Tag:Michael Strahan
Posted on: January 19, 2012 9:14 am
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Allen wouldn't have minded the Strahan treatment

Allen

By Josh Katzowitz

You remember Jared Allen’s amazing performance in Week 17, recording 3 ½ sacks against the Bears and finishing the season with 22, only a half-sack behind record-holder Michael Strahan (it was enough to make him our Eye on Football defensive player of the week)?

Considering Brett Favre basically dove in front of Strahan in the final week of the 2001 season in order to help get his buddy the sack record, you might think that Allen would be upset (in retrospect, at least) that Favre’s actions shut the door on Allen’s ability to get the mark a decade later.

Apparently not. And when he was asked by WHB radio in Kansas City if he wished Chicago quarterback Josh McCown had done his best Favre impression (the Strahan one, not the other thing) to let the Vikings defensive end set a new record, Allen didn’t mince words.

“Absolutely,” he said. “A sack is a sack is a sack. There was about three times when I hit him when he just got rid of the ball. I tell you what, all he had to do was hook slide for me on one of them. … There’s been a lot of talk about that. I guess the biggest controversy is, was it a pass or was it a run? I’ve gotten sacks where I’ve chased guys out of bounds. I haven’t had one yet where a guy slides and I get to touch him down, but I’ve gotten them any which way possible, but a sack is a sack is a sack and they’re still hard to come by.”

Funny, with Allen, it doesn’t seem that way. Which is probably why opposing offenses find him somewhat intimidating.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:59 pm
Edited on: January 1, 2012 3:08 pm
 

Allen breaks team sack record, eyes NFL mark

Allen is one of the few bright spots in Minnesota this time of year. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

As a team, the Vikings might not have much to play for in the regular-season finale, but there are still individual honors to be attained. Defensive end Jared Allen entered the Week 17 matchup against the Bears needing four sacks to break Michael Strahan's single-season record of 22.5, and 2.5 to tie Minnesota's team record of 21 held by Chris Doleman.

By the third quarter, Allen had taken down Bears quarterback Josh McCown … 3.5 times, which means he broke the team record and is just a half-sack away from tying Strahan's mark set in January 2002.

Sadly, there are no Brett Favre's on the field to facilitate things for Allen Sunday.

Not that it matters, but the Bears lead the Vikings, 14-13 in the third quarter.


Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK



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Posted on: December 23, 2011 8:11 pm
 

For the gambler in you, Week 16

Babin

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Will Jason Babin tie or break the record of 22.5 sacks in a single regular season? 

Yes 5/1

Well, considering Babin doesn’t get to play against Brett Favre at all (“Thanks again, Brett,” says Michael Strahan), it’ll be tough to match Strahan’s record. Babin has 18 sacks and two more games to tie Strahan, and he’s be on fire recently, recording eight sacks in the past three games. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that the Eagles finish the season with the Cowboys and Redskins -- which rank 20th and 10th, respectively, in sacks allowed this season. So, while it might be tempting to take the odds, I think I’d probably go ‘no.’

Will Bear GM Jerry Angelo be fired before Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     

Yes -140

No EVEN

Retired? Maybe.
Fired? No. While Caleb Hanie has been terrible since taking over for Jay Cutler, the Bears were on their way to the playoffs if their most important player didn’t get hurt. Now, if you’re asking Matt Forte, what he’d like to see happen, he might point toward a firing. But I don’t see it for now. That, however, doesn’t mean Angelo will be back next year.

Will Raheem Morris be the head coach of the Bucs for Game 1 of the 2012 regular season?     
   
Yes +110

No -150

I want to say yes, simply because the slide for the Buccaneers this season has been so steep. But I can’t stop thinking about last year’s surprising 10-6 finish that Morris helped orchestrate. I’d go no, but when Morris says things like this about his team, “You know, they’re not listening,” that’s certainly not a good sign.

Will either the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or Buffalo Bills win another game this season?

Yes -210

No +170

The Buccaneers play at Carolina and Atlanta; Buffalo plays host to Denver and then is at New England to end the season. Straight-up, I’d pick the Buccaneers and Bills to lose all of those games, but I think one team will end up winning one game. I’d bet ‘yes’ on this one, and cross my fingers.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 10:13 am
 

Keep an Eye on: Week 9's finer points of analysis

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

Eagles vs. Bears
You could make a strong case that both of these offenses are built around their star running backs. The Eagles have football’s No. 1 offense and lead the league with 179 yards rushing per game (20 more than Oakland’s No. 2 ranked ground game). Running back LeSean McCoy is second in the NFL with 754 yards rushing. The Bears’ 16th-ranked offense would likely rank somewhere in the mid-twenties if not for Matt Forte’s 672 yards on the ground and 419 yards through the air.

