Kick-off – The US football newspaper of the week


Edition of the week of January 10, 2022

On this day of the start of the playoffs, we take stock of the latest news in the NFL, with two new coaches fired, the contract extension of Vita Vea and the return of Eric Weddle. We will also go to the side of the FCS university championship, with a new title for North Dakota State, and we will talk about Souleymane Karamoko, a Frenchman who is aiming for the NFL.


NFL

Your NFL Weekend Schedule

On Saturday

10:30 p.m.

  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Las Vegas Raiders (Wild Card AFC)

2h15

  • Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots (Wild Card AFC)

Sunday

7 p.m.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles (NFC Wild Card)

10:30 p.m.

  • Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers (NFC Wild Card)

2h15

  • Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Wild Card AFC)

Monday

2h15

  • Los Angeles Rams vs Arizona Cardinals (NFC Wild Card)

All Wild Card posters will be followed on BeIN Sports. The L’Equipe channel will broadcast the first match on Saturday, at 10:30 p.m., between the Bengals and the Raiders.

Texans finally part ways with David Culley

Not touched during the « black monday », David Culley thought he was going to be back in Houston for the next season. His first experience as a head coach therefore lasted only one season, and he left the franchise with a record of 4 wins for 13 losses. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly was also fired, he had been in place for 3 years.

Assistant coach in the NFL since 1994, Culley inherited a delicate position at the Texans, with a team that had poor results (4-12 in 2020) and which had to leave its star QB on the bench all season because of non-sporting problems. The coach therefore had to deal with a rookie quarterback, a weak squad, and finishing with 4 wins isn’t so bad after all. Basically, Culley was never put in a good position to succeed, he did what he was told, and he was finally fired…

Texans GM Nick Caserio advances “philosophical differences over long-term direction”… In any case, this proves that the franchise is stuck in a deep reconstruction, both on the ground and at the organizational level. The main candidate for the job is Brian Flores, who himself was fired by the Dolphins a few days ago. Other names, like those of Josh McDaniels or Eric Bieniemy also come back.

Joe Judge fired by the Giants

He, too, had (miraculously) avoided being fired on Black Monday, but the ax was just a little late. After a failed season (4-13), the Giants decided to part ways with their coach. Franchise President John Mara simply stated that « It’s in the franchise’s best interest to move in a different direction. » Mara also announced that he was going to recruit a General Manager first (Dave Gettleman retired), and that he would be in charge of the search for the next coach.

Joe Judge only lasted 2 years in New York, and his record is very disappointing with only 10 wins for 23 losses.

Bucs extend Vita Vea

An important member of the Tampa defense, the DT Vita Vea prolongs the pirate adventure. Vita Vea has signed a 4-year, $73 million contract extension. The Bucs therefore secure the services of one of the best interior linemen until 2026.

Drafted by the Buccaneers with the 12th a pick in 2018, he quickly took up space inside the team’s defensive line. Excellent on the ground, he also has unique pass-rusher qualities for a player of his size. In 4 seasons with the franchise, he played 50 games, made 106 tackles and signed 11.5 sacks.

VitaVea
Vita Vea extends until 2026 with the Bucs (photo: NFL)

Carson Wentz’s future in Indianapolis is not guaranteed

Present at a press conference on Thursday, Chris Ballard answered questions from journalists. The GM of the Colts notably addressed the Carson Wentz case, and he did not want to commit to the future of the QB with the franchise.

Ballard says he  » do not regret «  the transfer of Wentz, but he also claims that the franchise will “investigate all possibilities” about the situation at the quarterback position… The GM also added that “their passing game had to improve”. Statements that do not really inspire confidence when the future of Carson Wentz in Indy.

Arriving this season from Philadelphia, Wentz has had a mixed season. He rebounded well after his nightmare last year with the Eagles, but he failed to raise his level of play in key moments, and especially last Sunday during the last day of the regular season. Wentz finished the season with 3,563 yards, 27 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Chris Ballard also returned to the disappointment of Week 18, and the defeat in Jacksonville which deprived the Colts of the playoffs. He thus admitted that they had “all screwed up”. The GM still supported his staff, saying that “the right people were in place”.

