It could well be a contest for the ages , if everything goes to plan
The sporting weekend within the NFL brought us the divisional games within both conferences with the prize at stake being the four berths available in the AFC and NFC championship contests that will take place on Sunday the 19th January , 2014. For quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning their meeting in the AFC contest will be the fifteenth meeting regular season or otherwise , between these two highly regarded and future Hall of Fame players . On each occasion, where the two have met on the field of play, the margin of victory has been fewer than seven points. Which sets up this contest as being one of the more intriguing, with now a Superbowl berth . being at stake?
Manning will be seeking to his third Superbowl appearance, whereas his opposing number , Tom Brady will be seeking to make his sixth appearance , in the hope of winning a fourth Superbowl victory and ring. Other than Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw , as quarterbacks , have been the only two players to have led the same franchise to respective titles in the Superbowl era.
Throughout much of the 2013 regular season , both the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots have proven by far that they were the two best teams within the AFC . Granted, the Kansas City Chiefs could have laid claim to that very fact , had the latter part of their season not span out of control and then to fall by the wayside in their wildcard round loss to the Indianapolis Colts , whom the New England Patriots handily disposed of in their divisional round contest this past Sunday. . If there was said to be a hero in that game between Indianapolis and New England, then by rights, the Patriots’ running back LeGarrette Blount would have to be regarded in that light. A cast off, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers , Blount was acquired , primarily as a backup to Stevan Ridley and for short yardage use as and when determined by head coach Bill Belichick . However, in 2013, Blount has proven himself to be not only to be productive and worthy backup for Ridley. Yet, it has now created something of a dilemma for the Patriots’ head coach , as to whether not the running back should now supplant Ridley as the featured back on the team for the postseason . Personally, I believe that things should be left just as they are , with both players being utilized to their best of their abilities as the coach sees fit .
As an avid New England Patriots’ fan, my singular issue all season long has been the inconsistency of the team’s defense and the very fact that Bill Belichick and the coaching staff, have never truly felt comfortable with the makeup of the secondary as a whole . The postseason has done little to dissuade of me of that , even in spite of the ease of the victory over the Indianapolis Colts , as I know that team will be in for a much sterner test when they face the Denver Broncos led by Peyton Manning and that high-octane offense .
While, the most recent meeting between the two teams was an instantaneous classic , with Tom Brady and the Patriots getting the better (34-31) of Manning and his teammates . You somehow, get the feeling that this contest is unlikely to be like their previous meetings , especially with so much now being at stake with regard to this particular game. It would be fair to surmise, that both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have been by far the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL since 1998 , the year Manning was drafted , then to be followed by Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft as a sixth round pick by the New England Patriots . In terms of their longevity and the unprecedented success achieved by both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning , wherein , both are now viewed as the positive and preeminent faces of the NFL .
The NFC championship contest , between the San Francisco 49ers as the guests of the Seattle Seahawks at Q West Field in Seattle, Washington on Sunday afternoon, in what is likely to be a highly competitive game. For the respective teams’ young quarterbacks , Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson , this will be a chance to renew not just a divisional rivalry , but something of budding competition between of the league’s up and coming players in the league at the quarterback position, who entered the NFL less than a year apart .
Seattle’s head coach Pete Carroll and his opposite number Jim Harbaugh this opportunity affords both head coaches the change to gauge the progress of their respective teams over the past three seasons , since each assumed control in their positions. Harbaugh will seek to reverse this season’s regular season away loss to the Seattle Seahawks. . The two teams have evened their divisional meetings in 2013, with both sides coming away with rather convincing victories. .Both the Forty Niners and Seahawks are viewed as well-balanced teams, capable of play making on both sides of the ball . Opposing running backs Frank Gore of San Francisco and Marshawn Lynch of Seattle, are seasoned and wily veterans, who still remain productive at this stage of their respective careers. For Colin Kapernick and Russell Wilson , it will be interesting to see how both of these young quarterbacks acquit themselves in what is likely to be the most important game that either has played at this stage of their young careers. . This contest between these two divisional rivals, could prove to be something big, or simply a one-off , by way of the lack of a truly dominant team within the NFC over the past two seasons. I believe we shall see, as this encounter unfolds on Sunday afternoon whether or not my assumptions come to fruition !
