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Archive for November, 2010

Philip River is NFL’s Best Quarterback in 2010

Posted by RichieZ23 on November 30, 2010

I was not a believer in Phillip Rivers as an elite NFL quarterback before this year.  His throwing motion might be the ugliest I’ve seen since Joe Montain-ya.  He runs his mouth like he is Tom Brady when Rivers hasn’t even appeared in a Super Bowl, let alone win it.  The one time he visited the AFC title game, he lost to Brady and the Pats by throwing for just 211 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions.  I just didn’t think he was as good as he thought he was.I picked the San Diego Chargers to miss the playoffs, and the Oakland Raiders to win the awful AFC West.  Yeah, I’m not so sure about that now…

So far this season, Rivers has not only proved to myself and others that he is an elite NFL quarterback, he has proved that he is the best quarterback in the NFL in the 2010 season.  Rivers has passed for 3,362 yards and 23 touchdowns, both of which would lead the league if not for Kyle Orton’s 3,370 yards.

Philip Rivers has been the best quarterback in the NFL in 2010. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

But what makes it even more impressive, is that Rivers has done all this without his number one option Vincent Jackson.  He has also had his other targets Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, and Legedu Naanee for extended time.  Patrick Crayton, who was acquired from Dallas via trade, will be out for awhile with a dislocated wrist.

And yet he’s still second in the league in yards, and tied for first in touchdowns?  Are you kidding me?  While he did get Antonio Gates back in the Chargers win over the Colts on Sunday night, what he has done this year with limited receivers is outstanding.  It will only get better as he has standout holdout receiver Vincent Jackson coming back from suspension.

For me, it’s a two-way race for the remainder of the season between Rivers and Mike Vick for MVP.

The Chargers don’t have the defense or running game that they used to have, but if they’re going to go anywhere this season, it’s going to be completely on the arm of Rivers.

As good as Rivers has been in 2010, he could get a chance to get back to the AFC Championship game, and earn the right to talk some real trash.


Posted in NFL, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Can’t Fix Stupid — Late Cowboys Fumble Foils Dallas

Posted by RichieZ23 on November 26, 2010

It doesn’t matter if it is Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett, or Vince Lombardi coaching the Dallas Cowboys.

You can’t fix stupid, and that is exactly what has been plaguing the Dallas Cowboys for the 2010 season.  Simple tasks such as snapping the ball, punting the ball, and protecting the ball with two arms while trying to ice the game seemed to go over the heads of Dallas players.  Let me be clear when I say this is NOT an example of poor coaching.  I fully trust and believe in Jason Garrett as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys now and into the future.

While you have to give Dallas credit for battling back from an 17-0 deficit and nearly defeating the defending Super Bowl Champions without their starting quarterback, the fact is they lost the game due to stupid mistakes — the same type of mistakes that got Wade Phillips fired.

Again, the game is NOT a reflection of Jason Garrett.  The level of play from his team been up since taking over as head coach, and the mistakes have went down.  At some point you have to lay blame at the feet of the players.

Like Andre Gurode seemingly STILL not knowing the snap count.  Even Troy Aikman said he has never seen a center in the National Football League have the mental lapses Gurode has playing center.  How many times have we seen a poor or mis-timed snap from Gurode?  This time he didn’t have Romo to bail him out.

Or Pro Bowl punter Mat McBriar who bobbled a clean snap and botched a punt on 4th down from the New Orleans 35 yard line.  Rather than attempt a 53 yard field goal, Garrett decided to punt the ball and pin New Orleans deep.  Poor execution foiled this strategy.

Or Terrence Newman sitting on Robert Meachem and watching him blow right by him for a 55-yard gain on 3rd down with under two minutes remaining.

Roy Williams' fumble with Dallas leading by four points was a large contributor to Dallas losing on Thanksgiving.

Or best yet, Roy Williams for not securing the ball with two hands after catching a 3rd and 6 pass at midfield and racing down the field, splitting two defenders to  his left and right.  With Dallas up by four points, rather than securing the ball and going down, Williams got greedy and tried to score a touchdown.  The Saints cornerback Malcom Jenkins stripped the ball out of Williams left hand, and New Orleans recovered on the Dallas 10 yard line with just over three minutes remaining, down by four.

