Posts Tagged ‘Vikings’

Should we go ahead and engrave this for the Dallas Cowboys?

I had planned on having this blog entry of my 9 part NFL blog series posted yesterday, but the job that pays the bills (oil & gas industry) has been killing me lately. Usually the day job doesn’t affect my blogging since I write my blogs in my head and then type them late at night. But this week I have been too mentally whipped to type anything after work.

By now you have most likely read part one of my NFL blog series that was about the AFC East. If you haven’t, please go and check it out. It’s worth the read even if you’re not a fan of any of the teams in the AFC East. Today I am going to stay with the east coast theme and discuss and analyze the NFC East.

NFC East

Historically this division has been known as the best division in football and as the most physical division in the football. Over the years the NFC East has had its fair share of up and down years while teams within the division were going through transitional periods. But two things that remained during those down years was a division that featured four teams that were extremely physical and really good on defense. Ex; 2010 Washington Redskins

In 2011 expect to see the NFC East uphold that moniker as the “best division in football” as well as “the most physical division in football.” The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and the Washington Redskins are four teams that no one will want to see on their schedule in 2011.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Fellow Houstonian Kevin Kolb doing a interview with Skoal in his jaw

Philadelphia Eagles – As we speak, Philly fan is still applauding or complaining about the Donovan McNabb trade and sitting around wondering if Kevin Kolb is ready to be the starting QB. Some are wondering as to how good the Eagles will be this year with the team going through a transition phase.

Don’t worry Philly fan, your Eagles won’t be great, but they won’t be 1-15 bad either. Oh yeah, and to answer the Kevin Kolb question, he is ready.

Trading Donovan McNabb was a smart move by Philly. McNabb is good but not great and I think he is a better fit in Mike Shanahan’s version of the west coast offense than he was in Andy’s. In addition to that, Kevin Kolb is ready to be the starter in Philly and will allow Andy Reid to run his offense properly. Over the past few years, Reid has gone away from the west coast offense to fit Donovan’s ability which wasn’t suited for Andy’s west coast offense.

If you watch game film, when Kolb was in at quarterback, the offense became more efficient and ran more like a west coast offense rather than a Air Coryell offense with elements of the west coast offense sprinkled in, which is what Philly’s offense had become with Donovan in at quarterback.

The transition from McNabb to Kolb should be reminiscent of when Green Bay went from Brett Favre to Aaron Rogers last year. Green Bay’s offense went to good and effective to efficient and explosive.

Speaking of transition, Andy Reid and the GM have done a great job of remaking this roster on the fly in just two years. A lot of people in Philly weren’t too happy about the Eagles draft strategy back in April, but there was a method to Andy Reid’s madness and his draft class this year was great.

Philly picked up a lot of quality players in this year’s draft and guys who will make that team even better than it was in years past. Charles Scott is a guy on the offensive side of the ball who I think will drastically improve their running game. Scott is a type of running back that Philly hasn’t had since Andy has been there.

Charles is a big, bruising, punishing one cut running back that will bring a physical style of running game that the Eagles have never had but have needed. Wide out Riley Cooper from the University of Florida will also be a great addition to that offense and gives Andy a big wide out to play in either the slot or on the outside like Ed Mc Cafferey did in San Francisco and in Denver.

Defensively the Eagles should be better than what they were over the past two years. In the draft they were able to get guys who will bolster up their defensive line as well as improve their pass rush. Brandon Graham is the blue chip stud in their draft class who will be an extremely productive player on defense and wreck havoc on opposing offenses.

At year’s end, I am looking for Philly to finish the year at 9-7 if things go right, or 6-10 if things get bad or they lose some close games due to the fact that they are a young team having to learn how to win.

Tough games against the Packers, Vikings, Texans, Forty-Niners, along with playing the Cowboys twice equates to the 9th toughest schedule in the league.

Donovan McNabb getting comfortable in Shanahan's Offense

Washington Redskins Daniel Snyder finally got tired of losing and decided to stop getting involved in football operations. So he got rid of Vinny Cerrato who was his puppet, and he went out and hired two guys to take over football operations and make the Redskins a winner.

