Kurt Warner … Hall of Famer

One of the major, unavoidable topics of the week, has been whether or not Kurt Warner is a Hall of Famer. In fact, the pregame talk leading up to the NFC Championship game centered on how much bearing it had on the impending legacy of both Warner and Donovan McNabb. Warner obviously got the edge on that one cementing his legacy as a big-game quarterback, and McNabb as a guy who could get you to a big game but not further than that (which is still a major accomplishment in my eyes). Seems like many people have since been swept up in the euphoria of the Kurt Warner cyclone and want to throw him in the Hall of Fame already. Some people are more rational and feel his performance on Sunday will dictate his place in history. Me? I need to see Kurt Warner have another two stellar seasons and take his team to the playoffs two more times to be sold.

While I have no problem calling Kurt a big-game quarterback, I’m not down with all this talk about him being the best quarterback in football and a Hall of Famer. Here’s my main beef: how many Hall of Fame quarterbacks disappeared for five years after being a stud QB? How can you vote for a guy as a Hall of Famer when he stunk during the prime of his career? I guess it’s pretty easy for everyone else to just erase the past, but it’s not for me. I remember Kurt vividly as a turnover machine. The guy was either burping the ball from center or throwing picks. He stunk up the joint completely in his last two years with the Rams, his year with the Giants, and his first two years with the Cards. Don’t remember him fumbling six times against the Giants in ’03? I do.

I’m not saying that Warner isn’t a pretty spectacular quarterback when he’s well-protected, healthy, and playing with lethal weapons — he is. I’m just saying that there were times in his career — a five-year stretch — when he was a below average quarterback in the National Football League. And that to me, does not a Hall of Famer make.

Super Bowl Kickoff Time, Starts at 6:28 Eastern

Every year, one of the questions people want to know the most as they’re preparing to watch the Super Bowl is what time does it start. The networks always give you an earlier time to try and get you to tune into the pre-game show where they’ve sold sponsorship ads. Have no fear, for that is why I’m here. If you’re getting set to head to a party, or you have last-second errands to run day of the game, now you know: the kickoff time for the Super Bowl is 6:28pm Eastern. Hopefully you enjoy the game. For me, it comes down to a lesser of two evils; I can’t stand the Steelers and I’m not a big Kurt Warner fan.

Martellus Bennett Raps About the Cowboys and Money … Not Very Well

Dallas, this is your backup tight end, Martellus Bennett … (warning, language NSFW)

Thanks, sorta, to PFT for the video. The last time we saw a player rapping on YouTube, it got freshman Josh Jarboe kicked off Oklahoma. I’m not so sure Wade Phillips is going to yank his scholarship, but the language was kinda harsh for his lyrics being so weak. Apparently Bennett has a history of rapping, having channeled Keyshawn Johnson with a rap titled, “Pass me tha Ball,” when he was at Texas A&M with Dennis Franchione as his coach. This guy’s got a much bigger mouth for what he’s shown on the field, you know?

Brady’s OK With Coaches Leaving the Patriots Staff

Here’s one thing we haven’t had enough of: Tom Brady. Even when he was the star of the league, we saw much less of him than Peyton Manning, and most of it is Brady’s own doing. For us football fans, hearing Brady’s voice on the radio on CFAN in Toronto Wednesday was a pleasure. He talked about his rehab, cheering for the Patriots as a fan, and about the organization. When asked about the team losing Josh McDaniels and Scott Pioli from the staff, Brady said that the team has to get used to change occuring on a regular basis. They’ve lost Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, and Eric Mangini, yet continued to win. That led Brady to say:

As long as we have Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and as long as we have Coach Belichick, I always think we’re going to be fine.

He left another name out there, too — himself. As long as Brady and Belichick are there, and the owners remain the same, they should be good to go. Heck, even with Matt Cassel in there they were fine. Not making the playoffs is the fault of the system, not themselves. I made this point when I questioned the Broncos’ hiring of Josh McDaniels and Brady kind of confirmed it: as long as Belichick’s there, the Patriots will be fine. Don’t know if we can say the same thing for the other assistants.

