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The New Look 2017 NBA: Southeast Division (Part 6 of 6)

Atlanta Hawks

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Starting Five: C: Dwight Howard PF: Paul Millsap SF: Kent Bazemore SG: Kyle Korver PG: Dennis Schroder

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; Out

The Hawks lost Al Horford and Jeff Teague, and replaced them by moving Schroder from the bench to the starting lineup and signing a hometown hero, Dwight Howard. Both of these seem like downgrades to me, which will make their playoff hopes even more difficult in an improving Eastern Conference. Dwight Howard is one of the greatest physical specimens that the NBA has ever seen, but between the ears he isn’t much more than a college player on the court. Because of that immaturity, Howard requires a coach that can get him to make the best choices for the good of the team, all the while making Howard think it was his own idea. Stan Van Gundy has to be at the top of that list, since he actually accomplished that in Orlando, but I’m not sure how many other coaches could. Budenholzer will have a shot at it, and will definitely be an upgrade over any of the previous nine head coaches he has played for in his career (except Van Gundy).

Schroder is not a huge downgrade from Teague, and they have a seasoned veteran backup point guard in Jarrett Jack. Jack has been known to come up big in late game situations, just ask the Golden State Warriors, who have been on both sides of his antics. Atlanta’s biggest issue this year will be their lack of shooting. Kyle Korver’s three point shooting of 39.8% last year was almost ten percent lower than the year before. While I assume the Hawks see that stat trending back to his norm this year, they do not have anyone else on the roster that shoots over 35% from long range. What would surprise me more, the Hawks making the playoffs or Dwight Howard actually being an enjoyable teammate? Definitely the former, and that says a lot since Dwight Howard seems to be one of the toughest guys to get along with in an NBA locker room.

Charlotte Hornets

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Starting Five: C: Cody Zeller PF: Marvin Williams SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist SG: Nicolas Batum PG: Kemba Walker

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; Out

The Hornets were tied for the third best record in the East and they’re a young team, of course they are going to get better this year. Not so fast, losing your second and third leading scorers in Al Jefferson and Jeremy Lin, and not replacing them with anyone of significance, will not be very helpful. No, Marco Belinelli is not a player of any significance. The biggest issue this year for the Hornets will be their lack of depth. They have one of the worst second lineups in the league.

MKG will be back this year after two shoulder injuries, and will be a great counterpart to Nicolas Batum on the wing. Those four long arms will make passing through this defense very difficult. The dire playoff hopes for the Hornets are due to the front office, and there really are not any trade chips they can use to improve apart from future draft picks. I want to see Charlotte back in the postseason, especially after the exhilarating series with the Heat last year, but I see the more experienced Bulls and youthful Bucks edging them out.

Miami Heat

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Starting Five: C: Hassan Whiteside PF: Josh McRoberts SF: Justise Winslow SG: Josh Richardson PG: Goran Dragic

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed (if Bosh is healthy); Out; Out

The 2016-17 Miami Heat will be difficult to watch, think back to the 2007-08 Heat team when Wade was injured and they won 15 games. Okay, it may not be that bad, but it will be closer to that than the 48 wins they had last year. As if losing Dwyane Wade wasn’t enough, now it looks as if Chris Bosh’s career may be over. Bosh keeps saying he is not done yet, but that seems to be more wishful thinking than an actual medical opinion. Bosh is a great competitor and truly a pro’s pro, but no Heat fan (or hater) wants to see the unimaginable happen to him.

Hassan Whiteside will now get to see how it feels to get paid as a superstar, without any of the talent. Get ready for the boos and chants whenever he does not play up to that near $100 million contract. Justise Winslow will also get to find out how hard it is to play on the wing in the NBA when there is not a future Hall of Famer on the other side. There aren’t many teams I enjoy seeing suffer more than the Miami Heat, so I may DVR a few games here and there this season just to watch one of the
worst teams in the NBA lose.

Orlando Magic

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Starting Five: C: Nikola Vucevic PF: Serge Ibaka SF: Aaron Gordon SG: Evan Fournier PG: Elfrid Payton

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 8 seed; Out; Out

The Magic have a multitude of raw talent and athleticism, and if I had to start a football team with an NBA team, they would probably be my choice. Orlando will be a scary place to play this season because opposing players will feel like Monday morning NFL players the day after the game. With a frontcourt that consists of Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, and Aaron Gordon, slighter guards may choose to pull up for a mid-range jumper more often than not.

The trade to send Oladipo to the Thunder in exchange for Serge Ibaka seemed to benefit both teams, but it was somewhat confusing when the Magic signed Bismack Biyombo two weeks later. They are essentially the same player, except Ibaka has a better jumper and Bismack is more aggressive on the offensive boards. Orlando has a good spread of talent among every position, with each position possessing complementary skills to the other, but they are very inexperienced. This may be a team that can make it to the second round of the playoffs, but not for at least two years.

Washington Wizards

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Starting Five: C: Marcin Gortat PF: Markieff Morris SF: Otto Porter Jr. SG: Bradley Beal PG: John Wall

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; Out; 5 seed

The Wizards are as dysfunctional as they are talented. It is never a good sign when your two stars can’t stand each other, on or off the court. John Wall hates to see to his counterpart in the backcourt making $10 million more per year, while missing an average of 20 games per season. That’s right, hometown DC may have lost the Durant sweepstakes, but they did find someone to give a max contract to. Beal now has 125 million reasons to stay healthy and play a full 82 for the Wizards through 2021. With Wall’s speed and Beal’s sharp shooting, they can definitely be one of the best backcourts in the NBA, but that has yet to be seen. Hopefully Scott Brooks can get them to play nice on the court, like he did with Durant and Westbrook in OKC.

The frontcourt is not void of drama either with Markieff Morris upset that his twin brother isn’t able to fill the top bunk at home. Hopefully, the Morris twins got plenty of family time in over the summer so the will be able to finish the season without an episode of separation anxiety. Ian Mahinmi was a good pickup in the offseason. While he will never be a starting center in the NBA, he is a very capable backup. The key to the Wizards making the playoffs will really depend on health. Even if they stay healthy, don’t plan on seeing them in the second round, mostly because of lack of maturity and cohesiveness.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Central Division (Part 5 of 6)

Chicago Bulls

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Starting Five: C: Robin Lopez PF: Taj Gibson SF: Jimmy Butler SG: Dwyane Wade PG: Rajon Rondo

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; out; 8 seed

Its not quite clear yet if Wade is going to Chicago to retire at home or to try to keep winning, because if he wanted to win, Chicago isn’t exactly the best option. Wade gets to play in front of family and friends while making a lot more than the Heat were willing to pay him. Since the Chicago winters are about 60 degrees colder than in Miami, he might be joining Lebron on that midseason sabbatical.

Team chemistry is going to be a huge obstacle for the 2017 Bulls. Who knows how Fred Hoiberg plans to deal with Rondo and Butler going back and forth in practice, the locker room, and games. Street gangs in Chicago will be watching games together in suites at the United Center before this group of players begins to even resemble a cohesive team. This may be the push the front
office will need to put Jimmy Butler on the trade block, where they will definitely get offers from either Minnesota or Boston.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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Starting Five: C: Tristan Thompson PF: Kevin Love SF: Lebron James SG: Iman Shumpert PG: Kyrie Irving

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 3 seed; 1 seed

The only question if the Cavs are going to be the number 1 seed in the East, is how much does Lebron want it. After six straight finals, the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics, and finally bringing home the hardware for his hometown, he may have a sense of accomplishment that battles with his competitive drive. It’s easy to come back and try to succeed after failed attempts, but after Lebron has reached his goal, it is going to be much harder to have the same determination. After the free agency move the Warriors made, to go get KD to try to beat him, Lebron may want to prove that it doesn’t matter who is put against him, Lebron will persevere.

The most interesting storyline to watch, is what will the Cavs do with Kevin Love? Kyrie is showing that he is definitely going to be a star in this league, so that really leaves three possibilities for Love. Is he going to continue to be a corner distraction, or will they find another way to integrate him into the offense? The best option would probably be a trade if they can find a trade partner. Will the Lakers go after Love in an attempt to lure Westbrook in 2018? The Cavs could use some young talent, considering Kyrie will probably be the youngest one on their 12 man roster.

Detroit Pistons

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Starting Five: C: Andre Drummond PF: Tobias Harris SF: Marcus Morris SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope PG: Reggie Jackson

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; Out

Having your best player be an exclusively low post player was the first ingredient in the recipe to be holding the Larry O’Brien trophy in June…15 years ago. Times have changed and Andre Drummond being the franchise player for Detroit pretty much guarantees the Pistons won’t be a force in the East anytime soon. Stan Van does have a very similar to the Magic team he took to the Finals with Dwight Howard in 2009, they play a 4 out 1 in type of offense. The difference between these two teams is that the East is a lot stronger today than it was in 2009, and these Pistons are more likely to miss the playoffs than make the Finals.

Unfortunately, the biggest worry for the Pistons is that Reggie Jackson thinks he’s the best player on the team, when he’s probably number three. Having your sixth man think he’s the best player on the team is usually a positive, because it will bring you extra points off the bench for 20 minutes per game. However, when your starting point guard thinks that, it turns into the pickup game at LA Fitness where the 35-year-old Uncle Rico tries to relive the glory days, and the only time anyone ever touches the ball is off a rebound. Detroit was one of only four teams with less than 20 assists per game last year. That has a lot to do with each player trying to get his, due to the fear of not getting the ball again if he passes.

Indiana Pacers

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Starting Five: C: Al Jefferson PF: Thaddeus Young SF: Paul George SG: Monta Ellis PG: Jeff Teague

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 8 seed; 3 seed

In 2011, “The Decision” made everyone absolutely sure that the ‘superteam’ the Miami Heat created with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh were shoe ins to win the NBA title. The Dallas Mavericks came in and ruined the party with Dirk being the only All-Star on the team. There are a lot of similarities between the 2011 Mavs and the 2017 Pacers.

Both teams picked up a center from Charlotte (Tyson Chandler & Al Jefferson) that came straight out of high school and had an injury issue coming to the team. Both teams have high scoring shooting guards (Jason Terry & Monta Ellis) that can take over a game at any time and have the stones to take the last shot. Both teams have a defensive-minded guard (DeShawn Stevenson & Rodney Stuckey) that has a dangerous enough 3 ball to keep opposing defenses from doubling off of them. Both teams have superstars (Dirk & Paul George) that analysts wonder if they will ever have a chance at a championship (PG13 was because of injury).

Does this mean I am picking the Pacers to sweep the Cavs in the second round (as the Mavs did to the title defending Lakers in 2011) and go on to beat the Warriors in the Finals? Not exactly, because Nate McMillan is nowhere near the level of coach that Rick Carlisle is. However, I won’t be shocked if the Pacers go to the Eastern Conference Finals, NBA Finals or even win it all. With 100:1 odds to win the NBA Finals, they may just be best value pick out there. The Pacers had the best offseason in the East by adding Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, and Jeff Teague to a team that has the 3rd best two-way player in the league in Paul George (only Lebron & Kawhi can compete with him). Myles Turner is also going to be one year better, and with his rookie season under his belt he will be a great big coming off the bench in his second season. Watch out for the 2017 Pacers.

Milwaukee Bucks

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Starting Five: C: Greg Monroe PF: Jabari Parker SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo SG: Tony Snell PG: Matthew Dellavedova

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 4 seed; Out; 7 seed

The Bucks have a great future to look towards with their two young rising stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker. Giannis is one of those once in a generation type talent, a 6’11” freak of an athlete that can play any position on the floor. His game is complimented perfectly by Parker, who is one step above Tim Duncan in excitement and athleticism. Parker is a very fundamental player, who has a sweet J and can post up on the block. Both need to improve their shooting from three (25%), and need to be at 80% from the charity stripe.

I also like what the Bucks did in the offseason, strengthening their bench at almost every position with Miles Plumlee, Mirza Teltovic, Steve Novak, Jason Terry. The Delly contract might be borderline insane (4 years, $38 million), but it might also be the new era of the NBA where Mike Conley has the largest contract in the league. Players were overpaid left and right this offseason, and Delly, Mr. All Heart & Hustle himself, jumped at the chance to make nearly $10 million a year. Dave Chappelle never knew how famous the POTUS was until Monica Lewinsky became a household name for doing….a thing. Well, I don’t think I ever truly knew how good Lebron was, until an Aussie that used to pass him the ball and dive at opponents ankles is making $10 million dollars a year. This contract screams JJ Barea on the T’Wolves from 2011-2014, but I’ll keep my mouth shut and watch.

This should be a decent season for the Bucks, I see about a 10-game-jump in wins, somewhere in the 42-45 range and a playoff
berth. Hopefully, they can find a trade partner to dump at least one of their big men, since they are very deep there, and could definitely use some help in the backcourt. In the playoffs, I see probably what happened to them two years ago to Chicago. Pushing a superior team more than they thought they would, butultimately falling short. The Bucks, similar to their neighbors in Minnesota, have a couple more years until they actually make some noise in the playoffs, but they will be an exciting team to watch.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Atlantic Division (Part 4 of 6)

Boston Celtics

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Starting Five: C: Al Horford PF: Amir Johnson SF: Jae Crowder SG: Avery Bradley PG: Isaiah Thomas

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 2 seed; 7 seed; 4 seed

It’s really hard to make a deep run in the playoffs without a top 20 player, and the Celtics don’t have a top 20 player. They need to make a trade to become a contender. If you’ve heard or read Bill Simmons in the past five years, you probably understand that it is a grammatical crime to create a sentence with Danny Ainge without also including the fact that he has been collecting assets. Well newsflash Bostonians, assets don’t win championships. It is time for Ainge to cash in those assets for a franchise player. Isaiah Thomas is a good player, maybe even very good, but he is a number 3 on a championship team. Maybe a number 2 if it is a very solid team, but there is no way you can hold the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the year with Isaiah Thomas as your franchise player.

Jimmy Butler may be the most likely option for a trade. Russ may have been in talks as well had he not signed the extension with OKC. The positive about getting Russ, is that you can’t overtrade for a superduperstar. No one is going to say, ‘you gave up too much for Russ’, but they may say that about Butler. Boston has the Nets first round draft pick for the next two years, and those are nothing to sneeze at. 2017 and 2018 are supposed to be high talent drafts, and the judging by the outlook in Brooklyn, those should be top 10 picks, if not top 5. They probably only have to give up one of those picks to get Butler, but they will also have to give up one or two players (Thomas, Bradley, Brown). As the Celtics are assembled right now they are probably a second round exit, but Butler could make them contenders for the Finals. The upside for Butler, is that he could be plugged into a system more easily than someone like Russ. Boston needs to take advantage of the weaker East before things change (which may be sooner than later) and cash in these ‘assets’ for a chance at a championship.

Brooklyn Nets

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Starting Five: C: Brook Lopez PF: Trevor Booker SF: Bojan Bogdanovic SG: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson PG: Jeremy Lin

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

When you look at the Brooklyn Nets roster, only one word comes to mind…Who?.  It sounds more like a casting call for ‘The
Bachelorette’ than an NBA roster. Let’s play a game; I’m going to list 5 players on the Nets and 5 guys from this season of ‘The Bachelorette’. Let’s see how many you can get right.

1. Alex Woytkiw 2. Caris LaVert 3. Grant Kemp 4. Justin Hamilton 5. Joe Harris 6. Jordan Rodgers 7. Evan Bass 8. Greivis Vasquez 9. Chad Johnson 10. Trevor Booker.

If you got a 10 out of 10 it means one of two things. Either you watch ‘The Bachelorette’ or YOU WATCH ‘The Bachelorette’. Even the biggest of Nets fans wouldn’t know all of those players, and the last one, Trevor Booker, is a starter! For the record: 2,4,5,8,10 are Brooklyn Nets.

