Posts Tagged ‘Harem of the Gridiron Goddess’

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Fantasy Football Reality Check: The New Class

September 6, 2010

by Oh No Romo

The Prologue

Once upon a time, during the magical season that was 2008, I took first place for the first time in a football fantasy league.

No doubt, it was a magical moment in the history of Oh No Romo. There was a sense of vindication. Nobody could question me, because I won! I freakin’ won! I did so with the namesake and Joe Flacco at the quarterback position. What does that tell you!? (Okay I benefited too from the Ronnie Brown Wildcat special!)

Despite going 8-5 in the regular season, I pulled off the impossible in winning. Parades were held in a celebration. Folk songs were written about my team’s conquest in the playoffs and thus parodied by Weird Al Yankovic. Baskin Robbins created an Oh No Romo flavor for a day.

Okay, none of that was actually true. No town wanted to hold the parade. The folk singer wrote a song that never caught on in the AAA (Adult Album Alternative) charts and Baskin Robbins laughed me out of the store.

Most importantly, I didn’t receive a monetary type of award. No money was made in this my greatest conquest. No trophy or medal was ever received. It seemed almost as if my victory was as meaningless as being the first commenter to yell “FIRST” on a popular blog or online news article. It meant something to me, but not enough to brag about it at parties and job interviews.

So when the 2009 season rolled around, I sat out of the game. That’s right, I decided not to play fantasy football. The game meant nothing to me, it felt like. How was it any different from playing Madden? You can create your own team, turn off the salary cap, and win eight straight Super Bowls if you wanted. Now that’s fantasy!

However, much like a former smoker misses his or her Camels, I missed playing fantasy football. The desire refuses to leave.

But what’s the point of winning if you have nothing to play for? I never gamble on sports, with a possible exception to the NCAA Tournament.

My plan

Instead of playing to win with the best players I can get through a draft, I intend to play fantasy football using the worst players.

How many wins can you get if you have a crappy team? I am unaware of if this has happened before, or if there has even been columns using this idea, so I’m unsure of the success (or failure) rate.

The best way for me to have fun with this is to put out the worst team possible. Everybody wants to win, but if they start losing, they give up maintaining the team. If I go 0-13, so be it. I want to have the worst fantasy football team possible. I want to make losing sexy again. And I’ll stick with the program and maintain the team.

By no means am I doing this to insult those who play fantasy football. I don’t think of it as making a mockery of fantasy football…actually yeah I am making a mockery. Fantasy football deserves a loser column. Somebody has to take on this task and it might as well be me.

I’m sick and tired of the obsession over fantasy football. It’s nice to know the stats, but I don’t need to know who I should pick in the 12th round. Who gives a crap? Pick who you want to pick! If you want to pick a kicker in the first round, then go for it! Grow a pair and take Gostkowksi!

I don’t need fantasy football to make my life valid. That’s what technology is for! I fear that some out there might feel it’s all or nothing.

I sense an obsession of the game with some out there. We crave it, turning what is fantasy into our own personal reality. It’s like turning Ann Veal into Sarah Michelle Gellar. Face it, we’re always stuck with Veal and not because she’s funny.

I have little clue what I hope to do with this fantasy column. Hopefully, you find it to be entertaining. Maybe you think it’s informative. And maybe it will lead you to look in the mirror and realize that what you want to be reality, can only be fantasy.

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A Harem of the Gridiron Goddess post: That Notre Dame Preview

September 2, 2010

by Oh No Romo

It’s no surprise that my first official assignment for the GG would be coming sooner, rather than later. However, little did I know that I would handle the Notre Dame preview.

This is the one program that is so bold, that it needs no football conference, and thus requires a personal preview. What makes Notre Dame so special? (Gridiron Goddess: Who said they were Special?!!! Grrrrr. Hate them!)

All I know is that Notre Dame is responsible for giving Lou Holtz an ESPN segment, where he plays a psychologist, or a doctor of some kind. Has he even read any of those books on his shelf? And since when does South Carolina offer a Doctorate on Football Philosophy? This is getting too far off topic, where was I?

Notre Dame prepares for another season, but this time with a brand new coach. The Fighting Irish picked up Brian Kelly before the offseason.

Kelly hopes to implement a faster-pace, no-huddle offense. An offense that will affect the TV timeouts for NBC.

