Friday, August 30, 2013

SeahawkCentric: A Recap Of The Raiders Game

The Seattle Seahawks finished the 2013 preseason 4-0 after dismantling the Oakland Raiders 22-6 last night.  Although beating the Raiders is the equivalent of pistol whipping a blind kid the Hawks showed once again they are primed for an epic Super Bowl run.  Thankfully there were no serious injuries and the team can begin to focus on how to stop Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.  The next few days will be difficult in terms of cutting the roster down to 53 players, but it is a necessary evil going forward.   Let's hope some of those players catch on with another team and continue to fulfill their dream of being an NFL player.  Here are some observations from the game.

Bruce Irvin showed flashes of brilliance at his new position and almost looked comfortable in pass coverage.  It's evident he still has a lot to learn, but hopefully he can be an asset when he returns from his four game suspension.

Stephen Williams made his presence felt with the first team and I'm confident we'll see much more of him during the season.  I hope his ability to fend off smaller defensive backs will lead to several touchdowns.

Steven Hauschka has more distance on his field goals this year.  This is a good thing because I have him on several of my fantasy teams.

Chris Harper may have let the moment overwhelm him.  With two critical drops last night I don't think this will be his year to make the team.

Benson Mayowa can stay.  With another sack and several quarterback hurries he's proven to be a pass rusher that can add depth to the rotating defensive linemen.

Until the next time let's keep a SeahawkCentric state of mind shall we?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Is Johnny Football Too Big To Fail?

I usually try to refrain from blogging about the same subject over and over again, but the topic of Johnny Football is so volatile, polarizing, and controversial I had to address it one more time.

After being accused of signing thousands of autographs for money and questioned by the NCAA for over 6 hours Johnny Manziel has been suspended for the first half of the Aggies game vs. Rice on Saturday.  For dramatic effect I'll repeat that unbelievable statement, JOHNNY MANZIEL HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR EXACTLY ONE HALF OF ONE GAME FOR ALLEGEDLY SIGNING HIS NAME THOUSANDS OF TIMES FOR MONEY.  Does anyone have a problem with this statement?

If you do it's because you're expecting consistency and fairness from the NCAA as it relates to punishing athletes who receive improper benefits.  Somewhere Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, and Terrelle Pryor are wondering what the hell is going on.  They were raked over the coals and crucified for infractions far less severe than the Manziel accusations and their reputations were permanently damaged.  Why does Johnny get a free pass?

If you don't have a problem with a first half suspension it's probably because you don't care what Johnny Football does off the field, so long as he performs at a high level on the field.  Wins and losses are all that matters and you are curious to see if Manziel can duplicate the season he had last year.

Without question Johnny Football is receiving preferential treatment.  Is it racially motivated?  Is it financially motivated?  Are NCAA investigators in this day and age really unable to come up with any evidence of wrong doing?

Whatever the case may be it sets a dangerous precedence going forward.  You can't arbitrarily decide who to punish for NCAA violations.  The rules should apply to everyone equally.  Johnny Football doesn't deserve to play this season, but I'm glad he is.  I'm more curious to see if Texas A&M can beat Alabama and LSU than if he profited from signing his name over 4,000 times.  Hypocritical of me to say that isn't it? 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

AFC East Preview

Typically this division is a one team race and this year won't be any different.  The New York teams are in complete disarray and the team from South Florida has more questions than answers.  That being said this is the NFL and things can change from season to season.  Ok, I don't really believe that when it comes to the AFC East.  More likely than not Bob Kraft's team will come out victorious and the other teams will suck.  Here's how I think the division will shake out.

New England:  11-5

Tom Brady lost his security blanket, the defense is suspect, and the tight end position is an issue.  Even with all those changes they are the Patriots and they always find a way to win.  With 2 games against the Bills and 2 games against the Jets it's hard to believe New England won't win this division going away.

Miami Dolphins:  8-8

Lamar Miller better be as good as they think he is or the Dolphins will have a losing season.  Mike Wallace gives them an added dimension of speed, but Miami lost Dustin Kellar in preseason and haven't found another complimentary receiver to fill his shoes.  Ryan Tannehill is a year older and has big play capability, but not enough weapons to be dangerous.

Buffalo Bills:  6-10

CJ Spiller is a good fantasy player, but in the real world the Buffalo Bills won't make a lot of noise this year.  Anytime your franchise has a WSU quarterback penciled in as the opening day starter you know things are bad.  I'm giving them 6 games, but I wouldn't be surprised if they win less.

