Johnson is trying to “Tweet” his way out of KC

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LJ is trying to aggravate beleaguered Chiefs head coach Todd Haley even further with his recent comments on  Twitter

Things just went from bad to worse for volatile running back Larry Johnson in Kansas City.  The one time NFL rushing leader and workhorse has definitely slowed down since his heyday of about 4 to 5 years ago.  Time, off the field problems, and injuries have definitely caught up with Johnson (30 on Nov. 19th). 

The former Penn State power back only had 874 yards on 193 carries with a 4.5 ypr average and 5 TDs in 2008, but you know he would be more than happy with those mediocre type numbers this year.   After another pedestrian effort (16 rushes for 49 yards with a long of 9 yards) on Sunday in a 37-7 loss to the Chargers, Johnson got on the offensive via Twitter against Chiefs head coach Todd Haley. 

Though Tweeting is sometimes unconfirmed for some athletes, I am pretty sure it was Johnson pulling his Blackberry on Haley.  Just read the following excerpts and you will see what I mean.

“my father got more credentials than most these pro coaches….google my father!!!”

“My father played for the coach from “remember the titans”. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefly. Our coach. Nuthn”

It is never a good idea to jump-on your head coach, but doing so in a public form only fans the flames even more.  Johnson’s alleged tweets are pretty inflammatory stuff and you can only expect things to get more heated between Haley, Johnson, and overall Chiefs organization.    

The Chiefs are pretty downtrodden right now with a record of 1-6 and Johnson isn’t doing much better (132 rushes for 358 yards, 2.7 ypc, and 0 TDs).   Also remember it was the fiery Haley who was the coach that got into it verbally with Anquan Boldin last year on the sidelines during the Cardinals’ Super Bowl run. 

 So expect some kind of fine, suspension, or some other disciplinary action to be coming Johnson’s way.  If I were backups Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles, I would be getting my legs ready for more running after the Chiefs’ bye week.

The Redskins have hit Rock Bottom

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Redskins offensive “consultant” Sherman Lewis will soon be a very busy man as he tries to clean-up Jim Zorn’s sputtering offense

On a day where the Philadelphia Eagles surprisingly left their heads in Philadelphia before an embarrassing loss to the Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Titans “quit” in a 59-0 bludgeoning at the hands of the New Patriots, the NFL got a real view of what “Rock Bottom” is in Washington DC.  The Washington Redskins (2-4) continued to be the laughingstock of the NFL, despite the presence of winless teams like the Rams, Titans, and Buccaneers, in a putrid 14-6 home loss to the formerly winless Kansas City Chiefs (1-5).

The Chiefs improbable win marked the third time that Redskins had allowed a formerly winless team to beat them.  Entering Sunday, the Chiefs — had lost 28 of its previous 30 games  — were ranked pretty much last in the NFL in almost every defensive category while allowing 27.6 points and 402.8 yards per game.  So how did the Redskins and their West Coast offensive guru head coach Jim Zorn treat the Chiefs.  Well the Redskins — or as my colleague Lake Lewis of Sport Journey radio calls them “The Deadskins” — managed just 265 yards of total offense and gained only 7 first downs.  While turning the ball over 2 times, committing 7 penalties resulting in 63 yards, and going only 2 for 14 on third-down conversions.

What a mess, to say the least.  FedEx field that easily holds over 90,000 fans was half-full or half-empty, depending on your outlook for the ‘Skins.  In all the madness, Zorn in his infinite wisdom decided to pin the Redskins woes on his starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, who he replaced at halftime.  Granted Campbell was not at his greatest Sunday – finished with numbers 9/16, 89 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT – but his replacement veteran backup Todd Collins was probably worse.  Collins (6/14, 75 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs and 2 Fumbles both recovered by the Skins) did connected with WR Santana Moss on a 42-yard strike on his first pass (led to a field goal), but from there it was “Check-down City”.  Overall, Collins was tentative in the pocket and took too many sacks including a safety (sacked in the endzone by Chiefs DE Tamba Ali) in the game’s desperate closing minutes.

Zorn in explaining why he benched Campbell said, “He was a little late in hitting some things and inaccurate.”   Hey Zorn…I wonder if you have a mirror?  To me it was ridiculous that the Redskins headman would look at anyone other than himself for his team’s ineptness.  The Redskins defense didn’t allow a touchdown (four Ryan Succop field goals and a safety), sacked Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell 5 times and allowed only 268 net yards, despite playing with bad field position over and over (Chiefs started their final four drives in Redskins territory).

