For the Atlanta Falcons, the rise to finishing the puzzle has been one missing piece away for the past few years.  They get Matt Ryan and Michael Turner in 2008 and begin their uphill trek.  With the addition of Tony Gonzalez in 2009 to aide veteran wideout, Roddy White, everything was starting to fall into place.  And now, the Falcons from HOT-lanta, who have made the postseason for three straight years, seem to have all their pieces in place to make an impressive run towards the Lombardi Trophy.

An extensive off-season for the boys in Atlanta has made things in the NFC South quite interesting.  First and foremost, the retention of the greatest tight end to ever play the game, Tony Gonzalez.  The man will be entering his 16th season in the NFL with only his second team and no Championship Ring.  The perennial pro-bowler pulled in 930 yards and 8 touchdowns last year and was hesitant about returning for a 16th season.  After talks continued and the owners in Atlanta began filling holes, Tony G. decided to come back for one last ride into the sunset.

Most recently, the signing of DE Osi Umenyiora will help fill the gaps on defense and help control the running game a bit more.  His speed around the outside of the line will mean more rushes on the qb and force the opposition to hurry up and turn the ball over more.  A great addition to the Falcons squad.

The most important component to this years Falcons’ lineup is by far the signing of Steven Jackson.  Many say that he is past his prime and on his downhill slope but think of this for one moment:  SJ39 has had eight straight seasons of 1,000 yards seasons and rushed for over 10,000 yards in his nine year career with a dismal offensive line in St. Louis.  He has averaged five total touchdowns in the last four years, and he hasn’t had a receiving squad to help take the heat off of the running game since Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt left.  Now, with a veteran line and a stellar receiving corp, not to mention a top tier quarterback, expect SJ39 to do some amazing things in Atlanta to finish off his career.  I predict 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns from the big guy.

The key to any championship is leadership.  Having those veteran guys that know how to handle winning and losing and make those around them better players.  For the Atlanta Falcons, their roster is full of them.  There may not be a better wide receiver duo in football right now better than Roddy White and Julio Jones catching the ball.  Tony G., 16 years of football experience goes a long way.  And don’t forget all-pro quarterback Matt Ryan.  His arm strength and accuracy this past season were incredible not to mention only losing three games all season.  He has definitely become a field general in his short four years in the league.  Look for him to tear up the competition this season.

The strength and determination that the Falcons have shown over the past few years has all culminated to this point.  All the pieces are in place.  All of the ducks are in a row.  And after the draft in a couple weeks, all of the t’s will be crossed and the i’s will be dotted.  And at the end of this season, the Atlanta Falcons will be raising the Lombardi Trophy right through CentennialPark.



Best NFL Free Agents Of All-Time

Posted: March 5, 2013 in Misc.

Best Free Agent Signings of All-Time


Reggie White, 1993, Green Bay Packers

After nine years with the Philadelphia Eagles, Reggie White became the best defensive player available during 1993 off-season.

The “Minster of Defense” was then swooped up by the Green bay Packers for a mere $17 million, and the rest, as they say is history.

In his six years in Green Bay, White wrapped up 68.5 sacks, becoming the, then, all-time Packers leader in the category, He also helped lead the Pack to two NFC Championships and one Super Bowl Championship.

His overall value as a team leader was unmatched and he was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 1998.  In 2006, White was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his presence both on, and off the field.

Drew Brees, 2006, New Orleans Saints

After five years at the helm, Drew Brees tore his labrum in his throwing shoulder during the final game of the 2005 season.  The San Diego Chargers decided to start the 2006 season with second-year quarterback, Philip Rivers, thus, giving the Pro Bowl, franchised Brees his walking papers.

The Miami Dolphins were talked out of signing Brees due to the unknown of his throwing shoulder’s healing.  They traded for Daunte Culpepper.  The New Orleans Saints took the risk to the tune of six years, $60 million.

Since the 2006 season, Brees has posted some unreal numbers including 33,571 yards, 247 touchdowns, over 40 New Orleans Saints passing records, Super Bowl XLIV Champion and MVP.

2011, Brees accomplished the remarkable feat of breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year old record of the most passing yards in a season with 5,084 – he finished with 5,476.

