Archive for the ‘Player perspective’ Category

Luck-combine2

The NFL offseason is littered with a fun gauntlet of football-related activities that create games within the game itself. The Scouting Combine that starts this weekend is chief among them, with draft prospects abandoning schemes and Xs and Os to train for the specific skills evaluated at each position, and the drills that measure them. Some love this part of the equation more than others, but everyone will agree that nothing raises performance like competition for bragging rights. Nothing.

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Anyone who’s played football with any degree of even moderate success knows that the days after the end of the season are tough. Losing a championship game is brutal, but really it’s just the beginning of a long offseason. Save all the positive and constructive language you want for next year. Losing hurts.

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Ray Lewis will be yelling Sunday, not laughing. That's his tradition/superstition.

What you call a superstition I call personal tradition. Most college or university football programs have a few long-running habits that need no explanation to outsiders and are considered vital to success. What a lot of people don’t know is that whether it’s a team tradition or just a coincidence to other people, the whole process of ceremonial preparation for football begins long before game day. It’s a sometimes quirky process that San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens players are working through right now before the most important game of their lives.

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In between the constant hype of Ray Lewis’ last ride and the Harbowl-SuperBowl is the compelling evidence that two offenses earned their ticket to New Orleans the hard way. Both teams were expected to do well this year, but no one predicted the radical decisions by either Harbaugh to drastically alter their offense midseason without compromising their success or identity.

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It’s easy to second guess a coach during a game. On any given sideline, 53 players will have at least 54 opinions of what should be done on any given play. There is what each privately thinks and doesn’t share, and what they all would agree is in the best interest of the team. That’s why a coach calls plays and players do as they are told. When a coach second guesses his players, it’s not easy to swallow.

The media debate around John Fox’s decision on the final possession of regulation in the Denver Broncos loss to the Baltimore Ravens has been pretty intense. The Ravens just roasted the Broncos’ secondary for a 70-yard bomb to tie the game. Denver took the ball on their 20-yard line needing only a field goal to end the game and advance to the playoffs. They had Peyton Manning at quarterback, and he’s led the second most game-winning drives in NFL history. They were in Denver. The players and pieces were on their marks. Ready? SET?

EXIT STAGE RIGHT!

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Congratulations, Richard Sherman, you locked down a weak receiving core with a bum quarterback and beat the Washington Redskins. Now can you act like you’ve won before?

Trent Williams was wrong to hit Sherman after the Redskins lost Sunday. I would have hit him repeatedly. What would you expect after beating a guy at home to end his season and getting in his face after the game? Maybe Williams didn’t mean to gouge Sherman’s eye. Instead, he was telling him to go back to the circus and paint his face in sign language.

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The first week of the NFL playoff season is always interesting, because as the better teams gear up for their biggest game of the year, other organizations meltdown and people sling mud. At a time when proud and capable men are losing jobs and moving on, it’s always surprising to see who takes the blame and who points fingers. Take it from me, it’s rarely fair and never right.

Lovie Smith lost his job despite leading the Chicago Bears to a 10-6 record because they missed the playoffs. Another way to say it: Lovie Smith lost his job because he can’t play offensive line or shave ten years off most of his defensive stars. The reality is his time with the organization passed him by because it’s easier to fire a coach and change a few players than fire an entire roster. Did Chicago give up on Smith? It doesn’t matter, because even if they didn’t they weren’t good enough.

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