Now before I make some joke about Notre Dame leading FBS in shortest offense time on the field (make it a stat, Stats Inc.), this could be a better year for the Fighting Irish.

However, they need to jump out to a 2-0 start, which is possible since they have Purdue and Michigan. They have Boston College, Utah, Stanford and Pittsburgh to deal with this season.

If that’s not enough, their starting quarterback has thrown 20 passes in his career and is coming off an ACL injury. Anybody comparing Dayne Crist to Tony Pike seriously needs to lay off the Peyote.

Time will tell if Notre Dame has a successful season. I wouldn’t expect a nine-win season, but who knows.

As for the  question of whether Notre Dame will beat USC, I’m not sure it is possible to answer. After all, the game is late in the year. That said, USC will probably win.

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Guest Post: Walker Sports 2010 AFC East Preview

August 30, 2010

2010 AFC EAST PREVIEW

By Dumont J. Walker III

The 2010 NFL season is getting closer everyday. We are in week 3 of the preseason and the opening day rosters are starting to take shape. Before we get ready to kick everything off on September 8, make sure to get your full NFL preview right here at Walker Sports. Today we are talking about the AFC East.

New York Jets The New York Jets are the center of the NFL universe right now. The Jets current stint on the HBO series ‘Hard Knocks’ is the most watched season ever for the hit show, and ratings will only increase as camp continues. Head coach Rex Ryan has pushed himself into the spotlight and is one of the most sought after coaches when the media is looking for a good sound bite. The Jets organization has let it be known, that anything less than a Super Bowl appearance would be a disappointment, and they love the pressure of those high expectations right now.

While the Jets defense is one of the best units in the NFL, with or without Darrelle Revis, in will be the maturation of their offense that are key if the Jets want to make the trip to Dallas for the Super Bowl. Mark Sanchez is entering his second year in the NFl, and he cannot afford to suffer from a sophomore slump. I will be the first to admit that Mark Sanchez outperformed my expectations last season. However, while the Jets were able to rack up wins in 2009, Sanchez’s stats remained very pedestrian. Sanchez was bailed out many times last season by a dominate running that that led the NFL is yards and carries. For any rookie quarterback, a reliable running attack is their best weapon. In 2010, the Jets will again turn to their ground game to churn out yards and be the engine to their offense. The key to the Jets offense will be the L.T. Shonn Greene is a reliable back and he game on strong at the end of last year and in the playoffs, but it was Thomas Jones who carried the team during the regular season. Greene, cannot be the only reliable back in the Jets lineup. L.T. finds his form, but if the past three seasons in San Diego are indication, this may not be an easy search. If the Jets fail to establish a reliable running game, they will be forced to rely on Mark Sanchez to make big plays, something he has never done in his college or NFL career. Not too many Super Bowl contenders want to place their offensive hopes on a quarterback with a QB Rating hovering around 70.

On defense, you know what you are going to get with the Jets. They brought in Kris Jenkins to play tackle, and if his knee is healthy that gives them a massive anchor in the middle of the line that should create plenty of holes for the linebackers to run through. If nothing else the Jets are very thin on defense, and they cannot afford to suffer any injuries. Right now the Jets defensive unit is still a premier unit in the NFL. With Rex Ryan calling the shots, the Jets will apply crazy amounts of pressure to opposing quarterbacks via elaborate blitz schemes. If there are breakdowns in the secondary, the Jets are good enough to skip on the blitzes and play a base defense and still shut down the majority of offenses in the league.

New England Patriots: I’m willing to announce it, as a matter of fact, I will shout it from the rooftops, the Bill Belichick, “I’m a genius” era is over in New England. Don’t believe me? Then think about this for a moment, the Patriots have not won a playoff game since 2007. Tom Brady was able to bounce back last season after suffering a season ending knee injury the previous year. Now it will be Wes Welker’s turn to return from knee surgery. While Randy Moss is still the big name receiver on the Patriots roster, it’s Wes Welker who is arguably the most important. With the way Welker has looked in training camp, it’s hard to believe he hurt his knee in January. The Patriots say he will be ready to go come September, but I have plenty of reservations of how effective Welker will actually be once the regular season kicks off. One interesting storyline on the offensive side of the ball for the Patriots is 2010 is a contract year from Tom Brady. Typically players put up big numbers in contract years, I’d venture out to say Brady will be out to prove a point in 2010, and show the NFL he is still an elite quarterback.

