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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The NFL Magnificent Seven: Week 2

Week 2 is complete. And it's time for another edition of the M-7. Who would get the honors? Let's find out!

7. The Seattle Seahawks- Seattle held Dallas to seven points in this matchup. They were well prepared and executed their game plan to near perfection. Marshawn Lynch had 122 yards and Russell Wilson had a 112.7 QB rating for the game en route to his first W as a NFL starter. Great effort and big W for the Seahawks.

6. Cam Newton- The Panthers QB had accomplished a feat only one other quarterback has done: throw for 250+ yards, run for 70+ yards and have a run of 40+ yards. The only other quarterback? Michael Vick. Newton had 253 yards passing, 71 rushing (w/ a touchdown) and 44 of those yards came on that big run versus the Saints. The Saints lost consecutive games to a Heisman Trophy winner in two weeks (lost to RG3 and the Redskins in Week 1).

5. C.J. Spiller- 15 carries, 123 yards, two touchdowns. For the season, Spiller has 29 carries for 292 yards. Nobody has had those numbers since Jim Brown in 1963 (34 carries for 394 yards) at that certain point (25+ carries). Amazing numbers. Be interesting to see if he can keep it up, or will his snaps go down upon Fred Jackson's return.

4. The Atlanta Falcons' defense- The Monday night game, I've saw a different defense from this squad. Hitting hard, opportunistic, as they picked off Peyton Manning three times in three drives, and forced a fourth turnover on a fumble on the fourth drive. However, the offense did not do much with it, and the Denver Broncos nearly came back and won the game. If the offense and defense can ever match intensities, this will be a scary team.

3. Clay Matthews- 3 1/2 of the Green Bay Packers' seven sacks of Chicago Bears' QB Jay Cutler. The guy was a beast throughout the game Thursday night and was a major force with Cutler rushing throws to the tune of four interceptions.

2. Kevin Kolb- The much-maligned Arizona Cardinals QB was huge in keeping his team in the game against the New England Patriots, scoring a rushing touchdown, and not turning the ball over. He's got the Arizona Cardinals to a 2-0 start, and has really seemed to have taken the starting role back again. Yes, it's week 2, and it's early, but give the guy credit for coming off the bench cold to lead a team to a comeback victory, and then to go into one of the toughest places to play and beat one of the best teams of the last 11 years in the Patriots.

1. Eli Manning- 510 yards. Three touchdown. 250+ in the 4th quarter. A tale of two QBs in the game versus Tampa Bay. Though the Buccaneers decided to controversially end the game, and that has taken the steam off what Eli did. The Giants were left for dead, but Manning would not let his team lose, despite the horrendous start. I try to avoid the "Elite" talk on Twitter, but this performance was definitely that. Elite.

M-7 Bonus: All four NFC West teams won this week. Also, the five teams that scored 40+ in Week 1? Four of the five teams all took a loss in Week 2 (Falcons were only winner).

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Magnificient Seven: Seven Thoughts from Week 1

I know Week 2 of the NFL season has started, with the game Thursday night between the Bears and Packers, but before we get into Sunday's games, let's go back to the seven best things from Week 1.

7. Vikings Comeback- It surely looked as if the Vikings were left for dead. However, Blair Walsh's 55-yard field goal at the end of regulation and the subsequent game winning field goal in overtime (and defensive stand) capped off a great comeback. Speaking of overtime, that brings me to....

6. The Modified Overtime- I was not a fan of this when it was initially announced. I also didn't fully understand it until Tebow torched the Steelers. But at the end of the day, it's fair. A field goal should not end a game, a touchdown should. The Jaguars defense did their part, and in turn, the Vikings did theirs. As it gets more acclimated to, it will be more embraced.

5. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Buccaneers were really an unknown on how they would do under Greg Schiano. But Tampa Bay did well against the offensive juggernaut known as the Carolina Panthers, especially on defense. They rushed Cam Newton numerous times, and picked him off twice, snapping a 10-game losing streak. Kudos to the Bucs for their win.

4. The 40-pt club. Five teams scored 40+ points in Week One: Falcons, Jets, Redskins, Bears, and Ravens. The defenses of the teams did a great job getting the ball to the offense to get the points that were needed. Some other teams did a great job simply outscoring their opponent.

