Thursday, 31 January 2013

NFL Super Bowl edition

By JC Godin

Here we are, after five months, Super Bowl 47 is finally upon us!! Back in New Orleans after a 11 year absence! No one throws a Super Bowl party like New Orleans!! NO ONE!! It's mardi style!!

Ravens versus 49ers!! By now we all know the story lines. Ray Lewis, the Harbaugh brothers, the DeBartolo family back at the SB, Ed Reed's first SB, Colin Kaepernick. It's safe to say this year's SB matchup turned out to be a nice one! The script could have not been written any better!

I really can't tell you who's going to win, both teams had their defining moments this season. San Francisco's week 1 matchup against Green Bay, their loss to the Vikings in week 3, followed by a whooping of the Jets in week 4, which was one of those dreadful 1pm eastern time starts for a pacific team! But we all know the pendulum swung for the Niners during week 10! The St. Louis Rams opened the window for young Colin Kaepernick and he seized the opportunity! The week 11 win at NO, and most of all the whooping they gave the Pats in NE week 15! Jim Harbaugh made a difficult decision, but it turned out to be the right one. Recall how yours truly loved the decision Jim Harbaugh made. Kaepernick opens things up for Frank Gore and the running game; look what took place two weeks ago!! I'm glad to see the Niners back where they belong! With its rich tradition, this team does not belong at the bottom, they just don't. Also, it's quite refreshing to see a young QB like Kaepernick play at the SB with only 9 games started under his belt! Only Jeff Hostetler (Giants 90-91) and Vince Ferragamo (Rams 78-79) played less games as a starter going into a SB. His attitude is on point! Back in the fourth grade, he had to write an essay about his future. He envisioned himself one day playing for the Forty-Niners, as he put on print, and voila! Fait accompli. He's like a kid who just walked inside a candy store for the first time! How could he possibly bother fans?? Every game his confidence is growing by leaps and bounds! Good for him!!

A lot is at stake though, how he will handle the pressure will be interesting to see! San Fran could go 6 for 6 with a win on Sunday and tie the Steelers with 6 SB wins! Looking at the 49ers roster, most of the players were all drafted originally by San Francisco! Crabtree, V. Davis, Staley, Iupati, A. Davis, Gore, Kaepernick, A.Smith, McDonald, Willis, Bowman, Goldson..... That right there is TREMENDOUS work by the upper staff! Kudos to general manger Trent Baalke and his director of college scouting, Joel Patten!!

The same can be said about the amazing job GM Ozzie Newsome has done with the AFC representatives!! You build through a draft!! It takes patience, but when the pieces come together and the attitude is right, the promised land is your destination!! Baltimore also were put in a predicament, where coach John Harbaugh had to make a tough decision and made that difficult choice! He fired his OC, Cam Cameron with a month left in the regular season! Also, I could see this was the right decision, but because of how late it was made, I wasn't sure about it, but it didn't matter. The training wheels were taken off of Joe Flacco and magic followed with his performance against the Giants in week 16, followed it up against the Broncos and Pats! But all really started to change for Joseph last year against the Steelers in Pittsburgh! The week 8 matchup that ended 23-20 for the Ravens on a last-minute winning drive! Ever since, Joe has played well in all "BIG" games! But somehow the key for the Ravens remains Ray Rice. The Ravens are 21-3 when Rice carries the rock more then 20 times!

On the defensive side of things, the Ravens are looking like their old selves! As Ray Lewis stated in his NFL network documentary, "This team (Ravens) is known as the team that never dies," and that's exactly what they showed us against the Broncos and against the Pats!

Both teams will be ready! From special teams to defense to offense, the brothers are excellent coaches! I truly believe we are in for a treat on Sunday! It's like everything seems so perfect; Lewis passing of the torch to 49ers LB Patrick Willis, Ed Reed back home since he's from NO! It's going to be a good one! And we all love Super Bowls not for the silly halftime shows, some enjoy the commercials, which I don't really care for, but Super Bowls are always about those unexpected heroes, like David Tyree or superstars like Lynn Swann that come up big and who are forever remembered, engraved in our memories thanks to NFL Films!!

On a pessimist note, I do find the Super Bowl a tad depressing....... The season is over!! I can't wait for the rookie combine to roll around come end of February! You have to get ready to take notes for the draft, which I will blog about during March and April!

Good Super Bowl to all!! 

Friday, 18 January 2013

What we learned: NFL divisional playoff round!

By JC Godin
Holy mother of lord!! What a weekend that was!!! I do not recall an NFL playoff weekend where we had two instant classics and maybe the birth of "the next thing," the second coming, Colin Kaepernick!!!