New York Jets:  4-12

Rex Ryan's final season as the head coach of the New York Jets will be uneventful.  The Jets have no running game, traded away Revis Island, and will start either Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez in the season opener.  This is a recipe for disaster.  The New York media will have a field day with this train wreck.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Does Sean Payton Deserve A Second Chance?

"Cleavie, I gotta tell you I was a big Sean Payton before all the bounty stuff, but now I can honestly say I've completely lost respect for the guy.  I just can't condone that kind of behavior. I don't think there's any place for it in the NFL."

John O'Malley

After serving a one year suspension for his role in the bounty scandal Sean Payton has returned as head coach of the New Orleans Saints.  Although Payton paid DEARLY for his past indiscretion it is clear there are football fans out there who feel he's done permanent damage to his reputation.  Does Sean Payton deserve a second chance?

To be fair, the length of Sean Payton's suspension was never really about the alleged bounties, it was about Roger Goodell establishing his presence of authority.  When Goodell told the Saints organization to stop the program Payton was defiant and chose not to listen.  Goodell wanted to make an example of the Saints and show the rest of the league what will happen if you disobey a direct order from the commissioner.

For the record I don't think the Saints were the only team that had this kind of program in place and I don't think Saints players set out to intentionally end someone's career.  The NFL is a brotherhood and there are unwritten rules.  Certain lines you just don't cross.  Football is a violent game and there are too many opportunities to get even or retaliate for malicious plays. If you notice past and present players never spoke negatively about the situation or thought their safety was in jeopardy.  Sean Payton paid his debt to society and that's all we can ask.  Your thoughts?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekend Observations

It was fantasy football draft weekend and I must say I'm pretty impressed with my squads.  What a surprise right?  I can honestly say I kept my emotions in check and made my selections based on empirical data, not who my favorite players are.  I still ended up with a few, but not as many as I would have liked.  Oh well, business is business and I want my chips!  Here's how my teams turned out:

Hurt Your Feelings League:

Drew Brees
Reggie Bush
Giovanni Bernard
Tavon Austin
T.Y. Hilton
Mike Wallace
Sebastian Janikowski
Cincinnati Defense

Trash Talking League:

Peyton Manning
CJ Spiller
David Wilson
Randall Cobb
Torrey Smith
Mike Wallace
David Akers
Houston Defense

Practice League:

Peyton Manning
Shady McCoy
David Wilson
Brandon Marshall
Vincent Jackson
Jared Cook
Steven Hauschka
Washington Defense

My trash talking team is probably the best, but my practice league has some suspect managers.  That will be the easiest league to win for me.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Vince Young and Matt Leinart have made their way back to the NFL with Green Bay and Buffalo respectively.  I guess the draft class of 2006 has staying power after all.

The New York Jets quarterback situation is starting to look like a high school science project gone wrong.  Too many elements and none of them are achieving the desired results.  It's obvious the Jets can't win with Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez at the helm.

It's been reported Dwight Howard wanted the Lakers to amnesty Kobe Bryant and fire Mike D'Antoni before he would sign an extension.  I can understand the D'Antoni part, but getting rid of the Black Mamba?  He'll pay for that one.  Kobe has a long memory and he's an evil dude.  There will be hell to pay once he finds this out.

The Seattle Sounders drew 67, 385 fans to see the debut of Clint Dempsey yesterday.  That's the 2nd largest crowd in the history of the MLS.  Wow.  Hope Clint is all that!

SeahawkCentric: A Recap Of The Packers Game

The Seattle Seahawks won their 8th straight preseason game with a grind it out victory over the Green Bay Packers 17-10.  The Seahawks didn't annihilate their opponent like they did in the first two games this year, but a win is a win.  No one got hurt and the team continues to prepare for an epic Super Bowl run.  The 3rd preseason game is generally considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season so this performance has to be critiqued with a little more objectivity than the previous contests.  Here are some of the key points I noticed during the game.

The battle for the back up running back spot has shifted in the Christine Michael direction once again.  Michael proved the San Diego game wasn't a fluke with an impressive 43 yard touchdown run and a one handed reception that resulted in a 25 yard gain.  It will be hard to keep this guy off the field once the season starts.

Allen Bradford looks like the real deal.  In my opinion he's successfully made the transition from running back to linebacker and gives the Seahawks much needed depth at the position.  Whether it's keeping guys fresh or stepping in if someone gets hurt Bradford is becoming an important piece of the puzzle.