I can’t believe this team won 21 games last year, and I don’t see them winning that many in 2017. The biggest issue for the Nets is that they don’t even have any hope for the future. A string of ill advised trades made sure they won’t have any good draft picks until at least 2019. At least players that sign with the Nets have a nice place to live, because all the losing is sure to get them down. The only thing the Nets can hope for is a stint of Linsanity or maybe the NBA will adopt a golf like scoring system where lowest score wins. Move over Philadelphia, Brooklyn is coming in to plant their flag as the worst team in the league.

New York Knicks

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Starting Five: C: Joakim Noah PF: Kristaps Porzingis SF: Carmelo Anthony SG: Courtney Lee PG: Derrick Rose

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; Out; 6 seed

The Knicks would be contenders for the Finals in the East, but I can’t imagine a season with this roster without a significant injury or two. Seeing Noah and Rose on a team other than the Bulls will be strange, but this may be just the change of scenery both of them needed. Derrick Rose was not happy when he came back after missing the majority of 3 seasons because of
injury to find out he had to battle with Jimmy Butler for control of ‘his’ team. Now, of course, Carmelo is in New York, but Rose would rather player on Melo’s team than give up his team to Butler. For Joakim, there was not a player that hated the coaching change of Thibs for Hoiberg more than him. He saw his defensive minded team of which he was the glue, turn into a team that tried to live and die by the three ball when there were only two good long distance shooters, at best. While Jeff Hornacek was a shooter as a player and still loves the long ball, Noah is going to love his business first approach.

Melo will be in heaven with the best team, and most talent, he has ever played with. Every other time he has had a big name teammate, it was either way past their prime or they were injured for the majority of the time played with Melo. Probably his best teammate has been JR Smith, and not to take anything away from JR, but it is hard to be successful when that is your
right hand man. Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the Knickerbockers, but not quite yet. He had a great rookie season, but he needs to make sure to learn from all of the veterans around him. Hopefully, he can see that he will still be a number three option, which will allow him to work on his defense and passing game. This will help him tremendously in his career if he can take advantage of not being needed as a scorer. Most young scorers don’t get this opportunity, and are forced to ignore other aspects of their game to focus solely on scoring because of their team’s great need.

The key to the Knicks success will be resting during the regular season. Just like 2016, the 3-6 seeds in the East will most likely be interchangeable, so the Knicks need to worry less about getting a high seed and more about making it to May with a healthy roster.

Philadelphia 76ers

Starting Five: C: Nerlens Noel PF: Jahlil Okafor SF: Robert Convington SG: Gerald Henderson PG:Jerryd Bayless

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

It’s four years, and counting, that the 76ers will not be playing their first round draft pick for at least part of the season. First Nerlens Noel, then Joel Embiid, then Jahlil Okafor, and now Ben Simmons. The bad luck is incredible. It looks like Ben Simmons is going to play it safe, and wil most likely miss the entire season. Now that Simmons is out, still look for Noel to be dealt. Why trade a big guy when they just lost a big guy to injury? Well, Simmons was also a ball handler, and if you don’t have anyone to bring the ball down the court, it makes the game a lot tougher. Also, Noel is in the last year of his rookie deal, and the 76ers will probably not want to sign him to a big deal when most of their depth is in the front court.

Joel Embiid is getting talk to be in the running for rookie of the year. Somewhat strange to win this two full seasons after being drafted, but 2016-2017 will be the first time he can actually suit up for an NBA game. The more playing time Embiid gets, the better shot he will have, so Noel leaving or staying will definitely sway votes. Noel has already proven to be a solid center in this league, but Embiid has a bigger upside, the question is whether or not he can stay on the court. The 76ers have shown over the past five years that they are risk takers, so this is another reason you can look for Noel tobe gone by the trade deadline.

The 76ers also have somewhat of a decision to make at point guard, with solid backup, Jerryd Bayless, and Sergio Rodriguez,
who hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010. While Sergio may be the better PG, it may take him some time to adjust to the NBA game from playing in Europe for five years. Look for Bayless to start while that happens. With such a young team, having experience at point will payoff this year. Philly has a good shot at doubling, maybe even tripling, their wins from last year, while also becoming more of an NBA team and less of a circus sideshow. When you win 10 games, that isn’t such a huge feat, but it will be great for the 76ers for remember what winning feels like at least 25% of the time.

Toronto Raptors

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Starting Five: C: Jonas Valanciunas PF: Patrick Patterson SF: DeMarre Carroll SG: DeMar DeRozanPG: Kyle Lowry

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 5 seed; 2 seed

Jonas definitely showed his worth to the Raptors last year, when he went down in the second round. Toronto barely squeaked by a Heat team that decided it would be better to play without any big men, than start Amare Stoudemire again. Jonas will have to keep up the dominance from the playoffs, when he was the best player on the team and carried the Raptors when Lowry & DeRozan couldn’t make a shot, for the Raptors to make another deep playoff run. He will also have to up his minutes played to over 30 mpg since Bismack Biyombo went to Orlando, and the Raptors replaced him with rookie Jakob Poltl and the less-than-impressive Jared Sullinger.

Since the Raptors have lost more than they gained in the offseason, they will need to develop that young talent during the regular season, to make sure there is a reliable bench for the postseason. The East seems to be coming back to at least competitive with the West, so 2017 will be much tougher on Toronto than when they made their first conference finals in franchise history. DeRozan not being in a contract year and the East improvements will also contribute to the Toronto decrease in Wins, but they can still claim the number two seed in the East.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Pacific Division (Part 3 of 6)

Golden State Warriors

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Starting Five: C: Zaza Pachulia PF: Draymond Green SF: Kevin Durant SG: Klay Thompson PG: Steph Curry

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 3 seed; 1 seed

KD going to the Warriors is not the best chance for him to grow as a basketball player, it’s the best chance for him to get a ring. When you see a Jared’s commercial and a guy has a ring, you always see women behind him saying ‘he went to Jared’s’. Next year, when you see KD with a ring, you are going to hear current and former players saying ‘he went to the Warriors’. While this was a good move for KD personally (a single guy moving from a small town to a big, exciting city), he can no longer be seen as one of the elite superstars in this league after going to a team that has been to the Finals two straight years. It takes a special kind of person to want to be THE guy, and apparently KD does not want that. It takes nothing away from how talented he is as a player, but for someone to even be in contention for best player in the world, they need that. After his signing, its quite apparent that rings are more important to KD than being the best player. Even though it kills me as a fan of the game, because I want to see each player want more than anything to be the best and to be the fiercest competitor alive, there are some extremely talented players that do not have that desire.

As for the team, this is going to be the most beautiful offense the world has ever seen…when they find their rhythm. Just like any team, it will take time (probably 20-40 games) for them to be who we think they will be right out of the gate. Don’t be surprised if the Warriors start out 12-8 in their first 20 games. That is exactly why the Warriors over/under of 68.5 wins after the KD signing was crazy. Its not as if the Warriors are the only team that got better this offseason. Six or seven playoff contenders in the West got better as well. Also, it seems that the injury bug has avoided the Warriors in the regular season for the past two years, and it may not this year. While the Warriors did add a super-duper-star, they also lost key players from last year, in Bogut, Barnes, Barbosa, Ezeli, and Speights. That’s 37 ppg and 22 rpg, not exactly something that gets replaced easily. And the last, and most obvious, reason…there is only one ball! Steph and Klay are going to have to give up a lot of shots and pass a lot more to account for KD. This team is like a fine wine, it will get better with age. So don’t make any prejudgments about them before the All Star break, because you may be eating your words in May and June.

Los Angeles Clippers

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Starting Five: C: DeAndre Jordan PF: Blake Griffin SF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute SG: J.J. Reddick PG: Chris Paul

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 2 seed; 5 seed; 3 seed

I can’t tell if Austin Rivers needs to thank the new salary cap or his daddy for his $11 million contract, because he sure as hell isn’t worth that. The Clippers are the only playoff team in the West that did not add at least a good player to their roster. Their biggest signings were Wesley Johnson and Marreese Speights, and Wesley Johnson may sneak into the starting lineup. I know they feel that the CP3 and Blake injuries in the playoffs are the only reason they lost to the Blazers, but honestly that was probably as far as they were getting if they didn’t get injured. It would be very difficult to find a legitimate reason why anyone thinks they would’ve gone on to beat the Warriors in a series. They can keep telling themselves that they have the 1st team All NBA center, and that is only their 3rd best player, but honestly, who is DeAndre really competing against? Chris Paul has about two more years of superstar in him before he is going to struggle mightily in the playoffs, or he is going to have to find another superstar to play with to compete for a title.

Truthfully, I hate watching this team play. They are the biggest group of whiners in the league, which I’m sure they picked up from Doc. And I’m not talking only about complaining about EVERY SINGLE foul called on them, but also complaining that others have the success they wish they could’ve had. It’s not just the whining; the offense they run is one step up from streetball. Alley oop here, isolation there, then jack up a shot when there’s three seconds left on the shot clock. They rely way too much on talent, which they have a ton of, but that will not cut it in the playoffs. NBA teams are too good and too smart to
allow streetball beat them in a seven game series.

Los Angeles Lakers

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Starting Five: C: Timofey Mozgov PF: Julius Randle SF: Luol Deng SG: Jordan Clarkson PG: D’Angelo Russell

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

As much as I dislike the Lakers, I have to agree that the NBA is much better when they are at least relevant. They are drafting well by the look of things, but that is easy when you have the second pick two years in a row. For the Lakers to have any shot of making noise in the coming years, they are going to have to get a big name, whether that be through trade or free agency. In ‘96
when they got Kobe as a rookie, they also signed Shaq, the biggest free agent on the market. They may get lucky and find that Russ wants to come back home to LA in a couple of years, but they better not put all their chips in that basket. As much as everyone loves going home, I find it pretty difficult to see the ultra-competitor, Russell Westbrook, coming and joining a team that has won 65 games in the past three seasons combined.

Looking at the roster they have now, don’t expect that 65 mark to jump to high. I can’t imagine this team winning 30 games. The biggest upside is their coach, Luke Walton, but this is going to be night and day different than the situation he just came from in Oakland. Coming from a highly professional organization built around winners with a winning mindset and attitude and going to an organization that looks like a chicken with its head cut off. That rings even more true when you see their longest tenured veteran doing things like this:

Luke, I hope you still think this is your dream job when the Lakers are 10-30 and Swaggy P and D’Angelo Russell are more concerned with who will be picking up the tab at Avalon Hollywood than the gameplan for the second half. Brandon Ingram may grow into a great player in this league, but for now he’s almost a foot taller than me and the same number pops up when we get on the scale. He’s going to get thrown around more than two kids in the back of a station wagon when their dad is driving around on back roads because he’s ‘not lost’.

Phoenix Suns

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Starting Five: C: Tyson Chandler PF: Dragan Bender/Marquese Chriss SF: P.J. Tucker SG: Eric Bledsoe PG: Brandon Knight

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: Out; Out; Out

Dragan Bender is the brightest spot on the Suns, and that is completely by default. Phoenix seems more like the landing spot for Kentucky Wildcat mediocrity than a threat to even sniff the playoffs. Even the head coach, Earl Watson, is in over his head. From an NBA journeyman, to NBADL head coach, to assistant coach turned interim head coach in the same year, and now
is the actual head coach of the Phoenix Suns. I guess it is going to be trial by error this year in Phoenix, because Watson sure doesn’t have any experience to rely on. I would have a problem with an NBA franchise offering a position that there are only 30 of in the world to someone with 2 years coaching experience (at any level), but, honestly, Pop, Riley & Phil couldn’t get this group to the playoffs. So, the Suns might as well save money with what looks to be the lowest salary for a head coach in the NBA at $2.5 million. Yeah, players aren’t the only ones who had salary increases, apparently the coaches are seeing a bump too.

The biggest upside of the salary cap increasing for the Suns is that now the fact that they had two overpaid point guards is erased. With the new contracts coming out this year, $12 million is how much bench players are getting. Maybe the Suns front office was just ahead of their time, or at least that’s what they’re telling owner Robert Sarver in hopes that they can keep their jobs. The only hope that the Suns have of making the playoffs in the next five years is that Dragan Bender becomes more Dirk and less Darko. Or maybe they are backing up their pick with the acquisition of Marquese Chriss, who plays the same position and has been highly praised by the organization as having unlimited potential.

Sacramento Kings

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Starting Five: C: DeMarcus Cousins PF: Willie Cauley-Stein SF: Rudy Gay SG: Arron Affalo PG: Darren Collison

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed; Out; Out

DeMarcus Cousins has been in the league long enough to be a mature leader on his team. Being a part of the US Olympic team put him around his peers who are motivated winners, something he has not been around since he has been in the league. inning is a mindset, and being on that team and winning a gold medal should give Boogie that mindset for the first time as an adult. He will also be coming back to the most stable and capable team the Kings have had since Cousins was drafted. Hopefully he can get along with coach Dave Joerger better than he has with his coaches in the past. I’m still confused why Joerger
would leave Memphis for Sacramento when Boogie has been known as a coach killer and headcase his entire career, but that’s not for me to worry about.

I would have better hopes for the Kings, but they don’t have any depth. Ben McLemore has been in the league for three years and has done absolutely nothing besides disappoint a fan base that thought they would at least get some highlight dunks. He played less minutes per game in his third season than either of the first two, and with Affalo getting signed to start at the 2, Ben
will struggle to see 20 mpg this season. One thing the Kings do have going for them is the nominee for best name in the NBA with Bogdan Bogdanovic. I’m still trying to figure out if he was the youngest of 13 kids and his parents just got lazy, or if they were dyslexic James Bond fans. The name’s Bogdan, Bogdan…Ovic. Give this team one more year and they may be in the playoffs, but with a new coach let’s pump the brakes.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Northwest Division (Part 2 of 6)

Denver Nuggets

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Starting Five: C: Jusuf Nurkic PF: Kenneth Faried SF: Danilo Gallinari SG: Gary Harris PG: Emmanuel Mudiay

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 8 seed; Out; Out

Mudiay is a sight to see on the court with incredible athleticism, size, and passing at the point guard position. He better be working on his jumper this summer though, because 36/32/67 is not going to cut it in the NBA. If he keeps that up he is going to be the next Ricky Rubio,  a player that is thought to be good because there is always a highlight, when in reality its just another empty, worthless play.

Denver’s number 1 draft pick, Jamal Murray, is everything that Mudiay isn’t as a shooter. They both play the point, but Murray may work his way to more of a combo guard before the season is over. This is an VERY young team that would be hard pressed to get 30 wins if they didn’t have the thin mile high air on their side.

Minnesota Timberwolves

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Starting Five: C: Gorgui Dieng PF: Karl Anthony Townes SF: Andrew Wiggins SG: Zach LaVine PG: Ricky Rubio

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; Out

With the drafting of Chris Dunn at number 5, this may be the last year for Ricky Rubio starting for the T’Wolves. Dunn may be the best point guard that the T’Wolves have ever drafted, including when they took three PGs in the first 18 picks of the 2009 draft, two of which were taken before Steph Curry. Dunn has handles, he can take it to the hole and finish, and if he can learn from Rubio how to read a defense and get the ball to the young rising stars on the team, the T’Wolves will be a force to be reckoned with in the West (in the future).

