A season to behold or not ………… make a case ?
Well not much to report as week two of the NFL preseason will come to a close of tonight with the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field in Washington , DC. For the Redskins , the talk has been whether or not the team`s sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III and his head coach Mike Shanahan are on the same page in terms of the player`s recovery from knee surgery and is now back to full health . Shanahan does have cause for concern, because the loss of Griffin before the regular season has started , would be a devastating loss for a franchise that rebounded to have a very successful season , having won their division (NFC East) and making a playoff appearance . Undoubtedly, the fans will be expecting a great deal more in 2013 as the franchise looks to improve and prove that last year was no mere aberration.
Griffin and his backup Kirk Cousins were able provide the Redskins with the type of offense offense that was lacking for so a ref= many years with the franchise. And with an effective running game provided by running back Alfred Morris . It does give credence to the fact that this team should be considered as one of the more credible franchises good enough within the NFC to be thought of as a serious contender for the Superbowl . Coming off a narrow 22-21 victory over the Tennessee Titans during which Washington exhibited no more than an adequate number of plays , giving Mike Shanahan and his staff a chance to assess a number of his starters as well as the young rookies acquired in the NFL Draft and a number of free agent acquisitions . By my own estimation, I believe that the Redskins will most certainly have to show a great deal of improvement in the team`s defense . It was a problem all season long for the franchise, giving up on average 377 yards per game ranking the team twenty eighth overall of the league`s thirty-two teams in 2012 . If that issue can be rectified, then we could very well see the very best of the Washington Redskins in 2013 .
For those young Redskins` rookies now seeking to make in impact , the preseason will be the chance for them show their worth to the organization as a whole . Aaron David , Jordan Reed , Phillip Thomas , Chris Thompson , Brandon Jenkins , Baccari Rambo and Jawan Jamison are seen as the players seeking to make that a reality. With games against the Buffalo Bills at home on the 24th August , before closing out their preseason exhibition against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa , Florida . The reigning NFC East champions would like nothing better than to close out their preseason on a winning note .
Mike Shanahan and his Washington Redskins will begin their regular season with a divisional clash against the Philadelphia Eagles , in a match-up that will be of vital meaning for both teams . In a televised Monday night game , it will be interesting to see who the starting quarterback will be for the Eagles , after what appears to be something of a season of mixed fortunes Chip Kelly`s contestants for the position for the opening day starter. There is seasoned veteran Michael Vick looking to answer the question , as to whether not he is still capable of leading a team, or second year player Nick Foles , who when called upon, has proven himself to be comfortable in the role as an NFL quarterback of note .
Chip Kelly can ill afford to start off this season with any type of indecision concerning his roster , after the upheavals that took place in 2012, leading to the departure of former head coach Andy Reid . Also , with Vick`s indecision , lack of leadership, but most of all, Reid`s insistence that his veteran quarterback was the best option in leading the team, was a clear indication as to how dire the situation was said to be. A 4-12 season with a fourth place finish in the NFC East pretty much summed up a disastrous 2012 for the Philadelphia Eagles . As to what the fans can expect of the team this season, will very much be predicated upon what the head coach can get out of his players by way of an all-out effort .
There is a continuing enigma surrounding the Chicago Bears` quarterback Jay Cutler . Often called a franchise caliber quarterback , this Pro Bowl player to my mind, has fallen far short of expectations . And in no way can Cutler be viewed as a leader , much less a player thought to be in the prime of his career or as one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL , since his entry into the league in 2006 , when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos as the eleventh overall pick in the first round that year . Though the Bears narrowly missed qualifying for the postseason in 2012, the continued knock against Jay Cutler has been the fact that his talents, belies his will to win. Excuses continue to be made for a player that remains amongst the highest paid players at his position in the NFL .
Sooner or later , it will be time for Cutler to either put up or simply shut up . This is a contract year, for the quarterback, who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2014 and . It will certainly be interesting to see how Jay Cutler acquits himself this season for the Chicago Bears as the team seeks divisional supremacy over their rivals.
The Bears` 33-28 defeat of the San Diego Chargers for rookie head coach Marc Trestman was the baptism of fire for the well-respected former coordinator . Trestman replaces fired former head coach Lovie Smith . As to the reasons for the dismissal of Smith by Bear` GM Phil Emery , the explanations seem vague and somewhat ambiguous, to say the very least. Now while I believe the Chicago Bears to be a very good team , mainly because of a defense that has always been tenacious , and known for getting at an opposing quarterback and for their takeaways . It remains Cutler`s inconsistency to perform at a high level , and anemic passing offense that remains a blight for the team.