The offense hasn't had a lot of explosive plays down the field, but don't blame Stephen Williams for that.  He's definitely done his part with a touchdown reception in every game this preseason.  Outside of Golden Tate Williams is the Seahawks biggest threat at wide receiver until Percy Harvin comes back.

The Seahawks have to become more disciplined if they want to hoist the Lombardi trophy in February.  Championship teams simply don't give up 182 yards on 14 penalties.  Good teams will make the Seahawks pay for those mistakes and they'll have no one to blame but themselves for bad losses.  The penalties are correctable, but it must be addressed now before it becomes an irritating habit.

Practice makes perfect and so far the Seahawks have been "practicing" at a high level.  That's not to say there aren't areas that need improvement (The non-existent pass rush for example), but I still haven't seen a glaring weakness that makes me think this team won't be in New York on February 2nd, 2014.  I'm still drinking the Pete Carroll Kool-Aid.  Until the next time let's keep a SeahawkCentric state of mind shall we?


Friday, August 23, 2013

Fantasy Footbal Wildcard #5: Maurice Jones-Drew

Two years ago Maurice Jones-Drew was fantasy gold for me.  Plenty of yards from scrimmage, a generous number of touchdowns, and tremendous durability.  2012 however was a complete and total disaster.  MJD was mired in a contract dispute and held out the entire preseason.  That holdout led to injuries during the regular season and his production fell off dramatically.  Will 2013 be the year MJD gets back to his old self?

I certainly think so.  MJD is finally healthy again as he enters the final year of his contract.  Ownership was unwilling to re-negotiate last year and I suspect he's going to perform as if he deserves Chris Johnson type money.  Although he says the past is behind him I think he's still bitter about the way things transpired.

In addition, the Jacksonville offense still revolves around him.  Blaine Gabbert has improved over the summer, but he's not even close to being a better than average quarterback.  Justin Blackmon will start the year with a 4 game suspension and the defense doesn't exactly strike fear in their opponents.

From a fantasy perspective MJD is a top 5 back.  After Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles, Shady McCoy, and Trent Richardson you'd be hard pressed to name a better running back.  Some people would like to see him catch more passes out of the backfield, but when he's healthy he runs hard between the tackles and cashes in down around the goal line.  Depending on when you draft MJD can still anchor your team.  Your thoughts?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is Alabama The New Tailback U?

For the record I don't like Nick Saban.  I can't stand his demeanor, his attitude, or his self righteousness.  If someone told him he wasn't the best college football coach on the planet he'd probably have them stoned to death for insubordination.  He is the epitome of someone that thinks their sh*t doesn't stink.  That being said its become painfully obvious Saban has an eye for talent when it comes to running backs.

Mark Ingram won Heisman trophy during his time at Alabama and although he plays in a pass happy offense (Drew Brees threw for 5, 177 yards last year) he's still dependable between the tackles and near the goal line.

Trent Richardson is a star in the making (if he can stay healthy) up in Cleveland.  His combination of speed and power will make him a fantasy football favorite in leagues all across the country.

Eddie Lacy has Packer fans thinking Green Bay might actually have a running game this season.   He's made the most of his opportunities in the preseason and will most likely be the team's every down back.  He's definitely built for cold weather games at Lambeau.

Miami set the standard a few years back sending Edgerrin James, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, and Willis McGahee to the pros in succession, but Alabama isn't far behind.  Sophomore TJ Yeldon is on track to pick up where Lacy left off and if he can live up to the hype it might be time to annoint Alabama the new tailback U.  Damn you Saban!  I hope you rot in hell!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NFC South Preview

The NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. The division has several high profile quarterbacks and one that's in the final year of his contract.  It will be a big surprise if two teams from this division make the playoffs so the outcome of the head to head meetings will be that much more significant.  Here is how the NFC South will shake out.

Tampa Bay:  8-8

This is a make or break year for Josh Freeman.  If he's not on his game the Bucs will struggle and most likely go in a different direction (Kirk Cousins) next year.  The running game is solid with Doug Martin and the defense will be much improved with the addition of Darrelle Revis, but the Freeman to Vincent Jackson hook up needs to produce at least 12 touchdowns.  If not they won't be able to keep up with the likes of Atlanta and New Orleans.

New Orleans:  10-6

Sean Payton is back.  In his absence Drew Brees threw for 5,177 yard, but that was out of necessity more so than efficiency.  Now that the coach is back there is more cohesion within the organization and less improvising.  Drew Brees will still be productive, but he won't have to carry the team on his shoulders the whole season.  With more balance and healthy players the Saints should return to the playoffs.

