Football Finally Has its Final Four

Many college football fans have been clamoring for it for years, and now they finally have it. An actual playoff for the national championship.

It begins on New Year’s Day when #1 Alabama meets #4 Ohio State and #2 Oregon battles #3 Florida State. The winners of those games meet for the national championship January 12th in Arlington, Texas.

While some are happy for the new playoff system, there are others who have expressed opposite feelings, namely those associated with teams who failed to make the cut despite very impressive seasons. One team in particular is TCU. Last week they were ranked #3 and pounded Iowa State 55-3 to improve to 11-1. Despite that, the Horned Frogs fell three spots in the poll and were out of the running for a playoff spot. Another 11-1 team on the outside looking in is Baylor. They held the #6 spot last week when they outlasted #9 Kansas 38-27. They also handed TCU their lone loss earlier in the season. None of that was enough for an invite to the big party. Baylor Coach Art Briles even went as far as saying the Big 12 Conference was not fairly represented on the playoff committee. Your text to link…

The playoff games are about to begin, and my friend John Textor and myself have no doubt that when they are over, calls for more post-season changes will start.

Cam Newton Crash

This was shocking enough to tkae me away from my Qnet shopping. The star football player for the Carolina Panthers was injured in a car crash recently. The accident took place on a bridge that goes over I-277 near the Panthers’ stadium. The truck that Cam Newton was in flipped over several times, and Newton was taken to a hospital in the area as a precaution. 
Cam Newton is a fixture in the area as he is one of the top players for the team. There was anohter vehicle involved, and there was only one person in teh other car. Doctors examined Newton, and x-rays have revealed that there are two transverse fractures in his lower back. This might put a damper on the season for the Panthers as they have started to rally back in scoring.
Newton is a beloved player in the area, and there are many who want to see him back on the field in his football uniform, but he will need to be released from a doctor’s care after this accident before that happens.

Cleveland Browns fall to Colts in Final Seconds, Fans Question Hoyer as Quarterback

The Cleveland Browns have spent the better part of the season waffling over whether Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel would be their starting quarterback. Head Coach, Mike Pettine has staunchly defended Brian Hoyer as his starter, and with good reason; Hoyer was winning games for the team that had struggled magnificently in recent years. 

With all that being said, many fans are questioning Pettine’s decision to leave Hoyer in while he struggled against the Indianapolis Colts, and their star Andrew Luck. Many feel Hoyer should have been pulled in the 4th quarter and replaced by Manziel. As noted by Bruce Levenson, sometimes coaches are making the best call they can. The Browns fell to the Colts 25-24, although they had led for the majority of the game. 

The Browns proximity to Indianapolis in scoring wasn’t thanks to the offense. In fact, two of the touchdowns scored were at the hands of defensive players. Experts argue that the Browns absolutely have a playoff ready defense, but their offense is sluggish at best, and inept at worst. 

While Manziel may not be the answer to the Browns’ problems, many fans and experts feel like he should be given a shot. Considering so much hangs in the balance, like the Browns’ dreams of a playoff ticket, that isn’t an easy decision to Pettine to make. Leave Hoyer in and he risks losing more games. If he places young and immature Manziel, he risks losing more games and missing the playoffs. To some experts, it seems like a no-win scenario.

Johnny Manziel Watches From Bench As Browns Blow Week 14 Game

During Week 14, Mike Pettine announced his decision to stick with quarterback Brian Hoyer. He did mention the possibility of Johnny Manziel seeing action in the Cleveland Browns-Indianapolis Colts game, though. That never came to fruition during the contest, and now most people are saying that Pettine screwed up. Without a doubt, that’s exactly what happened as the Brown’s lost 24-25. Hoyer is completely to blame for that result.

Hoyer connected on 14-of-31 passes for a meager 140 yards and zero touchdowns. He didn’t factor into the scoring, but he absolutely shouldered the loss. Surprisingly enough, two Browns touchdowns came from interceptions by the defense. If Hoyer had even managed to reach field goal range in the game, Cleveland would have secured its eighth win. The quarterback didn’t manage even that simple goal, though.

Throughout the game, Manziel sat on the bench, despite his short but great performance in Week 13. He could have taken to the field at any time during the game. Chances are high, and Laurene Powell Jobs was saying that that he probably would have outperformed Hoyer. Manziel’s furious touchdown drive from the previous game showed his talents. With even a fraction of that intensity, Johnny Football could have helped the Browns eke out a victory.

Instead of making an impact, Manziel had to watch Hoyer underperform for the third time in four weeks. The rookie QB has been patiently waiting all season for an opportunity to start. It almost came in Week 14, and now Coach Pettine is running out of reasons to not give Manziel a start. In last week’s game, he proved that he deserves that opportunity.

Redskins in Desperate Tailspin

The Washington Redskins are putting an awful product on the field. They are currently 3-9 and on a four-game losing streak. Tickets for their game with the St. Louis Rams this weekend are reportedly being sold for as little as $3. I’d rather use that money shopping on QNet. Perhaps never has the saying, “You get what you pay for” been more true than it is right now in Washington.

Their hoped-to-be superstar Robert Griffin III has been benched for several weeks this season due to both injury and ineffectiveness. Rumors of his inevitable trade fill the headlines of D.C. sports pages. Unfortunately for the Redskins, other teams in the league are unwilling to give much in trade for Griffin. The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner, while initially quite impressive, has not proven capable of withstanding the physicality of the professional game.

