Brett Favre: Retiring on Top of His Game, or Giving the Vikings One More Shot at the Super Bowl?


Favre wipes his face after losing to the Saints in the NFC championship gameLike Brett Favre, thousands of Favre fans are hanging their heads in both disbelief, and a figurative sense of contrition.

The NFC Championship game hosted at the Super Dome between the near perfect New Orleans Saints and the come back team of the year in the Minnesota Vikings, was a nerve-racking nail biter all the way into the fourth quarter.

Tied up in the fourth quarter 28-28  after consecutive touch down runs by the Vikings, Adrian Peterson, and the Saints, Reggie Bush, Favre had a little over one minute to drive his Vikings close to field goal range. And that, he did. But with only seven seconds left on the clock, Favre made the kind of mistake he’s often criticized for, yet managed to avoid all season.

As he rolled out to the right, Favre threw his pass late and over the middle towards pro bowl wide-out Sidney Rice, and instead found Saints DB Tracy Porter. Favre never had a chance to rectify his mistake, as the Saints won the OT coin toss. Fans of Favre and his Vikes were forced to watch Saints quarterback Drew Brees drive his team down the field, where Saints kicker Garrett Hartley nailed the winning 40 yard field goal that gave the Saints their 31-28 victory, and their first Super Bowl trip in franchise history.

Disappointing, heart breaking, exasperating, and emotional are just a few of the words that could be used to describe what could be Favre’s final game. Whether it should be or not, is another question.

With Favre’s now infamous will he-or-won’t-he charade, many fans would revel in concordance at his decision to retire. Statistically however, Favre had the best season of his 19 year career.

According to NFL statistics, he set career bests in completion percentage (68.4), quarterback rating (107.2) and fewest interceptions (7), while throwing for 33 TDs and 4,202 yards. The Vikings (12-4) earned a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs, and last week Favre became the first 40-year-old QB to win a playoff game with a four-touchdown performance against the Cowboys. And though he may have thrown two interceptions in a game that may haunt him for years to come, he showed a tremendous amount of grit, forcing himself back onto the field after taking a brutal hit by Saints DE Bobby McCray– a hit that left Favre and the Vikings staff believing he may have had a broken ankle.

Battered and bruised after taking the thrashing of a season in a single game, Favre had this to say,

I know people are rolling their eyes or will roll their eyes,” Favre said. “In a situation like this I really don’t want to make a decision right now based on what’s happened because I do know the year could not have gone any better aside from us not going to Miami. I really enjoyed it, to be honest.

“Just wondering if I can hold up, especially after a day like today. Physically and mentally. That was pretty draining. I am going to go home, a couple of days and just talk it over with the family.”

At 40 years of age and with 19 years under his belt, Favre has earned the right to take his time in making such a delicate decision. This is a man who truly loves the game, why else would someone choose to expose their bodies to such brutality?

Make it an even 20 Favre, and help bring the Vikings the championship they have eluded for over 33 years.

 

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The NFL’s Top 3 Best Losing Teams


Every year the NFL seems to become more and more like a soap opera-ish reality t.v. show- and it’s not just the “off field” antics I’m talking about here.

The plot begins to take shape in the pre-season and rapidly thickens as the regular season progresses.

Here’s where things get odd-

These two forms of entertainment are most interchangeable in the way that they are extremely unpredictable. There once was a time when the NFL was vaguely predictable. The 2009 season is proof that there is no longer a case for predictability in the NFL.  Both fans and sports analysts have been scratching their heads for months now. Why? Because several of the NFL’s best teams are on the losing side of the fence.

This has prompted a list for the NFL’s Top 3 Best Losing Teams.

1. The Pittsburgh Steelers- The defending Super Bowl champs currently have a record of 6-7 after losing their fifth straight game. In all but three of the games they’ve played this season, the Steelers have won or lost by ten points or less. It wouldn’t seem so abnormal if the Steelers had played these games against notably competitive teams, but they were playing against teams like the Titans, the lowly Detroit Lions, the disappointing Chicago Bears, and the constantly struggling Cleveland Browns. I’m not trying to sound redundant, but they were the 2008 Super Bowl champs-nothing more needs to be said.

2. The Tennessee Titans– In 2008 the Titans exploded onto the scene with an impressive 10-0 start. By the end of the season they had three players from their secondary at the Pro Bowl. The Titans have been far from explosive this season, starting 0-6 before getting their first win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6. Funny thing is, the only gash the Titans took to their roster during the off-season was the loss of big number 92, Albert Haynesworth- the majority of their starters found their way back onto the roster. If it weren’t for the Steelers being the defending Super Bowl champs, the Titans would have easily taken number one on this list. Any sports analyst would agree- they are the best team on the losing side. There is no logical explanation for the Titans 0-6 start. Although, there is one bright spot- VY may still have a future among the NFL elite.

