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NFL: Wrap Up

Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens.

Did anyone notice that Joe Flacco seemed to play better than he ever had over the last five or six games of the season? His elevated play seems to correlate to Jim Caldwell’s being named offensive coordinator. Someone needs to give Jim Caldwell some props.

If you are the San Francisco 49ers fan, you have to be sick. The game was in your hands. You had the ball inside the 10-yard line with two minutes to play. The Ravens best run stopper, Haloti Ngata, was nursing a knee injury on the side line. Ray Lewis, future Hall of Famer, seemed a shadow of his former self. You have one of the best offensive lines in football. You have running back Frank Gore, who is known from getting those tough inside yards. He was having a great game (19 carries for 110 yards). Why didn’t the 49ers simply run the ball four times?  Okay, you didn’t want to run the ball? How about throwing the ball to Randy Moss? Moss has made a living at catching the fade in the end zone. How do you not throw the ball at least once to Randy Moss?

Joe Flacco is about to seriously get paid. My guess – $18 – $20 million per year for at least four to six years.

More later

By |2013-02-07T20:42:12-04:00February 6th, 2013|NFL|Comments Off on NFL: Wrap Up

NFL: Super Bowl Sunday

Eli Manning

Over the last several years, we’ve seen football teams get “hot” at the end of the year. As a matter fact, the New York Giants are the best example of a team that was wallowing in mediocrity and somehow got it together four years ago. They did that same thing this year. They were 6-6. People were laughing at Eli Manning and his characterization of himself as an elite quarterback. Many in New York were calling for Tom Coughlin to be fired.

The defensive coordinator and the offensive coordinator were under fire all year long. Yet, somehow, they put together a string of wins and now sit as champions of the NFC.

Tom Brady

The New England Patriots had different struggles. Their offense was simply okay. Their defense was abysmal. They got rid of Albert Haynesworth and slowly began to play better team defense. Their offense still struggles at times but, midway through the season, they started to play more consistent football. There were glimpses of the old, super successful New England Patriots. When New England went to Denver and gave Tim Tebow and his Broncos beat down, that harkened back to the New England Patriots a few years ago. Early in the season, New England played Buffalo and had an uncharacteristic day. Tom Brady threw four interceptions. The New England Patriots lost. This was a theme that we would see throughout the season. If they took care of the ball then New England had an excellent opportunity to win. If they didn’t take of the ball, New England would have a difficult time winning. When New England played the New York Giants in week nine, we saw the same pattern. Tom Brady had a sack fumble. He also had a couple of interceptions. The New England Patriots lost that game.

Unlike in years past, there’s not a defensive juggernaut at the Super Bowl. Both of these defenses can be extremely vulnerable to either the pass or the run. The question for this Super Bowl is which offensive line will dominate. The offensive line that dominates will lead their team to victory. Both quarterbacks can hit wide-open receivers. Both quarterbacks can read defenses extremely well. The key to this game, in my opinion, is the offensive line. I believe that the offensive line of the New York Giants will hold up better and give Eli Manning just a fraction more time. That’s all you need in the NFL, just a fraction more time. The key to a possible Giants victory is the play of the tremendous defensive front four. If they dominate… Tom Brady will become frustrated. He needs a clean pocket. They need to consistently apply pressure and alleviate some of the stress on their subpar secondary.

My predictions over the last several weeks have been awful. There’s no other way to categorize them. Yet, like a punchdrunk fighter, I keep predicting anyway. I give a slight edge in this game to New York Giants.

By |2012-02-04T13:58:03-04:00February 4th, 2012|NFL|Comments Off on NFL: Super Bowl Sunday

Why the Cowboys have issues

There is no team in the NFL who should be more worried about their season after week two than the Dallas Cowboys. (Possible exceptions are the San Francisco 49ers, who play today on NFL, and the Minnesota Vikings.) Three or four years ago, the Dallas Cowboys wowed the NFL with a prolific offense which was a combination of deep passes and hard running by Marion Barber. Last year, the Cowboys seemed to have the ability to lose a game they needed to win. Then, magically, down the stretch, they began to win football games. They won their first playoff game in more than a decade. Expectations for this season were high.

Last year, I pointed out problems in the secondary and on our offensive line. No game exemplified our offensive problems better than the physical beating we took from the Minnesota Vikings. The Minnesota Vikings front seven simply beat up the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line. Every man from the Vikings won his battle. Tony Romo had no time to throw the ball. There were no running lanes. It was awful. So, in the off-season, Jerry Jones decided to address the problem by firing Flozell Adams (a good move) and placing Doug Free in his place. That was it. Many made excuses for the Dallas Cowboys’ anemic preseason performance by reminding us that it was preseason. There was nothing to worry about. So we wandered into the home of our arch rivals, the Washington Redskins. The offense proved, definitively, that they could move the ball between the 20s. (This was the same Washington Redskins’ defense that had just gotten torched by the Houston Texans for almost 500 passing yards and more than 30 points.) All that offensive production produced a whopping seven points. Excuses were made.

Now, the Chicago Bears limped into Cowboys Stadium after a terrible performance against the Lions. They have a new offensive coordinator which they haven’t quite figured out. They’ve got Jay Cutler, who is known to hand out interceptions like Warren Buffett is handing out money to charities. This was a nice opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys to put their offense, their season, back on track. It didn’t happen. The two-headed monster — turnovers and penalties — reared its ugly head once again.

It would be too easy to blame the Dallas Cowboys 27-20 loss on turnovers and penalties. There was much more. When I look at the Dallas Cowboys performance, especially on offense, I continue to see a  Tony Romo who simply looks as if he’s going through the motions. Where was the pinpoint accuracy? Early in the first quarter, Tony Romo led Miles Austin into a vicious hit. Miles Austin fumbled the ball. When you look at the play, both Jason Witten and Felix Jones were open underneath. On the second interception, it was a pass for Jason Witten, which appeared to be behind him. Had Tony put the ball out in front of Jason, it would have been an easy pitch and catch. This is what we’ve seen from Tony Romo this year. Balls are a little bit behind or a little bit in front of receivers. This leads to incompletions or interceptions.

When a team that is supposed to go deep into the playoffs starts off  0 -2, there can be a lot of finger-pointing. The difference between making the playoffs and sitting on your couch watching the playoffs is only a little bit in the NFL. Tony Romo must lead this team. He must lead by example, an example of excellence. We live with an NFL which is currently driven by quarterbacks. The better the quarterback, the better your team does. Tony Romo has to be better.

Although Tony Romo deserves a lot of heat for the Cowboys’ current malaise, the coaching staff deserves more. The Chicago Bears adjusted their offense after the Dallas Cowboys, led by DeMarcus Ware, were simply killing Jay Cutler on the first series of plays. By the third series, the Bears had figured it out. The Cowboys made no adjustments that I could delineate. Cutler would take a two- or three-step drop, and make one read, then throw the ball. The ball was out of his hands almost instantaneously. This completely nullified the Cowboy pass rush. I saw no move by the Cowboys staff to counter this. The Cowboy coaches have to be better. They have to do better. Unfortunately, I think Cowboy fans are in for a long season.

By |2010-09-20T10:58:51-04:00September 20th, 2010|Sports|Comments Off on Why the Cowboys have issues
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