The Redskins’ offense now is averaging only 13.2 points per game this season and hasn’t scored more than 17 in any game despite playing facing six consecutive winless opponents (first team in NFL history).  Zorn began his postgame news conference with a huge sigh then rightfully stepped forward to face the awful music – with the loss to the Chiefs, the Redskins are now 4-10 in their last 14 games.  Of his team’s offensive effort Zorn said, “This offense is better than six points, 100 percent. And that’s on me”.  You are right Zorn!!

However the Redskins organization did send a loud and clear message to their beleaguered head coach immediately after the game .   According to Redskins spokesman Zack Bolno, VP of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato told Zorn that he had too many responsibilities and someone else (insert name: “Sherman Lewis”) should run the offense during games. In case you didn’t know, Lewis (West Coast coach from the ‘90s Green Bay Packers) had been added to Zorn’s staff in early October without the coach’s knowledge.

As if the addition of Lewis as an “offensive consultant” wasn’t a big enough slap in the face of Zorn, now a guy that has been out of the NFL for over five years and someone he didn’t even want will be calling his team’s offensive plays from here on out.  Quite frankly, I have to admit that I find it hilarious how Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and his staff have continued sawing off Zorn piece-by-piece without actually firing him.  With the angry Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Raiders, coming to town in Week 7, the Redskins should expect another humiliating home loss.

So rest assured, the inevitable firing of Zorn will soon be upon us, probably during the Redskins’ bye week in Week 8.  “It’s going to be a very hard week,” Zorn said. “Last week, I thought that was as hard as it can get. It just got harder.”

Stay tuned as something stinky needs to be cleaned up in the Nation’s Capital and it has nothing to do with politics.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Denver wins a thriller as another RB steps up

In a day filled with drama it seemed everywhere, Sunday’s most exciting finish may have occurred in Denver.  As the Titans, Cardinals, and Giants all celebrated division championships, the Broncos inched closer to winning the AFC West with a tough 24-17 home victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.  In keeping with the Broncos continuing to fight on with players from all over the depth chart, former jettisoned Broncos 1,000-yard rusher Tatum Bell returned to prominence after rookie sensation Peyton Hillis was injured with hamstring problems — eight rushes for 58 yards and caught one pass for 11 yards before getting hurt.

Bell became the Broncos sixth featured tailback this season and he was ready rumbling for 52 yards on 11 carries, including a crucial 28-yard run on Denver’s game-winning, 95-yard touchdown drive.  The win snapped the Broncos (8-5) three game home losing streak and with one win in their final three games  [@CAR, BUF, @SDO], Mike Shanahan’s team will win the NFC West plus host a playoff game (have not been in the playoffs since 2005).  Sunday’s thriller was not decided until diminutive cornerback Dre’ Bly — not known as a hitter — stuffed Kansas City quarterback Tyler Thigpen a yard shy of the end zone on fourth-and-goal.

You can tell the Broncos have a sense that the playoffs are near as their center Casey Wiegmann said of the team’s revolving door at running back, “We just have to play well up front, as long as all five of us stay healthy, we’ll be OK.”  The other star of the game was potential Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler, who completed 32 of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, both of them to Brandon Marshall, including a 6-yarder for game-winner in the fourth quarter.

The NFL Trade Deadline Approaches — But Don’t Hold Your Breath

(Philadelphia, Pa) — One of the quietest moments on the NFL calendar will be October 14th at 4 PM EST as the NFL Trade Deadline approaches for another year. If you are waiting for a Dikembe Mutombo type deal, forget about it. Mutombo came to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Trailblazers in 2001 at the trade deadline just in time to solidify their run at the NBA finals, but unlike the other three major sports (baseball, basketball and hockey) the NFL trade deadline usually passes with little or no movement.

