So Can We Stop With The…

So, can we stop with all the talk that a running Quarterback can’t win a Super Bowl? While Russell Wilson’s numbers won’t wow the viewing audience, he is clearly the undisputed leader and heart of the Seattle franchise. Equally, what will happen now is all those naysayers who for years have said a running Quarterback can’t win the big game, will now switch their discourse to, “The new trend in the NFL is an athletic Quarterback.” And let’s be honest here, over the course of time, a “Running Quarterback” has been a euphemism for a Black Quarterback. So, in Super Bowl 48 two myths were simultaneously dispelled.

Tuesday is a great day to recap the events of the previous weekend’s sporting events. Typically on Monday morning, fans and analysts alike use Monday morning to blow off steam about their respective team’s triumphs or struggles. Much of the commentary is emotion based and rarely delivered in a pragmatic approach. I contend that on Tuesday, Tuesday gives one an opportunity to step away from the memory of the weekend and look through their sport prism with clear vision…With that said, let me get into my observations from this past sports week:

  1.  The Dallas Cowboys…Woo, this franchise continues to find new ways to entertain us. So let me get this, they had a 23 point lead at half time, fielded a running back who was ripping off seven yards a pop on each run, yet the offensive coaching staff chose to pass the ball throughout the second half. Now I know a lot of people will begrudge the Dallas defense for not being able to stop anyone…And that might be true…But, knowing that, and continuing to pass the ball throughout the second half is another indictment on the incompetence of the Dallas Cowboy coaching staff…And I am not going to even mention the continued fourth quarter failures of one Anthony Romo!
  2. The NFL’s NFC East showed once again this past weekend why that division is awful. Not only did every team in the division lose this past weekend, but having an opportunity to take a strangle hold on the division, while playing teams they should have beaten, both the Cowboys (vs. Green Bay) and Eagles (vs. Vikings), choked against teams missing crucial members of their football teams.
  3. So let me get this straight, Eli Manning has won two Super Bowls, his team currently sports a 5-9 record, was shutout for a second time this season, and he has thrown 25 picks this season…So, is the Giants’ down fall Eli’s fault? Because let’s face it, when the Giants’ were winning Super Bowls he was clearly the reason for the team’s Super Bowl success…According to the media, right?
  4. The Los Angeles Lakers were a team hovering around the 500 mark prior to the return of one Kobe “Bean” Bryant. However, since his return, the team is 1-3, and is currently two games below 500. So, has Kobe’s return hurt the Lakers growth, are the Lakers just a bad team, or are is the collection of marginal players having a difficult time adapting to the return of their super star? I say all of the above.  
  5. At what point in time does the media become critical of the Detroit Lion coaching staff and their Quarterback, Matt Stafford? With the collection of talent on both sides of the ball for the Lions, there is no reason for this team to be on the periphery of making the playoffs.
  6. The Baltimore Ravens defeated the Detroit Lions during the most recent Monday Night football game, 18-16. The Ravens’ Place Kicker scored all 18 of the Ravens points by successfully kicking six field goals. So, in light of the Ravens winning their game against the Detroit Lions 18-16, during a fourth quarter drive, who should receive credit for the victory, the Place Kicker, or the QB, even though he threw no touchdowns and the game came down the Place Kicker making a 60+ yard kick?
  7. The more I watch the New England Patriots and their no name team, the more I have to be impressed with their success. While I know they have Tom Brady at the helm of their ship, how in the world do they continue to meticulously draft guys who fit their system, stay below the salary cap, and win without the marquee players?
  8. Which Head Coach seat is hotter, Tom Coughlin or Mike Shanahan’s? Both coaches have won multiple rings, and are leading teams that have struggled throughout the season. Personally, I think Shanahan’s seat is much hotter.
  9. Will someone put Rex Ryan out of his misery? The New York Jets have proven once again that they are a wild fire. While I don’t begrudge Rex’s decision to start Geno Smith, I do begrudge the Jets’ failure to surround their young quarterback with the talent necessary to put him in a position to win ball games.
  10. I find it pretty interesting that since Reggie Wayne was lost for the season due to his catastrophic knee injury, the media’s darling, Andrew Luck has struggled. But what’s funny is the media has been reluctant to address Mr. Luck’s failures…Gee, I wonder why?

