the Colts  the Chargers’ season just  got unfashionably intriguing to say the very least.   

 

Darren Sproles  scores the winning touchdown against the Colts with  a 22yd run in the wildcard round of the playoffs ...............
Darren Sproles of the Chargers scores the winning touchdown against the Colts after a 22yd td run depriving the Colts of a playoff berth in the divisional rounds...........

Chargers’ running back Darren Sproles scores  the  winning touchdown after a 22yd run into the endzone depriving the Colts of  a berth in the divisional round of the playoffs. picture  appears courtesy of  getty images/ Harry How  ……………….. 

 

 

The unlikely hero in all  of  this  wasn’t  their Pro Bowl running  back LaDainian Tomlinson but  the soon to be unrestricted free agent Darren Sproles.  The player more than held  his own against the  Colts  and if anything  created  a reason why  he  may well be  one  of  the  most sought after  free agents  once the postseason reaches  its climax. Sproles would go on to garner over 328 all purpose yards  in the  game  against  Indianapolis. 

 

 

Sproles  gains some yardage  against  the  Colts.  The player would end up with some 328 all purpose yards in the  game  at  Qaulcomm Stadium , San Diego, Ca
Sproles gains some yardage in the game against the Colts. The player would gain in excess of 328 all purpose yards........................

Sproles gains some yardage against  the Colts . The  player would gain in excess  of some 328 all purpose yards during  the  game played at Qualcomm  Stadium in San Diego, Ca,. picture appears  courtesy of getty images/ Harry  How  ………………………..

 

 

 

 

Three time league MVP Peyton Manning  was his  usual  customary  efficient self  but  it was all to  no  avail against a  Chargers’  team  that  played  with such  voracity  and  passion. The  fans in Indianapolis had to be disheartened  seeing their team succumb to their  AFC rivals.  Phillip Rivers  for his part was  his counterpart’s  equal and led  his team with  resolve.

 

 

Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning gives his postgame interview after the team's loss 23-17 to the San Diego Chargers ...................
Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning gives his postgame interview to the convened press waiting in attendance ...................

Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning gives his postgame interview  to the convened press after his teama’s loss 23-17 loss  in overtime to the  San Diego Chargers . picture appears  courtesy of getty images/ Stephen  Dunn …………………..

 

 

For coach Norv Turner  this  was a game  that may well  add some legitimacy to his  resume’  as  a coach.  Being in the shadows of more recognized  stalwarts  such as  Jimmy Johnson ,  Dave  Wannstedt and  others who  were  a part of  the  Dallas Cowboys’ success in the  nineties. That was  when the boys in  Big  D were  running rampant  across the  league  on their way  to two successive  Superbowls  under Johnson’s  guidance.  Wherein the  likes  of  Aikman, Irvin and Smith were  laying the  foundations  to their  Hall of Fame  careers. 

 

 

Phillip Rivers  of the Chargers  signals  a play  prior to the  snap against the  Colts ................
Phillip Rivers of the Chargers signals a call prior to the snap ............

Phillip Rivers of the Chargers signals a play call prior to the  snap against  the  Indianapolis Colts . picture appears  courtesy of  ap/getty images / Stephen Dunn …………

 

 

 

While one can’t  understate the  success  that  the  Chargers  saw this  season as  winners  of  a rather mediocre AFC  West division.   Having  waylaid the ambitions of  a Denver  Broncos’ team that was totally  outplayed in their  final regular season  game. The  San Diego Chargers  found their  way into the playoffs as  wildcard entrant.  The fact  that their  renewed rivalry would culminate  in  a heart pounding  defeat of the  Colts .  If there  was a team  viewed as  a dark horse within the  conference  it had to be  the  Indianapolis Colts.  Their nine game regular season ending win  streak  bore  this  out.  Having  ended  with  a record of 12-4 and  runners  up in the  AFC South to the Tennessee Titans.  The team were  playing  perhaps the best  of any of  the  AFC  teams with postseason aspirations.

 

 

 

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