His records in both New Orleans and the NFL overall are too numerous to mention and he’s not done yet.  In 2012, Brees and the Saints agreed to a five-year $100 million contract.

Deion Sanders, 1994, San Francisco 49ers

He has a name and it is Prime Time.  In 1994, “Neon” Deion Sanders signed a one year, $1.2 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers and had easily the best year of his career.

He intercepted six passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns, including one over his former Falcons squad as he high stepped into the endzone.

After being voted the Defensive Player of the Year in ’94, he helped lead a 49ers team to a Super Bowl XXIX victory with an interception against the San Diego Chargers.

Deion Sanders II, 1995, Dallas Cowboys

They don’t call him “Prime Time” for nothing.  The only man with the skills and longevity to make the list twice.

Following his stellar season with the Super Bowl Champion 49ers, the Cowboys won the services of Sanders over a handful of other teams for a sum of $85 million over seven years.  The contract did not get done until week two of the ’95 season and due to arthroscopic surgery, he didn’t play until week nine. 

He did, however, help the ‘Boys to their third Super Bowl title in four years showing impressive athleticism on both sides of the ball during Super Bowl XXX.

Over the next five years in Dallas, Prime recorded 14 interceptions, three defensive touchdowns, four punt returns for scores, 624 receiving yards and a touchdown on offense, as well as four Pro Bowl appearances. 

Deion was immortalized in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first year of eligibility in 2011.

Warren Moon, 1984, Houston Oilers

In 1977, Warren Moon took his Washington Huskies to a National Championship.  In 1978, Warren Moon went undrafted in the NFL and tried out his skills in the Canadian Football League.  There, he led his Edmonton Eskimos to five straight CFL Championships and caught the eye of those who bypassed him in the draft.

In 1983, the Houston Oilers made him their starting quarterback and he started making history right away breaking the franchise record for passing yards with 3,338.

After 10 years with the Oilers, he helped lead the team to seven winning seasons including six trips to the postseason and falling just short of the Super Bowl.

After leaving Houston, following the 1993 season, Moon played for seven more seasons with the Vikings, Seahawks and Chiefs and finally retired in 2000. 

Moon still ranks in the top 10 all-time in pass completions, attempts, yards and touchdowns, was voted into nine Pro Bowls and until 2006, held the record for most passing yardage in professional football (CFL + NFL career) .

Warren was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

Kurt Warner, 1998, St. Louis Rams

Before jumping to super stardom, Warner went undrafted in 1994 but was invited to try out with the Green Bay Packers.  Competing for a job against Brett Favre and Mark Brunell, Warner was told by, quarterbacks coach, Steve Mariucci, that he wasn’t ready for the NFL. 

Kurt went back to stocking groceries in the local Hy-Vee before turning to the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League.  There, he led the Barnstormers to two Arena Bowl appearances and was finally signed as a third-stringer to the St. Louis Rams for the 1998 season. 

In 1999, Warner would finally get his shot.  During a preseason game, starting quarterback Trent Green tore his ACL and the team rallied around Kurt. 

Warner arranged one of the greatest offensive units of all-time, “The Greatest Show on Turf,” to a Super Bowl XXXIV victory in 1999 and another appearance in 2001.

In his five years in St. Louis, Warner threw for over 14,000 yards, 102 touchdowns, received two MVP awards, as well as a Super Bowl MVP award and was named to three Pro Bowls.

Warner should be a shoe-in as a first ballot Hall of Famer when his first year of eligibility comes around following the 2014.

Johnny Unitas, 1956, Baltimore Colts

Following college, Johnny U. was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and let go shortly thereafter for “not being smart enough to quarterback an NFL team.”  He then played semipro ball for the Bloomfield Rams for $6 a game (not a typo!)

In 1956, he began his 17-year career with the Baltimore Colts.  Four games into the season, an injury to starter George Shaw paved way for Unitas to begin his quest for greatness. 

After setting a rookie record in ’56 for completion percentage (55.6), Johnny led the Colts to back-to-back championships in 1958 and ’59 as well as acquiring the first of his three MVP awards for leading the NFL in passing yards (2,899), touchdowns (32), and completions (193).

