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September 2010

JaMarcus Russell and Al Davis’ Draft Day Blunders As Oakland Raiders’ Owner

Published on: 30th September, 2010

JaMarcus Russell and Al Davis' Draft Day Blunders As Oakland Raiders' Owner  | read this item

As the Oakland Raiders (1-2, on their second starting QB) are likely destined for yet another year of futility, it seems like the right time to criticize Al Davis’s questionable personnel moves.  Then again, when isn’t it?

Since the Raider’s last good team with Rich Gannon at the helm, Al Davis’ moves have been more than suspect, however, his ability to field an all-NFL-Combine-team, has certainly not.

Let’s take some time to single out the 10 worst draft picks of the Oakland Raiders under the seemingly endless rule of Czar Al Davis.

And believe me; it took quite a while to delve through Al’s 44 years of control (although in his first life, Al was actually quite the savvy owner).

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Big Ten Football 2010: Comparing Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz to Penn State’s Joe Paterno

Published on: 30th September, 2010

Big Ten Football 2010: Comparing Iowa's Kirk Ferentz to Penn State's Joe Paterno  | read this item

Kirk Ferentz grew up playing football in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and like all high school football players in that area of the country, he dreamed of playing football for Joe Paterno and his Penn State Nittany Lions.

Unfortunately for Ferentz, Paterno “wasn’t interested in undersized linebackers.”

But he eventually rose up through the coaching ranks and now has consistently defeated the man he grew up idolizing.

Iowa’s recent domination of the Nittany Lions has been well-documented.

The Hawkeyes ruined Penn State’s chances of a National Championship in Iowa City in 2008 and derailed those same dreams in 2009 before they could even begin, this time in State College.

Besides those two wins, Iowa has only lost to Penn State one time this decade, and the Nittany Lions haven’t won in Iowa City since 1999.

So why does Ferentz have Paterno’s number?

He probably couldn’t even tell you. But ironically he has adopted a very similar coaching style to PSU‘s living legend.

Like Paterno did at Penn State, Ferentz has brought a tough, hard-nosed brand of football to Iowa. The stereotypical Iowa team has a big, tough offensive line filled with farm boys and a defensive line that is typically among the nation’s best.

That is not unlike the Nittany Lions, who typically boast a strong offensive line and a very disruptive defensive front.

Penn State, which has been considered “Linebacker U” for decades, has been challenged for that title by the Hawkeyes. Last year, PSU boasted one of the best linebacker units in the country, thanks to talented starters Navorro Bowman, Josh Hull, and Sean Lee.

But Iowa’s unit, led by All-American Pat Angerer, was arguably even better.

Both teams incorporate a bend, don’t break style of defense and typically are in the top 15 nationally in scoring defense.

On offense, Paterno and Ferentz employ very similar styles as well; both have had historically good rushing offenses, but have had very good quarterbacks recently in Daryll Clark and Ricky Stanzi.

While the on-field similarities are very obvious, the off-field similarities between Ferentz and Paterno are very apparent as well.

Both exemplify the typical Big Ten coach—respectful and competitive.

They recruit players that they can coach up at their programs and are always classy, win or lose.

Both have been at their respective schools longer than any other Big Ten coaches, although Paterno beats Ferentz by a longshot in that category. But Ferentz has had continuity on his staff ever since arriving at Iowa in 1999—his offensive and defensive coordinators have stayed the same since his arrival—and he recently signed an extension to stay in Iowa City through 2020.

Both coaches are proven winners, but win with class and help bring respect to their programs.

Although they will be standing on opposite sidelines Saturday, Kirk Ferentz and Joe Paterno are much more similar than what may meet the eye.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Oakland Raiders: Can Oakland Regain Their Form vs. the Houston Texans?

Published on: 30th September, 2010

Oakland Raiders: Can Oakland Regain Their Form vs. the Houston Texans?  | read this item

Oakland Raiders, Houston Texans. Two teams who came into last week’s game with high hopes.

