Monthly Archives: February 2017

Is Jay Cutler’s NFL career over?


Cutler has had a pretty poor career with the Bears. Source:

If there is one thing that is for certain in the offseason in the NFL, Jay Cutler will no longer be playing for the Chicago Bears. Their unhappy marriage that has been in counselling for the past few years looks to finally be heading for divorce as the NFC North team look towards a rebuild.

According to’s Ian Rappaport, the Bears are looking as to whether there is any trade interest for desperate teams before cutting the 11-year veteran. Unless someone feels that strongly about the former Denver Bronco draftee that they’d throw a seventh-round pick their way, expect him simply to be kicked to the curb in early March.

However, the story doesn’t end there. After a number of tough seasons and coming off an injury-hit year, Rappaport also mentioned that Cutler is considering retiring from football. At 33 and plenty of money in the bank, he could quite easily walk away from the game if he wanted to.

But should he?

There’s no doubt that the quarterback position is the most important position in the game. You can’t really win the Super Bowl with a serviceable quarterback as a very minimum and with so many teams still needing a signal caller, the question becomes whether there are 32 men better than Cutler.

If you look at his recent stats over his career, you have to say no. Other than this season, where he only played five games, he has always had a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio including 21 TDs to 11 INTs in his 15-game season in 2015.


Yes, even the majestic Brian Hoyer was better than him in spots last season. Source: Sports Illustrated.

Then you look at the statistics against the other two quarterbacks that deputised in his absence and you have to say there could be. Both Bryan Hoyer and Matt Barkley, who faded a little in his final two games, equalled or surpassed his output over the 2016 season, unforgivable against a journeyman and a youngster who has barely played any first-team snaps.

That wayward stance has followed Cutler for what seems like his entire career. There are moments where you think he could lead you to the promised land, others when the only place he’ll lead any coach is to the back of the line at the job centre.

Teams like the San Francisco 49ers, the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Texans and the New York Jets will surely take a long, hard look at him. He’s never had the greatest offensive line, which is likely to be the case again in any of those teams and a dearth of weapons to throw to will also impact his inconsistent arm.

He’s not always the most accurate thrower, he’s also not the greatest deep ball shooter so an offence would have to be built around that. Will one of those rebuilding sides see the worth in changing their game to suit that long-term? Probably not but a contending team like the Texans who need just one more push might see it as a solid short-term risk.

The real question for most of those teams will be is there better out there? Not really. That more speaks to the talent level in the NFL and that in the draft, although there are a few interesting prospects but the Bears will be in that fight along with them.

Leaving Cutler in that space will be an interesting topic to watch over the course of the spring. If a team tries to go for him, he should give it a go but if there’s only sporadic interest or backup opportunities, it might be time for him to ride off into the sunset.

He might fall off the horse and frown about that on the way out, but that’s Jay Cutler for you. He’ll at least never be dull.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the difference a superstar can make


Zlatan, a god amongst men. Source: CNN

He said it would happen and so it would come to pass. The self-proclaimed God of Manchester can almost sound biblical at times but what really is surprising is that he’s rarely wrong.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic came to win and he has won one big battle already. There were doubters, those that still live in the small-minded English mentality of the classic rainy evening in Stoke analogy but the big Swede has been nothing short of a success yet again in yet another country.

Standing before us is a shining example of what a superstar can make happen. He can change the culture, he can bring that winning attitude and most of all, he can rise to the occasion, which is exactly what happened at Wembley on Sunday afternoon.

There’s no doubt about it, Southampton were the better team in the EFL Cup Final against Manchester United. Their full-backs were excellent, the way they moved up the field with speed and advanced on the wings to put in some terrific crosses had to be admired.

They did a little bit of everything. New signing Manolo Gabbiadini scored three lovely little goals, with one being wrongfully ruled out for an offside that never was and with that strike, the game could have been so different.

The Saints were undoubtedly superb and probably deserved more from the encounter. A credit to Claude Puel, his tactics were spot on and his players did not shirk on an occasion that can be too big for so many others.


Gabbiadini was superb and could have been the difference on another evening. Source: TalkSport

However, United had a difference maker in their midst. After being significantly outplayed for the first section of the game, it was the Red Devils that struck first thanks to a long-range free-kick from Ibrahimovic, significantly against the run of play.

A bolt from the blue, in all honestly.

Jesse Lingard made it a little more comfortable but Southampton didn’t shrink and instead grew back into the game with two goals either side of half time. It was the South Coast side in the ascendancy, against a team that won the FA Cup in the same stadium just under a year ago.