These are the best two running backs in the NFC not named Adrian Peterson. (And both are significantly better receivers than Peterson.) Two years ago, neither was very good. McCoy was a callow, unpolished rookie who could not always read basic defenses. Forte was an inexplicably sluggish runner averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. So what’s changed since then?

One noticeable improvement is in both players’ lateral agility. Though not as emphasized as speed, quickness or power, lateral agility is the most important attribute for an NFL back. It’s often the difference between college runners and pro runners. In short, lateral agility is a running back’s quickness and explosiveness when going left and right. It plays a central role in how he sets up blocks and creates his own space.

Unless you’re an incredibly gifted downhill runner playing behind a decent run-blocking front (ala Darren McFadden), lateral agility is vital in the NFL, where holes close quicker than a hiccup and defenses feature 11 world class athletes, most of whom can immediately diagnose about 90 percent of the run plays they see.

McCoy has the best pure lateral agility in the league. He had it as a rookie but just recently learned to implement it with timing and purpose. He can explode left and right behind the line or at the second level. Most laterally agile running backs, including Forte, have to be on the move in order to cut sharply. McCoy can do it from a standstill (which is why Philly is so fond of draws and delayed handoffs). Forte can occasionally do it from a standstill, though with his smooth, patient running style, he’s much more effective off motion.

On Sunday, keep a count of how many of McCoy’s and Forte’s touches are impacted by their east-west prowess.



Patriots vs. Giants
The key to the Giants’ upset of the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII was the pressure the Giants pass-rush put on Tom Brady. New York’s then-defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, brilliantly had his linebackers crowd and attack the A-gaps. That did a few things.

For one, it put extra defenders directly in Tom Brady’s line of vision, which would make any quarterback subtly feel a bit hurried. That hurriedness left New England without enough time to run Randy Moss on deep routes.

Another thing it did was force the Patriot running backs to stay in and pass protect. And because there were multiple defenders crowding the A-gaps, the Patriots focused their protection help inside, which left one-on-one mismatches outside for Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.

Some things have changed in the four years since 18-1. Spagnuolo is now in St. Louis. Moss is retired. So is Strahan. The Patriots’ high-powered passing game has become horizontal instead of vertical. But despite the changes, don’t be surprised if the Giants once again crowd and/or attack New England’s A gaps this Sunday.

Teams like the Jets, Cowboys and Steelers have shown that the best way to pressure Brady is with bodies up the middle. The goal is not always to sack him – it can be to mentally preoccupy him with what’s going on inside. When Brady’s doing that, he seems to lose a little trust in stepping into throws and sensing his protection on the edges.

The Giants had great success with A-gap blitz concepts against the Dolphins last week. Mathias Kiwanuka is a potent defensive end who happens to play linebacker. He’s natural standing up over the center in nickel defense. Lately, end Dave Tollefson, himself a good athlete, has also been used as an A-gap blitzing joker. In these instances, the Giants don’t just rush the A-gaps, they also confuse offensive linemen and set up stunts and edge-rushes for Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.

New England’s answer to New York’s A-gap attacks will be quick passes in the flats. Wes Welker is not a bad guy to turn to for that.

Chargers vs. Packers
Green Bay can take the lipstick off the pig that is San Diego’s defense. The No. 1 ranked defense from 2010 has been decent but not necessarily impressive under new coordinator Greg Manusky in 2011. A soft schedule has made it difficult to pass full judgment. The Chargers rank sixth in yards allowed, but they’ve faced the Vikings, Dolphins, Broncos, Jets and Chiefs (twice) – all inexplosive offenses.

The Packers have the most lethal offensive attack in football. It’s not just that Aaron Rodgers has been nearly flawless, or that his top five receiving targets would all be No. 1 or 2 targets on a typical team. It’s that the Packers have perhaps the best formation variation in the league. This, with their array of weapons, strongly tests a defense’s depth, intelligence and confidence.