As for this year, I would be a little surprised to see the season end for Minnesota without a losing record. KAT has all the skills to be one of the best big men in the league and Wiggins has star potential written all over him, but losing KG as the veteren in the locker room will hurt them since he was the big brother that could teach the young guns how to deal with issues faced with the long season. If they do make the playoffs, they will be an easy out for whoever plays them, but this team is all about gaining experience right now and playoff experience would be a huge step for them. From Wiggins’ spin moves, to Lavine’s acrobatics, to Rubio’s no-looks, Dunn’s crossovers, and KAT’s overall fluid game, make sure to press record on your DVR so you can watch it over and over and over.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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Starting Five: C: Steven Adams PF: Ersan Ilyasova SF: Kyle Singler SG: Victor Oladipo PG: Russell Westbrook

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed; Out; 6 seed

This team has so many question marks, its hard to even come up with a starting 5. Will Ilyasova start, or will they keep him on the bench and start Kanter? Will Donovan start Singler at the 3 to get some more length and shooting, or does he want Roberson out their to lockdown opponents’ wing positions with Oladipo? One thing that is for sure, is that Steven Adams has turned into a great big man that does all of the dirty work. It is going to be an interesting season for the Thunder, but I think they can still make some noise in the West. Can they win the title? Probably not, but they can give some headaches to teams in the playoffs.

Westbrook catches hell from some for missing the playoffs when Durant was out for most of the year in 2015. But I feel that is unfair, because Westbrook also missed 15 games that year. They won 45 games and missed the playoffs because of a tiebreaker. But Westbrook wasn’t just playing without Durant, he was also playing without $20 million worth of NBA talent. When you get rid of a superstar, you can replace that $20 million of cap space with a $10 million dollar player and two $5 million dollar layers. Russ didn’t have that, he had nothing. Also, just changing the team dynamic with no practice is crazy. A team has to relearn how to play with each other without a main piece of the puzzle. That would be like trying to take a leg away from a table and making it stand right away. One could find a way, but it would take time, and perhaps some trial and error. The Thunder and Westbrook didn’t have that time, they were thrown to the wolves to figure it out on the fly.

This year, Russ will be ready. He is in a contract year, and is ready to prove to the world that he didn’t play on KDs team, it was their team, and maybe even Russ’. He’s sick of hearing about how everyone else can do this or do that, but they don’t realize that Russ can do this AND that. Yeah, he’s not the best shooter (even if he doesn’t realize it), but when you need a bucket he will
find a way. He’s the closest thing to the Big O we may ever see, and this year his numbers will prove that. That’s right, I am expecting a triple double from Westbrook. Ok, well at least close to one. He is going to be a maniac on the court. He’s going to be the player that forgot to sign up for AAU and has to play in a church league. It’s Russ’ world this year, and he is going to be the most exciting player to watch in the NBA, hands down.

OKC made the smartest choice (and perhaps got good fortune as well) when they got Russ to sign that extension. It’s great for the Thunder because they keep a superstar on their roster. It’s great for Russ because he can become a free agent after his 10th year in the league when he can get 35% of the total salary cap instead of 30%. That will be about $6 million a year. Many thought that he would bolt for LA and become a Laker, but nobody in their right mind would go to that debacle of a team in the prime of their HOF caliber career. The Lakers have a big task, and several trades ahead of them to become Westbrook ready. Maybe being in LA in the offseason is enough for Russ, it’s not as if NBA players have a ton of time during the season anyway. Also, Westbrook does seem to have a loyalty about him that you do not see in all NBA players.

Portland Trailblazers

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Starting Five: C: Mason Plumlee PF: Al-Farouq Aminu SF: Evan Turner SG: C.J. McCollum PG: Damian Lillard

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 4 seed

The Blazers in the playoffs looked like they were on the edge of taking the next step, and all they were missing was experience. The one thing I wish they would’ve done in the offseason is add one or two good veterans, but they did add Evan Turner and Festus Ezeli. That wasn’t necessarily a bad move, because it will give them depth, but maybe they will be able to get Steve Blake back for a one year vet minimum deal to add some age to the team.

One of Portland’s biggest advantages is their bench. They go two deep at every position. Festus Ezeli, Ed Davis, Maurice Harkless, Allen Crabbe, and Shabazz Napier is their second five. Not bad, not bad at all. There might even be a trade in there somewhere to get a good player on a bad team that wants to rebuild. Maybe getting Serge Ibaka from Orlando or Paul Millsap from Atlanta. Lillard is a star, and it is time for him to lead this team to a 50 win season.

Utah Jazz

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Starting Five: C: Rudy Gobert PF: Derrick Favors SF: Gordon Hayward SG: Rodney Hood PG: George Hill

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 6 seed; Out; 8 seed

Utah is set at point guard: George Hill the defensive stopper and Dante Exum the freak athlete, not to mention they still have Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, and the second round draft pick Marcus Paige. They are going to dump one or two of these in a trade
or put them down in the D league. They’ve also got two big 6’8″ wings in Hayward & Hood that can both score and defend. Another year in and they will be that much better.

Utah is young and inexperienced, and did exactly what young and inexperienced teams need to do in the offseason, they got veteran experience. Signing George Hill, Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson will help this team tremendously. George Hill is a solid starting point guard in the league, and while Joe Johnson is on the downside of his career, he can still score in bunches when you need him to an he’s not afraid to take the shot at the end of the game. Boris Diaw has been winning with the Spurs deep into the playoffs for the past five seasons. What he will be able to bring to the youthful Jazz is priceless. These are the main
reasons Utah will sneak into the postseason in 2017.

The New Look 2017 NBA: Southwest Division (Part 1 of 6)

I feel as if I’m in the Seinfeld Bizzaro World. KD is a Warrior, DWade is a Bull, and we will see the first NBA season of the millennium without Kobe, KG, or Duncan. The increased salary cap, crazy free agent signings, and trades in the summer of 2016 gave a whole new look to the NBA. It’s almost as if Adam Silver created a franchise on NBA2K and selected random draft. It was the most exciting NBA offseason ever, with almost no team unchanged, and sets up what looks to be one of the most exciting NBA seasons ever. Let’s go through a team by team breakdown of what the NBA will look like next year, and
perhaps make some predictions as well.

Dallas Mavericks

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Starting Five: C: Andrew Bogut PF: Dirk Nowitzki SF: Harrison Barnes SG: Wesley Matthews PG: Deron Williams

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed;  8 seed; 5 seed

The Mavs were the ‘winner by default’ of the KD signing in Golden State. If KD doesn’t sign there, Barnes stays on and the Warriors have no reason to trade Bogut, and the Mavs would be left in shambles. So, as much as I hated the KD signing for the league, as a MFFL, I feel I owe KD a drink. Grabbing Barnes and Bogut, as well as resigning Dirk & Deron Williams gives the Mavs one of the best starting 5’s in the West. With Rick Carlisle still being a top 5 coach in the league, the Mavs will continue to be a team that gets the most from its players. Thankfully, this year Carlisle will have more talent to work with.

The two areas that the Mavs have weaknesses are depth & durability. Bogut & Williams have a history of various injuries and missing a big chunk of games in multiple seasons, while Matthews is still not 100% where he was before his Achilles tear. Depth will be a big factor for the Mavs with 4 of the 5 starters being in their 30s this season. Young guns Dwight Powell and Justin Anderson need to keep improving, while the Mavs will still need to rely on veterans Devin Harris & JJ Barea (although I am more impressed with JJ dating two Miss Universe contestants than anything he has done on the court since 2011). Also, look for rookie AJ Hammons to get more playing time than you might think this year. The big ‘if’ for the Mavs could be Steph’s little brother, Seth Curry. When I say he hasn’t done much in the league in his first three seasons, I mean it. He has played about half a season worth of games, with almost all of that being last season. The one positive from his play last season was that he shot 45% from 3 on 111 attempts. The best help an aging Dirk can ask for is competent shooters around him that will space the floor and allow him to launch his signature fade away jumper. All in all, let’s all pray really, really, really hard for a healthy Mavs starting rotation this year, because without that, it will be another 1st round exit for Dirk and Dallas.

Houston Rockets

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Starting Five: C: Clint Capela PF: Ryan Anderson SF: Trevor Ariza SG: Eric Gordon PG: James Harden

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 5 seed;  Out;  Out

It looks as if moving James Harden from the shooting guard to the point guard was to make room for Eric Gordon in the starting lineup. This will make the Houston starting defense even more deplorable by moving Patrick Beverly to the bench. However, that is not surprising when the head coach is Mike D’Antoni, the man who created the ‘7 seconds or less’ offense in Phoenix. It may be smart to keep Beverly in the starting lineup and keep Gordon as first man off the bench, possibly striving for 6th Man of the Year award. Gordon will give the Rockets a great scoring threat off the bench, to play alongside Terrance Jones, Nene & Corey Brewer. Not a bad bench crew, but depth is not the Rockets concern in 2017…

James Harden needs to find out what he is going to be in the league. Is he going to be a superstar that can bring his team a title or at least be in competition for one, which he has the talent to do, or is Harden more worried about ‘The flick of his wrist’ after every made basket? Harden may be the next Carmelo Anthony, always tearing up box scores, but also getting to admire the NBA playoffs from a tropical location as he makes his exit in late April/early May. James Harden is a great individual talent, but that does not always translate to team success. Let’s see if Mike D’Antoni can revive his career in Houston. But honestly, this seems more like the Lakers stint than what D’Antoni did in Phoenix.

Memphis Grizzlies

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Starting Five: C: Marc Gasol PF: Zach Randolph SF: Chandler Parsons SG: Tony Allen PG: Mike Conley

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 3 seed; 8 seed; 7 seed

The self-proclaimed ‘Ultimate player GM’ who will get your team the big stars you’ve been longing for because he’s ‘bros’ with everyone, just got recruited to another team. Apparently, Mike Conley convinced Chandler Parsons to come to Memphis, and honestly, I don’t see how this helps them very much. They now own the best pump-fake in the NBA (for max money, mind you).

The Grizz also are proud owners of the highest played player in the NBA! No, they didn’t steal Lebron from the Cavs. Mike Conley, the 2013 NBA All-Defense Second Team & 2014 NBA Sportsmanship winner (yes, those are his highest NBA accolades) is the HIGHEST PAID PLAYER IN THE NBA at 5 years $153 million!!! KD, Lebron, Kawhi, Russ & Steph better get to work if they want to catch this ZERO TIME ALL STAR! The contracts given out this summer are just laughable.

Probably the weakest point for the Grizz will be the coaching. They hired lifetime assistant coach, David Fizdale, to lead this team. You know what, that isn’t completely fair, he did coach Team Shaq to a loss against Team Chuck in the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge. I’d be more impressed if he were under the tutelage of a great coach, but it has been Eric Musselman, Mike Woodson, and Erik Spoelstra. Good luck Memphis, you’re gonna need it this year!

New Orleans Pelicans

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Starting Five: C: Omer Asik PF: Anthony Davis SF: Dante Cunningham SG: Tyreke Evans/Buddy Hield PG: Jrue Holiday

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 7 seed; Out; Out

Anthony Davis must have felt like he was in hell on this Pelicans team last season. The team just isn’t good, period. There is some talent, but it doesn’t mesh. Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday do not understand that the ball needs to run through Davis, and it makes the offense unwatchable. Davis has to be frustrated, but he isn’t the type of player to make it known publicly. The Pelicans better do something to change the culture on this team, or The Big Easy is going to be exactly that when opposing teams come to play.

With the addition of 6th overall pick, Buddy Hield, the Pelicans need to look for some kind of trade to dump Evans to get a defensive, all about the team type of player. The Miami Heat may have a few trade option to try to replace some of Dwyane Wade’s (and possibly Chris Bosh’s) offense. This team will be fun to watch to see if Buddy Hield can develop into Robin to Anthony Davis’ Batman. The Pels could be a team that scares people in the future, but that is several players and several years away from happening. Until then, enjoy the crawfish, oysters, and gumbo Buddy.

San Antonio Spurs

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Starting Five: C: Pau Gasol PF: LaMarcus Aldridge SF: Kawhi Leonard SG: Danny Green PG: Tony Parker

Ceiling, Floor & Most Likely: 1 seed; 5 seed; 2 seed

San Antonio just lost probably the greatest power forward the NBA has ever seen. As a Mavericks & Dirk fan, that may have been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to admit. But the numbers don’t lie. 5 rings, 3 Finals MVPs, 2 MVPs, 1 All Star MVP, 15 All Stars, 15 All NBAs, 15 All Defense NBAs. Kareem is the only other player to have 26k points, 15k rebounds and 3k blocks. Only player with 1,000 wins on one team. 2nd most playoff games played and wins (1st if you don’t count role players like Derek Fisher). He has played in more playoff games than 18 franchises, and won more playoff games than 22 franchises.

Ok, enough butt kissing. Onto the gripes. I’m pissed that the Spurs got Duncan in the first place. Having an all-time great in David Robinson go down for a year, so you bottom out, win the lottery and get another all-time great? BS. And now Duncan is retiring and the Spurs are still not going to even miss the playoffs? More BS. And can someone explain to me why Duncan is considered a PF and not a C? Just because Robinson was a center, now Duncan is considered a power forward. So instead of being just another great center, he is considered the greatest power forward ever (a much weaker all-time position). The most BS. I need a shot of whisky.

Now onto this year’s Spurs. After winning 67 games, there is not a lot you need to do, just retool a little bit. That’s exactly what they did in getting Pau Gasol. It is a good move for them, giving them a low post scorer and a capable defender. David West stopped ring chasing with the Spurs to go chase one with the Warriors, so they picked up David Lee to backup the front court. The Spurs will do what the Spurs always do, and will be looking to win another 55-60 games with Pop at the helm.

Decision 2016: Vote for Dak

The political theater this election season is certainly not short on entertainment. When she’s not deleting emails, she’s busy covering up other scandals – When he’s not “grabbing [women]”, he’s offending Hispanics.   It seems like the election this year will ultimately come down to which candidate we hate less. But for Cowboy fans, we have a more important decision to tackle… (Pun intended).

There has been a lot of controversy over the past two months whether Dak Prescott should start when Tony Romo is healthy again. Dak, a fourth round draft pick, surprised everyone with his success in the preseason. That success has continued into the regular season, after becoming the temporary starter when Romo broke his back on his 3rd play of the preseason. Slowly, but surely, those in Tony’s corner have shrunk to what is now a dwindling few, while Dak’s bandwagon is getting so crowded it looks like a Ringling Brothers’ clown car. Watching the Cowboys’ season to this point, it may sound crazy that there was even controversy. However, do not forget the undying loyalty of Romo-sexuals and the ever present Jerry Jones reminding fans and haters alike after each game that, “Tony is our quarterback”.

A lot has shifted after the Cowboys 5th win in 6 weeks, when Jerry Jones decided to flip flop by saying,”We’ve got to get Romo in a situation so that it is a situational decision. I don’t use the word ‘problem’ in this conversation. This is a great situation….all of it is a great situation. I don’t have a time frame. There is no time frame.” – Huh? So, just to be clear, there are a lot of situations, but no time frames – Thanks a lot Jerry.

Stepping back and looking at the stats somewhat more objectively, it seems very obviously that Dak should not just be an incumbent starter, but rather the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. There have been two other times in Tony Romo’s career that the Cowboys have gone 5-1: 2007 and 2014. Let’s look at Romo’s stats in those years and compare them to what Dak Prescott has done this year.

