Push or pull ?

Push or pull ?

The NFL pre-season began with the Hall of Fame game between the Miami Dolphins and the erstwhile Dallas Cowboys . That game along with the series of games that were presented as part of the week one schedule of the preseason , gave the fans a chance to look at the rookies and newly acquired free agents on the various teams around the NFL . From my own perspective , I have never placed much store in the exhibition games that act as a precursor to the regular season . Granted , for a number of players now under a great deal of pressure , it now becomes a matter of making the grade now , or losing their starting role to a young rookie or a seasoned veteran .


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While much of this off-season has been encompassed by the disturbing news with the arrest of former New England Patriots` tight end Aaron Hernandez for murder, and with further news now suggesting that the player`s fiancée Shayanna Jenkins may well have aided Hernandez and his two accomplices by disposing of the weapon used to murder the victim , Odin Lloyd , a former acquaintance of the couple . It does now beg the question , what more can now unfold as far as this tragedy is concerned ? The real tragedy in all of this beyond Hernandez’s alleged guilt or innocence. It is the very fact that neither the NFL hierarchy or the NFLPA (Players` Union) seems to be prepared to address the situation of player misconduct .

At a time when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should be seeking input not simply from the coaches , but also from the team owners and the union itself . It would appear, that the commissioner`s mindset is elsewhere. Adding to the whole unsavory issue , is the recent announcement by NFLPA President Dominique Foxworth of his wish to see the voting process for the NFL Pro Bowl changed , in order that there is more of an input from the fans and with the whole process itself, to be worked out in the form of a fantasy draft . If this is what Foxworth, now believes will elicit the fans` attention and at the same time add to the allure of the end of season event. Then clearly, it is time to do away with the game, which seemingly has no meaning whatsoever , other than to add monetary gain for the players, in terms of their contract incentives. The game itself, by way of television viewership, is almost a non-starter , and in terms of game attendance. Well, let`s just say, other than the scenic value of Honolulu , Hawaii. I seriously doubt that the opulence of the event outweighs a meaningful regular season game! Yet, this is now what the fans have come to expect from the NFL and its avowed greed .

With the return of Sean Payton to the coaching fraternity of the NFL and with all of the drama that surrounded the New Orleans Saints` Bounty-gate scandal . It would appear that the franchise is now back on an even keel . That being said , Payton knows that he and his coaching staff will remain under the watchful eye of the league hierarchy and its officials . The players embroiled in the saga have either retired or returned to the game, looking to aid their respective teams. For Saints` quarterback Drew Brees , this will be a season of redemption for himself, his teammates , but above all, for the Saints` organization and a way of renewing the faith of club`s fans as well as that of the NFL fans in general .

Now one could subscribe to the fact that the punishment meted out by the league for the heinous infractions , were somewhat laughable, when one has to consider that the Saints might not well have been the only team practicing such a scheme . It is just the fact that they were the ones to be caught and punished , for what in essence, was a sheer act of stupidity and something that could have proven to be extremely dangerous and reckless on the part of the players who were willing participants in this all . As I have previously mentioned in an earlier article within this site . Were one of the league`s marquee players, the victim of one of the hits executed by a Saints` defensive lineman . Would the rest of the NFL have been so quiet and noncommittal in voicing feint disapproval ? For a team that has much as $ 100 million invested in .a player and that franchise’s success . The risk to reward ratio would simply have gone up in smoke . Yet the utter ridicule, shown by a number of fans over the whole saga of Bounty-gate, was almost incredulous and beyond belief .

Payton`s return to the Saints` franchise along with that of GM Micky Loomis , after their suspensions , now gives team owner Tom Benson the satisfaction of seeing several key pieces back in place. The hard part for the organization, is now rebuilding its tarnished image , albeit , that fans in the Crescent City never lost faith in the New Orleans Saints , but their disdain for Roger Goodell was clearly evident . The commissioner, was seen as a villainous scourge who sought to do harm to the franchise . It has to be said, that those fans do have a point , when one considers that the accusations concerning the scandal were known the league hierarchy as far back as the 2010 NFL season , but had been in execution by the Saints franchise in 2009 . Which begs the question, if this was known to the commissioner and his fellow executives at the time . . Then why not immediately conduct an investigation into those allegations, rather than leaving the issue untouched for almost three years ? To date , no one from inside the NFL`s headquarters has answered a question, as to the reasons why they failed take immediate action concerning into the allegations, and deal with the matter at the time. . Is there really anyone, who truly believes that Roger Goodell has performed competently as the NFL commissioner ? Your answers, please?

The New Orleans Saints kicked off their preseason schedule with a 17-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs , in a game that was symptomatic of what we have all come to expect of the NFL preseason as a whole . Starters were in for a few series and then it was left to the backups to simply fill in , and to try and make a name for themselves. As for those who have now become a part of the Saints` supporting cast by way of the draft and free agent acquisitions . Sean Payton and his staff are going to be well-served by a number of those players . Yet perhaps, their biggest concern, will be how good the offense is likely to be . Pierre Tomas and Mark Ingram will be asked to shoulder the load jointly in terms of the rushing offense . With Brees` potency as a prolific passer . There too, the team is once again likely to make great strides based on last season`s performances and the likelihood that the quarterback will be looking to surpass many of last season`s personal accomplishments, as he looks to further cement his name in the franchise’s record books .

If there is one thing that we have come to know concerning the New Orleans Saints , it is that the team is best happy when it as a lead and then seeks to protect it. However, a frailty of the Saints, has been the very fact that the defense has not always been proficient enough to always meet the needs of Sean Payton. Kenny Vaccaro , John Jenkins and Rufus Johnson were the defensive players drafted by the franchise , with a view to bolstering the NFL`s most porous defense in 2012. It will also be interesting to see whether or not seasoned veterans such as Darren Sproles , Marques Colston , Broderick Bunkley , Kenyon Coleman , Patrick Crayton , Jabari Greer and Zach Strief can provide the added leadership already shown by Drew Brees , as the Saints seek to challenge for NFC South divisional supremacy, as well as the ultimate goal of winning a second Superbowl to add to the franchise’s lone success in 2010. For Saints` tight end Jimmy Graham this also could very well be the season where we see the player make even greater strides, as he also looks to supplant himself atop of the list as one of the game`s best young players at the position in the NFL.

Coming off that victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Saints` next preseason game will be against Oakland Raiders at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana , on Friday , during which , there will be four games scheduled on each of the following days , Thursday, Friday and six on Saturday , as part of the week two schedule of the preseason . That match-up against what remains a beleaguered Raiders` franchise should prove to be a rather interesting contest .

The NFC South this season, I believe will be a truly competitive division . Seeking to make a successful defense of their divisional title will be the Atlanta Falcons . Mike Smith’s Falcons, after their abrupt dismissal from the postseason will be looking to rebound in 2013. Against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game as a highly favored favorite , as Matt Ryan and his teammates would succumb to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in an epic match-up of two very good young quarterbacks.

Ryan may well be able to rebound from last season , but it the continued knock against the Falcons, has been that they have been unable to get the job done when it matters most , and that is during the postseason . The week one regular season contest between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints could prove to be very enticing and amongst the very best of the regular season during the opening week`s schedule for 2013. The series between these two franchises have always proven to be highly competitive and will remain so, while they possess two very good quarterbacks calling the plays for their respective teams . And in Drew Brees and Matt Ryan , we do have two of the very best currently playing today .

It would be fair to suggest that Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers have proven to be a major disappointment of the past four seasons . During the off-season with the dismissal of Norv Turner and A J Smith . Managing partner and owner Dean Spanos sought to reset the Chargers organization. The departure of Smith and Turner were not seen as a major surprise . Yet, Norv Turner sought to vent his frustration with how he felt that he had been mistreated and led to believe that he would be returning for the 2012-13 season . Turner`s firing and the hiring of rookie head coach Mike McCoy , resets the scales and of course the situation now becomes about how much time will the new incumbent be allowed to get things back on track .

Things remain acute for this franchise and the very fact that there remains constant rumors as to whether or not the Chargers will seek to relocate from their present location to the greater Los Angeles area . And clearly with overtures having been made , there is no doubt in my mind that the Spanos family will consider every option available to them as it relates to the San Diego Chargers` long-term viability and profitability . Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego , California , remains an archaic and outmoded relic not really suitable to host an NFL franchise. The city of San Diego has sought to retain the NFL team within its locale, but even with a number of upgrades and minor renovations to the stadium . I do not believe that those maneuvers alone, will be enough to secure Chargers` retention for the long-term. Los Angeles remains a viable proposition, with a much larger demographic and a more of a disposable income amongst the populace in comparison to San Diego.