Atlanta:  9-7

The Falcons were a few plays away from the Super Bowl last year, but teams don't pick up where they left off to start the new season.  Certainly their offense is explosive with Matty Ice, Julio Jones, and Roddy White, but I'm not so sure they will have the same success this year.  The team is a year older and in the past has shown inconsistency following a playoff run.  The Falcons have the talent to make the Super Bowl, but not the mental toughness. 

Carolina:  7-9

Make no mistake about it, Cam Newton is a star.  He has the skill set to frustrate defenses and score a lot of fantasy points, but he can't do it all by himself.  The backfield has been suspect with Johnathan Stewart and D'Angelo Williams and Steve Smith is on his last legs.  Until they surround him with talent he will continue to be his own worst enemy.  He'll make costly turnovers forcing plays simply because he's the only one on the team that can make big plays.  The Panthers will show improvement, but this is not their year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fantasy Football Madness

As you all know humility is not my strong suit, which is why I love fantasy football so much. It gives me an opportunity to irritate my friends and colleagues in a constructive manner.  For 14 weeks I intend to make their lives a miserable hell while displaying my infinite knowledge of the NFL and its players.  The goal this year is to get under some one's skin to the point I need round the clock security.  Some of you may think this attitude is shallow and arrogant and I would have to agree.   Nevertheless it's a lot of fun and I wouldn't have it any other way.  On the road to multiple fantasy football championships this year there are 5 keys to my success.

1.  Forget about what happened last year.

Players change teams (Wes Welker, Greg Jennings), suffer from nagging injuries (Gronk,RGIII, Arian Foster), and father time catches up with them (Phillip Rivers, Reggie Wayne).  Start fresh and keep the past in the past.

2.  Take calculated risks.

There are players out there who can make or break your season that don't get a lot of attention. If I think someone is going to have a break out season, but the experts disagree I follow my gut.  Cam Newton, Victor Cruz, And Alfred Morris were all considered a reach in their first season and look how those picks turned out.

3.  Make the first pick count.

Although I just told you I take calculated risks that doesn't pertain to my first pick in the draft.  That pick should be the anchor of my team and barring unforeseen injury the player that propels my teams to victory.  I can't afford to waste this pick on Michael Vick or Joe Flacco if Matt Stafford or Eli Manning are still available.

4.  Pick a dominant defense early.

Instead of stockpiling a team with mediocre running backs (Mark Ingram, Jonathan Dwyer) or marginal receivers (Malcolm Floyd, Darius Heyward-Bey) I pick a defense that generates a lot of turnovers.  In a close match up a sack, safety, or pick 6 can really come in handy.

5.  Follow the trends.

Tom Brady lost his security blanket.  Andy Reid is re-inventing himself in Kansas City.  Sean Payton is back at the helm I'm New Orleans.  Larry Fitzgerald has a real quarterback in Arizona.  It's important to understand how the changing landscape of the NFL can affect the production of certain players.

Monday, August 19, 2013

SeahawkCentric: A Recap Of The Broncos Game

The Hawks had their 2nd preseason game on Saturday and beat the snot piss out of the Denver Broncos 40-10.  The final score doesn't really convey how much of an a$$ kicking this game really was.  Seattle dominated in every facet and unlike the Chargers game they looked in midseason form from the opening kick off.  The 1st team offense looked efficient and in control while the defense forced turnovers.  Not only did they force turnovers they turned them into points.  The strip technique Coach Carroll teaches in practice paid dividends during the game.  If Denver is the best the AFC has to offer the Super Bowl game is going to be a walk in the park.  Congrats to the 12th man for once again making it impossible for opposing teams to hear themselves think.  There were so many positive things that came out of this game I could write a 300 page novel, but for now I'll just stick to a few highlights that caught my eye.

It's time for me to stop being so hard on Jermaine Kearse and embrace him as one of our own.  Another touchdown reception and a kick off returned to the house is enough for me to say the old Kearse is dead and gone Justin Timberlake style.  The drops and miscues are a thing of the past.  Welcome playmaker #15.  Hold it down until Percy gets healthy.

In addition to kick off returns all of our special teams players performed at a high level.  The coverage was magnificent, Golden and Thurmond III returned punts admirably, and Steven Hauschka was Steven Hauschka.  It appears special teams will add a dimension of explosiveness that will help us win the field position battle.