PASSING STATS 2007 Romo 2014 Romo 2016 Dak
Comp-Att 132-210 130-191 125-182
Completion % 63% 68% 69%
Yards 1,707 1,510 1,486
Yards per Attempt 8.1 7.9 8.2
Touchdowns 14 11 7
Interceptions 8 5 1
QBR 78***(estimate) 72***(estimate) 82.8
Passer Rating 94.68 100.03 103.87

 

2007 Romo 2014 Romo 2016 Dak
Rushing Attempts 13 11 20
Rushing Yards 77 33 67
Yards per Carry 5.9 3.0 3.4
Rushing Touchdowns 1 0 3
Opponents’ Record 13-22    37% 16-20    44% 13-21    38%
Rushing Attack Jones/Barber    651 Murray     785 Zeke     703
Key Receiver TO played 6 games Dez played 6 games Dez played 3 games
Defense Average Average Average

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE

Dak actually has a better completion percentage than both of Romo’s 5-1 starts, marginally better than 2014 and significantly better than 2007.
Result: Slight edge, Dak

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PASSING YARDS

Dak has less passing yards per game than both of Romo’s years, three yards less than 2014, and thirty-six yards less than 2007. Neither would prove to be a significant difference. However, Dak is getting more bang for his buck on his throws with a slightly higher yards per attempt than both of Romo’s best starts.
Result: Even

PASSING TD’S VS. INTERCEPTIONS

Getting into two of the most important stats for a quarterback, passing touchdowns and interceptions, Tony has more touchdowns, but also more interceptions. A lot can be said for a quarterback being able to score points, but many would say the same about turnovers. Many would say that these two statistics probably cancel each other out, with a fair amount of people on either side of the argument.
Result: Even

RUSHING

Neither one of these quarterbacks rushing stats jump out, but both 2007 Romo and 2016 Dak know how to use their legs when they need to fight for first downs, and even touchdowns.
Result: Slight edge, Dak

Romo Thumbs

QBR/PASSER RATING

Now to get to the extremely complicated QBR rating, and the not so complicated passer rating. The QBR rating is so complicated, only an estimated number can be given based on looking at Romo’s QBRs for each individual game for the first six games of each season. There will be 10 point wiggle room on either side for Tony. Through six games, Tony was probably a few points lower in 2007 and about 10 points lower in 2014.  Passer rating calculators are readily available, so those number are exact. Dak’s passer rating is almost 4 points higher than Tony in 2014 and over 9 points higher in 2007. Why is Tony’s passer rating higher and QBR lower in 2014? As stated before, QBR is EXTREMELY complicated and takes into account not only rushing ability of a quarterback, but also arbitrary things like pass rush and quality of receivers.
Result: Dak

TEAMMATE CONTRIBUTIONS

Looking at their teammates and what they have contributed. All three years had a great rushing attack, 2007 probably being less great than the other two. That is not completely surprising, considering the 2014 and 2016 offensive lines were better (and exactly the same now that Ronald Leary is starting due to La’el Collins’ injury). However, Romo had Terrell Owens or Dez Bryant for all six games, while Dez has been injured for three of the six games this year. All three years had very average defenses, as well.
Result: Even

OPPONENT WINNING PERCENTAGE

Lastly, lets look at the winning percentage of the teams the Cowboys faced in each year. One thing those numbers will not show, is that Romo beat the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and lost to the AFC Champion New England Patriots in the first six games of 2007, and beat the NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Dak still does have two wins against winning teams this year (Washington and Green Bay), but neither of those teams look like Super Bowl contenders.
Result: Romo

Looking back at these comparisons, Dak and Romo each won a category outright, with Dak also having two slight edge wins. Couple that with Dak being a healthy 23 year old and Romo being an often-injured 36 year old, and the argument starts to become even more clear. In 2007 or 2014, would anyone have suggested that another quarterback, with more credentials in his career, come and start at quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys? Absolutely not! Can Tony Romo do things that Dak cannot? Yes, his deep ball is better. Can Dak do things that Romo cannot do? Yes, he has shown an ability to not turn the ball over that Tony has not. The final argument is simple, but does need to be stated: You DO NOT take out a 5-1 quarterback in the NFL under any circumstance, period.
Dak in 2016.

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QB or Not QB… That is the Question

It’s the bye week and the Cowboys are rolling with a 5-1 record, after losing week 1 to the Giants by 1 point. No one expected Dak to put the team in this position, but he did. Is it because of all the pieces around him, the first round draft picks of Offensive lineman or the 4th overall pick being a stud running back, or his own poise and skill? One thing is certain, these “Romo Friendly” picks have turned QB friendly. So let’s take a minute to really look at this little predicament the Cowboys find themselves in.

Dak or Tony?

Dak has started 6 games in the NFL, so to be fair, let’s look at those 6 vs Tony’s last 6 games.

TDs Ints Wins Losses Yards Rating
Dak 7 1 5 1 1486 103.9
Tony 9 7 3 3 1368 93.2

The numbers are very similar, Tony has 2 more TDs but 6 more INTs in that span and Dak actually has more yards. Considering Dak threw his first TD in week 3, it’s only logical that the last 3 games what we can anticipate going forward. The Cowboys are 3-3 under Tony and 5-1 under Dak. From a numbers perspective, it is really hard to argue for Tony over Dak. What other arguments are out there to support putting Tony in?

romo-clutch

Tony is the most clutch fourth quarter QB in NFL history, Dak just can’t drive the ball when it counts.

While over his career, Tony has been the most prolific 4th quarter passer in the league, Dak has done a pretty good job in his limited opportunities to run a 2 minute drill. Last week in Green Bay, he drove the team 97 yards in 33 seconds and it didn’t look like they were hurrying. He remains poised and calm in every situation.

If Tony would’ve been starting these 6 games, we would be undefeated.

While that may or may not be true, the one game Dak has lost was to the Giants by 1 point. That was the same game that Ezekiel Elliott only rushed for 53 yards. If you remember, Zeke was extremely limited in the preseason with a hamstring strain allowing him to have his first snaps against Seattle in week 3 of the preseason. He was a little gun shy in that season opener. That was also the same game where Dak was moving the ball in the final minute, but Terrence Williams decided to stay in bounds and run the clock out. Had Zeke been the Zeke we have seen in the last 5 games, the Cowboys would have won that game and been undefeated.

The Cowboys can’t afford to not play Tony.

The Cowboys have proven over the years that they can find the money to do whatever they want. It would be REALLY SILLY to trade or cut Romo this year, I’ll admit it. If that were to happen, the Cowboys would eat $19.6 million in cap space. That is a TON of dead money. However, if they part ways after June 1st over the offseason, Romo would only cost $10.7 million in dead money and $8.9 million the following year. Considering that his cap hit if he is on the roster those years are $24.7 million and $25.2 million, respectively, it makes a ton of sense to move on.

So now that those three myths are busted, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin.

If you pull Dak, when do you do it?

Pick a date, and stick to it. Over the years Tony has needed a warm up game, and Cleveland is the perfect one. Put Tony in against Cleveland, let him shake the rust off and then take on Pittsburg (who might still be without Big Ben). If at any time Romo looks like he isn’t getting it back, you still have Dak to put back in. What you don’t want to do, is make this a week to week thing and pull Dak when he struggles only to put him back in when Tony struggles. That would hurt his confidence. You want him sitting because it’s time not because he lost the job, so that when he comes back in, he still has that confidence and swagger that he has now.

If you release Tony after June 1st, the money you save can be put toward other things.

Seattle had Russell Wilson on his rookie salary and was able to devote a large portion of their cap to building the legion of boom. This year we have Morris Claiborne, Terrence Williams and Ron Leary coming up just to name a few. To sign these guys, you will need some of that money saved from moving on from Romo. If you don’t pay those guys, you need to either draft their replacements or sign another Free Agent which will cost you as well.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) celebrates after throwing a pass to Dallas Cowboys' Cole Beasley in the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Seeing how this team is rolling with Dak, I don’t see how they can put Romo back in.

Tony has 2 playoff wins, so to say he gives you that experience in the playoffs, is a little misleading. Yes, he’s been there, but he’s 2-4 in postseason play. He’s won 2 games, not 2 Super Bowls. So to derail the Dak Train, doesn’t seem to be the right move in my opinion. Luckily, my name isn’t Jerry Jones so I don’t have to worry about it. I can just sit back and hope and critique whatever the decision may be. Luckily for GM Jerry, he doesn’t have to worry about losing his job should whatever decision he ends up making blow up in his face.

I’ll leave you with this: Romo’s last start resulted in no TDs, 3 INTs and a Passer Rating of 27.2.
Dak’s last start resulted in 3 TDs, 1 INT and a Passer Rating of 117.4, second straight game over 117 and hasn’t been under 100 since week 1. Whatever decision is made – Go Cowboys!

WEEK 6 PREVIEW: Cowboys @ Packers

 Game Time: 3:25

Location: Lambeau Field, Green Bay WI

Line: Green Bay -4

The Cowboys travel to Green Bay Wisconsin this weekend as they take on the Packers at Lambeau Field. Lambeau has not been a friendly place for the Cowboys in the recent past, in fact, they have lost their last 5 meetings. Included in those 5 losses was the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs where Dez caught the ball only to have the head of officiating, Dean Blandino, overturn it (not that I’m still upset about that at all). Dez, however, is still nursing the fracture in his leg and is questionable to play this week. He was limited in practice and he could suit up as a decoy or in an emergency goal line situation. Dez isn’t the only starter likely to miss the game. For the Cowboys, Orlando Scandrick is still out with the hamstrings and Tyron Smith took the day off yesterday, but sources say he will be a go on Sunday. Green Bay has numerous players missing in action, including, TE Jared Cook, CB Sam Shields and RB James Starks. The Packers only carry 2 running backs and 1 full back on the active roster. If Starks can’t go Sunday, look for the Packers to pull up a scout team RB. The Packers are 3-1 this year, but with a combined margin of victory of 18 with wins over the Jaguars, Lions and Giants.

packers2

The Cowboys have the top ranked running game in the NFL, the Packers have the top ranked run defense in the NFL. This will be another game where whoever wins the line will win this game. The offensive line will need to dominate again to keep the running game moving. This will allow Dak to keep his rhythm and more importantly, keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. This Sunday, the Packers will present Brett Favre his Hall of Fame ring, so to say that Aaron Rodgers will have some extra motivation this week goes without saying. The longer Mr. Rodgers is on the sideline, the better the odds of the Cowboys ending this 5 game losing streak in Lambeau.

I think we can all agree the defense played outside themselves last week vs the Bengals. Demarcus Lawrence played limited snaps in his first game back from his 4 game suspension. He will be given a full load this week and will need to be on top of his game this week as he chases down Rodgers who has only taken 8 sacks on the season. The Packers offense isn’t as high powered as we are used to as they have the worst passing and 12th worst rushing offense so far in 2016. These Packers always seem to play their best when the Cowboys come to town, however, so the D Line will need to get pressure on Rodgers in order to keep their offensive woes rolling.

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 11: Demarcus Lawrence #90 of the Dallas Cowboys sacks quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter of the 2015 NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 11, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Keys to the Game:

  • Time of Possession: this will be a recurring key for the foreseeable future. The longer the Defense is on the sideline, the fresher they’ll be to rush the QB and hold their coverage’s.
  • Rush Aaron Rodgers: This year’s stats aside, Aaron Rodgers is a top QB in this league and given time, can shred any defense. Force him to rush his throws and don’t let this be his revival.
  • Run! The league’s best will face off Sunday, who will win, Offense or Defense. The Cowboys need to take this opportunity to inform the rest of the league that they are the best rush attack in the league and will run the ball at will regardless of who is lined up against them.

Prediction:

Cowboys: 17

Packers: 10

Brought to you by: http://TheLandryLetters.com

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 28, Bengals 14

zeke-bangals2It was all fun and games in Arlington on Sunday as the Cowboys had their way with the Bengals.  Dak continued to look poised in the pocket as he managed to make it to his 3rd and 4th read at will. The offensive line had their best game yet against a defensive front 7 that is the heart and sole of a usually stout defense. We all know how much the Cowboys have sunk into this offensive line – the Bengals have done the same with their defensive front. Their best vs our best. The result?  180 yards rushing, 134 from Ezekiel Elliott, 3 rushing touchdowns, 227 yards passing and 1 passing touchdown. The low point (because you have to stay grounded) was Dak’s first turnover of the year. The offensive line gave up just 1 sack on the day which resulted in a fumble which the Bengals recovered. That turnover ended a 12 play, 57 yard and nearly 8 minute drive at the CIN 18 yard line. The Cowboys were driving and about to make it 35-0. Instead, the Bengals recovered the fumble and 10 plays later cut their deficit to 28-7.

dlaw2The Cowboys didn’t give up any big plays as their secondary was firm and Bengals QB Andy Dalton found himself under pressure within 2-3 second on nearly every drop back. The Cowboys actually had a pass rush for the first time all year thanks to the return of Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence didn’t record a sack, but came very close on two separate occasions – we’ll chalk that up to the rust factor. But his speed off the end forced Dalton out of the pocket and right into our other 3 rushers, resulting in 4 sacks. As the weeks progress, and Lawrence gets continues to get his feet back, he won’t miss those opportunities. Rest assured, if he does, the other guys bull rushing from the other side won’t. AJ Green caught half of his 8 targets for just 50 yards while Brandon LaFell caught 8 for 68 and two TDs. The Bengals couldn’t seem to to get a quick score as both scoring drives were 10+ plays and over 5 minutes. The Cowboys were giving up the short plays to eliminate the quick strikes.

Call me crazy, but this is exactly the way I like to watch my teams. Relaxed, with my feet up, blood pressure at a nice calm rate.  There was never a time throughout the entire game where I was even a little worried.  Dak continued to spread the ball around, Zeke busted a 60 yard touchdown run (untouched), the defense was swarming around the ball. It was utter domination beginning to end. All of this without Dez Bryant and Orlando Scandrick. Dez was sidelined another week with the hairline fracture in his leg, and Orlando rested his hamstrings another week. The offense didn’t miss a beat thanks to Terrence Williams catching all 5 of his targets for 70 yards and Jason Witten’s 3 catches and 43 yards with an absolutely beautiful stiff arm of Derron Smith:

jason-witten-stiff-arm

The Cowboys will look to continue this 4 game winning streak in which they have progressed significantly each week as they head into Lambeau to face the 3-1 Packers. A win there will officially start the conversation about a certain Cowboy’s retirement. But for now, let’s enjoy this week, as it’s back to work tomorrow.

Keys to the Game Scorecard:

  • Time of Possession: Cowboys lost this stat 32:17-27:43. When you lose a whole possession by taking the first play 60 yards for a score, that tends to happen.
  • Convert in the Red Zone: The Cowboys were 3-4 in the red zone, converting those 3 chances into Touchdowns. The one failed trip was the lost fumble by Dak Prescott. Dan Bailey ended up playing this game but allowing him to focus on a 32 yard extra point is a lot better on the back than kicking 50 yard field goals. Just to note: Bailey made all 4 of his extra point attempts with ease.
  • Play Smart: No stupid penalties this time around. There were a couple pass interference plays that I didn’t have a problem with. Morris Claiborne was penalized twice on one drive that extended the drive, but made a great play in the end zone which resulted in a missed field goal. The following play was the 60 yard gallop by Zeke.

Prediction Scorecard:

Zeke runs wild:

Cowboys:            31

Bengals:               27

I had the “Zeke runs wild” part down, although I did not see this defense playing as soundly as they did, nor did I think we wouldn’t miss Dez against a reportedly solid Bengals Defense. When I am wrong, I want it to be in this way!

Week 5 Preview: Bengals @ Cowboys

Game Time: 3:25

Location: ATT Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Line: Cowboys -1.5

Zach Martin shouldn’t have to worry about who is wife will support on Sunday afternoon as her brother, Bengals TE Tyler Eifert, will be sidelined with a back injury. Unfortunately, the Cowboys will have their own problems with who suits up on Sunday. Just to name a few of the Cowboys who did not practice on Wednesday: K – Dan Bailey (back), WR – Dez Bryant (knee), RB – Lance Dunbar (knee), OT – Chaz Green (foot), DT – David Irving (Concussion), G – La’El Collins (toe, moved to IR).

demarcus-lawrenceThere were several others who were limited participants, namely CB Orlando Scandrick and OT Tyron Smith. On a more positive side, DeMarcus Lawrence is back this week which means we could see some resemblance of a, wait for it… wait for it… PASS RUSH! For those of you who don’t remember what this is, a “Pass Rush” is typically where the Defensive End gets around the Offensive Tackle and sacks the QB within 3 seconds. The QB shouldn’t have 7 or 8 seconds to scan and re-scan the field every time he drops back.