Spoiler alert for this season concerning the ambitions of the San Diego Chargers and their possibly derailing the hopes of the Denver Broncos in making a successful defense of their AFC West title ? There is a chance that premise could arise , but on paper alone the Chargers as a team, I do not believe that they are a good enough to match to bring about a synopsis where that would now arise during this season . The two scheduled divisional meetings between these two teams for this year may well prove me wrong , but I seriously doubt it ! Weeks ten and fifteen are the due dates when the Colts and Chargers will resume their divisional rivalry for the year.

The San Diego Chargers will begin their regular season schedule against the Houston Texans and their high-powered and prolific offense led by Matt Schaub , running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson . If the Chargers are able to get off to a good enough start against their conference rivals , this could prove to be a very competitive contest between the two teams.

Chargers` GM Tom Telesco and the . coaching staff have gone about revamping the roster during the off-season , with bring what they believe to be capable and athletic rookies to complement a team , along with the customary platoon of free agent acquisitions . Philip Rivers remains the San Diego Chargers` best player and their best hope to win under the current climate . Yet for some reason over the years since being drafted in the 2004 NFL Draft . The player has struggled not because of his own deficiencies , but from the mere fact that the front office has never truly gone about complementing his skill-set with the players necessary to fulfill Rivers` ambitions and that of the organization as a whole . Your thoughts on this all and anything you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter as it relates to this article . By all means, feel free to leave a comment as you see fit .




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(1) Frisco, Texas, mayor Maher Maso , left, presents a street sign to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones , center, and his son, Stephen Jones , after a new conference announcing the new home of the Dallas Cowboys headquarters Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Frisco, Texas. Frisco officials overwhelming approved a $115 million deal to build the team headquarters and a practice facility in the Dallas suburb. The agreement will end the Cowboys’ four-decade relationship with Irving, most likely in 2016. AP Photo/LM Otero …

(2) Shayanna Jenkins , middle, fiancée of former New England Patriots football player Aaron Hernandez, is escorted by attorney Janice Bassil , left, and an unidentified attorney after a bail hearing in Fall River Superior Court Thursday, June 27, 2013 in Fall River, Mass. Hernandez, charged with murdering Odin Lloyd, a 27-year-old semi-pro football player, was denied bail. AP Photo/Elise Amendola ……

(3) DeMaurice Smith (L) executive director of the National Football League Players’ Association laughs at a comment made by Baltimore Ravens corner-back Dominique Foxworth (C) during a news conference July 25, 2011 in Washington, DC. The NFL players and owners are set to agree on a labor deal and end the current lockout. Getty Images / Rob Carr …

(4) Head coach Sean Payton and Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints on the sidelines during play against the Carolina Panthers at the Louisiana Superdome on November 8, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ronald Martinez / Getty Images …

(5) Chargers` CEO Dean Spanos , left, is seen here with team head coach Mike McCoy, center and starting quarterback Philip Rivers . McCoy succeeded is predecessor , fired former coach Norv Turner in January 2013 . Also departing , was former general manager A J Smith. Tom Telesco , takes over from Smith with a view to bringing new-found success to an impoverished franchise . AP Photo / Carl Roberts …..

(6) Tom Telesco(left) is seen here with San Diego Chargers` owner Dean Spanos . The newly appointed general manager is seeking to restore the Chargers` image and making them a success this upcoming season . Getty Images / Keith Montrose …..


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There’s no crying in baseball , as in football , and in all sports , men are supposed to act like men

There’s no crying in baseball , as in football , and in all sports , men are supposed to act like men

By Tophatal

Well the sporting weekend brought us all a whole slew of news from the sublime to the ridiculous . As a once proud boxing fan , I must say, to see another folk hero and legend simply bite the dust , when my memories of him were as he reigned supreme as a world title holder , took something of a shock . This past weekend , legendary fighter , Erik Morales challenged world lightweight titlist Danny Garcia in a televised title fight for Garcia’s WBA and WBC titles . The fight promoted by Oscar de La Hoya’s promotional company , Golden Boy Promotions Inc. , was staged at the Barclaycard Center , in Brooklyn , New York , home to the Brooklyn Nets (formerly known as the New Jersey Nets).


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In sports , there are times when I believe all of us have witnessed a legend simply go down in flames , in essence they have been involved in their chosen endeavor for far too long , and they have not been encouraged to walk away in their prime . Such , has been the case for Morales , himself a former world title holder and a formidable opponent to many of his peers at the height of his dominance and once impressive career. Saturday night, against a much younger opponent in Garcia, Morales’ career came to an abrupt end . In four hellacious rounds of boxing the former title holder was subdued, punished and almost beaten to a bloody pulp. This is not the way I envisaged Erik Morales fight career to end , as I felt that he would walk away from the sport of boxing under his own steam. Instead , a fourth round knockout inflicted upon him by the title holder , sealed his fate, and has now brought Danny Garcia new-found fame , and perhaps untold future riches , as his promoter Oscar de La Hoya has promised the young fighter major title defenses against credible contenders and perhaps a chance to challenge unbeaten welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather . The latter prospect I do not believe will take place this year but is likely to place at some point during 2013 . A great deal of that however , would be predicated upon Mayweather , and his business adviser , Leonard Ellerbee , reaching a compromise with Golden Boy Promotions , on the purse and revenues’ split , as well an agreement on co-promoting the bout as a joint venture. Anything short of that and we are liable to be left with the same asinine and misguided scenario that has deprived the fight fans of seeing Floyd Mayweather taken on Manny Pacquiao.

There is no denying at the height of his boxing prowess , Evander Holyfield was a fighter of great talent , but the unfortunate thing that fans have to now stomach , is the very fact that this former world heavyweight champion , now past his prime , is seeking one more title shot , as he seeks to win the heavyweight crown for an unprecedented fifth time. It is at times like this, where you simply have to question the integrity of boxing as a sport , and whether or not there is a voice reason within the upper echelons of boxing’s numerous hierarchies. I mean, where else can you have at least six international governing bodies of one sport, and where in the United States , each of the various state athletic commissions do not have a comprehensive standard for presiding over the sport , much less how they deal with the cross state interpretations of the rules mandating the governing of the boxing ?

With the New York Yankees being swatted aside like an unwanted insect by the Detroit Tigers , as Jim Leyland’s team inflicted such a painful 4-0 series’ sweep over the Bronx Bombers in the ALCS . Now within the Yankees’ locker room and clubhouse of this franchise , you have a great deal of whining and dissension amongst the players. So much so , that one has ask is this simply “sour grapes” on the part of the team in simply failing to admit that over the course of this series they were of no match for the Detroit Tigers, who were by far the better team , not just throughout the season but also over the course of the postseason ?

The biggest failure with the Yankees has been the lack of offense shown during the playoffs by the players , who thought to be amongst the best hitters in the game. Instead their efforts bordered upon being so inept , that it had many wondering , whether or not Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano , Nick Swisher , Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez could actually hit above their own body weight . With the ball-club’s exit from baseball’s postseason fare , it now leaves us with three team’s vying for the game’s biggest prize. The Detroit Tigers , having punched their ticket to the World Series, now awaits the outcome of the NLCS , where the St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are now tied at three games apiece (3-3) in this best of seven game series.

The Giants were able to force a game seven , after a thrilling game six victory (6-1) over the Cardinals. As to what to expect tonight , when these two teams meet in the series’ decider. Well , there is likely to be a great deal of fireworks both on and off the field of play , as both sets of fans will be geed up at the prospects and also for what is at stake for both of these respected franchises . Taking the mound for the series’ decider , will be Matt Cain of the Giants, who will face Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals. The winner of tonight’s game will not be given much rest , as the World Series begins on Wednesday 24th October , with the Detroit Tigers playing host to the NL pennant winner at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.

