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Posts Tagged ‘NFL Network’

Top 5 Ways To Make The Pro Bowl Better

Posted by sportsmaven on February 12, 2007

Yes, I was one of the few who actually admit that I watched this year’s NFL Pro Bowl on Saturday evening. As I snuggled up to my 42 in. plasma television with carry out from my favorite Northbrook, IL eatery, Francesca’s (great Italian food, by the way!) I watched what was actually a very interesting and entertaining Pro Bowl game. Devin Hester took the opening kickoff to the 19 yard line where he was tripped up by some sketchy Honolulu astro turf sort of stuff. What a difference a week makes for Hester. Actually, I couldn’t believe that the AFC actually kicked away from Hester on their second kickoff of the game. Come on, this is the PRO BOWL, not the Super Bowl. I suppose you want to turn off the few fans watching by not letting the game’s most prolific returner actually return a kick. The other thing about the Pro Bowl is that it would have been nice to see some of our own Chicago Bears players actually playing in the game (or even showing up, for that matter.)

2007 Pro Bowl

Is RB Tiki Barber retiring just in time? He clearly has lost a large amount of arm strength as indicated by the INT he threw to Ed Reed in the 1st quarter. He is clearly washed up. (well, maybe not so much) Drew Brees injury is the poster child for why many feel that the Pro Bowl is not a good game to play.

So I was happy to see that the NFL actually took most of my Top 5 ways to make the Pro Bowl better, and we, as the fans, will be the better off for that. My Top 5 suggestions were:

1. Play the game on Saturday instead of Sunday. I think they ought to play the Super Bowl on a Saturday too, seeing as it usually takes another full day to recover, whether you are at the game or at home hosting a Super Bowl party. Either way, these games work better on Saturdays, for do we really want to take a vacation day for the Super Bowl? And do we really want to stay up until 10pm on a Sunday night to watch the Pro Bowl (and miss Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy and all those other Sunday night staples that are as additictive as crack?)

2. Mike all the players, let the fans hear what really goes on in the huddle. CBS did a great job of doing this, but the mikes they had SUCKED. I couldn’t hear squat when the QB’s were calling the plays. Fortunately, they had the play callers on both sides miked and when they switched to that, it worked brilliantly. Next year, get better microphones so we can hear what’s going on. Also, loved that Dan Dierdorf and Phil Simms were explaining what the play terminology meant. That was the best part of the game in my opinion.

3. Introduce a Skills Competition. This was great to see at halftime of the game. The kicking competition between Robbie Gould and Nate Kaeding was priceless and very entertaining. The other skills competitions I actually watched on the NFL Network. They were entertaining as well, with a strong man competition (# of reps at 225 lbs.) a passing, receiving competitions and a gauntlet competition that was entertaining. How about the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs? In fact, the NFL should require all teams to have cheerleaders next season. Since my Bears don’t have them, here is a shot of what could be:

NFL Cheerleaders 1NFL Cheerleaders 2NE Pats Cheerleader

4. More behind the scenes video. I want to see what a practice is like. I also want to go into the locker room and see what a player has to go through to get ready for a game, what do they do, how do they get ready. Blooper videos are also fun. How do the players spend the week in Honolulu? How about players interviewing players and coaches? How about pulling a fan out of the stands or better yet, having a fan win one of those season long NFL contests and have them call plays for the playcaller for one or two series (10 plays) for each team?

5. Amend the rules for more action. I love what the NFL to the rules for this game. No blitzes, no rushing the kickers, rules promoting one on one coverage, no ruling challenges. That was fantastic. Those rule changes brought out some nice play, some great 1 on 1 challenges (Champ Bailey vs. Donald Driver was pretty good)

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Chicago Bears Get To Work Today

Posted by sportsmaven on February 1, 2007

With all the expanded media coverage the last two weeks, it was easy to forget that there was a football game to prepare for today. The Chicago Bears began their serious preparation for Super Bowl XLI. The Bears were in pads, helmets and shorts today and reports said that practice went very well. Ron Turner, the Bears offensive coordinator stated that the Bears offense worked on their first and second down play packages today, which is the Bears routine for Wednesday throughout the season. Briggs - Urlacher in SB Practice

According to Rich Eisen from the NFL Network, reports have it that the Bears looked relaxed, yet ready to go, ready to play this game. I agree, as the Bears seem to be using the “Play Angry” motto plus the underdog role to forge an us against the world bond. I feel good that this plays into the Bears hands perfectly. I am excited to see the Bears come out and prove to the world not only do they belong in the Super Bowl, but they can compete and are more than capable of winning this game.

Bears Playoff Mantra

The more time I spend breaking down the analysis, the picks by the experts, the comments, the more the keys to this game become simpler and simpler. Right now, Super Bowl XLI comes down the Peyton Manning vs. The Bears. It will obviously be more than that, but from the media perspective and slant, it is all about the X-Factor and aura of Peyton Manning vs. the underdog, bonding closer and tighter as every day goes by Chicago Bears football team. The Bears have no Peyton Mannings on their roster. Brian Urlacher is as close as it gets and he’s a middle linebacker.

As each day goes by, the Bears sit and stew, are asked the same questions about being second fiddle to the Colts, listen to how it’s finally Peyton Manning’s year, how it is his time and that he is the chosen one. Peyton Manning, the friendly, likable guy in the boy next door commercials, it’s his coronation, his time to rise and beat the demons that have held him back. All about how the Bears are the better team defensively, special teams and are quite competent offensively, but yet have no chance to win because of the ‘Peyton Manning effect”. I think the pressure is squarely on the broad shoulders of Peyton Manning and the Bears will enter Dolphin Stadium on Sunday night loose, but quietly motivated, letting all the perceived disrespect stew into their performance on the field of play. Many a statement has been made that the QB position is where half the Super Bowl MVP’s come from and that this is Peyton Manning’s right to claim, his coronation. Lets see what the experts say on Monday morning….