Let's talk Kaepernick! Recall what I said about Kap when he first got wet?? Dual-threat QB, makes it harder for defenses. It's hard to game plan versus such a threat when your offensive line is DOMINANT and your running back is named Frank Gore!! But what really stood out about Colin is not how fast he can run, nor how smart he is at reading defenses, but the accuracy on his throws are close to sublime! I'm not joking!! Pay close attention this Sunday or go look back at some game tape! Green Bay put up a good fight, but by the end of the third quarter, that D had no answer for Kap!!

We witnessed the Pats win at home... Bla bla bla.... Zzzzzzzz... Snore fest!!! We all knew New England was going to win and we didn't learn anything! We already knew that Matt Schaub stinks in red zone and third down situations!

Alright, classic #2 showed us how good the Seattle Seahawks are, even in defeat! Scoring 28 unanswered points in two quarters!! WOW!! Colin Cowherd of ESPN claims that Russell Wilson is a top-five QB in the NFL, and you know what? I kind of agree with him! Seattle is going to kick some serious ass next year and maybe for many years to come! One thing is for sure, the Seahwaks/49ers, Wilson/Kaepernick feud will be fun to watch! And that Seahawks D will still shine regardless of the loss of their defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who took the job as HC in Jacksonville!

I have to give it to the Falcons though, Matt Ryan is also top five QB in the league! He is leading this team well, and a lot of the credit has to go to HC Mike Smith, who hired Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter as DC and OC! But on Sunday, this is where it stops for the Falcons!

Classic #1, Ravens vs Broncos, was maybe the best game I have ever watched, and I've seen plenty of football! There is so much to take from this game, I don't know where to start! John Fox's conservative ways again come and bite him in the rear-end! How all mighty Peyton looked like someone who could not make a 20-yard pass from the third quarter on! How safety Rahim Moore misplayed the ball and that is quite the under statement!!! That was bad!!!! Just Horrible ball skills!! But most of all, what I took from this game was the never give up, believe attitude the Ravens had throughout the match!! Joseph Flacco is also top five in the NFL! Say what you want to say, but Flacco is LIGHTS OUT!! Ever since coach Harbaugh fired OC Cam Cameroun, it's like the "training wheels" finally came off!! It was truly a team effort, from Flacco to Ray Rice to Ray Lewis and his 17 tackles! SAY WHAT!! Yes, 17 tackles!! From Torrey Smith's first half to Anquan Boldin's 2nd half! From T-Sizzle to CB Corey Graham, who played the game of his life!! The fifth round draft pick of the Chicago Bears from 2007 never played such a game in his career!! That's playoffs. The unsung hero emerges from that one game at that special time!! The most impressive thing about the Ravens win is the fact that they won despite the fact they gave up two special teams TDs to Trindon Holliday (I'm sure the Texans are kicking themselves after cutting him!!)! On a side note, I was quite glad to see the Broncos lose! Take that, John Elway!! The way he played Tebow out of Denver, let's just call what happened on Saturday poetic justice! I'm sure Elway had nightmares of last year's playoff game against the Steelers! Te-Bow, Te-Bow!!! Tebow has one thing Manning doesn't - A playoff win as a Denver Bronco!!

Looking at championship Sunday's games, as I stated earlier, I think the Niners will beat the Falcons! The O-line and D is way too dominant right now, and with the emergence of Colin Kaepernick, forget about it!! Nice season Falcons! Though I don't expect the Niners to steamroll all over the Falcons! Atlanta will make it interesting!

As for the AFC, the Ravens are the team nobody wants to play right now!! Ray's goodbye gave this team the last push it needed after Cameroun's firing! The Ravens are rolling on all cylinders!! Yes this is the all-mighty Pats, and I'm a huge Tom Brady guy, I like Brady, but Flacco out-balled him in the last two meetings against him. He also just out-balled Peyton Manning! The Ravens have no reason to fear the Pats, but the Pats should fear the Ravens!! This is a dangerous team to play against! If football gods truly exist, the Ravens will win against New England and make it to the Super Bowl!! Win or lose, it don't matter; just to make it there will be incredible for the franchise! It will be the last time Lewis, Reed and Suggs will get to play together, and how fitting would it be for them to do it on the biggest stage of them all!!

How sweet would it be to see the two brother coaches go at it for the Lombardi Trophy! Let's go Niners and Ravens!!! 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Marc Trestman leaves the Alouettes on a high note

The inevitable has happened as the NFL's Chicago Bears announced early Wednesday morning that they have named Marc Trestman as their 14th head coach in franchise history.