The non-moves are a byproduct of

  • Cap ramifications – Trades in the middle of a player’s contract causes an acceleration of the contract (Signing Bonuses Given, Incentives already paid, etc) against the trading team’s in-season cap. With most teams at or near the limit of the cap for the year there is little wiggle room for teams to absorb a major hit.
  • Quality of Depth – With injuries mounting every week on every roster like a ten car pile up, NFL teams are unwilling to part ways with players, even malcontents.
  • Help needed now – Most times a team sending away a player will get a draft pick in return, but most coaches, GM’s and Owners operate on a “win now” philosophy and April is a long way from helping them this season.
  • The “System” –  Players usually take at least a year to learn a system and feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
  • The NFL Draft is Trading Central – Most trades in the NFL are done at the draft or near the end of training camp.  The draft is when everyone is thinking of uprgrading their roster and not game planning.  In fact, there were 14 trades in the first 31 picks of the 2008 NFL Draft.

One player whose name has come up in trade talks is Kansas City Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez. The 12-year veteran seems to be moving toward the end of his distinguished career and wants a chance to win now.  Apparently the Chiefs are willing to part ways with the future Hall of Famer for a 2009 NFL Draft 3rd of 4th rd pick.  Gonzalez’s numbers are down so far this season  as the Chiefs have crawled to a (1-4) start — only 21 catches and two touchdowns — but most of his struggles can be attributed to injuries at the quarterback position. 

Several teams are rumored to be interested in the nine-time Pro Bowl tight end, including Buffalo, Philadelphia and the New York Giants.  Gonzalez holds almost every tight end record imaginable — receptions (841), touchdowns (68) and yards receiving (10,075).  If the trade happens, it will be good news to the charasmatic pass catcher, but many Chiefs hope the veteran is around longer.  “It was business as usual,” said left guard Brian Waters. “We were back to work. When we had the walk-through, Tony was in there as our starting tight end. Nothing had changed. Until his jersey changes, he’s still going to be a Kansas City Chief and we’re going to treat him as such.”‘

Other rumored players on the block include: Dolphins QB John Beck, Lions WR Roy Williams, Chiefs RB Larry Johnson (very big contract), Bengals WR Chad Johnson, and Eagles CB Lito Sheppard.  If we do see some movement it will probably be something minor like the 2005 trade deadline deal where the San Francisco 49ers sent backup QB Tim Rattay to the Tampa Buccaneers for a late 2006 draft pick.

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Are We Talking About Hair ???

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Apparently the upcoming NFL Owners’ Meetings in West Palm, Florida will resemble many American households from the 1960’s as hair length and style take center stage.  The Kansas City Chiefs have put forth before the owners a proposed rule that would require players to wear their hair in a way (“tuck” it) so that it doesn’t obscure the name plate on the backs of their jerseys.

Sure they are saying that it is a safety issue and that they are not telling players to “cut” their hair due to CBA language that forbids such edicts –The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA expressly prohibits the imposition of discipline based on facial hair or hair length… ACLU would be on the phone quicker than lightning. 

But you cannot tell me that the “Father Knows Best -esque” bureaucratic NFL does not want to rein players in that look unsightly in their opinion.  The NFL is running a VERY dangerous course by forcing player appearance, they already dictate everything with uniforms down to towel length and socks not being pulled up so apparently “hair” is the next step.  I will be interested to see what will happen if the rule passes and a respected veteran like Steelers safety Troy Troy Polamalu doesn’t want to “tuck” his hair.

I personally really don’t care how many tattoos a player has or if his hair is down to his waist.  The key matter in player evaluation is whether the guy can bring the “wood” on the field or not.  I like that some guys have the unusual “forget image” attitude that they are willing to express themselves in a sport where uniformity has gotten out of control.  Plus as Dolphins running back Ricky Williams learn if you play with long hair, it is okay for an opponent to use it against you.

It will take 24 positive votes from the 32 franchises for the measure to pass and if it does look for some fun “barber” fireworks come training camp time.

The Atlanta Falcons Finally Get Some Good News as They Win the Coin Flip for the 3rd Overall Pick

By Lloyd Vance, BIGPLAY Football “Draft Guru” / Analyst and NFL Senior Writer

(Indianapolis, IN) — The Atlanta Falcons finally got some good news as they won the coin toss for 3rd overall draft position on Friday.  The Dirty Birds will try to rebuild under new GM Tom Domitroff and head coach Mike Smith with the third pick at the April 26th NFL draft.