3. Peyton Manning- Manning had a great return in his Broncos debut. I was concerned about his neck and how he would handle full game speed for 60 minutes. All those concerns from the surgery are rested. For now. The Broncos looked great, and it was always great to see #18 back on the field.

2. RGIII- Robert Griffin III made a huge impact in his debut, going to the Superdome and beating the Saints. He looked sensational, and he is that future that Washington may have been seeking. Another good piece that needs recognition was Alfred Morris, the starting running back. Mike Shanahan is great for unknown running backs, and this is another great project. I do hope this keeps up for the better part of the season.

1. Adrian Peterson- The return from this ACL injury is insane. Adrian has worked tremdendously hard, and he looks better than ever. I was thoroughly impressed with the speed and his ability to take a shot, and keep on moving. Also the speed of recovery to go back to full-speed football. Remember, he injured that in December, and returned in September. Things like that usually take a year but that's his work ethic. Awesome.

Apologies for the lateness, and check out my thoughts on the weekend's games at BallersSports. Be back Tuesday for Week 2's Magnificent Seven.

(photo courtesy of AP/David Zalubowski) No copyright intended.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Goodell Losing Power?

Upon the return of the NFL players from the Lockout and labor dispute in 2011, the players gave total power to commissioner Roger Goodell.

During the offseason, the New Orleans Saints got a glimpse of that power... in the worst way.

Goodell laid the hammer on the Saints after the news of the bounty program came to light. The players most affected, linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Scott Fujita (now with the Cleveland Browns), and linemen Will Smith and Anthony Hargrove (currently a free agent) were reinstated after a panel overturned their suspensions and were reinstated immediately following the decision, making them eligible to play Sunday. The Saints host the Washington Redskins, and Fujita's Browns travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles.

The NFL, however, is not going to let this go easily. According to spokesman Greg Aiello, Goodell would "make an expedited determination of the discipline imposed" for violating the league's bounty rule. The ruling should come down in a few weeks, but it will not be in time for the weekend's games. Smith would be ready to go if needed, Fujita is expected to play, and Vilma is recovering from knee surgery.

The three-member appeals panel unanimously voted that Goodell overstepped the boundaries in terms of hearing the appeals (and ultimately denying them). According to the panel,  Special Master Stephen Burbank, not Goodell, should discipline players for receiving money from a pool that paid for big plays. The only limits of Goodell's role was to be limited to whether he can prove the players intended to injure opponents, which would fall in the category of conduct detrimental to the game.

Now, this is probably a chink in the armor of Goodell, and definitely a blow to his ego. He's caught a lot of heat from these players, particular Vilma, who has gone to the lengths of barring Goodell from his restaurant in Miami.  However, the players conceded to give him this power in the last collective bargaining agreement. Though the players don't care for Goodell, they wanted to play football even more. And that desire to play football may have been a mistake in terms of discipline. This may have been their own doing.

What will go down from this? Will Goodell reduce suspensions? Will he overlook the panel and try to crush this appeal once and for all? Only time will tell. The appeals panel pretty much showed Goodell overstepped his boundaries, and he can't get too carried away. I'm sure the next CBA, the players will try to get some power back. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Art Modell's Impact On Two Cities, Sports As Whole

So. Art Modell passed away Wednesday afternoon at the age of 87, due to natural causes. I send out my condolences to the family, and the franchise that spanned over two cities and many years. An impact was truly made by him in terms of relocation of teams.

Art made the move that nobody saw coming at all in Northeast Ohio. The city of Cleveland. Their beloved Browns were on the way to Baltimore. Baltimore, ecstatic of a team coming to them since their own original beloved franchise, the Colts, sneaked out of town in 1984 pretty much hailed Modell as a savior. What was more heartbreaking about the move for the citizens of Cleveland was that in 1995, the Browns were a favorite to make a deep playoff run, but due to the distractions of the relocation announcement and the frustrations of fans, they tumbled to 5-11 in their final year. Per an agreement with the NFL, the Browns were "deactivated" for three seasons from 1996-98, the Baltimore Ravens became an "expansion team" with the Browns current franchise in 1996, and a new team would be back in 1999 as the "reactivated" Cleveland Browns.