For many Montreal Alouettes fans, it is a bittersweet day to see arguably the most successful head coach in franchise history leave for the greener pastures and bigger opportunity down south.

In 2008, when Trestman was hired by the Alouettes there were questions on whether or not a man of his background would adapt to the CFL game. He went beyond the requirements of the game, and learned the Canadian culture, and made sure his players and staff respected the core values the game and country lives on.

Trestman transformed a football program that went from the brink of a potential abyss to the most desired destination, and being anointed the New England Patriots of the north.

In the coaching profession it is a short shelf life business. After leading the Alouettes to three consecutive Grey Cups appearances and winning it back to back, Trestman had the keys to the city.

Trestman could have stayed on with the Montreal organization and coach six months out of the year. He would be able spend the rest of his time with his family which was one of the important reasons why he enjoyed the CFL structure.

But for those who are apart of the coaching field all know this job does get monotous, and maybe Trestman felt it was time to move onto a bigger challenge. Ultimately, it is a every coach's dream to be at the highest level. Just like in '08 when many including myself questioned whether or not Trestman had the tangibles to retore the Alouettes dominance. He did that, plus more.

It could be viewed in the coaching journey that in-order for Trestman to reach the point that he is today, he needed to take the back roads of the CFL. It is an unorthodox approach, but it paid off in the long run as he will get the golden opportunity to coach one of the most storied NFL football franchises.

Right now the sadness is fresh for many Alouettes fans knowing they would never ever get a coach of Trestman's success in a short period of time. Furthermore, whoever does become the next head coach in Montreal will have enormous shoes to fill.

To use a comparison, it is like a hit television show that loses one of its main characters due to the actor exploring other endevors in their career. Usually, the show is not the same. In this case, the Alouettes hope the show will continue to be strong and competing for Grey Cups.

As Trestman moves on to the next chapter of his life. A sullen cloud has casted itself over the city of Montreal and its fans. But the Alouettes will hope to unearth another great coach that will continue to carry the torch of success for many years to come.

Simply put, Trestman came to Montreal as a humble coach looking for an opportunity. He leaves the city with legacy that may never ever be equaled in franchise history. Coach Trestman, good luck in your next project.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, every Friday morning on The Snack, and various shows on TSN 690.

NHL fans are weak

It seems like every media outlet is reporting about the excitement surrounding the return of NHL hockey. Team practices are full, the chatter in local watering holes has picked up and hockey pools are out of control. What happened to the so-called fan strike?

From October until a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't go a full day without someone telling me how they were boycotting the league and couldn't envision themselves watching hockey any time soon. Where is that conviction and resolve? It seems to have given way to a sort of herd mentality, where elation and team devotion have once again filled most fans' minds.

Leading poster and pennant site recently put out a release on NHL sales, revealing that hockey items were down 40% in the fourth quarter of 2012. It led to speculation that perhaps fans wouldn't be returning to the game quite so quickly.

But as we approach the abbreviated season, there's nary a word from disgruntled fans. Sure, some wanted more concessions from teams in certain markets. But other than that, it seems like happy times are here again.

Maybe I'm just too jaded overall, but where's the anger and disgust and disdain for the players and owners?

Monday, 14 January 2013

Why every CFL fan should be rooting for Jim Popp

The Montreal Alouettes have epitomized the word "success". Since their reincarnation in 1996, the organization has set the standard of stability, success, and sustainability in the CFL.

Now it seems this has become a yearly tradition on whether or not their important decision makers could opt for bigger NFL projects.

Even though head coach Marc Trestman has garnered  recent attention of the coaching vacancies in the NFL. Alouettes fans should be keeping an eye on the potential departure of general manager Jim Popp.

Since '96, the team's success has correlated to Popp's strength of identifying players who might not come from a big name football school but understands the game. What best defines the Alouettes architect, he never tips his hand on who he is recruiting to the organization. Only those within his inner circle of a strong scouting department knows the blueprint to success that Popp has envisioned for the Alouettes.

To best define the word stability, throughout Popp's time with the Alouettes. Their three division rivals have gone through a combined total of 23 general managers.

To best define the word sustainability, in 11 of the past 13 years, the Alouettes have experienced double digit wins in a season.

In conversing with those who work around the NFL game, they all believe Popp has the ability to run a personnel department.

However, there will be doubters who will question whether a person with a CFL background could be given the keys to operate an NFL franchise. But regardless of your football background, Popp has demonstrated an ability to unearth and convince free agents to ply their traits in Canada.

What makes Popp a special talent his is ability to work within a CFL salary cap which is equivalent to a signing bonus that NFL players get on the first of March. If a NFL personnel decision maker were to swtich places, chances are minimal they would equal the same success that Popp has achieved.