Marc Trestman and his coaching staff will have a great deal assess during this preseason , before the Bears embark upon their regular season schedule . Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte remain the main emphasis of an offense which I have already described as anemic after last season`s efforts. With the Bears being the guests of the Oakland Raiders in a game to be played at the O Coliseum in Oakland , California, as part the week three preseason schedule . A number of the Bears` starters and several players on the team`s depth chart are expected to see some playing time against Dennis Allen`s Raiders team . In what should prove to be a test of two teams looking to make some real inroads , as each seeks to raise the level of their play, in the build up to their regular season openers .
Chicago’s regular season opener will be against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field , in Chicago , Illinois,. For the Bengals and Marvin Lewis , this may well be the year in which this team can make even further strides, after making the postseason for the last two consecutive seasons . Andy Dalton remains one of the unheralded young quarterbacks to have been drafted in the NFL over the past four seasons . It has been his play that has spawned the resurrection of this franchise during the time-span in question. Dalton`s performances in conjunction with the play of A J Green and Jermaine Gresham , that have been one of the more pleasant surprises in watching the Bengals , and the trio could very well prove to be a mainstay of the franchise for years to come .
It would be fair to suggest that for the better part of his career Brian Urlacher was a mainstay of the Bears` defense . A future Hall of Fame inductee, the player was not re-signed to a contract extension this off-season . Rather than seeking to play elsewhere in spite of is anger at being discarded by the only organization he has ever played for. Urlacher formally announced his retirement and is likely to be hired by one of the major broadcast or cable networks to provide his analysis and insight on the game .
It is not inexplicable to understand how a team such as the Detroit Lions can go from being a franchise on the rise in 2011 to a club that simply regressed in 2012 ending that season with 4-12 record within the NFC North . One could say that the abrasiveness of head coach Jim Schwartz and the lack of leadership from Matt Stafford played a part in the elements of a dismal season last year . Granted, a prolific offense remained on show last season, with the Lions averaging over 400 yards of offense per game , third only to the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints . Yet, what those three teams had in common was a porous defense that simply could not stop any type of offense challenge thrown against them under any circumstance.
Matt Stafford for is part, in 2012, simply put up gaudy numbers in terms of total yardage in a season , throwing for over 4900 yards , failing to break the 5,000 yard threshold by a mere thirty-three yards. The tandem of Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson would however, go on to break the single season receiving yardage mark , once held by Jerry Rice , a record (1,848yds) that withstood assaults for seventeen years , until it was surpassed in 2012 , with Johnson`s mark of 1,964 yards. While I am not against the singular achievement of an individual in a team context, I do believe that you win and lose as a team ! Those feats, while exemplary, mean absolutely nothing if at the end of season , all that the team will be remembered for , is finishing with a sub 500 record and firmly rooted at the bottom of your division. I can categorically state that both Matt Stafford and Calvin Jonson would have traded their single season achievements, if it guaranteed the Detroit Lions a berth in the 2012 postseason !
Jim Schwartz and the Lions were lackadaisical in their 24-6 lopsided defeat to the Cleveland Browns , in a game that we know not to be meaningful . Yet, it gave cause for concern, as the Lions` defense seemed to overly complacent , missing several assignments during the contest . Once again, bringing into question, whether or not Nick Fairley and Ndamokung Suh can been seen as the lynch pins of this defense for the long-term sustainability of this franchise ? ? Certainly during the regular season both of these players should be capable of raising the level of their game, yet it remains somewhat doubtful, if Sunday`s game is anything to go by. Given the respective salaries of Fairley and Suh, I would hate to think that both contracts have been a complete waste !
The acquisition of Reggie Bush gives Matt Stafford another weapon out of the backfield, as well as a running back, who when capable, is usually productive . But I can`t help but wonder, if Bush at this stage of his career is still motivated enough to produce at the highest level possible !. In New Orleans and Miami , he simply failed to meet the expectations sought and it is quite possible , that he may well fail here with the Detroit Lions . Yet only time will tell, and the actual hunger of the seasoned running back to make a return to the postseason and show the world what he is actually capable of doing .
Detroit will begin its regular season schedule with a game against divisional rivals the Minnesota Vikings and reigning league MVP Adrian Peterson . Ford Field in Detroit ,Michigan, is likely to be packed to rafters for a divisional match-up that pits two of the NFC`s more robust teams. Leslie Frazier , head coach of the Vikings, will be hoping that starting quarterback Christian Ponder can lead this team with a great deal of authority and maturity over the course of the season. The NFC North is likely to be a division that sees the Green Bay Packers quite possibly making a successful defense of their title under head coach Mike McCarthy and his singular minded quarterback Aaron Rodgers . All roads to the division, may have to pass through Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin,.
