Jun 102013
 

Reggie Bush5. Detroit Lions
Head Coach: Jim Schwartz
2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Offense: 372 points scored, 17th in points, 3rd in yards (2nd in passing, 23rd in rushing)
2012 Defense: 437 points allowed, 27th in points, 13th in yards (14th in passing, 16th in rushing)

 

Key Additions
RB Reggie Bush, S Glover Quinn, WR Devin Thomas, DL Jason Jones, DL CJ Mosley. K David Akers, DE Ezekiel Ansah, DB Darius Slay

Key Losses
T Jeff Backus, K Jason Hanson, WR Titus Young, CB Drayton Florence, LB Justin Durant, DE Cliff Avril, G Stephen Peterman, CB Kevin Barnes, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DE Lawrence Jackson

Why 2013 will be better
Reggie Bush brings a running game to Detroit, something that was nearly non-existent in 2012. Having any consistency from the running attack will nearly guarantee more production from an offense that had no problem moving the ball last season, but had difficulty turning yards into points. A defense that lacked aggressiveness underperformed in 2012, forcing only 17 takeaways for the year. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley had good seasons, with Suh doubling his sack production last season (8 sacks) while Fairley racked up 5.5, but the Lions overall pass rush took a step back. It is hoped that the additions of Ansah and Jones up front should add more pass rush and create a better wall against the run, but the loss of Avril is noticeable. The additions of Slay and Quinn should improve the secondary, though Slay lacks physicality to complement his coverage skills and is currently behind Ron Bartrell on the depth chart. Head Coach Jim Schwartz is coaching for his job this season, so nothing less than an 8-8 record is likely to be acceptable in the Motor City this season, and even that may not be enough. And if a head coach is fighting to keep his job, that usually means the same for the starting quarterback. Matt Stafford has tons of talent, but took a step back last season from his breakout 2011 campaign. He will need to return to form if the Lions have any hope of competing for the playoffs.

Why 2013 will be worse
Calvin Johnson is a sensational receiver, but the Lions lack secondary targets to help distribute the load. The Lions have done little to upgrade this group, meaning Johnson is again a predictable focus of any opposing defense. Having Bush as the primary back is a major plus, but if he struggles to gain consistent yards and move the chains, the Lions will again be a team who pass for a lot of yards but fail to put up points. The defense appears to be improved, but the linebacker corps is thin in talent, and is playing in a read and react system off of Suh and Fairley. Stephen Tulloch is among the nest middle linebackers in the game, but he needs DeAndre Levy and Ashlee Palmer to step up their games, or else the defense continue to hemorrhage points.

Outlook
On paper another 4-12 season seems unthinkable; this team is more talented than that. But the Detroit Lions gave the vibe in 2012 of a team that felt it was entitled to win, but wasn’t necessarily willing to give the effort to make it happen. Schwartz doesn’t always seem to be in control of his own team, and the use of the term undisciplined seems an accurate way to describe this team, who ranked 23rd in penalty yards last season. Bush’s addition is important, but the receiver corps is weak after Megatron. Given the strength of the division that they are in, the Lions will do well to win six or seven games this season, in which case 2014 promises a new head coach as the first of what is likely to be many changes.

Feb 032013
 

NFL AwardsSuddenly our picks for the post-season awards aren’t looking so far off of the mark.

The NFL announced it’s post-season award winners last night, and we have a recap of the award winners, along with the Gridiron Rats recipient.Um… yeah… we might have pretty well.

Here’s a summary of the award winners.

PetersonMOST VALUABLE PLAYER –  ADRIAN PETERSON, MINNESOTA VIKINGS

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – ADRIAN PETERSON, MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Adrian Peterson was elected the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, gaining 30.5 of the 50 votes cast by an Associated Press group of NFL writers. Coming off an ACL tear in December 2011, Peterson fell just nine yards short of the single-season rushing record, gaining 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. Peterson also captured honors for offensive player of the year, capturing 36 of the 50 first place votes. Peterson is only the third player to win both the MVP and the player of the year honors in a single season, joining Alan Page and Fran Tarkenton.

For the MVP voting, Peyton Manning received 19.5 first place votes. For the Offensive Player of the Year, Peterson finished ahead of Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Calvin Johnson.

Gridiron Rats also gave both awards to Peterson.