Defensively while Bill Belichick may not be the guru he once was a few years ago, he is still one of the best defensive minds in the game today. The Patriots will use multiple sets, and formations to bring pressure and attack opposing teams. The Belichick system of defense is based on confusion. He will rush linebackers and drop linemen, and vice versa. While teams are becoming more adept to this style of pressure it can still be very useful, especially when facing a team with a young quarterback or rookie offensive linemen.

The Patriots are not the team they once were, nothing has been the same since 2007, but they are still very dangerous. New England did win the AFC East last year, and they will not give up that crown without a fight. If nothing else, many of the players remember the glory days of this organization and they are willing to do anything to regain that swagger they had just a few years ago.

Miami Dolphins: I really like the Dolphins, and placing them third in the AFC East may be a bit disingenuous to them. This is an organization that has come a long way in a very short amount of time, and if things go their way they could be ready for a breakout year. Let’s start at quarterback. The Chad Pennington noodle arm era is over and Chad Henne is ready to step in and be the fulltime starter. This is good news for the Dolphins. Henne is a very competent quarterback who is capable of managing the game, and throwing the ball down the field to make plays should the situation call for it. You can expect Miami to explore the Wildcat offense some more in 2010 as well. The Dolphins have a slew of running backs, all of whom are becoming experts at running the Wildcat. Pat White should be back after suffering a nasty injury last season, welcome to the NFL. While it is doubtful the Dolphins will call on White to be a primary playmaker, he can step in and make plays as well as run various positions from the Wildcat formation. Finally the biggest upgrade to the Dolphins offense is the addition of Brandon Marshal. The disruptive receiver is one of the best in the NFL. Bill Parcells is still calling the shots in Miami and he knows how to handle diva wideouts. If Marshal remains focused and shows why he is one of the most feared receivers in the league he will add a big play element to the Miami offense that has not been there in years.

Make no doubt about it; this is a Bill Parcells team. The Dolphins are loaded with talent, they are all hungry and they have a chip on their shoulder. Like any Parcells team there are a few characters who may spend a bit too much time engaging in bad behavior off the field, but that can be forgiven if they perform on the field. 2010 is the third year under Parcells in Miami and he has used his executive power to build a powerful team that has gelled over time. Now is as good as any for the Dolphins to make a run for it.

Buffalo Bills: The Bills are becoming all too familiar with this spot at the bottom of the AFC East. While having a decent draft talent wise (C.J. Spiller). They didn’t address the obvious need on their team, which is quarterback. Right now the Bills have three quarterbacks on the roster, and all them of them should be playing 2nd or 3rd string to a real quarterback on another team. Also hurting the Bills offense is a complete lack of continuity on the offensive line. Last season every starter spent some meaningful time on the injury list. It will take time before this unit can gel into a cohesive unit that can play at an NFL level. That’s a situation to be in considering the AFC East is full of blitz happy teams like New England and the Jets. As far as receivers go, the situation is not much better. Lee Evans has shown glimpses of promise throughout his career, but he has yet to string together an entire season worth of quality performances. Outside of Evans the Bills don’t have a legit second receiver so it will be up to him to create any downfield threat.

It’s a transition year for the Bills and that will be shown on the field. They have a new GM, a new coach and a new 3-4 scheme on defense. This means there is plenty of room for error on this team. The good news is the Bills have loyal and devoted fans who will not abandon their team in a time of need. That’s a good thing, because there is a good chance the Bills finish with the worst record in the NFL this season.

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Guest Post: Walker Sports 2010 NFC South Preview

August 19, 2010

Walker Sports NFC South 2010 Preview

by Dumont J Walker III

Brett Favre has returned to the NFL, and all is right with the world of football. Now, if September 12, would hurry up and get here, we can get this season underway. Till then you’ll just have to settle for this NFC South Preview.

New Orleans Saints: A great man once said, “To be the man you have to beat the man.” For the New Orleans Saints, that’s exactly the case. They are sitting atop the mountain, and until someone can knock them off they will remain there. The obvious thing to talk about when looking at the Saints is Drew Brees, and the high powered offense he leads. Brees has undergone an amazing transformation during his time in the NFL, from underrated, to one of the best in the game. You can expect with Sean Peyton calling the plays that Drew Brees will once again be lightning up NFL scoreboards, and torching opposing DB’s with his lethal passing. The key to success in 2010 will be the most overlooked part of the Saints offense, their running game. Last year New Orleans used a group of running backs to get this job done, and you can expect it to be more of the same in this year. Reggie Bush of course will gardener the headlines and make the electrifying plays, but the real treat this year will be when Bush mans up and starts taking carries between the tackles.

