Tag: Denver Broncos

Five New England D2 Teams To Watch This Fall

Khyon Fitzpatrick and the New Haven Chargers will once again be a squad to watch in the Northeast-10 this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Clarus Studios)

By NoontimeSports.com

Our preseason college football coverage continues by highlighting five New England NCAA Division II teams to watch this fall – all the teams listed below compete in the Northeast-10 Conference (NE10).

In case you missed it, make sure to check out our New England FCS and Division III teams to watch, as well.

American International College (AIC): After beginning their 2021 campaign with three-straight wins, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory against Pace University, the Yellow Jackets’ winning ways vanished with a hard-fought loss to Bentley. AIC would lose its next five contests before ending its season with a 14-7 victory over the Setters.

The hope for the Yellow Jacket is they can use their final contest from 2021 as motivation – perhaps a learning lesson? – for what they must do to contend for a conference title.

AIC was competitive last fall – they certainly provided challenges for the top teams in the league but look for coach Kris Kulzer’s squad to finish with a few more wins this fall.

Wide receivers Jaheim McGuire and Jaxon Ramsay return after combining for 64 catches, 1,079 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns.

Bentley University: A new signal-caller will be spotted under center this fall – quarterback Stephen Sturm graduated following an impressive career with the Falcons, which saw him throw for 7,166 yards and 58 touchdowns in four seasons.

Additionally, Bentley will have a new coach as Alvin Reynolds takes over for Bill Kavanaugh, who stepped down as the head football coach in March. Reynolds has been with the Falcons since 2018 – prior to arriving in Waltham, he spent time with a slew of NFL teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and Jacksonville Jaguars

Reynolds will guide a Falcons squad that finished 9-2 overall last year, as well as secured a bid to the NCAA Division II postseason for the first time since 2004.

Halfback Nathaniel Larkins, who finished second on the team with 558 rushing yards, returns, along with wide receiver Noah Neville (32 catches for 555 yards and six touchdowns). Linebacker Salvatore Lupoli Jr. also returns – he placed second on the team in total tackles with 90.0.

Saint Anselm College: Quarterback Drew Willoughby will be the player to watch on the Hawks this fall.

Named the NE10 Rookie of the Year last November, Willoughby enjoyed an impressive debut with the Royal Blue and White by completing 251 of 431 passing attempts for 2,803 yards and 22 touchdowns. Additionally, he added three scores on the ground.

Willoughby led Saint Anselm’s to three conference wins last year – the hope is he can continue his impressive play this fall, beginning in the opening week against Millersville University.

Halfback Vincent Wagner returns, as well, along with wide receiver Anthony Brown, who led the Hawks with nine touchdown receptions.

Southern Connecticut State University: The Owls won four of 10 contests last fall, including a non-league victory over Central Connecticut State University in the opening week (the Blue Devils, an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) squad, compete in the Northeast Conference (NEC)).

As a team, SCSU averaged 332.4 yards per game – most of their offensive yards came through the air, thanks to wide receivers Tylon Papallo and Izaiah Sanders, who represented the program on the league’s second team. Papallo and Sanders combined for 10 touchdown receptions to go with 76 catches for 1,196.

The expectation is both student-athletes will return this fall, which will certainly pose problems for opposing defenses.

Linebacker Robert Nunez, who earned NE10 All-Rookie honors, will also be a player to watch on the Owls. He finished second on the team in total tackles

 (63.0) and solo stops (29.0).

University of New Haven: 27 graduate students helped the Chargers not only finish atop the NE10 final standings last fall with 10 victories but also advance to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament (UNH beat Bentley in the opening round before falling to Kutztown University).

It’s possible a few of these student-athletes will return this fall, but UNH will return some underclassmen, including defensive back Khyon Fitzpatrick, who finished second on the team with 62.0 total tackles.

Fitzpatrick was recently named a preseason first-teamer by The College Football Network (TCFN) – he, along with Bentley’s Cedie Dashiell II, was the only two student-athletes from the NE10 on the list.  

New Haven has been the team to watch (and follow) these last few years in the NE10 so the expectation is they will once again be in the hunt for a league crown.

Josh McDaniels named the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders

Josh McDaniels, who was the New England Patriots offensive coordinator in 2021, was named the next head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. (PHOTO COURTESY: Boston.com/AP)

By Matt Noonan

The National Football League (NFL) coaching carousel continues to spin with the occasional stop before not one, but two conference title games.

