Thursday, 26 April 2012

One Journey Starts, One Journey Ends'


As I write these words, mere hours are left before the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the podium to announce Andrew Luck as the first player taken in the 2012 NFL draft, so setting over 200 players on the first step on a career in one of the most popular and intense team sports in the world.  I (and Cousin Sal himself, Paul Mainwaring) have written at length about players to be taken, but today I want to write about a man who was selected in the 1996 NFL draft, who this week announced his retirement from the NFL after 16 seasons.

Brian Dawkins spent 13 seasons as the Free Safety for my beloved Philadelphia Eagles from the time he was drafted to the sad day in 2009 when he left Philly to take his still sharp skills to Denver.  Dawkins is said to be a mild mannered, quiet person of the field.  Watching him during several You tube videos of him just prior to games, I find this almost impossible to believe.  The man was so fired up, it seemed hard to imagine any player DARING to lose on the same team as him.  But this was his game day personality.  He was the spiritual leader of the Eagles defence, the very heartbeat of one of the best defences NEVER to win a Superbowl.

Dawkins himself cites the highlight of his Eagles career was the moment of victory after the Eagles beat Atlanta in the 2005 NFC Championship Game, hereby finally securing a Superbowl berth.  He said the look on the face of veteran Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was worth all the hard work, the blood sweat and tears that they had all put in.  Johnson died in 2010, and its fair to say the Eagles have not recovered from this loss on or off the field.

He was a player opponents had to account for.  His positional sense and versatility was so good, Johnson was able to deploy him all over the field in a variety of schemes and positions.  Teams playing the Eagles knew that Dawkins was still fit enough to take the field, he and the Eagles were not done.

My first experience of the Eagles was playing "NFL QB" on the much lamented SEGA Dreamcast with my friend Ian Mullin.  I was a green rookie to the sport, and was just looking to pick up some names of players from my "new" team.  I picked up some names alright, and those names are some of the greatest Eagles over the last 30 years.  Trotter, Staley, Douglas...and Dawkins.  The Dawk is the last of this group to leave the game.  He does so with my thanks and eternal gratitude for all he did for the Eagles, and for Philadelphia.


Dear Powerade

I don't drink your product.  To be honest, I'd rather drink Listerine mixed with pepper.  However, I know a good deal when I sees one, and when my work colleague Mike Parker offered me a label from a Powerade Multipack allowing me to claim a free Powerade Sports Bottle, I focused three seconds on the word "free" and happily took the label.

I went about the task of filling in the vital details, like my name and address, on your website, enduring several minutes of frozen screens as your sight seemed intent on digging in for the long haul, before finally reading a screen telling me that my new drink bottle would be dispatched speedily to me, and to remind me that I would not be able to claim more than three of your bottles in any six month period.

That was five weeks ago.

This is not the first time Ive been screwed over by a drinks company.  I sent off about fifty Coke ring pulls in 1996 to claim a free Coke football.  I look forward to this arriving in time for me to indulge in a kick about with my grandchildren, and who knows maybe I can take a refreshing drink from your drink bottle at the same time.  But don't worry, I won't be holding my breath.

Should you ever arse yourselves to send me MY free bottle (you set the price, you can't blame me for it), I don't suppose I can entreat you to hand deliver it to my work, full to the brim with ice cold Dr Pepper? There's a drink that has NEVER let me down.

Love, Light and Peace

Neil Dutton

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mainzey Chimes In

As expected, I wasn't going to be allowed to dictate my NFL draft without my partner in crime Mainey having his say.  So here we take a look at how he thinks things will go down.