Both teams left their games, shocked and stunned, for different reasons.

For the Raiders, the hope was that the team would win, go to 2-1 and put themselves into position to challenge the Chiefs after their bye week. For the Texans, the battle of Texas lasted slightly longer than Daniel Boone playing at the Alamo.

Both teams fell, the Raiders’ loss was painful when Sebastian Janikowski couldn’t hit any one of three attempts…including one with less than five seconds left on the clock.

But, as the Raiders go, when wins are few and far between, a game presents itself as a rallying point.

In past seasons, Oakland has seen wins in places like Denver, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, giving fans something to warm the heart.

Houston, meanwhile has suffered the same problem. Some seasons the Texans looked primed to break out, getting off to shaky starts, then falling apart in the end.

Oakland’s first win against the Texans, helped derail the teams’ efforts to finally break the .500 mark, in 2008.

Houston would return the favor in 2009, beating Oakland big time by the score of 29-6.

Last season would mark the Texans’ first season of finally broke the mark, improving to 9-7, falling just short of the post-season.

The Texans meanwhile this season started of impressively in their first two games, winning against the Colts and then “doing a Shanahan” to the Redskins.

The Raiders, after the loss to the Texans and a QB change at halftime against the Rams, were 1-1.

Now, Oakland goes against the Texans, featuring a known offensive power at Running Back, an offensive line that imitates Jekyll-and-Hyde, and a Defense that when it wants to be, stubborn when well-rested.

The Texans come into the game, looking at the three way tie in the AFC South. Oakland has a similar logjam, as the Raiders, San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos all are at 1-2…whoever wins, will be in striking position for the Chiefs who are idle.

Key for the Raiders to win this game, will be the concentration on stopping the running game of Houston, who has been able to produce league-leading yardage out of Arian Foster and keeping Andre Johnson bottled up, similar to how the Raiders were able to limit Larry Fitzgerald last week.

For Oakland, though the critical aspect of this game, has to be production in the Red Zone. The troubles faced by Oakland in key downs has to be addressed, and be it smart passing, timely running or even getting everyone to play smarter, Oakland needs some good football now.

This game will either be a good practice session and preparation for the Chargers….
Or a bad omen for the season to come.

Oakland stands a good chance to pull one off against the Texans, who are reeling…but they can’t afford let it come down to a field goal situation.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

College Football: Mark Ingram, Cameron Newton and the 10 Best SEC Players

Published on: 30th September, 2010

College Football: Mark Ingram, Cameron Newton and the 10 Best SEC Players  | read this item

After four weeks into the 2010 season the college football landscape is still owned by the Southeastern Conference.  In both AP and USA Today polls, the SEC has three teams in the top 10—more than any other conference.

What is new are the players atop the power rankings in the SEC.  After Tim Tebow of Florida topping the list for three straight seasons, a former Florida Gator is now on top.

Here are the top 10 players year-to-date in the SEC.

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In Honor of Donovan McNabb’s Return: Top 10 Philadelphia Eagles Departures

Published on: 30th September, 2010

In Honor of Donovan McNabb's Return: Top 10 Philadelphia Eagles Departures  | read this item

Throughout the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia, there have been several controversial situations related to the departures of certain players.   

Usually these controversies center around the age of the player or the player just wanting more money.  

The Philadelphia Eagles have been hesitant to resign individuals who are 30 or older.     

In fact, the 2010 Eagles roster is one of the youngest in the NFL.   

Philadelphia fans have often questioned whether or not the organization has made the right choices.  

Looking back on Andy Reid’s decisions, he has almost always been correct over the last 11 years.  

This list includes the most notable Philadelphia Eagles departures during the Andy Reid era.  

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Which 4-0 Big Ten Football Teams Are Overrated or Underrated?