JJ WattDEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – JJ WATT, HOUSTON TEXANS

JJ Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year award Saturday night, with a near unanimous 49 out of 50 first place votes (Von Miller got the lone dissenting vote). Watt had a monster season with 20.5 sacks and 16 pass deflections, to go along with 81 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. There is little question that “JJ Swatt” was the league’s most disruptive defensive player in 2012.

Not surprisingly, the Gridiron Rats award went to Watt as well. (That’s 3 for 3 if you’re keeping score at home)

Robert-Griffin-IIIOFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – ROBERT GRIFFIN III, WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Perhaps our most controversial pick, Griffin earned the AP’s recognition with an impressive rookie campaign as he helped transform the Washington Redskins into a playoff team for the first time since 2006. Griffin landed 29 of the 50 first place votes, followed by Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Griffin finished the season with 3,200 passing yards, 20 touchdowns, only five interceptions, and he ran for another 815 yards and seven touchdowns.

We are now four for four, as the Gridiron Rats award went to Griffin as well.

Luke KuechlyDEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – LUKE KUECHLY, CAROLINA PANTHERS

Luke Kuechly picked up 28 of 50 first place votes to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. Kuechly tallied 164 tackles as a rookie, to go along with one sack, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and eight passes defensed. Kuechly received the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Month award in December, recording a league-high 59 tackles over the final five games of the season. Bobby Wagner of Seattle finished second with 11 first place votes, followed by Casey Heyward, Janoris Jenkins, and Lavonte David.

Kuechly also got the nod from Gridiron Rats, meaning we are five for five. Sensing a trend yet?

ManningCOMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR – PEYTON MANNING, DENVER BRONCOS

Anyone who thought Peyton Manning’s best days were behind him proved to be very wrong in 2012, as Manning returned from four neck surgeries and a missed 2011 campaign to lead the Broncos to a 13-3 record and first seed in the AFC playoffs. Manning threw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 105.8. Manning beat out Adrian Peterson for this award. Sadly for Manning, his brilliant regular season was once again tarnished by a post-season meltdown.

Not surprisingly, Manning also captured the Gridiron Rats award, placing us one award away from a perfect record. (Can you tell we are a little pleased with ourselves?)

Bruce AriansCOACH OF THE YEAR – BRUCE ARIANS, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

It’s quite a story when an offensive coordinator wins the Coach of the Year Award, but there is no coach more deserving of this award than Bruce Arians. Arians took over when Head Coach Cuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, and he guided the team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth just one year removed from finishing with the league’s worst record, allowing the Colts to draft Andrew Luck with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Chuck Pagano finished second in the voting, followed by Pete Carroll and Leslie Frasier.

Arian was our first award winner at Gridiron Rats, meaning we were a perfect seven for seven in foreshadowing the AP winners. Mind you, that wasn’t our goal; we were simply recognizing the players and coaches that we thought were most deserving of these honors. But apparently the AP voters felt much the same way about each award, and if we are to be criticized for our selections (and there is plenty of debate to be had for some of these awards), then at least we have the satisfaction of being supported by the “official” awards.

Jan 062013
 

Rat's Awards ImageOur next to last award acknowledges the game’s offensive difference-makers. Adrian Peterson had an amazing season running the ball and seemingly willed the Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs after a horrific 2011 campaign. Peyton Manning returned from a one year hiatus and multiple neck surgeries and looked to be in mid-career form as he led the Denver Broncos to a 13-3 record. Tom Brady was, well, Tom Brady and once again put up numbers that most quarterbacks can only dream of. Calvin Johnson had monstrous numbers in receiving yards, and Robert Griffin III breathed life back into the Washington Redskins franchise. Those were just some of the amazing offensive exploits for 2012 in the National Football League.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Our nominees in this category included Tom Brady (NE), Drew Brees (NO), Robert Griffin III (WAS), Calvin Johnson (DET), Andrew Luck (IND), Marshawn Lynch (SEA), Peyton Manning (DEN), Doug Martin (TB), Adrian Peterson (MIN), and Matt Ryan (ATL).

3rd Place – Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Ho hum. Another year, another 34 touchdown passes versus only eight interceptions. Brady threw for 4,827 yards as the Patriots won the AFC East yet again with a 12-4 record. And, as happens almost every season, Brady aired it out with seemingly a different receiving corps each week, as Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Julian Edelman all lost significant time to injuries. Through thirteen NFL seasons Brady remains the model of consistency for NFL quarterbacks, yet he is still tough enough to regularly grind out short first yard runs to keep the chains moving.

