Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Pro Bowl Without Peyton Manning Isn't A Pro Bowl!

The NFL's Pro Bowl is tonight at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida. Congratulations to all of the Michigan Men - Tom Brady, Steve Hutchinson, Jake Long and Heisman Trophy Winner Charles Woodson - that were selected to this years Pro Bowl! GO BLUE!

The Pro Bowl is the NFL's "All Star" game featuring the best players from the NFC and AFC. Well... almost the best. This year, fans will not see players like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Reggie Wayne or Darren Sharper because they are busy getting ready for next week's Super Bowl. We know that these players can not chance getting injured, but how does the NFL have an "All Star" game without them? A Pro Bowl this year is not a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning!

Since 1980, the Pro Bowl has been played in Honolulu two weeks after the Super Bowl. However, in an effort to generate more interest and kick off Super Bowl Week, the NFL made some changes to its Pro Bowl. It is now played one week before the Super Bowl at the same location of this championship game.

I understand wanting to improve the game and engage more people (I am a huge advocate of continuous improvement) and despite the NFL doing a pretty great job of this, their Pro Bowl needs some work. But, having a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning is an oxymoron, not the solution. How can they call it a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning?

I have a few suggestions for the NFL. OK, I know that I am dreaming of a perfect world without injuries in the first two, but here they are:
1. Move the Pro Bowl to Thanksgiving week. Like the Super Bowl they could get all eyes on one program. This would be a great way to showcase their stars and allow fans to truly see the best players.
2. Host the Pro Bowl after the season in late February or early March. This is a slow time for the NFL. Sure the Scouting Combine happens, but fans do not really follow this. Generate more interest in the combine and lead into the draft.
3. Allow fans to Select "All Star" players, but do not play the game. Fans already recognize that the players are not really playing at their best to prevent injuries, so eliminate the game. Plan a fan event that acknowledges the players and interacts with the community. (I have already given options for free, so don't expect the details on this event.)

If the NFL, does not like any of those options, I suggest that they change the name. Fans can't buy into a game promoted as an "All Star" game when the starters are actually back up. Again, a Pro Bowl is not a Pro Bowl without Peyton Manning!

Heels & Helmets

Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Much Time You Got?

Football is played in four quarters with a break (halftime) between the 2nd and 3rd quarters. In the NFL, each quarter is 15 minutes, halftime is 12 minutes and there is a 2 minute break after the first and third quarter, so the teams can switch end zones. At the end of the 1st and 3rd quarters, the team that has possession keeps the ball and the same position on the field to start the next quarter. However, at the beginning of the third quarter there is another kickoff just like the start of the game.

During the game, the offense has 40 seconds from the end of a play to snap the ball, beginning the next play. The clock only stops when a team calls a timeout, a pass is incomplete, a player goes out of bounds or the officials call a penalty. Also, after kicking situations, the clock will stop to allow the offense and defense to come out on the field.

If the game is tied at the end of the 4th quarter, an overtime quarter is played. This quarter is "sudden death," which means that the first team to score during overtime wins the game.

Speaking of overtime, I know that we can all spare a little more time to hear about a great shopping experience! So let me tell you about a fun way to spend Super Saturday. Join the Right LANEs for the Super Bowl of Shopping! Now these ladies are fashionistas, but this isn't just about another pair of heels for them. They have been on a mission since last year to bring women together for events to stimulate local economies and support charities while fostering professional and personal empowerment through networking, bonding and friendship. Check out part of the game plan for next Saturday's event.

Saturday, February 6, 2010
4 PM - 8 PM
Cost: $35

*Shopping kick-off at Eyetopia Boutique. There will be light fare, specials, and goodie bags overflowing with gifts from various Leesburg shops.

*Shopping continues at
Madisonbelle, a city hip women's clothing boutique.

*Wine tasting at
The Leesburg Vintner

*More shopping at
The Pink Shop, a fun and funky boutique for women.

*Festive Mardi Gras beads will be handed out at the various shops as we make our way to the Mardi Gras Room for dinner.

*Dinner in the Mardi Gras room at
The Cajun Experience, an authentic Cajun cuisine restaurant.

