Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Madden Curse...It's Growing

As you may already know Calvin Johnson has won the annual Madden Cover Vote, bad for Lions fans right?  History says yes, but after last year, which was the first year that all 32 teams were accounted for, it seems the curse had a hit on every player nominated.  Some were small injuries or team collapses and some were pretty major.  Either way what we are doing here is ranking the curse's affect on the player it set its eyes on in 2011.  Oh, by the way if your favorite player was part of the Madden Cover Vote like mine was this year, get ready to see less of him in 2012.

I Did Great, Too Bad It Ended This Badly Division

The 12th Man
Why they were even on here I don't know.  How are you going to put a fan base on the cover?  Anyway I am getting off topic.  I could make a joke of how much it must suck to be a Seahawks fan in general now-a-days, or I could go the whole you have to deal with Pete Carroll as your coach, but I think that the Seahawks fans are cursed because they watched their team go out and sign Tavaris Jackson to save their quarterback dilemma.  To make matters worse he gets hurt and they had to watch the atrocity named Charlie Whitehurst play after him.  On top of it all, they watched Matt Hasselbeck have a mini revival over in Tennessee.  Not the best year to be part of the 12th man, at least not on Sundays.

Brian Orakpo
Orakpo had a decent season on the field, basically hitting his averages for his career so far.  However, Brian showed us he does not have a career in acting after his lackluster attempt to bring back those Geico cavemen.  Stick to football my friend but try to keep away from the cover vote.

Demarcus Ware
Quite possibly Ware's best statistical season ever.  However the Cowboys had that division all but won, then the last five games happened.  They ended up losing four of their last five, two against the rival, and eventual champion Giants.  The only team they actually got a W against were the lowly Buccaneers.  Who knows how everything would have changed if Miles Austin doesn't lose that ball in the lights, but he did and I am sure Ware would have traded all of his stats just to have a postseason berth.

Larry Fitzgerald
It looked as if the Arizona Cardinals were a near lock to take the NFL's worst division in the NFC West.  They just got their franchise quarterback in Kevin Kolb, they had a decent draft, and they didn't lose any major weapons.  This was supposed to be their year.  None of this ended up working out for them.  Although Fitz had a great statistical season, he was all they had.  Kolb got hurt multiple times and when he was healthy he wasn't good.  Somehow Fitz still was a powerhouse.  He made John Skelton look good, and that is a tall task.  Fitz is good, but the curse will kill his quarterbacks again and again.

Aaron Rodgers
Oh what a magical season the Packers had.  They went 15 and 1, Rodgers threw for 45 touchdowns against 6 interceptions, and they went into the playoffs with a chip on their shoulder.  That chip was ceremoniously slapped off by the New York Giants.  The Packers played a sloppy game with fumbles and dropped passes galore.  The Packers were the odds on favorites to win it all as the defending champs, and they left that day beaten down by three scores and going home way earlier than anyone expected. Rodgers had just a 76.5 quarterback rating in that game and just did not do nearly enough to carry his team past the Giants.

Ray Rice
Rice had his best statistical season of his short career.  The Rutgers alum had career highs in yards, touchdowns, and ypc and his team went all the way to the AFC championship.  So how do any of these equal being cursed?  The way the AFC Championship played out that's how.  The Ravens were driving on the weak New England secondary and the seconds were winding down.  Lee Evans gets a pass in the back of the end zone right in his hands and it was knocked out by a perfect chop by Sterling Moore just before he got his second foot down for the go ahead score.  It was okay because they still could kick a field goal and force overtime and try to take it in the extra period.  Unfortunately for Baltimore, the rest is history.  Billy Cundiff missed the chip shot field goal and the Patriots were AFC champs.

Maurice Jones-Drew
Jones-Drew has known one coach his entire career in Jack Del Rio.  He didn't end the season with that coach for the first time in his professional career.  He started the season on a play count and he was not happy about it and made it well known.  He ran hard all season, but with Garrad cut before the season and the team stuck with the Blaine Gabberts of the world playing the quarterback position in Jacksonville, it looks like this team is trying to play itself out of Florida.  The Jags have a long road ahead and Jones-Drew is in his prime.  Hopefully he isn't completely wasted.  Isn't being the star of a terrible team a curse in itself?

Matt Ryan
The Falcons went all in this season by trading a plethora of draft picks to move up and grab Julius Jones in the first round.  Pairing him with Roddy White seemed like it was exactly what this team needed to make a run at the first Super Bowl appearance since their loss against John Elway's Broncos.  Ryan completely blew it in their first round match up with the Giants.  Ryan did not lead the Falcons to a single point.  The entire offense mustered just 247 yards the whole game.  Ryan couldn't even break 200 yards and the rumbles of how Ryan is not close to the clutch quarterback the Falcons had hoped for are getting louder and louder.