Being a general manager of a professional sports team requires to wear many hats. The great talent evaluators are the ones who are not at the forefront until they're called upon. Popp has continuously effort the hard work needed as he spends the bulk of the calendar year on the road evaluating talent. Even though this might be viewed differently by the seven other CFL teams, two years straight of not making the Grey Cup is considered to be a drought for the Alouettes organization. Hence, why Popp continues on in his pursuit of team greatness.

The endpoint, all CFL evaluators should be pulling for Popp in trying to get hired as a NFL general manager. Rival teams should realize Popp is slowly paving the way of regardless of your football background, if you have an eye for talent, a NFL team will find you.

Whenever the day comes that Popp decides to move on from his current position to pursue another opportunity. The Montreal fan base will realize and appreciate what he did in making football relevant in this town. He will go down along the lines of the great Sam Pollock as an iconic Montreal sports figure for sustaining success with one organization.

Every CFL fan should be rooting for Jim Popp in his possible pursuit of the NFL, it will legitimize the Canadian game, and make everyone proud that one of their own is running an NFL franchise.

Follow me on Twitter @MoeKhan19

Listen to me every Tuesday night on Gamepoints, Friday mornings on The Snack, and various shows on TSN 690.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

What we leanred and witnessed NFL wild card edition

This is going to be a short edition of what we learned in the NFL since there was only 4 games but it will be just as jam packed!

Let's start things with the hot topic of the week. We learned that either coach Shanahan or Dr. James Andrews lied to us! The RG III situation turned out to be a real mess! Coach tells the press that the doctor cleared player to play yet doctor claims he never inspected player's knee!! Well, worst case scenario unfolded for all 3 parties involved, Griffin tore his LCL and needs to reconstruct his ACL, and the injury was the last thing coach Shanahan wanted since he let Griffin play way too long on Sunday! I know, it's the playoffs, and there was no way Griffin was gonna sit out. What kind of message is he sending out to his teammates if he decides to sit out? And what kind of message coach Shanny sends out by not playing Griff?? I know it's a unpopular decision but someone had to take make an take that decision somewhere in the 2nd half of the game especially with the horrible field conditions! DE, Chris Clemons of the Seahawks tore his ACL during the game because of the bad grass!! The game is now a thing of the past so I guess there is no need to re-hash what could of been done to protect RG III, what is done is done but all NFL fans are wishing a speedy recovery for one of the most spectacular rookies the NFL has seen since Adrian Peterson!

Let's talk about Mike Shanahan! He contradicted himself at his press conference after the game, more then a politician does when running a campaign! What has Shanahan done really besides those 2 glorious years in Denver?? Nothing, nada, zilch!! His playoff record stands at 1 win and 6 losses since the 98-99 super bowl! I never was a huge fan of the man but after listening to his press conference it's safe to say I really don't care for coach Shanahan! I could go on here but I have to keep this blog clean!

We also knew that the Seahawks and CB, Richard Sherman, are massive trash talkers but what took place after the game has no place! LT, Trent Williams of the Redskins went to meet up with Sherman after the game! Things were being said and Williams told Sherman he was gonna punch him in the face! Sherman told him to go for it and smack right in the face!! This is the kind of incident the NFL should not tolerate! I understand Sherman has a big mouth, but Williams has no business to go and stalk Sherman after the game to give him a piece of his fist!

We also witnessed another post season disaster performance by Bengals QB, Andy Dalton! I like the kid but he is starting to show signs of regressing mentally when playing in big games! And what was with the play calling in the first half of the game? All Star wide receiver, A.J. Green saw zero targets within the first 2 quarters! Houston looked better then they have as of late but if they play the same way on Sunday vs the Pats, they basically have no chance! NONE! Matt Schaub has to fix those red zone issues but I do have to say the play calling from coach Kubiak and offensive coordinator, Rick Dennison, is atrocious! You will not defeat the Pats, in NE with field goals!

Boy do the Packers look like a rejuvenated team! They are getting healthy at the right time! Jordy Nelson, Charles Woodson, BJ Raji and Greg Jennings are all back! I would not be shocked to see Green Bay win on Saturday but I still think San Fran's defense will have the upper hand in that matchup, all depending on how effective Justin Smith is! Whatever happens, Packers vs 49ers is by far THE game of the week!

