By Josh Kramer
This weekend was defined by making moves. Some were positive. And some were negative. But football across the land at both the professional and collegiate ranks lived up to the hype and more. Plus the owners finally put forth an ultimatum towards the players. The following are the items that have really caught my attention.
Can you say Who Dey?
-The NFL’s biggest surprise this year resides in Southwest, Ohio. People can say what they want, but this team has been impressive. And anybody who claims they saw it coming is lying to themselves. The Cincinnati Bengals sit tied atop the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens at 6 and 2. Flukes are one week or two-week affairs. Any team that can reel off five consecutive wins (first time since 1988) and play solid football for an entire half of the season is no fluke by any means.
-Now I am fully aware that the Bengals schedule to this point has been highly favorable. But this is the NFL. There are no true “gimme” games. Every team can come out and win on any given Sunday. Are the Bengals a lock for the playoffs? No way. Four of their final eight games are against two of the AFC’s elite, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. But this is exciting. Many thought last year could be “the year” in Cincinnati. Many were wrong. The majority of the nation figured the Bengals to be one of most futile squads in the League heading into this year. A team that would be lucky to muster up four wins. Well half-way through the year, this team has won six, and is one of the hottest teams in football.
-Can anyone remember a team that has had their top two draft picks make as big of an impact as rookies as Andy Dalton and AJ Green have? Andy Dalton has the poise of a savvy veteran. And sure his numbers are not mind-numbing by any means, but they do not need to be. The fiery red-head is doing exactly what he needs to do in order to help his team win games. Not to mention 12 TD’s through the first eight games of his career is not to shabby. And as for AJ Green. This guy was supposed to be a big-time playmaker from Day 1 and certainly has not disappointed. Green currently leads the Bengals with 40 catches, nearly 600 yards, and 5 touchdown catches. AJ is deceptively strong, and has come up big in major situations. I like the tune of Dalton to Green and have a feeling I will be hearing it for the next decade.
-The real reason why Cincinnati is where they are at outside of steady offensive production is their stellar defensive unit. Mr. Zimmer has outdone himself with this team and is leading one of the most fierce defenses in the NFL. I am not counting my chickens before they are hatched in terms of the Cincinnati Bengals, but I must say I am liking what I am seeing. An ego-free locker room with a bunch of young guys that want to go out and play hard every week. It is most definitely refreshing.
Say it ain’t so Joe
-By no means have all the facts been collected in terms of the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State. So I will make sure not to point the finger until the facts are in. This story sadly has a similar ring to it though of many other recent scandals across the college football ranks. “I was unaware of the situation.” “I didn’t know anything.” Sadly, if these allegations regarding former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky are true, could Joe Paterno have possibly not known?
-I know this is a serious matter. And something much different from some Ohio State star players getting free tattoos or selling some memorabilia. But Tressel knew, yet acted like he didn’t. Paterno is playing the “I didn’t really know the situation card.” Joe Paterno is quite possibly the only coach in the nation that is looked at in an even more respected light than Jim Tressel was. Tressel was known as a saint. Paterno is known as the immortal saint. The all-time leader in Division 1 college football wins will forever be known as one of the greatest ambassadors of the sport. Or will he?
-One of the most highly scrutinized quarterbacks in the NFL year in and year out is Baltimore Ravens QB, Joe Flacco. And some of the criticism is warranted, while the vast majority is not. Being a quarterback in the NFL is a very tough task in itself. But leading a team to a Super Bowl or deep into the playoffs is a mind-boggling task. There are not too many guys who have been able to do this. And there are only the few and the proud who have done it multiple times.
-Well on Sunday Night, Joe Flacco may have gotten the monkey off of his back. Not only did he orchestrate a 92-yard-drive in the final two minutes to win the game. But he did it on the road, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are not too many players capable of driving 92 yards on the Steelers at any point in the game, much less in the final couple of minutes of four point game. Flacco did it despite two crucial drops by his receivers. Now while this was all going on, there were two main questions running through my mind. Can Flacco really take it to the house and complete the sweep of Pittsburgh? Secondly, what will Ray Lewis and Ed Reed thinks if he throws an INT or chokes? Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were standing next to each other on the sideline watching the whole series transpire. I know that I for one would not want to disappoint those two guys, for multiple reasons.
Just some “Food for Thought.”
Let me hear your thoughts though. Please comment below with any questions or insights that you may have or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.