Rod Marinelli Gets the Last Word

After hearing from Dominic Raiola of the Lions, I really started to ease up on them down the stretch hoping they’d win a game. Naturally it didn’t happen and they have gone down as the first 0-16 team in NFL history. Things really got ugly down the stretch when a reporter made a snide comment about Marinelli’s son in law, Joe Barry, who also happened to be the team’s defensive coordinator. Incidentally, that reporter was later fired. But it was Rod Marinelli, who after taking so much heat from the media (rightfully so), got in the last word:

Former Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli was at the Senior Bowl practice this morning but was in no mood to talk to the Detroit media. As three beat writers approached Marinelli, who was sitting in the stands, he told us to get lost in his own charming way.

“Goodbye, ladies,” he said.

Apparently Marinelli used to employ that salutation to the reporters when a lady was present, but this time it was nothing but men. I can’t say I’m really surprised by this story given Marinelli’s history as a tough guy who once wrestled a bear. In the end, it’s still Marinelli who loses because it’s his team that went 0-16, and really, who won’t pick on you for that? At least he’s not going out without getting the last word.

(via Pro Football Talk)

Just What the Cowboys Need: Ray Lewis

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last thing the Dallas Cowboys need is a big personality on their team and in their locker room. Granted, at least adding Ray Lewis would bring some positives in terms of building a “team,” but how many high-priced talents can one have? The Yankees have already proven that an All-Star laden lineup doesn’t necessarily buy championships. While Lewis would theoretically be good to police the locker room, there are many reasons I feel it would be another money pit for Jerry Jones.

The Baltimore Sun says Jerry Jones is willing to pay $27-30 million over three years with $25 mil guaranteed for Lewis’ services. Ray Lewis is 33, and as superhuman as he may appear to be, he’s not going to defy the aging process — it just doesn’t work that way. Furthermore, Lewis is becoming more of a product of the Baltimore defense these days than the catalyst of it. Lewis’ tackling numbers and sack totals had been decreasing the past few seasons until the team drafted a big lineman up front to take away blockers, allowing him to be more effective in run defense. If you remember, Lewis practically begged for Haloti Ngata. Moreover, the Ravens’ strong secondary with Ed Reed and the blitzing abilities of Terrell Suggs has led to much of the team’s success on that side of the ball. For as many good plays as I saw Ray Lewis make this year, I saw just as many missed tackles on run defense.

Nothing concrete has happened yet and it will be up to the Ravens to make a move, but signing Ray Lewis would just be bringing more sand to an already ugly beach. It just doesn’t seem like that’s the answer for the Cowboys. Now if Jerry’s just looking for media attention, that’s probably a perfect solution.

Anatomy of a Trick Play: How the Cardinals Burned the Eagles Sunday

The Cardinals have been running flea flickers all season and have had tremendous success with it. They’ve used it in the playoffs to their advantage, scoring a touchdown against the Falcons and also the Eagles. The one in the NFC Championship went for 62 yards from Kurt Warner to Larry Fitzgerald, as always. The TD made it 14-3 and really helped Arizona build their first half momentum. While the play itself was cool, it’s the back story to the play that really is awesome in my opinion. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Three years ago, when [Saints head coach Sean] Payton and Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley were working together in Dallas, Payton introduced Haley to a play called “The Philly Special.”

It was a trick play designed specifically to burn the Eagles’ aggressive defensive scheme, and Payton had used it successfully against Philadelphia when he was coaching in New York during the Giants’ Super Bowl run in 2000-01.

Ironically, the Cowboys never used that play against Philadelphia. But Haley always kept it in his bag of tricks, and as he prepared for the biggest game in Cardinals history this past week, he knew for certain that he would pull it out.

In fact, he had even assigned third-string quarterback Brian St. Pierre with the task of studying the Eagles’ game tapes, so he could advise him of the best time to use it Sunday.

And St. Pierre called for it at the moment we saw it on Sunday. Now the only part that would kill this great story is that the Eagles did have a man back to cover Fitzgerald on the play as Quintin Demps didn’t bite on the fake. Only problem is we’ve all come to find out these playoffs that you can’t single cover Fitzgerald otherwise that will happen. Here’s the play in case you missed it, or want to re-watch:
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