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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mike Bradley: The Week That Was - NFL Week 1

It's an event that needs no introduction. The first week of the NFL schedule came and passed, with the usual fanfare that comes with the beginning of the sacred season. With old faces in new places, injured superstars making triumphant returns, healthy superstars making early exits, and 30 teams (not counting the Rams or Lions, for obvious reasons) beginning their quest for the Lombardi Trophy, Standing Room Only reflects on all the action from Week One.

Quarterback Debuts
Of the quarterbacks making debuts with their new teams, the best performance belonged to rookie Mark Sanchez of the Jets. The confidence of the young man was evident as he threw for 272 yards and a touchdown, leading a balanced effort in an easy win
on the road in Houston. Fellow rookie Matthew Stafford wasn't as fortunate, having to endure a blowout loss at the hands of Drew Brees and the Saints. What's even more troubling might be the 3 INTs Stafford threw against what is widely considered an underwhelming secondary in New Orleans. There is clearly potential in his big arm. The Lions just might have to wait a little while for the potential to be realized. Stafford wasn't alone in the INT department however, as Jay Cutler did nothing to excite Bears fans eager to see their new "stud" lead their team to the promised land. After a 4 INT performance against the hated Packers, Cutler has a lot of work to do to win over the good graces of the rugged Bears faithful. Meanwhile, back in Denver, Josh McDaniels obviously has more work to do than he originally thought. If you erase the miracle 87-yard game-winning TD, Kyle Orton threw for an unimpressive 156 yards against a pitiful Bengals squad, reminding fans of a poor man's Brian Griese. Enough said. And finally, some Brett Favre guy made his debut for the Vikings. In a lame duck effort that was upstaged by an Adrian Peterson explosion, Favre threw for slightly over 100 yards and a dramatically over-celebrated TD pass to rookie Percy Harvin. But at this point, who cares about Favre outside of Minnesota?

Early Injury Bug
One of the dominant topics of week one was the plethora of injuries across the league. In the league's opening game, the Steelers lost s
tar ballhawk Troy Polamalu for a few weeks due to a knee injury (Watch out, Fitz. The Madden Curse is coming for you!). If the injury lasts longer than 3-4 weeks, the Steelers may be in some trouble. However, the Steelers aren't in as much trouble as the Bears, who lost beast MLB Brian Urlacher for the entire season. It's one thing to lose your star for a few weeks, but the Bears now have to move forward without the quarterback of their defense. The Patriots also lost the centerpiece of their defense when Jerod Mayo went down with a Grade 3 MCL sprain, which is of the severe variety. Standout linebacker Paul Posluszny was lost to a broken arm, leaving the Bills a man down as well. Injuries were almost too popular, so in a quick roundup, Donovan McNabb broke a rib, LaDainian Tomlinson rolled an ankle, Anthony Gonzalez suffered a knee injury, and Shawn Andrews reaffirmed himself as the softest lineman in the NFL by being placed on the IR yet again. I wonder who's next this week?

B-East Defenses
Defense was everywhere in Week One, from an 8-turnover effort from the Eagles to a dominant Giants defensively line reaffirming themselves as the class of the league at rushing the passer. Sheldon Brown, Asante Samuel, and company knocked Panthers QB Jake Delhomme out of the game with 5 INTs, the front 7 forced fumbles, they scored a touchdown, and the return game looked fabulous in executing an 85-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson. Osi Umenyiora was back and Justin Tuck looked ready to wreak havoc all year long in an impressive showing against the Redskins. Once again, the NFC East is shaping up to be another great battle.

Best of the Rest
The Raiders looked good in losing a heartbreaker to San Diego. Russell is on his way, Louis Murphy might outplay Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Michael Bush will overtake Darren McFadden as lead ballcarrier at some point in the season in Reggie Bush-Deuce McAllister type move....You can't write off LT until he plays healthy, although Darren Sproles looks to be the present, as well as the future, feature back of the Chargers....Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both avoided the sophomore slump in Week One, looking incredibly comfortable in their respective offenses entering their second seasons....Drew Brees may finish the season as the best QB in the league....Kurt Warner looks OLD. Matt Leinart, anyone?....Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings are scary good....The Rams may not win a game this year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Evan Heffron: The Good, The Bad, and The Really Ugly- Opening Week in College Football

Its back. The tailgates, the band, the triple option, the atmosphere, the upsets, the powerhouses the excitement, the...... errrr...... right hooks? Nevertheless, whatever it is I love it. College football is here again and for the next 4 months this nation will be completely enthralled with the every movement of these 18-22 year old amateurs, and oh boy did these kids deliver the past few days. Now, for the first time in a few months, Standing Room Only is going to round up the weekend that was in college football.


-For Big East proponents, you have to love Cinci's drubbing of Rutgers on the road. This team seems to be even stronger than last year's BCS representative. Now, hopefully for the Big East, the Bearcats led by Tony Pike can run the table and give the ACC champ a run for their money.
- Notre Dame and Michigan both convincingly won their week one match up, setting the stage for a huge game for both teams in week two. Gotta think that Rich Rod and Charlie both need this win to keep their backsides' off the hot seat for another week. This will make for a great physical game, and even more so a can't-miss coaching match up.

- BYU's comeback was bolstered by a devastating pile-driver to Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford in the first half, but that doesn't down play quarterback Max Hall's heroics in the fourth quarter. This guy led his team down the field to barely take the lead on the third ranked team in all the land. It should be exciting how this team handles the rest of their not so easy Mountain West schedule.


- Really, Ohio State? Conceding an 85 yard touchdown pass to Navy? Yeah, It's true. Navy went into Columbus and gave the Buckeyes a real run for their money. Jim Tressel can't be too thrilled with the 31-27 squeaker mostly because the Trojans will be in town next Saturday night. There's no time to regroup against an FCS team this year, they will host USC and I just don't believe Ohio State has the fire power to fend off a much superior USC squad. Look for the Trojans to roll through Colombus by a large margin.

- Greg Paulus was managing the game, running the offense crisply, and not making any glaring mistakes until..... the game was actually in his hands. An errant pick in overtime sealed the fate for the Orange against Minnesota. It looked as if Paulus was trying to pull his best 2004 Mike Vick impression untill he forced the ball into a cluster of defenders in the end zone to end the offensive possesion, and ultimately the game. As of now, Paulus is the key for Syracuse football this season. He is going to have to do more than just manage the game to propel this group of players into bowl contention.

- West Virginia Giving up 20 points to Liberty. Enough said. Time for the big boys of the Big East to start stepping up before the Moutain West takes your BCS bid.


- Oh my did LaGarrette Blount earn this spot. The right hook that the Oregon running back landed on Boise State defender Bryan Hout was probably one of the most immature things I have ever seen, but hey, at least he had nice form on the hay maker. Would have made Joe Frazier proud. On a more serious note, The actions of Blount post-game may have just cost the Ducks their season. This team was destined to give USC a run for their money out west in the PAC-10, but all hopes of that seem to be grounded for the time being. It will be interesting to see how QB Jeremiah Masoli rounds up the troops and responds to this awful mess in Eugene.
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