So now that we are caught up on who is playing where, what does that mean for Sunday? Ezekiel Elliott is the NFL’s leading rusher through 4 weeks. At his current pace, he should end with over 1600 rushing yards. This Bengals team will let you run on them. They are giving up an average of 3.8 yards per carry on the ground so far this year and haven’t seen anything close to the Cowboys’ rushing attack yet. Establishing the run game early will help the Dak and the passing game. It’s still uncertain if Dez plays on Sunday, so let’s assume he’s out. Bryce Butler had a good game but didn’t really stretch the field like we’d hoped, Terrence Williams apparently didn’t learn from his week 1 goof and refused to go out of bounds before the half and Cole Beasley was contained for most of the game. Not having Dez on the field affects everyone. All the more reason for the Cowboys to continue to pound the ball and control the clock. The longer they keep the Bengals weapons in the arsenal the better.

Cincinnati Bengals' A.J. Green (18) tries to avoid Houston Texans' A.J. Bouye (34) as he runs with the ball during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Defensively, the Cowboys will have their first big test. AJ Green is a big play threat on every play and is averaging 14.6 yards per reception with 2 TDs. Watching Jeremy Hill run against the Dolphins (I know it’s the Dolphins) was scary. He has good feet and won’t go down if you don’t wrap up. With Orlando Scandrick questionable Sunday, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr have to shut down Green and make the other receivers beat them, which they are more than capable of doing. Giovani Bernard and Brandon LaFell can each make plays if you sleep on them. Best way to defend this Offense? Don’t let them on the field.

Keys to the Game:

  • Time of Possession: The Cowboys continue to increase their margin in this area. The more Zeke gets familiar with the NFL and this offensive line gels with whoever is manning it, the more this gap will continue to grow.
  • Convert in the Red Zone: The Cowboys may be without Kicker Dan Bailey on Sunday. This means either Safety Jeff Heath will be kicking field goals or a Free Agent like Robbie Gould will be brought in to handle that responsibility. Either way, getting in the end zone would help a lot this week more than ever.
  • Play Smart: Bryce Butler had a big play brought back last week after he spun the ball on the defender. This led to a punt. You can get away with it against the 49ers. That might change the game against opponents like Cincinnati, Green Bay, Philadelphia and Pittsburg (4 of the next 5 games)

Prediction: Zeke runs wild…

Cowboys:   31, Bengals:   27

RANGERS: ALDS Game 1 Recap

In our preview of the Game 1 matchup, we highlighted Hamels’ weak finish to the 2016 regular season and his lack of command that plagued his last several starts. It’s safe to say that he wasn’t able to correct the issue prior to his start Thursday afternoon, and the Rangers were pummeled in a 10-1 rout.

It was a tough game to watch, as Hamels struggled hitting his targets repeatedly. He walked 3 in only 3.1 innings of work, allowing 6 hits and 7 runs, a combination that equates to a 16.20 ERA. Things could have faired a little better for Hamels if Adrian Beltre could’ve snagged a third inning rocket by Josh Donaldson that glanced off the tip of his glove, or if Ian Desmond could’ve caught up to the deep fly ball by Tulowitzki that dropped in with the bases loaded. But regardless if they had, Hamels simply wasn’t himself on Thursday afternoon and hasn’t looked like himself for over a month. Jeff Banister may ultimately regret not starting Yu Darvish in game 1 so he would have the possibility of starting Game 5 (if even necessary). Maybe Hamels will have a shot at redeeming himself if the series extends to 5 games, albeit on a very short leash if he does.

estrada

On the other side of the plate, things weren’t any better. Also in our game 1 preview, we discussed how the Blue Jays’ Marco Estrada was a momentum pitcher, and how he could get hot or cold depending on how the Rangers swung the bats early on. As it turns out, our scouting was accurate. The Rangers couldn’t get anything going, and finished with only 4 hits. Estrada fed off that momentum and had a shutout going into the 9th inning before Andrus tripled to Center Field and ultimately scored. Estrada looked very impressive, finishing with a 1.08 ERA and only 4 hits allowed.

yu

The Rangers will look to redeem themselves when Yu Darvish takes the mound at 12:00pm on Friday. Darvish will be ready for the spotlight – Hopefully the bats will be ready too, or this could be a very forgettable series for Ranger fans.

BREAKING: Jose Bautista slams several Rangers and guarantees ALDS win

Ha! You think he’s dumb enough to say something after this?

bautista

GO RANGERS!

 

cole

ALDS GAME 1 RECAP


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For more information on Sports Over Served, email us at info@sportsoverserved.com and check out the SOS Podcast here.

ALDS Game 1 Preview: Blue Jays @ Rangers

Well folks, that’s it… The 2016 MLB regular season is officially in the books, and for the second straight year the Texas Rangers will face off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Division Series (ALDS). For those of you that somehow aren’t aware of the hostile, often violent relationship between the two clubs, you have a lot of catching up to do.

The Blue Jays advanced by defeating the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Wildcard game on Tuesday night, and if the rowdy crowd in attendance at the Rogers Centre was any indication of the type of theatrics to expect in the ALDS – get your popcorn ready. But before you bust out the Orville Redenbacher, let’s examine the pitching matchups and the keys to a Rangers’ victory in Game 1.

rangers

BLUE JAYS @ RANGERS

Thursday, 10/6, 3:38 PM – Globe Life Park, Arlington, TX – Television: TBS

STARTING PITCHERS

TEX: LH COLE HAMELS (15-5, 3.32 ERA)

hamelsCole Hamels gets the nod for the Rangers on Thursday afternoon, facing off against the Jays for the first time in 2016. Hamels has been shaky over his last 6 appearances, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA – Not exactly the kind of momentum you’d like your ace to have heading into the post-season. However, Hamels touts a .267 opponent batting average when facing the Blue Jays current lineup and was strong against the Jays last year in the ALDS, with a 2.70 ERA. In the 2015 ALDS, Hamels led the Rangers to a game 1 victory, allowing only 2 earned runs. He would’ve also won game 5, but a string of errors by Elvis Andrus botched the game for the Rangers and ended the 2015 campaign.

TOR: RH MARCO ESTRADA (9-9, 3.48 ERA)

estradaFor the Jays, the right-handed Marco Estrada will take the mound. Estrada had two no-decisions against the Rangers back in May, allowing 5 earned runs over 12 total innings pitched, but the Jays did pull out the win in each of his appearances. Similar to Hamels, Estrada didn’t exactly close out the 2016 regular season strong, going 1-3 with a 3.98 ERA over his last 6 appearences. However, in the 2015 ALDS, Estrada did pitch well against the Rangers, winning Game 3 by allowing only 1 earned run and 5 hits over 6.1 innings of work.

RANGERS KEYS TO SUCCESS

  1. Hamels must overcome the control issues that have plagued his last few starts. The Blue Jays led the American League in Walks Taken with 3.92 per game, so they are disciplined enough to make Hamels work if they see him struggle with location early on. The Jays’ lineup doesn’t have a history of piling up the base-hits versus Hamels. If he can hit the corners and avoid allowing free base runners, the Rangers should be able to keep the Jays’ in check offensively.

  2. The bats need to get going early and often. Estrada is a momentum pitcher and will get hot or cold, depending on how the Rangers get going. Estrada did very well against the Rangers back in May, but the Rangers’ lineup looks significantly different today with several new bats thrown into the mix. If the new bats (Beltran, Lucroy, Gomez) can help spark the offense early and rattle Estrada, the Jays may be forced to look to a flawed bullpen with a 4.60 ERA over the last month of baseball.

  3. The Rangers need to focus on the ultimate goal, and not get caught up with in-game dramatics . With the media hype surrounding this ALDS matchup, game one will surely bring heightened emotions for both teams. There may be some bat flips or other old-world-baseball faux pas, but Odor has already granted vindication for the entire organization with one right hook that Jose Bautista will certainly never forget. The Rangers need to focus on the game, or even doing some bat flips themselves… Let the fans focus on the drama.

    And on that note, I’ll leave you with this gem… GO RANGERS!

    bautista

 

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 24, 49ers 17

Down 14 – 0 in the second quarter, I took it upon myself to do something to help the boys in blue turn it around: I promptly switched chairs. From there, the Cowboys finished the game 27-3. Coincidence? Ok, sure… It probably was. Whatever the reason, the Cowboys were a different team after the horrible start.

dak-4Dak finished the game completing 72% of his 32 attempts for a QB Rating of 114.7, 2 TDs and extended his Rookie record to 134 attempts without an interception.  The other half of the rookie backfield, Ezekiel Elliott finished the day with 138 yards on 23 attempts for a whopping 6 yards per carry and 1 touchdown, becoming the NFL’s leading rusher. The offensive line didn’t miss a beat, even though they were missing Pro Bowler Tyron Smith and La’El Collins.  If anything, they looked a lot more aggressive on run blocking. In my week 3 preview, I mentioned the line might be improved with Ron Leary back at his Left Tackle spot (albeit with Collins replacing Right Tackle Doug Free), however, we did not see a turnaround like this.

Defensively, Morris Claiborne has continued to dominate the secondary. With Orlando Scandrick sidelined for a second straight week, Mo has risen to the occasion making several key stops including the game winning tackle on fourth down late in the 4th quarter. The defensive line had 1 sack and not many more hurries, but did their job after they figured out how to stop Chip Kelly’s option offense with help from Sean Lee (which couldn’t have come sooner as watching a high school offense make an NFL defense look silly got annoying in a hurry). Overall, this was a solid 2. 5 quarters of defense.

Keys to the Game Scorecard:

  • Pressure Gabbert.
    Only 1 sack, but the defensive line put the pressure on when it counted, pushing Gabbert to the sideline and closing off half the field on 4th and 6 with 1:49 left  to play.
  • Get the ball deep. The Cowboys had several lengthy plays throughout the game, however, none were long completions. Brice Butler cut across the middle so often, the 49ers’ secondary began sitting on the routes. With his speed, I expected to see at least a couple attempts of 20-30 yards.
  • Don’t be cute. This was an old fashioned ground and pound. Zeke averaged 6 YPC and the ‘Boys finished with 194 total rushing yards.

Prediction Scorecard:

Cowboys: 24

49ers: 10

I came close again in my week 4 preview. The Cowboys finished the game 24-3, but the damage was done on the 49ers’ first two drives. Cowboys cover the spread: Final Score 24-17

Is it time to trade Romo?

It was supposed to be just another Monday night in October. I walked into Texas Stadium and said the usual prayer: That Drew Bledsoe will bring the Cowboys a much needed win against the hated Giants. With the Big Tuna, Jason Witten, and T.O. on the good guys’ side, a win was likely. But the first half doesn’t go as planned and the Cowboys trail the Giants 12-7. Little did anyone know the second half of this Monday Night Football game would be the beginning of a ten-year roller coaster ride for Cowboy Nation. It was October 23, 2006 – the night the Romo era began. Cowboys fans remember like it was yesterday, seeing the number 9 jersey trot onto the field to start the second half. The excitement of a new beginning – this was THE guy, OUR guy. It wasn’t just Romo waiting patiently for this moment, the fans had been waiting too. His first pass was picked off and the Cowboys ultimately lost the game, but the Cowboys found a winner that night. He led the team to 5 wins over the next 6 games and a playoff berth. He also made the Pro Bowl and Cowboy Nation never looked back. A decade later, history may be repeating itself.

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 29: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys warms up before the start of their game against the Carolina Panthers on October 29, 2006 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Romo has washed away many of the sins of Jerry Jones and the front office over the past decade. But is that enough for Jerry to keep Romo in Dallas? Mr. Jones said it best after a few Johnnie Walkers, “Romo was a miracle”. But couldn’t the same be said for Dak Prescott? The football gods must have been smiling down on Jerry again when Dak was still available midway through the 4th round in the 2016 draft. Every scouting department in the NFL probably wants a mulligan after Dak was selected 135th overall, but as they say – hindsight is 20/20. Dak is much more than any Cowboys fan had hoped for when they drafted him. He has not only proved to be a legitimate NFL quarterback, but possibly a franchise quarterback for the next decade or longer. After Dak’s fast start, the Cowboys may not want to stunt his growth for a fragile, aging Romo. If they ultimately choose Dak to finish out the season, wouldn’t it be similar to Romo’s promotion a decade ago? The Cowboys would be in contention to win the East, but would likely end up settling for a Wildcard berth. There is nothing wrong with this scenario for a rookie quarterback, but is it enough this time around?

There is also the argument for Romo to retain his starting job when he is healthy. If the NFL stands for ‘Not For Long’, why pass on a top-tier quarterback like Romo when he could lead an offense with all of its’ pieces still intact? The Cowboys offense boasts the best O-Line in football, a Hall of Fame tight end, an All-Pro receiver, and arguably the best running back combo in the league. Who wouldn’t want a quarterback with the second highest quarterback rating in NFL history? If there is a fifty percent chance he could stay healthy for the rest of the year, it’s worth the risk of potentially stunting Dak’s growth as a quarterback (if that’s even a real concern). Who gives the Cowboys the best chance to win TODAY? The short answer is, Tony, and the gap is larger than most people would think. Many have forgotten that Romo is 15-4 (.789) in his last 19 regular season starts. When he’s healthy, the Cowboys are very hard to beat. Dak’s not going anywhere, and there isn’t a Cowboy fan out there that disagrees that he should be given the reins once Romo is done. If Romo gives the team a better chance to win, benching him when he’s ready will limit the Cowboys’ potential.

If the Cowboys decide to stay with Dak for the remainder of the season, there is no reason to keep Romo around. He would be a huge distraction, not only for Dak, but for the entire team. Romo makes no sense as an insurance policy, because the Cowboys have already passed on a legitimate run at the playoffs if they decide to bench him.  Teams are always looking for a good quarterback, and would likely give up substantial draft picks to get Romo. The Cowboys could certainty benefit from a few extra draft picks to fill the holes on the defensive side of the ball. The last time the Cowboys got a ‘few’ extra draft picks from trading a high powered offensive talent, it translated into a dynasty that brought three Lombardi trophies to Valley Ranch. It may not be on par with The Great Trade Robbery, but ‘The Star’ is up and running and waiting for some new trophies to fill the halls.

dak

The debate is not who should start for the Cowboys, but rather, when do the Cowboys want to make a serious push in the postseason? The answer should be “Now”. So look for number 9 to trot back on the field once again this year. But the question now becomes, for how long?

WEEK 4 PREVIEW: Cowboys @ 49’ers

Game Time: Sunday, 3:25 p.m.

Location: Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, CA

Betting Odds: Dallas -3

Over/Under: 46 points

The Cowboys will once again more than likely be without Dez Bryant as they head to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. When asked how the Offense will fair without their star WR, Dak Prescott said, (and I paraphrase) It won’t change our offense any, we’ll just run our offense and whoever is open will get the ball. While that is what you want to hear from your QB, I honestly think he really believes that. And why wouldn’t he? Dez hasn’t really been the poster boy for elite receivers that we have been accustomed to over the course of his career. But with Ezekiel Elliott looking more like a 4th overall pick, Dez is starting to find his rhythm. Bryce Butler will presumably take the reins this week as the physical receiver cutting across the middle and should provide the necessary speed to open up the long ball as well. Butler said on Wednesday that he is ready to get the opportunity.

dez-injury

The 49ers defense pitched a shutout week 1 over the Rams, but have since allowed 46 points week 2 to the Panthers and 37 to Seattle. Their run defense isn’t shabby, ranking 10th in the league allowing only 122.7 ypg. Where the Cowboys can make their money is in the passing game. The 49ers rank 19th allowing 254.7 ypg through the air. All this includes the week 1 Rams game where they allowed only 130 passing yards and 65 net rushing yards. So the total yards are skewed a bit. The 49ers run a 4-3 and will be healthier than the Bears (who also run a 4-3), so Dak will see a few new looks that should provide a new test. With Tyron Smith still missing practice Wednesday due to his back issue, Chaz Green will be facing those same tests. If Dak and Chaz pass this test, the Cowboys should be 3-1 come Sunday night.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, rank 11th in total yards allowed, and 10th in points per game allowing just 20. With nothing even closely resembling a pass rush, the Cowboys need to find a way to get to QB Blaine Gabbert. Essentially rushing 4 Defensive Tackles can only get you so far as the Cowboys have racked up a whopping 5 sacks so far this season. Hope is on the horizon, however, as Demarcus Lawrence is expected back next week when the Bengals come to ATT Stadium.

