Tag Archives: Pete Carroll

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Beware of the Chicago Bears

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Are Jay Cutler (pictured above) and the Chicago Bears poised for a big year in 2012? Our very own Wesley Kaminsky thinks so.

By Wesley Kaminsky

The NFL off-season always seems too long, doesn’t it? In an off-season dominated by Tim Tebow and the New York Jets, it’s that other team in New York who are the reigning Super Bowl champions. They shocked the NFL world a season ago, getting hot at the right time, beating the likes of the Packers, 49ers, and then eventually the Patriots. That takes guts.

With teams such as the Packers, 49ers, Bears, Saints, and Falcons, just to name a few, the NFC is becoming a powerhouse. I didn’t even touch on the NFC East.

In the AFC, the Patriots look like the clear-cut team to beat, as they added more weapons to an already lethal offense and revamped their defense.

Can the Ravens finally get over the hump? Will Peyton Manning return with a vengeance?

These questions will be answered in due time. Continue reading

Food for Thought 8-28-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Russell Wilson (pictured above) has shocked the world and been named the starting quarterback in Seattle.

By Josh Kramer

When Pete Carroll left USC, I lost almost all respect for the guy.  The situation he left behind was inexcusable and a definite admission of some sort of guilt.  That’s all in the past though.  Slowly but surely, my respect has returned for the coach that picked up a pair of national titles at USC and is currently running the show in Seattle.

At USC, it seemed as if everything was about the money.  Just ask Reggie Bush.  Since arriving in Seattle, it appears Carroll has had a change of heart.  On Sunday, he named a rookie third-round draft pick the starter at quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season.  As much as I try to ignore it, sports are a business.  Even collegiate ones unfortunately.  Money is what makes the world go round.  Not in Seattle’s quarterback case though.

Matt Flynn recently signed a three-year, $26 million deal, with $10 million guaranteed.  Everyone and their mother expected Flynn to be the starter.  Wilson, a supposedly undersized rookie quarterback is guaranteed just $619,400.  In simple terms, Flynn is guaranteed to make over 16 times the money that Wilson is guaranteed with their current contracts.  Yet, Wilson is the starting quarterback.

Simply based on merit, Wilson has outplayed his higher-paid counterpart, and is therefore deserving of the starting job.  Kudos to Pete Carroll on not being blinded by or influenced by dollar bills this time around.  The perception was that Flynn would be the Seahawks starter up until recently.  Carroll did not let the perception become a reality.  He evaluated the two players competing for the spot strictly on merit and performance.  Russell Wilson appears to have a very bright future ahead.  I do not envision Carroll regretting this decision to start the “undersized” rookie quarterback.  Talk about value in a third-round pick.  I guess height, money, and the perception of the public aren’t everything when it comes to quarterback play. Continue reading

NFL Quarterback Competitions

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Matt Flynn (pictured above) is going toe to toe with Russell Wilson for the starting quarterback job in Seattle.

By Jeremy Powers

They say competition is healthy. When NFL training camps open, the hot topic always centers on who will win the starting job. Not at running back, not at wide receiver, but at quarterback of course.

There are several teams with quarterback competitions at full speed as the second week of preseason approaches. Ironically, quarterback uncertainty is plaguing the same franchises every season. Teams like the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, and New York Giants, among others have had the quarterback position nailed down with their Pro Bowl throwers, making them oblivious to what it’s like to have a competition for the top spot on the depth chart. For other teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, and Miami Dolphins, the coaching staff does not have that luxury and all they can do is hope they make the right decision.

These four situations may not be black and white, so here is my analysis of which quarterback is the best fit under center for their respective teams.

4. Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll has one of the more interesting competitions to focus on in the NFL. Management went out in the offseason and signed free agent Matt Flynn to a nice contract after he showed unique abilities in Green Bay. The question becomes, is Flynn really a franchise guy, or was he only the product of an efficient system under Mike McCarthy? The only way to find out is to put him to the test this preseason. The other player in the mix is rookie Russell Wilson, who on paper doesn’t look like a viable option (Tarvaris Jackson seems to have faded out of the race for the starting spot). But the more and more you watch him you see what kind of athlete he really is, and he really makes you want to give him the reigns. My prognosis, start Flynn. I think his abilities are sufficient, and if he really does fail to win games, then go to Wilson. The Seahawks defense should win them games anyway. Continue reading

Food for Thought 8-7-2012

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Terrell Owens (pictured above) last played in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010. It appears he will be suiting up for the Seattle Seahawks in 2012.