Robert Turbin decided he wasn't going to lose his back up running back spot to Christine Michael without a fight.  Turbin ran hard and with a purpose.  The reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated.  His presence only strengthens our depth and flexibility at the position.  We'll see of he can hold the young kid off. 

It's time for Stephen Williams to send for his personal belongings because he's going to call Seattle home for at least the next six months.  Another touchdown solidified his spot on the team.  Tall and fast are attributes Coach Carroll drools over and Williams has plenty of both.  The position that was once considered the weak link on the team is starting to become one of the stronger links in the chain.  And remember, Percy should be back by early December. 

If you like what you're hearing don't be afraid to let people know about it.  Express your feelings and thoughts by commenting on the blog, or go tell a friend or neighbor about the good word Cleavie Wonder is spreading.  There's no shame in believing in the Hawks.  Until the next time let's all keep a SeahawkCentric state of mind shall we?

Weekend Observations

"For the next seven weeks, it's going to be a very very bumpy road.  Every day, expect a story like this, if not bigger."

Alex Rodriguez addressing the media after allegations he snitched on Braun and Cercevelli

For my money the best storyline in sports right now is the Alex Rodriguez/New York Yankees affair.  This soap opera has more twists and turns than All My Children, The Young and the Restless, and General Hospital put combined.  A few days ago the media accused A-Rod's inner circle of of leaking documents that linked Ryan Braun and Yankee teammate Frank Cercevelli to the Biogenesis scandal.  A day later Rodriguez vehemently denied the accusation.

On Saturday A-Rod's lawyer Joseph Tacopina accused The New York Yankees of being misleading about his hip injury last season.  Tacopina even went so far as to say, "They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a player."  Team president Randy Levine fired back by saying "Each and every one of the allegations is specious and completely false.  A-Rod needs to put up or shut up and file a grievance if he really believes he was mistreated by the team."  Tacopina followed up with, "We will put up, mark my words, we will put up.  Levine is a big talker, but he is going to be humbled eventually."

Did you catch all that?  I mean, do you need to press rewind to soak up all that trash talking?  Cleavie Wonder doesn't even talk that much trash!  You can't make up this kind of drama.  This is Maury Povich times 12.  This is Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta on steroids (no pun intended).  All that's missing is a Kardashian paternity test or A-Rod accused of impregnating a teammate's wife Simon Cowell style.

And you know what else?  The Yankees are only 6 games back in the wildcard race.  Imagine the media circus that will surround the Bronx Bombers if they make it to the postseason.  Imagine if A-Rod gets hot and carries them there?   I'd like to see that happen just so I can watch Bud Selig's head explode from frustration and embarrassment.  Every baseball purist in America would throw a temper tantrum and possibly boycott the World Series.  I'm not a big A-Rod fan, but he sure has made this baseball season interesting.

I'll be honest with you, the suspense is killing me.  I have no idea what the outcome of the A-Rod melodrama will be, but I have a feeling it's going to be unprecedented mayhem.  Until we get to the bottom of this the A-Rod story has my undivided attention.  That is until football starts and the Seahawks begin their journey to become Super Bowl champs.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Usain Bolt is starting to become too predictable.  At the World Championships in Russia Bolt won the 100M, the 200M, and the 4x100M relay.  Didn't he do the same thing in London last year?  What's the big deal?

The Seattle Seahawks dismantled the Denver Broncos 40-10 Saturday and made Peyton Manning look like a JV back up.  For all those that don't believe the Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl I pity you fools!

Max Scherzer won his 18th game of the season on Sunday becoming only the 2nd pitcher since 1919 (Roger Clemens was the other) to have 18 wins in his first 19 decisions as a starter.  He's still not better than Felix Hernandez.

The Nets/Knicks rivalry is starting to heat up with Paul Pierce's claim that New York City will eventually be a Brooklyn Nets town.  Raymond Felton responded by saying, "They've got Brooklyn on their chest and we've got New York.  They'll never take over the city."  I think he makes a pretty good point, but only time will tell.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gilbert Arenas Can Beat Michael Jordan

Have you ever been on a website and saw a story that looked sort of interesting, but you figured you already knew what the article was about so you didn't take the time to read it?  That's what happened to me with this Gilbert Arenas/Michael Jordan nonsense.  For several days I've noticed an article with the title Gilbert Arenas says he can beat Michael Jordan one on one today.  I didn't feel the need to delve any further because for me the title was stating the obvious.  Michael Jordan is 50, Gilbert Arenas is 31. Michael Jordan hasn't played in over a decade and he's got bad knees.  End of story.