Drew Brees
After the record setting season by Drew Brees, everything has gone south for them.  They lose in the last second to Alex Smith and the 49ers, Brees and the Saints cannot agree to terms on a contract and it is looking like it could get ugly, one of the biggest scandals to hit a football team since Spygate is smacked on the Saints with Greg Williams' Bountygate, he loses a very good friend and his head coach in Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, and now there are allegations that GM Mickey Loomis had defensive coaches tapped which could only tarnish Brees' legacy.  Oh and not to be overlooked he loses his All Pro guard Carl Nicks to in division rival Tampa Bay and Robert Meachum to the Chargers.          

Where Did My Stats Go Division

Julius Peppers
The drop off wasn't as high profile as the injuries to Jay Cutler and Matt Forte, but Peppers did not have a great season.  Although he did get double digit sacks, that is about all he did.  He was brought in to Chi-town to be a force, and he was paid handsomely to do so.  Peppers ended the year with only thirty seven total tackles, including a zero tackle performance against the rival Packers.  If you break it down he ended up making $306,306 per tackle.  Each tackle Peppers made was part of the 1 percent.  The fact of the matter is the Bears need him to be a monster out on the football field.  He cannot be pedestrian, especially when their entire offense goes down while they are fighting to try and make the playoffs. 

Steve Johnson
Johnson came into 2011 ready to not only be THE guy in Buffalo, but to show he is one of the up and coming great receivers in the NFL.  It even started to look like he was poised for that kind of season.  After three games he was on pace for 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns.  Unfortunately it all went downhill after that.  Johnson ended up recording less yards, receptions and touchdowns than the year before.  So much for Steve's coming out party.  He did get a thousand yard season but that isn't what it used to be.  In fact Johnson recorded one 100 yard game, and it was in a twenty-seven point loss to the Chargers.  On top of it all, after being the last AFC team to lose and leading the division after week 5, the Bills went on to lose nine of their last eleven games.  I am sure the Bills would have wanted Johnson to work more on running routes instead of using bad touchdown dances to make fun of certain colleagues (see Burress, Plaxico).

Dwight Freeney
Not the season the Freak could have hoped for.  The season started with a massive will he won't he regarding whether Peyton would start the season in uniform or not.  He didn't, and the Colts ended up losing the first thirteen games of the season.  Freeney was more famine than feast for most of the season.  He put up his lowest sack numbers since 2007, the last time he didn't have double digit sacks before 2011.  Also he had a career low in tackles with nineteen (really nineteen?) for the whole season.  I know he faced a ton of double teams all year but a player of his caliber is supposed to be able to beat them every once in a while.  Freeney looked old for the first time in his career.  Will Freeney really have the patience to play hard every week for a rebuilding team?  He watched long time Colts Peyton Manning, Dallas Clark, and Jeff Saturday get replaced.  Will he be next or will he be motivated to be around to watch projected phenom Andrew Luck develop?  If you were to ask me I would expect to see the Freak relocate his spin move to a new city.

Tim Tebow
Has anyone in NFL history ever have such a bipolar year?  Starting the year in the mix to start the season as the number one guy, to going down to the number four quarterback behind rookie free agent Adam Weber, to taking over the reigns after a terrible start by Kyle Orton and starting a national phenomenon.  Tebow had Brett Favre status in that he was talked about so much that you couldn't help but listen.  He became a polarizing figure and even led his team all the way to the playoffs.  He did it looking completely terrible.  He won a game making a whopping two completions the whole game.  In the playoffs he took down the heavily favored Steelers with an eighty yard touchdown pass.  Then he gets brought back down to Earth by the eventual AFC champion Patriots.  John Elway then puts the full court press to try and sign Peyton Manning, eventually getting him for a record setting contract.  Tebow gets traded to the Jets for a bag of marbles and some magic beans.  After everything, Tebow is still just the most popular backup quarterback in the league once again. 

Danny Woodhead
The stats literally say it all for this guy.  In 2010, Woodhead burst on the scene off the Jets scrap heap to become an overnight sensation in New England.  He ran for 547 yards and caught for 379 to become a viable dual threat.  In 2011 he just wasn't anything worth mentioning.  He scored a whopping one touchdown all season, down from the six he had in 2010.  In case you're new to football it is terrible to have one of anything in football, except turnovers.  Woodhead was an even more after thought in the playoffs having a total of 110 yards through three games.  What was once a bright future for the young man has now become a small glimmer of what could have been.  Maybe his size caught up to him, or maybe Madden wouldn't have it any other way.