The Stupidity of NCAA Conference Championship Games

The stupidity of Division I college football conference championships was no more apparent than this past weekend when the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes fell to the Michigan State Spartans in the Big 10 conference championship game. So let me make sure I have this right…Ohio State went undefeated during the Big 10 season, lost to Michigan State Spartans in what amounts to a bonus game, and now Michigan State is considered the Big 10 champion. So, with that said, what was the purpose of the regular season? And as it relates to playing for a national title, why would a team in the future who is in position to play for a national title want to play in a ridiculous title game?

What did we learn from the return of Kobe Bryant? Although one game, we learned that even Kobe has a long way to go to get back to his Hall of Fame form…We learned that the Lakers are an average team…We also learned that Kobe’s game will be more of a below the rim game.

Tom Terrific does it again…Heading into the fourth quarter and facing a deficit against the lowly Cleveland Browns, Tom Brady again leads his New England to another improbable victory. As I have been saying all season long, NFL fans, appreciate the brilliance of Tom Brady while you can…Because he won’t be around much longer.

The Seattle Seahawks are for real…Although the San Francisco 49ers prevailed against the Seahawks this past Sunday in the final game at Candlestick Park, the Seahawks had every opportunity to win the game. 2013 will come to be known as the year the 49ers realized the Seahawks are no longer their little brothers!

With Missouri and Auburn scoring nearly 100 points in the SEC Championship game, can we dispel the myth that the SEC plays good defense?

It is time for the national media to issue an apology to Chip Kelly? Chip’s Philadelphia Eagles are currently owners of an 8-5 record, and on the cusp of possibly winning the NFC East with three wins and two Cowboys’ losses.

In light of the nose dive the Indianapolis Colts are mired in right now, can we finally put the Andrew Luck anointment oil away?

How good are the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints away from their respective domes? Just a question.

What happened to the NBA? If you don’t believe me, just look at the field of team in the Eastern Conference…Most are below 500. The NBA product in many instances is really not worth watching!

Why is Jon Gruden such a hot coaching commodity? While I will admit Gruden did resurrect a moribund Oakland Raiders franchise, and lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. But, what I find most interesting about Gruden was when he was given control of the Buccaneers’ franchise, and Tony Dungy’s players grew old, the Magic of Gruden was lost, leading to his termination.

 

A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to The BCS Title Game!

  1. The fall of the University of Alabama was a monumental blow to ESPN and the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) system respectively. Over the past two years, the South Eastern Conference, and University of Alabama in particular have been given a permanent resting spot in the number one or two spot of the BCS’ final ranking without ever traveling west of the Mississippi. But, with their loss this past Saturday, you know the BCS is scrambling to figure out a way to justify returning the University of Alabama to play for the title. And should Alabama be frozen out of the BCS title game, you know given ESPN and the BCS’ affinity for the SEC, there will be back door deals being negotiated to allow Auburn or Missouri to play for the title.
  2. With Coach O riding a wave of six victories while coaching USC, everyone man and woman of Troy was confident Coach O was a cinch to be hired as the head football coach…Well, a strange thing happened on the way to the press conference…Yes, UCLA’s 35-14 thrashing of USC…Leading Athletic Director, Pat Haden to make a reach hire, of Steve Sarkisian…To bring back the glory days of Pete Carroll…But the old saying goes, “You can’t go home twice.”
  3. Throughout their days in the Big 12 Conference, the Universities of Missouri and Texas A&M were middle of the pack football programs. Question is, how is it that these mediocre Big 12 schools, now in the SEC, are having immediate success what is thought to be the power conference of college football? If this year’s Missouri team had finished its season 11-1, would the BCS consider them for the national championship game? NO!
  4. The Los Angeles Lakers recently tendered Kobe Bryant a two year contract extension approaching $50 million. The contact generated a feverish buzz throughout the NBA community questioning whether Kobe was worth the money, given he has not successfully returned from injury. So, was this contract a contract of gratitude for years of service, or do the Lakers really believe Kobe will return to form, thereby hedging their bet against the possibility of Kobe entering the free agent market? My belief is if the Lakers can give Kobe $50 million, how much revenue do the Lakers anticipate generating by the return of Kobe?
  5. So in this past Monday night football game, we witnessed the Seahawks trounce the Saints by grounding their air attack, and shutting down their running game. While I do believe the Seahawks to be the best team in the NFL, my question is, “Can the Seahawks also dominate away from Seattle in the playoffs?” Time will tell.
  6. Since entering the NFL, all Russell Wilson has done is win ball games, yet Andrew Luck is the media’s darling. Much of the criticism of Wilson has been his stature…But wait, isn’t Wilson about the same size as Brees, and isn’t Brees on his way to the HOF?
  7. In Division I college football, what is the purpose of a conference championship game? If one team within the conference has more wins than the other teams within the conference, hasn’t that team won the conference? And doesn’t a conference championship game relegate the regular season to meaning nothing?
  8. With the likes of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassell at the helm of the Minnesota Vikings quarterback position, Adrian Peterson still rushed for 211 this past weekend against the Chicago Bears. AP all day is simply amazing.
  9. One and done…Throughout the 2013-2014 NCAA college basketball season there will be a running debate about freshman basketball players who will elect to forgo their college careers in favor of entering the NBA draft. Much of the negative rhetoric will be slung by the NCAA, television talking heads, and in many cases, former NBA players…This got me to thinking…What would these naysayers say about a young man who elects to forgo his college career to enter the military, or if a young man who elects to forgo his college career to seek employment to support his family? I will tell you now…They would be celebrated and labeled honorable young men.
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin is catching flack for being in the field of play as a Ravens player was returning a punt during their Thanksgiving Day game. So here is the question, as part of a penalty, should the Steelers lose a draft pick, should the Steelers be fined, or should Coach Tomlin only be fined? My opinion is that only Tomlin should be fined…Because let’s face it, the penalty doesn’t rise to a level that would merit the loss of a draft coach given the fact that Coach Tomlin never came into contact with the Ravens player.