Stanley Kroenke , in an article in the magazine Sports Illustrated , has been described as the one of the most powerful men in all of North American sports . Granted , unimaginable wealth , as a member of Forbes` 400 List of Richest Americans . does bring along its privileges and notoriety . Kroenke`s sports interests through his Kroenke Sports Enterprises owns the St Louis Rams , Colorado Avalanche , Colorado Rapids , Arsenal FC of the Premiership (EPL) as well as the majority stake owner of Dick`s Sporting Goods chain. Of late, there has been mounting criticism of Kroenke and his ownership of the English soccer team. However , it should be noted that his original overtures to buy an initial 15% of the team, was warmly welcomed by the board members . In gradually raising his stake in Arsenal over an eighteen month period to above 28%, Stanley Kroenke was legally obliged to inform the London Stock Exchange of the raising of his stake in the soccer club , as is required by UK law, when there is intent to mount a bid to purchase a publicly listed company. .
Yet , Kroenke`s wish to own a majority stake was not about to take a backseat , as he has seen fellow prominent North American sports` franchise owners enter into the English soccer market over the past several years snapping up teams , primarily to maximize their investment . Franchise values for North American sports` teams are on the rise and their values are far greater than that of their British and European counterparts. Yet those values, are not appreciating as fast as those across the Atlantic. Now while the NFL , MLB , NBA and NHL do have a global presence. By comparison, soccer simply dominates the global scene as the most popular sport on the planet . It has been this realization that has led to John Henry of the Boston Red Sox , Stanley Kroenke , Malcolm Glazer and Shahid Khan to now take aim in purchasing a number of the top teams in the Premiership .
The regular season opener in the Premiership, saw Arsenal entertain Aston Villla at their palatial home of Emirates Stadium , in North London. The game itself, would be a humiliating event for the hosts, as the team was simply outclassed 3-1 in what turned out to be a very lopsided affair . Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger was left at a loss for words , as to the reasons behind his side`s defeat . The fans responded, calling for the head of Stanley Kroenke and the very fact , that since his installation as the club`s owner , very little has been done to improve the team`s roster by way of acquiring any major players .
I am not about to suggest that Kroenke`s tenure of the soccer franchise will be short-lived , but I do believe that if as he states , it is his wish to bring some success to Arsenal . Then his first act, will be to open up is pocket , rather than creating the perception that he is simply another North American sports` franchise owner , simply being a predator, on the loose seeking to make a monetary profit from is investment , while not seeking to make that team a competitive entity. Lessons have obviously not been learned from the disastrous ownership of Liverpool FC , which was placed into receivership (UK bankruptcy proceedings) after then owners Tom Hicks and Ken Gillette simply laden that club with a mountain of debt . With the team, now debt-free, and under the ownership of John Henry and his Fenway Sports Management Group , the soccer club is now in a much better financial standing and considered to be contender for major domestic and European trophies over the course of the season .
The St Louis Rams are stuck in division , where two of the NFC`s best teams from last season now reside. It would pretty much safe to say that the NFC West will remain a two-horse this year between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks , with the Rams and Arizona Cardinals , likely to be left on the outside looking in . St Louis has started off its preseason schedule under a cloud, having gone win-less in their first two games . Starting quarterback , Sam Bradford now entering his fourth season as a passer in the league, is slowly acclimatizing himself to the rigors of the game. Unfortunately, for the player , coaching upheavals instigated by the front office , have not created a great working environment under which Bradford can operate in his role. Jeff Fisher , having succeeded Steve Spagnuolo , as the Rams` head coach, will now seek to reinvigorate the attitude of this team while also seeking the input of his young quarterback.
Rams` EVP & COO Kevin Demoff and GM Les Snead , working in conjunction with Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff have drafted the players they feel can best complement a roster that must now strive to make a great deal of improvement in 2013 . Closing out their preseason schedule with wins against the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens would be the best way place themselves in the right frame of mind, with the regular season a little over two weeks away. Sam Bradford has to now take command and prove himself a leader of this Rams team.