He went on to win two more MVP awards in ’64 and ’67, became the first quarterback to throw for more than 40,000 yards, as well as the first to throw for 30 touchdowns in a season.  His record for consecutive games throwing a touchdown, 47 between 1956 and 1960, was finally broken by Drew Brees in 2012. 

Johnny Unitas will always be one of the greatest to ever play the game and in 1979 it was proven as his bust was enshrined in the halls of Canton.

English: St. Louis Rams running back Steven Ja...

English: St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson in action in the game against the San Francisco 49ers on November 18, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday morning, the fate of a Rams era began its final countdown as Steven Jackson decided to test the waters of free agency and void the final year of his contract.  Jackson, who is turning 30 this year, was slotted to make seven million dollars in his final year as a Ram.

Ten years and 10,135 yards later, Jackson has been in two postseason games, both in his rookie year (2004), backing up a man named Marshall Faulk.  He is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher and has yet to be on a winning team (his lone playoff year STL went 8-8).  Now, he is looking to finish his career elsewhere and capture that much deserved championship ring.

In the meantime, the Rams have a decision to make in the backfield.  There is a possibility that SJ39 could be back if no one wants to sign him to a seven million dollar a year contract, which is likely given his age.  The Rams could find a way to deal him a four or five million, three-year deal and have him finish his career out in St. Louis, have his number retired, enter the Ring of Fame, the whole nine yards.

Or they let S-Jax walk and give the younger guys a shot at greatness.  Second-round draft pick, Isaiah Pead, out of Cincinnati, showed glimpses of brightness in his few carries and handful of kick returns.  He averaged over five yards a carry in his career in Cincy and his highlight reel is ridiculous.

On the other hand, seventh-rounder, Daryl Richardson, out of Abilene Christian, had a bit more playing time this year, starting off as Jackson’s backup and third-down back.  Though he seemed to have problems holding on to the ball, he played in all 16 games and averaged almost five yards a carry and seven yards a catch.

Finally, you have Terrance Ganaway, acquired last season from the Jets, who never touched the ball last year, works at Jimmy John’s during the offseason so that he can make some extra money and stay out of trouble and had 1547 yards on 250 carries (6.2 avg) and 21 touchdowns.  Pretty good stats for a guy that only dressed for three games and never touched the turf.

All three, or four if you count Jackson coming back, are good options for the Rams.  They could go the three-headed monster, run-by-committee approach and see which back has what it takes to succeed.  It eventually worked for Mike Shannahan in Washington when Alfred Morris appeared out of nowhere this past season.  Or you let Pead and Richardson fight it out in the preseason.

I would not recommend picking up another running back in the draft.  There are three second year guys that are already there to start working and another young mind is not going to help the situation.  If anything, trading the Rams’ second round pick for a veteran isn’t too bad of an idea either.  With two first round picks, the Rams could still be in decent shape to fill the holes they need to fill including a wideout and a lineman on both sides of the ball.

In any case, Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Snead and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer have their work cut out for them this offseason now that there may be some pretty big shoes to fill.


In this “Age of the Quarterback” the gunslingers who run the offense in the National Football League are now bigger, faster and stronger than in years past. They have turned into multi-faceted athletes that can run as well as pass. The new era has turned out quite a few rising stars over the past couple years. Here’s my list of the top 32 quarterbacks in the NFL going into the 2013 season:

32. Mark Sanchez – Do I really have to explain this. One of only four starters with more INTs than TDs, second in the league in sacks and started almost the whole season because his backup was Tim Tebow. At least Rex Ryan believes in him enough to get his portrait on his arm.

31. Matt Cassel – In eight games, Cassel came away with just one victory throwing a mere six TDs and 12 INTs. Thank God for Andy Reid and this seasons No. 1 Draft Pick!

30. Blaine Gabbert – As a University of Missouri alum, it’s hard for me to do this, but Gabbert was just flat out bad this year posting a 1-9 record as a starter with only 9 TDs and 6 INTs and getting dropped behind the line 22 times.

29. Jake Locker – The third quarterback with more picks than scores (11/10), Locker completed 56% of his passes and had a starting record of 4-7.