 

That Damn Tom Brady…Damn!

1. Every week I include in my weekend recap some sort of story concerning Tom Brady. Well, this week will be no different. In last week’s recap I suggested that all football fans appreciate the talents of Brady while we still have him around…And after watching he and his Pats craft a miraculous comeback against the Denver Broncos, I am at a loss for superlatives in which to bestow upon Brady. He is simply marvelous…A conductor, conducting sweet music when carving up opponents. Again fans, enjoy this guy while you can!

2. Now don’t get me wrong, I am no fan of the Patriots and their coach, Bill Belli-Cheat. However, I have to admit, the guy can coach. To watch Belli-Cheat’s demeanor on the sideline during the second quarter, heading into half time of the Broncos game, him coming onto the field to being the third quarter, then at the final whistle…My goodness…The guy is a great coach. And Belli-Cheat just continued his mastery of Peyton Manning.

3. Why has Matt Flynn been given three opportunities to start in the NFL this season? What have three General Managers seen that we, the fans haven’t seen? 

4. What a difference a franchise quarterback makes…Does that Green Bay/Minnesota game end in a tie if Aaron Rogers is at the helm of the Green Bay ship this past Sunday?

5. Has the NFL caught up to Colin Kaepernick or is he devoid of weapons needed to be a dynamic quarterback? Now, before you answer this, I would ask you this, aside from Gronk, name me Tom Brady’s receiving core? And remember, the NFL is a league like no other where you might fool the defense upon first initial appearance…However, when NFL Defensive Coordinators have a summer to review film, and devise a scheme to stop a player, they usually figure a player out.

6.  I think it is safe to say that the Washington Redskins are finished at 3-8. But here is the question I pose…What is Washington’s problem, is it the quarterback RG3, Head Coach Mike Shanahan, or Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan. While I do believe RG3 is an above average QB, I believe the game has passed Mike Shanahan by and Kyle Shanahan routinely fails to devise offensive schemes that keep RG3 out of harms way, which ultimately affects the team’s performance.

7. The most compelling storylines heading down the stretch of the NFL season are the Division races between the Dallas Cowboys/Philadelphia Eagles, both 6-5 and the Denver Broncos/Kansas City Chiefs, both 9-2. Which team folds down the stretch? My prediction is the Broncos and Cowboys prevail in their respective Divisions. However, I reserve the right to modify my Cowboy prediction given their history of collapsing down the stretch.

8. How did the NFL running back become insignificant? Since the dawn of the game, the running back was the rock star of the game…Guys such as Jim Brown, OJ Simpson, Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson, and Marcus Allen loomed large over this game we love. However, in this new era of pass happy coaching staffs the running back has been minimized to a status rivaling that of a long snapper.

