Category Archives: NFL

Salary Caps Suck, Just Ask the Cowboys

Dallas_CowboysFor those of you who are familiar with my blog, y’all know that I am a Dallas Cowboys hater.  Check that, I am an AVID Dallas Cowboys hater.

That said, the NFL’s salary cap will screw Dallas in its attempt to re-sign both Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.

The Cowboys will place the franchise tag on the All-Pro wide receiver by Monday’s deadline, which will guarantee Bryant $13 million in 2015.  As a result if a team were to be interested in acquiring Bryant’s services, it would have to give up two first-round picks if Dallas chooses not to match an offer sheet.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys will let Murray test the market – and may not re-sign him.

Let’s be real about something: Bryant and Murray were the driving forces in the Cowboys’ resurgence last season.  Murray proved to be an unstoppable force toting the rock on his way to a rushing title.  As for Bryant, his physicality and competitiveness gave the Cowboys an edge that few could attempt to match.

And the almighty salary cap will prevent the Cowboys from being able to re-sign either player – or maybe both.

I understand that the salary cap is meant to be an equalizer that ensures competitive balance in the NFL.  I also like the fact that the NFL is nothing like Major League Baseball in that the same few teams are not good every season.  Fans of every NFL team have hope at the beginning of every season.

However, I think that teams who are smart in their personnel moves should be rewarded in being able to keep their own players.  If anything, the NFL should adapt a “soft-cap” rule similar to that of the NBA.  At least it would give Dallas a chance at keeping both Bryant and Murray.  And in turn it would give QB Tony Romo his top two offensive playmakers back.

Instead, the “hard” salary cap forces every NFL team to choose which of its stars to keep.  It’s a shame that those teams can’t capitalize off of their success from previous seasons.

Long live the NFL…

 

The Cleveland Browns Are a Friggin’ Mess

cleveland_brownsLet me make something clear.

I am a BIG Pittsburgh Steelers fan, which means I despise the Baltimore Ravens, and hate the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and lately the New England Patriots. So I am admittedly not coming from an objective point of view in terms of talking Browns football.

However I DO believe in getting the facts and the facts are this: the Browns franchise is one of the most dysfunctional in all of sports.

How does one explain having the general manager Ray Farmer (who I grew up with in Kernersville, NC) allegedly sending texts to the coaching staff on the sidelines not only criticizing the plays being called, but suggesting some plays that should be called! Who the hell did he think he was, the head coach?

How else does one explain an offensive coordinator wanting out of town after ONLY ONE YEAR on the job? Kyle Shanahan got on that first train out of Cleveland when he could, didn’t he?

Their so-called QB of the future Johnny Manziel is now in rehab. While it’s too bad that he is in rehab, it wasn’t like Johnny Football was tearing it up in his two starts last season. I guess that’s what happens when the general manager, ownership and the coaching staff is not on the same page on personnel matters – specifically as it pertains to drafting a franchise QB in the first round.

The messed up part is the Browns actually played well last season. Keep in mind that they were 7-4 at one point last season.

But alas, for every step the Browns take forward, something slaps their asses four or five steps back. That alone should drive Browns fans to drink.

I guess I should lift the Browns Nation’s spirits a bit and throw them a bone.

There is some cause for excitement next season.

There is some cause for excitement.

Manziel’s entry into rehab may signal that the QB will take a “more mature, measured approach to the game of football next season,” a rather optimistic take by Football Betting Center. Whatever the case, even if Manziel only reaches Hoyer-esque levels of prodcution, that still leaves the Browns with a competitive squad.

The case of making chicken salad out of chicken poop perhaps?

Carroll Blew the Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLIXI haven’t seen it once, I’ve seen it a billion times in sports: a coach who out-smarts himself out of a win.

You’ve seen it.  When a coach decides to allow his defense to go into “prevent mode” and let the opposing QB drive his team down the field for the winning score.  When a coach decided to “ice” an opposing kicker, only to have said kicker take advantage of the second chance after missing the first kick.

And my personal favorite: after winning the coin toss in overtime, the coach tried to be cute and took the WIND INSTEAD OF THE BALL.

None of those instances could touch what happened Sunday night.