Colts Andrew Luck QB Stanford -Some teams dream for decades about getting a Franchise QB due to being crap at the right times looks like the Colts may have back to back stars behind center. It pays to be bad (at the right time)
Redskins Robert Griffin III QB Baylor - My team have been dreaming of a Franchise QB and have gone up to get him. I am with Lombardi rather than McNabb (bitter much!!) that RGIII will fit the Shanahan offence well but if a team can destory him its mine
Vikings Matt Kalil OT USC - You get a QB last year you need to protect him. Kalil is the best in this years draft
Browns Trent Richardson RB Alabama - This just in the Browns have no skill players. Best skill player is Richardson and more running equals less McCoy
Bucs Morris Claiborne CB LSU - He has the talent to be a shutdown corner but has issues and based on his Wonderlic it seems he didn't go to class at LSU. Bucs won't pass him up tho even after the Talib disaster
Rams Justin Blackmon WR Okla State -People have concerns over Blackmon and although I don't think he is one of the Johnsons I believe he is elite and will help Bradfod and Jackson a ton
Jags Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina -I think they need a DE and the Melvin is the most talented even if the a 'prototype' size for a DE
Dolphins Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M - Every year a QB is drafted too high and this year the Award goes to Ryan. He has all the skills but is raw for his sake he best not play this year
Panthers Dontari Poe DT Memphis - Does his play match his combine the Panthers will hope so with all the talent they have on the other side of the ball
Bills Riley Reiff  OT Iowa - Defense done in free agency so I see a Riley being picked to help Fitzpatrick and that offence
Chiefs Luke Kuechly ILB Boston College -I do this as much to annoy Dutton even tho Mel agrees with me. HA HA (smartarse, Dutton X)
Seahawks Quinton Coples DE Noth Carolina -They played hard for coach Carroll last year and I expect the same. I think they are short on offence but best player is Quentin
Cardinals Cordy Glenn T Georgia - This is were it started to get difficult but hey they couldn't protect anyone last year so I went with Glenn
Cowboys Mark Barron SS Alabama - I hate this team (for the first time in about ten picks, we agree on something, Dutton) and I hope this guy is a bust but they stank in the secondary last year and Barron is the best safety
Eagles Fletcher Cox DT Miss State - They need a line backer in my opinion (and apparently rain is wet, Dutton) but a DT who can stop the run would help to
Jets Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama -The New York'Tebows' need a strong defense to help the guys behind centre who will be throwing at 47%. Upshaw fits the bill (should point out that our friend Mullin HATES this pick)
Bengals David DeCastro OG Stanford - Lets protect the Ginger!!!! (Bias, Dutton)
Chargers Andre Branch DE Clemson - Their defence regressed last year (like everything else) so I am thinking DE
Bears Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame - Get Cutler some help and you may challenge the Packers
Titans Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina - They need to replace Cortland Finnegan I think Gilmore is slightly better than Kirkpatrick
Bengals Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama - Good fit and will replace Joseph who went to the Texans last year
Browns Kendall Wright  WR Baylor - Another Skill player for Cleveland? Yes please
Lions Johnathan Martin OT Stanford - The D-Line is set, you have a Franchise QB, lets protect him
Steelers Dont'a Hightower LB Alabama - You might think offensive line has to happen here but I think this guy and LeBeau equals multiple Pro Bowls
Broncos Jerel Worthy DT Michigan St  - Lets get Peyton on the field as quick as possible and see if the magic is still there
Texans Reuben Randle WR LSU- Get Schaub another target who can be productive, keep the Players fit and are they the best team in the AFC?? (No, they're not.  Dutton)
Pats Shea McClellin DE Boise State - Pass rush pass rush and more pass rush
Packers Nick Perry LB USC - see above comment
Ravens Peter Konz C Wisconsin - If I need O line help and I watch College I think I pick the best Badger (certainly worked in the Wind in the Willows, Dutton)
49ers Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech - Get Smith more men to throw to and you may be the best team in the league
Pats Michael Brockers DT LSU - See previous Pats comment
Giants Mike Adams OT Ohio State - Lets protect the best Manning (did I really just right that, I am about to be sick) (Probably not as sick as Adams, who at the time of writing has admitted that he tested positive for cannabis at Ohio State.  He's been high, now watch him slide low...Dutton)

So there you have it.  Mainzey and I have sixteen duplicate picks, and have in some order picked thirty of the same players.  This is a big deal, as the man with the most correct picks gets a Frankie and Bennys breakfast paid for by the loser.  So, who will be the Pats Front Office, and who will be the Raiders? We'll know in a week.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Mock Draft 2.0

A while ago, you may remember Mainzey and I posted our mock draft for the NFL, which will go for real on April 26th.  A lot has changed since then, and I would like to offer you MY latest mock draft.  Mainzey will provide his later this week, and the joy of being the author of this blog gives me the chance to challenge, question and in fact downright mock his selections.  He he he.