3. The Chicago Bears- The saga between ex Bronco’s QB Jay Cutler and their new head coach, Josh McDaniel’s, ended with the trade of Cutler to the Chicago Bears. This dissension was the center piece of the NFL soap opera during the offseason. Many people, myself included, believed Cutler was the Bears ticket back into the Super Bowl. Cutler’s rocket arm and his ability to scramble around in and outside of the pocket won the Bronco’s many a game. You can’t consciously place the blame on Cutler for the way the Bears season has turned out, however. The Bears offensive line is severely inadequate when it comes to protecting their QB, and there is only so much the lead man can do when his receivers are incompetent. Here’s another unforseen fiasco- I guarantee you the Bears didn’t plan on seeing LB Brian Urlacher back on IR again.

Oh well, there’s always next season for these hapless teams.

Article:”Titans Back to Old Selves”


Hargrove: Titans back to old selves

 

BY ANNABELLA HARGROVE • SPECIAL TO THE DNJ • November 18, 2009

In the words of former pro wrestling superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, “Finally the Titans have come back to domination alley.”

Indeed, the Titans are back to their winning ways, and they look more like last season’s 10-0 team than the 0-6 team we were exposed to at the start of this season. No one, including a plethora of expert analysts, expected the Titans to be an 0-6 team, not with the majority of their starters returning to the roster.

With a 41-17 win over the pitiable Buffalo Bills last Sunday, the Titans are riding the waves of a 3-0 winning streak. But cynics may challenge just how successful those wins really were.

The Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills are three teams that have been less than impressive this season. The Bills (five) and 49ers (seven) are among two of three NFL teams with the least amount of 10-plus play drives, while the Titans rank second among all NFL teams in rushing yards per game with an average of 161.8.

This is where the argument could bear merit — if the roles were reversed, and the Titans had lost their last three games rather than winning them— trouble would have been a sobering understatement. On the other hand, Titans connoisseurs everywhere have noticed the subtle differences that have contributed to the radical change of pace on the field.

The Titans’ secondary has taken the bulk of the blame in terms of the defense’s poor playing this season. But when you don’t have a good pass rush, it leaves the secondary vulnerable and overworked. Since returning from his injury, defensive tackle Jason Jones has proven to be an invaluable asset in the defenses 4-3 scheme.

In each of the last three games, Jones has created havoc for opposing team quarterbacks by putting his big paw up and deflecting potentially dangerous passes down field. Against the Bills this past Sunday, several passes were deflected by the rotating front four in Tennessee.

There is an air of confidence that was lacking during the first six weeks. And with help from the front four, the secondary has once again found their swagger, recording seven interceptions in the last three games after just four in the first six.

The addition of free agent Roderick Hood at cornerback has certainly created a boost in the secondary. He has played in only four games since being signed by the Titans, but has at least one interception in three of the four games he’s appeared.

The remainder of their schedule isn’t going to be an easy one, traveling to face AFC South rivals Houston Texans on Monday and the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 6. This is where we find out what the mighty Titans are truly made. But for now, we can lay back, hands behind our heads, hovering above cloud nine.

Pro football enthusiast Annabella Hargrove resides in Murfreesboro. E-mail her at AnnabellaHargrove@gmail.com

The Titans Dilemma: Should They or Shouldn’t They?


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Fans and NFL analysts alike are still rubbing their eyes and shaking their heads after last week’s AFC South showdown between the Titans and Colts, a game in which the Colts stonewalled any preconceived notion the Titans may have had about ending their current losing streak. Today the Titans face the notorious New England Patriots and their louche coach, Bill Belichick– Today won’t be the day the Titans end their surprising losing streak.

During last Sunday night’s nationally televised game, and on display in front of roughly 69,000 fans at LP field, the Colts humiliated the Titans by pummeling them 31-9. But- this isn’t what all the rubbing of eyes and shaking of heads is about.

Watching a team that went 13-3 in the previous season start 0-5 the next, is like witnessing a medical anomaly, it rarely happens, specifically when the aforementioned team brings back a vast majority of their starters. It’s no wonder there has been finger pointing in every direction imaginable.

One thing is very clear; you know there is trouble when you’re beaten by teams like the Houston Texans, who have remained at the bottom of the AFC South nearly every year since becoming a franchise in 2002, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were shut out by the Seattle Seahawks 41-0 last Sunday at Qwest Field. Both teams hold 2-2 records this season.

The blame game has now come full circle. First it was the secondary, and then it was QB Kerry Collins, next was the coaching of new defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, and finally, the D-line with their lackluster pass rushing abilities. I echo Coach Fisher’s sentiments when I say this is obviously not a group or position issue, but rather, a team losing effort. Where there is dissent, is in the criticism of defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil. Coach Fisher is either in serious denial, or he’s practicing the art of tactfulness- I’d like to think it’s the latter.