By Josh Kramer

The three-headed quarterback controversy in Seattle is just a minor story compared to yesterday’s news.  It appears the “TO Show” will have another season after all. This time in Seattle.  Yes, the Seahawks have rolled the dice on the 38-year-old locker room killer that is Terrell Owens.

Owens last played in the NFL in 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals.  Despite putting up solid numbers in Cincinnati, a torn ACL, a riddled past, and old age made him unappealing to NFL teams.  Not to mention Cincinnati went a pitiful 4 and 12 after making the playoffs the year before.  After playing in the Indoor Fooball League, Owens is ready for one final hoorah in the NFL.  The real question is why?

No, I am not asking why Owens is motivated to return to the NFL.  Those reasons are obvious (money).  I am asking why the Seattle Seahawks, a team coming off of a 7 and 9 season, a wild offseason that has included “Beast Mode” going into “DUI Mode,” and a major quarterback competition, is willing to put Owens on a roster with an inexperienced quarterback (all three competitors are fairly inexperienced in the NFL).

I am aware that Seattle finished 22nd in the NFL in passing yards during the 2011 season.  So there is definite room for improvement.  Also, do not forget that Seattle already brought in another troubled wide-receiver this off-season, in Braylon Edwards.  The star power is definitely lacking at the position.  But sometimes that is the best way to go with a young quarterback (See Andy Dalton and A.J. Green in Cincinnati).  A chemistry can form that has lasting power.  Pete Carroll was always a mastermind at managing big egos and star power while at USC.  He still has not proven the ability to do this since coming to Seattle in 2010.

The way I see it, fans in Seattle should be praying for three things in terms of their wide receivers:  Continued improvement from Doug Baldwin.  A healthy Sidney Rice.  Plus, Golden Tate finally living up to the hype he demonstrated in South Bend.  Also they should wish for a fourth thing:  A very low-key and subdued Owens (if that is possible).

There is a reason why the “T.O. Show” has already been cancelled by five NFL teams. Continue reading

Could lightning strike twice?

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The professional career of Matt Leinart (pictured above) has not exactly gone as planned. Now Leinart finds himself back in California and with a familiar teammate. Could Leinart finally begin to live up to some of the promise he demonstrated at USC?

By Josh Kramer

USC was the cream of the crop in college football during the early part of the 2000s.  They were the “U,” after the “U.”  This resulted in their naming as the team of the decade for the period between 1996 and 2006.  It was a renaissance of sorts in Los Angeles in regards to collegiate football.  All was good in southern California under the direction of Pete Carroll and an outstanding crop of quarterbacks.  Carson Palmer got the party started in Trojanville taking home a Heisman Trophy and an Orange Bowl victory.  Then came Matt Leinart.  Leinart proceeded to have one of the all-time great college careers capturing two National Championships and a Heisman Trophy.

After his decorated college career, Palmer went on to spend eight years in the Midwest.  There were many ups and downs for the former Trojan star, but due to injuries and many other factors, Palmer never lived up to the promise he once demonstrated as a Trojan.  Matt Leinart’s professional career has still failed to really take flight yet. It has been all downs and very few ups for the former Heisman winner.

Well yesterday, Matt Leinart signed on with the Oakland Raiders and put himself into a familiar spot.  Not only is he back in California, but he is back to studying under Carson Palmer.We all know what results that yielded back when he was sporting the cardinal and gold.  Could lightning strike twice for Leinart? Continue reading

NFL Week 14 Predictions

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com. The game of the week pits two NFC East super powers against each other. Cowboys (left) and Giants (right).

By Josh Kramer

Peyton Manning’s days in Indianapolis may be numbered.  Aaron Rodgers is putting up one of the greatest regular season bodies of work of all time.  And Tim Tebow continues to shock the world.  The NFL this year has been extremely unpredictable, but extremely fun.

As has become the tradition, we are once again having “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge.”

The participants this season are as follows:

TheSportsKraze (TSK) (defending champion)-Josh Kramer-Founder/Editor-In-Chief of “TheSportsKraze” and former ESPN intern.

CV3-Chad Vordenberge-An elite high school wide receiver and a very successful business owner.

CB-Craig Baker-A former collegiate baseball player and current special education teacher.

DC-David Clark-A dedicated sports fan who was coached by TheSportsKraze on his fraternity flag football team.  After playing for TheSportsKraze, he has developed a slow but steady motivation to show his coach who the real pick’em champion is.

After Week 13, here is the scoreboard.