If you are ready for some shopping, Register today @

We'll be there and hope to see you there too!

Oh, one more thing. Try out some of your football knowledge toady while watching the 2010 Senior Bowl on NFL Network at 3 p.m. This game features the future stars of the NFL. Congratulations to the Michigan Men - Brandon Graham and Zoltan Mesko. GO BLUE!!!

Heels & Helmets

Friday, January 29, 2010

Offense and Defense Collide on The Gridiron!

In the words of the great Vince Lombardi, "Football is not a contact sport, it is a collision sport!" So, now that we have learned what each unit on a football team is responsible for, let's discuss what happens when they collide on the Gridiron!

The football field, sometimes called a gridiron, is 100 yards long and 53 yards wide. The end zones (where scoring happens) are an additional 10 yards on each end of the field. Starting at each end zone, white dashes along the field called yard markers highlight each yard. Every 10 yards, this marker is a line and a number. Each side of the field has 50 numbered yards. The end zone is zero and the middle of the field is marked by the 50 yard line. The area between the goal line and the 20 yard marker on each side is considered the “Red Zone” because the Offense is expected to score a touchdown or at minimum a field goal when it is in this area. The white dashes and lines help officials keep track of the ball, identify downs and determine the placement to start the next play. During a game, you can use them to easily notice what yard your team is on and how many yards they gained or loss!

This diagram illustrates the field and a typical Offense (O) and Defense (X).


Outside Linebacker / Middle Linebacker
Wide Receiver
Tight End
Running Back (Fullback / Halfback)
* Safeties and Cornerbacks are Defensive Backs

As we learned yesterday, the game begins with a Kickoff. This determines where the first drive of the game will begin. Unless the Receiving Team returns the ball for a touchdown, its Offense will take possession of the football at the spot where the return ended. The Kicking Team’s Defense will come out and line up facing them at this spot. This point is called the line of scrimmage. From here, the Offense snaps the ball and the play begins.

To accomplish their goals, both the Offense and Defense implement different types of strategies. My favorite offense is the Spread Offense. On defense, I like to see a Blitz or Nickel Package. In the diagram above you see a basic offense with two receivers. In a Spread Offense, the offensive line spreads out and adds one or two more Wide Receivers to the line replacing the Running Backs in the scheme and giving the Quarterback more options for his passing game. As you know, a blitz is used when the Linebackers and Cornerbacks join the line to rush the Quarterback. However, I think the best response to a Spread Offense is a Nickel Package. In a Nickel Package, another Defensive Back (usually a Cornerback) is added. This provides five players that have speed and can catch to respond to all of the Wide Receivers used in a Spread Offense. If the Defense decides to add a sixth Defensive Back, the scheme is called a Dime Package.

Now you have the basic to the game. Test some of your knowledge with the NFL's quiz and you might win a $50 NFL Shop gift card!

OK ladies, you are almost ready for the Super Bowl!


Heels & Helmets

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Special Men will Make or Break You

Now that we have mastered the offense and defense, we are going to look at the special men that make up the third unit in football—Special Teams. Appropriately titled, this unit plays a special role in the game. It is responsible for starting the game and determines several aspects of the game. They can make or break a team in a matter of seconds. So, let’s see what makes this unit so special.

Special Teams handles all kicking situations. The main goal of this unit is to establish field position and score. It is unique because it has offensive and defensive players. Offensively, this unit works to establish a good position for its team to start a drive, remove their team from a bad position and score. Defensively, they aim to block punts, secure a poor position for the opposing team and prevent scoring. This unit has a critical impact on the game because it controls where the offense will start each drive. Based on the performance of special teams, the offense will have either an easy or difficult time attempting to score a touchdown.

There are four phases to special teams. Similar to the way that the offense faces the defense, each phase has an opposing phase. This table outlines the phases and their responsibilities.


Opposing Phase

Kickoff Team – Kick the ball long to achieve as much distance as possible between their end zone and where the opposing team will start their drive. If the ball is not caught by the receiving team and rolls, stop it as close as possible to the opposing team’s end zone. Tackle the returner.

