Tag: Indianapolis Colts

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.

The Early Outlook for the NFL’s Wild Card Matchups

Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders secured a spot in the 2021 NFL Playoffs with an end-of-season victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images | New York Post)

By Matt Noonan

The 2021 National Football League’s (NFL) regular season concluded last night.

Now, it is time for the playoffsare you ready?

The 2021 season came down to the final day, as well as its last matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

In some way, this season mirrored the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) from the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) where every matchup and week was needed to determine not just divisional winners, but overall seeding for the 14-team playoff.  

Saturday cannot come soon enough – I am eager for yesterday’s excitement to continue. Does anyone know how to hit fast forward in the next few days?

Either way, I am excited – and I hope you are, as well – for some playoff football!

Over the next few days and weeks, Noontime Sports will be keeping its focus on football – consider this some “overtime” coverage from last summer and fall. We will have some op-eds and commentary pieces to previews, along with a piece about quarterback progression (I guess I can thank those armchair quarterbacks calling Boston radio stations!) over the next few days.

Let’s jumpstart the week with some early thoughts on all six Wild Card matchups — have a great day, everyone!

AFC Wild Card Matchups

Los Angeles Raiders (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-7): The Raiders concluded their 2021 campaign by winning four-straight contests, including back-to-back games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Silver and Black have been quite the story this season – sure, there was some negative press over the first few weeks, but somehow, they managed to go on a late run to secure an opening round meeting with the Bengals. Don’t overlook the Raiders in this matchup.

New England Patriots (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6): The Patriots ended their season with a disappointing setback to the Miami Dolphins – they also lost two other games before their divisional meeting with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. But something tells me this was the matchup coach Bill Belichick and his team wanted. They beat Buffalo last month by running the ball and attempting three passes. But a few weeks later, New England struggled to contain quarterback Josh Allen. The rubber match between the Bills and Patriots should be fun!  

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5): The Chiefs may not be the explosive offense they once were – in fact, it seems as if their defense has played better, especially down the stretch. But here’s my question: will this unit be able to stop a Steelers squad that has averaged 17.75 points in their last four outings? My initial answer: yes, but I also wonder if the Pittsburgh defense is good enough to stop Patrick Mahomes?

NFC Wild Card Matchups

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4): With a big win on Sunday over the Carolina Panthers, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were able to move up to the second seed, thanks to some help from the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Tampa Bay is not the same team as last year – they have some issues on both sides of the ball, which makes them vulnerable. Yet, the Buccaneers should be able to win this game, however, they must find a way to stop an impressive Eagles rushing attack led by quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts concluded the regular season with 784 rushing yards on 139 carries and 10 touchdowns while completing 265 of 432 passes for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5): This is a classic matchup – go ahead and break out those Steve Young and Troy Aikman jerseys. Neither signal-caller will be spotted under center next Sunday, but the 49ers’ offense will provide some challenges for a Cowboys defense that struggled initially at slowing down Philadelphia’s Gardner Minshew and Kenneth Gainwell this past weekend. But while the 49ers’ come-from-behind win yesterday against the Los Angeles Rams was impressive, the question I have heading into this contest is can this defense — San Franciscos’s, to be exact — slow down Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense? This game presents some interesting storylines, as well as features two coaches that used to work together: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) and Dan Quinn (Dallas).  

Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (12-5): Arizona and Los Angeles both scored one win against each other, so like Buffalo-New England, this is a rubber match. To be honest, I did not anticipate this would be a first-round match-up – in fact, I thought Arizona or Los Angeles would be heading to Dallas this weekend. But instead, the Cardinals and Rams will square off once more this season – I am not confident in the Rams’ defense, which struggled to contain the San Francisco offense yesterday, especially in the final minutes. Additionally, will we see a great or subpar Kyler Murray against the Rams? Similar to Dallas-San Francisco, this game also presents some unique storylines.

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.

Football Friday Notebook: Friday, February 19, 2021

By Matt Noonan

Happy Friday, everyone!

I am excited to cap the work week with a brand new Football Friday Notebook – it is a piece of content I look forward to producing, so hopefully the stories (and news below) is something you enjoy reading.

Additionally, make sure to enjoy a brand new Football Friday Podcast, which you can listen to in this post, thanks to our friends from Spotify!

Listen to the Football Friday Podcast with Matt Noonan, Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss every Friday!

Alright, let’s share some news and links from the gridiron – as usual, be well, stay safe and have a wonderful weekend!


Football Friday Notebook: Friday, February 19, 2021

  • Carson Wentz will be playing for a new team next season, but according to various reports, including SB Nation, the former Philadelphia Eagles signal-caller had some serious fall out in the locker room. Additionally, he stopped talking with former head coach Doug Pedersonfor weeks.”
  • Sticking with Carson Wentz – I mean, what else happened these past few days? – he was quite happy to be a member of the Indianapolis Colts, according to Kenny Moore II.
  • This will be an interesting offseason for every National Football League (NFL) team, which may have less money to spend, due to the potential salary cap. And this is certainly is not good news for my Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott.
  • Speaking of Dak, he donated meals to 1,000 homeless people that are “freezing” in Dallas, Texas, due to the bad weather that barreled through the state this week.
  • Alex Smith, who was named the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, told Kyle Brandt on the 10 Questions podcast that the country was apparently not ready for Colin Kapernick, who the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback claimed “was ahead of his time” when it came to social injustice.
  • The third week of the spring football season begins this evening and there are some enticing storylines to follow in the FCS world, including tonight’s clash between South Dakota State and Northern Iowa.
  • Get ready for high school football in California, beginning Friday, February 26.

    Today’s announcement about high-contact sports being able to be played next week certainly excited Ron Gladnick, who is the head coach at Torey Pines.
  • The Lehigh Valley will welcome a new high school football program to its league next fall as the Allentown charter school will become the ninth member of the league.
  • James Madison University is eager to begin its first of two seasons tomorrow when they host Morehead State.

Football Friday Notebook (Jan. 29, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

Happy Football Friday, everyone!

We’re excited to start a weekly football notebook that will feature a slew of news (and links) from the gridiron.

And don’t forget, you can listen to our weekly Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

Alright, let’s share some football stories (and links) – have a great weekend, everyone!


Professional Football


College Football

  • Two days ago, Central Connecticut State University announced that they would not participate in the 2021 Northeastern Conference (NEC) spring football season.

    CCSU interim Director of Athletics Tom Pincine said Wednesday’s decision is in “the best interest of our University and football program,” while Ryan McCarthy, who is the coach of the Blue Devils, echoed the statement but also added that the team can “focus solely on returning to spring practice and preparing for the Fall 2021 season.”

    The Blue Devils have not competed since 2019 when they posted a school-record 11 victories and secured a spot in the opening round of the NCAA FCS postseason.
  • While CCSU won’t play football this spring, a Sacred Heart official told the New Haven Register that the Pioneers are planning to compete, despite no games listed on the team’s current schedule.
  • The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) unveiled its 2021 fall schedules with plans to “return to its Atlantic and Coastal divisions” later this year.

    While Notre Dame did compete under the ACC umbrella last fall, the Fighting Irish will return to being an independent for the 2021 college football season.
  • The Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) held its ‘digital media day‘ today ahead of the league’s spring football season, which is scheduled to commence – or should we say kickoff? – Saturday, February 20, 2021.
  • The ASUN Conference announced earlier today that football will be the league’s 20th sport.

High School Sports