One of those guys was Mike Shanahan who had been unemployed for the past year after getting fired in Denver. The other guy was Bruce Allen who is the son of Redskin great George Allen. Bruce was appointed as GM of the Redskins and is the first guy to be named GM since Snyder has owned the team.

Shanahan and Allen have brought in years of experience on how to run a football team the right way. Unlike Snyder, they don’t believe in running the team like a fantasy football team. As soon as free agency hit, Washington’s new philosophy on how to operate during the offseason was put into effect by not going after big name free agents as they had done in the past, and they cleaned house of dead weight players. This was because Mike and Bruce were running things, not Snyder.

Thanks to Snyder and Vinny Cerrato this team has major issues, but majority of the issues are on the offensive side of the ball. Somehow Snyder and Cerrato were able to get good players on the defensive side of the ball as well as coaches.

Mike is known as an offensive genius and his fingerprints will be all over this team. Offensively the Redskins will be a much better team than what they have been in a long time. To help improve the Redskins offense, Shanahan went and stole his son Kyle Shanahan from my Texans to become the offensive coordinator in Washington.

If you don’t know how good Kyle is, pull up Houston’s stats over the past four years. The kid knows offense and helped make Houston a top five team offensively every year. Not to mention he made Matt Schaub the top quarterback in the league last year statistically and Pro Bowl MVP.

Getting Donovan McNabb from Philly was a great move and one that will make the Redskins a really good team for a long time. McNabb’s mobility is perfect for what the Shanahan’s love to do on offense with the various bootlegs they like to run. Along with his mobility, his veteran leadership will help solidify that ball club immensely.

They have some questions at the wide out position, but the west coast offense isn’t based on how great your wide outs and running backs are. It’s an offense that focuses more on execution and timing. Plus Donovan is used to not having wide outs. But he does have several running backs to either hand off or throw to now. (Larry Johnson, Clinton Portis, Willie Parker)

Washington’s running game should be better with Portis, Johnson and Parker splitting time in the backfield and with Mike’s commitment to running the ball.

Over the past five years the Redskins have had a top ten defense while running a 4-3 defense. This year the Redskins are switching to a 3-4 defense. They don’t have all of the pieces to run that defense properly, but they have talent and like Green Bay last year who went through the same switch. Talent will be able to cover up for deficiencies in certain areas. If Albert Haynesworth gets with the program, this defense can be dominating up front.

Overall I think the Redskins will be a more competitive team and may also compete for a wildcard spot along with the Eagles. I see them either ending the season with a 9-7 or an 8-8 record.

The week 12 game against the Houston Texans should be a very interesting game to watch. The teacher Mike Shanahan will be going up against his pupil/former player in Gary Kubiak, and Rick Dennison while Kubiak and Dennison will be going up against their former teacher Mike Shanahan, and pupil Kyle Shanahan. To make a long story short, these two teams will know everything that each other will be doing before they do it.

Eli Manning saw too much of this last year

New York Giants – I must admit that out of all of the teams that I get bored writing about, the New York Giants are at the top of my list. Sorry Giants fans. Fact is, the Giants are and always will be a non flashy team with not anything that makes you clamor for news about them. They have even become back page news in their own city now.

Watching Giants games can be boring at times and could possibly cure someone of insomnia, especially last year. In 2010 the Giants offense was inconsistent at best. Whether it was through the air or on the ground, New York was pedestrian at times. Brandon Jacobs looked slow and wasn’t as effective as he had been in previous years. When Brandon wasn’t struggling to be effective, the offensive line and Eli Manning was.

The loss of Plaxico Burress seriously affected the Giants passing game last year and you could tell that Eli missed his go to guy. Eli, unlike his brother Peyton and a few others, doesn’t have the ability to make others around him better. He needs to be surrounded by good players to make him better. Hopefully New York’s young, talented group of wide outs will be much better than what they were last year and give Eli some help.

On defense, the Giants need to figure what they are going to do to stop teams from running the ball on them all day long like teams did last year. Their defensive tackles are just plain bad at stopping the run. They simply couldn’t hold up at the point of attack at all last year.

To make matters worse, their defensive leader, middle linebacker Antonio Pierce was released and they didn’t really find a good, proven replacement for him yet. In the NFL, if you don’t have good defensive tackles and a good middle linebacker, you can’t stop anyone from running on you.