Week seven in the NFL , brought us a slew of games , inter-divisional as inter conference match-ups that should have wetted the appetites of the NFL fans . Well , we got that and a hell of a great deal more , as many of those duels were exhilarating , while others were simply “ clunkers” of the highest order. Who could have foreseen that the Baltimore Ravens would have ended up being maligned and beaten like an unwanted stepchild by the Houston Texans ? Cruel and inhumane punishment ? At one point I believed that , Roger Goodell was in communication with the NFL hierarchy , to see if the league had a rule to govern what was taking place on the field ! Forget about the Saints’ bounty scandal, as there were more hits being put on the Ravens’ defense than the New Orleans Saints had placed on their entire opponents over the four-year span that their nefarious deeds were said to be enacted . Let me pose this question to you all , when was the last time that you saw a Baltimore Ravens’ defense look so exposed , flawed and completely outplayed ? Injuries asides, a can of proverbial whoop ass was laid out by Matt Schaub and his teammates , as the Texans romped their way to a decisive 43-13 victory. Yeah buddy, I get the impression that Ray Lewis and rest of the Ravens’ secondary may not have been crying when it came to their postgame locker room discussions with head coach, John Harbaugh , but there might have been a few F-bomb “ expletives” …. rolling off the tongues of several of the Ravens’ players ! And fu@k you as well , may well have been the exchanges between the defensive and offensive units of the team. The Ravens’ 5-2 record within the AFC North , would suggest that they are a good team , but not exactly a great team , as they would envisage themselves to be.

Ah , the pain of defeat , it tells you a great deal about the teams and how they handle that type of adversity . The leaders on a team , are viewed as players who can lead by example , wherein others will follow. However, far too often , a rookie is thrown in at the deep end and the psychological damage done, can cause irreparable harm to a franchise . After an outstanding rookie season in 2011 , Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers has fallen back to earth with a tremendous thud . So much so , that some are questioning whether or not this player can have a long and prosperous career in the NFL. Sophomore slumps ? Yes , we have heard of those but how does that now equate with what we are now witnessing with the young quarterback , taken number one overall in the 2011 NFL Draft ?

An outstanding college career by Cam Newton was seen as a precursor as the next step for the player. The team did have their issues by way of injuries in 2011, and their inconsistent play led to a number of misgivings as to the possible progress sought, but it was felt that for the most part in 2012 the team could and would be competitive . Instead , head coach, Ron Rivera , now has to deal with a litany of issues both on and off the field of play . GM Marty Hurney , was promptly fired by team owner Jerry Richardson , after what he feels has been a disastrous start to the season . The Panthers are off to a 1-5 start and sit at the bottom of the NFC South , and there now seems to be no respite in sight.

With his undoubted talents , Cam Newton has not endeared himself to the Panthers’ fans or the local media , with his ongoing signs of immaturity and constant complaining about the team’s defeats , since his introduction to the NFL. Newton should understand , that you win and lose as a team , as the game of football is certainly not singularly about individual talent. If that were the case , then there would be no damn need for the sport . The expectations may well have been high, and it could well be that the burden that the young quarterback was being asked to bear , was too much of a task to undertake. Herein , lies my question , when drafted as the number one pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2011 , surely the player must have known what he was in for , from a franchise whose record that previous season as a miserly 2-14 mark ? Newton , for his part is being handsomely rewarded by the Panthers as a player , and it should be noted that he now has several lucrative commercial endorsements that nets the quarterback additional millions.

Coming off the team’s lackluster home loss (19-14) to the Dallas Cowboys , during which both teams played some rather uninspired football . It has to be said , that if Cam Newton’s continued whining is anything to go by , then he as well as teammates are as just much to blame for the Panthers’ languid performances this season ! The player however, has sought to distance himself from to those woes , instead choosing to complain about what he sees are the constant mistakes made by others . There may well be other far more experienced players on the Panthers’ roster , but it is to Cam Newton to whom the fans and press alike will continue to look at in gauging the team’s success. If as witnessed, his continued demeanor suggests a lack of maturity and complaints in not being able handle the adversity of defeat , then Newton’s career in the NFL will not be a successful one. As to where this now leave a franchise with a 1-5 mark this season, the team’s next scheduled game against the Chicago Bears , could very well give us a clear indication as what to expect over the remainder of the season. Your thoughts on the Panthers’ woes this season and the constant whining now coming from Cam Newton?



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What thoughts if any, do you have concerning the points raised within this piece ? And what sporting event this past weekend do you feel may well have been the most relevant in terms of its emotional draw ? Do leave a comment as you see fit , and thanks as always for the continued support of this site !


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(1) Mexico’s Erik Morales, right, spins to the canvas after being knocked out by a punch from Danny Garcia, left, of Philadelphia, in the fourth round of their WBC and WBA super-lightweight title boxing bout at the Barclays Center, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Jason DeCrow …

(2) Danny Garcia, right, punches Mexico’s Erik Morales during their WBC and WBA super lightweight title bout at the Barclays Center, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in New York. Garcia knocked out Morales in the fourth round. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

(3) Referee Benji Esteves stops the fight after Mexico’s Erik Morales, right, was knocked out by Danny Garcia during the fourth round of their WBC and WBA super lightweight title bout at the Barclays Center, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, in New York. AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

(4) Russia’s Nikolai Valuev, right, connects with Evander Holyfield. Photograph: Dean Treml/AFP/Getty Images…

(5) Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera celebrates after hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning during Game 4 of the American League championship series against the New York Yankees Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in Detroit. AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(6) St. Louis Cardinals’ Daniel Descalso (33) flips his bat in front of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey after striking out during the second inning of Game 6 of baseball’s National League championship series Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in San Francisco. AP Photo/David J. Phillip …

(7) FILE – In this Aug. 4, 2012 file photo, Carolina Panthers’ team president Danny Morrison , left, talks with general manager Marty Hurney during the NFL Carolina Panthers’ Fan Fest football practice in Charlotte, N.C. The Panthers fired Hurney Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 following the team’s 1-5 start this season . AP Photo/Bob Leverone ….

(8) Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher (97) and Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) sack Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the first half of an NFL football game , Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Charlotte. AP Photo/Chuck Burton …




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Hot In Cleveland ………. Lukewarm In New England ….

Hot In Cleveland … Lukewarm In New England ….

By tophatal ….. 06/14/2012 10:13 PM (EST)

Well with NFL off-season workouts are at an end and for a number of teams this was a precursor for the rookies of the NFL Draft . This also gave the coaches and general managers to assess their new recruits as well as the free agents acquired through a number transactions .


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As an avid New England Patriots’ fan , I was pleased to find out GM Nick Caserio has seen fit to offer Rob Gronkowski a new contract that makes him the tight-end , the highest paid player at the position in NFL history . Gronkoswki had an exceptional season for the Patriots in 2011 , which saw the team make the postseason and then progressing all the way to the Superbowl . The New England Patriots would succumb to the New York Giants in a thoroughly thrilling game , which gave Tom Coughlin’s players their second victory over their AFC rivals in the NFL’s showcase event in six years.

This season for the New England Patriots will be about regrouping with Bill Belichick and the coaching staff assessing their draft picks , taking note and assessing whether or not the players acquired will complementary to the team’s needs . Certainly , with the loss of wide receiver Chad Ochocinco who was released by the franchise , this was addition by subtraction . The player was unproductive over the course of the season and the Patriots’ loss was the Miami Dolphins’ gain , with head coach Joe Philbin and GM Jeff Ireland adding the wide receiver to an unproductive offense . The player will certainly bring along a great deal of baggage but I doubt anything by way of productivity that will make the Dolphins one of the major surprises this upcoming season in the NFL .

The Miami Dolphins for their part have Ryan Tannehill as the heir-apparent at the position of quarterback for the Dolphins . It remains to be seen how the rookie will undoubtedly fare and what problems if any , this would create for the team . It will take a monumental effort from the young player to even have the impact and success achieved by Cam Newton for the Carolina Panthers last season as an incoming freshman quarter back . However , the franchise has seasoned veteran David Garrard within their midst , presumably as the starter , it is Tannehill who is being groomed to become the starter for the Dolphins. Week 1 should provide us all with the evidence needed to verify that fact and how the player should be viewed as a > potential starter for the team .

The New England Patriots as we know , were one of the poorer teams in league , in terms of their defensive capabilities . It would prove be the team’s Achilles Heel throughout their schedule over the course of the year . Bill Belichick continues to tinker with the defense and there is no denying he has not been pleased with the lack of defense shown by that defensive unit of last season Clearly , Belichick knows that if this team is to be successful this season , then the players of their defensive corps will have to prove their worth . It is one of the many reasons why the Patriots sought to draft players that would bolster the defensive unit .

The acquisition of Brandon Lloyd adds more potency to an already potent offense which had on display over the course of the regular and postseason in 2011 . What we should now expect from the Patriots this season could very well have the fans salivating if this team shows a marked improvement over last year and that will not bode well for the rest of the NFL , at all .