At its core, this is an extremely group of players that Jeff Fisher will lead into this season , with but a mere handful of players with more than five years of NFL experience . As to what that indicates by way of what Stanley Kroenke seeks to do in terms of the expenditure made by way of the team`s payroll, can be best summed up by the events now taking place across the Atlantic with his other sport`s interest there , Premiership soccer club , Arsenal . Kroenke may well have made is billions by making some very shrewd in investments and by way many of the outside interests of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, not concerned with the professional sports` teams. Yet no one can deem to think it possible that the Rams can seek any type of success when you have an owner , who would rather rest on his laurels, by way of the teams acquired and the ancillary services provided by is company, without there now being any type of tangible on-field success to show for it all .
St Louis will kick of its regular season schedule with a home game at the Edward Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri , against the Arizona Cardinals led by Carson Palmer and their highly respected wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald . Both teams will be looking at this match-up as a real test of their competitive acumen, as well seeking to obtain first blood in the first of their two divisional meetings in 2013.
Picture gallery .
This NFL season could very well have a great deal in store for the fans . In light of all of the adverse news that the league has been encompassed with as of late, as a fan of the game, I am hopeful that the teams are able to provide us with the best entertainment possible ! Your thoughts, on this all, simply offer up a comment as you see fit.
Picture and slideshow gallery details .
(1) Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (5) runs away from Washington Redskins linebacker Darryl Tapp (54) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game on Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Landover, Md. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …
(2) Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) listens to the play calls on a radio while on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Landover, Md. The Redskins defeated the Steelers 24-13 . AP Photo/Nick Wass ….
(3) Redskins` head coach Mike Shanahan speaks to his young quarterback Robert Griffin III . The player taken, was the team`s number one draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , and has proven to be an team immediate success with fans and the entire organization , with the rookie putting up exemplary numbers in his first full season in the NFL, in 2012 . AP Photo / Patrick Masters ……
(4) Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick, left, is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive end Wes Horton during the first half of a preseason NFL football game , Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. AP Photo/Matt Rourke ….
(5) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton , left, and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick meet after a preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 14-9 . AP Photo/Matt Rourke ….
(6) Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin (99) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the first half of the preseason NFL football game , Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Chicago. Rivers loses the ball which was recovered by Bears safety Major Wright on the play . AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast …..
(7) Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) gets sacked by San Diego Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget (94) during the first half of the preseason NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Chicago. AP Photo/Jim Prisching ….
(8) Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush (21) runs away from Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Desmond Bryant in the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. The Browns defeated the Lions n 24-6 . AP Photo/Tony Dejak ….
(9) Calvin Johnson (81) left is congratulated by teammate , Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions . The Lions` wide receiver would surpass Jerry Rice`s single season receiving yardage mark of 1,848 , set in 1995 , on his way to setting a new record mark of 1,964yards last season . Johnson believes that he is capable of surpassing the 2,000 receiving yards` mark. Yet, singular achievements while glorious, means absolutely nothing, when the team is not winning games . As evidenced with the Lions` menial record of 4-12 and a last place finish in the always competitive NFC North . AP Photo / Greg Goulding …..
(10) Stanley Kroenke , majority stakeholder in the famed North London Premiership soccer club , Arsenal FC , is now under siege after the team`s inauspicious start to the 2013-2014 season in the Barclays Premier League (EPL) . The team lost 3-1 to Aston Villa in rather humiliating fashion . Leading many to believe, that Kroenke is simply disinterested in the success of the team but more concerned over its value and the very fact that it is also one of most profitable soccer clubs and professional sports` franchises in the world . Arsenal fans are outraged with the entire board and its unwillingness to spend money to bring in new players . The soccer club has a number of lucrative deals that nets , in excess of $ 250 million annually . In is private life it should also be noted that Stanley Kroenke is married to Ann Walton-Kroenke , daughter and heiress of the late Sam Walton , founder of the Walmart chain of stores, the world`s largest retailer . The Guardian UK / Nigel Armstrong ….
(11) Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams watches from the sidelines alongside defensive tackle Kendall Langford (98) and quarterback Sam Bradford (8) during the game against the Washington Redskins at Edward Jones Dome on September 16, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri. Getty Images North America /Jamie Squire ……..
(12) Carl Jenkinson of Arsenal tackles Fabian Delph a of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League(EPL) match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2013 in London, England. Villa would go on to defeat Arsenal 3-1 in the Gunners` opening game of the 2013-14 Premiership season . Getty Images Europe / Clive Mason ….
(13) Theo Walcott (left) of Arsenal avoids Antonio Luna of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium on August 17, 2013 in London, England. Getty Images Europe /Clive Mason ….
(14) Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Manchester, England. Getty Images Europe/ Alex Livesey …….
Hot chic image of the day Katee Owen .