Monday, December 26, 2011

Santa thinks the Lions are looking nice

Santa and his reindeer showed up in Motown early.  It has been a rough decade in Detroit, so Santa had to double and triple check his list to make sure that Lions should get some sparkle over coal.  Despite all of the naughtiness from Ndamukong Suh, Santa decided that overall the Lions were nice. 

I agree.  The Lions are really nice.  They only needed to win on Saturday to clinch their first playoff spot since 1999.  With that in mind, they demolished the San Diego Chargers and extinguished their hopes of going to the playoffs.  Lions QB Matthew Stafford, had three touchdown passes with three different receivers, tight end Brandon Pettigrew, running back Kevin Smith and super star wide receiver Calvin Johnson, known as Megatron.  The Lions are so nice that Megatron matched a single-team record with 15 touchdown receptions.
So, after years of coal in December, Santa finally gave Lions fans a little sparkle during the holidays.  It must feel like the most wonderful time of the year in Detroit.
Heels & Helmets®

Monday, December 19, 2011

Eagles v. Jets is like Man v. Nature

The Philadelphia Eagles playing the New York Jets at home was like an episode of “Man vs. Nature.”  Man is smart, but you know what happens every time he truly encounters nature?  A natural disaster.

That is exactly what happened yesterday.  The Jets’ came flying in to The Linc with their man-made engines and wings hoping to improve their playoff chances.  Unfortunately, for Jets fans the speed and power of Rex Ryan’s team was simply no match for what nature unleashed on the gridiron in South Philadelphia. 

The Eagles with its natural wings spanning 90 inches soared high and controlled both sides of the ball.  On defense, fumbles and interceptions led to 21 points putting Philadelphia up 28 – 0 in the second quarter.  Like an American Bald Eagle, Michael Vick’s vision of the field was sharp.  He made good decisions on passing and running the ball.  He rushed and scored one touchdown by stretching into the end zone.

Man attempted a valiant attempt to come back, but after halftime it was over.  There was nothing the Jets could do to stop the Eagles.  They kept the Jets offense off of the field and ran up the score.  At the end it was all nature and the Eagles wiped out the Jets 45 – 19.  Yes, a natural disaster. 

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Tebow difference

Eight weeks ago the Denver Broncos looked lifeless.  They had only won one game and sat last in their division, the AFC West.  After their bye week (Week 6), they returned with a new starting quarterback and transformed into a new team.  The new leader on the Broncos’ offense is Tim Tebow.

I was asked if the difference in Denver’s performance was because Tebow’s style was similar to the wildcat.  While many people refer to wildcat as an offense, it is not actually an offense system.  It is a formation used in an offense system.  In this formation, the ball is snapped directly to the running back.  Tebow can play in a wildcat formation because he is athletic and runs well.  He can throw defenses off by taking the snap and running or lining up as a receiver. 

Denver uses an option offense.  Tebow is a dual threat to defenses because he can pass or rush.  As a result, Denver has an "option" to allow Tebow to rush like a running back.

Tebow is good, but there are a lot of good QBs in the NFL.  Not many of them have completely turned their teams around as a new starter in the middle of the season.  The difference is that he believes that he can win.  It is clear that his belief is contagious in the Broncos locker room.  Since he took over Denver has only lost one game and are now in first in their division. 

All of the wins were not pretty.  Five of them came when the game was tied or the Broncos were down entering the fourth quarter.  Tebow fights until the end and keeps his teammates fired up to get the win.  That is the difference he brought to Denver.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, December 5, 2011

BCS bowl selections stir up annual controversy

December is here and college bowl game season is officially upon us.  Yesterday, the BCS selected its bowl games participants and like every year the controversy began.  The two big debates are over the rematch that will happen between LSU Tigers (#1) and Alabama Crimson Tide (#2) in the Allstate BCS National Championship Game and the Michigan Wolverines trip to the AllState Sugar Bowl to play Virginia Tech Hokies.  

The championship game will feature schools from the same conference for the first time.  Everyone outside of the Southeastern Conference wanted to see any one-loss team in the championship game except Alabama.  While, I understand the frustration I get the selection.  Alabama only lost one game.  That lost was to LSU and the game was really close.  Neither team scored a touchdown showing how tough their defenses are.  Their defenses got them in the national championship and it will be a good rematch.

I am a B1G TEN girl and this reminds me of 2006 when Ohio State and Michigan were #1 and  #2 respectively.  It was dubbed, the Game of the Century.  Michigan lost by one field goal and did not play Ohio State in the national championship.  Naturally, I wanted that rematch.  I am glad that Alabama will have a chance to see their rival again. 