Gregg Williams was ran out of Washington by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and he has landed happily in the Big Easy, where he has built one of the most fierce defenses in the NFL. The Saints defense is all about applying pressure to the quarterback. The Saints attack and blitz, with wreck less abandon and inflict mental and psychological damage on opposing QB’s. The idea is to traumatize the opposing QB enough. And eventually he will make a mistake. Don’t think it works? Just look what the Saints defense did to two future Hall of Famers in Brett Favre and Kurt Warner in during last year’s post season. The Saints defense plays boarder line dirty in the way they attack a quarterback. They want to get their hands on a QB, and put him in the dirt as much as possible. This is a great tactic, and as long as opposing teams continue to grant the Saints access to their QB’s this defensive philosophy will work.

Atlanta Falcons: You can add the Atlanta Falcons to the list of sheik teams that NFL writers love to talk about. Matt Ryan had a bit of a sophomore slump last season, I use that term loosely, and in his third year he ready to emerge as an elite quarterback in the NFL. Helping Ryan out this season will be tailback Michael Turner who will return to the normal rotation after spending a good chunk of last season on the bench with injuries. There is no doubt, that a big reason behind Ryan’s drop in production was the result of not having his Pro-Bowl caliber running back behind him. While the Falcons will be happy to have Turner back in the mix of things, he is not the only weapon Matt Ryan has at his disposal. The Falcons have one of the great emerging receivers in the league in Roddy White, and they also have arguably the best tight end of all time in Tony Gonzalez. To sum things up, the Falcons have the offense to produce and you can put me on the record for stating the Atlanta Falcons will make the Wild Card this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs were the youngest team in the NFL last season, and while I’m not positive about it, I’m pretty sure Tampa Bay is close to that mark once again. Nonetheless, the Bucs got a chance to “blood” a lot of their young players last season. None more so than rookie quarterback Josh Freeman who was forced to leave for the NFL a year early after a coaching change at Kansas State. While showing plenty of rookie inexperience last year, it was Freeman who got the Bucs their first win on the 2009 season in an amazing come from behind win against Green Bay. Freeman would go on to lead the Bucs to three wins during his rookie campaign. Not Big Ben taking the Steelers to the Super Bowl, but impressive considering how bad Tampa Bay was during the early part of the season. Freeman showed glimpses of promise last season. There is no doubt he has the physical tools to be a playmaker in the NFL, the question is can he adapt to the speed of the game, learn how to read the complex defenses that will be thrown at him?

Raheem Morris had a rocky first year as a head coach. However, starting the season 0-8 will do that to you. As the season progressed it appeared that Morris was able to get a grasp on what was going on, and how to manage games. Morris is a defensive guy, and he drafted a powerhouse in Gerald McCoy in the first round of the 2010 draft. While I’ll save the Warren Sapp compression till McCoy actually plays there is no doubt he will add a big impact to the Bucs defensive line and their pass rush. If Morris can get the Tampa Bay defense to playing like they did in the early part of the 2000’s it’s possible they can pick off a few extra wins, and with some help, maybe flirt with the .500 mark.

Carolina Panthers: It wasn’t too long ago that the Panthers were perennial playoff participants, and Super Bowl contenders, but that was before Jake Delhomme fell off the tracks. After a disastrous year, Delhomme is out, and the Panthers are looking to usher in a new era at quarterback. The problem is they aren’t exactly sure who will lead that era. Dallas Cowboy castaway Matt Moore stepped in late last season to replace Delhomme and picked up four wins for the club. However, that was not enough to give him the starting quarterback job outright. Thanks to a crashing draft stock, former Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen fell into Carolina’s lap and the Panthers have themselves a good old fashion quarterback controversy.

While it’s most likely that Matt Moore will start the season as the Panthers starting quarterback, one has to expect he will be on a short leash. Anytime there is a hotshot young quarterback standing on the sidelines, he instantly becomes the fan favorite as soon as the starter throws a pick. I never believe that a team that finds itself in this situation can be productive on the field. The starting QB is constantly looking over his shoulder wondering when he will get the ax. Once the young backup comes in, far too often they are not ready to step into the starting role and find themselves playing behind the 8-ball.