Away from the postseason schedule , fans might not have been completely taken aback by the coaching dismissals that took place within the NFL . Greg Schiano’s firing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers along with GM Mark Dominik’s contract not being renewed was not that much of a surprise . Schiano, brought absolutely no discipline whatsoever to a team , that was lacking creativity and guile , in spite of idiotic analysis and claims being made by observers . A three-game win streak , was the best, that the Buccaneers achieved all season long . The team’s defense , was an abject failure and a sign what not to strive to achieve, if you happen to be a defensive coordinator in the NFL .
The Buccaneers have yet to find a successor, albeit, that the organization is rumored to be showing an interest in getting re-acquainted with former GM Rich McKay , who now happens to be the team President of the Atlanta Falcons and oversaw the successful attempt by that particular franchise in their obtaining the financing and soon to be finished billion dollar edifice that will house the NFC South based franchise. It may well take a great deal more than reminiscing about old times to lure McKay back to Tampa , after the way he was treated by the Glazer family during the Jon Gruden tenure , in which the former head coach and his sidekick Bruce Allen won a Superbowl , only to then hamstring the Buccaneers financially for the next several years, during which the team’s fortunes, fell with alarming speed . Yet, the moronic fans and the idiot on air personalities, simply lacking the intelligence to realize what the hell was going on or the very fact that during Gruden’s tenure, few players were developed that have become mainstays with the franchise. Idiocy begets idiocy and nowhere, is this more prevalent than with the fans within Central Florida and as it relates to all things concerning the Buccaneers , Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning .
Former Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith has been brought in to resurrect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ fortunes and make this franchise competitive enough within the NFC South , where the two dominant teams at present would appear to be the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers , who are likely to become considerably better next season , with the not so stunning maturation process shown by Cam Newton this past season , and where Ron Rivera has brought about a resilience to the franchise not seen in several years. I believe that Smith can be a success, but that will be predicated upon the latitude provided him by what remains a clueless ownership group . Anyone who believes that Joel and Avram Glazer have any idea how to run a professional sports’ franchise, need only to look at their handling of the family’s other sporting interest , the now declining …. fortunes of Manchester United and the fact that the board of directors and that team’s manager David Moyes are besieged by the fans and press alike for the club’s rapidly falling fortunes and the absolute inept hire of Moyes to succeed Alex Ferguson , soccer’s most successful club coach.
The NFL Draft is a little more than two months away and a number of decisions are likely to be made by Lovie Smith and the coaching staff that he will have assembled, as they seek to gauge makeup of the current roster and then judge which players they believe superfluous to the franchise.
For a team coming off a 4-12 season , there was little that anyone could feel pleased about concerning the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and yes , that includes the play of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon . Granted, he has to be considered a major upgrade over a failing Josh Freeman , a player with issues both on and off the field , and whose complete lack of maturity was continually on display along with the asinine behavior of his agent Erik Burkhardt , whose claims about his client’s medical condition were leaked to the press in order that the Buccaneers could jettison the player. Burkhardt has been known to make outlandish statements, simply to garner the press’ attention , but when finally pressed to answer who else had information concerning Freeman’s mental health issues , the agent could not give a succinct answer. Begs the question , was Erik Burkhardt seeking sympathy for a player who over the past three seasons has failed to live up to the hype . Freeman was not that great a player at the collegiate level and he certainly showed no real signs of progress once he made it into the NFL .
The future of the Buccaneers may well seem to be bright with Lovie Smith at the helm, as the franchise’s head coach , but as I alluded to earlier , unless the ownership group takes more of an interest in the franchise , and has an experienced front office executive working in conjunction with the head coach. Then, we are likely to see a repeat of the same missteps being made, as witnessed with Bruce Allen and Mark Dominik.