The AFC East as know , beyond the New England Patriots has the Buffalo Bills , Miami Dolphins and the somewhat under-achieving …. New York Jets . For coaches Chan Gailey and Rex Ryan of the Bills and Jets , respectively , this will be a season where a lot will be asked of each of these head coaches . For Ryan in particular , with the big splash made with the acquisition of Tim Tebow as the backup to Mark Sanchez , this should prove to be quite an eventful season for both quarterbacks . The New York press and tv analysts have made this a far bigger story than it needs to be , all in the hope of building up a budding controversy between the two players. Sanchez knows that failure on his part will lead to the fans calling for his head and the installing of Tebow to replace the beleaguered starting quarterback . Since Mark Sanchez’s entrance into the league in 2009 , many have wondered whether or not the player could live up to the perceived hype of the players (quarterbacks) who have left USC (Trojans) to make a career in the NFL .

For the quarterbacks in question under the tutelage of Pete Carroll to my mind , has proven to me that the controversy that surrounded the program was an aberration in terms of the perceived greatness . Players such as Matt Cassel , Carson Palmer as well as Sanchez , have yet to truly establish their credentials as legitimate high-caliber quarterbacks with leadership abilities . We know that in his first two seasons , Mark Sanchez was able to take the Jets to the cusp of a Superbowl appearance , with two consecutive AFC championship games in 2009 and 2010 . All of which , led to defeats for the teams in question , on both occasions for Rex Ryan’s and his coaching staff.

It is extremely difficult ________________ what to make of the Buffalo Bills but it has become increasingly clear that even with the fast start to a season , they cannot maintain that momentum over the course of a sixteen game schedule . I firmly believe that once again it will be very much more of the same that once again will see this team ride on the coat-tail and the arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick . Another sub-par year for the Buffalo Bills and it could pretty signal the end for Chan Gailey as the head coach of this franchise .

Colt McCoy , will either be the opening day quarterback for the Cleveland Browns this season , or he will be seated on the bench as Brandon Weeden , receives his baptism of fire , within the NFL . McCoy has been mistreated by the franchise , specifically by Mike Holmgren and the coaching staff led by Pat Shurmur . The incompetence shown by the Browns last season when the quarterback suffered a concussion , which saw the player, rendered helpless and not cognizant of his surroundings . Yet somehow , the Browns saw fit for Colt McCoy to reenter the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers , whose defensive player James Harrison supplied “ the hit” that incapacitated the opposing quarterback . McCoy tried to regain his balance but stumbled to ground , then to be assisted off the field , only for the player to be forced to return to the game . The coaching staff stated the player agreed to return and McCoy , himself responded in kind . After the game however , it was revealed that the player’s father revealed that he spoke with the coaching staff concerning his son’s condition at the time , only to be told they felt he was fit enough to take the field . It seems rather asinine in the current climate of the NFL with the medical information and staff on hand , somehow Browns’ own medical staff completely misdiagnosed medical condition at the time.

What might now be even more unpalatable , has been the very fact that the league hierarchy led by Roger Goodell , team owners and the NLFPA (union) have continued to ignore the plight of the players who have suffered such maladies , and the information that has been within their possession for decades . For those who believe that this issue has been around since Goodell succeeded Paul Tagliabue as NFL Commissioner , then think again . A great deal of this information has been around during Tagliabue’s reign but somehow this has simply been ignored and the sheer naiveté of the league and the media has been beyond belief . What might be even more idiotic has been the very fact that a number of fans have stated that hindsight being 50/50 , there was really nothing that the NFL could really do to address the issue . Are you kidding me ? The NFL was not capable of meeting this issue head on and deal with this damn PR nightmare ? And therein lies the current idiotic stance of Goodell and his trying fend of the numerous civil suits for which the NFL is now a defendant . At present , there are 70 legal suits representing 1200 current and former players filed at various levels within the judicial system . Roger Goodell wishes for these suits to be conjoined and tried at the Federal level within US Federal Court . Pardon me for saying this but Goodell has been at least five steps behind ON this issue for a number of years , and it has been his sheer incompetence that continues to shine repeatedly as this matter has become relevant within the current climate of the NFL . Never mind the fact , that in light of the current collective bargaining agreement ratified and voted upon by the union, to instigate mandatory in and off-season testing for steroid and other illicit substances but somehow this has now been placed on the back-burner by the commissioner . His response under questioning by a congressional committee (House Energy & Commerce Committee) were that he , and the union’s executive committee still had a number of issues to “ iron out” before they could begin testing . The upcoming schedule and as of yet , the fans and the public are still unaware as to whether or not the league will begin to test the players for HGH and anabolic steroids . Care to respond as to which path will be taken by the NFL ?



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Picture & slide show details below .


(1) New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski , middle, walks down steps from the practice field at Gillette Stadium with other players after NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass. on Thursday, June 14, 2012. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(2) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick listens to a question during an NFL football media availability in Foxborough, Mass. on Thursday, June 14, 2012. AP Photo/Elise Amendola …

(3) FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2011, file photo, New York Giants tight end Jake Ballard runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. Ballard, coming off ACL and micro-fracture surgery and likely unavailable for action until 2013, was claimed shortly before Tuesday’s opening workout of Giants mini-camp, a day after he was waived because of a failed physical. It was the Giants’ intention to re-sign him and eventually place him on injured reserve. But the New England Patriots beat them to it, leaving Giants coach Tom Coughlin displeased with the entire situation on Wednesday. AP Photo/Alex Brandon …

(4) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady smiles while stretching during NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass., Wednesday, June 13, 2012. AP Photo/Charles Krupa …

(5) Patriots GM & Head of Player Personnel , Nick Caserio , is seen here addressing the convened press at Gillette Stadium , Foxborough , Massachusetts ,. AP Photo /Getty Images / Harry How ….

(6)Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin talks during an NFL football news conference after the team’s practice, Monday, June 11, 2012, in Davie, Fla. AP Photo/J Pat Carter ……

(7) DAVIE, FL – MAY 4 : Ryan Tannehill (17) of the Miami Dolphins talks to the media after the rookie minicamp on May 4, 2012 at the Miami Dolphins training facility in Davie, Florida. AP Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images …

(8) Chad Ochocinco seen here arriving at the Miami Dolphins’ training facility in Davie, Florida . The player recently signed one-year-deal with the Dolphins , hoping to revive his career with the franchise , having had a less than successful reign with the New England Patriots . Miami Herald/ Roberto Gomez …..

(9) Jets’ teammates Tim Tebow (15) and Mark Sanchez (6) seen here at the team’s training facility in Florsham , New Jersey . Tebow was brought in as a backup quarterback , to incumbent , Mark Sanchez . The rumor mills are rife , that this will now lead to a quarterback controversy within the Jets’ organization . Mark Sanchez , now caught within the crosshairs of the press and fans like , knows he has to produce this season for the New York Jets . AP Photo / Mike Parrish …

(10) Colt McCoy (12) of the Cleveland Browns talks with Pat Shurmur during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Scott Boehm / Getty Images North America …

(11) Colt McCoy (12) is seen here alongside the Browns’ first round draft pick Brandon Weeden (3) at the team’s practice facility . Team President Mike Holmgren , and owner , Randolph “Randy” Lerner seem intent on Weeden being the opening day starter at quarterback for the team . This has further alienated McCoy and his future with the organization . AP Getty Images / Paul Ronson ….



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Where’s The Beef ………. ?

Where’s The Beef ….. ?

By tophatal

Well it seems crazy that the self absorbed NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus seeks a home for perhaps his most high profiled client in Terrelle Owens while the accomplishments of one of the league’s most accomplished players seems to go unnoticed and un-praised . Atlanta Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez joined a select band of players when he caught his 1,104th career reception. Only six other players in NFL history have caught in excess of 1,000 passes and all have had illustrious careers within the league. Jerry Rice the alltime career receptions and touchdowns leader has astonishing 1,549 receptions and 207 touchdowns and if that were not enough the Superbowl MVP , three time Superbowl winner is enshrined in the Hall of Fame , in Canton , Ohio. From that esteemed septuplet to have reached that millennium mark also are Cris Carter , Tim Brown , Isaac Bruce , Terrelle Owens and Marvin Harrison . Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver Hines Ward at some point this season should become the eighth player to have reached that impressive mark of 1,000 career receptions in the NFL . Ward , currently has an impressive and gaudy 980 catches to go alongside 86 career touchdowns .