When faced with a 2nd and goal on the one-inch line with 20 seconds left to play in the Super Bowl, Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll decides to pass the ball.  That wouldn’t have been totally bad if it wasn’t a quick slant over the middle.  And it wouldn’t have been insane if they didn’t have Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch in the backfield.

Shoot, I’m going to take that a step further – in the 30+ years I have been watching the NFL, that was the stupidest play call I have ever seen.

So let’s get this straight.  Carroll has one of the best running backs in the NFL and had less than a yard to successfully defend his teams’ Super Bowl title.  And the man decided to show how smart he was and call a quick slant OVER THE MIDDLE instead.

Well we all knew what happened: an undrafted free agent intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to the No. 4 receiver to win it for the New England Patriots.

I’ll say this about Carroll, at least dude owned up to that stupid-ass play call.  The same couldn’t be said for the offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who made the play call.  If I were the owner, I would have made that Bevell pay his way back to Seattle – and whoop his ass upon arrival.

Let this be a lesson to aspiring coaches everywhere: if you have a chance to win a big game, DON’T BE CUTE.  Keep it simple, stupid.  If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.  And so on.

Otherwise, you’ll end up like Carroll.  Seahawk fans, you are in my prayers…

2015 Super Bowl XLIX Preview

Super Bowl XLIX(Shameless Plug Alert: check out my Super Bowl preview podcast here…)

With all the talk of “Deflate-Gate”, I am glad as hell that Super Bowl XLIX is almost here.  And what a matchup this is.

Both teams come into this game as the top dogs in their respective conferences – and for good reason.  The Patriots do employ a coach and QB named Bill Bellicheat and Tom Brady, respectively.  And the Seahawks have The Legion of Boom led by Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman.

The Patriots are a much tougher team than the one who played the Seahawks in last year’s Super Bowl: the Denver Broncos.  In addition to Brady, New England has a tough tight end, who happens to be a stud, in Rob Gronkowski.  And while the receivers do not scare anyone talent-wise, they do have a tough crew led by Julian Edelman.  Even though I think this dude is a quitter for what he did to my Pittsburgh Steelers, LeGarrette Blount is a beast running the football and has been a rough-rider in these playoffs.

I like the Pats’ D a lot.  They have an excellent secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.  Vince Wolfork is a beast up the middle.  The linebacker crew is underrated thanks to the likes of Jamie Collins.  In short, this defense is a bit tougher and a lot more talented than last year’s crew.

Even though the Seahawks do not possess the offensive power as it had last season, they are still capable of moving the ball and putting up points if needed.  Seattle is led offensively by QB Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch.  Even though Golden Tate and Percy Harvin are no longer with Seattle, as long as Wilson can make plays with his legs and Lynch keeps summoning “Beast Mode”, the Seahawks will be fine.

Aside from the aforementioned “Legion of Boom”, Seattle also has a formidable front seven.  Led by Bruce Irvin, Cliff Avril and bicycle enthusiast Michael Bennett, the Seahawks can get after the QB with the best of them – usually without blitzing.

As talented as both offenses are, I think this will be decided by the defenses.  Both defenses have not good but great secondaries, and can create havoc with their respective front sevens.

That being said, I am giving the edge to Seattle’s defense.  Its front four alone will generate more pressure on Brady without having to blitz.  And as we witnessed in the Patriots last two Super Bowl losses (both to the New York Giants), the best way to take down Brady and Co. is to have a ferocious pass rush.  I think that Richard Sherman and Co. can easily take away the likes of Edelman and Danny Amedola.  The only wild card is Gronk, and I am more than confident that he could be controlled by Chancellor.

New England may be much improved on defense, but I don’t think it’s improved enough to keep Wilson inside the pocket where he won’t do as much damage.  And I really do not like the Pats’ chances in slowing down Beast Mode, which means Seattle will be able to pick New England apart on the read-option.

This is going to be a close, low-scoring affair with the Seahawks D and Beast Mode leading Seattle to a back-to-back championship.  Seahawks 17, Patriots 13.  

The Patriots Are Making a Fool Out of Goodell

NFLThe year 2014 has to go down as the worst year, in terms of PR, in NFL history.

First we had the poor handling of the Ray Rice investigation.