Prior to the start of Sunday’s conference championships, numerous outlets confirmed that Josh McDaniels has been named the new head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Dave Ziegler, a former New England Patriots colleague, will join him as the team’s next general manager.

McDaniels has spent most of his coaching career in New England in multiple roles, including defensive assistant, quarterbacks coach, and most recently as the team’s offensive coordinator. He arrived in New England in 2001 as a personal assistant after his initial coaching stint as a graduate assistant with Michigan State in 1999.

This is not McDaniels’ first head coaching role as he led the Denver Broncos to an 8-8 finish in 2009 before getting fired one year later after guiding the Broncos to a 3-9 start.

McDaniels remerge in 2011 as the St. Louis Rams’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before returning to New England in 2012 as both the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. His coaching certainly had an impact on Tom Brady, who guided the Patriots to six Super Bowls, and Mac Jones, the organization’s initial draft choice last April.

The 2021 season was a tumultuous one for the Raiders, headlined by the firing of their former head coach Jon Gruden to the release of two players, including Henry Ruggs III. But somehow, someway, the Silver and Black were able to secure a spot in the postseason where they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in the opening round.

McDaniels becomes the second NCAA Division III football alum to be named a head coach this offseason — Brian Dabol, who played defensive back for the University of Rochester, accepted the head coaching role on Friday with the New York Giants.

Getting To Know Matt Eberflus (Bears) & Brian Dabol (Giants) 

Matt Eberflus was named the head coach of the Chicago Bears on Thursday, January 27, 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY: Associated Press/Toledoblade.com)

By NoontimeSports.com

The National Football League (NFL) coaching carousel continues to spin. But it has also stopped three times in the last two days with a pair of coaches earning head roles with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, respectively.

Shortly after Nathaniel Hackett was named the head coach of the Denver Broncos, Matt Eberflus was tabbed the new leader of the Bears.

One day later, Brian Dabol went from calling offensive plays for the Buffalo Bills to becoming the head coach of the Giants.

Both the Bears and Giants are desperate for a turnaround — we are sure the league office would like to see two of the oldest franchises compete for the Vince Lombardi Trophy next February. But like we have previously with Nathaniel Hackett, it’s time to get to know not one, but two new head coaches in the NFL.

Who is Matt Eberflus?

A coach with 30 years of experience, including 17 in the collegiate world, but there is more, of course.

Eberflus becomes the 17th head coach of the Bears after spending the last four seasons as the Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator.

With the Colts, Eberflus helped the Blue and White become the least penalized team in 2019 and 2021 and finish in the top-10 in scoring, run defense, and takeaways the last two seasons (2020 and 2021).

One thing Eberflus did quite well as the leader of the Colts defense was to develop Darius Leonard into one of the best linebackers currently. Leonard, who was named the 2018 Associated Press (AP) Defensive Rookie of the Year, has tallied 121 total tackles or more in four seasons with the Colts while producing a career-best eight forced fumbles this past fall.

Eberflus, who played linebacker at the University of Toledo, coached the position with the Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys — he was also the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator in 2016 and 2017. And like Leonard, he made an impact on two former Dallas linebackers: Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.

This will be Eberflus’s first head coaching role – he certainly will have his work cut out for him as the Bears have not produced a winning season since 2018 when they lost in the Wild Card round to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian Dabol will be tasked with leading the New York Giants back to the postseason in 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images/New York Post)

Who is Brian Dabol?

For starters, he was the previous offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills. And if you know anything about the Bills, then you certainly know they have a pretty good quarterback named Josh Allen. Dabol made both Allen and the Bills’ offense fun to watch these last few seasons, but can he duplicate that same success with Daniel Jones?

We believe he can, but as many believe (and know), he has his work cut out for him.

Dabol, who played defensive back for the University of Rochester, has held a slew of offensive coordinator roles over the past few years, including one with the University of Alabama where he also coached the quarterbacks. He coached three quarterbacks with the New York Jets in 2007 and 2008, including Brett Favre.

Additionally, Dabol gained experience coaching the defense with the New England Patriots in 2000 and 2001 — he was a defensive assistant — after beginning his career on the sidelines as a volunteer assistant with William & Mary in 1997.

Dabol has never been a head coach so it will be interesting to see how he does in his first season with Giants, who have not posted a winning season since 2016.

Getting To Know Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos)

Nathaniel Hackett, who oversaw the Green Bay Packers offense for the last three seasons, has been named the head coach of the Denver Broncos. (PHOTO COURTESY: Green Bay Packers)

By NoontimeSports.com

The Denver Broncos have a new head coach. And his name is Nathaniel Hackett.