As for the Sugar Bowl, the major dissension is Michigan representing the B1G TEN in a BCS bowl and not the Michigan State Spartans.  Both schools had two losses during the regular season, but Michigan lost to Michigan State.  The Spartans played for the conference title but lost to the Wisconsin Badgers.  In the minds of some, the Spartans should have been the obvious choice to a BCS game.  The problem is that they lost the B1G TEN title to a team that they previously beat.  Last year, I said that Michigan State got robbed because they shared the title with Ohio State and Wisconsin, but after beating Wisconsin they were not selected to play in the Rose Bowl.  This year they had a chance to be the outright B1G TEN champ and did not deliver.  It does not look favorable to the committee to lose at the end of the year.

I will not pretend that this is only football.  The BCS is not the NCAA.  They are not reserved about their desire to have good games, schools with passionate fans and great experiences for the cities.  The reality is schools like LSU, Alabama, Michigan and Virginia Tech will help the BCS achieve all of their objectives over Boise State. 

I am not in love with the BCS.  I am not even a fan of the arrangement.  I think that it is complex and at times arbitrary.  I would love to see a playoff system that allows us to truly get a college football champion by action on the gridiron.

Heels & Helmets®

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Time to give Tebow some credit

Tim Tebow is the current starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.  He is a polarizing player who many fans love and just as many love to hate.  The way he plays the game and his unabashed expression of his religious beliefs causes great debate among fans.  Some believe that he is not and will not be a “NFL” quarterback because of his inferior passing skills and reliance to run.  Others think he is entertaining and will grow into a great quarterback.  Many people admire Tebow for being confident enough to speak about Christianity, but some think that he is over the top with his relig

Tebow took over the starting QB job last month.  At the time, the Broncos had only won one game.  Since then, Denver has won five out of six games and are on the cusp of reaching the playoffs.  Even with a 5 – 1 record as a starter, there is still a lot of debate about Tebow’s ability.  The critics say that the credit for Denver’s surge should be given to the defense.

Denver’s defense has done a great job and yes, defense wins championships.  However, the quarterback is a key position.  Not just for conducting the offensive game plan but for the leadership.  Just ask Indianapolis Colts fans how important a QB is.  They know that there season would be completely different if Peyton was playing.

Tebow does have some growing to do, but this does not mean that he is not the reason that the team turned things around.   His passing has been average, but he has found a way for the Broncos to win and he has motivated his teammates to desire to win.  He is not Tom Brady, but give the guy some credit for getting Denver above a .500 record.


Heels & Helmets

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

NFC East is consistently inconsistent

After free agency, before the preseason began, the Philadelphia Eagles leading the NFC East was unquestionable.  Michael Vick was back.  He was healthy and had a year under his belt as a NFL starter again.  On defense, Philadelphia signed the most sought after corner back, NnamdiAsomugha.  This was supposed to be the recipe for success.  The result does not taste too sweet to Eagles’ fans.  It is a very sour 4 – 6 record that has Philly in third place in the NFC.

The bright side for Philadelphia is that they are in the NFC East.  No one in that division has played well consistently this season.   Just when it looked like the Giants were going to pull away and take the lead, they fall to the Philadelphia Eagles.  This puts them on a two-game losing streak.  They are tied with Dallas (Cowboys) for the top spot in the division at 6 – 4.  Dallas is the opposite of New York.  They are on a three-game winning streak.  The teams will play on December 11 at Cowboys Stadium.

The Eagles could still reach the playoffs.  It is amazing that a team that has only won four games going into Week 12 is still in the hunt to win their division.  But, considering the performance from the other teams in the division, it is possible.  They beat the Giants and the Cowboys.  Last year the Seattle Seahawks made the playoffs with just a 8 - 8 record.

With Vick’s return uncertain, I don’t think that the Eagles are going to win their remainig games this season.  I think that the NFC East will come down to Dallas and New York.  In addition to their meeting next month, they will play each other the final week of the regular season in New York.

The final team in the NFC East is the Washington Redskins.  All of the inconsistency in the division is not going to help them.

Heels & Helmets®

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sport’s power

Nelson Mandela said, “Sport has the power to change world.”  It does.  Sport brings people together, just as much as it tears people a part.  It is an interesting dichotomy that is the result of the fervor that people have for “their team.”  When you observe the time, emotion and money invested in sports, its influence is undeniable. 

This is why I believe that Penn State University made the right move by firing its legendary football coach, Joe Paterno, last week.  The university relieved him of his duties because of knowledge he had about his former assistant, Jerry Sandusky, sexually abusing a young boy. 