28. Brandon Weeden – With a mediocre supporting cast, Weeden’s 3300/14 5-10 season was capped by his 17 INTs and a 72.6 Quarterback Rating.

27. Nick Foles – Going a mere 1-5 filling in for the injured Michael Vick, Foles put up an impressive 1699/6 followed up with five INTs and 20 sacks…in just six games.

26. Michael Vick – His athleticism seems to decline more and more every year. I think age is finally catching up to him as he has yet to have a healthy season since his dog days of gambling. In 10 games he went 3-7 with 12 TDs and 332 yards on the ground. However, he was sacked 28 times and couldn’t get anything going in Philly.

25. Ryan Tannehill – In his rookie season, he put up mediocre numbers, not horrible. Over 3200 yards, 12 TDs and a 58% completion rate. Another one that just couldn’t get anything going in an equally mediocre offense in Miami.

24. Jay Cutler – A dismal season for Cutler and the Bears, and they went 10-5. Cutler barely hit 3000 yards, had 19 TDs and 14 INTs and averaged just 7 yards per pass.

23. Christian Ponder – Having Adrian Peterson on anyone’s team will make the QB better. In this case, it may have been his only saving grace. He did almost hit the 3000 yard mark and had 18 TDs, but after being sacked 32 times and throwing 12 picks, he shows alot to be desired for next season.

22. Sam Bradford – The stagnant Rams saw glimpses of hope throughout the season with Bradford at the helm. 3700 yards, 21 TDs and a QB Rating of 82.6. He was also tied for second in the league with four 4th quarter comebacks.

21. Ryan Fitzpatrick – With an average receiving corp, the Harvard grad led his Bills to a 6-10 record throwing for 3400 yards and 24 TDs and an 83.3 QB Rating completing only 60% of his passes.

20. Alex Smith – Smith probably should be higher on this list, however, his lack of game time late in the season put a damper on his numbers. In his 9 games, he led the 49ers to a 6-2-1 record with 1737 yards and 13 TDs with only five INTs. Not bad for a second stringer.

19. Josh Freeman – Though the Bucs only went 7-9 this year, Freeman still threw for over 4000 yards and 27 scores with an overall QB Rating of 81.6. Not bad for a guy with an average supporting cast.

18. Carson Palmer – With an injury plagued offense that only put up 4 wins, Palmer still completed over 60% of his passes, threw for over 4000 yards, had 22 TDs and had a total QB rating of 85.3

17. Colin Kaepernick – I want to rank him higher, but it is hard after only starting seven games. He did lead the 49ers to a 5-2 record in that time span as well as taking them to the Super Bowl. He had a 98.3 QB Rating, with over 1800 yards, 10 TDs and 415 yards for five TDs on the ground. An improvement from the aforementioned Alex Smith, but not enough to field time to rank him higher. Check back midseason, 2013.

16. Cam Newton – Superman didn’t exactly repeat his performance from last year, but I wouldn’t call it a sophomore slump either. He threw for 3869 yards and 19 TDs, but for me what makes him a better QB than those below him is his ability to move in space. He was second only to RG3 in rushing yards by a quarterback with 741 and eight TDs. Thats pretty impressive.

15. Andy Dalton – Another sophomore not showing signs of a slump, Dalton had 27 TDs, over 3600 yards and helped Cincinnati to a 9-6 record

14. Tony Romo – Many think that this is too high to be ranking Romo, however, his 28 TDs and nearly 5000 yards this season led him to a 90.5 QB Rating and within one game of making the playoffs.

13. Matthew Stafford – When you have a guy like Megatron to throw the ball too, getting up this high in the rankings shouldn’t be too hard. The problem, there wasn’t much else to throw too. He did, however, post almost 5000 yards with 20 TDs.

12. Andrew Luck – The Stanford ROY candidate had an amazing freshman year in NFL. Not only did he take over for one of hte best QBs off all-time, but he led Indy to an impressive 11-5 record, was seventh in the league in passing (4374), threw for 23 TDs and had a 76.6 QB Rating.