2nd Place – Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
We’ve noted Manning’s exploits in the Comeback Player of the Year piece, but the stats are worth repeating given the fact that he missed all of last season with multiple neck surgeries. Manning threw for 4659 yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while leading the Broncos to a 13-3 record. He finished sixth in passing yards, third in touchdowns and co-led the league in completion percentage. So much for being washed up.

Adrian PetersonWINNER – Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings

Nine yards. That’s all that separated Adrian Peterson from the single greatest rushing season in NFL history. Peterson ran for 2,097 and 12 touchdowns, plus 217 receiving yards and one touchdown through the air. Even more impressively, Peterson did this even when other teams built their defensive game plans to stop him. He ran for 210 and 199 yards against the Packers in two games, for 182 yards against the Seahawks’ stout defense, for 212 yards against an improved Rams’ defense, and 262 yards in two games against the Bears. And all of this following a torn ACL and MCL, coupled with a highly inconsistent quarterback, makes Peterson our clear choice for this award.

Dec 192012
 

Chris HarrisOf course no one can stay at the top of our Power Rankings for more than a couple of weeks, so the Patriots have given way to a new #1 this week. This week’s Power Rankings capture our thoughts on each team in five words or less, so here we go. Thanks to our contributors for some wonderfully smarmy commentary. We welcome our readers to offer some smarmy comments as well.

Week 15 Power Rankings

1. Denver Broncos (11-3, W9, +1) – Tebow got them this far…

2. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1, W2, +1) – Pure power football

3. New England Patriots (10-4, L1, -2) – Turnovers + Short Field = Loss

4. Atlanta Falcons (12-2, W1, +1) – Who cares until the playoffs?

5. Houston Texans (12-2, W1, -1) – How good is this team?

6. Green Bay Packers (10-4, W3, +1) – QB = Good, Kicker=Bad

7. Seattle Seahawks (9-5, W3, +3) – Fake punt!?!

8. New York Giants (8-6, L1, -2) – Better turn it on quick

9. Indianapolis Colts (9-5, L1, -1) – Who would have thunk?

10. Washington Redskins (8-6, W5, +2) – RG III + Cousins = Great Draft

11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, W1, +2) – Best of Bad Division

12. Baltimore Ravens (9-5, L3, -3) – Injuries + Flacco = Fading Fast

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7, L2, -2) – Their history won’t save them

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-6, W3, +2) – Such a tease…

15. Minnesota Vikings, (8-6, W2, +2) – Is Adrian Peterson the MVP?

16. Chicago Bears (8-6, L3, -1) – Now I’m free… free falling…

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, L4, -3) – Go back to creamsicle unis!

18. New Orleans Saints (6-8, W1, +1) – Sean Payton is getting paid

19. St. Louis Rams (6-7-1, L1, -1) – Silence of the Lambs

20. Cleveland Browns (5-9, L1, +1) – Fire. Pat. Shurmer. Now.

21. Miami Dolphins (6-8, W1, +3) – 2nd best in AFC East

22. New York Jets (6-8, L1, -2) – Just. End. The. Season.

23. San Diego Chargers (5-9, L1, U) – Underachievers week after week

24. Carolina Panthers (5-9, W2, +2) – Cam does good commercials

25. Buffalo Bills (5-9, L2, -3) – They have good wings

26. Detroit Lions (4-10, L6, -1) – Megatron > Suh

27. Tennessee Titans (5-9, W1, U) – Uniforms and play both ugly

28. Arizona Cardinals (5-9, W1, +3) – 1 Team, 3 Bum QBs

29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10, L1, -1) – Dream Team playing out string

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12, L3, -1) – Ready to forfeit this Sunday

31. Oakland Raiders (4-10, W1, +1) – They beat the Chiefs!

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12, L2, -2) – They lost to the Raiders!

Dec 032012
 

Week 13 served as a start reminder of how quickly lives can take a tragic turn. This Saturday, as I was home putting up a Christmas tree with my family and enjoying time with my loved ones, Chiefs’ linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before going to Arrowhead Stadium. He encountered Chiefs’ GM Scott Pioli, who tried to calm him down. Head Coach Romeo Crennel and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs were also brought outside to speak with Belcher, who thanked each man for the opportunities he was provided with. Then, when police arrived, Belcher turned the gun on himself.