Not for one second did it occur to me there were people out there that disagreed with the statement.  I was shocked to find out Jordan fans considered the comment to be disrespectful and delusional.  Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless went so far as to say Michael Jordan would get into his head overwhelming him psychologically and that Gilbert would be lucky to get one point.

Ladies and gentlemen, family, friends, and followers I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but here's the inconvenient truth.  If Michael Jordan and Gilbert Arenas played one on one today GILBERT ARENAS WOULD DESTROY MICHAEL JORDAN!! IT WOULD NOT BE CLOSE!! MICHAEL JORDAN IS NO LONGER A GREAT BASKETBALL PLAYER!! He's a businessman (in the Jay-Z definition of the word) and a philanthropist, not a hooper.  Not anymore.  Gilbert still has dreams of playing in the league so he's in much better physical shape.

Michael Jordan can't roll out of bed and play NBA basketball.  Contrary to what Stephen A. and Skip Bayless think Michael Jordan doesn't have Jedi mind trick capability.  He's just a man.  If this was 10 years ago I'd give Mike a puncher's chance, but he's FIFTY!  The great ones get old and move on with their lives.   Please don't continue to hold Michael Jordan to the standard of his former greatness.  Just let it go.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

AFC West Preview

In recent years the AFC West has been a lack luster division.  With the exception of the Denver Broncos none of the other teams were considered playoff caliber.  In the 2013 draft Kansas City drafted 1st, San Diego picked 11th, and Oakland selected 12th which means 3 of the 4 teams sucked.  I'm not going to try and convince you the AFC West is going to be a powerhouse division in 2013, but I think some of the teams will make small strides toward respectability.  Here is how the AFC West will shake out.

Denver Broncos:  12-4

The preseason is under way and no one is talking about Peyton Manning's surgically repaired neck.  That's bad news for the rest of the league.  In addition, the Broncos gave Manning more weapons with Montee Ball and Wes Welker.  Even with the departure of Elvis Dumervil the AFC will have a hard time scoring points against their defense and no one will be able to keep pace on offense.  I think a Super Bowl appearance is likely. 

Kansas City:  10-6

This pick could backfire on me, but I think coach Andy Reid is going to be rejuvenated in his new surroundings.  Change is good sometimes and Reid has some quality pieces to work with.  Jamaal Charles is a star in the making and Alex Smith is the ultimate game manager.  Their last place schedule should help them pick up a few extra victories along the way.

Oakland Raiders:  8-8

Matt Flynn finally gets his chance to start in the NFL and prove all the doubters wrong.  He is not the key to Oakland's success however.  If the Raiders are going to have a decent year Darren McFadden will have to stay healthy.  With McFadden in the line up the running game allows them to control time of possession.  Without him they have a tendency to fall behind and rely too much on the passing game.

San Diego:  5-11

The window of opportunity is closed in San Diego.  Time to blow it up and start over.  Ryan Mathews is not who we thought he was, Phillip Rivers has completely lost his accuracy, and Antonio Gates is old.  Factor in the Chargers have a new head coach, no receivers, and a mediocre defense this team might as well start scouting for the 2014 NFL draft.  They're going to have a high draft choice.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Is Plaxico Burress Finished?

Yesterday Plaxico Burress had season ending surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.  Not only was the surgery season ending it will most likely end his career.  At 36 years old Burress is considered ancient by NFL standards and the excess baggage he carries makes it difficult for teams to rationalize taking a chance on him.  He's got the physical attributes and football resume to squeak out one more year, but so did Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson and they couldn't make it happen.  If Plaxico Burress has played his last game how will you remember him?

It would be nice if you remembered him as a man from humble beginnings in Virginia that overcame adversity to excel as a wide receiver at Michigan St. and the NFL.  It would be nice if you remembered Plax as a nightmare match up for defensive backs trying to defend him on the fade route in the end zone.  It would be nice if you remembered him as a charitable man who gave back to the community donating his time and money to worthy causes.  Those things would be nice, but let's be honest.  That's not how you will remember him.

Most of you will remember him as the idiot that shot himself in the leg at a nightclub and went to jail for two years.  The guy that threw it all away and let his family and teammates down.  A punchline for various jokes and analogies when illustrating an egregious error in judgement.  It's unfortunate that one mistake can define a player's entire career.

