2009 NFL Season

Troy Polamalu: Quintessential Anticipation

Week 10 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals

Troy Polamalu Knows What's Coming

On this play, Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu has anticipated the snap of the ball and diagnosed the play.  He is already across the line of scrimmage and bearing down on the ball.  Bengals QB Carson Palmer hasn’t even raised the ball to his waist.  The play is a power rush to the left side for Cedric Benson.

Benson doesn’t make it.

No wonder this team was 9-7.

Exhibit B: Chargers Offensive Dominance

The San Diego Chargers do a lot of little things right.  Sometimes, those little things amount to very big things.  A few weeks ago, the Chargers headed into a big game vs. the Cowboys in Dallas.  The game might well have been a prelude to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys have demonstrated this year that the December Jinx is over.  After a surprising 24-0 shutout over the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys are set up to break the 13-year hiatus between playoff wins.  The Chargers won a close game by doing little things.  Here’s a glimpse.

Dallas opened the game with a 41 yard kickoff return by Felix Jones.  The Cowboys then began a long, powerful 10-play, 41-yard drive into the Charger red zone.  The drive consumed more than 6 minutes at the start of the game.  FOX showed LaDainian Tomlinson sitting on the sidelines as if he were collecting dust waiting to get into the game.  The Cowboys were intent on spreading the Chargers out, but remaining balanced.   On six of those first 10 plays, Dallas was in a shotgun formation.  On three of those plays, they ran the ball with Marion Barber.  The drive bogged down as Romo was unable to hit a receiver in the end zone.  Dallas kicked a field goal and led 3-0.

For quite some time, the Dallas defense has been playing at a very high level.  On the subsequent kickoff, Dallas kicked deep and was able to pin Darren Sproles back behind the 20 yard line.  The drive began for San Diego on their own 16 yard line.  On first down, Philip Rivers completed a short pass to his fullback.  The play lost two yards.  On the next down, LT was stopped for no gain by DeMarcus Ware.  So, with 7 minutes gone in the first quarter, the Chargers were facing a 3rd and 12 deep in their own end.  Moreover, they were facing the prospect of handing Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys a short field.  Compounding all of this was the fact that the Charger defense had been on the field for all but 1:18.

3rd down, 12 yards to go from the 14 yard line.

Third and 12. Spread Formation vs. Nickel Coverage


2009 NFL Season: Closing Thoughts on the Season

Sometimes, the best time to take a look at the season is when the images and recollections are still fresh.  With the New York Jets leading the Cincinnati Bengals 30-0 with five minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, I have a few things on my mind.  Let’s take a walk…

  • I’m sure the Jets offensive line are demonstratively telling the Bengals front 7, “We’re going to kick your pussycat a$$es all over the field next week.”  The Bengals are thinking that Tank Johnson and Domato Peko simply are not going to get pushed around by anyone.  I don’t know who wins that battle, but I know that Darrelle Revis is going to win his with Chad Ochocinco.  Can Laveranues Coles and Andre Caldwell beat the Jets if the Bengals are unable to run with Cedric Benson?  Bengals are a 4 point favorite next week.  Vegas was not impressed.
  • Remember when the San Francisco 49ers were 2-0 and sitting pretty coming off wins at Arizona and vs. Seattle?
  • Remember when the Giants were celebrated for having the best offensive and defensive lines in all of football?


2009 NFL Season: A Cold Dose of Steel Realism

Deja Vu All Over Again

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been down this road before.  This road is the arduous path following a Super Bowl victory by an experienced team that fails to meet expectations in the following season.  The 2009 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers has, in many respects, been a repeat of the 2003 season he spent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a defensive coach under John Gruden.  As the calendar turns to 2010, the Steelers find themselves in the unusual position of desperately needing a win over a tough Miami Dolphin team and requiring assistance from at least two other teams.  It is uncomfortable, to say the least, and Mike Tomlin has rejected the very idea that the Steelers should spend a moment watching the scoreboard.

After all, this 2009 team put themselves in this historic bind by losing to several of the lowest performing teams in the league: Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Oakland.  When you drop the type of contests that Pittsburgh has in ’09, the last thing you should want is help.  Moreover, there is very little evidence that the team has made much more than modest headway in resolving the problems that lead to these losses in the first place.  A tight win over the Green Bay Packers came down to the final play and required a legendary throw from Ben Roethlisberger.  A week later, a win over the Baltimore Ravens was tainted by a competitor’s lack of discipline and a bevy of whistles and bizarre breaks.  So, while the Steelers have a lot to prove, they are fortunate to have a coach who understands fully what the challenges are before them.

Consider this: (more…)

2009 NFL Season: Temple3’s First Annual NFL All-Pro Team (OFFENSE)

The 2009 NFL regular season comes to a close next Sunday.  It’s time to dole out the hardware.  This year’s awardees will receive the coveted Cyber Ankh Award for injecting the spirit of Ma’at into their work.  The list of competitors is long — and I’ll attempt not to leave out too many men who have had great years.  At the end, I have a few additional awards for folks who’ve demonstrated some unique skills worthy of mention.

2009 Cyber Ankh Awards

Without further ado…the 2009 Cyber Ankh Award winners are: (more…)

The Future of the Funk: Nick Cole

The 2009 Philadelphia Eagles will go to Dallas on Sunday with the #2 seed in the playoffs on the line.  If the Eagles win this game, they will have a first round playoff bye and will force every team except the New Orleans Saints to go through “The Linc.”  As you can see from the link, the Events Calendar is wide open.

How that calendar gets filled out will not be exclusively decided by legends like quarterback Donovan McNabb or game changers like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  It won’t even be exclusively decided by stalwarts like Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Westbrook.  It may not come down to new talent like Michael Vick or Leonard Weaver or rookie LeSean McCoy.

Nick Cole: Holding the Rock and the Hopes of a City

Instead, the fate of this funky, dynamic team (ranked #2 in scoring offense) may well be decided by an undrafted free agent from New Mexico State, center Nick Cole.  Cole, born in Lawton, Oklahoma (home of New Orleans Saints left tackle Jammal Brown), has been thrust into the spotlight due to a season-ending to center Jamaal Jackson.  The Eagles new center is the personification of a fire hydrant.  At 6’0″ and 350 pounds, Cole has played guard, center and fullback during his career.  He has strength and agility.  In order for the Eagles to win it all, he’ll have to also be wise and cool.  He is the future of the Philly funk.

And, hardly a soul in Philadelphia is the least bit concerned.

Exhibit A: Chargers Offensive Dominance

The high-flying San Diego Chargers clinched the 2nd seed in the 2009 AFC Playoffs this week.  The team is loaded with talent on offense.  The following is just one example of how the Chargers use Antonio Gates and the threat of the run game to totally confuse defenses.

Game Scenario:  Philadelphia Eagles vs. San Diego Chargers.  Week 10.  Second play from scrimmage.  2nd down and 1 yard to go.

Eagles vs. Chargers: Before the Snap


2009 NFL Season: How the Steelers Can Make the Playoffs

Which way is up?

On NFL.com, there are over 21,000 comments on the article concerning playoff scenarios.  I can barely remember and article getting so much attention that wasn’t dedicated to the lucrative commercial in images of Black criminality.  Even illegitimate births by scrawny super models with star QB’s don’t get the juices flowing like 2nd rate cornerbacks in strip clubs.  Whomever said “Sex sells,” never had to compete with the All-American psychopathic racial personality.  Now, it seems the only thing to trump the potential for a Negro perp walk is the prospect of making the playoffs.  Isn’t naked self-interest a beautiful thing?  But I digress…

Polamalu: Closer and Closer to Taking the Field