Under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz last season, the Titans had only given up 56 points in five games. In five games this season, the Titans have already given up 139 points.

Are you sure this is the same defense from the 2008 season? Just checking.

THE TITAN’S DILEMMAS

It’s becoming blatantly evident that the Titans may have underestimated the value of big number 92, Albert Haynesworth. Although the Titans rank number three against the run, allowing only 75 yards per game against opponents, they have had a difficult time rushing the passer. Opposing quarterbacks have had all day to sit back in the pocket and choose which receiver to throw to. That’s not helping the struggling secondary.

oph9-47406.JPGTaking Kerry Collins out as the starter in favor of Vince Young after only five games is not the answer either, it’s far too early in the season to make that kind of decision. Collins is only in the first year of a two year 15 million dollar contract, and while it is true he’s been inconsistent throughout his career, he’s a proven veteran who knows how to manage games and make informative decisions.

I understand all the questioning behind the QB controversy, and by all means, if Collins continues to play poorly, put VY in the game. The Titans need to find out if he’s the future or if they need to go another route in the upcoming draft, but this shouldn’t be done until around week 10. This still gives VY six more games to prove his worth, and also ensures the Titans make use of the money they spent on Collins during the offseason.

Besides, there are always the games (example- today’s game against the Patriots) that “get out of hand.”

Just What Is Going on With the Tennessee Titans?


The Tennessee Titans are now heading into game five of the 2009 season, and so far it hasn’t been pretty. The defending AFC South champions are 0-4, a stark contrast in comparison to last season’s 10-0 start. As far as players go, only one notable starter was lost during the offseason when All-Pro DT Albert Haynesworth signed with the Washington Redskins during free agency. The rest of the Titans D-line has stayed in tact, along with the O-line, which upgraded when former Indianapolis Colts G Jake Scott was added to the roster. The Titans secondary also remained rooted, bringing back three pro bowl players in CB Cortland Finnegan, S Michael Griffin, and S Chris Hope. They also added a couple of impressive rookies to the roster with CB’s Jason McCourty and Ryan Mouton.

So, just what is with the obnoxious monkey hanging on the backs of the men in baby blue?

Fans and analysts alike have no problems blatantly verbalizing their opinions on the matter. The two most popular arguments are for a change at the QB position, and the lack of aggression by the defense, specifically in the secondary-the former being the most obvious disaster.

Titans DefenseTo reiterate just how bizarre the contrast is between the Titans defense this season and last, the 2008 defense ranked number seven among all NFL teams, giving up only 4.6 yards per play and creating 28 fumbles. The secondary was tied for 6th place with the Pittsburgh Steelers, recording 20 interceptions and allowing only 23 points per game.

Just four games into the 2009 season, the Titans secondary is tied for last place (31) against the pass, allowing 282 yards per game. They are ranked 26th in points allowed per game, with 27, and have only three interceptions against opponents.

It’s pretty easy to see the demarcation between the two seasons, but if for some reason you’re still asking yourself what’s so bizarre about it all, I’ll tell you again-all of the players in the secondary returned from last seasons roster. Some of the Titans players have been quoted as saying that there have been “miscommunications” between one another on the field, but logically that makes no sense. Why this season, and not last? All fingers point to new defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil, who took the place of Jim Schwartz in the offseason after he took the job of head coach for the Detroit Lions.

Ask Titans head coach Jeff Fisher however, and he’ll tell you he doesn’t plan on taking over Cecil’s position-but don’t be surprised if he becomes more involved with the defensive play calling decisions.

Titans QB Kerry CollinsAs far as the QB argument goes, it’s nothing new. Anytime a team plays poorly, there is clamouring for a change at the position, particularly by the fans. Making a change at the QB position is not the answer to any of the Titans woes.

While Titans QB Kerry Collins has been known to be inconsistent during his 14 year NFL career, he is a proven veteran. VY, on the other hand, has also shown inconsistencies and an inability to handle the pressures of the pro game. Having VY sit behind a proven veteran was the right choice, and he should benefit in the long run.

Tonight, the 0-4 Titans face the 4-0 Colts in a Sunday night football AFC South division rival showdown at LP Field. ( 7:20 CST)  The Titans/Colts rivalry has always been an aggressive one, and if there is any team that could invoke aggression from the Titans D, it would be Peyton Manning and company.

If the Titans don’t win this one, they may as well hang up their season.

*Note- Look for my bi-weekly column in the sport’s section of the Daily News Journal on Wednesdays, where you’ll find my opinions on the Titans/Colts game.