On the flip side Plaxico Burress did have a game winning catch in the Super Bowl and managed to carve out a 14 year career (not counting the years he was incarcerated).  Hopefully he was smart with his money and put the millions of dollars he earned in the NFL to good use.  Happy trails Plax.  You were a colorful, polarizing figure that will always be a part of the history of football.  For better or worse you will never be forgotten.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekend Observations

Growing up I had the pleasure of watching ken Griifey Jr. from the beginning of his career all the way through his MVP season.  The Seattle Mariners inducted Ken into the Mariners Hall of Fame on Saturday and as I watched the ceremony reminiscing over the great memories I realized I never truly appreciated his greatness.  He made the game look so easy and effortless that at times you almost expected a circus catch or a 400 foot home run.  The 10 Gold Gloves and 600+ home runs were expected, not cherished. 

If I'm being completely honest with myself the reason I didn't embrace Ken Griffey Jr. the way I should have is because of Barry Bonds.  There was always a debate as to who was the best player in baseball and I was firmly entrenched in the Bonds camp.  Although I am a Seattle native it seemed clear to me Bonds was the better player.  When Griffey was selected to the all century team instead of Bonds it fueled the debate even more.  I basically dismissed Griffey and everything he'd accomplished in the game out of spite.

Years later I see the error in my ways.  I let my affinity for one player cloud my judgement about another.  The lesson to be learned here is don't be a hater.  Not everyone is going to share your opinion on every subject.  It's all right to take a position on a topic, but don't let it alter your perception to the point you become irrational and delusional (unless you're rooting for the Seahawks, then it's ok).  Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the 15 greatest players baseball has ever seen and I shouldn't have let media propaganda overshadow that fact.  Congratulations on your induction Ken.  You definitely deserve it. Here are some observations over the weekend.

Jason Dufner won the PGA Championship by 2 strokes over Jim Furyk.  The guy I picked to win the tournament finished 14 shots back.  My days of betting on Tiger Woods at a major are over.  Don't know if his weak performances are mental or physical and don't care.  Until he proves it I won't believe he's capable of winning a major ever again.

Usain Bolt ran a 9.77 to win the 100 meter finals at the World Championships.  In the rain.  Damn!  Imagine what he might have done on a dry track.

Mariano Rivera has blown 3 consecutive saves.  If you look at the numbers over the course of his career that's statistically impossible.  Are the A-Rod distractions getting to him?

After this weekend's pre-season games EJ Manuel and Geno Smith have a legitimate shot to be their teams starting quarterback on opening day.  If they accomplish that goal 13 of the 32 teams in the league will have a starting quarterback with 3 years or less experience. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

SeahawkCentric: A Recap Of The Chargers Game

Ladies and gentlemen, family, friends, and followers, welcome to the first installment of SeahawksCentric.  SeahawksCentric is a spin off of the Cleavie Wonder blog that focuses on the greatness of the Seattle Seahawks.   This blog is not for the casual fan that hopes the team does well this season.  This is for the fans that have a Seahawk schedule posted in their cubicle and an extra one in their wallet.  For the fans that forget their anniversary, but remember Russell Wilson's birthday.   THE DIEHARD FANS THAT KNOW THE SEAHAWKS CAN AND WILL WIN THE SUPER BOWL THIS YEAR!!!  If the 12th man is an army SeahawkCentric represents the Green Beret Special Forces.

Unlike the Cleavie Wonder blog SeahawkCentric is completely biased, irrational, and unapologetic in its support of the Seahawks.  Some of the statements and opinions will only make sense to those emotionally and psychologically invested in the cause.  Outsiders are welcome to read and comment on this blog, but don't expect the cool, calm, and collected responses.  I fully expect SeahawkCentric fans and readers to be territorial and down right rude in their defense of the Hawks.  As the season goes on we'll see how it shakes out.

The Hawks had their first pre-season game last night and made easy work of the San Diego Chargers 31-10.  Although Seattle started out a little sluggish they quickly turned things around with big plays on defense and a strong running game (have you heard this before?).  From the 2nd quarter on it was evident the Hawks were the more talented team with a greater sense of purpose.  The Chargers looked like they were happy to be playing football while every player in the Seahawks looked like they were auditioning for a starting job.  In general the team looked in mid-season form, but a few players stood out more than the rest.  Here is the unofficial honor roll list.

John Lotuleilei, Malcolm Smith, and Allen Bradford all had big games.  After the Legion of Boom the linebacker position has the most depth and talent on the team.

Stephen Williams definitely made his presence felt getting behind the defense and displaying a nice set of hands.  Catching touchdowns in pre-season is a good way to make the team.

Jesse Williams is a massive human being that will eat up lots of space allowing linebackers and safeties to make big plays.  Please stay healthy.