Mike Munchak’s dismissal as head coach of the Tennessee Titans was more out of a rush to judgment by a franchise, that has completely lost its way. The late CEO & owner , Bud Adams remained clueless, and he much like fellow NFL franchise owners , Jerry Jones , Dan Snyder , Mark Davis , Woody Johnson and Steven Ross are individuals who treat those franchise as mere baubles while wanting also display their ostentatious-ness and considerable wealth . I have become sick and tired of hearing idiots such as Chris Mortensen , Adam Schefter , Tm Hasselbeck , Stephen A Smith , Skip Bayless and John Clayton describe these owners as highly intelligent individuals , simply because they made their fortunes elsewhere, outside the realms of the NFL . With as great a business acumen as the individuals mentioned are said to possess , consider the fact that the Titans , Dallas Cowboys , Washington Redskins , Oakland Raiders , New York Jets and Miami Dolphins as franchises, have only three playoff appearances between them over the past six years . A meager return, when one considers the esteem in which a number of those franchises are said to be held.
Munchak’s firing , simply came by way of the lack of success of the team during this past season . Moreover, the loss of quarterback, Jake Locker to an injury , early into the Titans’ season after the player’s great start , simply sent the franchise spiraling downwards , unable to regain that early momentum. With that decline, came the mounting losses , the questionable decision-making during games and the lack of a real competitive fight from the Titans’ players. Yet, the responsibility for the franchise’s woes should not be placed solely on the shoulders of the dismissed head coach, because he was never given any real help by way of a general manager Ruston Webster , whose experience in the position since 2012 , was something of a clear indicator, as to what the fans and franchise should have expected. Fractured decision-making, by way of assessing and the drafting of personnel , never-mind some rather off-kilter acquisitions , simply summed up the franchise. Bud Adams’ relinquishing of his role as the Chief Executive, with his children, Suzie Adams Smith , Amy Adams Hunt and son-in-law Thomas Smith now assuming control , taking the franchise in a new direction. As to the course, now being traveled , that destination has yet to be determined
Ruston Webster hired former Arizona Cardinal’s head coach, Ken Whisenhunt to succeed Mike Munchak. It will be very interesting to see how the new coach proceeds, as he seeks some semblance of success with a team that lacks veteran presence and a real vocal leader on the field of play.
What happens in Vegas they say , usually “stays in Vegas “ . In terms of the Minnesota Vikings’ season. Well, , that is something, that reads like a badly written comedic piece. Suffice to say, with all of the assembled talent , in terms of the roster. The coaching mindset of Leslie Frazier was simply nowhere to be seen, along with this long considered belief that either Christian Ponder or Josh Freeman would be placed to lead this franchise to a divisional title , much less a postseason berth . To top it all, Zygi Wilf, the team’s owner, during the season was found guilty , in a civil suit of defrauding several former business partners of monies due from a commercial real estate deal. Somehow, these problems, are overlooked by the league hierarchy and in particular by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell , whose continued idiocy , simply knows no boundaries . Adding insult to injury , was the fact that the commissioner thought nothing of the actions of Cleveland Browns’ owner , Jimmy Haslam in seeking to settle out of court in a monetary payout of several millions, sought to avoid federal prosecution for grand larceny , fraud and theft , all resulting from his company , Pilot J Flying Inc’s business practices, in defrauding clients of monies rightfully due them. Ah , the joy of being a team owner in the NFL , where there is no damn leadership and where Roger Goodell, is more concerned with player misconduct , their sullying of the league’s image , rather than his being worried by the illegal and reckless activities of a number of team owners. Could I have put it any more succinctly than that?
Frazier was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings , having posted a record of 21-32 (.396) in four seasons with the franchise. The vacancy remains unfilled , with GM Rick Spielman , now seeking a suitable replacement for the deposed former head coach. From my own perspective, a team that has the league’s best running back , but fails to utilize him properly , has to pay the price for that type of stupidity . One which, we have seen repeatedly, with this Vikings’ franchise over the past three seasons, and are likely to see in the future, with their atypical approach and lack of what is needed in terms of success within the NFL. Adrian Peterson, may well be racking up the yards , on his way to a Hall of Fame career, but at the end of the day , his enshrinement may well mean a great deal to the player in terms of his accomplishments. In essence , the fans tend to only remember the players who have won a Superbowl , because it is the ultimate sign of team success , rather than just looking at the player’s singular achievements , as a way of assessing their greatness.