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I sometimes wonder many of these analysts and alleged journalists who cover the NFL how it is that they believe that they are representative of their craft when all the time all they are ever in search for is something controversial , rather than informative and insightful with their craft. Never mind the ass kissing that seems to be part and parcel within the broadcast outlets such as Fox , CBS , ABC/ESPN and NBC . Is there a chance that these pompous assholes can ever take their jobs seriously , rather than acting like prepubescent school boys who’ve seen their first nude photograph ? But that would be too a high a praise to heap upon these buffoons as they are probably flaccid and suffering from some sort of erectile dysfunction. There you go Mark Schlereth , Chris Mortensen , Merrill Hoge , Jon Gruden , Jason Whitlock and Skip Bayless !

Tony Gonzalez a first round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1997 the player has established himself as one of the premier players at the tight end position in the NFL. And most certainly one of the alltime greats who I would genuinely place along such luminaries as Shannon Sharpe , Kellen WinslowSr,. and Ozzie Newsome who have perhaps made that position their very own. In today’s league alongside the renowned tight end making a name for themselves we have Jermichael Finley of the Green Bay Packers , Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots , his teammate Rob Gronkowski , Jason Witten , Jimmy Graham and seasoned veteran Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers .

You can’t but admire Tony Gonzalez’s career from afar and the player has been the epitome of class even when it seemed that the Kansas City Chiefs ebbed and flowed under the coaching of Dick Vermeil . The former Chiefs’ coach as we now went on to considerable success with the St Louis Rams guiding them to their lone Superbowl win over that establishment’s history. And though Gonzalez’s career flourished and floundered with the franchise his amassing the greater part of his statistics with the team . He now now seems to be rejuvenated under Mike Smith , his coaching staff and a quarterback in Matt Ryan who’s yearning to win . When the player was acquired by the Falcons in 2009 I felt it would certainly make the Atlanta Falcons a legitimate contender for the Superbowl within the NFC . However, it has been Ryan’s inconsistency in the playoffs that has plagued the team since his arrival in the NFL . Now with the plethora of offensive weapons at his disposal it is hoped that he and the team can make a creditable push for postseason honors .

If Matt Ryan cannot succeed with players such as Roddy White , Michael Turner and Gonzalez , himself , then questions will have to asked of the young quarterback. There’s no denying that the player is capable of leading this team but whether or not he is the signal caller many believe him to be . Well it would appear that the jurors are still out on that subject before they render a decision .

The NFC South where the Atlanta Falcons reside alongside Carolina Panthers , New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers . That division is a highly competitive one and could surmise that they can lay the claim that they currently have the best quartet of teams in all eight divisions of the NFL .

It should come as no surprise that the high flying New Orleans Saints at 5-2 followed jointly by Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each at 4-3 with the lowly Carolina Panthers 2-5 bringing up the rear . Now while Cam Newton has been setting the league alight with his exhilarating displays this Panthers’ team under coach Ron Rivera has struggled in terms of overall consistency . For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and coach Raheem Morris the issues facing his team is actually having enough active starters who are not injured . With the loss of LeGarrette Blount and Earnest Graham from an offensive standpoint this hampers the Buccaneers and their running attack and the opportunities for quarterback Josh Freeman .

The NFC South has now become a division , that each given week with the teams in play just about anything is liable to happen . And no doubt when each of the residents within meet up for that combustible divisional match up the fans are usually given a thrilling display. And for the Atlanta Falcons they know that their schedule proves to be no different especially in light of their divisional foes . Week 8 gives the team a bye before they then embark upon the rest of that daunting 2011 calendar schedule. However, in week 10 they face off against the New Orleans Saints , week 14 sees them taking on the Carolina Panthers , week 16 they are the guests of the Saints and the New Orleans Superdome , New Orleans , Louisiana , before ending their season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 17 at the Georgia Dome , in Atlanta , Georgia ,.


Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) pulls in a reception during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski ….

One could surmise that given the play of Drew Brees and his Saints’ teammates the race for the division is already over , albeit that we’re only seven weeks into the NFL season. Were it not for the injuries sustained by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers I would say that we would witnessing a three horse race within the division ! The New Orleans Saints on paper would appear to be the class of the NFC South , and you could give credence to that premise . But between now and until the end of the season just about anything could very well happen. A miscue consequential losses and things suddenly get turned upside down and on its ear . Thankfully , I can look at the NFC South and simply state that it has a great deal more going for it than the allegedly esteemed NFC East ! One simply has to look at the poor play and the inconsistency of the teams there to realize that , although the New York Giants seem to be playing with the resolve not seen from the team in quite a while . That if anything has more to do with the defensive presence of the team’s secondary and in particular the play of Osi Umenyiora . Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell should be the individual on the coaching staff upon which the praise ought to heaped upon alongside Tom Coughlin .


Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) runs off the field after their 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …

The NFL much like its NBA counterpart has become driven by the characters rather than the teams themselves. But while the football’s season is one of a mere 16 game schedule and a postseason that in its immediacy ends with a one and done concept . That clearly is not the case with NBA . Furthermore , the players in the NBA can simply play with a lax attitude knowing full well the penchant of the NBA hierarchy and team owners have a tendency to shoot themselves in the as the power they ( union/players) have over that body is powerful enough to dictate policy . One could hardly say that would be the case within the NFL , not in light of the recent events that have taken place concerning their labor issues. A compromise had to be reach rather than the league hierarchy and NFLPA (union) sinking the league into a morass that they might never have successfully recovered from .



Picture gallery for your perusal .

What thoughts if any do you have as to the points raised within this piece and in particular with regard to the career of Tony Gonzalez ? And how do you view things panning out for the teams within the NFC South ? Simply chime in with a comment as you deem fit .


Picture and slide show details .

(1) DETROIT – OCTOBER 23: Roddy White (84) of the Atlanta Falcons catches an 18 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Ryan (2) in the second quarter of the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons would go on to defeat the Lions 23-16 Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(2) Michael Turner (33) of the Atlanta Falcons looks to get around the tackle of Amari Spievey (42) of the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Atlanta won the game 23-16. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images …

(3) Quarterbacks Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons and Matthew Stafford (9) of the Detroit Lions shake hands after the game at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Falcons defeated the Lions 23-16. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images ….

(4) Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) is stopped by Detroit Lions outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter , rear, during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio …..

(5) Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) pulls in a reception during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Rick Osentoski …..

(6) Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) runs off the field after their 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions in an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. AP Photo/Carlos Osorio ….

(7) Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith celebrates a 23-16 win over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 23, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images …..


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Players taken alongside Tony Gonzalez ( 13th overall pick in the 1st round) in the 1997 NFL Draft include Orlando Pace , Bryant Westbrook , Walter Jones , James Farrior , Jake Plummer , Marcellus Wiley , Corey Dillon and Sam Madison to name but a few .


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Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Can Cam Newton Step Up To The Plate This Season ?

Week 3 of the NFL preseason and one doubts that there’s anymore that can be learned from the teams within the league . Certainly from a statistical standpoint as impressive as some teams appear to be there’s a great deal to be said for the fact that your starters will get their accustomed workouts but it will be the rookies who will look to acclimatize themselves with the rigors of the NFL.


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And perhaps nowhere will the spotlight be than upon more , than , the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton as he looks justify the faith shown in him by the Panthers’ front office , and the team’s coaching staff led by Ron Rivera . And though Newton has showed his guile and athleticism there has been nothing yet to suggest that he may well be the answer to the team’s needs at the position . The player and his presumed backup Jimmy Claussen now have one more game to prove to the fans and staff in particular that they are ready to embark upon the regular season in with the right frame of mind and the ability sought , in order for the Carolina Panthers to be successful.


CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Cam Newton (1) and Jordan Gross (69) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton’s 16-yard touchdown run during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

After a rather lackluster and disappointing 2010 season where the Carolina Panthers finished with a 2-14 record much to the disdain of their fans , it was felt the organization would embark upon a major personnel upheaval on both front within the playing and coaching staff. Jon Fox was seemingly allowed to depart along with several members of the coaching staff and this offseason the purge began amongst the playing personnel along with the players acquired through the NFL Draft .

As with any number one player taken in the draft a great deal is placed upon the shoulders of that athlete . They’re often seen as the presumed savior and future face of a franchise and for Cam Newton it will undoubtedly be no different. If the player can have half the success during his final year at Auburn then one could deem it a success for Cam Newton and his new teammates . Now it would be true to surmise that for any rookie quarterback starting in the NFL success isn’t expected to immediate but for the Panthers who have so much riding on the player , that anything short of an 8 win season would as such be deemed a failure for the organization . Granted , as with any team said to be going through this type of transition there will always be growing pains and a great deal of uncertainty not only about the team as a whole but also upon the expectations of the coaching staff , as well. Ron Rivera , it has to be said a rookie coach in the NFL will have his work cut out for him but with his credentials and insight into the game , one would expect the coach to fare well this upcoming season.