Keys to the Game:

  • Pressure Gabbert. Give any NFL QB time, and he will pick you apart, even Gabbert. The 49ers receivers don’t have any names that will scare you, so make Gabbert throw the ball quickly and there should be an interception in it for you.
  • Get the ball deep. The 49ers, if smart, will stack the box and shut down Zeke. Use Brice Butler to open up the field while also running quick slants across the middle and that will force them to respect all facets of your game plan
  • Don’t be cute. This should be a solid win. If the coaching staff (Jason Garrett), can put this team in a position to execute the simple things, the Cowboys should be able to win this thing pretty easily. Don’t let the 49ers get confidence, shut them down early, play tough.

Prediction:

Cowboys: 24

49ers: 10

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 31, Bears 17

[ecko_wide]WINNING STREAK: A series of consecutive successes; a run of good luck. – American Heritage Dictionary[/ecko_wide]

I figured everyone could use a refresher on the definition of “winning streak” – The last time the Cowboys had one was September 20 of last year when they beat the Giants week 1 and Eagles week 2. That week 2 win was bitter sweet as Tony Romo injured his collar bone and we all know what happened next. This year is different. Yes, Tony Romo is injured again, but we have Dak Prescott under center and he is only getting better. Week by week you can see is confidence level grow. In the week 1 loss to the Giants, his passer rating was 69.4, followed by a 103.7 in his first win in Washington last week. This week? A rating of 123.6 completing 19 of 24 for 248 yards and 1 TD. Dak threw his first NFL touchdown last night in the 4th quarter when he completed a 17 yard pass over the middle to Dez Bryant. The offensive line provided a clean pocket and controlled the line of scrimmage throughout the night allowing Zeke Elliott to eat as much as he wanted as he ran for 140 yards on 30 carries. All of this while missing Pro Bowl Left Tackle Tyron Smith and losing Left Guard La’El Collins at halftime. Chaz Green filled the void at tackle and Ronald Leary stepped in at guard and the line didn’t miss a beat. Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said, “I thought we showed our depth on the offensive line tonight.”dak-dez

Defensively, the boys stepped up and didn’t let the Bears’ receivers beat them. Brian Hoyer threw for 317 yards and 2 touchdowns, however, a lot of those yards seemed to come toward the end when the secondary started playing a more prevent style coverage (65 passing yards in 1st half). The defensive line had trouble yet again getting to the QB recording only 1 sack on the night which resulted in a fumble. Hoyer had plenty of time to scan the field the majority of the night, and this Cowboy secondary held its own against the physical Bears’ receivers, even without starting CB Orlando Scandrick (2 hamstring injuries).

Key to the Game Scorecard

  • Continue to get Dez the ball. Expect to see at least 1 X thrown up: Nailed it!, kinda. Dez had 1 TD on 3 catches from six targets, . Perhaps the worst thrown ball of the night by Dak went about 3 feet behind Dez, and he almost caught it.
  • Establish the run. 199 total rushing yards, 140 by Zeke. Zeke “ate it up”, showing patience and explosion.
  • Do NOT let Alshon Jeffery beat you.  AJ caught 5 passes for 70 yards and no TDs, Kevin White caught 6 for 68 with no TDs. Tight End Zach Miller was the star receiver for the Bears catching 8 for 78 with 2 TDs.

Game Recap: Bears: 17, Cowboys: 31

The One Thing That Will Make America’s Team Great Again

There have been many theories on why “America’s Team” has been average for the past two decades. Some have blamed Jerry Jones for the drought. Others point to the general manager (also Jerry Jones) for uncalculated free agent signings, poor drafting, and trying to create a team of big name ‘stars’ instead of building an actual TEAM. There are even some naysayers that believe the problem begins and ends at the quarterback position, including the much beloved Tony Romo. All of these reasons may have played a part, but the real reason resonates throughout every season since the glory days with The Triplets. The Dallas Cowboys head coaching since 1997 has been questionable, at best. Since Barry Switzer retired after the 1997 season, the Cowboys are 148-149 in the regular season and playoffs. While some may have been worse than others (Chan Gailey and Dave Campo), not one of the head coaches were impressive.

romo-parcellsLet’s start with Bill Parcells, since the two preceding him were nothing more than placeholders. Parcells came into a situation when the cupboard was barer than any Cowboys roster since the 80’s. He had aging stars on the edge of retirement (Woodson and Allen) mixed with players that he got to perform well above their talent level (Coakley and Williams). This was Bill Parcells last head coaching job, and he treated it as such, by trying to build a team that another coach could come in and take back to the promised land. That included signing undrafted rookie Tony Romo to become the Cowboy’s first franchise quarterback since Troy Aikman. The problem was that Jerry Jones let that coordinator (Sean Payton) get away. Payton went on to become the head coach of the New Orleans Saints the year before Bill Parcells turned his job over to Wade Phillips. Wade was, and is, a great defensive coordinator, but as we’ve seen many times before, that does not always translate into being a great head coach. Wade’s job was made even harder since he most likely knew that his offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, was basically a head coach in waiting. Wade took the Cowboys to the playoffs a couple of times in his stint as head coach, but was not able to make it past the divisional round either time.

That brings us to the current head coach, Jason Garrett. He took over halfway through the 2010 season and is two games over .500 in that time. Not exactly a record that deserves the job security he seems to have with Jerry Jones. Jerry always seems to find an excuse for why Garrett failed, instead of demanding results in the face of adversity. While Garrett has a great football mind when it comes to X’s and O’s, that is where his coaching prowess ends. He possesses the skills needed to be a successful coordinator in the NFL, but falls short of those skills required to become a Super Bowl winning head coach.

jg33Let’s look at the greatest example of an NFL head coach right now, Bill Belichik, and see how Garrett compares in three different areas. First, Belichik’s delegation is second to none, and the best way to exemplify this is by his coaching tree.  He has produced seven NFL head coaches and seven NCAA Division I head coaches. One of those coaches was Nick Saban, who just so happened to be the head coach of the Miami Dolphins when Jason Garrett was the quarterbacks coach. That’s right, Belichik’s coaching tree is now so extensive, other trees are now growing off of it, and Garrett is a branch on one of those trees. While Garrett definitely has not had the tenure to grow the coaching tree Belichik has, by this time in his career Belichik had already promoted out Pat Hill to Fresno State and Nick Saban to Michigan State.

Second, Belichik’s in-game strategy makes Garrett look as if he learned how to game plan by playing Techmo Bowl. We could delve into the most specific and minute stats to see how Belichik makes more right decisions than Garrett, but the easiest is to look at how they react when their hands are tied by playing without their respective star quarterbacks. Since Brady became the starter, Belichik is 15-5 with his backup quarterback, a winning percentage only 1 percent lower than with Brady. Since Garrett took over as head coach of the Cowboys he is 7-14 without Romo as the starter, a whopping 26 percent lower winning percentage than with Romo. Basically, that means if Brady is out, the Patriots still have almost an equal shot at winning with Belichik, but if Romo is out the Cowboys are about half as likely to come away with a win with Garrett.

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Bill Belichick reacts after D'Brickashaw Ferguson #60 of the New York Jets shoved Aqib Talib #31 of the New England Patriots, who intercepted a pass, in the 4th quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Finally, Belichik’s superiority over Garrett can be seen by the talent he can attract from around the league. From big free agents superstars like Darrelle Revis to proven talent in Chris Long to the Golden Boy himself, the Patriots can continually get cream of the crop talent for considerably less than they are worth on the open market. Not only do the Cowboys have to pay top dollar for free agents to come play for America’s Team, they could not even convince their All-Pro running back, Demarco Murray, to take even the slightest pay cut to stick around.

Being quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys is one of the hardest positions in sports. It’s up there with playing Shortstop for the Yankees or Center for the Lakers, but the head coach in Dallas is no stress-free job either. Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson flourished in the role, while Barry Switzer and Bill Parcells were good within their own right. These coaches were used to the bright lights that come with being the head coach of America’s Team. Jason Garrett’s resume prior to the Cowboys is less than impressive, to say the least. To say he had never been in the spotlight before is an understatement. In fact, he was so far from the spotlight he couldn’t even cast a shadow. From quarterbacking Ivy League schools – to bouncing around in lesser professional leagues – to becoming a career NFL backup – to coaching in the NFL, Jason Garrett had never been a focal point of any meaningful organization. So the next time you see a ‘deer in the headlights’ look while watching a Cowboys news conference, or the next time you cringe at Garrett’s horrible game-management ability, try to keep in mind that he’s still adjusting his vision to the bright lights at The Star. Unfortunately for Cowboy fans, he may also be the roadblock to a sixth championship ring.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett speaks to reporters during an NFL football media availability at Valley Ranch Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

WEEK 3 PREVIEW: Cowboys vs. Bears

When the NFL schedule gurus created this Sunday Night Football matchup, the Cowboys and the Bears looked much different than they do now. Jay Cutler was the QB in Chicago and Tony Romo was the man in Dallas. Instead, we get the veteran Brian Hoyer versus the rookie, Dak Prescott. But the starting QB’s may not be the only missing pieces from the originally planned lineups. CB Orlando Scandrick (Hamstrings, has not practiced), RT Doug Free (Quadricep, Limited in Practice) and DE Jack Crawford (Shoulder, Limited in Practice) could all potentially miss Sunday night’s game. Everything coming out of the Star in Frisco says that Scandrick could take the week off. I know the Bears are win-less and playing a backup QB, but these Bears receivers are not to be taken lightly. Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are both capable of putting up big numbers at any moment and Hoyer is a seasoned veteran who finished last season with a passer rating over 90, throwing for 19 TD’s and only 7 INT’s.

The Chicago defense has been decimated by injury with 10 players either limited or not practicing this week. This should be the week Dak gets his first and maybe second TD passes of his career. The question that could spark the most debate, however, isn’t with the rookie Prescott. Of all the position groups on this team, the offensive line has the most intriguing dilemma. With Doug Free limited in practice, Ron Leary aching for action on the sideline and La’El Collins struggling at Guard, it’s creating a perfect storm to move Collins (who’s every highlight is in the open field) over to right tackle and Leary back into his left guard spot. This could help the struggling run game significantly. Collins missed 5 blocks last week in the run game. To say he isn’t the mauler we all hoped for is an understatement. Ezekiel Elliott needs some holes this week to help him get his mind right after being benched for the first time in his life. Zeke dropped the ball twice last week after only fumbling 3 times in his entire college career. Couple this with his off the field ‘issues’ (if you can call them that), and he needs a big game this week.

Defensively, the Cowboys need to get to Hoyer and force him to make bad decisions. This has been a problem spot for the Cowboys D, which is to be expected when you are essentially rushing 4 DT’s. The two sacks this season are, of all things, coverage sacks which allowed time for the big guys up front to power their way home. Those coverage sacks might be a little harder to come by this week. If Scandrick sits, look for Byron Jones to get some action at corner alongside Carr, Claiborne and rookie Anthony Brown with JJ Wilcox and rookie Kavon Frazier getting more reps at the Safety.

week3-preview2

KEYS TO THE GAME

Game Time: 7:30 PM on NBC

Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington

All in all, this week is set up perfectly for the Cowboys to break that 8 game home losing streak pretty easily. Here are the keys to the game:

  • Continue to get Dez the ball – Expect to see at least 1 X thrown up.
  • Establish the run – It’s a case of the chicken or the egg here. Getting the ball to Dez opens the run. Running the ball early opens up Dez.
  • Do NOT let Alshon Jeffery beat you – Hoyer is capable, but is prone to make mistakes. Shutting down their playmaker should help him make some more.

PREDICTION

Cowboys:            27

Bears:                   13

Week 3 Preview: Bears @ Cowboys

GAME RECAP: Cowboys 27 – Redskins 23

After the Cowboys win in Landover, one thing is for certain: the Redskins have issues. Kirk Cousins threw for 364 yards and 1 TD, but should have had 3 more easy ones as Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson both had breakaways well past the Cowboy secondary only to be over thrown. Redskins Running Back, Matt Jones, had a good game as well rushing for 61 yards on only 13 carries. Why Jay Gruden doesn’t run more is beyond me. Not saying Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is perfect, but he did try to be less predictable with an onside kick in the middle of the game, which caught both teams off guard when the ball didn’t travel the 10 yards required. I want to feel good about this win, I do, but watching all the blatant missed opportunities by Washington makes it difficult. However, this isn’t a Redskins blog, so HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS!

Rush to Judgment

Dak Prescott was full of poise and grace as he threw for 292 yards completing 22/30 attempts and Zeke Elliott rushed for 83 yards on 21 attempts for an average of 4 yards per carry. Zeke was definitely improved, but the rookie has room to grow. He ‘left some meat on the bone’ so to speak. The Offensive line looked to avenge their lack luster run blocking from week 1 and they did. They were opening holes and getting to the second level consistently. One thing to remember for you rush to judgment on Zeke, he had a total of 14 snaps in the preseason. He will continue to improve as he adapts to the pace of the NFL and gets a feel for the offensive line. Josh Norman held Dez to 0 catches, but primarily played on the left side of the field so Dez was able to catch 7 for 102 yards against Baushaud Breeland, the point is moot.

redskins2

Claiborne Supremacy

Morris Claiborne played about as well as we’ve ever seen. He was quick and made stops with minimal contact which is exactly what you want out of your corners. He gets the defensive player of the game from me. What we’ve longed for out of Mo since we moved WAY up to get him in the first round of 2012 finally came to fruition. Also showing defensive prowess was Safety Barry Church and Linebacker Justin Durant. Church came away with a crucial interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter and Durant almost had one with 2 minutes to go in the game. It wasn’t all good on the defensive side, however. The secondary got flat out burnt more than once but since Kirk Cousins was the passer, they fell incomplete. They left Josh Doctson, the 1st round pick WR out of TCU, unattended to triple team DeSean Jackson which cost them 57 yards and would’ve resulted in a TD if not for the closing speed and hustle of Safety Byron Jones. The Defensive line looked strong but lacked the speed to get to Cousins. This is expected when you are playing four tackles on your line. Due to suspensions and injury, the boys have been forced to play Benson Mayowa and Jack Crawford at the end spots.

redskins3

Keys to the Game

Before the game, I outlined 3 keys for a Cowboys win over the Redskins.  Let’s take a look and see how the ‘Boys did.

  • Dallas MUST establish the run early.  – Zeke ran the ball well and the offensive line showed the fire they lacked in the opener.
  • Dez Bryant needs to be targeted like the Elite receiver we all believe he is. – Dez eclipsed the 100 yard mark for the first time in 6 straight games. He didn’t have a catch against Josh Norman, though.
  • The Cowboys need to have a middle linebacker.  – Still an issue. Matt Jones rushed for almost 5 yards a carry. I wish I could say we had a guy coming back off of injury or short suspension, but we don’t. Rolando McClain is 2 games into his 10 game suspension, however, no one is planning on him to ever play a snap again for the Cowboys.

Two of three keys was good enough for Dallas to earn a win in Washington and with Chicago and San Francisco in weeks 3 and 4, the Cowboys are well on their way to a good start in 2016.

GAME RECAP: Giants 20 – Cowboys 19

It wasn’t all fun and games for Dez Bryant and the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. Actually, I think it’s safe to say that no fun was had by any athlete donning a star on their helmet. As time expired in the 20-19 loss to the New York Giants, I couldn’t help but say, “I told you so.”.