As Puel’s men tired, it was Jose Mourinho’s talisman that stepped up to the plate. His clearing header from a corner moments earlier led to a counter attack, which slowed but eventually led to a wonderfully powerful header from Ibrahimovic that handed United an unlikely glory.

After the match, he was shattered and defiant. He said he would do it, he put everything on the line and achieved it, something that so many top footballers can fail to do but he has done it time after time after time.


If not for Mourinho, United would not have been blessed with the gift of Zlatan. Source:

The truly world class players do. In a time of need, they put their team on their back and carry them to victory if needs be which is what can separate a good team from being a great team.

In the NBA, they always talk about getting an All-Star player. Someone who can tip the scales, someone who can improve those around them and a player that could push you further than you thought.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is an All-Star player. Even at 35, he plays every single game for a top club that includes Europa League ties and there are no days off, he wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen.

If you want a player to show your kids what it takes, from the attitude to the commitment, show them Zlatan. He can be brash, some find him abrasive but his one-track mind of only winning and his work ethic to make that happen is the prime example of what makes a generation-defining footballer.

And if you’re a big football club, find the next one. They are so rare to find, can be so difficult to make but my word, they are worth their weight in gold.

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Who wins in the DeMarcus Cousins trade?


This could be a dynamic duo. Source: Sports Illustrated

On Sunday, just after the conclusion of All-Star Weekend, the Sacramento Kings traded their only representative in the game DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

In return, they received young shooter Buddy Hield, returning from injury veteran Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and the Pelicans’ two picks in the 2017 NBA Draft, with the first rounder top-three protected. The Pels also acquire Omri Casspi as part of the deal.

Wait, there’s more.

Kings general manager Vlade Divac admitted he had a better offer for Cousins two days previously but decided against taking it at that time. He instead went with a weaker offer from New Orleans, with a number of teams also trying to pitch a deal in the final moments.

What is at least initially apparent are two things, one for each side. The Pelicans finally have an All-Star to go with the supremely talented Anthony Davis, creating a devastating two towers in the frontcourt, while the Kings signalled that enough was enough with Boogie.

A tempestuous six-and-a-half year stint of failing to have a winning season, throwing fits against coaches and teammates alike while consistently being a headache with attitude on the court finally meant a divorce for Sacramento and Cousins. They couldn’t take any more.

The Sac team couldn’t afford the risk of tying him to a big deal to keep him, despite Cousins’ desire to stay and earn the big bucks. The return they got was paltry at best, unless they can draft two big players in the summer to help start the rebuild, but there simply wasn’t a big enough market for him.

There’s no doubting Cousins’ talent, an All-Star player that had been overlooked for a few years before making it and a real pest on offense and on the boards. What you also gain is his 16 technical this season, a league high that led to a suspension, along with a raft of coaches that simply didn’t fit his mould.


Pressure is on Divac to deliver after this trade. Source:

That’s also not to say that the road to redemption can’t lie in New Orleans. This is Davis’ team, a growing leader and someone that respects what Boogie brings to the table.

No longer is the burden solely on him, no longer should he feel the need to do everything on every single night. Both finally have someone to lean on, someone to learn from and someone they can potentially create a devastating core with.

At the same time, they need to keep their eye on Boogie. Help him mature, guide him in the way that’s needed to get the best out of him or this could explode in your face, which could even affect Davis’ future with the franchise as well.

Meanwhile, back in California, they can start anew. The owner, the GM and the coach are no longer tied to someone they were always uneasy with but attached to that is the fact that they now need to prove it was the right decision for everyone.

If they swing and miss in the draft, if they fail to show signs of a rebuild on a team that should have built around Cousins anyway, then it shows a real ineptitude on their end. When you lose a player of that quality, you need to show why and that could be involved in their downfall if they fail.

This is undoubtedly a huge trade that has big ramifications for both teams. Starting this Thursday when Boogie suits up with Davis for the first time against the Houston Rockets, we can start getting answers on whether this trade was a beautiful romance or a car crash waiting to happen.

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FA set worrying precedent with Saido Berahino


Berahino made a mistake, but why were The FA silent? Source: Sky Sports News

Last week, it was revealed that Stoke City forward Saido Berahino had been banned for eight weeks for taking “recreational drugs”.

The news was never revealed to the public until it was leaked, reportedly from his old club West Bromwich Albion where the offence occurred, and the ban was also kept hush-hush behind a Tony Pulis wall of “he’s not fit enough” or consequences still on-going from a transfer dispute almost two years old.

The Sun have also reported that the drug in question was of the Class A variety, which under criminal law would carry a potential seven-year jail sentence and an unlimited fine if found guilty of possession.

Now soak all of that in.