Paterno is idolized.  With a bronze statue in his likeness already standing outside of Beaver Stadium, he is truly a living legend.  If you live in Pennsylvania or follow football on any level you know him.  The man with the glasses who has walked the sideline in Happy Valley as the Nittany Lions head football coach for the last 46 years is a god there.

Sport has the power.

How many people knew Graham Spanier before last week?  Spanier is the former president of Penn State University who was also dismissed because of the sexual abuse scandal.  He led a prominent American university, but his popularity does not come anywhere close to that of Joe Paterno.  He does not have a statue. 

Sport has the power.

Many Penn State students and fans are outraged that Penn State University’s Board of Trustees could even think about firing Joe Pa.   Like members of a cult, they have had held vigils at Paterno’s home and prayed at their "god’s" statue.  There is no outrage for Spanier.  No pleas from students at the “public-ivy” institution to have their former president restored. 

Sport has the power.    

Joe Paterno had the authority to make sure that Jerry Sandusky never stepped foot on Penn State’s campus again.  He had the muscle to call attention to a grown man investigated over 12 years ago for showering with young boys.  He had the respect to get police involved.  He had the influence to make a community care.

Sport has the power.

On the field, we want our teams to give their best in each game and go all out for a win.  Joe Paterno had the power to make sure that this was done for Penn State’s football program.  He also had the power to demand that his players and staff displayed this mentality off the field and do the right thing, especially for innocent young children.

Too whom much is given, much is expected.  Sport has the power.  As one of the most celebrated figures in sports, Joe Paterno certainly had the power to help the victims in this case.

Heels & Helmets®

"Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination."  - Nelson Mandela

Monday, November 7, 2011

Half-season review of my Super Bowl picks

After tonight’s Monday Night Football game each team in the NFL will have played at least eight games.  The regular season is 17 weeks long.  Each team plays 16 weeks and has one week without a game called a “bye week.”  So, we are officially halfway through the regular season.   Since we are at the middle of the season, I thought that I would take a look at my Super Bowl picks and see how they are doing.

I selected the New York Jets to win the AFC.  With 10 starters returning, I thought that defense would lead them out of the regular season and past the tough quarterbacks in the AFC.  After Week 2, things looked gloom for the Jets.  They went three consecutive weeks without a victory; suffering losses to the Oakland Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.  At the moment, the Jets are tied with the Patriots and Buffalo Bills for first in the AFC East.  They beat the Bills yesterday and have to play them again in three weeks.  Next Sunday they have a big game against New England.  This is a must win because they lost to them earlier this year.  The Jets can still win their division.  To accomplish that and get to the Super Bowl, Mark Sanchez needs to be accurate and the defense has to dominate.

For the NFC, I thought that the Philadelphia Eagles would run away with the conference championship.  It has been a disappointing first half.  After winning their season opener, they did not win other game until Week 6.  The offense has looked lackluster and the defense has appeared confused.  Things are now starting to click for the Eagles.  Star cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha is adjusting to his role and had a key interception against the Dallas Cowboys last week.  The Eagles are in the inconsistent NFC East.  There is not a clear leader.  Philadelphia has only won three games, but a win tonight will put them at a tie for second in the NFC East.  For Philadelphia to get passed the undefeated Green Bay Packers, they need Michael Vick healthy and the defense focused. 

It has been a rocky road for my picks, but I am going to stay with them.

Heels & Helmets

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Rams stun the Saints and get out of the winless circle

The St. Louis Rams got their first win of the season yesterday against the mighty New Orleans Saints.  Maybe the Rams were motivated after the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series.  Maybe the Saints just took the winless Rams for granted.  Whatever it was, St. Louis looked like a real solid NFL team.  Seriously.  The defense sacked New Orleans QB Drew Brees six times.  The offense scored four touchdowns and even converted on fourth down – twice.  The outcome was a 31 – 21 whipping that made St. Louis cry for joy and New Orleans cry for mercy.

The saying is, “anything can happen on any given Sunday.”  The Rams are at the bottom of the league.  They drafted QB Sam Bradford with their first pick last year.  He is supposed to be the bright star in their future, but just like the end of his college days he is out with an injury.  New Orleans on the other hand is leading the NFC South with a great veteran quarterback.  They won the Super Bowl in 2010.  They are one of the elite groups in the NFL.  The Rams taking out the Saints, explains the point of the saying.

There are two winless teams left in the league.  The Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins.  The Colts will host the Atlanta Falcons next week while the Dolphins will travel to play the Kansas City Chiefs.  Let’s see if they can finally get a game in the win column.