1 Indianapolis Andrew Luck QB Stanford - Not a chance the Colts won't draft Luck.  Not a chance.
2 Washington Robert Griffin III QB Baylor - The Redskins pulled off this years blockbuster trade, and they did specifically to get Griffin.
3 Minnesota Matt Kalill LT USC - Some rumours that this spot may be up for auction, but even if it is the Vikings will draft the best Left tackle in the draft, as they look to protect their QB of the future Christian Ponder 
4 Cleveland Trent Richardson RB Alabama - Lot of people linking the Browns with the number three QB in the draft, expected to be Ryan Tannehill, but Browns GM Mike Holmgren does not nor has ever drafted a QB this high.  Look for them to get offensive weapons in the first round, they look to maybe pick up Brandon Weedon at the top of the 2nd round.
5 Tampa Bay Morris Claiborne CB LSU - Despite a woefully low score on the Draft Combine Wonderlic Test, this is a need position for the Buccaneers, they won't pass up on Claiborne.
6 St Louis Justin Blackmon WR Ok State - Armed with a QB already in place, and additional first round picks in 2013 and 2014 thanks to the Washington trade, I expect St Louis to add a major target for Sam Bradford in Blackmon.
7 Jacksonville Riley Reiff  OT Iowa - The Jags drafted QB Blaine Gabbert in this round last year, and watched him almost weep at the unstoppable pass rush he had to face.  Kalill won't drop this far, and Reiff is the next best OT to provide some protection to Gabbert.  Could be in the hunt for Blackmon if for some reason he drops this far. 
8 Miami - Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M - I have written extensively on how badly the Dolphins have conducted themselves this off season.  They have failed to land any blue chip QB, and my thoughts are they will exercise the relationship between Tannehill and Mike Sherman, their offensive coordinator (Texas A&M head coach in 2011).  This is an awful reach, as Tannehill is NOT NFL ready. 
9 Carolina Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina - The Panthers simply MUST address the defence in this years draft, and will look to improve a woeful pass rush.  Many will have them taking Quinton Coples with this pick, but Ingram appears to be a better every down every game personality.
10 Buffalo Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame - The Bills were one of the teams who attacked free agency to improve their roster, allowing them to draft the best player available at this spot in the draft.  They locked up the enigmatic WR Steve Johnson, so I would have them taking Floyd to give Ryan Fitzpatrick another weapon.
11 Kansas City Dontari Poe NT Memphis - The Chiefs have no glaring needs, but could stand an improvement in the key spot at nose tackle in their 3-4 defence.  Poe is the best fit.
12 Seattle Luke Kuechly ILB Boston College - I disagreed with Mainzey when he suggested Kuechly would be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles at 15.  I disagreed because he would have been perfect, but the Eagles have not drafted a Linebacker in the first round since before The Empire Strikes Back was released in cinemas (the first time).  Seattle's defence is highly underrated, and the addition of this Boston College tackling machine will substantially help matters.
13 Arizona Cordy Glenn G Georgia - The Cardinals big money signing of Kevin Kolb was slightly underscored by an awful offensive line.  Arizona elected to keep Kolb in place, so look for them to add some protection for him here.  Maybe look for them to take a receiver, but Blackmon and Floyd won't be here.
14 Dallas Mark Barron S Alabama - This seems to be a consensus pick.  The Cowboys secondary has been less than ordinary for far too long, and Barron is the best of an ordinary safety class.
15 Philadelphia Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State - You can never have enough defensive linemen, and I expect (nay hope) my Eagles will follow the pattern set by the New York Giants in harvesting a cartel of d-line men to terrorise the QBs.  Another defensive end is a possibility, but Coples is a space cadet and probably won't interest the Eagles
16 NY Jets - Courtney Upshaw OLB Alabama - The Jets have serious needs in several positions, notably at RT where Wayne Hunter excelled in mediocrity in 2011, but the studs at that position will be long gone by this time.  A chance to upgrade their pass rush exists in Upshaw, who is capable of potentially playing outside in a 3-4 or at defensive end in 4-3.
17 Cincinnati Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama - Like Seattle, the Bengals have a very good and under the radar defence, but could use help at corner.  Kirkpatrick appears to be the second best corner in this draft after Claiborne, and should see one of the Bengals two first round picks used on him.
18 San Diego Dave Decastro G Stanford - The Chargers need to win now to ensure further years with Norv at the helm, and the most important way to go about this would be to improve the protection around Phil Rivers, who had the crap kicked out of him in 2011.  A receiver wouldn't hurt, but value can be found in lower rounds.
19 Chicago Stephen Gilmore CB South Carolina - The Bears suffered from rather awful contributions from their corners in 2011, and though they have an aging offensive line, I expect them to go for an upgrade in the secondary with Gilmore.
20 Tennesse Quinton Coples DE UNC - The Titans have upgraded their pass rush already by signing Kamerion Wimberley, but a good threat off the edge has eluded them since they let Jason Babin walk prior to 2011.  Coples has some motivational issues, and has been accused of drifting in his senior year, but he is the best defensive around now than Ingram is way off the board.
21 Cincinnati Kendall Wright WR Baylor - The Bengals hit paydirt last year by drafting AJ Green, and its not beyond the realms of possibility that they will look to give him some competition by taking Wright, particularly as near rivals Cleveland may be looking to take him themselves.
22 Cleveland - Rueben Randle WR LSU - The Browns will probably be gutted that Wright will go the pick before them, however this is a deep and talented WR class.  Randle is a good player, without the numbers to necessarily back him up.
23 Detroit Lions Jonathan Martin OT Stanford - Detroit from seemingly nowhere in 2011 became a high flying offence, a key part of which was keeping QB Matt Stafford healthy. Some O-Line help would certainly keep this ticking, and Martin is the best OT left at this stage.
24 Pittsburgh Dont'a Hightower ILB Alabama - The Steelers lost long time stalwart James Farriorthis offseason, and Hightower would fit the bill perfectly. Some would expect the Steelers to use this pick to draft a WR in case Mike Wallace does not return to the Black and Gold, but its safe to assume that he will.
25 Denver Michael Brockers DT LSU - Broderick Bunkley, the Broncos best run stuffing DT, jumped ship for New Orleans this off season, and the Broncos will likely snaffle up Brockers should he fall this far.
26 Houston Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech - The Texans need to give the returning Matt Schaub some new toys to play with, and a wideout to complement the awesome Andre Johnson will certainly be high on the wish list. Hill flew up draft boards everywhere by an awesome showing at the combine.
27 New England Andre Branch OLB Clemson - The Patriots, despite a playoff appearance, were awful on defence in 2011, with a nonexistent pass rush. Branch is equally comfortable playing as an OLB in a 3-4 (NE's base defence) but can also play with his hand on the ground as a DE.
28 Green Bay Nick Perry OLB USC - The Packers, like the Patriots, did not get where they are today by playing great defence, however with the dynamic Clay Matthews at LB the temptation must be to give him a partner in crime. Perry is as good as they come at this stage in proceedings.
29 Baltimore Peter Konz C Wisconsin - The Ravens have Matt Birk returning, but the thought must be that he is near to the end. Konz is the outstanding center in this draft, and should be the longterm replacement for one of the best players going round at that position.
30 San Francisco Coby Fleener TE Stanford - Vernon Davis came to the party in a big way during the playoffs, and the 49ers would probably love to give him a complimentary partner. Fleener is probably the top TE in this draft, and is familiar with Coach Harbaugh who coached him at Stanford.
31 New England Whitney Mercilus DE Illinois - I expect, despite taking Branch with their earlier pick in THIS draft, Bellichek will look to further enhance his defences pass rush. Mercilus, besides a great name for his position, is as good as you are likely to get. But don't be surprised by anything the Patriots do with this pick.
32 NY Giants Mike Adams OT Ohio State - The Champions have lost a bit of presence on the offensive line, particularly RT Kareem McKenzie who was past his best in 2011 anyway. Adams is a good solid prospect who could easily play at RT or LT. there you are. The ultimate mock draft. Now just wait and see how wrong I'll be.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Its Been A While