The Redskins have, of course, also been embroiled in a controversy regarding whether or not their name is disrespectful to Native Americans. Protesters often picket their road games, in an effort to convince Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder to change the team’s name to something more politically correct. Snyder adamantly refuses to do so. 

Some would say that the Redskins are currently reaping the results of all the bad karma they’ve been building up over the years regarding their team name. Karma or not, management simply has to make better decisions about how to spend their salary cap money so they can put the best team on the field every week. It make take a few years to get the ship righted, but the long-term results will be worth the present sacrifices.

Another Dallas Win Demoralizes the Chicago Bears

After last week’s loss in a division rivalry match against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys rebounded for a big win against the Chicago Bears. The all star of the night was unquestionably DeMarco Murray . He had 41 ball touches and a personal record of running the ball a whopping 32 times. Dallas definitely is utilizing Murray’s skills to benefit the entire team. His offensive skills are unmatched. Murrary’s career is surely just starting to showcase all of his skills. He is the kind of player that NFL fans cannot get enough of.

The Bear’s performance during the Thursday night game was, yet again, disappointing. Christian Broda could not believe what he was seeing out there from them. Jay Cutler just cannot get into a groove. He is not the only one to blame for another loss; the defense failed to stop Dallas from gaining ground and the offense could not keep the ball long enough to get points on the board. Bear fans are already saying, “Maybe next year”.

Alabama Football Program Shuttered

One of the smaller universities in Alabama has shut down its football program effective immediately. The University of Alabama at Birmingham released a statement that it was restructuring its athletic programs in order to provide better support to the more profitable and successful athletic programs.

The U of A is a Division I school, but says that it does not have the student body or the athletes to support such a program in football. As pointed out by Daniel Amen he South is known for it’s love and support of college football, which means that students may end up leaving the school for other similar sized schools in the region with a football program. It is not unprecedented for a Devision I school to disband its football program, as the University of the Pacific did it in 1995 to great success, but they did not have as large or dedicated a fan base.

The player face uncertainty as well. Many of them came thousand of miles to take advantage of the scholarships and shot at the professional leagues that attending a Division I school offers them. According to NCAA rules the school has to offer the students the option of keeping their scholarships or attending another school under a similar program and scholarship, but if they can only attend another school if that school accepts them into the program. For many players, particularly upperclassmen it may simple be to late in the game for this to be a realistic possibility.

Story of Rams Players “Hands Up” Gesture Continues to Unfold

Last Sunday, before taking the field at home against the Oakland Raiders in a Week 13 showdown, five St. Louis Rams players took the field during introductions and made the “hands up” gesture that is now synonymous with showing solidarity with Michael Brown in the controversial shooting by Officer Darren Wilson in August. It was the Rams’ first game since the grand jury released its verdict the Monday before Thanksgiving.

 

Video of the scene at the Edward Jones Dome immediately went viral and received both acclaim and condemnation, with some happy to see the players take a stand for Brown and others less thrilled at what they perceived to be an inappropriate act of political speech at a sporting event (in addition, it is being reported that Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher was not informed that the five players would be doing what they did).

 

On Monday, the St. Louis Police Officers Association released a statement demanding that the players be punished by the league for their actions. Susan McGalla believes that won’t be the case, but the NFL is still deciding. This prompted a presumed apology from Rams Vice President of Football Operations Kevin Demoff late Monday, but after the association said that they’d been apologized to, Demoff released a statement of his own in which he denied ever having apologized for his players.

Baltimore Ravens Lose Haloti Ngata to Suspension

With the Baltimore Ravens battling for a playoff spot in the very competitive AFC, the NFL has suspended starting defensive tackle, Haloti Ngata, for the rest of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Ngata admitted to using the drug Adderall and will not appeal the suspension.

This is a huge blow to the Baltimore Ravens, as they are one of six teams tied for the last playoff spot in the AFC. Christian Broda thinks this could sink them in 2014. The Ravens, who are 7-5, still have games with Miami, Jacksonville, Houston, and Cleveland before the end of the regular season. Ngata is the driving force for the defensive line, constantly drawing a double team which frees up the blitz holes for the Ravens linebackers. 2014 2nd round draft pick, Timmy Jernigan, will move up into the starting position to take over for Ngata in the final four games of the season. If the Ravens do qualify for the playoffs, look for Ngata to return to the starting lineup.

Ray Rice’s Next Team?

The veteran back out of Rutgers has had an amazing career so far, and at twenty-seven years old, it is sure to continue for a few years. That is, assuming he can find a new team. Rice, who was suspended at the beginning of the season for assault charges, has officially been reinstated back into the NFL as of November 28.

Rice has had one heck of a year so far, and his stats show it. He has gotten a total of forty-three touchdowns, including six receiving (from ESPN.com). He averages an incredible 4.3 yards per carry over his career, and still has a few good years in his prime according to fan Mark Ahn.

So why hasn’t he gotten a team yet? Well, his 2013 campaign was by far his worst, only averaging a mere 3.1 yards per carry. Putting that on top of the possible negative publicity for whatever team will snatch him up, and you can see why some teams are hesitant. The teams that look like frontrunners to sign him currently are the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. Other teams that should be considering him are the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars. Either way, Rice will probably make a big impact to whatever team chooses to take on the backlash from fans.