Mark Sanchez
Poor Mark.  How quickly ones perception of a player can change in two years.  Sanchez went from the next Joe Namath to the next quarterback of (enter desperate team willing to take a chance on a high pick out of USC "cough" Pete Carroll).  That's New York for you.  They love you until they don't and that's it.  You're king when you're bringing your team to back to back AFC championship games, but you're the goat when your team falls apart, your receivers quit on you and for some reason your coach won't shut up.  Isn't having Rex Ryan a curse enough Madden?  Oh, in case I forgot, the Jets went out and traded for the most famous NFL quarterback in Tim Tebow, because that wouldn't cause any controversy in New York.  I'm lying, it will cause enormous controversy and it is basically wait until Sanchez throws two picks in a game so we can love Tebow.  Lose lose situation for Sanchez, kind of like losing in the Madden cover vote.

Josh Freeman
Oh what a fall it was, Mr Freeman.  You were Cam Newton status in 2010.  The guy who was throwing hard and running fast.  The guy who would bring on a new era of quarterback.  Well 2011 brought you back to Earth just a tad.  Your touchdown to interception ratio went from a spectacular plus 19 to a horrendous negative six.  I don't know if there was ever a worse turnaround in the history of the league.  Only Ryan Fitzpatrick (who had eight more touchdowns than you) had more interceptions than you did.  The Raheem Morris-Freeman combo was supposed to take the league by storm.  Instead they lost their last ten games, Freeman took twenty steps back, they don't look any better, Morris is a defensive backs coach for Washington, and the Bucs needed to take a coach from  Rutgers (really, a Big East team was the best you could do?) to fill in and try to make this all right.  Luckily for Freeman, he got a couple new big weapons and hopefully he learned from his terrible experience.  Oh yeah, and he was left off the Madden cover vote this year.

Phillip Rivers
Twenty five turnovers.  That is not a stat that is supposed to be associated with a guy who could have been argued as a top five quarterback coming into the season.  Rivers seemed like he was throwing the Chargers out of more games than he was throwing them into.  After starting the season 4-1, the Chargers looked like they would easily cruise to an AFC West title.  Then boom, you're four and seven and in an insurmountable hole which is nearly impossible to come out of in the NFL.  I will admit, Rivers did play well coming towards the end of the season, but the fact is it wasn't enough.  Rivers is by far the weak link out of the top three quarterbacks in the 2004 draft.  Manning and Roethlisberger have two Super Bowl rings, Rivers has zero.  That is the only stat that matters.

Hines Ward
It became obvious that 2011 was a changing of the guard for the Steelers wide receiving corps.  Take out Ward's rookie season and this is statistically by far Ward's worst season.  Not only did he lose his starting spot, but all of his stats were basically cut in half.  What is worse is he scored two touchdowns, both in the same game against the Titans, meaning he went fifteen other games scoreless.  Not very Hines-like.  If you could imagine, it gets worse.  Ward wanted more than anything to stay a Steeler, even take the necessary pay cut.  The Steelers weren't having it and cut the 14-year veteran.  He said he would be willing to play elsewhere, but no other team was calling for his services.  Like so many other football stars he was forced into retirement because everyone else said he couldn't play anymore.  It's like they say, you don't quit football, football quits you, and it sure as hell quit Ward.  Look at the bright side, he will never have to worry about curses working on the NBC set.

Chris Johnson
Where do I start?  Johnson had a very public holdout (sensing a trend here?) in which he wanted "Larry Fitzgerald money."  He had to wait until the very last minute to get it and missed the already shortened mini-camp.  In two of the first three games he had under twenty-five yards rushing for the whole game.  He had more such games during the season than he had 100 yard games.  It looks like CJ2K should be more like CJ25.  On top of all that, he had one more touchdown (4) than he had fumbles (3).  The Titans are feeling more than a little buyers remorse after 2011.  The point is Johnson was a team killer and a fantasy killer.  His Madden rating is more than likely going down from the 96 it was in the 2012 edition.

I Missed A Few Games, But I'm Glad I'm Not HIM Division

Hakeem Nicks
This was the year that everyone would remember the name Hakeem Nicks.  The year he would break out and become the Plaxico Burress replacement the Giants were feigning for.  Finally.  Well although Nicks had a decent season, he was over shadowed by one Victor Cruz.  Nicks seemed like he was hurt with various ailments all season, even though he only missed one game.  He still broke 1100 yards and reeled in seven touchdowns, but most Giants fans were expecting more.  However, I don't think you will see a whole lot of complaining from Big Blue after their Super Bowl parade.  Maybe the Curse came a little late with the news that Nicks will miss most of training camp with a broken foot.  The big question for Big Blue is will this hurt Nicks season or will it be a tiny setback?  All I know is you can run from the curse for a little while, but it will find you and hurt you.