Published on: 30th September, 2010

Which 4-0 Big Ten Football Teams Are Overrated or Underrated?  | read this item

It’s four weeks into the 2010 college football season, and frankly, we’ve learned absolutely nothing about the Big Ten race. Well, we’ve learned a little. The main contenders—Ohio State, Iowa, and Wisconsin—are still in the discussion, but some new possible contenders have seemingly joined the chase.

We’ll learn a lot more this weekend thanks to marquee matchups such as Iowa-Penn State and Wisconsin-Michigan State.

For now, here’s our best guess at the current undefeated teams who will separate themselves as contenders as the season goes on.

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College Football Week 5: Five Games With BCS Championship Implications

Published on: 30th September, 2010

College Football Week 5: Five Games With BCS Championship Implications  | read this item

Call it a gimmick, call it a schtick, call it whatever you want to call it.

But last week we introduced a mini-feature that took a look at five games pertaining to the theme of the week.

Last week was “games worth tailgating for,” if only because it was the middle of the week and we couldn’t wait for the gluttony of good matchups on Saturday.

And you know what?

It was fun, darn it.

So we are back for more this week with five games that will have some sort of say in determining who plays in the BCS Championship at the end of the season.

Now, these aren’t the only games that could make an impact on the national title, of course.

For instance, TCU versus Colorado didn’t make the list because, well, not everyone could make it.

But No. 5 TCU has to win that game. TCU has to win every game if they want any argument of playing for a title.

With two premier games as givens—you can easily guess those now—we handpicked three others and tried to spread some love around the country, not just zeroing in on the SEC or Pac-10, or some other conference.

OK, on with the show.

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NFL Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall Fires Back at Critics

Published on: 30th September, 2010

NFL Miami Dolphins: Brandon Marshall Fires Back at Critics  | read this item

Brandon Marshall was recently criticized for his efforts during the Sunday Night game last week by NFL Network analysts, among them Shannon Sharpe and Solomon Wilcotts. 

Sharpe stated that Marshall was “out of gas;” Mike Maylock, the show’s host, agreed. 

But today while talking to the media, Marshall, who had 10 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown, including a 37-yard reception on the final drive, rebuked those criticisms. 

“They never coached,” he said Thursday. “They need to continue to do what they do best, and stop worrying about other things they don’t know anything about.”

“I don’t honestly think those guys were elite players, including Sterling Sharpe,” Marshall said. “I’ve got to turn on the film and see what he was able to do. I know he did some good things, but my understanding is he’s not a Hall of Fame guy.”

Despite Marshall’s statements, it should be noted that Sterling Sharpe was a three-time All-Pro with the Green Bay Packers before retiring because of a neck injury in 1994. He also went to the Pro Bowl five times, and had 595 receptions for 8,134 yards and 65 touchdowns in only seven years.

Marshall said that his stats speak for themselves. He was covered the whole night by Antonio Cromartie, a pro-bowler in his own right back in 2007.

“I went against one of the better corners in the league,” Marshall said. “I’m not going to win them all.”

When asked, Coach Sparano smiled and cited Marshall’s statistics from that game, stating “Out of gas? I want to go to that gas station.”

Sporano also found no issues with Marshall’s response to the criticism, stating: ”If somebody made a comment, Brandon has all the right in the world to defend himself.”

Marshall is currently on pace to pass 100-plus catches for the fourth consecutive year.

Marshall’s response can be found in the video.

This week, Marshall and the Dolphins take on the Patriots in a key Monday Night game that could potentially be important in the AFC East and in the AFC wild-card races, and Marshall is excited about the matchup.

“I’m so passionate,” he said. “I turn into a different person. That’s what helped me be successful in my young career. Just watch me Monday night before kickoff. I’ll be down in the end zone where we come out, getting that section riled up.”