The key to this game was the Cowboys’ Defensive Line. Not the rookie QB – Not the rookie RB – The Defensive Line. The D-Line had more holes than a cheese hat from Green Bay, which allowed the Giants to rush up the middle at will. However, the game ultimately came down to a play that couldn’t have been scripted any better for Cowboy haters, as Terrance Williams made the bone-head decision to turn back towards the middle of the field rather than getting out of bounds to stop the clock with only 10 seconds remaining. With no timeouts, the Cowboys ran out of time at the Giants’ 40 yard line, which coincidentally is exactly where they needed to be for a game-winning field goal try by Dan Bailey.

terrance-williams-bonehead

As for Dak Prescott, his debut was ok. He showed poise in the pocket at times, but there were too many other times when it seemed like he was simply throwing in the general direction of his receivers and hoping for a miracle. Dak finished his debut going 25 of 45 for 227 yards with no Touchdowns, no Interceptions and an overall passer rating of 69.4. Not exactly the triple digit rating we were all hoping for, but if it wasn’t for a horrible drop by Beasley in the red zone, it would’ve have been a little better.

[ecko_pull_quote alignment=”left” source=”Ezekiel Elliott”]I think I was average, you know – average. [/ecko_pull_quote]

Ezekiel Elliott didn’t live up to expectations either, averaging just 2.4 yards on 20 carries for 51 total yards. Every time he touched the ball he was met by a wall of defenders at the line of scrimmage. After the game, Zeke acknowledged his lackluster performance, saying “I think I was average, you know – average. That’s not why I was brought here to be average, so we’ve got a lot of work to get done. A lot to work on.”. Alfred Morris seemed to have better luck finding the holes, gaining 35 yards on 7 touches (5.0 YPC). Maybe the defense played Morris a little looser, maybe not.

zeke

But the most shocking stat was Geoff Swaim having a bigger day than Dez Bryant. The 2nd string TE out of the University of Texas hauled in one pass for 21 yards while the star wide receiver was nearly X’d-out (pun intended), finishing with only 8 yards from one catch. Dez had a couple opportunities for big plays in the end zone, but failed to come down with the ball in either instance. The timing and feel between Dak and Dez will come with continued practice and they will eventually find their rhythm, but for the sake of Cowboy Nation, I sure hope it’s soon… Star CB Josh Norman awaits Dez next week in Washington.

[ecko_contrast]This article was originally posted on TheLandryLetters.com and is made available through partnership with Over Served News. For more information on The Landry Letters blog, please visit the website or email comments@thelandryletters.com[/ecko_contrast]

No need to panic: Dak has this for now

When Romo went down in Seattle, I honestly thought his career was going to end essentially where it began (The Bobble). He eventually got up and walked off of the field, but the damage was done to his back. Romo is going to miss at least the first month of football, but will the Cowboys’ fate change while Dak has control of the ship? I don’t think so. With Romo, I had the Cowboys starting 3-3 in the first six weeks and making a strong push at the end of the year to finish around 10-6 or even 11-5. That hasn’t changed, and here’s why.

1. In September, Dak needs to play slightly below the level he played in the preseason. I know I know, it’s the “Preseason”, but look around the league and see how well other rookie quarterbacks played in the “Preseason”. It’s not even close. Goff (LA), Wentz (Phi), Lynch (Den), Hackenberg (NYJ), Brissett (NE), Kessler (Cle), and Cook (Oak) were all drafted ahead of Dak. If these seven teams could get a mulligan, how many would draft Dak after the “Preseason”? My gut tells me six of these teams would take Dak right now, and I’m not so sure that number isn’t seven. The Cowboys got very lucky to grab Dak with the 135th pick of the draft. They were also fortunate Kellen Moore was injured to allow Dak more reps in training camp and the preseason. Is he going to struggle in his first month of the season? Absolutely, but he will still manage to keep the offense productive and the Cowboys heads above water.

Cowboys O-Line

2. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in football, and probably the deepest group of running backs in the league. What else could a young quarterback ask for? Let’s see, maybe a Hall of Fame tight end as a security blanket, and throw in an All-Pro receiver while you’re at it. Dak will have advantages that almost no rookie quarterback in recent memory has been afforded. This is a dream supporting cast, and almost too good to fail. To be successful, Dak will need to be slightly more active than your average bus-driving quarterback, which his raw talent will allow him to do.

3. This defense isn’t as bad as we all thought it was going to be a few months ago. We shouldn’t be surprised Marinelli pulled another rabbit out of his hat with this group. In the preseason, this defense showed itself to be very capable of being a middle of the pack defense. In the combined four quarters played by the starters, they only allowed 17 points. Is it the next generation Doomsday D? Not even close, but this defense will be good enough to allow our offense to control the game and
win fifty percent of our first few games.

Dak has the tools and supporting cast to be successful while Romo recovers from his recent back injury. It takes defenses 4-6 weeks of game film to understand a quarterback’s tendencies, and Romo may return before defensive coordinators have time to do so with Dak. Dak may not be ready to take the Cowboys deep into the playoffs this year, but we may not need him to this year. After its all said and done, Romo’s injury may have allowed the Cowboys to have their cake and eat it too. Dak develops in his rookie year and gains valuable experience, and Romo rides in on his white horse and leads the Cowboys BACK to playoffs. Don’t panic just yet, this injury may be a blessing in disguise.

Why Colin Kaepernick Deserves Respect

A week ago, the image of Colin Kaepernick lounging on a bench during the national anthem was burned into the head of everyone who had turned on a television or browsed the internet. Some hated the protest, some applauded it, while others wondered if there was a better way to bring light to such a sensitive issue. One thing is certain, it grabbed the attention of a nation. And that’s what he wanted, right?

Not really. Kaepernick wanted to bring up a discussion of the oppression he sees for “black people and people of color” in the United States. What he did start a discussion on, is whether or not one should be ostracized for sitting during the national anthem. By many, it was seen as a slight to the military and completely ‘unAmerican’. Anyone that lives in this country knows that going against the military is taboo. This is not the 1960s and 1970s when people spat on, and ridiculed soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War. Not to say that people in the United States do not still have strong feelings against war or the reasons we are in them, but we have evolved to realize that it is not the young men and women who put their lives on the line that we should be angry with. While Colin did say that his sitting was not aimed at the military in any way, it was pretty hard to separate the two once it had gone viral.

Kaepernick was left at an impasse once he said he would not stand until he saw real change with the issue at hand. If he stood after that without progress, he would be viewed as just another whiny, overpaid athlete looking for attention while not really caring about the issue. On the other hand, if he continued to sit, he would be at the center of a media whirlwind, lose endorsements, be jeered at in every stadium he entered (even Levi’s Stadium), and become more of a sideshow than an NFL quarterback, starting or not.

Sep 1, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Fans hold a sign and the flag in responses to San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (not pictured) during the second quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The sign of a true man is not that he is never wrong, but rather, that he can admit his faults and strive to change and become better. Was Kaepernick wrong to protest what he sees as a social injustice in our country? Absolutely not! Could he have gone about it in a better way? I think so. Kaepernick spent 90 minutes with former Green Beret, Nate Boyer, before the 49ers final preseason game, and decided to take a knee during the national anthem instead of sitting. Wow, that was not something I expected to see. While we are supposed to stand for our anthem, taking a knee can still be seen as a sign of respect. Genuflect means to lower one’s body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect. That is what Kaepernick is doing. What Colin is saying with this action appears to be, ‘I will still continue to protest the problem I see in my country, but I do not want to disrespect those not involved. Most notably, the men and women of the U.S. military.’.

Kaepernick is not perfect, in this protest or outside of it. Wearing socks with pigs dressed in police uniforms was certainly not done in good taste. Protesting oppression, then wearing a t-shirt with one of the most oppressive modern day world leaders on the front of it almost seems oxymoron. However, I for sure am not the one to cast the first stone. If people came looking at all of my poorly thought out plans that I took action on first, I would have my foot so far in my mouth that I could kick myself in the ass simultaneously for screwing up.

All in all, while I may not see Colin Kaepernick as a respectable NFL quarterback, I definitely respect him as a person. Admitting when I’m wrong (however rare that may be) is probably one of my biggest faults, and I could definitely take a page from the book that is Colin Kaepernick. So Colin, continue your protest until you see the change that you want to see in our country. Also, I hope you will be starting on October 2nd, because my Cowboys sure could use the win.

Dak Prescott: Cowboys QB of the Future

Talk around the water cooler with any Cowboy’s fan lately has been about Dak Prescott, and with good reason. In his first two preseason games, Dak is completing over 80% of his throws and has a QB rating just under perfect. This has Cowboy homers already visualizing Dak’s bust in Canton, and Cowboy/Romo haters saying Dak should be starting September 11th. If Dak were a stock, everyone and their mama would be taking out cash advance loans to buy shares. Thankfully, for Cowboys fans near and far, Dak is a backup quarterback, not a stock; because in about two weeks, the NASDAK is going to plummet. Not because these past two games have been a fluke, and Dak is about to be a bust, but because he will soon be an afterthought.

Dak4

What these preseason games really mean:
Dak has won the position of backup quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. That is not nearly as glamorous a position as starting QB, where all eyes are on you and the pressure of the world is laid upon your shoulders every Sunday. Just ask Jason Garrett. Dak will be on the sidelines, with headphones in place of a helmet and a clipboard in hand. The interviews will slow, until they are almost non-existent, and Dak will start to understand how Aaron Rodgers felt for the first three years of his NFL career waiting behind a franchise quarterback for his turn to play. It’s somewhat ironic that it was Brett Favre, the quarterback who Tony Romo says he still looks up to.

favre rodgers

When will Dak start?
Barring injury to Romo (knock on wood), Dak will only be seen in blowout games for the 2016 season. After that, it becomes a lot more difficult because of the business side of the NFL. This is the first year that Romo did not restructure his deal since 2012, and Romo’s contract is astronomically high (~$25 million) for the three seasons following. Jerry Jones is going to have to get creative again, and will most likely have to sell Romo on the idea of a pay cut. How these negotiations go will definitely have an effect on Dak’s career, considering a happy Romo will mean a great mentor for Dak’s tutelage. Look to see Dak start sometime during the 2018 season.

Cowboy’s draft grade for Dak:
A+. Calm down, I’m grading on a curve. The Cowboys have to be one of the worst franchises, if not the worst, at drafting quarterbacks in the last 25 years. Stephen McGee (4th round 2009), Isaiah Stanback (4th round 2007), Quincy Carter (2nd round 2001), and Bill Musgrave (4th round 1991) are the four QBs the Cowboys have drafted since taking Troy Aikman number one overall. Dak was not just a good draft pick, but this was also good timing. As seen with the Philadelphia Eagles this year, the draft can create animosity among the quarterbacks if the current quarterback plans to be playing beyond the incoming rookie’s contract. Dak and Romo’s contracts both expire at the end of the 2019 season.

Looking Forward:
For anyone thinking that Dak is going to walk into the starting role and play the way he has in the preseason, you’re wrong. Try to remember that these are preseason games that do not matter, therefore no one is playing 100%. That also means there is not the normal stress of an NFL game, with the worries of bad plays running through the quarterback’s head for the 48 hours before kickoff. It is almost common knowledge that the hardest position to play in sports is starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. You become a reality star, constantly on national news, with them trying to decide if you lost because you suck, or if your pop star girlfriend is bad luck. The tough minded can handle it, the others flame out and are never heard from again.

COLUMBIA , MO - NOVEMBER 5: Quarterback Dak Prescott #15 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs throws a touchdown pass against the Missouri Tigers in the second quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Dak seems to have what it takes to be the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He led the Mississippi State Bulldogs to three straight winning seasons in the SEC, the toughest conference in college football. As a 20-year-old sophomore, he lost his mom to cancer and came back to finish off the season strong and be named MVP of a bowl game. He’s shown that perseverance is his DNA, and that is something he will need under the bright lights at Jerry’s World. So, Dak, I can’t wait to see what you can do as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. On second thought, I can, for about 2-3 years.

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The Rangers are similar to the 2006 & 2011 Mavericks, and that’s a very good thing.

[ecko_quote source=”Maya Angelou”]People won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.[/ecko_quote]

Maya Angelou was right, and often times sports are the same way. We may not remember every play or sometimes even the final score, but we always seem to remember where we were during the big games (because of the strong feelings we have at those moments). A championship game can pump you up so much that you riot into the streets as if you were invincible, but it can also bring you down so low that you have to call into work the next day. Below are my personal accounts of the feelings I’ve had with both the Mavs and the Rangers, followed by some odd similarities that may give DFW sports fans a reason to feel optimistic about November baseball.  

June 20, 2006 – Mavs lose the Championship: After Game 6, Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat accept the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the American Airlines Center. My body-painted jersey begins to fade as I watch in disgust from the lower level. That championship was ours for the taking, and we let it slip through our fingers. The shock slowly sets in as I begin to realize the Mavs will have to start over at square one next year.

June 12, 2011 – Mavs’ Redemption: Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks payback the favor to Miami, as the Mavs are crowned NBA Champs after Game 6 in the American Airlines Arena. I watch the game at a friends’ ‘Man Cave’, where Phil (the other half of the SOS podcast) and I both brought multiple bottles of champagne as if we would be celebrating with the team afterwards. Complete hysteria ensues; the party begins; 2006 is forgotten.

October 27, 2011 – Rangers lose the championship: I am the only Rangers fan in the bar, on the north side of Chicago. Several beers and shots in, I may or may not have been talking trash to the sea of St. Louis Cardinals fans, in both the 9th and 10th innings. I feel like a toddler in timeout, as I sit in my corner booth, after David Freese hits a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning. Many of the aforementioned Cardinals fans walk by with some choice words for my premature celebrations. The next day, I sneak away to the doctor’s lounge during my on-call OB night shift, to watch yet another DFW major sports championship slip away as the Cardinals pulled off an easy 6-2 win in game 7.

November, 2016 – Rangers’ Redemption?: Currently, the Texas Rangers sit atop of the American League with their eyes set on November Baseball. But will they get there? The similarities between these franchises seems to point towards the Rangers righting the wrongs of five years ago, just as the Dallas Mavericks did in 2011. Let’s take a look…

same crew

THE STARTERS

For starters (pun intended), both the 2016 Rangers and 2011 Mavs are returning about 15-20% of their roster from five years before. This shows that both teams did have strong cores in their previous championship run, but trying to make a run with the same team five years later will not work. Jon Daniels and Donnie Nelson both made the necessary moves to keep their teams in contention. Dirk and Jason ‘The Jet’ Terry returned for the Mavs, while the Rangers held onto Beltre, Mitch Moreland, Colby Lewis, Elvis Andrus, and Derek Holland. Jon Daniels could’ve gone the way of the Marlins after both the 1997 and 2003 World Series wins and completely blown up the roster for a rebuild. Instead, he chose to keep a good core while letting go of a few expensive luxuries, so that he could retool the Rangers into a team that could make another run in October.