CB-121

TSK-129

CV3-118

DC-119

Week 14 Slate: Continue reading

Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

Photo courtesy of fantasyfootballhelp.com. Not too many people are talking about the lone undefeated team in the NFL after six weeks. Green Bay has been simply outstanding riding guys such as Jordy Nelson (pictured above) to easy victories.

By Wesley Kaminsky

Week six is in the books, and it consisted of drama–and lots of it. Some of it wasn’t even on the field itself. Following the 49ers comeback victory in Detroit, Jim Harbaugh was excited, and fiery. Apparently Lions coach Jim Schwartz didn’t like how Harbaugh shook his hand, as he continued to yell at the Niners coach all the way down the field. The two had to be broken up as they were heading into the tunnel.

Now, that’s drama.

If you don’t know anything about Jim Harbaugh, that’s just his personality. He does things his way and doesn’t care what people say about him. Remember while at Stanford when Pete Carroll famously asked Harbaugh, “what’s your deal?”  Do you think Harbaugh looks like the kind of guy who cares how he is perceived?

No coach has done a better job this season than him either. After inheriting a 6-10 49er’s team, and having a limited off-season due to the lockout, Harbaugh has brought football back in San Francisco. He has done with Alex Smith what neither Mike Nolan, or Mike Singletary was able to do; make him a quarterback.

There’s just something about this Harbaugh guy. Continue reading

“BCS Numbers Game”

With very high expectations, can Ohio State junior quarterback, Terrell Pryor, lead the Buckeyes to their first National Championship since 2002?

 Today the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll came out for the 2010 version of NCAA Football.  There was really nothing too alarming or surprising.  The top 25 was dominated by the BCS Power conferences.  There were only 2 teams from non BCS conferences in Boise State and TCU who made the cut.  Both of these teams have become perennial powers and will be tough again in 2010. 

The two teams at the top are Alabama, the defending National Champions, and perennial power, Ohio State.  Both of these teams are thought of as heavy favorites.  Alabama is supposed to be even better than last year if that is possible and the Buckeyes went through a “rebuilding year” last season in which they still won a Rose Bowl.  This Buckeye’s team will be very dangerous and the Big Ten will be stronger than it has been over the past few years.  But lets look at the history of the BCS and gauge these teams chances of bringing home a BCS title. 

Since the system that we have all grown to love (jk) took over College Football in 1998, only two teams have won the title twice.  These two teams are LSU and Florida.  Also, no team has ever repeated as BCS National Champion.  In addition, 6 of the total 12 championships have been brought home by teams from none other than the SEC.  Are you really surprised?  Lastly, 4 straight championships have been taken home by the vaunted SEC.  This is why people have considered this to be the best conference in the NCAA football ranks for some time now.  They are deserving and should continue their dominance this year.  

Since 2002, only one preseason #1 in the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll has taken home the BCS National Championship.  And that was in 2004 when the USC “professional” Trojans knocked off preseason #2 Oklahoma.  Who cares if this USC team might have cheated.  They were a dominant force led by Heisman winner, Matt Leinart.  Also since 2002, only two preseason #2 teams in this poll have won the BCS Championship.  This occurred in 2007, when #2 LSU took home the title over an “overrated” OSU team.  It also happened in 2005, in arguably the greatest College Football Game ever.  Vince Young, put the Longhorns on his back and led them over the seemingly “invincible” USC Trojans.  The image of Frostee Rucker, USC’s star defensive end, diving at Vince Young on Vince’s last burst marked the end of an era (USC Dominance).  Unfortunately for Frostee, Young made it into the end zone on this play.  Pete Carroll and USC were unable to stop the man who should have brought home the Heisman that year (he still may get it due to Bush’s issues now).  Lastly, only twice in the BCS since 2002 have the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll met in the BCS National Championship game.  This happened in 2004 and 2005 in the years of the USC Trojan.  Though Vince Young made sure this tarnished era in Trojanville ended on a sour note.  

So there you have it.  Only once has a team in Bama’s #1 ranked position taken home the title (since 2002).  Also no team has ever repeated in the BCS era.  So their chances of repeating are not too likely.  In addition, only two teams in Jim Tressel and the Buckeye’s position have taken home the BCS National Championship since 2002.  I will state that both of these teams have more than enough firepower to run away with a National Title.  But the odds appear to be against them. 

So will the Tide Roll into Glendale, Arizona come January, or will the Buckeyes be able to crash the party? 