Look for the Falcons to think quarterback with the pick (BC quarterback Matt Ryan ???) with the Oakland Raiders having the fourth and the Kansas City Chiefs the fifth pick.  All three teams finished at 4-12 and their opponents had an identical record (first tiebreaker)

With the coin flip settled there will be 31 picks in the first round of this year’s draft (New England forfeited its own pick from losing its choice, taken away as part of the penalty for its illegal taping of opponents’ signals).

The final 2008 NFL Draft first round order is listed below (Team listed with their 2007 regular season record and opponents winning percentage)

1      Miami          1-15,  .539

2      St. Louis      3-13, .512 

3      Atlanta        4-12,   .516 

4      Oakland       4-12,  .516 

5      Kansas City  4-12,   .516 

6      New York Jets  4-12,  .523 

7      New England (from San Francisco) 5-11,   .465 

8      Baltimore     5-11,      .516 

9      Cincinnati     7-9,        .461 

10     New Orleans 7-9,      .477 

11     Buffalo        7-9,       .516 

12     Denver        7-9,       .516 

13     Carolina       7-9,       .520 

14     Chicago        7-9,      .543 

15     Detroit         7-9,      .543 

16     Arizona         8-8,     .434 

17     Minnesota     8-8,     .504 

18     Houston       8-8,      .516 

19     Philadelphia  8-8,      .563 

20     Tampa Bay   9-7,      .469 

21     Washington   9-7,      .555 

22     Dallas (from Cleveland) 10-6,  .425 

23     Pittsburgh     10-6,     .453 

24     Tennessee     10-6,   .500 

25     Seattle          10-6,   .414 

26     Jacksonville   11-5,   .516 

27     San Diego     11-5,   .500 

28     Dallas           13-3,   .496 

29     San Francisco (from Indianapolis) 13-3,   .516 

30     Green Bay    13-3,   .469 

31     New England (pick forfeited) 16-0,     .469 

32     New York Giants 10-6,    .516

The Top Moments/Performances to Remember from the 2007 NFL Regular Season (Part 1)

Every season there are moments that like the commercial says are “priceless”.  I have listed some of the moments/performances that I thought left an impression on the NFL in 2007. 

Week 1: New England Patriots WR Randy Moss against the Jets – In this “I am Back” performance, Moss showed that he didn’t need training camp.  After sitting out most of training camp and the pre-season with a lingering hamstring injury, Moss exploded on the New York Jets secondary for nine catches for 183 yards (20.3 ypc) with a touchdown in a shellacking 38-14 over the Jets.  The 10-year veteran receiver looked nothing like the malcontent that shuffled through the 2006 for the Oakland Raiders (42 catches, 553 yards, 13.2 ypc, and 3 TDs).  What impressed me the most about Moss’ performance was his deep 51-yard touchdown bomb that showed he still had game-breaking speed. He ended the season with a NFL Record 23 receiving touchdowns and he will be laughing all the way to the bank this off-season (Free Agent) with the Raiders only having a 4th round pick to show for it.

Week 1:  The Mike Tomlin era begins with a huge win over the hated Cleveland Browns – The Steelers kicked off the Mike Tomlin era with a thrashing of the Cleveland Browns 34 to 7 in Cleveland.  The game marked the first time in 15 years that Bill Cowher wasn’t on the sideline.  The star of the game was Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger who threw a career-high four touchdown passes as Pittsburgh built an early 17-0 lead and didn’t look back. The Browns had an embarrassing day of turnovers, sacks and poor play from starting quarterback Charlie Fry whose pitiful line was 4-for-10 for 34 yards, INT (benched and later traded opening the door for surprise quarterback Derek Anderson).  Steelers RB Willie Parker rushed for 109 yards as Pittsburgh continued their bruising style.

Week 2 Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre against the Giants – The tales of the future Hall of Famer’s demise were greatly exaggerated as he showed the world that the 2007 season was going to be something special for the 38-year old quarterback.  With his line protecting him, Favre led the Packers to their six straight regular season victory. The Packers got off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2001 and Favre won his record setting 149th career victory over the Giants 35-13.  In the game, the “old gray beard” threw for 29-of-38 for 286 yards with 3 TD’s and one interception. 