New York did address the defensive tackle position by drafting Linval Joseph to help shore up their run defense, but you can’t expect a second round pick rookie to be the answer to a poor run defense.

Despite their issues on both sides of the ball, they will be a much better team than what they were last year. I don’t expect them to improve much defensively, but we will see what happens. There are surprises every year.

I see 10-6 with 8-8 being the worst possible scenario with Tom Coughlin being on the hot seat at the end of the year. Games against the Packers and Vikings could be ugly for the Giants.

Dez Bryant is focused on proving 31 other teams wrong

Dallas Cowboys – Last year I and many called the Dallas Cowboys one of the most complete teams in the NFL. In all three phases of the game, the Cowboys are solid and are in most cases, better than their competition.

Well, one of the most complete teams in football got better this offseason. The only thing that can stop the Cowboys from reaching the Super Bowl is their inability to put together a complete season. It seems like every season they start the season off fast, get into a funk for about four games, then finish the season well. That needs to be fixed or they will be watching the Super Bowl in Dallas this year and not playing in it.

If Wade Phillips can get his team to put together a complete season, I don’t see but maybe two other teams competing with them in the NFC to go to Super bowl XLV. Dallas should become the first team in NFL history to play in a home Super Bowl.

Whether it’s with the running game or the passing game, Dallas can hurt a team in many ways. I don’t need to bore you with mentioning the names of the three headed monster rushing attack that Dallas has. Nor do I need to talk about how much more explosive they will become with the addition of Dez Bryant to go along with Miles Austin, Jason Witten and a inspired to improve (thanks to Dez Bryant being drafted) Roy Williams. Some things in life should just be left unsaid.

All that needs to be pointed out is that if you are a defensive coordinator not on the Cowboys coaching staff, you have a serious situation on your hands come Sunday. Dallas just simply has a lot of weapons for Tony Romo to use to put points on the board.

With Wade Phillips calling the plays on defense, you can expect to see the dominating defense that Dallas displayed in the second half of the season last year. Their one weakness on the defense last year was the secondary. That won’t be much of a weakness this year.

Even though the Cowboys have the third toughest schedule in the league, I see them going 14-2 at best or 12-4 at worst. They have several tough games this year starting off with a game in week two against the in state rival Houston Texans. Games at Lambeau Field and in Minnesota in weeks 6 and 9 aren’t going to be cake walks either but will be great games. Then a rematch of last year’s Saints/Cowboys game in week 12 will be one not to miss if you’re a football fan.

September 9th can’t some soon enough folks, until then. I will see you guys on Sunday with part three. The AFC North is on deck.

Advertisements

Rex has his Jets poised to make a run for the top spot

Football season is around the corner and I vowed that I wouldn’t write my division and team ranking blogs until training camp. Well yesterday a conversation amongst a couple of people on twitter about the Miami Dolphins motivated me to start this nine part series today.

I am not trying to prove a point or anything. I think my knowledge of the game of football whether its college or pro speaks for itself. Anyone who knows me personally or has been following me on twitter for awhile can attest to this. Bottom line, I am rarely wrong when it comes to football.

You may not like what I have to say or may think I am borderline clueless at times with my Skip Bayless like comments. But like Skip, usually what I say comes true or almost does.

I am a realist and the truth hurts sometimes. Unlike most people, I am able to analyze the game of football without rose colored glasses on. I am a Texans and Patriots fan, but I will criticize everything and anything they do also. I favor no one when it comes to the truth.

So let’s get into day one/blog entry number one of my nine part NFL division and team rankings blogs. Parts one through eight is going to be divisional analysis with the ninth entry being team rankings. Today we will begin with the AFC East.

AFC East

This division has never really been a strong division. For the exception of last year, it’s been the New England Patriots and everyone else. From time to time, the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills will have a decent year and challenge New England or maybe win the division. But it isn’t the norm.

Things should be a lot different with New England aging and the Jets and Dolphins getting better. New England will still be New England, but the Jets have shown that they can beat New England and Miami can give them a run for their money too. Buffalo isn’t even ready to compete with themselves yet so no need to think about them competing with the previous three that I just mentioned.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Tom Brady

New England Patriots – The Patriots are a aging dynasty that is in the midst of retooling, not rebuilding. New England had one of the best drafts in this year’s draft and was able to address lots of needs both of the defensive and offensive side of the ball.

