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 .
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 .
Picture and slideshow details below .
(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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