Unfortunately , for the Carolina Panthers they find themselves in a tough NFC South division where three of last year’s most promising teams within the conference reside . The Atlanta Falcons , New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cannot be overlooked as teams that are not capable of holding their own and being competitive in what can be best described as one of the better divisions within the NFL.

It might be at this juncture however that one now begins to question whether or not this team might be capable of usurping the dominance of their neighbors within the NFC South. I do believe that with that even with the changes on the roster , the team will be in for an arduous season ! The six games played within the division will be tough enough without considering the typical conference schedule overall for the Carolina Panthers. And ccertainly the team’s celebrated wide receiver Steve Smith will be looking to regain the form that made one of the more prolific players at the position .

It would be remiss to think that an offense led by Newton and Smith alone will be enough or for the Carolina Panthers to garner any semblance of success if this team is to show any semblance of progress beyond the mediocrity shown last season , then the team will have put forth a collective effort that is of their very best . There’s no denying that last season injuries had beset the 2010 team and as with any organization the coaching staff underestimated those losses to the roster as a whole . And it’s clear as a result of that the franchise ation believes it best to have players complemental and befitting a team that seeks the game’s ultimate prize _______ the Superbowl .

Noted veterans on this Carolina Panthers’ roster such as Steve Smith , Jeremy Shockey , Chris Gamble , DeAngelo Williams , Jordan Gross , Chris Massey and Jason Baker will have to step up if this team is to have any semblance of success over the course of this season.

By way of production shown in the preseason by the team’s young rookies the fans can expect something of note . Cam Newton , much like the players drafted alongside him by the Carolina Panthers have something to prove Albeit , that the quarterback’s own baptism of fire has been somewhat unspectacular . His rookie classmates Terrell McClain , Sione Fua , Brandon Hogan , Kealoha Pilares , Lawrence Wilson , Zachary Williams and Lee Ziemba are hoping that they too can offer something to this beleaguered franchise. If nothing else , it certainly will be interesting to see what transpires for this team as to their overall play.

For this season’s rookies in their first within the NFL this could very well prove to be an interesting year. Undoubtedly, even for the the players taken in the supplemental draft they too have something to prove . Terrelle Pryor in spite of his off field problems will have to justify the faith shown in him by the Oakland Raiders’ front office . I’d dare say that this is one gamble Al Davis might truly believe in, given his past forays with regard to over-hyped talent that simply didn’t measure up to much . With Pryor at this juncture who knows what he may well be able to offer the team ? Their travails of last season were well documented.


Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left, listens to instruction from head coach Hue Jackson, right, during their NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg …..

Certainly with the moves made by the organization and through the draft it has to be said the Oakland Raiders are positioning themselves to have a successful run within the AFC West and conference as a whole this season . The team certainly has the offensive capabilities to be amongst the best within the NFL and certainly within the AFC . If the team is able to reproduce that sort of form over the course the season then the Raiders’ fans could very well be for not only a wild ride but perhaps a shot of making the postseason .

Hue Jackson and his coaching staff must be hoping to get the very best out of this team . There’s enough veteran experience on the roster to suggest that Jason Campbell and his contemporaries are capable of providing enough leadership for the rookies on this team . But if there’s said to be a problem for the Raiders it has the consistent lapses by the defense in particular that of the pass defense that has let them down repeatedly over the course of last season . These are the things that John Marshall as the defensive coordinator will be lookin g to tweak over the preseason while Al Saunders will be looking to fine tune the skill-set of the team’s quarterbacks and that of the offense .



Picture gallery for your perusal .

What traits do you believe Cam Newton has that may well convince you that he is capable of being a success in the NFL ? Or do you believe that he will essentially be a work in progress over the next couple of years ? And are you of the opinion that the Oakland Raiders can be a legitimate contender within the AFC West and conference this upcoming season ? Simply leave a comment on the points raised within this piece and as usual thanks for the continued support as it is greatly appreciated !

Alan aka tophatal …… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Contact tophatal via these social media services



Picture and slide show details .

(1) New York Jets’ David Harris intercepts a pass by New York Giants’ Eli Manning during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game, Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Jets won 17-3 . AP Photo/Julio Cortez …..

(2) Brandon Jacobs (27) of the New York Giants greets Plaxico Burress (17) of the New York Jets after their pre season game on August 29, 2011 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images ……..

(3) CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Gibril Wilson (27) of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a tackle against DeAngelo Williams (34) of the Carolina Panthers during an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……

(4) Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera looks on during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ………

(5) Jimmy Clausen (2) of the Carolina Panthers runs away from pressure while trying to pass during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13 . Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images ……

(6) CINCINNATI, OH – AUGUST 25: Cam Newton (1) and Jordan Gross (69) of the Carolina Panthers celebrate after Newton’s 16-yard touchdown run during an NFL preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 25, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 24-13. Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images …….

(7) Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) meet after the Bengals defeated the Panthers 24-13 in an NFL football game, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011 in Cincinnati. AP Photo/Tony Tribble ……

(8) Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson walks off the field after the Raiders lost to the New Orleans Saints 40-20 in a preseason NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ) …….

(9) OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 28: Taiwan Jones (36) of the Oakland Raiders runs twenty two yards for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the third quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ….

(10) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor (6) warms up before a preseason NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo/Paul Sakuma ……

(11) Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor, left, listens to instruction from head coach Hue Jackson, right, during their NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Friday, Aug. 26, 2011. AP Photo/Eric Risberg …..

(12) Jason Campbell (8) of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter during an NFL pre-season football game at the O.co Coliseum August 28, 2011 in Oakland, California. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images ………

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Let The Fun And Games Begin ……….. When You’re Ready Please NFL ?

Let The Fun And Games Begin ……….. When You’re Ready Please NFL ?

It’s been pretty much an offseason of discontent within the NFL with the owners , players and league hierarchy suddenly realizing that the start of the season is merely around the corner . Never mind the fact that teams haven’t really been able to conduct their OTA’s at their respective training facilities . In that respect the whole preseason and initial start of the regular season due to begin on the 8thd September could very well offer the fans a product that could be so bland and meaningless that it might have us wondering whether or not it wasn’t worth completely abandoning the season altogether . No one wants to see an on field product that by three or four three that could be so out of sync and mediocre that given the fact that the fans will be asked to pay a sizable sum to witness this all . And if as is being proposed we could very well see a preseason that will have to forgo two of the four scheduled games then any sort semblance of cohesiveness could very well be something that the fans are not liable to see at all .


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With that in mind of all the teams that I witnessed over the course of last season none more so than the Atlanta Falcons had me wondering how good could this team really be . Granted , their postseason foray ended somewhat abruptly but I put that down to more inexperience more than anything else . The team’s coach Mike Smith and his coaching staff seem to have found that semblance of cohesion and consistency that many teams yearn for in the league but so few are able to find it . Having won the NFC South rather comfortably, posting a 13-3 record within the league . Many felt that the team led my their Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan could very well have pulled off a major surprise during the postseason. This season if anything a great deal is expected from this team and in particular by their erstwhile fans . The era of Michael Vick is long gone and but a distant and quickly fading memory . Team owner Arthur Blank and the front office headed by GM Rich McKay know that they were fortuitous not only in the hiring of Mike Smith as the team coach but also in their drafting of Matt Ryan .

I’ve no doubt that this season could very well see this team prove to be dominant but that being said I also believe that the NFC South could very well be a highly competitive division. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers , alongside the New Orleans Saints should prove to be formidable and with the Carolina Panthers no doubt looking to their overall number one pick from this year’s draft Cam Newton to simply show the Panthers’ fans what he’s made of . Who knows where the season could very well take us ?

Rich McKay and the scouting department made some prudent choices in the NFL Draft that will prove to be productive for the Falcons’ organization as a whole . And with those selections being strategically rendered with there being an assortment of offense and defense to bolster the needs of the team . The prize pick was wide receiver Julio Jones who will no doubt compliment what is already a formidable offensive presence alongside Michael Turner , Roddy White , Tony Gonzalez and Brian Finneran . And from a defensive standpoint this team can only get better as they being to gel more as a cohesive unit . But in retrospect it does all come down to have a balance on both sides of the ball and here too the Falcons aren’t necessarily lacking as the offense when having found its rhythm can be as good as any within the league .