Eric Weddle comes out of retirement and joins the Rams

At 37, Eric Weddle has decided to return to the field to help his former team. The Rams have thus announced that the Safety will sign with the franchise for the playoffs, in particular to compensate for the ankle injury of Jordan Fuller, who will not play again this season. Note that Taylor Rapp is also uncertain, because in concussion protocol.

Weddle retired after the 2019 season, in which he started every game for the Rams. Before that, Safety had been the heyday of the Chargers for 9 years, then the Ravens for 3 seasons. He has 29 career interceptions and 1,179 tackles.

Unlike Odell Beckham Jr or Von Miller, who were brought in to make an impact as starters, Weddle doesn’t arrive with this role. At his age, he will probably not have a lot of playing time, but for Les Snead, he will also bring in the locker room. The Rams GM said he was « respected by many players, because of his passion for football and his knowledge of the game ». Weddle will therefore have a motivating role in the locker room, and his experience can help some players to surpass themselves in the playoffs.


college football

North Dakota State Dominates FCS Championship Again

For the 9th times since 2011, the FCS champion trophy has been won by the Bisons. Undefeated in the final over this period, they continue their domination at this level. In the final this season, they largely dominated Montana State, with a score of 38-10.

Early in the game, the Bobcats didn’t stand a chance as incumbent QB Tommy Mellott quickly had to come out injured. NDSU notably dominated on the ground, gaining 380 yards in the game. Kobe Johnson posted 106 yards and 1 touchdown, and Hunter Luepke gained 82 yards and scored a hat-trick. Suddenly, the QB Cam Miller did not have to force, and finished with 126 yards (9/13) and 1 touchdown. The meeting was folded at halftime (28-0), and the Bisons then managed.

The beautiful course of Montana State therefore stops there, against stronger. Ranked 8th At the start of the playoffs, the Bobcats created a sensation by taking out the number 1 seed (Sam Houston) in the quarterfinals, before dominating South Dakota State in the semifinals. The university was participating in its first final since 1984.

This new title of NDSU, the 9th in 11 years, confirms the domination of this program at the FCS level. The Bisons sailed with ease in the playoffs, with only a tough semi-final victory over James Madison (20-14), an often tough opponent. North Dakota State is also the FCS university that sends the most players to the NFL (8 since 2014), with in particular QBs Carson Wentz and Trey Lance who left at 1er tower.


International

Frenchman Souleymane Karamoko is targeting the NFL

The NFL unveiled this week a list of 13 international players, selected to earn a place for the International Pathway Program 2022. This program aims to help the integration of international players into the NFL. Players like Jordan Mailata (OT – Eagles), Efe Obada (DE – Bills) or Jakob Johnson (FB – Patriots) have gone through this program.

The league had thus organized two Combine (detection days), one in England and one in Mexico. A total of 56 players from 16 different countries took part. This week, a reduced roster of 13 players was revealed, and selected players can join the NFL for the upcoming season. A 10-week training camp will take place in March in the United States, in front of NFL recruiters, and the final objective is to obtain a contract.

Here is the list of selected players:

Player Position Country Current Team
Leonel Misangumukini DL Austria vienna vikings
Leandro Santos da Fonseca OL Brazil Remo Lions
Souleymane Karamoko DB France Laval University
Marcel Dabo DB Germany Stuttgart Surge
Ralfs Rusins DL Latvia Liberty University
Hector Zepeda Hernandez OL Mexico City Technological of Monterrey
Kehinde Hassan Oginni YOU Nigeria The Uprise
Chigbo Roy Mbaeteka OL Nigeria The Uprise
Haggai Chisom Ndubuisi OL Nigeria The Uprise
Thomas Odukoya YOU netherlands Eastern Michigan University
Adedayo Odeleye DL UK Berlin Thunder
Ayo Oyelola LB UK Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Bamidele Olaseni OL UK University of Utah
(through NFL Communications)

Originally from Ivory Coast, Souleymane Karamoko started playing American football in France. 5 years ago, he decided to go to Quebec to continue his training. For 3 years, he has worn the colors of the prestigious Laval University, which had already seen Sébastien Séjean pass. After impressing with the Rouge et Or, Karamoko is targeting the NFL. The player displayed his determination and ambition by stating that he wanted to be “the first Frenchman to make his place in the NFL via this program”. We obviously wish him good luck.

Souleymane Karamoko
Souleymane Karamoko (photo: Laval University)

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