Receiving Team (Kickoff Return Team) – Catch the ball and run forward to gain as many yards as possible to put the offense in a strong position to score. The returner can run the ball the entire distance to the end zone and score a touchdown.

Extra Point/Field Goal Team – Kick ball through the goal post to score an extra point or field goal.

Extra Point/Field Goal Block Team – Block the ball from going through the goal post.

Punt Team – Kick the ball as high as possible to limit the returner’s progress. Force the other team as far back as possible before their offense takes possession of the ball and starts their drive. Tackle the returner.

Punt Return Team - Catch the ball and run forward to gain as many yards as possible to put the offense in a position to start their drive close to the punting team’s end zone.

Onside Kick – Kick the ball a short distance (but past 10 yards) to give teammates the opportunity to get the ball and prevent the opponent from getting the ball.

Hands Teams – Catch the ball and recover the onside kick. Usually all wide receivers come out.

Scoring on Special Teams

Special teams score in the following methods:

1. Extra Point (1 point) – Kicking the ball from the opponent’s 2 yard line through the goal post after scoring a touchdown.

2. Two-point Conversion (2 points)– After scoring a touchdown, begin at the opponent’s 2 yard line and carry the ball into the end zone or catch the ball in the end zone.

3. Field Goal (3 points) – Kicking the ball from anywhere on the field through the goal post.

Here are the players on Special Teams

1. Kicker (Placekicker) – Kicks the ball on kickoffs, extra points and field goal attempts. Kicks the ball off a tee or from a teammate holding it.

2. Punter - Catches the long snap from the center, and then kicks the ball after dropping it toward his foot.

3. Snapper (Long Snapper) – Snaps the ball to the holder or punter.

4. Holder – Receives the ball from the snapper and holds it for the kicker to kick.

5. Gunners - Sprint down the field after the ball is kicked to tackle the kick or punt returner.

6. Kick Returner - Catches kickoffs and attempts to return them in the opposite direction for a touchdown or good field position.

7. Punt Returner - Catch the ball after it has been punted and run it back toward the punting team's end zone.

8. Upback – Running back that blocks for the punter. In fake punting situations, he receives the snap and attempts to run and get a first down or touchdown.

9. Blockers – Form a wall to block for the kick or punt returner.

10. Wedge Buster – Sprint down the middle of the field to break up the wall of blockers and tackle the kick or punt returner.

See how this special group can make or break you?

Speaking of special. Swarovski Crystallized is having an online special of 50% off! Bracelets for the office and earrings for girls night out are all on sale. Go to the online store and don't miss out! Sorry, a great sale is distracting!

Anyway, now you have an understanding of all three units used in the game of football! Tomorrow we will put it all together.


Heels & Helmets

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Defense Wins Championships!

Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant said, “Offense sells tickets. Defense wins championships.” The “Bear” was a famous college football coach and is still considered the world’s greatest college football coach by many. (Yes, he is up there with the Great Bo Schembechler.) He led the University of Alabama to six national championships, so he knows something about winning. Today, we will review the Defense and demonstrate how the players on this unit can have a major impact on the game without controlling the ball. After this lesson, you will understand what the “Bear” meant.

The main goal of the Defense is to stop the offense on the opposing team and get possession for their teammates on offense. Yesterday, we learned that the offense works to move the ball down the field and score. The Defense strategizes to prevent the offense from gaining yards, earning first downs and scoring.

The foundation to stopping the offense is tackling. Tackling is wrestling the offensive player carrying the ball to the ground. Once one or both of a player’s knees hit the ground, he is tackled and the play is over. When a quarterback is tackled before he passes or hands off the ball, it is called a “sack.” If the ball carrier is tackled behind his goal line the defense scores.

Scoring on Defense

The defense scores when they tackle the offensive ball carrier behind his goal line. This is called a safety and worth 2 points.

The Defense can also score a touchdown in the manner that the offense does by intercepting a pass or recovering a fumble and carrying the ball into the end zone. If the defensive player does not reach the end zone, the offense will come out and start their drive.

Players on Defense:

1. Tackles and Ends – First line of defense. They rush the quarterback and stop the running backs.

2. Linebackers – Second line of defense. Chase the running back, run back to defend against a pass or blitz the quarterback.