Jordan Gross
Gross held down an O Line that saw Cam Newton go crazy and had a two headed monster at running back.  So why is he this low?  The stats for offensive linemen say a lot.  The Panthers were 21st in the league for sack percentage allowed.  They were number four when it came to rushing, but they led the league in open field rushing which is usually passed the offensive line so those stats are weighted.  Gross also missed a game which is crucial when you're all your team has in terms of linemen.  Gross again has to come in to 2012 with no end in sight for the line woes in Carolina.

Jake Long
He is a Dolphin, isn't that enough of a curse?  Okay fine I will get more into detail.  For the first time in the former number one picks career, he missed a game.  Two to be exact.  So now he will always have that to worry about.  Then the Dolphins OLine stats go as follows, seventeenth in rushing yards (very eh) thirtieth in sack percentage allowed (ouch).  Maybe he didn't find it necessary to block for such terrible quarterbacks.  I mean, if you're a Pro Bowl caliber lineman, do you want to block for Matt Moore or Chad Henne?  Yeah, me neither.

Patrick Willis
Willis had the worst season statistically of his short career.  This was mostly because he missed three games with a right hamstring strain.  It seem to slow him down throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs.  Drew Brees tore up their defense in the playoff game, and even though he had eight tackles and a sack against the Giants, Kyle Williams is a member of the 49ers and he won the bet he put on the Giants....I mean accidentally muffed two punt returns that went the other way and gave New York the game.  Willis will no doubt have a bounce back season, but it hurts to look at his career stats and see that one year when he couldn't record 100 tackles.

Carlos Dunlap
After a stellar rookie performance that saw Dunlap record 9.5 sacks on a terrible team, word got out that he was good and those numbers went down to 4.5 in 2011.  On top of that he ended up missing five games that he could have helped Cincy win and get them a better seed in the playoffs.  Four of those five were against division rivals which the Bengals just couldn't seem to beat all year.  In the playoff game against Houston, Dunlap only recorded one tackle and was a complete non factor the whole game, which ended up being a twenty-one point trouncing.  Dunlap is young and can bounce back, but learn one thing my friend, hope that AJ Green and Andy Dalton continue to get the nods for the Madden vote so your career can be saved.

Michael Vick
The runner up in the Madden vote should cringe after what happened to him in 2003.  Madden doesn't like when you taunt the Curse.  It got Vick once again in 2011.  It all started with those two word that put an instant target on you back, Dream Team.  All the hype was for the Eagles to go all the way in 2011, preparing for their first ever Lombardi Trophy.  It started off bad, then just got worse.  After signing another 100 million dollar contract after a more than stellar 2010 season, we saw the Vick of old come back.  Errant throws, run first mentality, trying to do too much, making the WOW play instead of the necessary play, getting hit A LOT.  This just isn't what you need to do to quarterback a Super Bowl team.  After starting the season one and four and then four and eight it seemed the Dream Team was exactly that, dreaming.  Vick ended up missing three games, ran for eight less touchdowns than the year before, threw three less touchdowns and eight more interceptions, just a bad year for Vick and Philadelphia.  Learn your lesson Michael, stay away from the cover.

Ndomakong Suh
How do you go from beloved defensive tackle turning around a perennial bad team into playoff worthy, all while being a good role model for the community to becoming one of the most hated people in the league?  You smack a guys head into the ground then stomp on him like you're Stone Cold Steve Austin. He became compared to Albert Haynesworth, he was suspended for two games, he got countless other fines throughout the season for illegal hits, looks like he hurts Matt Flynn and Matt Ryan then mocks them, and on top of it all he was in trouble with police for getting in a car crash with two women in the car and lying about it.  Suh may have escaped injury, but his reputation will be different for his entire career for the events that transpired in 2011.  Suh should be a hero in Detroit, instead he is just a distraction off the field.  He is still great, but great wears thin when you're this much of a pain in the ass.