Now would it be remiss to suggest that the Atlanta Falcons are not good enough to be considered amongst the NFC favorites for the Superbowl ? I think that perhaps not given that no one could really have foreseen the Green Bay Packers coming out of the NFC as conference champions much less wining the title itself . If anything all eyes were perhaps on the New Orleans Saint or Chicago Bears from last year as it related to the postseason. I read with interest where a fellow blogger within this medium suggested that the next young quarterback within the league who is on the cusp of leading a team and actually winning the Superbowl will be the Bears’ Jay Cutler . Yes the that Jay Cutler who essentially baulked and walked away from his team when they needed him most . For all of Brian Urlacher’s traits , facing reality doesn’t seem to be one of those , especially in light of the player coming to his quarterback’s defense by saying that ‘…..Cutler was a warrior and one of the hardest working players in the league as well as one of the best players at the position in the entire NFL’ . Obviously Urlacher hadn’t been taking much note of what happened in the Bears’ meltdown and their subsequent 21-14 loss to the Packers much of which could be squarely placed on Jay Culter’s shoulders for the team’s demise in the NFC title game .

As to the ongoing impasse between the league and NLFPA I would certainly like to be optimistic with regard to what I have been hearing via the various news sources . But given the fact that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has handled this situation with about as much precision as a one armed individual being asked to juggle an explosive device . I think that it’s pretty safe to say that this episode is far from over as it relates to the present work stoppage . For all of the pontificating , finger pointing and in the end so called accord that we are now seeing from all sides with Goodell and his union counterpart DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA issuing a joint statement focusing on the two sides close to reaching an accord , I for one won’t believe it until I hear that an agreement has been reached , a binding contract signed and we are told the league will indeed begin its regular season schedule on time . Anything short of that I will still deem to be a complete failure !



Picture gallery for your perusal .

Simply chime in with a comment as to your thoughts raised within this piece and thanks as always for the continued support as it’s greatly appreciated .

Alan aka tophatal …………… https://tophatal.wordpress.com

Picture and slide show details below .


(1) FILE – This May 24, 2011, file photo shows Atlanta Falcons rookie receiver Julio Jones, left, greeting quarterback Matt Ryan before an informal football workout, in Buford, Ga. Ryan and Jones haven’t let the NFL lockout stop them from beginning a new friendship. AP Photo/David Goldman …..

(2) NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 28: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Julio Jones, #6 overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons, holds up a jersey 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) Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, rear, looks on as teammate Steve Smith, center, calls a play at his youth football camp in Charlotte, N.C., Friday, June 17, 2011. It was another bonding experience for what will be one of the most scrutinized quarterback-receiver combinations in the NFL _ if Smith stays in Carolina. AP Photo/Chuck Burton ……

(4) Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, right, talks with Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers, as they arrive for meetings in Rosemont, Ill., Tuesday, June 21, 2011. Owners gathered to discuss the status of negotiations with the players for a new collective bargaining agreement. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ……

(5) Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy shows off his Super Bowl ring Thursday, June 16, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis., after the NFL football team’s ring ceremony at Lambeau Field. AP Photo/Mike Roemer …..

(6) NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with team owners and legal counsel for the league . Getty Images/ Hannah Foslien ……

(7) Sam Shields (37_ of the Green Bay Packers intercepts the game’s final pass and runs for 32-yards to seal the 21-14 victory for the Packers against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America ….

(8) Quarterback Jay Cutler (6 ) of the Chicago Bears celebrates his six-yard touchdown run with Devin Hester (23) against the Seattle Seahawks in the second quarter of the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Johnathan Daniel / Getty Images …….

(9) After a failed coaching experiment four years ago, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, left, is thrilled with the job Mike Smith, right, has done with the team. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images …..


NFL News

NFL Schedule 2011 subject to change

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons team roster

Atlanta Falcons’ schedule 2011

Atlanta Falcons’ teams stats 2010

Mike Smith Head coach

Atlanta Falcons coaching staff

Atlanta Falcons News

Well If It’s A Splash You Wanted Then This Wasn’t It ………




Well  If   It’s A Splash  You  Wanted  To  Make  Then  This Wasn’t It  ………



Fans  have  long labored  under the  belief  that  at  times the  fresh  influx of  talent   be  it on  the  field  or  in   management   can  really    turn  things  around  for   a franchise  that has been  perceived to  have fallen  on  hard times.    Well   nowhere is this  becoming   more   apparent than  with  the  Tampa  Bay  Buccaneers.



Raheem Morris   of the  Tampa Bay Buccaneers seen  here  with  Bucs' executive  Joel Glazer.
Newly appointed coach Raheem Morris is seen here with Bucs' executive Joel Glazer. The Glazer family own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as English Premier League soccer club Manchester United. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/Matthew McFadden .............




Well  with   the firing   of  Jon Gruden  and  that of  General  Manager  Bruce Allen  in  the  offseason and   the  promotion of   Raheem  Morris  to the position of  head coach. It can  be   said  the  change  direction  sought was  about   as  expedient  and  drastic  as  one  would  expect.   The explanation   coming   from   ownership  can’t  be  viewed  as   enthusiastic   for   the  most  fervent   of  Buccaneers’ fans.  But  then   again   throughout  much   the  Glazers’  ownership,   their  custodianship of  the franchise  has  been  executed  clandestinely.    Though  the   firings   of  Gruden and Allen   came    out   of the  blue.  It can  be  said  from  a  PR perspective  the way it was    handled  left  an  unsavory   taste  in  one’s  mouth. 





Added  to  that  fact  was   the  release   of   several long  established  players.  None  more  so  than   veteran  stalwart  and  defensive  player  Derrick  Brooks.  He  may well  be  viewed  as  the   face   of  the  franchise .  And  in  terms  of   his  loyalty   to the  franchise  it was  unquestioned.   He was the  epitome , heart  and   soul   of what  it  meant  to be   a  Buccaneers’  player.     And  to  say  that many  a  Bucs’  fans   weren’t     aggrieved  at   his  release  would  be  understatement.  Nevertheless   life  must  go  on  and   so does the  business  of  making  this   franchise  competitive.



Bucs' GM Mark Dominink  seen  here with  members  of  the  local  press in the Tampa  Bay  area .
Buccaneers' GM Mark Dominik seen here with members of the locally convened press from the Tampa Bay area. picture appears courtesy of pewterreport.com




Coming  off  a  disappointing   season  with  a  9-7  finish  within the  NFC  South   division. Where  the  team  were viewed  as a   favorite to  repeat   as  champions.  Their  season  fell  apart  literally   down  the  closing    stretch  of the  season.  As  they   succumbed to  four  consecutive  defeats.   So  close  but  yet  so  far.  One  can  attribute  these  losses   on  a  number  of  things.  But   the  ownership   obviously   felt  that   Gruden  bore   a  great  deal  of  responsibility   for the   team’s   failings  on the    field. But a  lot  of  that   responsibility can  be  also  attributed to  the  total   naiveté  on the path  of the   Buccaneers’  players  who  must’ve   felt  that   they’d   romping  off  into  the  playoffs before  the   season  was  over,  without   getting  the  job  done   on the field  first.    A  lack  of  professional   approach  on  the   field   and  perhaps  an  even  bigger  lack  of  professionalism   by  the coaching  staff ?





Well   now the  franchise   under the  auspices  of  Morris  along  with   Mark Dominik  as the   team’s  general manager   have  been   entrusted  in   giving  the   team  a  new  sense  of  purpose  and  identity.    A  task  that  has  been  made  even   tougher   given  the  fact that  both  men  are   viewed as   novices  in their   fledgling    positions.  And  with  the  upheaval  within  the  team’s   roster .  It’s  hard  now  to  view  this  team  as  being  anything  more  than  an  afterthought  at this  juncture.   






At  the   heart   of  this  is  all  is  the  fact   that   on  paper  this   is  now a  very   young   team. And  with  it  comes   no   veteran  leadership  which   every   good   team  needs.  One  might  point  to   Ronde Barber   as  one  of the  last  vestiges  of    the   Buccaneers  from  their  halcyon   days  as  Superbowl  champions.   But even  he  isn’t  the  player  that  he  once  was.   Suffice  to   say   this   team   may   well  struggle  to  acquit  themselves this   upcoming  season  even with  the   presence  of  players  such as  Chris  Hovan,  Jeff Faine  , Antonio Bryant , Derrick Ward , Kellen Winslow Jr and  Luke  McCown.    And   even  with   the  acquisition  of  Derrick  Ward  a  proven  commodity   at   the  running   back  position.   The Buccaneers’  deficiencies  on   offense  at  times   bordered   on  sheer   ineptitude.  Their    struggles  to  find   the   end  zone  when  in  the   red  zone   territory  was   comedic  at   best  and   some  times   tragic.   When   your  over  reliance   is  placed  on  your  kicker   to  garner   the   points  needed  . Then  there  has  to  be  cause   for  concern.    That  being   said that   wasn’t   only  the  major   cause  for  concern  on this   team.   The defense    that  was   once   lauded  around  the  league  as being  one  of  the  best  in the league.   It seemed  as  if   overnight    many  of  the  players  had  forgotten   how  to execute   a  tackle   much   less  cover  an   offensive player.