NFL Commissioner/Warden/Playa Hater/All-Time Procrastinator Roger Goodell meted out the weakest punishment to Rice for knocking the hell out of his then-fiancee at a casino.  Goodell originally claimed that he didn’t see the second and most damning video which showed the actual punch.  Even though an investigation would back Goodell’s claims, I still find it hard to believe that TMZ got its hands on it and the NFL didn’t.

Next was the poor officiating that we fans had to suffer during much of the season.

While I could bitch and moan about the inconsistent officiating as it pertained to roughing the passer, hitting a “defenseless” offensive player (is any NFL player REALLY defenseless?) and such, let’s just point to the last two playoff games involving the Dallas Cowboys.  In their first playoff game vs. the Detroit Lions, there was that infamous pass interference penalty turned no-call that arguably killed the Lions season.  And just to show how much karma could be a bee-atch, the Cowboys were screwed the next week vs. the Green Bay Packers when a great catch by Dez Bryant was later ruled incomplete after a replay review, citing that silly “Calvin Johnson rule”.

And last, but not least, the NFL’s perceived bumbling of the New England Patriots and its role in illegally deflating balls before the game vs. the Indianapolis Colts.

Do we REALLY believe that Pats coach Bill Bellicheat did NOT know that the balls were under-inflated?  I will say he did a better job of passing the buck to his franchise QB Tom Brady.  Speaking of which, do we REALLY that Brady did not notice that the ball did not feel under-inflated?

Look, I’m not saying that the Patriots needed to cheat.  And I’m not saying that those under-inflated balls were key in helping the Patriots beat the Colts.  New England beat those Colts down so bad, it could have beaten Indy with a damn bowling ball.

It’s about if the Patriots DID cheat and WHY they felt the need to do so.  And WHY do they keep pushing the envelope?

There are several questions that Goodell and the NFL have to answer going forward – and quickly.  Where is Goodevil and the NFL in this investigation?  Why have they not gotten around to talking to Brady?  Are Goodell (I’ll stop being childish and stop the silly name-calling) and company waiting for this to blow over not take any measures on New England until after the Super Bowl?

Let’s not forget how hard Goodell came down on the New Orleans Saints.  Loss of draft picks.  Suspension of coaches, including head coach Sean Payton.  Suspension of players like Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, and Scott Fajita.  He would not let Payton and others get away with his plausible deniability excuse.

Goodell cannot afford to let Bellicheat and Brady get away with that.  If he does let the Patriots get away with little to no punishment, the league would lose any shred of integrity it has left.

No one would take Goodell and the NFL seriously going forward if he doesn’t make a move.  Why would fans invest in something in a sport that is no longer authentic?

Simply put, the NFL would be no better than professional wrestling where everything is scripted and favored – where the favored are always Brady, Bellicheat and the New England Patriots.

Coaching, not Bostick, to Blame for Packers Loss

NFLSeveral Green Bay Packers fans are still weeping and gnashing their teeth over what have been.

The Packers for the most part thoroughly – and I mean THOROUGHLY – outplayed the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.  They picked off Russell Wilson FOUR times.  They jumped out to an early 16-0 lead.  They led 19-7 with five minutes left to go in the game.

And yet they found a way to be outscored 15-3 the rest of regulation before losing in overtime.

So the question is this: who in the hell is to blame for the Packers’ collapse?

Well, the easy scapegoat is Brandon Bostick.  He was the boob who not only mishandled the game-changing onside kick, he didn’t do what he was supposed to – block for Jordy Nelson, the designated “hands” on the “hands team”.  After all, Packers fans could always say “you only had one job!”

However, I’ll argue that Bostick shouldn’t have been the main object of the fans’ ire.  In fact, I’d also argue that things shouldn’t have gotten to that point in the first place.

Let’s engage in a quick review of the game.

The Packers had two 4th and goals from the 1-yard line early in the game.  Memo to coaches everywhere: if you are a decided road underdog with a berth in the Super Bowl on the line, you go for it on 4th and goal from the 1-yard line.  Period.  The Packers should have been up by more than 16-0.

Whenever a team kicks a field goal in those situations, those are not “plus-3s”, they are “minus-4s” (A touchdown, 7 points, minus a field goal, 3 points, is a four-point differential).  Green Bay essentially left eight points on the field.  Add those eight points, and it would have been a seemingly insurmountable 24-0 lead.