11. Eli Manning – The argument for eliteness is there. Not quite top ten due to his fall off near the playoffs, but still impressive nonetheless. He threw for 3948 yards, 26 TDs bringing his Giants to 9-7 this season.

10. Matt Schaub – Schaub threw for an impressive 64% completion rate, hit the 4000 yard mark, 22 TDs and had a 90.7 QB Rating in 12 wins with the Texans.

9. Russell Wilson – The second ROY candidate put the Seahawks on the map as a force to be reckoned with in NFC West. After winning the starting job during preseason, Wilson went on to throw for 3100 yards and 26 TDs while posting a 64% completion rate and 102.4 QB Rating, not to mention his 489/4 on the ground

8. Ben Roethlisberger – Though missing the playoffs for only the third time in nine years and throwing for only 3265 yards, his TD/INT ratio was unreal at 26/8 to go along with his 63% completion rate and a 97 QB Rating.

7. Joe Flacco – Super Bowl MVP, Joe Cool, threw for 3800 yards, 22 TDs and only 10 INTs. He was also tied for second in the league with four 4th quarter comebacks as well as moving his team into the postseason for the fifth straight year in his five year career. During this year’s Super Bowl run, Flacco did not throw an interception during the entire postseason.

6. Robert Griffin III – ROY Winner for a reason. His 3200 yards, 20 TD’s, 65.6% completion rate and 102.4 QB Rating led Washington to a 9-6 record, just missing the playoffs. His rookie record of 815 rushing yards and seven TDs on the ground was what sealed the deal to make him the most well rounded QB in the NFL. Not to mention he scored me all kinds of points as my starting fantasy QB.

5. Matt Ryan – Fourth in the league in passing with 4719 yards and fifth with 32 TDs, Ryan started off the season 9-0 and took his Falcons to the postseason. He tied for the league lead with a 68.6% completion rate and a QB Rating of 99.1.

4. Tom Brady – Time and time again, he proves why he is one of the best. Fourth in the league in passing (4719), fourth in TDs (34) and only eight interceptions with a 98.7 QB Rating. Brady made it to the postseason yet again, 10 out of his 12 years as the starter in New England.

3. Drew Brees – I would like to rank him higher than this due to his league leading 5177 yards and 43 TDs, but his 7-9 record and 19 INTs prevent him from getting into the top 2. Still one of my favorites.

2. Aaron Rodgers – 4295 yards, 39 TDs, league leading 108 QB Rating, only eight INTs and an 11-5 record – he was near the top of the list for league MVP for sure.

1. Tim Tebow – Just kidding! Peyton Manning – 4659 yards, 37 TDs, a 105.8 QB Rating, and a 68.6% completion rate, a 13-3 record and just one play away from a Super Bowl appearance all after four neck surgeries, a completely missed 2011 season and the fear of never being able to throw again. Ladies and gentlemen, the Sheriff’s back in town.


ramsWith the NFL combine beginning in the next couple days, the young stars of tomorrow will be strutting their stuff trying to make it to the next level in their careers.  Coaches, GMs, team owners and scouts from all over the country will be in Indianapolis trying to find the next Joe Montana or Ray Lewis.

In St. Louis, the front office of the Rams will be looking to fill holes caused by free agency and poor performance.  In addition, the team will also be sizing up GM, Les Snead’s offseason decisions as well as the success new defensive coordinator, Tim Walton.  These are just a few of the questions circling around the St. Louis Rams community.  Here’s a list of the top five going into the rest of the offseason:

What Will Happen to SJ39 this Offseason?

For the past 10 years, Steven Jackson has run his heart out for the St. Louis Rams to the tune of 10,000 plus yards.  Now, his option year has approached and he is faced with one of the toughest decisions a decent sports personality could be faced with: take a pay cut and finish my career in the city where I’ve made a home and where there is a mutual love, or give it all up for a chance to win a championship (or even make the postseason) before the end of my career. 

The 30-year old veteran is scheduled to collect $8.89 million for this final year if he decides to stay.  Alot of money for a guy that only had a handful of touchdowns last year and has yet to have a healthy season over the past five years. 

I want to see SJ39 retire as a Ram, but I can understand his frustration of never being to the postseason, playing on a team with a winning record and having zero teammates left from his entrance into the league. 