According to various reports, Hackett, who was previously the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers, will become the new coach of the Broncos — he takes over for Vic Fangio, who guided the Orange and Blue for the last three seasons.

Hackett is the first coordinator or assistant coach to fill one of the National Football League’s (NFL) head coaching vacancies — others will be named over the next few days and weeks — but before he inks his name on a new contract, let’s learn about the new leader of the Broncos.

  • Nathaniel is the son of Paul Hackett, a former professional and collegiate football coach that was born in Burlington, Vermont. Paul held numerous coordinator or assistant roles in the NFL but was a head coach twice for the University of Pittsburgh and University of Southern California.

  • Hackett played football at the University of California, Davis. He earned the George Belenis Award as a co-scout team player of the year in 1998 with Trae Milton before earning the Bob Foster Aggie Pride Award in 2002.  
      
  • His coaching career began in 2003 as the UC Davis assistant linebacker’s coach before earning additional roles with Stanford University and Syracuse University. He spent two years at Stanford – he was a specialist/recruiting coordinator in 2005.

  • In 2006, Hackett made his NFL debut with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as their offensive quality control coach before accepting the same duties in 2008 and 2009 with the Buffalo Bills.

  • Most recently, he was spotted on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars as both their quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator before joining Matt LaFleur in Green Bay to oversee the offense the last three seasons.  

Our “Getting to Know” series, a first-ever in the history of Noontime Sports, will introduce our football fans and friends to new head coaches in the NFL. Be on the lookout for future posts once more teams announce their next coach for the upcoming 2022 season.

Commentary: Adam Vinatieri Is The NFL’s Best Placekicker Of All-Time

Former New England Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri announced his retirement from the NFL on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (PHOTO COURTESY: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images/ESPN.com)

By Matt Noonan

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will always be synonymous with the New England Patriots, but the same could be said for Adam Vinatieri, who announced his retirement from the National Football League (NFL) yesterday on The Pat McAfee Show

Vinatieri, like Brady and Belichick, helped the Patriots win their first-ever Super Bowl championship against the St. Louis Rams in 2002 — he clinched the win with a last-second field goal weeks after splitting the uprights twice in a snowy postseason affair with the Oakland Raiders. He would win three more championships over the next five years, including one with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007 (the victory marked the first of two titles for quarterback Peyton Manning, who would win his second Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos in 2016). 

The Yankton, South Dakota native has garnered multiple accolades throughout his career, including a trio of First-Team All-Pro honors along with a spot on three historic rosters: New England Patriots 50th Anniversary Team, NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, and NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team. He is currently the league’s all-time scoring leader (2,673 points) and holds numerous kicking records, including the most consecutive field goals made (44).

So, between his accolades and records, along with his four Super Bowl rings, is it fair to say Vinatieri is the best placekicker in NFL History?

My answer: Yes, he is, but some may disagree and say that Morten Andersen (2,544 all-time points) and Gary Anderson (2,434 all-time points) deserve some consideration as the best placekicker in league history.

Neither Andersen nor Anderson has won a Super Bowl, but they both competed for nearly three decades. Vinatieri kicked extra points and field goals for 24 years.

Andersen was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2017 — he is also a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame and ranks second in the league in games played (382). He converted 565 of 709 field-goal attempts and was close to perfect when it came to extra points (849 out of 859 attempts). Andersen kicked for five teams but spent most of his career with the Saints.

Anderson has yet to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame but should hear his name called one of these days especially after tallying 1,343 points with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Four years after he left the Steelers, he enjoyed one of his best seasons with the Minnesota Vikings where he converted every extra point and field goal attempt in the regular season. His streak would conclude in the 1998 NFC Championship Game when he missed a 38-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. The Atlanta Falcons capitalized on the missed field goal by scoring a game-tying touchdown on the ensuing possession. Morten Andersen would cap the comeback with a game-winning field goal in overtime.

Similar to Andersen, Anderson competed for five teams. He spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1982-1994).

All three kickers enjoyed successful careers, but after a quick stroll down memory lane, I still believe Adam Vinatieri is the best placekicker of all time. Had Morten Andersen won at least one — OK, maybe two Super Bowls, then maybe you could say it is a toss-up. Perhaps he would have earned more postseason honors, as well? But based on statistics and four Super Bowl titles, along with being the all-time scoring leader (as of this afternoon), I think it is fair to say that Vinatieri will always be the NFL’s best placekicker.