Hello, good evening and welcome.

Seems like ages since I took to the web to scribble down my thoughts.  While I'm sure the few of you who read these words have been glad of the break, I am back once again to bring chaos and devastation.


We currently sit a mere five days away from the start of the Liverpool and District Cricket Competition season.  As I stare out of the window of my Rainford home, it certainly looks like cricket that its absolutely sheeting it down.

Its not merely the weather that will threaten the start of the season on Saturday.  Its also FA Cup semi final day, and lo and behold the football gods have decided to damn us with an all Merseyside encounter.  Starting at 12:30.  Thanks for that.

There will be countless players missing from clubs all around the area, and the danger is that some sides (particularly 3rd or 4th XIs) will simply be unable to fulfil fixtures, or at least participate at any degree of their full strength.  The league has decreed that they will not allow start times to be altered.  I agree with them, despite the danger to the lower XIs.  We are a cricket competition.  We want to play cricket.


We are getting closer and closer to the annual feasting frenzy that is the NFL Draft, and its shaping up to be the dullest opening to a draft of all time.  The top three picks are pretty much locked in and nailed on, meaning (given the time allowed between picks) that the real questions re player destinations wont start being asked until about 45 minutes into the piece.  The biggest dilemma seems to be the one facing Cleveland at number 4.  Do they keep their existing QB in place, and look to solidify around him (bringing RB Trent Richardson and WR Justin Blackmon into the equation), or do they look to bring in a new signal caller, thus over reaching and drafting Texas A&M star Ryan Tannehill FAR TOO EARLY in the piece for most experts liking? My gut feeling is that they won't, and will instead go for Richardson.  The poisoned chalice of Tannehill will then drop to the next most QB needy team, the Miami Dolphins.  After the soap opera that has been their off season, I would not like to predict what they will do.  They'll probably draft Mark Whelan.


With five games left of the League One season, the two automatic promotion spots seem destined to be filled by Charlton Athletic and ONE of the two clubs from Sheffield, United or my beloved Wednesday.  I'd be ecstatic if we got the automatic spot, however I feel that United will not slip up, meaning our draw against Walsall (dropping two points) will leave us to go up via the playoffs.  I would be confident with this route, given our outstanding home record and the huge level of momentum we have generated since Dave Jones walked into the room.  Readers of this blog will remember that I was unsure what would become the Owls when Jones replaced Megson, but I am happy to say that he has overseen a hugely impressive run for Wednesday.  Ive not given up on automatic, but I'm confident that if we have to do it with three more matches, we'll do it.

So thats it for this one.  After writing these words, I have to admit that for many reasons, and with many factors to consider, its good to be back.