Adding to the Carolina Panthers problems for the 2010 season is a lame duck coach in John Fox. Ownership in Charlotte has let it be known they are not looking to renew the longtime coach’s contract. However, they were reluctant to let him go after last season. Now baring a Super Bowl appearance Fox will not be back for 2011.

In a nutshell the Carolina Panthers are a mess, which is a shame because there is still a lot of talent on that team. Deangelo Williams is entering a contract year and you can bet he will have another solid season. The same can be said for backfield running mate Jonathan Stewart. It’s a shame that two of the league’s best running backs have to languish on such a tepid team; it must be what Steven Jackson feels like out in St. Louis.

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Guest Post: ACC Coastal Preview with OhNoRomo

August 19, 2010

There’s nothing like the ACC. It’s one of a kind! But it’s sad how the conference is split via the Atlantic and the Coastal. Why must there be so much division in this country? Can’t we all play nice…Nah!

The U

I’d be dumb not to mention Jacory Harris. In fact, I’d be a bigger idiot if I didn’t make Harris the focal point of this part of the preview. No doubt, this is Harris’ chance to shine.

Miami’s quarterback tradition dates well back to Bernie Kosar. The Hurricanes have had the likes of Vinny Testaverde, Steve Walsh, Gino Torretta, and Ken Dorsey. I’d include Brock Berlin, but he was a Gator at a certain point in his life. Harris has the opportunity to carve his own place in Miami’s history of quarterbacks. He’s already proven himself in the ACC, leading the conference in passing yards.

The schedule won’t be an easy as they face Ohio State Sept. 11, and then take on Pittsburgh the week after. If they can survive both of those games, they have a shot to run through the ACC.

Georgia Tech

They fell flat against Iowa in the Orange Bowl, which will always be disappointing to me. The big question facing the Yellow Jackets though is, can they really replace Jonathan Dwyer?

Dwyer’s production was helpful for Georgia Tech. But now that he’s gone, it’s up to Anthony Allen to carry the load alongside quarterback Josh Nesbitt. Allen ran for 618 yards and 6 touchdowns, third best on the team.

But now, Allen is moving from the tuba section to the clarinet section. I hope he has the right reeds.

Virginia Tech

Okay, who isn’t giddy over the showdown between the Hokies and Boise State? Whoever isn’t deserves to be punched in the nuts. It’s the tough Tech defense against those Blue guys that are turning into popular BCS attractions.

The potential is there for this to be the game of the century. Granted, the last sentence was a hyperbole sandwich with a side of fries. But this could be freakin’ awesome. It could be a 13-7 game and it would still be awesome. It’s Boise State’s chance to prove themselves against a BCS contender, one with a tough defense.

The Hokies are of course carrying the flag for the non-mid majors. And don’t think for a second that Virginia Tech didn’t forget about the loss to East Carolina in the 2008 opener. They’ll be looking to crush the Broncos, thus crushing the hopes and dreams of mid-majors everywhere.

North Carolina

What can I say about UNC that hasn’t been said? They have their share of issues. So instead of analyzing how Butch Davis will keep this team from falling apart, here are my thoughts on Bigfoot.

Now I admit, I don’t know if Bigfoot is real or not. For all we know, he’s a figment of our imagination. However, that’s what they said about the Yeti. And now he’s as accepted in our culture as the Jersey Shore cast.

Now before you ask the question, I’ll answer it now and say there’s no connection. However, if Butch Davis loses players over these improper benefits, maybe he can try to recruit the all-mighty Sasquatch.

Virginia

The Cavaliers first game this season will be against Richmond. It will be Mike London’s first game coaching against his former team, the same team he guided to an FCS title just a couple of years ago. (Gridiron Goddess: And their second game is @ USC.)

London has the challenge ahead of turning around one of the worst offenses in the conference. It won’t be an easy process, but London’s credentials give him the opportunity to make the offense better.

Maybe Virginia can get on the right track. After all, it’s not like they’re Duke or anything.

Duke

Oh, we’re at this point. And well, they have Alabama and Navy on their schedule. But hey, their basketball team won a national title, so did their lacrosse team. So, it’s at least something to make Duke fans forget about football, right?