Currently, the Chargers are vulnerable at cornerback. Antoine Cason appeared on the verge of stardom late last year, but the ’08 first-round pick has reverted to the baffling inconsistencies that marred his first two seasons as a pro. Cason normally plays the right outside. The Packers love to create one-on-one matchups for Greg Jennings by lining him up as the X-iso receiver on the left side (across from the right cornerback) in 1x3 receiver sets. It’s a matchup Rodgers goes to virtually every time.

With four receivers on the field, Cason will have to play. Marcus Gilchrest and Quentin Jammer are the outside starters; Dante Hughes is the slot nickel. The Chargers like to blitz Hughes and will likely align him across from the receiver furthest inside on the three-receiver side. Jammer plays outside on the defensive left. That leaves either Cason or Gilchrest, a second-round rookie, to face Jennings outside on the right.

This isn’t a fantasy column, but here’s a tip: if your opponent has Greg Jennings on his or her team, remove yourself from the trash-talking email thread this week.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 9 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: October 16, 2011 10:47 am
 

Tuck's toughness questioned by former Giants

J. Tuck has faced criticism by former teammates (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It’s unfortunate when an ex-player rips former teammates -- ask Tiki Barber how that worked out for him -- but when it’s a former player’s new job to give his opinion, that’s the way of the world. But that also opens  those former players up for criticism as well, especially when they question the toughness of their former colleagues.

And that’s exactly what Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora did when he got tired of hearing ex-Giants Michael Strahan and Antonio Pierce blast Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs for having to sit out games because of injuries.

"They played the game before," Umenyiora said, via the New York Daily News. "They know what it's like. It's very, very disappointing, and it makes me question how real and how authentic they really, really are. They know better than to come out and say some of the things that they've said."

Tuck has missed the past two games with groin and neck injuries, and Jacobs didn’t play last week after straining his MCL. Neither will play today vs. the Bills. It led Pierce to opine, “If you don't have an injury that needs surgery or is that severe, you need to be out there.”

Strangely enough, Pierce missed a half-season and eventually lost his career to a neck injury. Which strikes Tuck as a weird coincidence.

“I can definitely remember him missing some football games,” Tuck said, via ESPN New York.

But what bothers Umenyiora the most is the implication that Tuck and Jacobs aren’t tough. And he feels a former NFL player should know the difference between toughness and stupidity.

"You can't question a guy's toughness," he said. "You don't know what he's going through on the football field. If you go out there and you don't perform, if you go out there and you don't play up to your abilities, and everybody comes down on you, nobody cares you're injured. So you have to go out there and play when you feel you're able to go out there and contribute.

"For these guys to attack a Justin, is just ridiculous. They need to stop it and sit down."

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Posted on: July 12, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 12:35 pm
 

Michael Irvin appears in 'Out,' supports equality

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The fight for equal rights often transcends race, gender and socio-economic boundaries. And while the world of professional sports isn't the first place you'd expect an open and frank discussion about sexuality, there have been current and former athletes who've supported a person's right to their sexual orientation.

Four years ago, former center John Amaechi became the first NBA player to come out publicly. In recent months, NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Donte Stallworth publicly supported gay marriage (as have former Giants player Michael Strahan and Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash).

We can now add former Cowboys wide receiver and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's name to the list. Appearing in the new issue of Out, Irvin says that his decision to take a stand had to do with his relationship with his gay brother, Vaughn, who died of stomach cancer in 2006. According to the magazine, this is the first time Irvin has spoken publicly about his brother.

More details via WABC:
In the article, Irvin describes how his brother's sexual orientation contributed to his own issues. He says that he found out his brother was gay sometime in the 1970s when he found him wearing women's clothing. He was rattled by the experience and has since figured out that it contributed to his own womanizing behavior.

"And through it all we realized maybe some of the issues I've had with so many women, just bringing women around so everybody can see, maybe that's the residual of the fear I had that if my brother is wearing ladies' clothes, am I going to be doing that? Is it genetic?" Irvin said to Out. "I'm certainly not making excuses for my bad decisions. But I had to dive inside of me to find out why am I making these decisions, and that came up."
Irvin credits his father with helping him accept his brother's lifestyle and now says the African-American community should support marriage equality.

"I don't see how any African-American, with any inkling of history, can say that you don't have the right to live your life how you want to live your life," he said, according to the magazine. "No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality, and everybody being treated equally, I don't want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn't deserve equality."