And remember that late interception that Morgan Burnett plucked out of the air with a little over five minutes left in the game?  Remember what the subsequent plays the Packers ran?  Three straight runs, which the first two losing four and two yards, respectively.

And we won’t go into Julius Peppers making Burnett fall to the ground after the latter made that interception.  You see how much room Burnett had in front of him if Peppers (not surprisingly an UNC grad) not gone brain-dead and let him return it?  Dude would still be running right now.

(Note: thanks to Twitter for the image)

This is all on the coaching, bad conservative coaching at that.  Packers head coach Mike McCarthy was NEVER that conservative in any game I watched.  It’s as if he forgot that he has arguably the best QB in football right now in Aaron Rodgers.

I mean not going for it on BOTH 4th and goals from the 1-yard line?  Not running at least one pass play after that late Morgan interception?  REALLY coach???

Oh, and let’s not forget the two special teams gaffes the Packers committed in regulation.  First, any pundit would tell you that the Packers had no business being fooled on that fake field goal attempt.  Someone should have been at least in the vicinity of the offensive lineman who was inexplicably wide-ass open in the end zone.

And as for that onside kick debacle, Bostick should have been adequately taught to BLOCK instead of go up for the ball in that situation.  Sure the player should have known better, but a player should not have frozen at that moment and commit a boneheaded mistake if his job was thoroughly coached.

That’s on the special teams coach.

I’m guessing that the special teams coach will take the fall of the collapse and be canned by week’s end.  If McCarthy is truly about accountability, he would also fire himself.

 

2015 NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championships

NFLAFC

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots. I must say this was not the matchup that I, and millions of fans, expected.  I expected (and kind of hoped) to see Peyton Manning and Tom Brady square off for a spot in the Super Bowl for potentially the last time this weekend.  Instead we get a whimper-snapper (Andrew Luck) against Brady.

I will say that the Colts have improved dramatically on the defensive side of the ball.  It turned in stellar efforts vs. Cincinnati and Denver, and the unit appears to be peaking at the right time.  If the defense could somehow neutralize Rob Gronkowski and get some pressure on Brady, the Colts have an excellent shot at pulling an upset.

However, that will be much easier said than done.  New England has been virtually unstoppable at home, and Brady appears to be on a mission.  Gronk is a hard cover in general, and I don’t see Indy shutting that dude down. Darrell Revis and the Patriots’ D will certainly make life a living hell for Luck, especially since Indy has no running game to speak of.  Combine those with head coach Bill Bellicheat’s recent good fortunes vs. Luck, the Patriots will not lose to the Colts.

The Colts’ time will come soon – it just won’t be this year… Patriots 27, Colts 19.

NFC

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks. This will be the game of the day, and thankfully it will be the first game scheduled so we won’t have to wait to watch.

This is a classic matchup between an unstoppable offense vs. an impenetrable defense.  Aaron Rodgers – or as Stephen A. Smith calls him, “the BAAAAAAAD man” – is dangerous both in and outside the pocket, and has weapons on the outside.  Having Eddie Lacy toting the rock out of the backfield helps take some pressure off Rodgers, making the Packers that more dangerous on offense.

Meanwhile the Seahawks’ D is beyond nasty, it’s downright frightening.  That front seven led by Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin will terrify the hell out of opposing offenses.

And if the front seven is not terrifying enough, the secondary or “The Legion of Boom” give QBs and pass catchers nightmares.  Richard Sherman is hands-down the best shutdown cornerback in the league, and strong safety Kam Chancellor is a mountain of a man who is not only a ball-hawk but punishes the hell out of unfortunate pass catchers in his vicinity.

To me, this game will come down to how the Packers’ D will do against Seattle’s offense.  Russell Wilson is a stud who has proven that he can get the job done. It’s just that he does not have many weapons outside of Mr. “Beast Mode” himself, Marshawn Lynch.  If the Packers could somehow neutralize Lynch and prevent Wilson from creating big plays from his legs, I’d like their chances.

However, it is a tall task for the Packers to win in one of the more hostile environments in the NFL.  They do not call the fans at CenturyLink Field “the 12th Man” for nothing… Seahawks 24, Packers 20.

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