Week 2: The Patriots put “spygate” in their rearview mirror against the Chargers– In what was billed as the weekend’s grudge match, it never materialized as the Patriots took a 24-0 halftime lead and coasted to a dominating 38-14 victory over the Chargers in Foxboro.  The Patriots were led by QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick and I believe they wanted to show last year’s regular season champ and the entire NFL that they didn’t need to cheat in winning their 3 Super Bowls.  The players wanted to backup their coach after the NFL fined Belichick $500,000, the team another $250,000, and made them forfeit a first-round draft pick in ’08 for “spygate”.  Brady (25-31, 279 yards w/ 3 TDs) said, “After everything that went on this week, we wanted to do our best for him”.  Patriots WR Randy Moss had his second straight 100-yard receiving game including two touchdowns and big time free agent signee LB Adalius Thomas returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown.  2006 NFL MVP Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson could not back up his boasts that he wanted the Pats by running for only 43 yards on 18 carries.

Week 3: Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb against the Lions – After enduring a tough home loss to the Redskins on MNF and receiving arrows from everywhere regarding his interview with HBO’s Real Sports, Big 5 took off his knee brace and dismantled the Lions.  He was at first greeted by more than a smattering of boos from fans, but they quickly turned to cheers as McNabb led the way in a 56-21 rout.  He was pinpoint and had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3, finishing 21-26 passing for 381 yards and four touchdowns.  I don’t know if it was the throwback uniforms, the chip on his shoulder or his repoirre with wide receiver Kevin Curtis, but it was evident McNabb came to play and to silence his critics. After the game he said about his comments, “What’s been said has been said” and “Sometimes reality hurts. Some people don’t want to accept it. Some people feel they aren’t a part of it. But I don’t take it back. I don’t regret it.”

Week 3: One of the few shining moments for the Ravens as they beat the Cardinals at the gun – In a game that came down to the final play, the Ravens showed that good defense and special teams are keys to winning the NFL taking down the Cardinals 26-23 in Baltimore. After Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner rallied the Arizona Cardinals from a 17-point deficit, Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller moved the Ravens into position for a 46-yard game-winning field goal by veteran kicker Matt Stover as time expired. The Ravens only had one offensive touchdown, as KR Yamon Figur’s 75-yard touchdown punt return and Stover (4 FGs and 2 XPs) accounted for the other 20 points.  The game-winner by Stover was the 13th of his career.  The win would be one of few good moments for the Ravens in a season where head coach Brian Billick would be fired at the end and they limped home with a 5-11 record.

Week 4: Revenge Weekend – There must have been something in the air this weekend as several coaches and players had happy/unhappy reunions (depending which side you were on).

  • Raiders starting QB Daunte Culpepper – After being acrimoniously released by the Dolphins this summer due to supposed knee woes, Culpepper had this one circled on his calendar.  In an in-your face my knee is fine win, Culpepper got his roll on for 5 touchdowns (2 passing and 3 rushing).
  • Cardinals coaches Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm were both passed over for the vacant Steelers head coaching job, but they got the last laugh on their old team.  The Cardinals behind a two-headed monster at quarterback and big kick return by Steve Breaston gave the Steelers their first loss of the season 21-14 in Phoenix.
  • Browns RB Jamal Lewis overpowered the vaunted Ravens defense in a big home win.  In the game, he showed that his old team gave up on him too early rushing for 64 yards including a big 23 yarder and a touchdown.
  • Giants Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, a former Eagles coach, showed that he knew the entire Eagles game plan and weaknesses as his unit held the Birds to three little points in a home win.  By the way did I mention the franchise and NFL record 12 sacks the Giants registered.

Week 4: New York Giants DE Osi Umenyiora against the Eagles – Poor, Poor Eagles offensive tackle Winston Justice as the stout Giants sack man had a game for the ages collecting six sacks setting a franchise record and came within an eyelash of tying Derrick Brooks NFL record (7).  He also forced two fumbles and I am sure that Justice (very bad first start), who was victimized for most of the sacks will not be sending him flowers anytime soon.  The Eagles offense was befuddled for the entire game and the Giants D-line was the main cause.  The unit totaled a NFL record 12 sacks and limited the Eagles to 190 net yards in a 16 – 3 win. To give you perspective on the number of sacks NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci said “12 sacks in one game?  Peyton Manning was sacked 14 times all of last year.”