The one bright spot is they have a coach that wants to stay at Duke and who has produced wins for the program. David Cutcliffe was reportedly considered for the Tennessee coaching job, but chose to stay put in Durham.  Last season, the former Ole Miss head coach guided the Blue Devils to a 5-7 record. The last time they won more than five games in a season was 1994.

When you’ve spent most of the time at the bottom, you have nowhere to go but up. Hopefully, Cutcliffe can help the Blue Devils up the hill in the ACC, thus keeping them out of the basement.

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Guest Post: Walker Sports 2010 AFC South Preview

August 16, 2010

AFC SOUTH

by Dumont Walker III

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts are still the top of the AFC South and that’s not easy considering the AFC South has my vote for the toughest division in the NFL. Last year Peyton Manning nearly cemented his legacy with a second Super Bowl victory, instead he is still toiling away looking for another ring. If Peyton wants to change his fortunes in 2010 one has to think the Colts will improve their running game. It wasn’t long ago that Indianapolis showcased a well balanced offense, where the passing game was based off of play action, that was generated through a reliable ground game. Last season the Colts struggled to generate any consistent offense on the ground. As a result Peyton Manning lost a large chunk of his arsenal. That won’t get it done in 2010.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Colts aren’t a stand out unit, but they are talented enough to get the job done. Dwight Freeney is still a stand out pass rusher in this NFL, despite losing a step as he’s aged. Of course the same old story with Indianapolis is will Bob Sanders be healthy this year? Last year Sanders sat out the majority of the year thanks to an arm injury. He was limited to just two starts, during that time Sanders recorded 6 tackles and 2 interceptions. The bottom line is, when Sanders is in the game, the Colts defense is one of the best in the NFL.

Record: 13-3
Houston Texans: This is their year, and I mean it this time. I feel like every preseason I’m all amped up about the prospects of the Houston Texans, and in 2010 they will finally deliver and make the playoffs for the firs time in franchise history. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan may be gone, but the Texans offense is still potent and dangerous. Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the league that no one talks about. This year he finally breaks through and reaches Chad Ocho Cinco and Randy Moss notoriety levels. If Johnson is going to become a household name in 2010 he is going to do so from catching plenty of passes from Matt Schaub. 2009 Schaub made a name for himself amongst fantasy owners when he lit up the league with his passing talents. This year Schaub will turn those gaudy passing numbers into victories on the field.

In the past people have been high on the Texans, but they simply were not ready to take the next step and become a playoff contender. Last season, Houston had the talent to become a playoff team, but they were not mentally prepared. Every time Houston found themselves in a tight game, they came up short because they were unable to execute under pressure. These miscues come as a result of a team that’s not used to being under the spotlight. In 2010 the Texans will lean on the experience of previous years to guide them through the tough times and into an AFC Wild Card game.

Record: 10-6

Tennessee Titans: It’s practically a crime that Jeff Fisher has not been able to bring a Super Bowl to Tennessee, he truly is one of the great coaches of our time. This year alone Fisher has had to deal with a slew of off the field issues that include Vince Young getting into fights at a strip club, USC coach Lane Kiffen stealing his coaches, and his star tailback Chris Johnson threatening a hold out. Despite all of those distraction, the Titians have everyone in camp and on time.

Last season Chris Johnson lit the league on fire when he rushed for 2,000 yards. As a result many people are expecting Johnson to come through with another monster year, Johnson himself is predicting that he can break the all time single season record. This blogger, does not believe that is possible. Chris Johnson is a great back, but rushing for 2,000 yards on consecutive seasons is near impossible, especially for a small back. Johnson will have a good season if he can top the 1,500 yard mark.

The Titans are still a dangerous team, who will hover around the .500 mark, and cause plenty of problems for the rest of the AFC South. However, a run into the post season will be near impossible. The division is just too tough.

Record: 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars: There’s not a lot to say about the Jaguars. Yes Maurice Jones-Drew is a stud as a running back, but that’s not enough to elevate this team. The glaring issue with the Jacksonville Jaguars is their quarterback. David Garrard is a serviceable quarterback, but his time as a starter in the NFL are long gone. He simply does not posses the tools to make the plays on a regular basis. As a result, the Jaguars are always playing with a half a deck on offense.

The good news for Jaguar fans is MJD is one of the best in the game, and he will get his 1,300-1,400 yards on the season. With stats like that, it should be enough to keep Jacksonville competitive in all of there games and give them a chance to win a few. Unfortunately for Jaguar fans, MJD alone is not enough to get the Jags above .500 or into the playoffs.