9. Jeff Fisher has his St. Louis Rams hovering around the 500 mark with their recent trouncing of the Chicago Bears…Now the national media is giving Fisher praise for keeping his team competitive in light of losing his starting quarterback for the season…But wait, aren’t Jeff Fisher coached teams consistently hovering around the 500 mark? And by comparison, Bill Belli-Cheat lost his starting quarterback, Tom Brady on opening day one season, started a backup quarterback and still finished the season with an 11-5 mark. So, is it really necessary to praise Jeff Fisher?

 10. The Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions are two teams loaded with talent…However, it appears they annually under achieve. Is it due to poor coaching or the wrong mix of players? Both teams’ coaches have been on the job long enough to have figured out their team’s issues. If their respective teams falter in the playoffs (if they make it), it will be interesting to see which coach retains his job.

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Interesting Week in Sports…Ya Think?

1. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos proved that the Kansas City Chiefs and Alex Smith just are not ready for prime time. Let’s be honest, while the Chiefs may be a great story, going from two wins to nine in one season, we are starting to see that the Chiefs are clearly benefiting from a favorable schedule. In order to win in the NFL playoffs, the Chiefs are going to have to find a clear number one receiver, and Alexis will have to able to throw the ball deep down the field. While the Chiefs rely heavily on a great defense and an offense that doesn’t put their defense in a hole, the playoffs are a totally different monster that the Chiefs are going to have to restrategize for.

2. Although the New England Patriots came up short in this past week’s Monday night game…We again saw the greatness of Tom Brady. With less than a minute in the fourth quarter, Brady drove his team down the field and came within one bad referee decision of accomplishing the improbable. I suggest everyone appreciate Brady while you can…Because when he is gone, we will miss his greatness.

3. Russell Wilson…His Seattle Seahawks are 9-1 and are gearing up for another playoff drive. But I have one question, if the quarterback who wins gets all the adulation, why does Andrew Luck get more attention from the national media than Russell Wilson, though Wilson has won more ball games than Andrew during their first two seasons?

4. How did the Houston Texans’ team disintegrate so fast?

5. Sorry Cowboys fans for the repeated beating I give your team week after week, but I have to ask, at what point in time do the Cowboy fans lodge a protest and stop buying Jerry’s team gear and game tickets? While I don’t begrudge Jerry Jones for being the General Manager of his franchise, I do begrudge him for allowing his franchise to hover around the 500 mark for nearly 20 years. Does Jerry not have a responsibility to his loyal fans to appoint people into key positions that can move his team toward success?

6. Something I have wrestled with for many years…How does one claim to be a fan of a football team, yet be a devout fantasy football player? By nature, fantasy football is, well, fantasy…And by playing fantasy football, isn’t one inherently cheering against the team the claim to support?

7. How many years should a franchise be given to turn around their fortunes? When one considered the fact that franchises such as the Raiders, Titans, Jaguars, Browns, Bengals, Dolphins, Jets, and Redskins have been consistently bad for so long, at what point in time does a fan take his/her loyalty elsewhere?

8. Kobe Bryant is slated to return to the Los Angeles Lakers’ lineup in late November…What impact with his return have? At 35 and coming off a major injury, can Kobe’s return propel the Lakers into the upper echelon of the NBA ranks?

9. During every NBA game broadcasted on the ABC network, Michael Jordan’s name is shoe horned into the broadcast…What is the reason? Is it because Michael Jordan is the greatest NBA player of all-time? If so, what criterion is being used to make that determination? Is it most points scored? He doesn’t hold that record…Is it most NBA titles? He doesn’t own that record…Is it most rebounds? He doesn’t own that record…Well is it most assists? He doesn’t own that record either…Oh, I get it…It is that he came of age in mid 80’s as did ESPN and the ABC family feels some sort of obligation to Michael Jordan?

10. And speaking of Michael Jordan, why is every great shooting guard or small forward entering the NBA after 1999 compared to Michael Jordan by ESPN? Most recently, during the 2013 NBA Finals, ESPN bombarded us with comparisons between Michael Jordan and LeBron James…But wait a minute, LeBron is a small forward, who is the consummate team player, who a pass first, stat sheet stuffer…Wouldn’t the correct comparison be between Magic Johnson and LeBron James? I can’t wait to see how ESPN tries to frame a comparison between Michael Jordan and the next franchise center!