Heels & Helmets

Monday, October 24, 2011

Touchbacks again and again

Over the weekend, I conducted my introduction to football workshop for D.C. Women’s Business Center.  During the workshop, we discussed touchbacks and one of the attendees said that she had noticed more touchbacks this year than previous seasons.  She is correct. 

A touchback happens when a ball lands on the goal line or in the end zone and it is not a touchdown.  This ruling occurs after a kickoff, punt, interception or fumble; but most of the time you see touchbacks from kickoff or punts. 

The number of touchbacks has increased because the kickoff rule changed.  The highest risk of injury is at kickoff.  The NFL changed the rule to make kickoff safer and prevent injuries.  Prior to this season, the kicking team kicked off at their 30-yard line.  Now they kick off at their 35-yard line.  Basically, they are kicking off 5 yards closer to their opponent’s goal line.  As a result, the ball has landed in the end zone more and the number of touchbacks has increased.

A lot of fans, players and coaches are annoyed by the rule because it has impacted the number of exciting returns that fans enjoy watching.  After a touchback is ruled, the ball is automatically put on the offense’s 20-yard line.  So, instead of fast return specialist like Josh Cribbs from the Cleveland Browns returning a kickoff and getting strong field position (across the 50-yard line) or a touchdown, we are seeing more offenses start their drives at their 20-yard line. 

I am all for player safety, but I must admit that all of the touchbacks are boring.  Perhaps the league should consider more time before the kicking team can run after the receiving team.

Heels & Helmets
Old Kickoff

New Kickoff 


Monday, October 17, 2011

It’s on ladies!

I am so pleased to announce that the NFL has truly heard my cry.  For years I have been screaming pink is awareness for breast cancer, not all things women.  Sure, I like the color pink; but if I am going to support my team, I want to wear my team colors.  

Ladies, now you can truly represent your team.  The NFL has stepped up their women’s apparel game.  The line is complete with fashionable jackets, boots and accessories.  They even licensed to one of our favorites – Victoria’s Secret!  There are options for business casual, beach, lounge and of course game day!

The best part about the new line is that it fits us and our curves.  No more small, unflattering box cut jerseys.  We can stop cutting, tying and tucking jerseys to make them look fairly decent.  Actually, you do not have to wear a jersey at all to show your team spirit.  Trust me. 

I had the opportunity to be a model in the NFL’s women’s apparel campaign, appropriately titled, “Fit For You.”  So, I have tried several of the items from the collection and I loved it.

Check out this video to see some of the latest additions to the NFL’s women apparel collection and see behind the scenes images from the photo shoot.

Heels & Helmets

Monday, October 10, 2011

Motown is rockin’!

I’m in Motown!  Monday Night Football has made its way to Detroit for the first time in a decade and the city is hype!  The Detroit Lions are playing the Chicago Bears at home on national TV.  The city is pumped as if it is a NFL playoff game. 

Now the “D” is accustomed to hosting large sporting events.  In the last ten years, they have had Super Bowl, MLB All-Star and a NCAA Men’s Final Four.  It is one of the best sports towns.  Since the last MNF visit, locals have seen the Detroit Pistons, Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs.  Actually, the Red Wings are so good that the playoffs are just considered part of their regular season.  When it comes to professional football the Motor City has  been a little deprived.   So, it isn’t just finally getting MNF.  It is the undefeated Lions hosting a MNF game.

Tonight’s game has the perfect setup for a prime-time battle – rivalry and controversy.  The Lions and Bears are divisional rivals.  The Lions are coming into this game 4 – 0.  They want to prove that they are the real deal and the beginning of their season is not a fluke.  The only other undefeated team in the NFL is the defending Super Bowl Champions, Green Bay Packers.  Coincidentally, the last regular season game Detroit lost was to the Chicago Bears last December.

Chicago won both games last year.  They were close games and had some controversial calls that easily could have given the Lions a victory.  The Bears want to get past their even record (2-2) and sit one game behind second in the NFC North.

To win, both offenses need to focus on what they have done well.  For the Lions, that means QB Matthew Stafford passing to wide receiver Calvin Johnson.  The Bears must keep their running game going and get running back Matt Forte the ball.   On the defense side, Chicago’s secondary has to find an answer for Johnson’s talent and height.   Meanwhile, Detroit will need to slow down Forte. 

I am really impressed with the Lions, but I think that the Bears are going to win.  Their record is not as good, but their two losses were to the teams that won the Super Bowl in 2011 (Packers) and 2010 (New Orleans Saints).  The Lions only beat up on Kansas City.  The other three games against Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Dallas were all close.  And Minnesota just won their first game yesterday.  Great things to come for Lions fan, but I don’t see a 5 – 0 start.