Back to the “expert” picks. Clearly in the experts eyes, the Bears are underdogs in every way possible for this game. The most hardened and experienced of analysts just can’t bring themselves to pick the Bears. You name it, you will be hard pressed to find an analyst worth his salt picking the Bears to beat the Colts. This is what I’ve seen so far this week:

Gil Brandt – NFL.com Analyst – Colts 27, Bears 17.
Dr. Z – CNNSI.com – Colts 34, Bears 24
Experts at CBS Sportsline – 4 of 6 pick the Colts to win the Super Bowl
Vinnie Iyer – SportingNews.com – Colts 34, Bears 24
ESPN Scouts Inc. Pick – Colts 28, Bears 24
ESPN Analyst Mark Schlereth’s pick – Colts (no score)
ESPN Analyst Chris Mortensen’s pick – Colts by 4 points
ESPN Around the Horn’s Woody Paige – Colts (“here’s no way in hell or Miami that Chicago can beat Indianapolis.”)

NFL Network Picks from today:
– Rich Eisen – shocking that the Bears are as big an underdog, Bears looked relaxed and appear to be a team ready to play this game, no pick.
– Terrell Davis – everybody is picking the Colts, so the pressure is on the Colts, Bears getting extra motivation from being underdog, no pick.
– Trent Dilfer – Bears look ready to work, no pick.
– Steve Mariucci – Bears have the best team, but picking the Colts because of one player, Peyton Manning
– Drew Brees, NO – Colts
– Carson Palmer, CIN – Colts
– Sean Payton, coach, NO – Colts
– Hines Ward, PIT – Bears
– Matt Hasselbeck, SEA – no pick
– Holly Robinson Peete – Colts
– Zach Thomas, MIA – Bears
– Roy Williams, DAL – Bears
– Brian Baldinger, analyst – Bears
– Donovan McNabb, PHI – Bears (and he’s a Cubs fan too!)

Other expert picks:
– Jimmy Johnson, Fox NFL Analyst on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Boomer Esiason, NFL.com Analyst on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Emmitt Smith on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Al Harris, Packer’s CB on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts
– Chad Johnson, CIN WR on WSCR Chicago Sports Radio – Colts

Bears can’t even get a break in video games. The Madden ’07 forecast from ESPN – Colts 38, Bears 27

ESPN Cold Pizza’s Skip Bayless’ Pick – Bears

Ogunleye SB Press Conference

No wonder Adawale Ogunleye looks like he is over the media sessions, interviews and all the Super Bowl fluff. If you were listening for two straight weeks about how much the Colts were better than you, i’m sure you would have the same expression on your face…..

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Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts Do Media Day At The Super Bowl

Posted by sportsmaven on January 31, 2007

Today was Super Bowl XLI Media Day and I found it to be quite an amusing and fun day. The day began with the Chicago Bears taking the interview podiums first (12 podiums lined end zone to end zone on one sideline of the playing field in Dolphins Stadium) for one hour followed by the Indianapolis Colts.

Bears Media Day 1

When the day began, the media mavens rushed down the aisles of the stadium towards the players on the field like shoppers rushing the Wal-Mart at 5am the day after Thanksgiving

Bears Media Day 2

The Indianapolis Colts were 10 minutes late to today’s media session, keeping up a trend which the media finds quite disturbing. The big name players got the podiums (names such as Rex Grossman, Brian Urlacher, Bernard Berrian, and Muhsin Muhammad for the Bears, Peyton Manning, Adam Vinatieri, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne). The topics were varied.

Bears Media Day 3

Bears Media Day 4

Some of the highlights of today’s media session:

– Bernard Berrian was asked what kind of syrup he liked on his pancakes (he likes maple)
– An unnamed Bears player was asked his preference, Levitra or Viagra.
– Peyton Manning admits he was pulling for the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game (obvious, as he is from New Orleans)
– Reggie Wayne being asked what it was like to receive a pass from Peyton Manning.
– Adam Vinatieri asked if he is related to Evel Knievel by Steve Mariucci from the NFL Network (he is) and asked to say hi to NFL fans in Japan.
– Tank Johnson asked about 100 questions on his pending gun charges and murder of his bodyguard.
– American Idol rejects (hired by Jimmy Kimmel) trying to get Bears and Colts players to sing.

All and all, it was a good day. Seemed like the Bears embraced media day while the Colts endured it. Deion Sanders from the NFL Network stated that he thought the Bears were exciting and provacative in their sessions (no mention of what the Colts did for Deion).

Another note on routine and adaptability: Plenty has been made on the Bears showing up to Miami early Sunday and the Colts choosing to come later on Monday. The Colts wanted to maintain as much routine as possible, which is a fine goal, BUT THIS IS THE SUPER BOWL, the biggest stange in the world. There is absolutely NOTHING routine about the Super Bowl, where everything is super sized and done to the max, so sticking to as much routine as possible throughout this circus environment may prove to be an exercise in futility. Routine is good for preparation, but too much stock can be put into routine. My belief is not that the team who sticks closest to their weekly routine has the edge, but rather the team that is most adaptable and adapts to the demands of the bright lights the quickest has the advantage. Right now, I feel the Bears have been that more adaptable team, giving them my edge in the chess match known as the Super Bowl…..

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