So why didn’t anyone know any of this as soon as it happened?

First of all, it’s clear why West Brom kept the new in-house. Any potential ban like that could seriously hamper the value of a player they believe could still fetch them a pretty penny, even if issues surrounding his fitness and team cohesion hadn’t helped in the first place.

Second, it’s also clear why Stoke would have liked to have kept it on the down low. A new player that they hope they can revive without too much scrutiny has suddenly been launched back into the spotlight for a mistake he made on the Baggies’ watch, not theirs.

Both were trying to protect their player, for different reasons, looking after a potentially misguided young man. It’s a reasonably hefty mistake, that many other 22/23 year olds do not make, but a first misdemeanour for someone in a place of power is always a slap on the wrist.


The FA have a lot to answer for. Source: Wikipedia

What is not clear, however, is why the Football Association deemed it appropriate to keep the news away from the public. Again, the argument to protect the player could be trotted out but that’s a pretentious stance for them to take when in all honesty, that’s not their quota.

It also becomes hypocritical when they publish big bans like when Rio Ferdinand was banned for nine months for missing a drugs test or Mark Bosnich was banned for the same amount of time for testing positive for cocaine.

If The Sun are correct and it’s a Class A drug, as described above, for any other member of society it would come with a pretty significant punishment.

Even if it was a lesser class drug like Cannabis, which would better explain the shortness of the ban, why was it kept under wraps? Does that mean others get off lightly? What about those who are doing less?

Especially when players like Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish were chastised for seeking legal highs while a player who has made an illegal mistake is swept under the rug. How the FA can stand to punish anyone else for this kind of matter and get away without a big appeal pointing to this leads to the fact that this could lead to a much wider, deeper problem.

This is not to say Berahino should have been made an example of. He was given due process, he served his ban and is now back playing, it’s not an issue for him to reveal it if others are unwilling to do so.

The FA, on the other hand, have a lot to answer for. This is a bad precedent to set, not revealing a serious issue like this will lead to either others getting away with it and the potential for future leaks through the media could look very ugly for an officiating body under increasing scrutiny.

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NFL Awards 2017 predictions

Super Bowl LI is on the horizon and with all but the big one out of the way, it’s time to talk about the NFL awards. Who will come out on top? Who will miss out? Here’s a look at my predictions for the end of season festivities:


Most Valuable Player – Matt Ryan


Ryan has been the picture of almost perfection this season. Source:

Matty Ice finally got over the hump this year and in such a big way, he has to walk away with this award.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback finished with 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns against seven interceptions and a quarterback rating of 117.1, all career numbers.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a lot of help. The Falcons have a balanced offence with two quality running backs and the best receiver in the league in Julio Jones which when combined with an offensive line that has stayed healthy all season, Ryan has really been able to shine.

Kyle Shanahan’s offence has also made him hot property as a future head coach and his moulding of Ryan this year has been outstanding. No one ever thought that the Falcons QB would ever quite crash through the glass ceiling but he proved any doubters wrong in 2016/17.

There is an argument to having Tom Brady as the MVP as well, his TD-to-interception ratio is ridiculous and he’s had a great season too but this one goes to Ryan. From start to finish this season, he has not hidden away or chocked like in previous seasons and this team would look completely different without him.


Coach of the Year – Jason Garrett

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Pittsburgh Steelers

Garrett has done a sensational job in turning this team into a contender. Source:

Hands up, who actually thought that the Dallas Cowboys would even make the playoffs this year?

Unless your name is Michael Irvin, you are lying. There’s no doubt that the team now have a solid roster but a lot of credit should go to Garrett and how much extra he got out of this team to finish with the second-best record in the NFL.

Yes, they got a lot of help from two special rookies and an incredible offensive line but Garret always got them in a position to win. It was his play-calling that got them the lead that they would rarely surrender and when they did, they managed to recover spectacularly which was highlighted in the win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It almost got them all the way back against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs too but unfortunately, they had a magician playing for them that evening.

With a no-name defence and some strung together receivers outside of Dez Bryant, Garrett worked wonders with this squad. There were a few great coaches this year but none quite stood out like he did.


Offensive Player of the Year – Tom Brady


Brady has a chance to write history and has played phenomenal football all year. Source: USA Today

This is easily the hardest award to predict, given some spectacular performances this year.

David Johnson was sensational, the first to amass over 1,000 yards rushing and 800 yards catching since Marshall Faulk and only the second in NFL history. Le’Veon Bell may have changed the game for running backs with his ever-so patient style that seemingly throws off every defence.

Julio Jones had a monster year that included an insane 300-yard game. Aaron Rodgers produced more miracles than ever before as he scraped by with half of his weapons taken away from him.