Since the Browns returned to the league, it has not been fun. Six head coaches, one playoff appearance (2002), two 10-win seasons (2002, 2007), and a slew of relatively bad quarterbacks: Couch, Pederson, Wynn, Holcomb, Garcia, McCown, Dilfer, Frye, Anderson, Quinn, Dorsey, Gradkowski, Delhomme, Wallace, McCoy, and now rookie Brandon Weeden. Meanwhile, the Ravens have turned into one of the NFL's elite franchises, since 1999, having eight playoff appearances, including four consecutive appearances, and a Super Bowl victory in 2000. (under Modell's majority ownership). In the years of owning the Browns/Ravens franchise, from 1961-2004, Art Modell only saw two championships (1964- Cleveland's last sports championship & 2000).

Despite all that, it does at the end of the day, go on perception of how you view Modell. Browns fans view him as a pariah, Ravens fans a savior. Even with LeBron James having his Decision in 2010, most would agree that it was a far cry from what Modell did. For his own safety, Modell never returned to Cleveland.
His move impacted sports all over. Two prime examples would be the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics leaving the name and colors in Seattle, but they would share history with the now Oklahoma City Thunder. Another example was the Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes deactivating in 2005 to allow the creation of the Houston Dynamo with the current franchise and the reactivation of the Earthquakes in 2008.

Any way he is perceived, he had an impact. And the impact was always big. From the firing of Paul Brown, to Cleveland's championship in 1964 to increasing the popularity of the NFL to help it grow into what it is today, and of course the move. But it was a full life, and he seemed to be at peace enough in the end.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

NFL Kickoff Recap

The 2012 NFL Kickoff started on a Wednesday night, instead of the usual Thursday night. Started off at MetLife Stadium with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hosting their NFC East rival Dallas Cowboys. Keep in mind, it was the Giants that put out the Cowboys' playoff chances en route to the Super Bowl. Which team would get off to that 1-0 start? To the recap...

Dallas 24, NY Giants 17- In a game where the score made it look close, but it was far, far from it. Tony Romo went 22-29 for 307 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Kevin Ogletree, who may have had his breakout game that the Cowboys were seeking, and Dallas racked up 433 yards of total offense and thoroughly exposed the secondary flaws and lack of depth that New York has in the secondary. DeMarco Murray also ran for 131 yards on 20 carries.

After a scoreless first quarter, and the Giants took a 3-0 lead, Romo hit Ogletree on a 10 yard pass to put Dallas up 7-3 just before halftime. Dallas then took control when the two hooked up once more on a 40 yard touchdown pass to go up 14-3, putting the 'Boys in full control. The G-Men struck on a 10-yard run by Ahmad Bradshaw to cut the deficit to 14-10. Despite a field goal that put Dallas up 17-10, it looked as if momentum was on New York's side after two holding penalties led to a 1st & 30. But Romo found Miles Austin, who took 34 yards for the insurance score, putting Dallas up 24-10. Eli Manning found former Cowboy Martelius Bennett on a nine yard strike to put the Giants within a touchdown, but nothing else would come from that.

Ogletree had eight catches for 114 yards, Bradshaw led the way for the Giants with 17 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, and Manning went 21-32 for 213 yards and a touchdown. A great start for Dallas, but there is of course, plenty of football left. They looked dominant in this one against the champs, who became the first defending champion to lose the home opener in nine games of NFL Kickoff game, which started in 2004. Defending champions are 8-1 in this game after the Giants loss. Cowboys (1-0), Giants (0-1).

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

(Mis)Guiding Dwight

I'm tired of the Dwight Howard saga, you're tired of the Dwight Howard saga...

Fans are tired of Dwight's ways, even non fans are tired of Dwight's ways.

And I'm also tired of the Orlando Magic as well. They have said from the start of free agency that they would not go through this saga next season. And they are still going through with it.

(Mis)Guiding Dwight. That's what this soap opera should be called. We are sick of this.

Dwight did not want to be LeBron James after James left Cleveland to go to Miami. Yes, while LBJ was vilified for leaving, he went through with it. He made the best choice to go win, and he did that. He won. He also admitted that he did go about it the wrong way, which is understandable. But at the end of the day, no matter the difficult decision, it was made, and it turned out to be the right choice. Howard, worried about being the guy that would be disliked, decided to forego his opt-out clause and opted-in for the final year with the Magic.

Dwight also has been in the pretty large shadow (take that how you will) of Shaquille O'Neal. The Superman nickname, the big fish in a small pond. However, Shaq did make that decision to leave Orlando to go the Lakers, and Dwight would have been on his way to the Lakers, however, with no commitment (after saying he would commit) to an extension with LA, everyone's at square one again.

Not smart, Dwight. Not only has this backfired in terms of trying to keep your good-guy image, it has became quite the opposite. Howard has become the villain with this indecision, and whatever guidance, or misguidance he has received during this whole process, whether it has come from Adidas (who wants him in Brooklyn), or his agent (who has come on the record of saying Dwight wants to test free agency), it's apparent that this move was not smart. If Howard wanted to go to Brooklyn, he could've done so on his own free will. He decided to be loyal to the Magic and the city of Orlando.
However, life is about difficult decisions. Sure, Howard would've been disliked by some in his former city for making a sound decision that's best for him, but the problem is here: he's so busy trying to make everyone else happy that he's created this own monster and negative perception. And the Magic, who said this would not go on again, appear to have another season of (Mis)Guiding Dwight. Still no coach, and despite the effort of Rob Hennigan, Howard's not committed to Orlando, and it's probably time to let it go. Like most train wrecks this is one that we're truly tired of, but we're going to keep watching (most likely celebrate its ending).

Monday, July 2, 2012

Love/Hate of 2012 NBA Draft

The NBA Draft was this past Thursday night, and I was supposed to have this done Thursday night/Friday morning, but work calls, so I had to delay it. Oh yeah, this is the 100th post of the blog. Glad you have stuck by my side, and it means a lot.

So here are is the Love/Hate of the 2012 NBA Draft, without further ado.

Loved: David Stern- This man is a G. He gets booed out the building, and embraces it. The ear to the crowd was awesome. In other words, he knows the criticism, welcomes it, and goes about his business. Awesome.

Hated: Woj telling the picks before they were announced. Woj is a great writer, love his work, love the knoweldge, information, and insight that he has, but fans want the element of surprise. Tweeting the picks seconds before they are picked killed that element. Personally I did not care, as I was working, but I can see where folks were fed up with that.

Loved: Thomas Robinson: Those that know me know I'm a KU fan, and I really was hoping he would go #2 to Charlotte, but he did not come here. It's ok though, but this kid has been through the ringer, and he is going to be a workhorse for the Sacramento Kings... which brings me to...

Hated: The Sacramento Kings.... for drafting T-Rob. I really hope he survives in this current NBA purgatory.  I think with the fact that he had to grow and mature quickly, he can keep DeMarcus Cousins stable. I hope and pray that the Kings do not ruin him. He has a great upside.

Loved: The outlook of the Detroit Pistons. Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and now Andre Drummond. That's not a bad core to have for the future. They need some additional veteran help, but maybe Joe Dumars will still have a job beyond 2013. It's amazing he still has one now after all the glory years have passed.

Hated: The Houston Rockets draft strategy. You make all these moves to collect draft picks for a guy that wants to go to only one place, and Houston isn't the place. And then you get two forwards, and a combo guard/forward to add to the collection of forwards that are already there. Yes it's early in the league year, but it's a perplexing situation of what is going on in Clutch City.

Loved: Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones falling in the draft. These guys were lottery picks in 2011. They stayed in school and their stock plummeted. Why do I love it?  Because they go to great situations. Sullinger will be able to get his back treated with a great Celtics medical staff, and he gets to learn from Kevin Garnett for the next three years. Jones is in a great situation with young squad ready to get back to the Finals again in the Thunder. Both guys will be in good situations and be ready when their numbers are called.

Hated: Draymond Green falling in the draft. Yes, Draymond was projected late first round and surely in the second round, but I hate the fact he fell to Golden State. With all the ball-hogs on that team, who's going to get him touches? The guy loves the game and can ball out, but I think any situation is better for him than Golden State. Maybe I'll be wrong on this.

Loved: The USA chants for Bernard James' selection. Anybody that serves the country so we can live our dreams and gets rewarded by achieving his own dreams earns my respect forever. I really hope he does well and gets a chance to play. James served in the Air Force for six years and got drafted at the age of 27. Awesomeness.

Hated: Cleveland's pick of Dion Waiters. This was out of nowhere, and truly was the surprise of the night. Waiters is a great player, he can score, but now this surprise pick could be facing scrutiny if it does not work out. But on the flipside, he and Kyrie Irving would make a solid backcourt.

Winners: Hornets, Celtics, and Pistons (Honorable mention: Mavericks)
Losers: Rockets, Warriors

Hope you enjoyed the blog! See you soon!