This is all a part of what we like to call the “BCS Madness.”  Get excited for the College Football season as it inches closer. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze

“NFC West Preview”

See any resemblance to Joe Montana or Steve Young? Well Alex Smith is ready to lead the 49ers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

The NFC’s version of the Wild Wild West has not been the most glamorous conference in recent memory.  In fact, they have not sent 2 teams to the playoffs since 2003.  They also have not had more than one team with an above 500 record since 2003.  So generally, you have one team do solid, another team do around 500, and the other 2 just finish absolutely abysmal.  This year appeared like it could be different.  It appeared that there could possibly be 2 teams with a fighting chance to make their way into the playoffs.  That was until Arizona lost their quarterback to retirement and one of the best receivers to the Ravens (Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin). 

NFC West: Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, 49ers (alphabetical order)

St. Louis Rams (4th place):  The Rams had a nightmarish season last year.  And though I think they will do better than one win this season, I do not see them finding themselves out of the division cellar just yet.  Sure they drafted a very talented quarterback in Sam Bradford.  And sure they have an outstanding running back in Stephen Jackson.  But really what else is there?  I mean Albert Pujols cannot suit up for this squad.  This squad featured one of the worst passing games I have ever seen in recent memory.  And to think, we are only 10 years removed from the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Guys like Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson must step up and provide the rookie Bradford with some targets.  Sure Stephen Jackson is a great guy to have for rookie Sam Bradford to hand the ball off too.  But the NFL has become a pass first League.  You cannot win without some sort of passing attack.  The Rams, unfortunately, are going to struggle in this department all year.  The Rams defense is not to amazing either.  In fact, it looks to be on its way to a horrific year.  I guess a team that goes 1 and 15 generally is not too strong in many areas.  James Laurinaitis will have a ton of weight put on his shoulder to anchor the defense.  He is no longer a rookie and will be expected to be the engine that makes the defense go.  But other than that, there is not a whole lot of promising prospects on this defense.  I do think they will finish better than 1 and 15, but not much.

Seattle Seahawks (3rd place):  Rainy Seattle will once again fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.  This team features both a sub par offense and defense.  Matt Hasselbeck is a very savvy veteran that really just does not have much to work with.  Sure TJ Houshmandzadeh is a great possession receiver, but the loss of Nate Burleson hurts.  Golden Tate, the outstanding receiver out of Notre Dame will be expected to produce from Day 1.  He will be expected to be a big play guy similar to a Steve Smith type of mold (lots of pressure on the little guy).  This team cannot survive simply with Houshmandzadeh.  I mean this team does not have much of a rushing attack.  Justin Forsett and Leon Washington are not necessarily gamebreakers.  Maybe Washington will surprise some people and start to really produce, but I wouldn’t count on it.  Then you look at the Seahawks on the other side of the ball.  And there really isn’t a whole lot of star power to look at.  Who will step up?  Nobody really knows.  The main thing Seattle has going for them is the arrival of former USC Head Coach, Pete Carroll.  Now normally coaches do not do so hot going back and forth between the League and College in any sport.  But this guy has been running a professional program for years now.  Plus he had 15 years of “official” professional coaching experience before he arrived in Trojanville.  Just ask USC what they think about it.  Maybe he could get this team to come somewhere near 8 and 8?  I would say it is highly doubtful they win 8 games, but who knows, it could happen.

Arizona Cardinals (2nd place):  This is a team that probably lost the most of any team in this division.  They lost a big time number 2 receiver in Anquan Boldin.  They lost a big time quarterback in Kurt Warner.  And with Kurt and Anquan, goes a major part of the high-flying attack that has carried the Cardinals for the past couple of years.  This is a team that has lived and died on the pass reminiscent of the way many college teams play today.  They had a rushing attack that did not even average 100 yards a game.  Yet they advanced to the playoffs?  Go figure.  Times have really changed.  Offenses have slowly but surely turned into pass first teams all around the League.  I mean the Cardinals do have 2 decent running backs in the massive Chris “Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.  But neither of these guys get many opportunities in this pass happy Cardinal’s offensive scheme.  If Steve Breaston does not emerge as a big time number 2, Arizona’s offense could collapse in that teams will double on Fitzgerald and the passing attack will die.  And this does not even get me started on Matt Leinart.  The man came into the League with so much upside but has vastly underachieved.  This year will be his chance.  There is also a defensive side of the ball.  And the Cardinals are not too good at defending.  They like to play shootout style games where they score a ton of points, and give up lots of points.  A way that you can tell this team has struggled defensively is players like  Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle are 2 of the top 4 tacklers on the team.  These guys both play in the secondary.  So I feel like this team will probably win 6 to 8 games.  But there have been too many losses on the offensive side of the ball for them to outscore all of their opponents and their defense does not appear too promising on paper.