 

NFL Week 11 Observations

Week 11 of the NFL is now in the books. As the season starts to crystallize, we are beginning to get a clear picture of the teams that are pretenders and contenders. When one surveys the NFL landscape, you realize as I have stated in previous posts, the NFL is littered with pathetic teams…And how the NFL continues to package and masterfully market it’s product to the viewing audience is nothing short of P.T. Barnum like. Here are my thoughts coming out of the NFL’s week 11:

1. Sorry Cowboy fans, I hate to continue picking on you, and beat a dead horse after it has been killed already, but the Cowboys are DONE! Again, the Cowboy’s problems are from the neck up…Meaning, management…Let me draw a parallel between two Jerrys. The late Jerry Buss purchases the Los Angeles Lakers, hires competent coaches, such as Bill McKinney, Paul Westhead, Pat Riley, Mike Dunleavy, and Phil Jackson, General Managers such as Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak…And wins 10 titles in 30 years of ownership…Jerry Jones on the other hand, hires Jimmy Johnson, Dave Campo, Wade Philips, Barry Switzer, Jason Garrett, and installs himself a General Manager…Winning three titles in nearly 20 years, while maintaining a 500 record since 1997… Isn’t it amazing what good ownership will do for a franchise?

2. When will the national media starting giving Russell Wilson the credit he deserves? Let’s see, his team advanced further into the playoffs than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin’s teams, Russell Wilson’s team is leading his division, and he is the undisputed leader of that team…Yet, all the national adulation continues to be bestowed upon Andrew Luck…Yeah the Andrew Luck who stunk up the joint in the beat down his Colts sustained at the hands of the Rams…Oh, and by the way, Robert Griffin, can you please give the ROY trophy to Russell…The guy who really deserved the honor?

3. So let’s see, since his arrival into the NFL, the NFL talking heads have downed Cam Newton for his inability to lead his team to a winning record…Now that it appears his team is on the uptick, when will the media finally give the guy some credit?

4. is it me or is it time for the Minnesota Vikings to finally trade Adrian Peterson?

5. Is it me, or does it appear that the NFL has caught up to the San Francisco 49ers? Their quarterback play has been mediocre, their receiving core is sub-par, and no one appears to be afraid of the 49ers.

6. If Big Ben has really requested a trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers, does the Steelers organization have the right to be bothered by Ben’s alleged trade desire in light of how the organization staunchly stood behind Ben during his two sexual assault charges?

7. The “Elite Quarterback.” Can we just be honest with ourselves…There are only a three “Elite Quarterbacks.” Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rogers, and Drew Breese. See; when the three guys step on the field, they bring a certain intangible that brings the level of mediocre player’s play up to championship contender level. However, the alpha dog amongst the three, sorry Sweetness…Has to be Tom Brady…The guy is simply amazing…Three Super Bowl wins with a no name offense, a perfect 16-0 regular season, and a fifth Super Bowl appearance when the Pats had no business being there…The guy is one for the ages!

8. How are Jeff Fisher, John Fox, and Andy Reid considered great coaches when they have never won a ring? And if those coaches are considered great, how would we classify Don Shula, Chuck Knoll, Tom Landry, and Vince Lombardi?

9. Is Joe Flacco really an “Elite Quarterback,” or did he benefit from having a strong defense? In his first post Ray Lewis season, his Ravens have languished around the 500 mark…And when I compare him to the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Breese, I just don’t see “Elite.” I see above average.

10. Does a former NFL player, employed as an NFL TV Analyst really know more about football than the average NFL fan? In reading sports blogs, and listening to sports talk shows, I get the impression that the only thing separating a former player from a knowledgeable fan is the time a former player has spent in an NFL locker room. Plus, so many former players have difficulty articulating the English language while on camera.

11. Bonus, what do the Green Bay Packers see in Matt Flynn that the Oakland Raiders, and Buffalo Bills haven’t seen this season? How is it that a man who has accomplished nothing of note in the NFL, gets beaten out by a Russell Wilson, Terrell Pryor, and every rookie in Buffalo, get another shot in Green Bay? I’m just saying!