This off-season, will see a great many changes not just amongst the Minnesota Vikings and its staff, but there is likely to be a preponderance of changes around the entire NFL , as the coaching merry-go-round begins , as teams seek fill the voids within their coaching and playing staffs. What thoughts, if any, do you have with regard to this NFL postseason? Also, which of the four remaining participants, do you believe to be the favorite and victorious during this playoff season?
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) Tom Brady (left) and Peyton Manning (18), seen here , after the duo’s most recent meeting , during which the Patriots’ quarterback prevailed in the encounter , the pair’s fifteenth overall over the course of their respective careers. Manning entered the NFL in 1998 as the number one overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts , with Brady taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft . Tom Brady and Peyton Manning lead the NFL in certain offensive passing categories amongst active quarterbacks now playing in in the NFL . Getty Images North America / Philip Miller ….
(2) 18 Apr 1998: Quarterback Peyton Manning displays an Indianapolis Colts jersey during the 1998 NFL Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. Alongside Manning is NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue . Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw /Allsport ….
(3) Tom Brady(12) and England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick are seen here on the sidelines during a game. The combination of head coach and player are amongst the most successful in NFL history . Belichick and Brady have combined for five Superbowl appearances and six AFC championship games during their thirteen years together. Brady, this postseason hopes to join a select number of quarterbacks with at least five six Superbowl appearances, while seeking to win his fourth Superbowl ring. Already a two-time Superbowl MVP and NFL MVP . All that now awaits the Patriots’ quarterback upon his retirement, will be the call formally announcing his induction into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio,. AP Photo / Chris Woodson ….
(4) NFC quarterbacks , Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers is seen here with Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks . The two players will meet on Sunday afternoon in the NFC championship game when the Seahawks play host to the 49ers at Q West Field in Seattle , Washington . The winner of the contest will be the NFC representative in the Superbowl , where they will face the winner of the AFC game between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots . Getty Images / Mark Fisher ….
(5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Chairman Joel Glazer is seen here speaking to Buccaneers’ head coach Greg Schiano . After a 4-12 season the franchise and coach parted ways . Also leaving the Buccaneers, GM Mark Dominik whose contract was not renewed after 5 years as the franchise’s front office executive in charge of player personnel decisions. The team has yet to hire a successor to Dominik , but the hiring of Lovie Smith is seen as a positive step in the right direction. All rights reserved copyrighted material @ Tampa Bay Tribune ….
(6) Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ head coach Lovie Smith is seen here with members of the Glazer family , owners of the NFL franchise. Seen here from left to right are Ed Glazer, Bryan Glazer, Smith and Joel Glazer . Will Vragovic / The Tampa Bay Times ….
(7) Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman is seen here addressing the convened press at Vikings’ headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The franchise fired head coach Leslie Frazier , but have yet to hire a successor to the departed Frazier. There now seems to be a great deal of speculation concerning Spielman’s own future with the team , with several of the partners with the Vikings questioning the general manager’s handling of the franchise this past season and many of the personnel decisions made . AP Photo / Hunter Matthews …..
(8) Cleveland Browns’ owner, Jimmy Haslam , whose tenure as the team’s Chief Executive has come under a great deal of criticism after it was revealed that Haslam’s company Pilot J Flying Inc and the executive himself , faced charges of grand larceny , theft and fraud . The NFL franchise owner and the Justice Department reached an out of court arrangement but with a fine having been paid by the company . However. several other clients of Pilot J have lodged a civil suit in US Federal Court seeking unspecified damages against the company and its executives . Further embarrassing the NFL as this episode unfurled , were the claims that the monies used in Haslam’s purchase of the Browns were derived from the fraud perpetrated. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s failure , in having the league’s investigators carry out what was said to be an in-depth investigation of Jimmy Haslam’s finances , would have uncovered the ongoing action of the Justice Department at the time the sale of the franchise, actually took place. UPI/ REUTERS/ Keith Thompson …..
List of NFL franchises’ front office and coaching staffs
NFL head coaches