A little over a minute and five plays later, and the Saints re-took the lead, 30-27.

The change of culture is underway in Dallas.  Garrett has done more in three weeks than Phillips did in eight in Dallas in 2010.  But the amount of stupid plays and penalties in Dallas is on the players, not the coaches.

However, the sliver lining in this, is Garrett is a coach who will hold his players accountable.  As long as the mistakes do not continue, things will be fine.  After all, it’s not like a 3-7 Dallas was going to do anything this year anyway.  If the same players keep making the same mistakes, they will not be in Dallas anymore.

While stupid plays were ultimately Dallas’ undoing, progress is being made, as long as the same stupid mistakes are not made again.

There is a change of culture underway in Dallas, but no matter how much is changed, you can’t fix stupid.  The Cowboys just have to hope the players take things upon themselves and find ways to do simple football tasks such as snapping a ball, covering a receiver, or protecting the ball with two hands.



Posted in NFL | 3 Comments »

Is Lions Rookie Suh a Dirty Player?

Posted by RichieZ23 on November 25, 2010

Talk about your 180 degree turn.

First Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh is criticized for being a dirty player for viciously slamming Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme to the ground in his first game.  He stated after the game that he was not a dirty player.  Well it sure looked dirty.  And in a way I kind of liked it.  Suh showed from day one the mentality he brings to the field, that is of an absolute monster…you better bring your lunch pale if you’re going to line up across from him.  Off the field, every report is that he’s as nice as can be.

But now, he is claiming he isn’t a dirty player by…apologizing for pulling Cowboys running back Marion Barber’s hair.  Yeah, seriously.  Pulling hair isn’t dirty, just not what you’d expect from the physically imposing beast that is Suh.

Marion Barber might want to tuck away the 'locks

It’s Barber’s own fault he hasn’t visited his barber lately.  He is an offensive player, and having hair that long is just asking for trouble.  At least Troy Polamalu is a defensive player…he can’t get yanked down by his own locks.  Well, normally.  But Larry Johnson made sure to give it a try.  But Marion Barber?  Marion, come on.  You’re running back.  You had to know you were going to get it yanked, just not from a defensive tackle like Suh.  You’d think that would be something that Deangelo Hall would pull, or some other corner who makes business decisions hates to tackle.

So is Suh a dirty player for grabbing hair?  Not at all.  Maybe just taken down a notch on the man-scale for being a defensive tackle and using hair tactics.

Posted in NFL | 1 Comment »

Sucks to be You — 2-7 Lions Have Out-Scored Opponents 215-202

Posted by RichieZ23 on November 18, 2010

This is a situation of a glass being half-full, or half-empty.  The Lions are coming off a 2-14 season in 2009, and for the second season in a row lost former first round pick Matt Stafford for the season with a shoulder injury.

The Lions are 2-7, which sounds like a poor record.  But perhaps this is just the year for 2-7 teams like the newly rejuvenated Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are out to prove the old Bill Parcells saying wrong.  Maybe you aren’t what what your record says you are.

Even at 2-7, the Lions have out-scored their opponents in 2010. Yeah, they’ve out-scored their opponents 215-202, and they’re 2-7?  Yeah, sucks doesn’t it?  But what else do you expect?  The Lions are the only NFL franchise that has been in existence for every one of the 44 Super Bowls and has never attended the big game.  So we’ve got a 2-7 team that has out-scored its opponents, including wins of 38 and 12 points.  However, they’ve dropped the close ones, including two losses by two points, two losses by three points, one loss by five points, and another loss by eight points.

Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh laughs at Santana Moss while returning a Rex Grossman fumble for a touchdown.

The good news for Detroit fans is that this franchise is legitimately on its way up.  Everywhere you look on the team, a legitimate playmaker is there.  When Matthew Stafford is healthy, he has the ability to be a very, very good quarterback.  Calvin Johnson might be the most physically gifted wide receiver.  Tight end Brandon Pettiegrew has the potential to cause serious matchup problems, and running back Jahvid Best has the breakaway speed to be one of the most electrifying backs in the league.

On the defense side, free safety Louis Delmas has proven to be a playmaker after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL draft.  He returned an interception 101 yards his rookie season for a touchdown.  Also on defense is rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. I don’t think I need to say anything else.  The motor and intensity that Suh plays with is contagious and spreads throughout the entire defensive unit.

So while the team might be 2-7 so far this year and the glass looks half-empty this year, the glass really is half-full going forward.

The next step is a matchup against the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys in a battle of 2-7 teams that could easily be 5-4.

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Cowboy Flavored Kool-Aid — Is Cowboys’ Head Coach Garrett Really the Answer?

Posted by RichieZ23 on November 17, 2010

Ahh, nothing like a nice, tall glass of Kool-Aid to quench the thirst.  You see after starting 1-7 and firing marshmallow head coach Wade Phillips, the Dallas Cowboys were looking for a refreshment.

They have found one in intern head coach Jason Garrett — and the media is drinking the Cowboy Kool-Aid once again after just one game.

Head coach Jason Garrett celebrates with Jon Kitna during the Cowboys win over the Giants in Garrett's first game as a head coach.

Head Coach in Waiting

For the few who do not know the story, a quick refresher.  Garrett comes from a family of coaches, and his father Jim was a scout for the Cowboys.  Garrett played backup quarterback in the league for 12 seasons.  Always a student of the game, Garrett often watched from the sidelines, essentially training for a gig in coaching.  He got in in 2005, when the Miami Dolphins hired him as the quarterbacks coach in Garrett’s first year not playing in the NFL.

He was hired by Dallas as offensive coordinator in 2007, and replaced Phillips midway through the 2010 season.

The Cowboys are the NFL’s laughing stock for the second time in three years.  (2008 was another “Super Bowl or bust season, in which Dallas missed the playoffs altogether)  Sitting at 1-7 and going into week ten, Dallas had the second-worst record in the league behind only Buffalo.  The knock on Dallas was simple — they were an undisciplined team with little attention to detail, who made mistakes and could not play a complete 60-minute ball game.  Many questions arose in Dallas, but talent was rarely one of them.

Sure the offensive line is a bit slow and old, but so is Pittsburgh’s.  You don’t see the Steelers sitting in the basement.  The middle linebackers and safeties for Dallas are a bit below average in their coverage abilities.  So are the Chiefs who are sitting at a very respectable 5-4.  Point is, many teams around the league have done more with less talent than Dallas did in 2010 under the helm of Phillips.

Change of Culture

Garrett has initiated a change of attitude and culture in Dallas.  Attention to detail and the approach to practice has been altered so far under Garrett.  With talent not being a burden, (Dallas arguably has three top-five players at their position in Demarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Jason Witten.   Garrett must both motivate prepare a mistake-ridden club that has little to play for in 2010.  Oh yeah, besides their jobs.  Players on Dallas knew that Phillips would be fired before they would, and their performance on the field did little to say they wanted anything but Phillips out of Dallas.

Garrett brings with him a sense of uncertainty.  Uncertainty in that, if you do not perform, changes will be made.  A phrase that former head coach Bill Parcells used quite frequently was “churning” the roster.  It basically meant if you’re not doing your job, you will be replaced.  Wade Phillips brought with him a “family” mentality, which sounds great, but the NFL is a business, not a family affair.

The playoffs are out of the question for Dallas.  They had their share at the beginning of the season, along with 32 other teams.  Instead of doing what needed to be done, they proceeded to start 1-7 before Garrett finally brought a prepared team to the New Meadowlands and defeated the New York Giants 33-20.

Even without Tony Romo for the remainder of the season, under Jason Garrett the Dallas Cowboys have an opportunity to continue to improve and build off of their second win of the season.  With attention to detail and a stricter attitude enforced, look for Dallas to end 2010 on quite a high note.  Focus and enthusiasm are the two main elements that will best improve this Dallas squad, and Jason Garrett is the man for the job.

Another reason?  Football is a young man’s game.  In following with Bill Simmons Speed Limit Corollary if head coaches over the age of 55 typically do not have the success that younger coaches do.  Why?  Because they’re old, and being the head coach in the NFL is a very time-consuming and high-stress job.  Phillips was 63.  Garrett is 44.

While the Cowboys still have to face teams such as the Colts, Saints, and the Eagles twice, they will at least remain competitive in the remainder of their games.  Garrett finally has the team focused and buying into a system of structure and discipline.

So go ahead and drink the Cowboy flavored Kool-Aid for the remainder of the year.  Just know that the remainder of this season is just the pre-game.  The real party and after party will be the 2011 season when Garrett has an entire off-season and training camp to implement his ways.

But for now Garrett has Dallas fans reaching for another glass of Kool-Aid, which is a needed refreshment in the disaster that is the 2010 season.

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Five Friday Favorites

Posted by RichieZ23 on November 12, 2010

Alright so I’m going to try some things that will be updated a bit more frequently, since I’ve obviously been doing a horrific job of staying on top of things lately.

Every Friday I’m going to pick five of my favorite teams to watch that I think will get a win.  So let’s get this started.

1.  Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants — Everyone is writing the Cowboys off for dead — and rightfully so.  They’ve played uninspired, mistake-ridden football for the majority of the season.  2010 is the biggest embarrassment in Dallas history.  But New York is banged up a bit, especially along the offensive line, and Jason Garrett has instilled a complete 180 degrees shift in mentality.  Everyone always talks about how talented Dallas is, yet they never live up to expectations.  A head coach like Jason Garrett just might be what the doctor ordered.  Look for Dallas to pull off the upset 24-21.

Jason Garrett has begun a change of culture in Dallas with more discipline.

2.  New York Jets at Cleveland Browns — What is going on in Cleveland?  They’ve already beat the Saints and Patriots this year.  Can they knock off the Jets too?  In short, no.  The Jets are one of the most talented teams in the league, with also one of the best head coaches to match.  Head coach Rex Ryan has brought with him plenty of swagger to go along with the hard-hitting Jets mentality.  The Jets prove why they are one of the NFL’s elite teams and win 31-13.

3.  Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins — Well the Randy Moss era kicks off in Tennessee.  With receiver Kenny Britt sidelined for weeks with a hamstring injury, the Titans desperately needed help at receiver.  Moss now steps into a lineup that has the most explosive running back, and now the best deep threat in NFL history.  Moss might not be the receiver he once was, but he still commands a constant double team, and will help out Chris Johnson in that he won’t see so many 8 and 9 man fronts.  Moss makes the Titans a legit contender in a tough AFC South.  Miami is also starting Chad Pennington, who has trouble throwing the ball further than 20 yards down the field.  Yeah, pretty bad.  Titans beat Miami and Moss catches a touchdown.  35-21.

4.  Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos — Is Kansas City really for real this year?  Not yet, but they are better than Denver.  Broncos head coach has seemed to think that if he gives away all of his best players, the Broncos will somehow get better.  In 2009 he traded his 2010 first round pick to move up and draft cornerback Alonso Smith in the 2nd round.  Then in 2010 he traded Alonso Smith for tight end Dan Gronkowski.  Smith has damn near the same amount of picks (5) as Gronkowski has catches (5).  Division games are always close, but KC escapes 17-14.

5.  New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers — And now what may be the game of the week.  Actually, there is no maybe about it.  The Patriots and Steelers are two of the top five teams in the league, and could quite possibly be a preview of the AFC Championship.  The Patriots have ditched the spread offense that they employed recently, and have went back to more of a traditional base offense that won them three Super Bowls.  The Steelers have a tough as nails defense as always, but recently receiver Mike Wallace has blossomed into one of the leagues best deep threats.  He is averaging nearly 25 yards-per-catch, and is the spark plug the Steelers need.  The Steelers offense has a slight advantage on both offense and defense, but never count out Bill Belichick.  That being said, look for the Steelers to take out New England 28-27.

Those are my five favorites to watch.  What about you?

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