Record: 7-9

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Guest Post: Walker Sports NFC East Preview

August 13, 2010

Football Fiends!

Please give a warm Gridiron Goddess Welcome back  to Walker Sports with their fantastic NFL Previews. Up first, the NFC East!

NFC East

By Dumont J. WalkerIII

Baseball used to be this country’s pass time, but now it is football. And while college football is amazing with all of its pageantry, it is the NFL that is the king amongst American sports. With a new NFL season just around the corner, there is plenty to talk about and discuss. This is the first installment of our NFL preview series. Since Walker Sports is located in the Mid-Atlantic territory, we will kick things off by talking about the NFC East.

-Teams are listed by predicted finish.

Dallas Cowboys: The Dallas Cowboys are on everyone’s radar going into this season, and there’s plenty of reason for that. Last year, Dallas finally got over their 12 year playoff drought, and won a game in the Wild Card round against division rival Philadelphia. This season Tony Romo and company are looking to take the next step and play in the Super Bowl.

Tony Romo told Cowboy fans at a pre-season pep rally they were going to make the Super Bowl. If he wants to make good on that offer the Cowboys need to improve on their mental toughness. On the field Dallas has all the weapons. On offense Tony Romo has matured into the natural leader and on the field general. Surround Romo is a virtual Pro-Bowl list of talented running backs and receivers. One of the most interesting story lines coming out of Dallas this preseason is the competition between Felix Jones and Marion Barber. Jones has put on some muscle and is looking to take over as the primary back if he can prove durable enough. Marion Barber dropped a few pounds this off season and is looking faster and stronger than he ever has. Toss in the emergence of Tashard Choice and the Cowboys have three talented backs that can step in and be a feature player on any given down.

The Cowboys are also stacked at the wide out position. Roy Williams seems to have been motivated by the arrival of rookie Dez Bryant. Williams has looked sharper and faster during training camp than he ever has. Last year’s breakout star Miles Austin is still cemented as the team’s number one receiver, and now that he has dumped distraction Kim Kardashian, he is ready to play football. If Dez Bryant can overcome an early season ankle injury there is no doubt he will have an immediate impact and add a great deep threat.

On defense, the Cowboys finished the season ranked second and they have all the key players back. If the Cowboys want to improve on their mental toughness, they can look no further for help than Keith Brooking. The linebacker found a second life last year and became the emotional leader of the Cowboys. Brooking is a master of the 3-4 scheme and he is the ultimate pro, providing leadership for Ware and Spencer. If there is a question about the Cowboys it is in their secondary, and they continue to look for an answer at the safety position. Expect Wade Philips to dial up plenty of blitz packages, and rely on his front seven to create pressure, and protect a shaky secondary.

Philadelphia Eagles
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Donovan McNabb is gone, and Kevin Kolb is calling the shots for the Eagles. There is no doubt the flow of the Eagles offense will be affected. However, the move is consistent with the youth movement Andy Reid has put in place. DeSean Jackson is the new play maker and the deep threat. LeSean McCoy has stepped in to become the new feature back and replace the departed Brian Westbrook. If all of these young players can mold the Eagles could become the sleeper team in a weak NFC.

On the defensive side of the ball, there is no doubt the Eagles suffered a setback with the lost of defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. While Philadelphia still blitzes a lot, and they try to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks, it was evident that the defense did not carry the same bite in 09 as they had in previous years. The dirty little secret about the Eagles success over the last decade was their defense. When the Eagles are able to dial up effective blitz packages, they can shut down anyone. But, when those blitz’s fail to generate pressure and knock a quarterback off their rhythm, they just serve to create matchup problems in the secondary that end up hurting the Eagles. For an example of what an ineffective Philadelphia defense looks like, look no further than their final two games of last year against the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas was able to use their massive offensive line to create huge holes and they countered Philadelphia blitz’s by utilizing a wide variety of draw plays.

While I have the Eagles ranked second in the NFC East, I could easily see them falling behind the New York Giants, and maybe even the Washington Redskins. In the end, the 2010 Eagles are a 9-7 team if they can get everything to go their way.