Week 5: The Bills almost pull of the impossible in a near upset of the undefeated Cowboys on Monday Night Football – I will say it, “The Cowboys did not deserve to win this game”. The game marked the first time since 2000 that MNF was in Buffalo.  Ralph Wilson Stadium was rocking — and there wasn’t even a hockey game in the venerable stadium – as the “hated” Cowboys came back to beat the Bills 25-24 in front of a packed house.  This was the most improbable victory I have ever seen.  The Cowboys were lucky enough to overcome quarterback Tony Romo throwing 5 INTs with two returned for TDs and 1 fumble lost.  They also had to weather key drops by receiver Terrell Owens and miraculously recover an on-side kick to setup the last second game-winning field goal.  It was the first time in NFL History that a team won a game when it was a minus-5 on turnover differential.

Week 5: Indianapolis RB Kenton Keith against the Buccaneers –The Colts once again showed the quality of depth on their roster — good job GM Bill Polian and Coach Tony Dungy — as their injury replacement for star runner Joseph Addai proved to be so much more.  The former New Mexico State and Saskatchewan Roughrider (CFL) back carried the ball 28 times gaining 121 yards with two touchdowns in the Colts’ 33 – 14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Week 6: New England Patriots QB Tom Brady against the Cowboys– This may have been a Super Bowl preview as Tom “Terrific” shined in a Pats win.  In his 100th career start, the Patriots signal caller showed why he is the hands down favorite for the MVP.  He threw a career high five touchdown passes, going 30 of 45 for 377 yards. He also went in the record books passing Steve Young to become the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least three TD pass in the first six games of the season. The victory also raised Brady’s record to 24-4 as a starter vs. the NFC, including his three Super Bowl wins.

Week 6: Carolina Panthers QB Vinny Testaverde against the Cardinals – In one of this season’s most incredible stories, the 43-year old Testaverde joined the team on Wednesday and then led them to a 25-10 win over the Cardinals in Arizona on Sunday.  In the game, he became the third-oldest starting QB since 1970, but he was efficient completing 20-of-33 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown.  The former Heisman Trophy winner (1986) also leapt into the record books becoming the first quarterback to have twenty-one straight seasons with a TD pass and becoming the oldest starting quarterback to win a game.

Week 7: Tennessee Titans Kicker Rob Bironas – That’s right a kicker made to my memorable moments despite my “love-hate” relationship for the smallest players on NFL rosters.  In week 7, no kicker has had a great performance ever than Bironas.  He sent an NFL-record eight field goals through the uprights in a crazy 38-36 victory over the Texans on the road.  Bironas’ kicks included a game winning 29-yarder as time expired and others of 52, 25, 21, 30, 28, 43, and 29.

Week 7:  Kansas City Chiefs Defensive End Jared Allen against the Bengals – The high-motor sometimes wacky Chiefs defensive end after serving a two game suspension for alcohol related events, showed why he is a bonafide defensive MVP candidate.  Allen dominated the Bengals contributing 8 TKLs, 2 sacks (ninth career multi-sack game), and 2 FF while chasing quarterback Carson Palmer all day.  Allen produced an NFL leading 15.5 sacks and was the main highlight for the low-light Chiefs going 4-1 with him after a 0-2 start. 

Week 8: New England Patriots OLB Mike Vrabel against the Redskins In a game that would cement the Patriots image as the “evil empire”, the veteran linebacker was everywhere (Offense, Defense, and Special Teams) in the Pats humiliating 52-7 win over the Redskins. In his primary role as the Patriots jack-of-trades linebacker (asked to cover, play the run, and rush the passer), Vrabel gave  ‘Skins quarterback Jason Campbell’s nightmares as he produced 13 tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles with one being recovered for a touchdown.  If that was not enough on offense, he played as a tight end in the redzone and he caught his tenth career touchdown on a 2-yard pass from Tom Brady to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.  As if he didn’t do enough, the former Ohio State defensive end even fielded a Redskins onside kick in the fourth quarter.

Week 8: Philadelphia Eagles DE Trent Cole against the Vikings – The Eagles pass-rushing end told me when I visited with him in training camp “You have to get after it and you need to have the dog in you to make plays” and that is exactly what he did in the Eagles 23-16 win over the Vikings.  Cole all year was the Eagles main force on defense.  In this game he showed why he deserved high Pro Bowl consideration as he contributed eight tackles, two sacks and applying constant pressured on Vikings quarterbacks.  He finished the year with 12.5 sacks.