Offensively the Patriots will be ok as they always have been. Will they be as explosive as they were in 2007? No, but they will be just as effective as they were last year and should be a little better with Brady having a full season under his belt after missing a year to knee surgery.

Most of New England’s offensive issues last year came from Tom Brady who wasn’t comfortable playing with his surgically repaired knee. Brady wasn’t stepping into his throws most of the time and wasn’t comfortable with “trash” around his legs while in the pocket. Another major issue in New England last year was that the new players were not learning or buying into the system (Joey Galloway).

Wes Welker is another big concern for the Patriots offense. Question still remains as to how he will bounce back after the season ending knee injury that he suffered against the Texans in the last game of the season. If he returns and is the Wes Welker that we all know, then all is good in Boston.

Defensively New England should be better but I am not going to put my name on that prediction. Last year the defense was atrocious and lost a lot of games for the Pats. Bill Belichick fired Dan Pees who was the defensive coordinator over the last couple of years in New England. Bill went ahead and announced that he was taking over the play calling for the defense this year and no defensive coordinator would be named.

With the genius calling the plays on defense, and with the new players that they acquired on defense during the offseason. This year’s defense should be much better than last year’s defense. I will admit though, I am taking a wait and see approach to that prediction. One thing that New England must do if they don’t do anything else is improve their run defense. They were fourth in the NFL in giving up the most yards per carry to opposing teams.

In the end I see the Patriots finishing 12-4 if all things go well. Or 10-6 if they don’t get their defensive issues fixed and their running game and Wes Welker don’t play well in the first half of the year. Games against the Vikings, Packers and Ravens are games that can go either way and can give New England problems if their secondary isn’t on point.

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets – I have gone on record as saying that I am not completely sold on the Jets being what everyone is saying they are, a championship contending team. They made some really nice moves during the offseason and then made some questionable ones. Releasing Alan Faneca and trading Leon Washington could come back to haunt them.

Offensively everything relies on the maturation process of Mark Sanchez. In this being his second year, he needs to be able to take that next step that rookie QBs have to take in order to become a legit NFL quarterback and take his team to that next level as a Super Bowl contender. He was way too inconsistent last year and hurt his team more than he helped which is typical of rookie quarterbacks.

The addition of Santonio Holmes and LaDanian Tomlinson should give Mark the weapons he needs to help turn the Jets offense into an efficient and formidable one, but it all comes back down to Mark being smart with the football.

The Jets have already become known as a defensive team in just one year. The defense is the strength of this team and most likely will always be. They were the number one ranked defense last year, and I expect them to be even better.

Having Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis on the corners with that pass rush isn’t something that teams in the AFC are too excited about having to face. First round pick Kyle Wilson was a great draft day selection that allows Rex to have a good speedy, physical cover corner on a team’s slot receiver (Wes Welker).

Rex Ryan loves having really good cover corners because it allows him to do so much with his scheme. When Rex was in Baltimore, he was always begging Ozzie Newsome to draft certain corners for him to have on defense. Ozzie declined 95% of the time. Well now Rex has his corners, three really good ones. That Jets defense is going to be scary good.

New York should either finish 13-3 or 11-5. 9-7 if Mark plays inconsistent like he did last year. Vikings, Texans and Packers are games that the Jets may struggle in. Offensively these teams can put it on ya.

Ronnie Brown

Miami Dolphins – Miami is one of those teams that you look at and you ask yourself how are they able to do what they do with what they have. They don’t have one or two guys on their entire roster that is ranked in the top ten in any position except for maybe Brandon Marshall now. The Fins have question marks up and down their roster that is littered with “B” level talent and unproven players.

Unless you are a Browns, Bills, Chiefs, or Seahawks and maybe a Raiders fan, you’re not really worried about the Dolphins beating your team are you? They just don’t have it all together yet to really make you scared. I have to admit that I don’t even watch the game when Houston or New England plays Miami. The Dolphins haven’t handled any one of those two teams yet so I have no worries.