MNF kicks off at 8:30 pm on ESPN. 

Heels & Helmets

Monday, October 3, 2011

Comeback victories expose weaknesses

Yesterday a couple of games that began as yawners, ended up dramatic.  The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles both dominated their opponents the first half of the game.  Each of them was leading by 17 points entering the second half. They literally put me to sleep. 

I woke up and everything changed.  The fourth quarters were so good, I sat in my bed starving and fighting a cold because I had to watch the outcomes of both of these games.  I am still amazed at how they squandered their huge leads and lost.  To make it worse they were both playing at home.

In Dallas, Cowboys Stadium welcomed the Detroit Lions.  At first, Cowboys Defensive Coordinator, Rob Ryan was feeling proud about his team completely stopping Lions QB Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.  They prevented the duo from scoring the first three quarters of the game.  Detroit’s defense woke up in the third quarter; got two pick sixes (an interception returned for a touchdown) and ignited their teammates on offense.  In the last quarter, Stafford, who was playing in his hometown connected with Johnson twice for touchdowns.  The Lions won 34 – 30.  They go back to Motown 4 – 0 tied for first in the NFC North.

The  Philadelphia Eagles hosted the San Francisco 49ers at  Lincoln Financial Field.  Eagles QB Michael Vick, had an unbelievable game.  He had a career-high 416 passing yards and coupled it with 75 rushing yards.  Eagles defense and specials teams wasted it all.  Specials teams missed two field goals less than 40 yards and the 49ers took advantage of an Eagles defense that still has not harmonized.  After being down 23 – 3 in the third quarter, the 49ers fought back and won 24 – 23.  They head back to the West Coast at the top of the NFC West alone with a record of 3 – 1.  Meanwhile the Eagles still have defense problems and have only won one game this season.  

There is a saying that the game is won in the fourth quarter.  This was certainly true for the Lions and 49ers yesterday.  Hopefully, the Cowboys and the Eagles got the message that the game does not end at half-time. 

Heels & Helmets

Monday, September 26, 2011

QBs in the pocket

Eagles QB Michael Vick was injured for the second week in a row.  Last week it was a concussion; yesterday he broke his right hand.  (Luckily, it was not his throwing hand.)  The injuries have led to a lot of discussion about the Eagles offensive line, the amount of time Vick spends in the pocket and what happens when he leaves the pocket.  I received several questions about what the pocket is.

I’ll explain.

The pocket is an imaginary rectangle on the offensive side of the ball between the left and right offensive tackles and back behind the quarterback.  The offensive line works to prevent the opposing defense from getting to the quarterback, so he can throw the ball.  When the offensive line is not successful in doing this, the quarterback will attempt to avoid being sacked.  Many times he will scramble, or run out of the pocket.  If he throws the ball to an area on the field where there is not an eligible receiver, the offense will be penalized for intentional grounding.  This also applies if it was thrown to an eligible receiver who could not realistically catch the ball.  An eligible receiver is a wide receiver, running back or tight end.

Michael Vick is the best in the league at scrambling and escaping defenses.  He led the league last year in number first downs achieved by scrambling with 23.  Now you should be able to notice quarterbacks who move out of the pocket like Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan and those who stay in the pocket like Ben Roethlisberger.

Tonight MNF features a huge, divisional rival.  The Washington Redskins are visiting the Dallas Cowboys.  I’ll be at the game!  Follow me on twitter @heelsnhelmets to know what is going on at Cowboys Stadium.  The game kicks off at 8:30 pm on ESPN. 

Heels & Helmets

Monday, September 19, 2011

Panthers need some D to win

It is so trite to say it, but I cannot help it.  Defense wins championships.  In football, those who have it stop teams in the redzone and deflate loud stadiums.  Those who don’t, well to say it again, don’t win championships.  

Look at the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers game yesterday.  Rookie Cam Newton is putting up record numbers.  In both of his NFL games so far he has thrown over 400 passing yards.  He threw 432 passing yards against the Packers.  This was over 100 yards more than those of the opposing quarterback, Aaron Rodgers who had 308 passing yards. 

Those are impressive offensive stats, but they have not netted the Panthers a win.  The difference between Green Bay and Carolina is defense.  The veteran squad led by 7-time Pro Bowl corner Charles Woodson intercepted three of Cam’s passes.  The Packers won 30 – 23.

The long passes, great catches and fast runs are just nice stats if you do not win.  The Panthers must step it up on defense to get their first win.

Heels & Helmets