Marshall’s energy will be key for the Dolphins and he will likely be used extensively against a weak Patriots secondary, which has already given up an average of 261 yards per game in the first three games of the season: against Bengals QB Carson Palmer (a Patriots W); Mark Sanchez and the Jets (the Pats’ lone loss); and against Buffalo Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in his first start of the season, in which the Pats allowed 247 yards (another Pats W). They have the 25th ranked passing defense in the NFL.

The Dolphins meanwhile are only 18th in the NFL in passing, but last week against the Jets, Chad Henne threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns.

The hope is that the effort continues against the Pats.

This was a Dolfan Diaries attempt at a real news story. Here’s My NFL Week 4 Picks.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

Trevor Pryce Signs With Jets

Published on: 30th September, 2010

Trevor Pryce Signs With Jets   | read this item

Jets announced the signing of the recently released defensive end, Trevor Pryce. He will fill the slot formerly held by Mike DeVito, who filled in following the departure of Marques Douglas. Douglas himself was a former Raven.

Pryce, 35, will bring a familiarity with the playbook and experience to teach the previously mentioned DeVito. In the meantime, he’ll help the Jets generate some much needed pressure without blitzing.

Pryce was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the first round (28th) in 1997. There, he proceeded to shred offensive line men for sack after sack and help them win a Super Bowl. He was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls and named part of their 50th anniversary team. He then went to the Ravens and generated excellent pressure. Now, he’s a Jet.

Career wise, he is dominant. He generated 90 sacks, two picks, and 34 tackles. He managed eight fumbles and four recoveries. He is certainly a step up from DeVito.

How will he affect the Jets? He will probably face right tackles most often while Ellis takes the left. Lets see who he will face:

Bills: Cornell Green

Vikings: Phil Loadholt

Broncos: Ryan Harris*

Packers: Mark Tauscher

Lions :Gosder Cherilus

Browns: John St. Clair

Texans :Eric WInston

Bengals: Andrew Whitworth

Patriots: Sebastian Vollmer

Dolphins: Vernon Carey

Steelers: Willie Colon*

Bears: Frank Omiyale

 

Not many of these are great. Only Harris and Colon are above average. Pryce should be able to slice up these tackles easily.

Is he out of it? Is he too old? I think not. He had one of his best years last year. He racked up 6.5 sacks and made 31 tackles. He isn’t done yet.

Pryce should be able to generate pressure on the quarterback and will augment Taylor and Eliss’ pass rush. He could be the key part to a Jet’s Super Bowl win.

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

AFC East Week 4: Quick Hits ‘N Picks

Published on: 30th September, 2010

AFC East Week 4: Quick Hits 'N Picks  | read this item

As we enter week four of the NFL season, the AFC East has shown to be a tough division. 

New York, New England, and Miami all sit atop the division with a 2-1 record, while the lowly Buffalo Bills lay at 0-3.

The Jets, Patriots, and Dolphins could all very be three of the top five best teams in the AFC, and all teams will face a divisional opponent this weekend.

First game:

New York Jets at Buffalo Bills

This game, on paper, should be a blow out in the Jets favor. But, I can see Buffalo giving the Jets trouble, but not enough to win the game. I expect seeing Jets QB Mark Sanchez to struggle a bit passing, but the Jets will prevail.

Prediction: New York: 24 Buffalo: 14

 

While the Jets and the Bills battle it out on Sunday, the Pats and Fins will take their battle to the center stage of Monday Night.

I can see this game being very close and very high scoring. I don’t think Miami’s passing defense is good enough to stop Pats’ QB Tom Brady while the Patriots’ run defense will struggle against Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. 

I can see this game coming down to the wire with the Patriots on top simply because of Tom Brady.

Prediction: New England: 35 Miami: 27

 

This article was first seen on SportsHaze.

Tony Santorsa is Sports Haze’s AFC East Beat Writer, and you could read more sports stories at www.SportsHaze.com

You can also follow Tony via Twitter @ TSantorsa10

Read more NFL news on BleacherReport.com

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