We also witnessed Hall of Famer, Ray Lewis play his last home game! What a emotional game that was! I still have shivers just talking about it! It was beautiful to see the Ravens defense ball the way they did on sunday! If Ray's goodbye to the game gives that extra push that the ravens desperately need, then so be it! The offense also made sure it wasn't gonna be Ray's last NFL game as wide receiver, Anquan Boldin posted one of his best games of the season! What a storyline it would be for Ray Lewis to win one more Super Bowl in his last year! It will be a tough task at hand for the Ravens to defeat the Broncos in Denver's backyard but recall the week #15 matchup, the broncos were only up 10-0 with less then a minute left to the first half, and the Ravens were about to make it 10-7 but Flacco threw a bad pass that resulted in a pick 6 and that was all she wrote, game over! But whatever takes place, we will all remember Lewis's last home intro coming out of the tunnel and Lewis's dance after the game! It was his way to say thank you to all the fans but we're the ones saying thank you! Thank you for all of the Sundays you have given us! Thank you for your inspiring ways! Thank you for the passion that you brought onto the field every time! Thank you for being the man that you are but most of all, the greatest leader I have ever seen in ALL sports!! 

Friday, 4 January 2013

What we know about the 2012 NFL season

By JC Godin

That's a wrap, the season is done with, it's a thing of the past! Let season #2, or chapter #5 (every month is a chapter) begin!!!

Let's take a quick look back at week 17 before we talk playoffs!

We witnessed a classic last Sunday between the Vikings and the Packers, for many different reasons! We all know how good Adrian Peterson is, but seriously, after that performance, to end such a terrific season, coming back better then ever after blowing up his knee, is just superman-like!! That last run will be remembered as the run that got his team into the playoffs, and as the run that knocked out the Bears, and sadly, as the run that came up nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105. Even so, AP  ran for a buck nighty-nine!!

Peterson showed this year that his name belongs with the great running backs of all-time!

We also saw the Cowboys falling flat on their face, coming up short at the  finish line ONCE AGAIN!!! Suffering from the same brain camps at the end of the season ONCE AGAIN!!! The Dallas Cowboys are like a broken record! It's the same song and gets stuck at the same scratch!! I find it amusing! Cowboys get a lot of media attention and for some reason it always turns into one big soap opera!! It's like watching Dallas, or As the World Turns on Valley Ranch!! Please, if I have to watch such crap, at least make it good!!

Witnessing the Cowboys coming up short two years in row on the last Sunday is a script well written and deserving of golden globe or soap opera nomination for best screenplay, with Tony Romo receiving a nod as best lead actor!

Speaking of awards...

MVP: Adrian Peterson

I think Peterson's season is the greatest year ever in the NFL for a RB!! Minnesota is well coached, has an underrated defense and good special teams. But offensively, take AP out of the picture..... Yeah, exactly my thoughts!

Honorable mention: Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers!

Offensive player of the year: Adrian Peterson

2,097 rushing yards with 12 rushing scores. 40 catches with 1 receiving TD!! Thats special stuff right there!

Honorable mention: Calvin Johnson, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Marshawn Lynch, Albert Morris

Defensive player of the year: J.J. Watt

44 tackles for a loss, 21.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 2 fumbles recoveries, 16 tipped passes!!! UNREAL!!!

Honorable mention: Darryl Washington, Charles Tillman, Von Miller

Comeback Player of the year: Peyton Manning

No need to say why!

Honorable mention: it doesn't matter!!

Offensive Rookie of the year: Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck was not treated like a baby by the Colts! He was unleashed in a men's league from the start. I don't  care if he threw 18 picks, he was asked to throw the ball 627 times!! That, for a rookie, is insane! Luck guided the Colts to the playoffs, showed he can run some, and now has the records for most yards thrown in a season by a rookie, as well as most 300-yard games thrown by a freshman.

Honorable mention: Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, Trent Richardson, TY Hilton

Defensive Rookie of the year: Luke Kuechly

Led the NFL in tackles and played on a shaky Panthers defense. His presence alone changed the face of this D!

Honorable mention: Lavonte David, Bobby Wagner, Janoris Jenkins, Casey Hayward, Harrison Smith, Chandler Jones, Mark Barron, Zach Brown,

Looking at wild card weekend

Boy oh boy, I'm looking forward to the Seahawks-Redskins game!! Wilson and Griffin, two well coached teams, solid running attacks... Where I give the edge is on defense, in Seattle's favor. The Seahawks are more complete, less liable versus the pass. But playing on the road might be a negative factor for a home-labeled team!

Colts vs Ravens is going to be wild!!!! This could be Ray's last game in the NFL and his last at home in B-More!! On the other side, coach Pagano will be coaching his second game since his return from cancer!! I have no idea who's going to win, but I do know that whoever does, I'm cheering for that team to win it all!!! Chuckstrong in one corner and the last ride of Ray Lewis in the other! Insert Michael Buffer's voice right about now: LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!