Losing Jason Taylor and Joey Porter will hurt immediately. Jared Odrick and Koa Misi aren’t ready to step in and produce at that level yet. Second round pick Koa Misi who is a DE, is being converted into an outside linebacker. It takes three to four years for DEs to make that transition to outside linebacker. So don’t expect Miami to have a great pass rush this year. Karlos Dansby helps but he can’t do it by himself, and Channin Crowder benefitted from Jason Taylor and Joey Porter being there.

Miami brought in Brandon Marshall to add some punch to their offense and to give Chad Henne a big time target at wide out to throw to. Marshall is a great addition to that almost anemic offense, but he isnt the overall answer. There are two major issues with Miami’s offense; one is that as talented as Chad Henne is, he needs time to develop. Expecting him to go from where he was last year to good over night won’t happen. Brandon Marshall helps, but a QB and a wide out need time to get on the same page.

Brandon Marshall is an extremely talented wide out, but he may not get properly used in Miami until they change their offensive philosophy. Think about it, in Denver he played in Mike Shanahan’s west coast offense. Then he played in Josh McDaniel’s pass happy version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense. Miami tries to run the run oriented version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense that has about 80% of the “wildcat” mixed in. The old saying of “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” applies to the Marshall in Miami experiment.

The second issue with Miami offensively is their offense as a whole. They can’t consistently move the ball without running the “wildcat”. I have no problem with the “wildcat”. It has a place in this league and I think more teams should use it more (Dallas, Houston). It’s when you have to rely on the “wildcat” to consistently move the ball because your passing game is inept is when I have an issue with the “wildcat”. Like one of the Dolphins players said on a NFL films clip, “The wildcat! That’s our whole playbook now!”

On the defensive side of the ball their secondary is bad and they have no pass rush. They did address both areas in the draft and should be better overall defensively. I like the Dansby free agent signing and the draft picks of Koa Misi and Jared Odrick. Those three guys along with the DBs and defensive lineman they drafted should significantly improve this defense. I just don’t expect great things from them until two years from now.

Miami has a pretty tough schedule and as I was tweeting yesterday. I was having a hard time finding more than five games that they would win. At best I have them going 7-9 with some lucky breaks, and 6-10 as the most likely scenario. Three games that are hard to call are the Tennessee, Oakland and the Detroit game.

I can’t see Tennessee being a bad team again and Oakland is going to be a good team. Not playoff good, but a team that goes 8-8 and will not be an easy win for some teams. Detroit is a team that has made a lot of great offseason moves over the past two years. Everyone including myself loves what Detroit has done. Check the roster and game film from all sixteen games last year and you will see what I mean. The Lions may not be an easy win if at all a win for Miami.

I don’t think that Miami is a bad team; I just think that their talent level and many question marks on both sides of the ball don’t put them in a favorable position for this year. Especially with them playing in a tough AFC division and conference.

Trent Edwards and Fred Jackson

Buffalo Bills – Where do I start with this team? Will we see paper bags back on Bills fans heads at games this year? This team is bad and is going through a rebuilding year/phase with a new head coach in Chan Gailey who shouldn’t have even gotten the job. Brian Billick or Leslie Frasier would have been much better choices than a retread in Gailey.

Talent wise they don’t have much if any except for C.J. Spiller who will be an amazing player, but may have a hard time his first two years being effective with the lack of offensive line help and overall talent on offense.

Offensively they have questions everywhere except at running back. Trent Edwards hasn’t officially been given the job yet in Buffalo, but the other quarterbacks on the team aren’t anything to be hopeful about anyway.

Buffalo will struggle worst than what they did last year offensively. I don’t see where or how they will be able to generate offense with the players that they currently have. If you’re a defensive coordinator, you put eight or nine guys in the box a double Lee Evans and tell the equipment guys to start packing up stuff and for the bus drivers to keep the busses running.

Defense is something that may go from bad to worse as they are transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense. There isn’t much talent on this Bills defense that was one of the worst teams on run defense last year. Gailey didn’t do too good of a job drafting defensive players that will fit his 3-4 scheme in this year’s draft. That’s not good news when you are transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and you already don’t have talent on that side of the ball.

I don’t see Buffalo winning more than one or two games this year unless they catch a team slipping. I expect a 2-14 season at best or 1-15 if things really get bad. But then again things are already bad in Buffalo.