Kick-off – The US football newspaper of the week
Weekly edition of december 27, 2021
Very NFL news to end 2021 and start 2022, with in particular the penultimate day of the regular season on Sunday (and Monday). We obviously come back to the death of John Madden, but also to the latest statements by Ben Roethlisberger, to the rumors around the next Jaguars coach, or to the finalists for the Hall of Fame. And we will finish at the university level, with the results of the semi-finals of the playoffs. Good year !
The schedule for your NFL weekend
- Buffalo Bills vs Atlanta Falcons
- Chicago Bears vs New York Giants
- Cincinnati Bengals vs Kansas City Chiefs
- Tennessee Titans vs Miami Dolphins
- Indianapolis Colts vs Las Vegas Raiders
- New England Patriots vs Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Jets vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Washington Football Team vs Philadelphia Eagles
- Baltimore Ravens vs Los Angeles Rams
- Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver Broncos
- San Francisco 49ers vs Houston Texans
- Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals
- New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers
- Seattle Seahawks vs Detroit Lions
- Green Bay Packers vs Minnesota Vikings
Like every week, the multiplex Redzone can be followed on beIN Sports from 7 p.m.
The poster between the Bengals and the Chiefs will be broadcast live and unencrypted on the L’Equipe channel.
American football legend John Madden dies aged 85
This week the NFL and the American football world have lost a legend. John Madden died at his California home on Tuesday at the age of 85.
Quickly, messages poured in from everywhere: from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, of which he has been a member since 2006, from the league via the Commissioner, from coaches or players, and from American football fans around the world. For Madden’s name was one of the few who had crossed borders, helping to spread awareness of the sport everywhere.
A good high school American football player, Madden was drafted late by the Eagles in 1958, but recurring knee problems prevented him from having a career in the NFL. Quickly, he decided to switch to coaching and joined a staff in a high school in 1960. In 1963, he joined the university championship in San Diego State, under the orders of a certain Don Coryell. Then in 1967, he was already in the professional world (in AFL), recruited by Al Davis to be the linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders. Two later, he became the youngest coach in the league (32 years old). In 10 years at the head of the Raiders, John Madden won 103 games (out of 142) and above all won the first Super Bowl in the history of the franchise, during the 1976 season. He retired in 1979, tired and subject to burnout.
After his coaching career, Madden switched to the media, where he was an iconic commentator for all the major channels between 1979 and 2008 (CBS, Fox, ABC then NBC). At the same time, it appears in advertisements and especially on the cover of a video game. He saw there then « A way for people to learn American football ». The Electronic Arts series, launched in 1988, quickly gained popularity, spreading the name « Madden » around the world.
Following the announcement of his death, Roger Goodell simply said that John Madden « Was football ». The commissioner announced that a moment of silence would be respected before each match of the 17th daytime. RIP
Last game at Heinz Field for Big Ben?
On Monday, the Steelers host the Browns for a crucial game. This last home meeting of the season has a strong implication for the remainder of the season, because in the event of defeat, the hopes of playoffs would fly. But its reach could be even stronger.
Ben Roethlisberger seems to be preparing to play his last match at Heinz Field. The Steelers quarterback was not adamant, saying he « Never spoke definitively » but that if he » looked at the full picture, all the signs suggested that this could be the end ”.
This confirms that the 39-year-old QB is expected to retire at the end of this season. So far, it was all rumored, and these words are a first in public for Big Ben. A little earlier he had said that he « Would talk about retirement after the season ». After 18 years in the top flight, and in particular 2 Super Bowls won, Ben Roethlisberger is surely playing his last games. It’s up to him to try to extend the fun by going for a qualification for the playoffs.
Doug Pederson is going to meet the Jaguars. Dan Quinn refused.
The Jaguars fired coach Urban Meyer after just 13 games, and they are currently looking for his successor. Several candidates emerged, such as Byron Leftwich, Jim Caldwell, Doug Pederson or Dan Quinn. Old 1er Draft pick and Jaguars player, Leftwich is currently the Buccaneers offensive coordinator. Caldwell and Pederson are two former NFL coaches without a job. And Dan Quinn is the Cowboys defensive coordinator. The latter has also dismissed the rumors and announced that he did not want to meet the franchise.
As for the hottest track at the moment, it’s Doug Pederson’s. The former Eagles coach (2016-2020), with whom he won Super Bowl LII, is due to meet with the Jaguars for an interview. Case to follow.
Best players of the month for December announced
Like every month, the NFL elected the best players from the last month of competition. And for December, here are the winners:
- Offense: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Kansas City Chiefs)
- Defense: Jerome Baker (LB, Miami Dolphins)
- Special teams: Evan McPherson (K, Cincinnati Bengals)
Back in great shape, like his team, Patrick Mahomes displays 1,110 yards and 9 touchdowns in December. He led Kansas City to 4 wins, averaging 35 points scored. The current streak is 8 wins for the Chiefs, who are champions in the AFC West.