  Continue reading “Well If It’s A Splash You Wanted Then This Wasn’t It ………”

Into Someone’s Life A Drop of Rain Must Fall ……………………

Well  havoc  was  wreaked within  One  Buc  Place  as  the  Glazer family  saw  fit  to  fire  their  coach  Jon Gruden and  General Manager  Bruce  Allen.  The  abruptness  of  the  firing  and  the  expediency  of  it  was  not  lost on  some.   In  some  areas  it  was  completely  unexpected.  And for   some  it  was  a welcoming   wish  for   what  they  believe  was  Gruden’s   comeuppance. If  nothing  else  it  was  felt  he  was  deserving  of  the  fate.  





Much  was  expected  of  the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as  they  headed  down  the  final  stretch  of the  season in the  month  of  December.  Leading  the  NFC  South  with a 9-3  record  the  team  all  but  laid down  and  succumbed  to  the  unthinkable  losing  their  final  four  games,  failing  to  make  the  playoffs.  If that  wasn’t  enough  Gruden’s demeanor  if nothing else  was  that  of  a man  who  felt  he  wasn’t  at  fault. If  there’s   anything   that  perhaps  personifies  what this  team  has  been about. It  has  been the inconsistency  of  the  team  under  Gruden’s  tenure  since  their  Superbowl  win .   There  has  been   just  as  many  peaks  and   troughs  with  the  team   as  there  has  been  in  the  stock  market.  And  if anything   for  the   Glazer  family  that’s  certainly  not  what  they’d   envisaged   from the  coach  when  they  lured  him  away from the  Oakland  Raiders  for  a  slew  of draft picks  and  $8m in compensation  that  benefited  the  Raiders.    A  king’s  ransom  was  paid  and  though  it has  paid dividends.  After  time  the allure of  the  transaction definitely  lost its  luster.






Mark Dominik far  left   along  with  Raheem Morris  the  new  coach of the  Tampa Bay Buccaneers    second from  right  ..............................



Mark Dominik(left) the  Buccaneers’  new general manager  is  seen  here  alongside  Bucs’  ownership executive  vice  presidents Edward and Bryan Glazer (center) new coach  Raheem Morris (second from the right) and  far  right  Joel  Glazer. picture  appears   courtesy of  getty  images/   Paul   Mason ………………….. 






For  vice-president  Joel  Glazer  and  his  father  Malcolm  the abruptness of  this  all came  about  with  a  seismic quake  that  took  the  NFL completely  by  surprise.  So  Gruden  now  becomes one  of   four  coaches  that’ve  won  the  Superbowl   and  have   either  retired  or  been  fired  this  season.  He  joins  Mike  Shanahan ,  Tony  Dungy and   Mike Holmgren   who all  have  one  thing  in common.  They’ve  seen  the  highs  and  lows  that   the  game  brings.  And  Dungy  if  one  remembers   was  the  person   replaced   by  Gruden.  Somewhat  ironic  one  might  think  that  Dungy  leaves  the  Indianapolis  Colts   under  his  own  steam   whilst   Gruden  is shown  the  door.










Though  there’d been speculation  as  to  who’d  take  over   from Gruden. The  likely  candidate  has come  from within, in-house.   The   Tampa Bay  Buccaneers  made  it  official  in the  naming  of  defensive  coordinator  Raheem  Morris  to  the  take  over from  Jon Gruden.    And  the  vacancy  of  the  general manager’s  position  would  also  be  filled   from  in-house by Mark Dominik.  Morris at  32  years  of  age  is  highly thought  of   within the  Bucs’ organization  and  learnt  his  craft under  the  watchful eye  of Monte   Kiffin.    Kiffin  departed  to  join  his  son  Laine  in  a similar  position  with  the  University  of Tennessee.   One  can assume  that  either   there was  a tumult   erupting   within  the  organization.  Or  in fact that  changes  had  to  be   made   from  within   because of the   failures  within   the  franchise  not   just  on  the  field   but  managerially  also.




Raheem Morris  introduced  to  the  convened  press  as  the  Buccaneers'  new  head  coach  ...................



Raheem  Morris  having  been  introduced as the  Buccaneers’  new  head  coach  takes   questions   from  the  convened  press.   picture  appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/  Matthew  Gould  ………………… 






Recruitment  wise  the  team  has had  some  hits  and  misses   but  there’ve  been  more  misses  than  hits.   And  it did  not  augur well   when  there  was  a  great  deal  of  discontent  between  the  coach  and  his  Pro-Bowl  quarterback  Jeff  Garcia.  The  ongoing  saga  and the   denials   by  Gruden  as  to  whether  or  not  the  franchise  was  in  pursuit of  Brett  Favre  only   added  to  much  of the  confusion.   And  if  there’s  been  one  thing  indicative  of  the  franchise  it  has  been  the  failure  to  develop  a  quarterback  for  the  future.  Year  in  year   out   it  has  either  been  a   recycling  project  by  the coach.  Or  he’s  looked  from  within  to  see what’s  available.  And   one  states  that  the  cupboard   was  bare.   It  wasn’t  an  understatement  !  Not  only  was  it  bare   but  talent wise  it  lacked   credibility.    The  names  of  Luke  McCown, and Brian  Griese  aren’t  exactly  what  one   consider  to  be  world  beaters  let  alone  put fear  into the  hearts  of   opposing  teams.   But  that’s  what   Gruden  felt   would  save  the  day   for  the  franchise.  It  has  been  ever   dependent   over the  years   on  its   defense   to  keep  it  in  games.    But  on the  offensive  side  of  the  ball  where   Gruden  was viewed  as  somewhat  of  a  genius.    Rarely   had  we  seen  anything   that  placate   the   situation  in  terms  of  the  ineptitude shown  at   times.









The  complete  lack  of   a  running   game though  it  can  be   said  that   injuries  to  Carnell  Williams  and   Earnest  Graham played its  part.   We  also  saw very  little  from  the  likes  of   Michael  Clayton  of  whom  it  can  be  said  if  he wasn’t  catching  the  ball.  He  could  be  relied  upon  for  a  timely   block.  But  the  body  of  his  work  has  been  negligible   since   his  entry  into  the  NFL.   What  has  been  even  more  glaring  has  been  the   team’s   failure  to   convert  on   third   downs.  Statistically  the   team  was  in the  lower  half  of  the  league.   And   its  most  potent   offensive  weapon  for  much  of  the  season  has  been  the  play  of  wide   receiver  Antonio  Bryant   and kicker  Matt  Bryant.  And  though  some  will  throw  in  the  name  of  Clifton  Smith. If  we’re   to  believe  that  Gruden  is  such  a  genius   then  why  is  it   that  he  wasn’t able  to  work  with  the   tools  in  his  tool  bag ?    After  all  isn’t  a  master  craftsman  able  to  work  with  whatever  he  has  at  hand ?   This  may  well  be  one  the   reasons  why   the  Joel Glazer  sought  the  path  he  did  in  making  the  decision  to   relinquish  Gruden  of  his  position as   the  coach.    As  to Bruce  Allen  once the  decision  was  made  to  let  the   coach  go.  It   seemed   only   plausible  that  the  ownership  would  seek  to send  the  general manager  packing  as  well.









As  to what  the  future  will   hold  for   Gruden  it  is  open  to  conjecture  and  speculation.  He  will in  all  probability  get another  coaching  position within  the  NFL.  But  we’ll   just  have  to wait  and  see  where  his  ultimate  destination   may  be.  Fans of  the  franchise  may  well  see  this  as  a sad  loss  for  the  organization as  voiced  by  the  Glazer family.  But  Gruden’s   time   at  the helm  was  enough  for  all  of   us  to  see  that  the  franchise   was  heading  nowhere.  The  inconsistency   was  one  thing   but  Gruden himself  in  no  way  sought  to  alleviate  the  problem  and take  accountability  for  his  faults  and  that  of  his  coaching  staff.  Rather  he’d  prefer  to  lay  the  blame  elsewhere.