Trade Big Ben?

images.jpeg

Recently rumors have surfaces that maybe Steelers QB and two-time Super Bowl winner Ben Roethlisberger might want a trade out of Pittsburgh.  This seems crazy to fathom, as he's been the face of the franchise for nearly a decade and is one of the few QB's in the league with the kind of two minute prowess tha tmakes you believer you're truly in any game you play.

Still, it's an interesting thought.  Imagine Big Ben behind a solid O-Line, like you can find with the Vikings or perhaps the Bucs?  What about rejoining former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, now the head coach in Arizona?  It's reasonable to think he'd fit in several locations, but why would the Steelers trade him?

Pittsburgh, now 3-6 in a frustratingly inconsistent AFC North division, has been on a rapid decline the last couple of years.  They're defense is seemingly aging in dog years, and the offensive line has been a problem for what seems like forever.  Furthermore, Ben has watched weapons like Hines Ward and Mike Wallace retire or move on to greener (and by greener I mean richer) pastures.  Maybe the Steelers should trade Ben if he want sout, and get some assets while he still has a lot of value.

Ben isn't a young man at 31, he's got about 5-6 years left if he's lucky before all those hits he's taken over the years reduce him to jelly.  While he's come out and squashed the rumors, it's still a faun game to play.  Should the Steelers entertain offers for the veteran, it's reasonable to think that a pair of first round picks might very well be on the table.  My suggestion is that the Steelers go for it and commit to a rebuild.  Unless there's some level of playoff success at the end of this year, it might be time for the Steelers to unload in the offseason and reload with young talent.  It seems crazy to think of giving up a two-time Super Bowl winning QB, but with the hits Ben has taken over his career, sometimes the smartest move to make is to pre-empt a rapid decline.  If this team is getting you 3-6, how much worse can it be after a youth movement?

Josh Freeman a Viking

                   I'll show you sandwich! 

                   I'll show you sandwich! 

After a tumultuous ride over the past few months in Tampa Bay, quarterback Josh Freeman landed on the Minnesota Vikings.  The Bucs cut him after he presumably ate Greg Schiano's sandwich and possibly slept with his girlfriend, and Freeman lasted only a few days before landing with the Vikings. 

We know what happened in Tampa.  Freeman and Schiano inexplicably stopped getting along (I still say it's the sandwich thing) late last year and things just escalated over the past several months.  Freeman was no longer invited to meetings, he was demoted from his starting job, and I even heard that Schiano wouldn't let him play any of the reindeer games that he played with everyone else.

So the Bucs cut him.  2009 first round pick, great arm, showed poise, only 25 years old.  Yeah, no need for him.  Bucs let him go.  Ate almost six million dollars to do it to.  Needless to say, that was a very expensive sandwich of Schiano's. 

So leaving Tampa behind, we see a young player now beginning again in a new surrounding.  The Vikings, led by MattChristian Ponder-Cassell, are in desperate need of a new quarterback, have an elite running game, and some youth to build around.  This is the perfect environment for the talented Freeman, who will get a new start with a coach that doesn't get upset over sandwiches.

Freeman may not pan out.  He struggled late last year and looked downright awful the first few games of this season.  He will get a legit shot in Minnesota however.  And whether that happens now or next season (with a new contract), bringing him in now gives him all season to learn the playbook and develop a connection with the Vikings pass catchers.  That should give him a head start on next season, when he inevitably enters the season as the starter and circles the Bucs on his calendar.  

 

Madden 25

images.jpeg

I love Madden.  The game franchise has been in my life ever since I first purchased a Playstation 1 in 1999 and I haven't looked back since. 

Sure, there was some mild flirting with NFL Blitz, some drunken evening bashing into each other on perhaps football's fastest paced game.  NFL 2K game me a quick reprieve as well, and there was and always will be the nostalgic factor of Tecmo Bowl (and Tecmo Super  Bowl for that matter).  

images-1.jpeg

However, it ultimately always went back to Madden, the love of my life, the grain in my coffee, the only way the Dolphins have won a Super Bowl since long before the game's inception.  Plus, in Madden world, Ryan Tannehill is without a doubt good enough to be a franchise quarterback for the Dolphins.

This year I'm pumped about Madden 2014 (named Madden 25 for it's anniversary addition).  Featuring Barry Sanders on the cover, one of my all-time favorite players, the game promises to provide revolutionary running control.  Also, after a quick demo in my nearest GameStop this past weekend, I was able to see that the Connected Careers mode has been modified to add an Owner option, something that I think was lacking from the 2013 version, which added Connected Careers, replacing the long-time Franchise mode that we fans have grown accustomed to.

One day in, I'm hooked.  While not dramatically different and I'm still getting the hang of running the ball, the new rendition of Madden seems to have fixed the pesky franchise mode (aka connected careers) issues that bothered me with last year's model.  The owner mode even allowed me to selfishly move the Dolphins to Portland and become the Portland River Hogs (no offense to Miami, but fictional worlds where I am supreme commander of everything can be cruel).  Now my pretend season tickets to the Blazers can hang out with my pretend season tickets to my pretend football team in my pretend Portland residence!

While I haven't gotten too far in the game yet, the owner option for the "franchise" mode is enough to get me excited over last year's model which was less than perfect in my opinion.  I also think the trading interface is cool, and I'm intrigued by the special things you can unlock for this version.  Other than the Jaguars new uniform being ugly (yes, I mean in real life too) , this game is visually pleasing and shows that the franchise continues its claim as the gold standard in football gaming.

Now, back to the Portland River Hogs beating the Patriots...

NFLPortland.jpg

Von Miller Suspended

images.jpeg

Von Miller, the electrifying outside linebacker/pass rusher extraordinaire for the Denver Broncos will be serving a six game suspension to start the 2013 season due to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. 

Miller has 30 sacks over the past two years.  30!!!  With only two years in the league, Miller has already entered discussions about the best defensive players in football, and his tenacity clearly has positioned him as a player to fear for opposing quarterbacks.

The Denver defense will struggle without him.  Already down Elvis Dumerville after his bizarre departure to Baltimore, the Broncos will spend the first six weeks of the season without an established pass rusher.  Robert Ayers will need to take a big step forward, and Denver will need to rely on an inside pass rush from Kevin Vickerson and rookie Sylvester Williams.

The Broncos will hope that Shaun Phillips, former long-time Charger, will have the ability to help fill in for the suspended Miller, but the defensive problems could put the Broncos in trouble early on, with a hungry and improved Kansas City Chiefs team chomping at the bit to take over on top of the AFC West.

Ultimately, I think the Broncos weather the six week storm, but they’re going to have to to lean a little more on offense than they’d like to.  They’re lucky they have Peyton Manning and one of the league’s best groups of receivers to help them make up for the points they’ll likely give up the first few weeks.