Another team on a big winning streak (7), the Dolphins have made a historic comeback thanks to a formidable defense. LB Jerome Baker has distinguished himself with 12 tackles (half with loss of yards) and 3.5 sacks in 3 games played.
The Bengals kicker, Evan McPherson, takes the honors thanks to 35 points scored in December (9/11 on the field-goals and 8/9 on the transformations).
- Offense: Aaron Rodgers (QB, Green Bay Packers)
- Defense: Aaron Donald (DT, Los Angeles Rams)
- Special teams: Thomas Morstead (P, Atlanta Falcons)
Now favorites to win the MVP trophy at bookmakers, Aaron Rodgers released a very big month of December, with 811 yards and 10 touchdowns for 0 interceptions. He also broke Brett Favre’s franchise record for touchdowns on Christmas Day.
Sometimes a little more discreet than usual at the start of the season, Aaron Donald has gained in strength and once again become the dominant defender we know. He posted at least 1 sack per game in December, and 6 in total over the month, as well as 2 forced fumbles and 20 tackles. Enough to help the Rams win their 4 games.
The Falcons’ punter, Thomas Morstead, is elected with an average of nearly 46 yards per clearance, and 6 of his 11 punts filed in the opposing 20 yards.
- Offense: Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, Detroit Lions)
- Defense: Micah Parsons (LB, Dallas Cowboys)
The Lions’ WR literally exploded in December, with 35 receptions, 340 yards and 3 touchdowns in 4 games. Amon-Ra St. Brown notably marked the decisive touchdown of Detroit’s first victory, during Week 13.
Micah Parsons continues his huge rookie season, with excellent production. He added 4 sacks, 1 fumble and 12 tackles to his stats. He is more than ever the favorite to win the Best Defensive Rookie trophy.
Hall of Fame 2022 finalists revealed
The Pro Football Hall of Fame this week unveiled a list of 15 modern-day athletes, who are finalists for the 2022 class. Three players are proposed in their first year of eligibility: Andre Johnson (WR), DeMarcus Ware ( Edge) and Devin Hester (Returner).
Here is the full list of the 15 announced players:
- Jared Allen (Edge)
- Willie Anderson (OT)
- Round Barber (DB)
- Tony Boselli (OT)
- LeRoy Butler (S)
- Devin Hesper (KR, WR)
- Torry Holt (WR)
- Andre Johnson (WR)
- Sam Mills (LB)
- Richard Seymour (DL)
- Zach Thomas (LB)
- DeMarcus Ware (Edge)
- Reggie Wayne (WR)
- Patrick Willis (LB)
- Bryant Young (DL)
Three other finalists are added to this list, with Cliff Branch (Senior), Art McNally (Contributor) and Dick Vermeil (Coach). The committee will meet (virtually) on January 18 to decide which players will enter the American football hall of fame in 2022. Up to 5 modern players can be selected, and for that, 80% of the votes must be received.
Alabama and Georgia to meet in national final
- (1) Alabama 27 – (4) Cincinnati 6
- (2) Georgia 34 – (3) Michigan 11
The semifinals of the university championship were played to kick off the new year, with the top 4 teams in the country aiming for a place in the final.
For starters, Alabama dominated Cincinnati in a controlled game from start to finish. Ahead of 17-3 at the break, the Crimson Tides continued to fend off the Bearcats’ assaults in the second half, while ensuring a slightly wider gap. Bryce Young leaves a serious match, 181 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, but it is the ground play which carried the attack of Bama on this meeting, with 301 yards in total including 204 for Brian Robinson Jr. Cincinnati n ‘was not unworthy, and Nick Saban paid tribute to this team by saying that it definitely had its place in the playoffs. This is the 6th qualification in the final for the Tide since the start of this playoff format in 2014.
Then the SEC’s other strong program did the job as well. As is often the case this season, Georgia relied on her defense to stifle her opponent. And the attack was also excellent against Michigan, with an inspired Stetson Bennett (313 yards, 3 TD). Largely in the lead at halftime (27-3), the Bulldogs did not allow a touchdown to the Wolverines before 4th quarter time. This will be Georgia’s second final appearance, following 2017-18. For Michigan, this first participation ended there, but Jim Harbaugh was very satisfied with the season and optimistic for the rest.
The national final is therefore a remake of the SEC conference final, which was won by Alabama last December. It was the Dawgs’ first (and only) loss. Since Nick Saban has been at the helm of the Crimson Tide, he has lost only once to Georgia, it was in his first season in 2007. And since 2008, he has posted a record of 7-0, including a success in the national final in 2018. This match will take place on the night of Monday 11 to Tuesday 12 January, at 2 am.