There have been detractors, too. In June, former Super Bowl hero David Tyree said gay marriage "will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it's a strong word, but anarchy."

But Irvin, who had his share of off-field trouble during his playing days, has no such hang-ups. "If anyone comes out in those top four major sports, I will absolutely support him. ... When a guy steps up and says, 'This is who I am,' I guarantee you I'll give him 100 percent support."

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Posted on: June 24, 2011 10:03 pm
 

Sapp, Strahan latest to call out Tiki Barber



Posted by Ryan Wilson

We mentioned it in Hot Routes this afternoon, but we might as well delve into the gory details since there's not much else going on. Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan, former players who now make their living as television analysts, are the latest to say that Tiki Barber should stay retired.

Sapp, who played 13 NFL seasons for the Buccaneers and Raiders, was blunt: “I didn’t think much of him when he did play,” he told Rich Eisen on the aptly named Rich Eisen Podcast. ”I mean that’s the whole point. He was a fumbler all the way through his life, and then all of a sudden, somebody taught him how to hold the ball up high and then he (left the Giants) and said, Eli (Manning) can’t lead them and they’ll never win a championship.

“That kind of lends to who I’m talking about. This is the same guy. This is all encompassed into the same thing. There’s no way you turn your back on your teammates that block for you, that gave you the ball on short fields and did whatever they did. … There’s still no reason for you to attack your teammates.”

Strahan, who played with Barber in New York, was in no hurry to defend his former teammate. “Sapp is 100 percent right,” he said. “Only thing is, if it comes to playing football, he can play.”

And that's the thing, Barber was a tough downhill runner. His biggest issue now, apart from the fact that he's 36 and last played in the NFL in 2006, is that he's not known as a locker room guy.

“I think it plays into the minds of some of the teams that will probably go, ‘Well, he can come in, he can be productive. We think he can. But how does that play into the chemistry of our team?’” Strahan said. “So I think that’s important if you’re a GM. That’s what you’re going to look at if you’re a head coach. Now, if you want guys that are going to give you production, that’s going to work hard, is going to bust his butt, you’re going to get all of that … But the other part, I’m not sure myself.”

Tiki's Return?
Which is basically what everyone has been saying since Barber un-retired in March.

Two related questions: has anyone defended Barber? We can't recall a single person stepping forward and saying, "Tiki would be a great addition to any NFL team!" Also: anybody else find it peculiar that Ronde, Tiki's identical twin who still plays with the Bucs, hasn't spoken up on behalf of his brother?

Maybe Ronde doesn't want to get involved (which is completely understandable). Or perhaps he doesn't think Tiki should return to football, either. We've mentioned it before (as have the commenters), but it's a strange juxtaposition, Tiki and Ronde. One player disliked by his former teammates, and another who appears to be well respected by players, coaches and fans, quietly plodding along, often playing at a Pro Bowl level during his 14-year career.

When the lockout ends and training camps begin, Tiki very well could get his opportunity to make an NFL team. It's just that history, age, and a lot of former players (some of them teammates) are against him. 

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Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.24.11: Negotiations go on and on



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • As CBSSports.com’s Mike Freeman reports, the owners and players are negotiating again today. They’re just not doing it in person.
  • Jets WR Brad Smith, who’s been working out with Mark Sanchez at player-led workouts, thinks it’s a bit awkward for him to be with potential former teammates. That’s because Smith is a free agent and doesn’t know if he’ll be back in New York next season.
  • CBSSports.com’s own Andy Benoit, writing for the NY Times, ranks his top-10 safeties in the NFL. Unlike Pete Prisco, Benoit doesn’t think Troy Polamalu is overrated at all.
  • Looks like we have another locked-out football player who’s taking up boxing to stay in shape. That would be Chargers RB Mike Tolbert, who says boxing is the roughest workout he’s ever had.
  • The Jets will not be traveling to Cortland, N.Y., this season for their regularly-scheduled training camp. Instead, because the lockout hasn’t been lifted, they’ll prepare themselves at their regular home in Florham Park, N.J. The Jets plan to return to Cortland in 2012.
  • In a heartwarming tale, 136 members of the Chiefs organization traveled to Joplin, Mo., to help clean up the town that was decimated by tornados.
  • Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan don’t think former Giants RB Tiki Barber should attempt a comeback. In the case of Strahan, there are clearly still some hurt feelings for the way Barber criticized the Giants after he retired and became a network analyst.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com