In both the 2010-11 NBA season and the 2016 MLB season, there was a team in the other conference/league that was getting all of the headlines. The 2010-11 Miami Heat “Big-three” of Wade, Bosh, and Lebron made a hater out of everyone, and had them tuning in just hoping they would lose every night. While the MLB doesn’t have a team with quite that star power, they do have the Chicago Cubs who started out the season an incredible 24-6 pacing them to win 130 (which would’ve blown their own record of 116 wins out of the water). Now its mid-August, and the Cubs have cooled, but they still lead the majors in wins and are on pace for over 100 wins.

injury

THE INJURIES

Both teams also lost what was thought to be an integral piece to a championship run mid-season, and would never see that player in their team’s uniform again. The Mavs lost starting wing, Caron Butler, to a season-ending knee injury and he signed with the Clippers the following year. This forced the Mavs to bring defensive-minded Deshawn Stevenson into the starting lineup, who added a toughness to a team usually thought of as ‘soft’. Stevenson was usually ignored on the offensive side of the floor, but could always nail a three when his man sagged off a little too much. JJ Barea is probably the player who gained the most from Butler’s injury, since he grabbed a boatload of quality minutes in the playoffs that earned him a 4 year/$19 million contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Rangers, on the other hand, just recently lost starting 1st baseman/DH, Prince Fielder, to a career-ending neck injury. While Prince was not having a very good year for himself, he was still a dangerous bat that opposing pitchers would fear in tight ballgames. The recent loss of Shin Soo Choo could be added to this injury issue, as well, although he may be available very late in the postseason.

trade

THE TRADES

Personnel trades are always a big part of championship runs, and 2011 and 2016 were no different. The Mavs pretty much stole candy from the baby when they swapped Erick Dampier for the Bobcats’ Tyson Chandler. Chandler turned out to be the most important player on the Mavericks, not named Dirk. His presence, both on the defensive end of the floor and in the locker room, changed the Mavs into a driven, determined force to be reckoned with. Put Dampier back on the team, and ‘Mother’s Day Massacre’ might have a completely different meaning for Mavs fans.

Jon Daniels proved to everyone that the Rangers have their eyes set on the World Series in 2016, when they picked up both Carlos Beltran and Jonathon Lucroy at the trade deadline. Many fans were upset when they didn’t pickup a starting pitcher, but Daniels was just not willing to give away the farm (system) for a single pitcher, but the trades he did make we’re still pretty bold. Beltran is a great bat to add to the lineup, the only issue will be if he will have to play in the field for three games in the World Series. Lucroy is a huge addition to the Rangers for this year and next, filling in the one weak position they had in the field. Not to jump the gun or anything, but in Lucroy’s first fifteen games with the Rangers, he has seven home runs and fourteen RBIs. Not bad my friend, not bad at all.

punch

THE PRIOR YEAR

Finally, both teams also finished their prior year by losing to a rival in the playoffs. The Mavs, as a two-seed, lost in the 1st round to the much hated San Antonio Spurs in 2010. This rivalry during the Duncan/Dirk era will live on forever in fans hearts, and this series was no different. Losing again with such a high seed and a 1-0 lead made Dirk fans start to question if he would ever win a championship in the NBA. The articles circulated, which no doubt got back to Dirk to fuel the fire for the following year. And what a year 2011 was!

The 2015 ALDS between the Rangers and the Toronto Blue Jays may not have started as a rivalry, but, if Bautista’s bat flip and Odor’s punch heard round the world haven’t proven it to you yet – it is one now. The Rangers took games one AND two on the road, and it looked as if no one could deny the Rangers another chance at the pennant. We all know how this story ends though, with the Blue Jays roaring back to take both games in Texas, then flying home to crush Rangers fans’ hearts as Elvis Andrus committed two crucial errors to seal their fate. It may not have been all that bad though, considering it didn’t look like anyone could have beat the Royals in 2015.

Early November 2016:
 So where will I be at this time? Where will you be? Maybe I’ll scrounge up some tickets and see the magic unfold live before my eyes. And you can never rule out the camaraderie found in a sports bar, with hundreds of other strangers with one common goal: a win for the home team. They say championships live forever, but really, it’s the memories that do.

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Why the Dallas Cowboys will win the East

This time last year very few people thought the Washington Redskins had any real chance of winning the NFC East. However, they were able to prove critics wrong after starting the season 4-6. The Skins ultimately finished with 9 wins, but at one point last year it was widely believed that 7 wins would be enough to clinch the East. In other words, no one expected the division to be competitive in the slightest, and for the most part they were right. The Redskins were able to finish strong, winning 5 of their last 6 and clinching the division by 2 games, but their outlook for 2016 has not greatly improved. With Kirk Cousins at the helm, the Redskins should have a very similar year in 2016, but 8-9 wins will not be enough this year. No team has won back to back NFC East titles since the 2003 & 2004 Eagles, and that’s not going to be changing this year. The Dallas Cowboys are primed to have a rebound year and take back what was rightfully theirs in 2014.

Similar to 2015, the NFC East is not expected to be very strong in 2016 either. Let’s take a quick look around the division to see what Cowboy fans can expect.Undoubtedly, the Cowboys had the best team in the NFC East last year. Unfortunately, their best players were watching in street clothes on the sidelines for most of 2015.  But if the Cowboys can keep Romo upright in 2016, they should be resting their starters as early as Week 16. I know that’s a bold statement to make after going just 4-12 last year, but don’t forget that the Cowboys were 3-1 when Romo started last year and the offense has only improved in 2016. With the addition of Ezekiel (Zeke) Elliott at RB, the Cowboys should have a top 3 offense and lead the NFL in time of possession (much like the 2014 Cowboys who were 3rd in TOP). In order for this to happen, the Cowboys’ key players will need to stay healthy and the defense will have to perform a few notches above “absolutely terrible” (mediocre will do just fine).

Eli Manning

NEW YORK GIANTS

The Giants are entering the post-Tom Coughlin era, and there is uncertainty within the Giants organization without Coughlin running the show. However, the G-Men did beef up their secondary in the offseason, and promoted offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, to head coach. McAdoo’s promotion was a move to ensure Eli Manning replicates the past two seasons, where he had a combined 65 TDs and 28 Ints under McAdoo. They finished 6-10 last year, and I believe they will be slightly better by a win or two, but not much more.

Sam Bradford

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

On the other hand, the Eagles are moving on from the failed Chip Kelly experiment by replacing him with Doug Pederson, the Chiefs offensive coordinator. They drafted Carson Wentz with the 2nd overall pick, but don’t expect him to have any impact this year unless Sam Bradford goes down again (which is very possible). The Eagles will chalk this up to a rebuilding year with a new head coach and QB. That just leaves the Redskins!

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

As I noted earlier, the Redskins surprised everyone last year, but the reigning champs will have a target on their backs in 2016. Remember how the Redskins won 5 of their last 6 games in 2015? Well, their only loss in that span was to the Cowboys at Fedex Field with Matt Cassell at the helm (Yes, Matt Cassell did win a game). Keep in mind, this was the only game the Cowboys won last year without a QB named Romo. If Cassell’s Cowboys could stomp into Landover and beat the Skins last December, I think it’s safe to say the Skins will have their hands full when playing the Boys with a healthy set of triplets this year. However, with Kirk Cousins improving his game, the Redskins will be a decent team in 2016 and hover around the .500 mark.

tony_romo_dez_bryant_twitter

And then there was one! This Cowboy team will win more than 10 games for one, and only one reason: The Offense. The Cowboys boast the best offensive line in football (it’s not even close). The O-Line will have to keep Romo clean and open up holes for Zeke and company, but this should not be a concern for any Cowboy fan. They legitimately have four pro bowlers on the O-line, which may be the 2nd best line in Cowboys history. They also have a top 5 WR in the league coupled with a future hall of famer in Jason Witten. Not to mention they selected the best running back in the draft, and maybe even the past few drafts with Zeke. Outside of tough road match-ups against the Packers, Steelers, and Vikings, the Cowboys’ schedule is pretty favorable. I see this team winning 10 or 11 games this year, which will be more than enough to clinch the NFC “LEast”.

It will all come down to keeping Romo healthy. If Romo stays healthy, the Boys are going to light up the scoreboard and control the game clock, minimizing the exposure to the defense. I know Romo’s health is sketchy at best; however, Romo did his part by having the Mumford procedure to prevent another clavicle injury. In short, a small portion of his collarbone was shaved to prevent grinding so it will not break when he lands on his shoulder. This procedure is not guaranteed to work, but the chances are high that it will. A Romo injury will be the only reason the Cowboys will not be hosting a playoff game in January. Rest easy Cowboys fans, this year the Cowboys’ win total will be double-digits and they will win the NFC East for the 22nd time.

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D-Motivating

Football is officially back! The ‘Boys reported to camp in Oxnard on Saturday and we finally get our first taste of anything resembling big-boy football since February.  The Cowboy-Homer in me wants to say Super Bowl or bust, but the realist in me is popping the balloons. As Training Camp gets underway, let’s review the current state of the Defense to get an idea of what we can expect for 2016.

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World Series or Bust?

The non-waiver trade deadline has now passed, and for the second consecutive year the Rangers are turning heads and commanding the attention of teams across the league. They were busy wheeling and dealing down to the last few minutes of the deadline, ultimately landing two of the most coveted trade targets available. But with every acquisition there are costs. Let’s examine the impact of the moves made by the Rangers. Read More

Rio 2016: The *AsteRISK* Olympics

The top four golfers in the world are out. Five of the top twenty-five tennis players in the world said, “No thanks”. Fifteen NBA players from the USA alone are staying home for various reasons. And, if you think it’s just rich superstars from flourishing, developed countries, think again. Kenyan marathon runners Wilson Kipsang (who won bronze in 2012) and world record holder, Dennis Kimetto, are both refusing to compete due to ‘scheduling issues’.

Scheduling issues happen when someone asks you to come to their housewarming party next week, but you are going to be out of town for an annual work conference; not for one of the world’s biggest event that occurs every four years in August. When Russia, an Olympic powerhouse, almost being completely banned from the 2016 Olympic Games is a story that doesn’t command headlines, something big must be happening in Rio. And it is, it just isn’t anything positive. While the Zika virus is getting a lot of attention in the media, and many athletes are citing it as their excuse to stay home, there are so many reasons why the Olympics need a complete overhaul. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) needs to find a way to host the Olympic games, while providing safety and comfort to both athletes and fans. Before we get into the solution, let’s go over the biggest problems in Rio.

Olympic Village


For the second straight Olympic Games, the living conditions provided to the athletes in the Olympic Village are, in a word, unlivable. Everyone saw the horror photos from Sochi in 2014, but according to the teams from Australia, Sweden, Argentina, Belarus, and Kenya, Rio isn’t much better. I’m sorry, but if some Kenyan athletes are staying away, and the ones that actually come are complaining about the deplorable living conditions, you probably have an issue. Even the building inspectors have said that the Olympic Village is not passing basic safety codes. Not just one or two, but 19 of the 31 buildings have not been passed, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony. Several countries have decided to stay elsewhere until these problems are fixed.

Super Bug


Hopefully, if you are competing in the Rio Games, you do not have an event that takes place in the open water, because there is a super bug to worry about now. No, not the Zika virus, it’s a drug-resistant bacteria that can affect the urinary tract, the bloodstream, and your lungs. Oh, you mean the things we breathe with? No big deal. Well, according to Dr. William Schaffner, and infectious disease specialist, there will not be an epidemic because of the low concentrations of the bacteria in the water. Also, if there were going to be an epidemic, the native Brazilians would have already been experiencing that. That’s like saying, “Sandy’s got herpes, but Johnny and Ricky both dated her and didn’t get it. So, you’re probably good”. Dr. Schaffner is also recommending the athletes in these events shower with soap and water immediately after leaving the open water. It’s always reassuring to ask your coach, “What’s my time?”, and be answered with, “YOUR TIME?!? Are you kidding me, go get in the shower and clean off that super bug!!!” I understand that the risk may be low, but I don’t think I would be voluntarily getting in those waters with the gravity of the possible diseases from the super bug.

Social & Financial Collapse


As for the social side of Rio de Janeiro, they have recently declared a state of public calamity. Seriously, that’s a thing that can be declared? It’s not as if Rio announced that its ozone level orange today, try not to go outside. They’re basically saying that is has gotten so bad that they can’t even sugarcoat it anymore. When you’re beyond the point where politicians can cover up something bad by pointing the other way at something good, I guess you declare a state of public calamity. So Rio is on the edge of disaster less than two months before they host one of the biggest events in the world.

Apparently, the IOC likes to go to struggling cities, who have these itty-bitty issues, such as feeding and educating their people, and tell them that maybe those problems will take care of themselves if they spend $12 billion on a two-week sporting event. It’s funny, because I was just thinking of telling a friend that has 4 kids, no job, and two mortgages to hurry up and buy another house before the market goes back up. The finances are getting so bad they can’t even afford to pay firefighters and police. Why were their salaries in the budget cuts before the politicians that got them into this mess? But, don’t worry too much, it’s not as if South America is a place where there’s a lot of crime, and tourists aren’t safe on the streets at night. Oh wait…shit.

The Next Step

The next step

The solution to this Olympics issue is quite simple. Have a five city rotation (10 total including winter) where the games are held. Pick cities that have a stable economy and have the means to accommodate millions of visitors for two to three weeks. This would eliminate the issue of cities building structures that are never going to be used again, because they will be used again. Of course there is a boost for the economy with all of the construction that goes on, but when that same area turns into a ghost town almost immediately after the closing ceremony, it feels as if all that work was done for nothing (not to mention all of the money spent).

These areas could be used for various other events as well, from other sporting events to conventions to concerts. I’m sure the IOC promises these struggling countries dreams of turning what was nothing into a new affluent area of their city, but a poor area isn’t going to be brought out of poverty from a two-week event. This would also help to eliminate the transportation issues of a city not used to so many extra visitors. Having done it in the past will allow for each Olympic Games to be more efficient, not to mention enjoyable, for everyone involved (raging cheers from anyone who went to Atlanta in 1996).

The only stories about the Olympics should involve the athletes, but each Games has turned into more and more of a political mess. Some of these athletes spend their entire lives training to compete in one, and only one, Olympic Games. Unfortunately, the ongoings in Rio may have taken that chance away from them.  The medalists at these games will not be viewed as inferior to other years because of the number of competitors staying away, however, it’s sad that the world cannot see the best of the best. There is a business side to the Olympic Games, and revenue must be generated to run such a massive event, but not at the expense of general human needs. Especially, when the Olympic Games is a spectacle of the human body and what it can achieve at its highest level. One of these days, we will get rid of overbearing and greedy legislative bodies (IOC, NCAA, FIFA, etc.), so that sports can be pure again. Until then, cover yourself head-to-toe with OFF, swallow a few broad-spectrum antibiotics, and go grab your wallet chain from middle school before you jump on that flight to Rio.

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Top 15 DFW Sports Moments (gifs)

Over the years, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has seen its’ share of memorable sports moments.  Like other sports-centric communities, DFW has a rich history of both the good and the bad. Some of these moments evoke proud, happy memories of local athletic dominance, but others may stir-up dark, lingering emotions that you thought your therapist and $1,287 had helped you overcome…

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Why 118 is the Most Important Number in Dallas

For most of us, sports is a game, but one that must be taken very, very seriously. It comforts us to know that there is a higher power, a sports god if you will, that is protecting the very sacred laws of sports. When these sports gods are on your side, you’ll do whatever you can to keep them happy. This can range from the somewhat normal (Wade Boggs eating chicken on every game day), to the obsessive (Jason Terry sleeping in the shorts of his opponents the night before every game), to the disgusting (Serena Williams not changing socks throughout an entire tournament). It’s when the sports gods are against you that things start to get weird. Jason Giambi used to wear a gold thong to get out of slumps. Seriously!? What’s worse is that when it worked, his teammates started to do it too! (hopefully using different thongs)

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The Cowboys Top 5 Concerns Heading into the Season

It’s that very special time of year where every NFL city has a bullish outlook of the upcoming season. From coast to coast, fans believe the right moves were made in the off-season and this will be the year their team finally reaches the ever-elusive championship game. Unfortunately, that optimism can sink faster than the Titanic in the cold Atlantic. The Cowboys had a tough 2015 campaign… (Clears throat) Let me try that again, the Cowboys outright sucked in 2015. Last year, a lot of bad things happened and happened quickly to ensure the Boys had their worst record since the dismal 1-15 season of 1989. In 2016, the Cowboys are banking on the 2014 formula that had them one bad-call away from an NFC Championship. To repeat 2014, the Cowboys will need their risky off-season decisions to pay dividends, coupled with a streak of good luck on the injury front. I’ve listed the top 5 concerns that should keep every Cowboys fan awake at night heading into the season.

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