BBC BLOGS - Neil Reynolds

Archives for February 2010

American football meets speed dating

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Neil Reynolds | 18:35 UK time, Tuesday, 23 February 2010

The 2009 NFL season ended just 17 days ago with the New Orleans Saints' thrilling victory over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 44, but the 32 teams are already beginning their preparations for the 2010 season.

One of the biggest events of the off-season takes place in Indianapolis this week as the leading 300 players from the college football ranks are put through a battery of physical and mental tests that could have a dramatic impact on where they are selected in April's annual NFL Draft.

That draft ranking, of course, can mean a difference in annual salary worth millions of dollars.

The NFL Combine - which runs until 2 March - is unique in world sport. For a player looking to prove his worth in front of hundreds of scouts, coaches and personnel executives, it can feel like a head-spinning combination of a cattle market and a speed-dating session.

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Bold moves pay off for Super Saints

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Neil Reynolds | 18:31 UK time, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

It was fitting that such an entertaining NFL season should conclude with a thrilling Super Bowl. The spoils went to New Orleans, the team that adopted the more aggressive, care-free approach, against Indianapolis in Miami.

Super Bowl 44 showed that the NFL is not just about spectacular skill and ferocious hitting - the sport can also be about aggressive coaching and clever scheming.

New Orleans took some chances and while not all of their gambles paid off, the aggressive moves made by head coach Sean Payton did inspire his troops. Saints players knew their coach was going to give them every possible chance to win the biggest game of their lives.

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Mr New Orleans can lead Saints to glory

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Neil Reynolds | 10:57 UK time, Thursday, 4 February 2010

For those among you who are watching the build-up to Super Bowl 44 and wondering 'Is this Drew Brees guy too good to be true?' please allow me to throw some light on the subject.

The man who will be charged with leading the New Orleans Saints to a first NFL title when they take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night really is a very nice man intent on making a dramatic difference in his adopted Hurricane Katrina-ravaged hometown - both on and off the field.

I met and interviewed Brees during a sweltering training camp in Jackson, Mississippi, in the summer of 2008 and he spoke passionately about being a member of the Saints and an integral part of the New Orleans community.

And it's easy to understand why.

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Legend Manning holds key for Colts

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Neil Reynolds | 12:24 UK time, Tuesday, 2 February 2010

I have always felt that quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. Sure, it helps if you have a good offensive line and you have to be able to play some defence from time to time, but having a good quarterback is paramount to success.

The quarterback is the puppet master in American football - the man who pulls the strings and makes an offence tick.

He is not only charged with passing the ball downfield, he is in command of the entire attack and sets the tone as the leader on the field.

Take a look at the last 10 Super Bowl winners and you will see that everyone apart from the 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers had excellent, in-form quarterbacks at the helm in Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning - and while the Ravens and Buccaneers were led by strong defences, they still got very efficient play from Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson.

In Peyton Manning, the Indianapolis Colts boast the best quarterback in the game today and that's why they enter Sunday's Super Bowl clash with the New Orleans Saints as four-point favourites.

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