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NFL week 14: Dallas Cowboys

Some things in the NFL are head scratchers. Other things are pretty clear. For the last two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys have lost in the closing minutes of the game because they were unable to perform a relatively long field goal. Many people who hate Tony Romo and are still longing for Troy Aikman will point to his performance once again as evidence that he cannot get it done “in the clutch.” Those haters will look at his 21-31 performance for 321 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions as nothing special. Instead, they will point to a third-down play late in the fourth quarter in which the New York Giants went to a zero coverage (all-out blitz). Miles Austin had a perfect release from the line of scrimmage. He was wide open. Tony Romo saw the coverage. He saw Miles Austin. Instead of throwing the lasers that he usually throws, Tony Romo put a little air under of the ball. Unfortunately, the ball was a yard or two too far. The Cowboys were leading at the time 34-29. There were two minutes twenty seconds to go in the ball game.

I will point to something different. I will point to the Dallas Cowboys’ abysmal secondary as the reason that they have lost to the Arizona Cardinals and to the New York Giants. The Dallas Cowboys’ secondary is average, at best. If the Dallas Cowboys can generate a ferocious pass rush, then the secondary is slightly better. Just like against the Arizona Cardinals (the pass rush generated five sacks in the first half, but none in the second half,) the Dallas Cowboys pass rush looked good for two or three quarters. They were nonexistent in the fourth quarter. This exposed a mediocre secondary to the skills of Eli Manning and his receivers. They carved up the Dallas defense in play after play. Mike Jenkins has been hurt all year. To be honest, he hasn’t played well in two years. I don’t know if it’s because of his health or what. Terence Newman is a shadow of his former self. Four or five years ago, he had a swagger to him. He can get into the hip pocket of a receiver and stay there. He could lay out and bat away potential completions. Now that’s nothing but a distant memory. The Dallas Cowboys are 24th in the NFL in passing defense. Anytime you score 34 points in a game, you should win. The Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t go to the playoffs until they figure out how to tighten this up.

By |2011-12-12T16:53:06-04:00December 12th, 2011|NFL|Comments Off on NFL week 14: Dallas Cowboys

Who is Mister Clutch in basketball?

Before I go into who is Mister Clutch, I must say that this post has been inspired by Alan Siegel and his article in Slate.com. His article reminds me of the time I went to a Carolina Panthers football game. I was fortunate to get some very good seats. I was sitting no more than 10 or 15 rows up. The guys in front of me had season tickets. He said something strange during one play which made me realize he did not understand professional football. Yes, he understood that there’s blocking, tackling, passing and running. He understood how the ball moves down the field and the basics of football. He did not understand about zone blitzes, route options and some of the other nuances of the game. I guess it is watching without understanding what he was seeing.

This brings me to Alan Siegel’s article. He spends quite a bit of time trying to prove whether or not Kobe Bryant is the man that you want to take the last shot to win the game. This of course plays into America’s fetish, myth or love affair (depending on your point of view) with Superman like characters. In my mind, Superman is the superhero that most exemplifies America’s ideals. Just when all hope is lost, one man, one hero will swoop in at the last minute and save the day. This is the assumption of the clutch shot or clutch player. We’ve all heard the scenario before, you were down by one point and there is 10 seconds on the clock, who do you want to take the last shot? This assumes the unrealistic scenario that you’re playing one on five basketball. Your four teammates are going for a smoke break while you are maneuvering for the last shot.

One of the things that I like about Kobe Bryant over the last 2 to 3 years is that he is figured out the game of basketball. This really is a team sport. You can’t pull one player out and ask how clutch is that player. Let’s look at Kevin Garnett who everyone would say is a great basketball player but nobody mentions his name in the discussion of who do you want to take the last shot. Why? Because Kevin Garnett played with awful teams while he was suffering in Minnesota. The majority of the time, the game was a blowout by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. Now, let’s get back to Kobe Bryant and how his game has improved. In Los Angeles he is the man. The offense runs through him. He decides how to run the play. He decides whether it is best to take a jump shot or drive to the basket. Once he drives to the basket, he decides whether to shoot or to dish to one of his teammates. This is where Kobe Bryant’s game has changed. It is now less about him taking the last shot and more about the team winning. He is more likely to pass the ball to an open teammate like Derek Fisher who drains the three pointer at the buzzer.

I’m not arguing for or against Kobe Bryant being the best in the clutch. Instead, I’m arguing that being great in the clutch has more to do with decision-making than it does to shooting in today’s NBA. I have no idea how you’d measure this was a statistic. Except, perhaps, winning percentage. Maybe the fact that Lebron James is at home and Kobe Bryant is still playing says more about their decision-making ability than it does about their ability to shoot the basketball.

By |2010-06-10T13:18:08-04:00June 10th, 2010|Sports|Comments Off on Who is Mister Clutch in basketball?

McCain Rails on Obama

Okay, I think we know one of Senator John McCain’s main talking points and that he will have this one for at least another couple of months. According to McCain, Senator Barack Obama– the product of a single, working-class mother– is elitist and out of touch with America. But where did Barack Obama do his community organizing? Probably in some ritzy neighborhood, like the South Side of Chicago. I don’t see how this line will work, but more power to him.

McCain has also asked demanded that Obama condemn former president Jimmy Carter for meeting with Hamas. McCain is doing two things with this jab. He is trying to put doubts in the minds of American Jews that Obama will not support Israel in the clutch. He is also trying to stir something up  within the Democratic party.

As far as I know, Carter is a private citizen, so he is allowed to go where ever he can afford to go. I think it is a smart move for Carter to go to the Middle East;  No other president has made bigger strides toward peace in the region than him (but Clinton comes second in my book). The current president is in a distance 30th place. As a matter of fact, I think that it can be argued that he has done more harm than good.

By the way, how out of touch can you be when 1.3 million Americans have donated to your campaign, like they have done for Obama? Does McCain have even half that many donors?

By |2008-04-19T22:26:08-04:00April 19th, 2008|Election 2008, Israel|Comments Off on McCain Rails on Obama
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