San Francisco 49ers (1st place):  Yes, this is the year we have all been waiting for.  The 49ers long awaited return to the playoffs.  There were the Joe Montana days.  Then the Steve Young days.  Now there are the..Alex Smith days?  You better believe it.  This team has not gone over .500 since 2002.  Well that all changes this year.  There will be a changing of the guard, or at least a retro look in the West.  With the 49ers back on top.  This team has been knocking on the door for a few years now and is ready to come inside. The 49ers have a solid defense that is led by in my eyes the best linebacker in the game, Patrick Willis.  You should have heard of this guy already, but if you have not, he is here to stay.  They also have the veteran leadership of a linebacker that has been around the block in Takeo Spikes.  This team boasts arguably the best linebacking core in the League.  They also have a solid secondary led by former Pro Bowler Nate Clements, and the veteran Mark Roman.  So expect this team to be ranked among the League’s elite on the defensive side of the ball.  And on offense, this team looks to improve from a dismal showing last year.  They will be led by a young group in Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Josh Morgan.  These guys are all young, but ready to show that they are entering the primes of their careers.  Also do not forget about the always dangerous Ted Ginn Jr.  This team will not be one of the League’s elite offensively, but you better believe that they will put on a much better performance than last year as they begin to gel and enter the primes of their careers.  Hopefully the 49ers can keep this core group on the offensive side of the ball together for years to come.  San Francisco will return to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.

So there you have it, a changing of the guard in the NFC West.  A return to the old.  The 49ers are back and look poised to be solid for the next few years with a relatively young group.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Fair Punishment”

Former Trojan stars, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, with former Coach Pete Carroll.

ESPN recently caught up with former USC Trojan star quarterback Matt Leinart.  They sure did not want to talk to him about his NFL career up to this point (hopefully it turns around).  The topic of discussion centered around the recent probation and punishment put on USC for various recruiting violations and breaking of other NCAA rules.  They asked Matt how he feels about the probation and the taking away of all the victories accumulated in 2004 and 2005.

You really think this multi millionaire is going to care?  I mean honestly why would he care?  Matt can save face and act like it hurts, but it probably means very little to him now.  Now he is an NFL quarterback and a millionaire.  USC helped get him there.  He went 37 and 2 as a starter in Trojanville and led the team to 2 consecutive National Championship Games (1 title).  People will never forget those few years of greatness.  Those teams with Leinart, Reggie  Bush, and Co will go down as some of the greatest teams in College Football history.  You really think people are just going to forget what was accomplished?

This is becoming a  reoccurring theme in NCAA sports.  Teams break rules. A few years later, the NCAA takes away some victories, puts the program on probation, fines them, and takes away some scholarships.  You really think these punishments are going to bother the former stars of those teams and other guys who likely were receiving money and extra benefits on the side?  I know it sounds arrogant, but do you really think Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Pete Carroll truly care?  They can all act sympathetic and it may bother them a little, but  they are all making big bucks in the NFL and away from the current chaos in Trojanville. 

Now I do feel bad for the kids and coaches currently there.  The ones that had nothing to do with what happened in 2004 and 2005.  These kids are just there to play football and the coaches are just there to coach.  No allegations have been made concerning them.  Unfortunately, they have to suffer the penalties, go two years without being able to play in a bowl game, and play at a program that has less scholarships to give out.  Less scholarships will likely lead to less Ws.  This will lead to unhappy fans, players, and an unhappy program as a whole.  Everybody likes to win and people have come to expect the Trojans to be a National Title contender every year.

A prime example of someone who has wreaked havoc on the College scene in a similar fashion is John Calipari.  I apologize for calling out Coach Cal, but his career relates to this issue sadly.  Now I realize that he never has seen the repercussions personally in that he has fled from his two prior programs.  But his former places of work, Massachusetts and Memphis, have each received sanctions from the NCAA for events that occurred while he worked at the institution.  Do you think he really cares?  He sees none of the consequences.  He can act like he feels bad.  But he has moved on to bigger and better things.  The man is the highest paid employee in the state of Kentucky and can get any recruit he desires at the winningest program in NCAA basketball history.  So maybe his wandering into the grey area at his former programs was a good thing that helped put him in position to get the dream job he currently sits in.  But is it fair that the current players and coaches at his former institutions have to deal with the NCAA for events that happened while they were not even there yet?

The NCAA really needs to figure out a new system to provide fair punishments for people and programs that break the rules.  And I am not saying that I have a solution.  Because I don’t.  Like you can’t just suspend Leinart, Bush, or Pete Carroll from their current jobs for events that happened in Trojanville over 5 years ago.  Or can you? 

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze