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dreams deferred

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Maybe I just don’t have a real appreciation for the pressures of the office of the General Manager of an NFL franchise, but I thought the end game was to win the Super Bowl. I also thought that the value of a Super Bowl was immeasurable, or at least incalculable. I thought Super Bowls were a lot the way some early philosophers (I think those of the Kantian variety) looked at the value of a human life. Nothing was worth more than a Super Bowl. However, more and more I’m seeing teams make moves “for the future,” and taking their current Super Bowl windows for granted.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that this is motivated by feelings of my franchise (The Cowboys) taking theirs window for granted. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I don’t think Jerry Jones isn’t doing a phenomenal job taking Dallas back to the top of the mountain, but I am saying that there are some moves that definitely could have been made that would have made Dallas the prohibitive favorite to win the Super Bowl. If I’m Jerry Jones, and I see the contract that Arizona just handed Larry Fitzgerald, and I see how offended Bolding got by it, I talk to the Cardinals, and give them WHATEVER they want for him. All this talk about we feel confident in Patrick Crayton’s abilities should stop; we saw where confidence in his abilities got us last year. I honestly would have given the Cardinals two firsts for Boldin. I know it sounds like a lot, but consider this, what do you need those draft picks for if you’re the Cowboys?

First round draft picks cost more and more every year, and especially when what you need is a wide receiver, it takes too long for them to develop. When you’re not concerned with overpaying consecutive first round picks, you can funnel the money you would have spent on them into giving Boldin a contract more commensurate with his talent and production. The point is, you never know when your window is going to close, and when you find yourself in a position to be no lower than the third best team in the league, and best in your conference you HAVE TO sell your soul to the devil. That means you completely sell out to win that Super Bowl. A team that got that idea was the Patriots, they understand that you’re not always going to be there and you have to treat every run as though it’s your last. That is why when they fell short to the Colts, they didn’t say “well we like where we’re at, and we’re just going to try harder next time.” They treated the situation like some third world rebels vying for emancipation; they went out and got western weapons (Randy Moss).

Just ask the Bears about how fast a Super Bowl window can close. After Rex Grossman handed the Colts that Super Bowl, the Bears should have gone out and done everything in their power to obtain McNabb from the Eagles. Instead, they figured they’d just keep trying with what they had and now look at them, they are now looking up at the Vikings and Packers, and wins against Detroit aren’t guaranteed either. From 13-3 to division cellar, that is how quickly it can happen.

A Super Bowl win takes unspeakable amounts of pressure off of a team (most notably the team leaders) and frankly it appeases the fans (for a while), it also allows you the time to really evaluate your team and replace necessary pieces without having to deal with media and fan scrutiny as to what you’re doing (see: NY Giants off loading all kinds of players with nary a word said). Winning the Super Bowl is the equivalent of tasting the rare berry that grows at the top of an “insurmountable” mountain; you would rather have tasted it, even if only once (Kurt Warner) than have been so painfully close, no matter how many times (Jim Kelly)

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Written by misteressama

August 12, 2008 at 10:28 pm

phil equipped

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Far be it from me to tell an NFL franchise how to run its team, but let tell the Philadelphia Eagles that they have squandered the career of Donovan McNabb. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all Lurie and Reid’s fault, McNabb didn’t help himself when he picked up a pitchfork and helped management run T.O. out of town, but he doesn’t make the personnel decisions either. Maybe I’m spoiled by having an owner like Jerrel Wayne Jones, but to watch the Eagles clip their own wings is only risible because they’re a division rival.

You look at the rest of the division, Jones has put together a gem in Dallas, The ‘Skins have hard-nosed defense has mastered the art of playing ugly, which keeps them in every game and renders them incapable of losing more than seven games in any given season, and The Gigantes are the defending Super Bowl Champs, which means they can do WHATEVER they want for the next three years. Philly went 8-8 last year and was the ONLY team in the division not to make the playoffs, yet they act as if this is the NFC East of the early 00s. They think they can just stick McNabb & Westbrook on the field and go 11-5. Maybe Reid hasn’t noticed with his kids’ insane drug problems, but the NFC isn’t the same conference it used to be.

Let’s start within the division, for the second consecutive year three out of four teams in the division made the playoffs. The Cowboys are the “class” of the division. I put class in quotes because it doesn’t really matter in the playoffs, NFC East teams are not intimidated by their division rivals in the playoffs, so I mean it’s great to have the Cowboys be the best team in the division but trust when I say that I would rather face ANYONE else in the NFC than a divisional foe in the playoffs. Nevertheless, the Cowboys set a league record with 13 Pro Bowlers last season, and there’s no reason to expect those players to repeat next season, since none of those seasons were that eye-popping. The Cowboys got Ken Hamlin resigned and drafted one of the consensus top four DBs in the draft, Mike Jenkins, who has the versatility to play corner or safety. Then the Cowboys add Adam Jones, who has proved himself to be a competent #2 CB, and if he can get himself back into game shape, and refrain from the rain dancers the secondary looks to be even more formidable. Everyone says, “yeah, but what about a #2 receiver?” Don’t forget Dallas played all last season without Terry Glenn, now whether he signs the waiver and comes back healthy is another issue. The Cowboys add Zach Thomas, and draft Martellus Bennett and Felix Jones as rookies who will fill the “voids” left by Anthony Fasano and Julius Jones. All in all, the Cowboys are a better team than last year.

As I said before, the Giants are the defending Super Bowl Champines and are “off the hook” for at least this season. However, you still have to worry about whether last season was just a fluke for Eli, or whether something has clicked for him. If it is the latter, then the division just got a serious headache, especially if he keeps Plaxico Burress. When you consider the production the Giants got from their rookies like Bradshaw and Steve Smith, it’s kind of worrisome to think that theoretically they should only get better, unless they catch the Michael Claytons disease. You want to bring up their “losses,” but when you think about it, who did they really lose besides Strahan? Yeah, they just traded Shockey, but in case you forgot they went on that run without him. That defensive line will still be one of the most formidable defensive fronts in the league, the pass rush should be fine with the loss of Strahan, they still have Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka (who I presume has learned not to let go), and 1-800-Osi-Ocean. Kawika Mitchell just flat out wasn’t that good, and I think Kenny Phillips will replace Gibril Wilson just fine. Verdict: Giants are a touch worse than they were last year simply because they lost Strahan, and that was just another horse to rotate in and keep the pass rush fresh.

Washington took a huge step forward with landing Jason Taylor. The day they lost both defensive ends, the ‘Skins land the most prolific sack artist in the league since 2000, I believe. Jason Taylor alone makes the rest of Washington’s defense better. JT Money just brings straight heat and that’s all there is to it. The offense has shown how explosive it can be, and what’s more, it has shown that it doesn’t much matter whether Jason Campbell or Todd Collins is in there calling the plays. Clinton Portis will be the horse he always is in the backfield and that’s all there is to it. Don’t let any of the three pass catchers the ‘Skins drafted pan out early and the ‘Skins are definitely in a position to win more than three games in the division.

However, when you look at Philly, what have they done? It’s almost as if they’ve been purposely squandering McNabb’s career because they know the fans never liked him (which is pretty unfair to him, have they forgotten that they wanted Ricky Williams?) and management knows they will never be blamed for the Eagles’ short comings. Let’s look at it though, who does McNabb have on that team? When you look at the tools McNabb has around, nobody is the best at their position in the division. LJ Smith? Nope. Brian Westbrook? I don’t think so; Portis is better than Westbrook if you want to go just straight up best RB in the division, but if you want to talk about entire running platoons, the Eagles come in last. Let’s not even talk about wide receiver, last is an understatement. You could take away every other team in the division’s top wide receiver, and Philly still wouldn’t necessarily be the best. With all those legitimate receivers sitting there in the draft begging to be drafted, the eagles went with DeSean Jackson, a punt returner. They better pray that ESPN airs some games on ABC, because that’s the only time I saw Jackson show up to play in college. Westbrook hasn’t played a full season in lord knows how long (neither has McNabb) but the Eagles seem content on their past accomplishments; beating up on the NFC when it was still just a JV League.

The Saints have become a top flight team in the conference, thanks to the offensive genius of Sean Payton and the resurrection of Brees. Bush should play better if Deuce McAllister comes back healthy. Add Shockey to an already loaded offense, and Jonathan Vilma (yeah) to anchor that defense, and I think it stands to reason placing the Saints ahead of the Eagles. The Panthers had an awful season last year, but they did also play it without Jake Delhomme, and mark my words, they’re back up Matt Moore will eventually be a quality starting quarterback in this league. If I’m the Bears, I offer a first or second round pick for the kid. He was Dallas’ 3rd signal caller during Parcels’ last pre-season, but everyone knows Parcels only carries 2. Either way, Carolina will be back to reassert themselves in the conference. Throw in what should be a resurgent St. Louis squad, an overachieving Tampa Bay, a consistent Seattle, a stout Green Bay and a potent-at-every-position-but-quarterback Viking team, and Philly is not really looking at that manageable a season.

Back when their defense had the players to make Jim Johnson’s defensive scheme seen unbreakable, and McNabb, Owens (for 21 games) and Westbrook were making football look as easy as it was in the playground, the Eagles didn’t really have to worry, but now, most of their stars are gone, and the ones who are left are no longer as radiant as they once shone. Yes they added Asante Samuel, but why? They’re just going to lose Lito Sheppard because of it, and the kind of money they’ve given Samuel will prevent them from really bringing in any other defensive stars. Add to that the fact now that EVERY team in the division (except them) has a pass rusher capable of logging 16 sacks next season, McNabb is in for a long one, but hey, he’s been hearing it in Philly since he was drafted, I guess it is true the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Written by misteressama

July 23, 2008 at 1:46 am

good looks

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+Props are in order to the Chicago Bears for getting a deal done with former Lions running back, Kevin Jones. The Bears get Kevin Jones for a steal on a one year $605,000 contract. I believe that if Jones is in fact completely healed, he could really assert himself as a quality ball carrier in the NFL next season. The Bears really rectified what I felt was a HUGE mistake, by not moving up to snag Jonathan Stewart, and passing on Rashard Mendenhall. It has been clear for quite some time that Cedric Benson was not the answer for Chicago, and I think with Jones, they get a tough, blue collar type runner who really knows how to gain yards and finish runs.

+The Dallas Cowboys got a deal worked out with safety Ken Hamlin. The deal is worth 6 years and $39M, with $15M guaranteed. This is a great move for the Cowboys, whose secondary has held the team back for quite some time. With Hamlin resigned, and (hopefully) an Adam Jones re-instatement, the Cowboys will be free to put all their talented secondary players on the field during third downs. The possibility of putting Newman, Jones, Henry, Jenkins and Hamlin all out there at the same time bodes extremely well for Dallas’ nickel package. It pains me to say but the more good solid secondary players we can get active and back on field, the fewer snaps Roy Williams will see in coverage.

+Both Dallas and Chicago are inquiring about the possibility of acquiring Chris Simms from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Personally, I don’t know why John Gruden is doing holding on to the kid. Gruden obviously isn’t going to play Simms, as Garcia, McCown and Griese are listed ahead of Simms on the depth chart, and they drafted project Josh Johnson. To me, if Gruden is holding on to Simms just for shits & giggles (pardon my French), that’s terrible. Simms is a young player who looked like he was just starting to turn the corner, until that game against Carolina where they estimate his spleen had ruptured somewhere between the middle of the first quarter and beginning of the second. Especially for that game, Gruden should release Simms and let him go sign somewhere else. Obviously, the selfish side of me wants Simms in Dallas, because I think he would be a good back up, but the best thing for him would be to seek out a starting job in Chicago.

+With all this drama unfolding between the Packers and Brett Favre, I just wanted to give Aaron Rodgers some dap for handling this situation with some class. If he was just like Favre, he’d probably be crying about how unfair this whole thing was for him. Lord knows, he would probably ask for his unconditional release. I also want to take this opportunity to say that if Aaron Rodgers starts for the Green Bay Packers, they will win at least 10 games. People are sleeping on how good that Packer team is. Remember, that team should have been in the Super Bowl, but it was just one of those pesky back-breaking Favre post-season interceptions. Between Driver, Jennings, Donald Lee and the emergence of Ryan Grant, a game manager can take that team to a division title.

+Props to Bodymore, they signed their first round pick Joe Flacco to, believe it or not, a contract commensurate with his NFL experience. The Ravens got Joe Flacco for a 5 year deal worth a maximum of $30M, with $8.75M guaranteed. As far as I’m concerned Joe Flacco has a wide open chance to be the day one starter (obviously, only if he can learn the terminology and playbook fast enough). I will say though, if Flacco doesn’t win the job, it is more likely than not that Troy Smith is the starter. I saw the way he played at the end of last season, and I’m not saying he looked amazing, but compared to Boller, Smith looked like a seasoned vet.

wouldn’t have it any other way

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“I would rather have Tony Romo quaterbacking the Dallas Cowboys than any other quarterback in the league right now.” – Me circa two seasons ago.

That quote got me looked at like I had just said the road to the Super Bowl goes through Oakland. But I’m serious, like botched field goal hold to end your post-season serious. I got the usual suspects thrown at me; Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, and yes, even Brett Favre. Responses like this let me know two things; a) casual fans pay far too much attention to talking heads and b) they LOVE to hear what they want to hear.

Yes, Brady has the rings, Manning has the pedigree, Palmer is next in that line of great signal callers and Favre just gets lauded relentlessly for being an alcoholic, addicted to Codeine, being wildly inconsistent (but the media calls that a “gunslinger” mentality) oh that’s right, and winning a Super Bowl over a decade ago. Yes, I understand Favre was great back in the day, but I’ll dismiss the idea of him over Romo right away as completely and utterly risible. Why? Favre has thrown 62 interceptions in the last three seasons. Yes. 62. And I don’t want to hear that it’s not his fault. 62 interceptions in three seasons is ALWAYS your fault as a quarterback. Every other quarterback seems to get held to a higher standard than Brett Favre, because we all know NOBODY else would get away with throwing 62 picks in three seasons. Just to give you an idea, the illustrious triumvirate of Greise, Grossman and Orton has thrown 65 over the last 3 seasons. Yeah, he’s been that great.

But Favre is the worst (right now) on the aforementioned list. So how do I defend Romo? That is really quite simple, the Dallas offensive line, is truly just that; offensive. I know we added big Leonard Davis, but don’t forget he’s playing guard, not tackle. Don’t forget, this is the Dallas offensive line that was so bad that Witten, one of the best TE in the league HAD to be kept in to block when Drew Bledsoe was back there. That is because Drew Bledsoe is what Manning, Palmer, and his successor Brady all are; a pure pocket passer. Guys who would get absolutely punished playing behind Dallas’ offensive line.

Enter “Pretty” Ton’. What most people don’t get about Romo, is that he is one of the most athletic, instinctive quarterbacks in the game. I mean don’t forget he shat on Michael “The Playmaker” Irvin in a game of one on one. The more ignorant of you would say, that doesn’t mean a thing, but those of you who know; a) the kind of athlete Irvin is/was and b) the size of his ego, know that fact that he would admit this on national television means it was really something. Nobody will stop talking about Romo muffing the snap, but what people don’t talk about, is his presence of mind to get up, run and almost gain the first down. Most other quarterbacks would have never even made it up off their knees. Then the talk was “can he overcome that disastrous let down and not let that affect his play?” Well, we saw what he did last season, and what he could have done in the post season, had Patrick “I run my mouth, even though I’m awful” Crayton not let him down.

Lastly, Romo is a cavalier son-of-a-bitch, yet he never makes throws those awful interceptions that make you scratch your head. Behind a sub par offensive line, Romo still manages to make it look like he rarely gets pressured, but that is far from the case. Romo sees more pressure than Brady, Manning and Palmer ever do, but his athleticism, instincts, and three and a half years marinating on the bench before his first start have turned him into the most important player on Dallas’ offense.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Owens, he’s probably my favorite player in the league. However, there is a handful (maybe two) of receivers you could put in his place and Dallas’ offense would still be lethal. I think you could plug in; Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Chad Johnson, Braylon Edwards, Plaxico Burress, Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson, Marques Colston and Greg Jennings (really, don’t laugh the kid is big play) and still have what amounts to a top 5 offensive unit in the league. UNDERSTAND, I AM NOT SAYING THESE GUYS ARE AS GOOD AS OWENS (well Moss is), I’m saying Dallas could still be a top 5 offense with these guys, very different statements.Contrast that to the fact that Romo is the only quarterback (maybe a healthy McNabb, a-k-a the mythical unicorn; oft described, yet never seen) that can hide the lacunas that exist in Dallas’ pass protection. So you can keep hating him, because the media is all on his member, or because he vacations with Jessica Simpson, or because he’s a Cowboy, but one thing you cannot say is that Romo has not earned the on-field accolades he has received. Without Romo, the Cowboys are in the cellar of the NFC East, which for those of you who rep teams in other (weaker) divisions and don’t know, that’s 8-8. So just sit back and bask in the radiance of the rise of the Romo Empire, and don’t be like those haters on the other side hating him because he’s beautiful.