Fatality Division

Sam Bradford
The next great quarterback.  Bringing the greatest show on turf back.  The next generation Manning or Brady.  All things people were thinking about Sam Bradford prior to the 2011 season.  The Rams were picked to win a weak NFC West by most.  That didn't work out as planned (they won two games all season).  He was supposed to fight Kevin Kolb for best quarterback in the division (they both sucked).  The injury history was all behind him (he missed six games including the last three).  In the ten games he did play in he only threw for six touchdowns.  He ended the season with a seventy quarterback rating.  The talk around the league was if he had any trade value and whether the Rams should consider replacing him.  His coach Steve Spagnola was ousted.  The RGIII rumors started to swirl.  He will always have that if he can't come back and live up to the expectations and if Griffin indeed does.  No pressure Sammy.

Peyton Hillis
Poor Cleveland.  They finally win something, and it's the Madden cover vote.  Well at least its something.  Hillis' bad season started early.  He missed a week three game against Miami with strep throat, questioning Hillis' drive for football, voluntarily sitting out with the "injury".  He ended up missing five more games throughout the season and he became a complete afterthought in Cleveland.  He ended the season sharing carries with Montario Hardesty, ran for a paltry 586 yards for the season, and only hit pay dirt three times all season.  He was so bad the Browns didn't think twice about letting him walk during the offseason.  Clevelanders every where thank god the front office learned not to make a Derek Anderson type of contract mistake after 2010.  Hillis was a one hit wonder, plain and simple.  One bright side to all this, he will never have to worry about the curse again, because he will never make another Madden vote.

Andre Johnson
Johnson is undoubtedly one of the best wide receivers in the league.  He lived in a world of mediocrity in Houston for his whole career.  He was a superstar expected to drive the whole team to the promise land.  Then the Texans got good.  It wasn't the all Andre Johnson show anymore and they had a spectacular season.  Too bad Johnson was watching from the sidelines.  Johnson ended up missing nine games due to several hamstring injuries and obviously had his worst season statistically because of it.  To make matters worse, when he finally returned in week 17, he found Tyler Yates as his starting quarterback as both Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart went down with season ending injuries.  The Texans are a special team with lots of talent, just try and keep them off the cover.

Darren McFadden
McFadden had a stellar start to the season, rushing for 614 yards and four touchdowns in the first six weeks.  Raiders fans were having flashbacks of Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson.  They finally got the big playmaker on offense they were yearning for.  Then week seven happened.  McFadden sprained his foot badly in the week 7 game against Kansas City and was never seen again.  He ended up missing ten games and ruined any chance the Raiders had of a playoff run.  What made it worse is nobody knew when he would come back, which he never ended up doing.  Raiders fans would hope and plead that he would recover, but it never happened.  They ended up panicking and gave up a first and second round pick for a couch potato named Carson Palmer to try and kickstart the team after Jason Campbell got injured.  Maybe if McFadden stays healthy the Raiders don't make a panic move like that.  McFadden didn't end up coming back to full time workout until six months later and now has that "injury-plagued" tag on him until he can prove otherwise.  Fear the Curse.

Jamaal Charles
After two stellar seasons carrying the Chiefs offense into respectability, Charles lasted twelve carries into the season before coming to the dreaded torn acl.  A torn acl usually take eight to twelve months to recover and you aren't yourself for usually two years.  Sad but true for Chiefs fans.  This man was a game changer, and he may never have that status again.  The Chiefs are asking for injuries bringing in Peyton Hillis to back Charles up, should be a long year in KC.  To this day Charles is still not cleared to participate in on field activities, which must have changed a lot with the coach going from Todd Haley to Romeo Crennell.  Oh, by the way, Romeo Crennell is the head coach, that should be interesting (I mean terrible).  Charles posted back to back seasons breaking the one thousand yard mark, completely destroying it in 2010.  In 2011, 83.  1,383 yards lost from 2010 to 2011.  If that isn't a record I want to see who beat him out.  Charles is the definition of fatality when it comes to injuries ruining an entire team.  The Chiefs already were scurrying to replace star safety Eric Berry from week 1, they just couldn't handle another devastating injury.  They did and their season was basically over week 2.

Adrian Peterson
Peterson already missed two games coming into week 16.  His team was struggling with rookie Christian Ponder running the offense.  Percy Harvin couldn't get the migraines to stop hurting his play on the field.  Peterson WAS the Vikings.  He was the threat, lightning quick running through and around tackles.  He may not be as nimble after the injury he suffered against the Redskins.  He tore his acl and mcl in a horrific injury that could harpen the Vikings 2012 season and beyond.  The injury was so bad that the Vikings took tackle Matt Khalil with their first round pick to make sure people actually block this season.  Peterson is walking a fine line in trying to come back for week one and may hurt his longterm career.  Peterson is on the way to a Hall of Fame career if he can bounce back from this, but he needs to stay off that Madden vote.

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