New York Giants: It’s hard to believe that it was only three seasons ago that the Giants went on a miracle run and knocked off the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl, and seemingly were on their way to creating their own dynasty. How quickly the winds of change blow within the NFL, altering team’s fortunes. The biggest difference in the Giants is their offense, and the disappearance of their rushing attack. When New York is at their best, they feature a two or three headed rushing attack that can punish a defense however they want. In 2009 that attack went silent and so did the Giants. Brandon Jacobs was the epitome of a NFL power back when he broke out in 2007 and 2008. However, it appears that after receiving a contract extension the big back has lost some of his direction. In 2009 Jacobs only ran for 835 yards, and averaged a puny 3.7 yards a carry. All of this while weighing in at a hefty 270-280 pounds. Compounding the ineffectiveness of Brandon Jacobs in 2009 was the drop of in production from speed back Ahmad Bradshaw. After averaging 5.3 yards a carry in 2008 Bradshaw appeared ready to step into spotlight for the Giants, this is why they released running back Derrick Ward, but Bradshaw regressed in 2009. He was only able to compile 778 yards on 163 carries. Not bad, but nearly the production you want from a guy who was expected to transform into a feature back.

The Giants must find a way to run the ball, and take some pressure off of Eli Manning. While proving to be a good and reliable quarterback, he is not Peyton. The Giants cannot afford to put Eli in positions where he has to throw the ball 40 or more times a game and hope to make something happen. This is especially the case when his go to receiver is Steve Smith (not of the Panthers).

The offense was not the only unit to fail the Giants in 2009; the defense can take plenty of blame for New York missing the playoffs as well. What was once the best defensive line in football injuries and pure lack of production has left the Giants defensive line in shambles. Justin Tuck must play better in 2010. When he is at his best, he is nothing short of controlled chaos on the defensive line. Along with Osi, Tuck has to increase his production in 2010. Right now the Giants are also banking on the emergence of second year rush linebacker Clint Sintim to provide that extra spark they may have been missing in 2009.

Much like the Eagles, the 2010 season can go in either direction for the Giants. There is no doubt they will split one or two of their series in the NFC East and then hope for the best with the remainder of the schedule. What is in their favor is the NFC is weak overall and if the Giants can hover around the 8-8 or 9-7 mark they will keep themselves in the Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins: It’s the beginning of a new era in Washington DC, and if you’re a Redskins fan that is the news you’ve been waiting for over the last ten years. For the first time since Marty ball left the district, the Redskins have a head coach who knows what he is doing, and has a plan to build on (sorry Joe Gibbs). Mike Shanahan has taken over as the Redskins head coach, and he wasted no time in putting his mark on the organization. Out is former first round draft pick Jason Campbell, in is Pro-Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb. It’s pretty obvious that McNabb is an instant upgrade at quarterback. He is a grizzled veteran player who has seen just about everything there is to see in the NFL. He should also have a chip on his shoulder since the Eagles thought so little of him they traded him to a division rival. According to reports already emerging from Ashburn, the biggest obstacle for Donovan McNabb in 2010 will be adjusting to and learning the language of a new offense. Mike Shanahan has placed the over under at two years. Too bad, Donovan may not be around that long, but that is another story.

While the change on the offensive side of the ball is obvious in Washington, the changes on the defensive side of the ball could prove to be the game changer. Jim Haslet has stepped in as the new defensive coordinator for the Burgundy and Gold and he is bringing the 3-4 defense with him. This is a change in philosophy from the 4-3 that Washington has run forever. The interesting twist in all of this is Washington was a solid defensive team last season. They were simply left on the field too long because of an anemic offense. The advantage of the 3-4 is it should generate more pressure and in turn force more turnovers, something the Skins have lacked in recent years. The 3-4 also allows second year star Brian Orakpo to showcase his exceptional athletic ability by moving him to rush linebacker and allowing him to blitz up to 70% of the time.

There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Washington Redskins. One thing I do know is this is a better team than last year, simply because they will be more organized and they have leadership both on and off the field. That being said, there are a lot of moving pieces that the Burgundy and Gold are trying to fit together in a very short amount of time, and that does not always yield the best results. In addition, Mike Shanahan has employed some hard discipline tactics, see Albert Haynesworth, while that’s good for a new coach to establish himself, it can also create tension. The Redskins still have strong personalities in their locker room, many of whom are happy to fall in line during the pre-season, and when the team is winning. But if the team takes a nose dive, those same hard handed tactics could backfire.

The key thing to remember with the Redskins is they went 4-12 in 2009, a 7-9 season is a vast improvement and getting above .500 is damn near a miracle.