However, with Brady missing out on the top award, there is no chance they do not give the New England Patriots something. He has been terrific since his comeback, highlighted by the fact he’s thrown just two interceptions all year which is mind-numbingly good.

Some will argue that his backups did go 3-1 as well but Brady has been a cut above this year. He was mad and it showed on the field.


Defensive Player of the Year – Von Miller

NFL: Preseason-Los Angeles Rams at Denver Broncos

Miller has arguably deserved this award for a long time, so he will finally get his reward. Source:

While Khalil Mack will be in the conversation and could pip him to the post, it was clear this season that Von Miller is a difference maker on defence.

The offence stumbled spectacularly for the Denver Broncos which eventually lead to them missing the playoffs. Their defence did not take any days off and along with a great secondary, it was the play of Miller that kept them in the hunt until the end.

He put up great numbers in the run game, registering more tackles than ever and four stuffs. His 13.5 sacks has only been beaten by Atlanta Falcons’ Vic Beasly and he also forced four fumbles on the year.

Those are some great numbers and why they might not quite be as monstrous as his 2012 numbers, where he was beaten to the award by JJ Watt, they are still very impressive. Aaron Donald would also be a front runner had he not played on such a poor team but Miller finally gets his dues this time.


Rookie of the Year – Ezekiel Elliott


Elliott has come better than advertised, he’s the real deal. Source: Sports Hub

A pretty easy choice, Ezekiel Elliott has been a revelation for the Dallas Cowboys all season long.

He registered 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns in a ridiculous year where he has torn teams apart. From that special late run against the Steelers to dominating almost everyone that stood in his path this season, he’s been superb.

Credit also has to go to his offensive line, something the Ohio State man has regularly stated himself, as they heled create some great creases that Elliott turned into huge gains. His foot speed, his toughness and his ability to make every kind of run really separated him from the pack.

While taking a running back so high in the draft can be a real risk, Elliott looks the real deal. Behind one of the best lines in the NFL, he could become one of the great running backs in Cowboys history and that is saying something.


Offensive Rookie of the Year – Dak Prescott


Prescott surprised everyone, but can he keep it up? Source: IB Times

If the above award is going to one Cowboy, this one has to go to the other.

Dak Prescott has been the surprise of the year. With Tony Romo out before the season even began, many thought that any chance of Dallas doing anything of note this season sat on the injury table with him.

Prescott was excellent in pre-season, which is usually as useful an indicator as Michael Fish telling you a hurricane is coming, but we were wrong to doubt him. He carried that momentum over into the regular season and put in some really solid performances.

He was aided by a strong running game, an incredible offensive line and a great few weapons in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten but he was still pretty special. Whether he simply proves to be lightening in a bottle remains to be seen but for now, he an Elliott are the future of the Dallas Cowboys.


Defensive Rookie of the Year – Joey Bosa

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers

Did you expect anyone else than Bosa? *shrugs* Source: USA Today

It is scary to think that Joey Bosa only played in 12 games this season.

It’s been a little while since we have seen a young pass rusher make this much of an impact on a team this quickly. The San Diego Chargers barely had a semblance of pressure last year but with an astonishing 10.5 sacks in 2016, Bosa brought the thunder.

He has a great ability of bull-rushing offensive linemen, putting them under immense pressure and using his hand work to get them flustered. Bosa can be so quick to get into motion that his opponents simply aren’t prepared for it and that puts their quarterback in danger.

His 23 QB hurries is only six behind Von Miller in four less games, he set a record for at least two QB hits in his first three games since 2006 when they were first tracked and had a crazy 17 tackles for a loss.

This kid is going to be very, very good and a much-needed star as his team moves to Los Angeles.


Comeback Player of the Year – Landon Collins

New York Giants v Washington Redskins

Collins has been on a redemption story all season long. Source: USA Today

Cameron Wake may get this award that tends to go to older players but no one has made a bigger leap in quality this year than Landon Collins.

The New York Giants had a pretty poor rookie season, with questions over his coverage and his usefulness in the backfield. Those worries have been quickly quelled as he has risen to potentially one of the best safeties in the entire NFL.

Four sacks, five interceptions and a fumble recovery all showed how he had really began to affect games in a growing Giants defence. He even recorded his first touchdown as he marshalled a secondary that took a great leap from near the bottom of the league to being one of the best.

Is it really a comeback if he’s never been anything to begin with? Maybe not but it’s hard to deny that Collins has been a difference maker. If you can go from being a “bust” to a Pro Bowler in a season, you have to get recognition for it.

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