Of all the things said this weekend, it was quarterback Brady Quinn’s comments that resonated the most. “The one thing people can hopefully try to take away, I guess, is the relationships they have with people,” Quinn said after the game. “I know when it happened, I was sitting and, in my head, thinking what I could have done differently. When you ask someone how they are doing, do you really mean it? When you answer someone back how you are doing, are you really telling the truth?” Quinn continued with, “We live in a society of social networks, with Twitter pages and Facebook, and that’s fine, but we have contact with our work associates, our family, our friends, and it seems like half the time we are more preoccupied with our phone and other things going on instead of the actual relationships that we have right in front of us. Hopefully, people can learn from this and try to actually help if someone is battling something deeper on the inside than what they are revealing on a day-to-day basis.”

Well said, Brady. And with those words I hope to focus more on the people around me, and a little less on staying connected through my phone. In the final analysis, our lives are remembered and judged based on the relationships we have, and how much we commit ourselves to them.

Week 13 Recap

  • The Falcons top the Saints 23-13 in a game sure to be remembered as one of Drew Brees’ worst; Falcon’s defense comes through as Atlanta wraps up the division crown
  • Buffalo pounds Jacksonville 34-18 behind solid performances from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson; Bills rush for 232 yards in the win
  • Seahawks win away from home as they stun the Bears 23-17; Russell Wilson continues a solid rookie campaign with 293 yards and two touchdowns
  • Andrew Luck rallies the Colts to a dramatic last second win over the Lions 35-33; Lions’ defense squanders another monster game by Matthew Stafford and Megatron
  • Speaking of wasting great performances, Adrian Peterson rushes for 210 yards and a touchdown, but the Vikings fall to the Packers 23-14; Morgan Burnett picks off Christian Ponder twice in the win
  • The Chiefs overcome tragedy to pull off 27-21 win over the Panthers; Brady Quinn throws for two touchdowns and Jamaal Charles rushes for 127 yards
  • Patriots wrap up the AFC East with 23-16 victory over the Dolphins; Stevan Ridley and Jerod Mayo play key roles in the win
  • Greg McElroy comes off bench, leads Jets to 7-6 victory over the Cardinals;  Shonn Greene rushes for 104 yards as the Cardinals’ meltdown continues
  • The Rams have the 49ers number this season, as St. Louis edges San Francisco 16-13 in overtime; rookie Janoris Jenkins returns a fumble for a score
  •  The Texans whip the Titans 24-10 to clinch a playoff spot; rookie linebacker Whitney Mercilus is merciless in recording two sacks and a fumble recovery
  • The Broncos lock up the AFC West with a 31-23 victory over the Buccaneers; Manning throws for three touchdowns and Von Miller returns an interception for his first NFL touchdown
  • The Steelers stun the Ravens 23-20 with Charlie Batch throwing for 276 yards; Flacco not looking like an elite quarterback in the loss
  • The Browns win a second straight game with a 20-17 victory over the Raiders; Browns break road losing streak on the backs of Trent Richardson and Josh Gordon while Brandon Myers has 14 receptions in a losing effort
  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushes for 111 yards as Bengals win fourth in a row, defeating the Chargers 20-13; Rivers continues turning the ball over at crunch time
  • The Cowboys beat the Eagles 38-33 as Dez Bryant catches two touchdown passes and Morris Claiborne returns a fumble by Bryce Brown for the decisive score
  • RGIII throws for 163 yards and runs for 72 more while Alfred Morris rushes for 124 yards as the Redskins edge the Giants 17-16 to pull within one game of the division lead

Week 10 Recap

 Posted by
Nov 122012
 

What did Week 10 teach us?

First, that no one is going undefeated this season now that the New Orleans Saints have taken out the Atlanta Falcons to drop them to 8-1.

Second, that Rex Ryan seems to be determined to get fired alongside Mark Sanchez at the end of the 2012 season.

Finally, that the Bears have a much better chance of winning games when their defense is on the field.

Here are the Week 10 results:

Week 6 Recap

 Posted by
Oct 142012
 

Through six weeks of the NFL season, all four teams in the AFC East are sitting at 3-3, while every team in the NFC West seemingly has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs while the Saints and Packers are both struggling. My what a strange season 2012 is turning out to be.

Here are your quick game summaries from Week Six.

Aug 172012
 

So Week Two of the pre-season is upon us. Once again, we will post quick link results if you’d like to keep up with your favorite team’s results and video courtesy of NFL.com. This week we will see a bit more of the starting units as they prepare for the regular season, and there are still a number of interesting battles to watch across the league.

This week’s results: