Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How Bout Them Cowboys?! (Dallas Cowboys)

Going into Week 17, the Dallas Cowboys are 11-4 with the NFC East title cruising to the playoffs. I have to admit, I didn't give the Cowboys a chance to perform better than the past three years. This team proved me wrong, as well as a large number of Cowboys fans, haters, and media reporters.

One article I found the most laughter over came from the USA Today in June 2014. They predicted the Cowboys to finish last in the NFC East with a record of 3-13. Over the summer, I saw this as shocking news for Cowboys fans everywhere. Cowboys fans worldwide wanted this team to succeed, but we knew what we were dealing with.

From USA Today:
NFC East
Eagles 11-5 (4): Class of weak division. But can Nick Foles reproduce 2013 magic? DeSean Jackson's speed will be missed.Redskins 7-9: If the line and RG3's knee hold up, this offense will be hard to slow, but defense may be year away.Giants 6-10: Eli Manning's supporting cast is getting younger, even if he isn't. Team speed doesn't impress. Cowboys 3-13: Tony Romo's back, defense are looking awfully frail. Dallas fans might end up pining for .500 teams.
We lost all of our preseason games and thought we were in for an 8-8 or worse season. Furthermore, the Cowboys lost the first game of the season. The whole sports atmosphere of Dallas had checked out on the Cowboys didn't have as much high expectations as before.

Now, 11 wins and 4 losses in this redemptive season have shown the Cowboys in a new light. This is definitely a new team and the energy/chemistry level is at a championship-contending level. The Cowboys are ready to move forward and put all the critics to bed. We've beat Seattle. Took care of the Eagles. Sent the Colts back up north with a beating.

In my opinion, the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals are the teams to beat in the NFC. As long as the Cowboys take care of these teams, they should do well and have a memorable comeback season.

Go Cowboys!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Does TCU Deserve to be Ranked over Baylor? (College Football)

The Horned Frogs have earned the spot as of now according to the College Football Playoff  Selection Committee, but do they really deserve to play in the semifinal with a loss to Baylor on its résumé?

I was recently posed this question following the Selection Committee's recent rankings and thought it would be a good idea to post my answer on here. Before I begin, I love Baylor and TCU but the numbers do not lie. In my opinion, rank should be based upon more than an overall record, such as strength of schedule and the way teams performed in wins and losses.

Well, let's begin:

TCU has a better record against common opponents:

The beauty of the current Big 12 setup is that each team plays every other team, so when comparing résumés between Big 12 teams, you get plenty of chances to compare performances.

Thus far, TCU and Baylor have both played Oklahoma and West Virginia. Both teams got the best of the Sooners, but in different ways. TCU played an undefeated, full-strength Sooners squad at home and held on to a small lead late at home. Baylor played Oklahoma without its best receiver, dominating the Sooners in Norman. The Bears might have the advantage there, but the games against West Virginia may be a better comparison. Both teams had to go to Morgantown, but only TCU was able to come away with a victory on the road, winning on a last-second field goal. The Bears were held from doing much against WVU in a 41-27 loss.

TCU’s loss to Baylor is better than Baylor’s loss to West Virginia:

While Baylor has the head-to-head battle on TCU, that loss is probably the best loss on any résumé in the country. If you look at it as any random opponent and not a head-to-head matchup, TCU led for the better part of three quarters over its opponent, mostly dominating while on the road. That loss was a result of one bad quarter and came against a top 10 opponent. Baylor’s loss, regardless of what TCU did against West Virginia, came to a team that has three losses this season in a game in which Baylor never seemed to have a chance to win after halftime. If you take the head-to-head element out of it, TCU’s loss is much more understandable and forgivable than Baylor’s.

TCU has a tougher out-of-conference schedule:

The schedules for these teams match up pretty well for a side-by-side comparison. Both play a full nine-game Big 12 schedule against all the same teams. They each convincingly beat an FCS opponent, with TCU beating Samford 48-14 while Baylor beat Northwestern state 70-6. Both teams had fun beating up SMU, as TCU won in Dallas 56-0 while the Bears opened McLane Stadium with a 45-0 thrashing of the Mustangs.

The difference in schedule comes in that last game. The Horned Frogs scheduled a home-and-home with Jerry Kill’s Minnesota program that started in Fort Worth this year and heads north in 2015. TCU didn’t have much trouble in that one, shutting down the Golden Gophers in a 30-7 game in which Minnesota didn’t get on the board until the fourth quarter. The Gophers have only made that TCU win look better as the season continues by contending in the Big Ten West and compiling a 7-2 record thus far. Baylor’s answer? The Bears hit the road for a Friday night matchup with Buffalo. The MAC (Mid-American Conference) team brought its best, but fell to Baylor 63-21. The Bulls are a weak 5-6 this season and will need to win its final game to become bowl eligible. These wins just don’t compare, and rewarding Baylor for scheduling cake walks is not a good precedent for the committee to set in the first year of this system.

The Phase of Inconsistency (NFL)

We often forget how the maturation of a franchise quarterback is supposed to go. Inconsistency is one of the phases in which young quarterbacks in the NFL most likely go through. Some trudge through this phase most of their NFL careers, while others encounter it for a short period of time. It seems as though Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith are still maneuvering through this phase.

Robert Griffin III
Both quarterbacks were very successful at the collegiate level; however, they have not been able to fully transfer this success to their current NFL careers.

RG3 has suffered from a recurring knee injury and Geno has simply failed to adequately study the New York Jets' playbook. These factors have served a purpose in these guys' inconsistent performances, but why are these guys being started on Sunday?!

Reasons Why RG3 and Geno are Starting QBs

Jets QBs Geno Smith (7) and Michael Vick (1)
Jersey / Ticket Sales: Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith are the face of their respective franchises for a reason. These guys may not consistently provide wins, but the front office can count on fans to attend games based on "what is expected" of their play.

Optimistic View from Owner's Perspective: We all have to agree there is a defining factor in which teams draft players. Whatever "factor" that may be can serve to explain an owner's / team's willingness in the dependency of certain players, despite their performance level.

Threat of Backup QBs: Although the Cowboys lost to the Redskins about five weeks ago, the Redskins' victory showed Washington in a competitive light. With McCoy calling the snaps, there was undoubtedly a "new" Redskins team who bought into the leadership of Colt McCoy.

After a great uproar of McCoy's surprising performance, the Redskins announced Griffin would start the following week. I couldn't believe it. The performance of Colt McCoy had shook the sports world in D.C.
Redskins QB Colt McCoy
As for the New York Jets, backup QB Mike Vick's performance has not been too threatening to Geno Smith's. After all, it seems that Vick is in New York to serve as a mentor for Geno; however, Vick's antics of not being "prepared" has influenced Geno to possibly do the same.

In their short career spans, Robert Griffin III and Geno Smith have seemed to hurt their teams more than help them. Currently, the Redskins are giving Colt McCoy a chance to lead the team in the direction for the remainder of the season. In my opinion, I think Colt is the better option. McCoy wants to win, period. No flash or flair, just a classy guy who wants to win.

As for Geno, his backup Mike Vick has been as ineffective as Smith himself. I recently joked on Twitter that Coach Rex Ryan is allowing "Geno and Vick to play rock, paper, scissors in deciding who will start each Sunday." The Jets are currently facing a terrible 2-10 season and Coach Rex Ryan may be on his way out of the door.

Eagles QB Mark Sanchez
Griffin and Geno have a chance (I'm not too sure about Geno) to successfully break out of this phase. Until these guys get a well-deserved reality check and become better leaders, they will most likely continue to hurt their teams in the long run.

Mark Sanchez is a great example of someone who recently broke out of this phase of inconsistency. Philly is having one of their best seasons in awhile and Sanchez is really thriving with Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense. The team has collectively bought into the program and Sanchez's leadership, which has placed them as a potential contender for the NFC Championship. Maybe there is hope for RG3 and Geno after all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back in Business (NBA)

**Inhales deeply**

Ahhh, the sweet smell of basketball season!

Tim Duncan after winning the NBA World Championship
The season has been well under way for a couple of weeks and it's also a sign that the NFL is nearing the end of its regular schedule.

James Harden (Houston Rockets)
The Cavaliers haven't been as cohesive and dominant as they were projected to be during the summer. Also, the Mavericks are dealing with numerous struggles in their attempt to become a force in the West.

As usual, the San Antonio Spurs are rolling to a great start in "mid-season" form. The Miami Heat are doing very well with the departure of LeBron James, with Chris Bosh and D. Wade taking over.

Even the Houston Rockets are channeling their inner "Kenny Smith and Hakeem Olajuwon" days with their recent play.

What's even more entertaining is the performance of Kobe Bryant with his "fresh and new" Lakers squad. Bryant is already in the running for MVP (who's counting votes this early anyway?!); however, his team is suffering a great deal with his "prime" performances. In addition, Bryant recently broke the record for the "most missed shot attempts" in the NBA.

Tyson Chandler (Dallas Mavericks)
In reality, the West (as well as the East) is up for grabs. At this point, it's really too hard to tell who will really be the last team standing through 82 games.

Below, I have listed the top 5 teams to watch in the Western and Eastern Conferences (feel free to throw in your top 5, as well!)

Drake (Rapper) and Toronto Raptors mascot
Western Conference:
1) Houston Rockets
2) Golden State Warriors
3) Portland Trailblazers
4) Memphis Grizzlies
5) San Antonio Spurs

Eastern Conference:
1) Toronto Raptors
2) Chicago Bulls
3) Miami Heat
4) Washington Wizards
5) Charlotte Hornets

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tough Days in Dallas (Dallas Cowboys)

The antics of the Dallas Cowboys' past two games have been a total "180" of their performances in the first six games of the season. The display of selfishness was at an all-time high on last week's Monday Night Football, as the Dallas Cowboys took on one of their long-time rivals (Washington Redskins).

Honestly, two things should have happened that game for the Cowboys to possibly have the best chance to win:

1) Jerry Jones needed to stay in the skybox

- Apparently, Jones needed to let everyone know that he truly runs the Dallas Cowboys organization. The presence of Jones on-the-field disrupted a great deal of the chemistry with the Cowboys' sideline, and to make matters worse...Jones even took it upon himself to "give the team some inspiration.".

Jones' probably telling Coach Garrett to put Romo back in the game.

2) Tony Romo doesn't ALWAYS have to be the hero.

- With Brandon Weeden under center, the Cowboys remained competitive and continued to fight hard with Romo out due to an injured back. However, when Tony Romo hit the field once again in the 4th quarter, the chemistry wasn't the same.

What makes matters worse is how Weeden "getting pulled" in the 4th quarter could have possibly hurt his confidence to perform to his potential. I give Arizona credit for being a good team, but it's extremely difficult to beat a team when your quarterback is aware that he can get pulled out of the game any minute.
Brandon Weeden (3)

In my opinion, the Cowboys should have kept Weeden in the game against the Redskins. Not only would this have built up his confidence over time, but Tony Romo would actually have a decent recovery time. This organization (*cough, cough*..Jerry Jones *cough*) is rushing Tony Romo's recovery time, and this does not benefit anybody on the Cowboys team.

And why have we stopped running the ball?!! *Facepalm*

As the Cowboys get ready to face the Jags in London, I hope Romo has a comfortable seat on the sidelines. We're really going to need him close to 100% as we face the Giants next week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Honeymoon Phase is Over (Seattle Seahawks)

For the longest, there's been one question I've had the hardest time answering during this NFL Season. The question is: What is going on with the Seattle Seahawks?

Coach Pete Carroll

As my Dad would say, "Well, I'm glad you asked."

There is one word which points to the Seahawks' surprising performance: ego.

Ever since the Super Bowl victory of the Seahawks, they were riding on their high horse during the off-season. At this time, Richard Sherman and Russell Westbrook penned numerous advertisement deals. In addition, Pete Carroll added another piece of hardware to his collection, and the city of Seattle had something to be proud of (besides the birthplace of Starbucks Coffee).

However, there was a storm of negativity awaiting the Seahawks' Camp as they approached this present season.

The locker room of the Seahawks had been divided since the Super Bowl (Percy Harvin gives Golden Tate a black eye)

Golden Tate

- Marshawn Lynch has continually stayed away from the spotlight and been a recluse, even to his own team.
- Russell Wilson and Percy Harvin's "beef", which recently exploded this season, hurt the offensive chemistry (especially with Harvin making large demands on-and-off the field).
- The L.O.B. (Legion of Boom; consists of Seattle's Cornerbacks and Safeties) is not as effective as last year's title run. 

There is a cloud of negativity surrounding the Seahawks' locker room, and all the signs point to the team, itself. Russell Wilson is still my favorite quarterback to watch on Sundays, but it's difficult to stomach the fact that everyone is not "on board" with the winning mentalities of Wilson and Coach Pete Carroll.

These guys (Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll) are winners first, celebrities second.

L.O.B. in action
However, it is evident that a number of members from the Seattle team are craving for the same media attention in order to fulfill some selfish desire within themselves.

When it comes to the game, it is not about individuals. DeMarco Murray is having one of the best seasons in Dallas Cowboys history (rushing 100+ yards per game through 8 consecutive games); which is not solely due to Murray's knack for running and field vision, but also the offensive line providing the holes for Murray. Murray generously thanked his O-line teammates for doing their job well.

Russell Wilson
This same scenario can apply to the Seahawks. If the Legion of Boom is taking care of business and receiving a great deal of praise for it, let the respected individuals have their time to shine.

For goodness sake, these guys rightfully deserve a little amount of attention. While the L.O.B. have earned their respect for media attention, it seems the linebackers and defensive linemen want to be included in the L.O.B.'s spotlight.

(Maybe some generous gifts will silence their distress).

Here we are, eight weeks into the season going on to week 9. The Seahawks can possibly turn it around and have another successful season. It all starts with the locker room. Percy Harvin has received his one-way ticket out of Seattle...I wonder if Marshawn Lynch is next.

It is very apparent that Pete Carroll and the Front Office staff want another ring, and positivity on-and-off the field.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Age-Old Rivalry (Cowboys vs. Redskins)

Tonight marks the eighth game of the 2014 NFL Season for the Dallas Cowboys. For dedicated Cowboys fans, 6-1 almost sounds like a "dream come true" in contrast to the past three 8-8 season finishes.

I have to admit: my expectations of the Cowboys (in reality) were not too high. Originally, I predicted the 'Boys to finish 8-8 again. But this season, I am very pleased and excited with the Cowboys FINALLY living up to their potential on the field.

The Cowboys are not just looking good "on paper", but "on the field" as well. Our running game has continued to be efficient, due to arguably the Best Offensive Line in the NFL. To give more credit to the O-Line, our passing game has also received a facelift.

As I said in a previous post, this Cowboys team is very different from the past years. I believe the "new attitude" taken on by the front office has trickled down to the field of play; which has ignited a blaze in the hearts of the Cowboys.

Tonight is Monday Night Football in the heart of North Texas @ Cowboys Stadium. I expect there to be a high level of trash-talking, hard hits, and every recipe needed for this age-old rivalry against the Redskins. Hopefully, DeMarco Murray can rack up 100+ more yards tonight!

With Colt McCoy calling the snaps for Washington tonight, the Cowboys defense shouldn't have to worry about too much unpredictability (such as RG3) in their offense. However, our secondary should have their hands full with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson.

This is going to be a good match-up.

Go Cowboys!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Boys Are Back in Town? Pt. II (Dallas Cowboys)

The Dallas Cowboys have proved within the past two "down-to-the-wire" victories that they truly are a new team. If you've been a Cowboys fan for the past three years (suffering those awful 8-8 seasons), you understand the importance of this change in the Cowboys' demeanor. Battling against the Texans and Seahawks, respectively, have shown the Cowboys in a new light.

Tony Romo is as effective as his 2007 season. Along with a decent core of receivers and tight ends, Romo has been able to put numbers on the board and successfully close out games.

 I believe the most important facet of this team is our new-found confidence. Over the years, I have received A LOT of criticism for being a Cowboys fan. But this year, I can honestly say that the noise talking has quieted down within these entertaining 6 weeks of the NFL.

As of now, I refuse to talk about ANY super bowl contentions for the Cowboys. I guess Jerry Jones had an idea on how this Cowboys' team would fare this season.

I'm proud of the defense, the offense, and more importantly our run game. DeMarco Murray and his back-ups have opened up a vast amount of opportunities for the passing game to thrive, as well as wear down the defense.

This Cowboys team is different. This Cowboys team is for real. And more importantly, this Cowboys team is going places. Go Cowboys!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Boys Are Back in Town? Pt. I (Dallas Cowboys)

As the Dallas Cowboys approach week 5 against the Houston Texans, I couldn't be more proud of their performance following the loss against San Francisco. The Cowboys are 3-1, whether opponents like it or not. I know we chalked up a couple wins against sub-par teams (Titans and Rams), but the victory against the Saints definitely served as a confidence booster for the Boys.

Drew Brees and Tony Romo

Through four games, it seems the Cowboys have continued to get better each game. In a previous post following the San Francisco matchup, I highlighted three factors of the Cowboys shortcomings:

1) Romo's Back Surgery
In my opinion, I think Tony Romo has just about knocked the rust off of his performance on the field. One of my favorite plays is the Romo-Bryant back-shoulder fade connection (always ran to perfection). With Romo's mobility out of the question, our offense can fully operate and keep up with high-scoring opponents.

2) DeMarco Murray is still a priority in our offense.
Murray is a guy you can trust carrying the ball. With DeMarco carrying the ball 20+ times a game and rushing for well over 100yds/gm, this is evidence that our running game is in great shape. There are also other backs who keep up with the flow of the game (Julius Randle and Phillip Tanner).
3) The Cowboys have to outscore their opponents.
As argued in the previous post, the Cowboys defense is not where it should be. This may not sound good, but if our defense can play like this past Sunday without Claiborne...then we need to finish the season without Claiborne!
Guys that "sweet talk" their way out of practice and onto the field when gameday shows up should not be expected to give their best performance when it's time to perform. Mo Claiborne has done just that.
Maurice "Mo" Claiborne
Luckily, our offense has been able to put up points. As for the defense, keep Mo on the sidelines.
Are the Cowboys finally utilizing their potential? Probably so.
A statement that we definitely cannot deny is that the Cowboys should have enough momentum going against their in-state rival on Sunday. Although the game is scheduled for 12pm, I'm sure the Cowboys should be able to take care of business at home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Issues in the NFL: Confusing Rules for Player Safety

Does anybody know what constitutes as a legal hit anymore? I'm sure the NFL Front Office easily defines it. However, the referees' interpretation during on-the-field play shows there may not be a unanimous agreement on "legal hit" among the pool of officials.

Now, the term "defenseless player" is clearly defined, yet really confusing. Plus, the rules of contact with a defenseless player (and quarterbacks) are even more confusing.

Many receivers argue in favor of taking hits above their waist (and below the neck) rather than below their waist in the efforts to decrease leg injuries. But the NFL's rules are tipped toward lessening concussions from above the neck hits.

In my opinion, the NFL wants to avoid being sued by current/former players who may have suffered concussions (long-term costs) by risking the players' immediate safety through leg tackling (short-term costs).

Both sides (players and the NFL) have their valid arguments:
  • The players want to perform at high levels in the majority of their careers, due to the reality of the NFL serving as a revolving door of talent.
  • Many players facing the final years on their contract desire job and salary security, since they are unsure of their bodies producing the same amount of skill in the future.
  • On the other side of the coin, the league primarily wants to continue to make money which is totally understandable (the NFL is a business corporation).
  • Decreasing the chance of being sued by current/former players saves the NFL money in the long run.
Now, when the players are unsure of what is and isn't legal, there could be a problem. And even when the men officiating the game are confused on what to call, there is DEFINITELY an issue.

The integrity of the game is at risk when these confusing rules come into play. Many guys have been fined over the smallest touch to a defenseless player (or quarterback). I'm not saying every quarterback is a defenseless player, but some (elite) QB's receive this preferential treatment.
Ok, maybe it was more than an elbow swipe.

Sometimes Robert Griffin or Eli Manning would get plastered in the pocket without a flag thrown. There were other times when Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would receive an additional 15-yards for getting swiped on the elbow.

If the rules continue to be confusing and almost impossible to consistently interpret, we may see one of the most-watched sports come up short to living up to its already-established potential.

What do you think?

How can referees become better interpreters of the rules? Is the NFL front office risking safety in exchange for lawsuit avoidance? Do players actually have a voice on this issue?

The human element of officiating seems to work in baseball, but not when awarding a team an additional 15-yards for something that looked illegal.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

3 Things Learned Against the San Francisco 49ers (Dallas Cowboys)

3 Things We Learned from the Cowboys' Week 1 Performance

Coming off three consecutive 8-8 seasons, being a Cowboys fan has become a tiresome burden on even the most dedicated fan. The battered defense, offense led by a less-than-100 percent Tony Romo, and the condescending attitude of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones all create a recipe for disaster.

In a couple of previous posts about the Cowboys' 2014 season outlook, I have expressed how the Cowboys will less than likely meet their fan's expectations.
This was a Dallas "home game"?!

If you were able to watch the Cowboys vs. 49ers game, it was pretty difficult to miss the "sea of red" in Cowboys Stadium and even avoid hearing the roars of happiness after every San Francisco touchdown.

It's been awhile since I've watched a full game of the Cowboys (over 2 years to be exact). I hoped they would prove me wrong and rise to the occasion against one of the franchise's age-old foes. I guess that dream was far-fetched, resulting in a 28-17 defeat.

The writing is on the wall of Cowboys Stadium. Fans know it.
Players and coaches know it. Even Jones, no matter how much he denies it, knows the fan support of his franchise is a concern. 

1) Romo's back surgery has created a layer of rust not even WD-40 can remove.

I get it, he's rusty. After all, he's supposed to be! Coach Jason Garrett allowed Romo to sit out the majority of preseason (as well as practice) based on the recovery of Romo's back surgery. In the 2nd half, Romo "somewhat" delivered (mainly tossing prayers in the sky). We just have to eliminate the unforced turnovers.

2) DeMarco Murray is still a priority in our offense.

Despite Romo's numerous turnovers, the running game flourished through Murray's performance of 22 carries for 118 yards. 

The bad news is that this marked the first time in Murray's career that he carried the ball more than 20 times and the Cowboys lost. I'm optimistic of our run game. It's the pass game that has me on pins-and-needles.

3) We have to offensively outscore every opponent, and this is not a good thing.
We've already established the fact that our defense is as good as stopping a flood with notebook paper. Simply put, our offense HAS to outplay every offense it's matched up against! This can call for games in which the Cowboys almost certainly need to put up 25+ points a game. If our offense clicks, it's obtainable...there needs to be a sense of urgency and chemistry in the offensive flow.

Friday, September 5, 2014

4 Reasons to Pay Attention to the Seattle Seahawks

After last night's pounding on the Green Bay Packers, Seattle looks like a well-oiled machine marching back to the championship.

1) "Lord have mercy, we've got Percy!" - Russell Wilson
WR Percy Harvin
Percy Harvin played a major part in this high-powered offense, coming off an injury which sidelined him the majority of last season. If Percy Harvin can stay healthy for the whole year, the Seahawks' offense has a high chance to continually dismantle defenses.

2) The Legion of Boom is still...booming

SS Kam Chancellor lays down the hammer on Vernon Davis
Shoving matches after the whistle, lots of trash talk, helmet-shaking hits is what can describe this defense.

 If last year's Super Bowl was not bone-crushing enough, the Seahawks will satisfy your football appetite with their defensive play this season similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers' trademarked "Steel Curtain."

3) Pete Carroll's Philosophy is a goldmine.

I remember when Pete Carroll escaped from College Football before the dark cloud hovered over USC (2010 athletic scandal) and landed a coaching job in Seattle. My dad said: Seattle is the perfect team for Carroll, because they're young and Carroll can get those guys fired up if they listen to him. Man, he was right about that one. Pete Carroll's "Us Against the World" Philosophy (as my dad described) has produced a level of play nearly anyone would have believed to occur in Seattle!

Head Coach Pete Carroll

It seems this philosophy has made some waves from the Seahawks' locker room to around the NFL with the "Why Not Us?" movement (sparked by Russell Wilson's battle-cry leading to the Super Bowl victory).

4) Russell Wilson is this generation's Doug Williams

Back in Super Bowl XXII, the Washington Redskins (When are they going to change that mascot name?) were led by Doug Williams. Williams' victory over the John Elway-led Denver Broncos shocked the sports world and made history at the same time, becoming the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

The same goes for Russell Wilson, beating the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos.

Redskins QB Doug Williams
Russell Wilson has always been a "different" guy, in a good way. I remember watching Wisconsin in a bowl game during Wilson's senior year as quarterback.

Wisconsin marched down the field, hoping to put a miracle together in a nail-biting finish. With two seconds left and the clock still running, Wilson could not spike the ball in time to get the last play off. Despite this unfair situation, Wilson made his way to congratulate the opposing team and accepted his defeat with class.

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson

In the past couple of years, Wilson has easily become one of my favorite quarterbacks to watch play. The drive, determination, and class Russell brings to the Seahawks' franchise is invaluable. I'm grateful to see this generation's Doug Williams in action.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Manziel's Road to Success

An Inside Look at Johnny Football
By now, the world has heard of Johnny Football (trademarked by Manziel and his family). I have to say: this is probably the only time I have been excited to watch a Cleveland Browns game. I remember always marking a "W" on the Cowboys schedule during the designated week of playing Cleveland.

Now, Johnny Manziel has brought the cameras, action, and star power to the Browns' franchise...only to be met with constant criticism of his maturity level. I've had the opportunity to ask former HS/college classmates of Manziel and even former teammates of Mr. Football (via Sam Houston State Univ. and Texas A&M) what he is like behind the scenes. To put it in one sentence: Manziel is a winner, and wants everyone to know it as well.

Too often we focus on things that someone cannot do rather than illuminate the things that he/she can do. Does Manziel lack the height that teams desire? Yes. Is he a classic pocket passer? No. Is he attracted to the limelight? Like a moth to a flame.

There are many critics of his game, his persona, and even extracurricular activities, but one thing we cannot take away from Manziel is his winning mentality. The guy will not accept defeat at any cost; however, he may learn a valuable lesson in Cleveland that you cannot win at everything. For example, Manziel was not named the starting QB for the Browns this season.

But Manziel also is a guy who improved each year in college and should do the same in the NFL, in part because he is unwilling to accept failure. He doesn't want to succeed. He needs to succeed. The difference is subtle, yet significant.

At this point, Manziel is a ball of clay. He has to be molded into a quarterback who can play from under center, who can effectively and efficiently go through read progressions, who can take advantage of what the defense gives instead of waiting on the big plays. I believe that he'll learn to do all those things, not only because he has a high football IQ, in my opinion, but also because it's imperative to him succeeding.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Defintion of Mediocrity (Dallas Cowboys)

If you're a Cowboys fan like myself, then you should have low expectations for the Boys in Blue this season.

0-4 in the preseason?! Seriously?!!!

I understand the preseason is meant to present a realistic look at our team, but the Dallas Cowboys have not showed much hope in the past four weeks.

Over the past three seasons, Dallas has finished with an 8-8 record without a playoff appearance. It's almost as if the Cowboys are stuck in a recurring nightmare.

I sure hope this team wakes up this year.

Come on, the Cowboys' offense has the potential to be a playoff contender without any doubt. On paper, our offense has a good balance (with the exception of Romo's late 4th-quarter errors).

Tony Romo should be in good condition, after resting from his back surgery. Dez Bryant is the guy to primarily fuel our offense, specifically the passing game. Plus, the Cowboys' run-game will benefit from our pass threat if everything has the right chemistry.

However, the defense is what makes the Cowboys "mediocre", or just plain average. As you will find me say in previous blog posts, "Defense wins championships!!!" You know, I wouldn't be surprised if our defense finishes last in the NFL this season. I mean, we do not have DeMarcus Ware or Jason Hatcher (two veteran defenders that we REALLY need). Instead of these two vets, the Cowboys placed two 2014 draftees in their place.

But wait! What makes it worse is that these two rookies are on the injury list for the start of the regular season!! In addition, Sean Lee (arguably the Cowboys' best linebacker since Dat Nyguen and Dexter Coakley) is out for the season; DeVonte Hollman, a promising second-year linebacker,  suffered a career-ending neck injury.

"Sounds like another 8-8 season to me."

And what makes things even more gloomy is the fact that our safety and cornerback (Jakar Hamilton and Orlando Scandrick, respectively) will miss four games due to violating the league's substance abuse policy.

The Dallas Cowboys should change their logo to an Army Tank, due to the notion of Jerry Jones probably wanting to "tank" the season for a higher rung on the "draft ladder".

The facts are laid out: the Dallas Cowboys are the definition of mediocrity

Good offense, bad defense. Sounds like another 8-8 season to me.

Hopefully, they prove me wrong (in a good way).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Should Only Conference Champions Play for the Title?

Should only conference champions qualify for the College Football Playoff?

Since its early beginnings, college football has thrived upon the aspect of regional competition. The schools in their respective regions would form a conference and compete against one another, ultimately crowning the champion of the region "Conference Champions." Following those regional championships, various polls (Associated Press and Coaches' Poll, etc.) would rank the national champion; but, there would be no doubt who was the best locally.

Winning the region mattered more than winning nationally most of the time. Longhorn fans mainly wanted to beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma every year (and vice versa), enthusiastically placing non-conference and sub-par conference teams in the losing column. Just imagine how Alabama fans in the SEC (Roll Tide!) measure the Crimson Tide's success rate, such as basing a "successful" season on if they beat Auburn or LSU. College football is serious, but conference play is even more serious.

With the conference title, your team earns bragging rights for the rest of the year...which is wayyyy more important than a national championship, right? Or, it used to be.

Well, the trend of NCAA National Champions has been very consistent in catering to SEC dominance. In the past 10 years, 9 of those championships have featured a school from the SEC (Southeastern Conference). I'm focusing on this conference because its conference champion (and even runner-up) has almost always been represented in the national championship.

This is why conference play has been so important to college fans, players, and coaches. Win the conference and you have a better shot at vying for the #1 or #2 spot. As for those 3rd place finishers, their consolation prize may be the toughest pill to swallow (playing for 3rd place)...especially those who may finish the season undefeated.

Will the College Football Playoff provide the necessary solution for the issue of "conference favoritism"?

The College Football Playoff has established a selection committee who pick the best teams fit for competition, which means the AP Top 25 Poll and USA Today Coaches Poll mean absolutely nothing.

All we can do is hope the selection committee will bring integrity and a non-bias culture to the college football postseason. Of course, this 13-member committee includes people with ties to different schools but they will not be able to vote for their respective schools in order to remove any bias.

This can be a step in the right direction for college football. Even though four teams will be selected by the committee, there will always be a team who gets the short end of the stick (5th place finisher).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Issues in the NFL: Lack of Developmental League

Ever since the disbandment of NFL Europe in 2007, the NFL has been without a mid-level training system after college for aspiring professional football players.

With the influx of NFL-ready college athletes, there seems to be little need for a football developmental league (minor league, for example). However, the NFL can greatly benefit from establishing an official developmental league such as the Minors (MiLB) and NBA-DL (NBA Developmental League).

To begin, an NFL developmental system would allow aspiring major-league players to hone their skills in an environment that more closely resembles the style of play in the NFL (in comparison to the CFL and other football leagues).

The CFL (Canadian Football League) and AFL (Arena Football League) produce a number of players who earn their opportunity in the NFL; but due to a different style of play and a variety of rules in their respective leagues, this can be a difficult transition in the NFL.

More importantly, a developmental league can serve as the testing grounds for the NFL to implement new rule changes, train officiating crews (and even offer year-round employment), as well as increase the pool of experienced coaches.

In doing so, this could lead to a better organized league in which:

- New rules are thoroughly examined before being mandated without any rebuttal (lessening the power of the NFL Commissioner)

- Referees will be able to have increased job security and fully understand the rules prior to the season, instead of "understanding after the event occurs"

- Experienced coaches will most likely enhance the competitiveness of the game, leading to a level playing field in both conferences (NFC and AFC)

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Romo-Era Cowboys Will Never Win the Lombardi Trophy

Ever since the "Romo-era" Cowboys have taken the field, the expectations of this franchise - once known as "America's Team" (this should be up for debate) - have continually been lowered after every disappointing season.

For the past three years, we have dealt with injuries, an inconsistent running game, and the sad reality of being just an average football team - finishing up the past three seasons with an 8-8 record.

I hate to say it, but the Dallas Cowboys do not scream "World Champions!" and if you've been led to keep believing in the Cowboys to be a championship-contender... well, you are certainly in denial, my friend.

Now, let's begin to list the Three Reasons Why the Romo-era Cowboys Will Never Win the Lombardi Trophy.

Reason #1: Jerry Jones needs to be involved in business matters ONLY.

Serving as the Owner, General Manager, and President (NFL Front Office position descriptions) does not allow adequate room for accountability and improvement in the Dallas Cowboys franchise at all levels. Jones' three-headed monster of power merges front office and player/personnel matters, which really affects on-the-field play.

Jones is a business-savvy individual. He has ushered in the AT&T Stadium to serve as a premier venue of the biggest entertainment events you can think of: concerts, boxing matches, NFL Super Bowl, WWE, NBA All-Star Weekend, etc. You name it, I'm sure Jerry Jones has done it (or is about to do it).

The man is about $$$. Period.

So, it would serve the Cowboys a great deal for Jones to be the best business-man he can be; and, in time, release his tight grip on the area of player/personnel development.

Reason #2: The Dallas Cowboys' defense has more holes than Swiss cheese.

There's speculation that Rob Ryan was a great asset for the Cowboys' defense. Another argument claims that Ryan did not improve anything in Dallas, except for his eating habits. NFL defensive statistics from the '11/'12 and '12/'13 seasons show the Cowboys defense ranking in at 19th and 14th, respectively. However, if you examine the numbers of both seasons compared to the 2010 season, you can be the judge of whether Ryan improved the defense or not.

But the issue still remains: this defense needs help, bad. Really bad.

As most sports fans know (or should know), DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS. Take last year's Super Bowl, for example (43-8 ouch; Seattle's defense proved themselves).

With the latest draft picks acquired through the 2014 NFL Draft, maybe there is hope of developing a championship-caliber defense. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Reason #3: Tony Romo is our best chance at winning the Super Bowl.

Yes, you've read correctly. Tony Romo is the best chance for the Cowboys to reach a title.

On paper: This is awesome!

In reality: Welp, time to get ready for basketball season.

Tony Romo is above average. He gives you the stats: passing yards, passing touchdowns, and even a decent QBR (Quarterback Rating). The main component Romo is not giving the Cowboys is: winning. Of course, winning is a team effort; but, when the commander of your offense (in addition to sub-par defense) is not getting the job done, we have no choice but to continually be just an average team.

So, who is there to blame for all of the Cowboys' shortcomings?

Reason number one (see above for Reason #1).

Of course, he would most likely be the scapegoat. When you consider who hires the coaches, signs the players, oversees the operations of the franchise, and goes to sleep feeling as if everything is fine... Jerry Jones is the one guy that can pull it off.

Until he fires himself (sounds crazy) or the Cowboys can grab a guy like Jameis Winston (Cam Newton, but better) and have a top-10 defense, the Cowboys will continue to follow this downward trend.

SN: Seriously, I want Jameis Winston on the Cowboys roster. Let's just hope Dallas has a free crab leg buffet for Winston.
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