3. Cornerbacks – Closely follows the wide receivers and defends against the pass. Sometimes blitzes the quarterback.

4. Safeties – Views the entire field. Last person the offensive ball carrier has to pass. Primarily defends against the pass, but must be prepared for anything.

People love the excitement of seeing the offense go to work – long passes, great runs and amazing catches! However, a good defense prevents the offense from achieving their goal of scoring. Ultimately, offense can score all evening long, but if the defense does not stop the opponents, their offense will continue to score as well. I believe that this was Coach Bryant’s point. Now you should have a new appreciation for a good sack!


Heels & Helmets

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Offense Controls the Game

On Super Bowl Sunday, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees will both attempt to lead their offenses to victory. The goal of the Offense is to move the ball down the field to the defense’s end zone to score points. This team is referred to as having “Possession,” meaning that it possesses control of the football. The offense makes progress toward their goal by accumulating yards. This attempt to get more yards and move down the field is known as a “Drive.”

The offense has four chances to gain 10 yards. Each chance is called a down. If they are successful, they receive another set of four downs. This is signaled by a “First Down.” This continues until the offense scores or does not earn a first down and loses control of the ball giving the other team possession of the ball and the opportunity to start their drive.

Scoring on Offense.

The Offense scores when a player carries the ball into the end zone, catches the ball in the end zone, recovers a fumble in the end zone or the kicking team recovers a kickoff in the end zone. This is called a touchdown and worth 6 points.

Let’s take a look at the players who are on Offense:

1. Quarterback – Team leader. Decides and orchestrate the plays. Runs, hands off or throws the ball.

2. Center – Gives the ball (snap) to the quarterback and then blocks the defense.

3. Guards and Tackles – Holds the defense away from the quarterback and running backs.

4. Wide Receivers – Catch the ball from the quarterback.

5. Running Backs – Receive hand off from the quarterback.

6. Tight Ends – Block the defense and catches passes.

The offense also controls the game clock because they decide when the ball is snapped (play starts) and what the play will be. The score and the amount of time left in the game are a couple of factors that the offense considers to make a decision on which play to run. Typically running plays take more time than passing plays. Many times when the offense wants to move fast, they will call passing plays. This use of time is referred to as managing the clock. With all of this control, you may be thinking that the entire game will be based on what the offense does. Not so and you will see why tomorrow when I tackle the other side of the line scrimmage - Defense.


Heels & Helmets

Monday, January 25, 2010

Heels & Helmets is here!

Hello Ladies!

Welcome to Heels & Helmets! This weekly blog is your one stop for all things football... players, game and business. Just follow me and you'll be able to join the conversation at the office and surprise your sweetie at home! ;)

Now this isn't about becoming one of the guys. This is a resource to help you join in on the conversation when the guys talk about football. But, I am a lady and I'm not trading in my heels! So, I'm going to cover what's going on with the game and give other tips like good recipes for tailgating and of course where to find the best deals on fabulous heels!

Super Bowl XLIV is on! The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are going to Miami. To kick things off, I’m going to do a two-week special and write every day to get you ready for the game. This week I will explain how the game is played. Next week I will discuss the strength and weaknesses of both Super Bowl teams, so you will be able to make an informed prediction on who will be the champs.

OK, let’s get started with where the game truly starts – the line of scrimmage. Football is played between two teams with the object being to score the most points. Each team has three units: offense (move the ball to score), defense (stop the other team from scoring) and special teams (handle all kicking situations). Each team can only have 11 players on the field at one time.

At the beginning of each play, the offense and defense line up facing each other at the line of scrimmage. This is the point where the quarterback calls his play and the defense prepares to stop them. The offense works to move beyond the line of scrimmage and the defense puts on pressure to force them to stay there. Each team wants to dominate the line of scrimmage.

Now tomorrow we’ll look at the offense side of this line.

Oh, if you are getting ready to head to Miami for Super Bowl Week, I saw the cutest accessories from Nordstrom. Shop online and they will give you 2.5% cash back and free shipping on orders more than $200. Let me know what you get!


Heels & Helmets