How Will Les Snead Handle the Holes?

In a recent article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, writer Jim Thomas said it perfectly stating simply, “…when it comes to filling out a roster, there are “wants” not “needs. 

With three picks in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, Les Snead is interested in figuring out what head coach, Jeff Fisher, and the Rams “want” to help push the team to its first winning season in over a decade.

Sometimes when you ‘need’ something, you become desperate,” Snead said. “When you’re desperate, you can make bad decisions.

In the meantime, taking care of Steven Jackson, dealing with major free agent issues, finding wide receivers for Sam Bradford to throw to and finding and offensive line to give him time to throw are all on the list of needs floating around in head of this GM.

What Will New DC, Tim Walton, Bring to the Table?

Last season, the St. Louis Rams did not have a bad defense. They did not have a great defense, but it was not bad. They ranked somewhere near the middle of the pack in almost every defensive category. Most of the games they lost were due to a lack of offense, not a lack of defense.

What’s even more amazing is that they did this without a defensive coordinator. Former Saints, DC, Gregg Williams, was suspended last season due to his involvement with “BountyGate.” So the Rams ran a defense by committee being head-up, for the most part, by defensive minded head coach, Jeff Fisher.

Just last week, the Rams signed Tim Walton, defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, a team that was just as mediocre, at best, as the Rams.  His pedigree does fall from the Fisher Family tree, however, everyone in St. Louis is excited, curious, and anxious as to what Mr. Walton has in store for the Rams lackluster defense.

Will Sam Bradford be Able to Succeed this Season?

For the first time in Sam Bradford’s short two year career, he will have the same offensive coordinator from the previous year.  Many are blaming Bradford’s woes on the lack of coaching consistency since he has come into the league.

OC, Brian Schottenheimer, will return to the Rams’ sidelines for a second season and will be able to continue his growth of the offense that showed more promise last season than it has since the early 2000’s. 

With the proper holes getting filled, an offensive line and some top rate receivers, Bradford might be set up for a successful season and could put the Rams in position to compete for the top spot in the NFC West. 

What is to Become of the Rams’ WR Corp?

With Brandon Gibson, veteran Steve Smith and star slot receiver, Danny Amendola all up for free agency this offseason, there is a huge, multi-faceted hole to fill.  Amendola, who missed five games last year due to injuries and still led the Rams in receptions, will be asking for a lot of money next season and he is well worth it…if he can stay healthy.  Gibson is, at best, a number two or three receiver on any other team and Steve Smith, the veteran he might be, had a whopping 14 receptions in all nine games he played in year.

Besides free agency issues, there is no one on the Rams’ squad that could be considered even close to a number one receiver on any other team in the NFL. 

Last years WR draft picks did show small glimpses of hope, however.  Second-rounder, Brian Quick, showed very few rays of sunlight through the clouded view of his helmet, hauling in 11 catches in 14 outings and fourth-round pick, Chris Givens, had a decent season bringing in 42 for 698 and three touchdowns.

There is still a “want” and a “need” for a stand-out wide receiver.  And only time will tell who the front office will make a move for.


Tiger joins Obama for Sunday round in Florida

Chicken Pot Pie

Posted: February 16, 2013 in Recipes
Tags: , , , , , , ,

As promised from the latest episode of The End Zone Show on Monday night, here it is.  One of my favorite comfort foods. Enjoy!!!


Preheat oven to 350

Mix together chicken stock and milk

In a medium sauce pot, melt butter and slowly whisk in flour to create a roux

After all the flour is incorporated continue whisking until completely smooth and continue cooking until the roux is a golden brown

Whisk in stock and milk mixture until roux is completely mixed into liquid, bring to a simmer

Add chicken and vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste

In a greased 10″ pie pan, roll out the first pie crust and press firmly against the sides so that there are no air pockets.  I like to take a fork and poke the crust a few times on the bottom to help air get out.

Pour mix into pie crust

Top with remaining pie crust and crimp edges together with a fork or roll firmly with your fingers so that filling does not overflow

Place pie pan  on a lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup) and bake for 30-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown

Let cool slightly to help insides thicken up and enjoy