Benson Mayowa is a pass rusher that came out of the wood work last night.  We all know the importance coach Carroll puts on that skill set so if the trend continues we'll see plenty of this guy all season long. 

That's all for now.  Until the next time let's all keep a SeahawkCentric state of mind shall we?

Fantasy Football Wildcard #4: Cam Newton

Before the quarterback class of 2012 Cam Newton was the standard for rookie success at the position.  He was way ahead of the curve and displayed dual threat capability.  Any fantasy owner that picked him up as an afterthought was pleasantly surprised and most likely cruised to the playoffs. 2012 proved to be a disappointing year however and fantasy football participants are uncertain about taking Cam in the early rounds.  Is he work the risk?

To be fair the level of expectation was far too high for Cam last year.  The league is all about adjustments and once they figured out how to make him feel uncomfortable on a consistent basis he wasn't the same player.  Cam's confidence took a beating and the losses piled.

If Cam Newton is going to get over the sophomore slump he experienced last year Carolina will have to be more committed to the run.  A balanced attack and a fresh start is all he needs to return to his 2011form.  After an off season to reflect on his mistakes and prepare for the future my guess is Cam Newton will be a top 10 quarterback again.  Your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

NFC North Preview

The NFC North has the best quarterback, running back, and wide receiver in football yet none of the teams they play for are a legitimate threat to win the Super Bowl.  For fantasy owners the division is full of talent and potential #1 picks, but will most likely produce only one playoff team.  That being said head to head match ups will probably determine the winner.  Here is how the NFC North will shake out.

Green Bay Packers:  11-5

So long as the Packers have a healthy Aaron Rodgers they're always a threat to do something special.  Randall Cobb has an opportunity to have a big year with the departure of Greg Jennings and rookie running back Eddie Lacy is a star in the making if he gets enough touches.  I'm still concerned about their defense however and their commitment to the running game is suspect.  The Packers are no longer an elite team, but given the right set of circumstances they could make some noise.

Minnesota Vikings:  8-8

Christian Ponder is not the answer in Minnesota.  There are too many throws he simply can't make and with the departure of Percy Harvin he has no playmakers at receiver to compensate for his weaknesses.  The Vikings have future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson in the backfield, but he can't do everything.  He'll get his 1600 to 1800 yards (maybe even 2000), but the Vikings will struggle to stay in games because Ponder will eventually make a big mistake.  Adrian's career is starting to mirror that of Barry Sanders.

Chicago Bears:  8-8

The team still hasn't fully embraced new head coach Marc Trestman or his up tempo offense.  Jay Cutler is in a contract year and needs to prove to the league he belongs with the other elite quarterbacks if he wasn't to break the bank.  Brian Urlacher's leadership and presence will be missed in the locker room and Matt Forte has to stay healthy if they want to be competitive.  I think the Bears could potentially score a lot of points (Brandon Marshall is a beast), but I don't think it will translate into a lot of wins. 

Detroit Lions:  9-7

The Detroit Lions have the most potential of any team in the division.  Matt Stafford is on the verge of being a top 5 quarterback and you already know how I feel about Megatron.  The addition of Reggie Bush should help a running game that has been non-existent the past few years, but of course he's also an injury waiting to happen.  If he can stay on the field he gives the team a dimension that will take pressure off of the passing game. Ndamukong Suh is in the best shape of his life and Nick Fairley should benefit from the attention he demands.  A few lucky breaks here or there and the Lions could replace the Packers as the best team in the division.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Is Riley Cooper's NFL Career Finished?

When I first heard about the Riley Cooper incident I didn't feel the need to comment on the subject.   I figured the media would blow things out of proportion for a few days and then the story would die down.  Riley Cooper would issue a heart felt, well rehearsed, media friendly apology that fans and teammates would begrudgingly accept.  To my surprise the latter did not occur.

The Philadelphia Eagles players did not come to the defense of Riley Cooper choosing instead to express their displeasure, distrust, and disappointment.  Michael Vick tried to rally the team together and after one day realized the situation was hopeless.  The day following his apology Riley Cooper spent the entire practice standing by himself.   After being excused from team activities to undergo counseling for his insensitive remarks Cooper returns to the practice field today.  Will things be different?

Absolutely not.  Him teammates have spoken.  The damage is done and the players are unwilling to forgive and forget.  It will always be in the back of their minds that Riley Cooper is a racist.  Anyone that comes to his defense or gives him the benefit of the doubt will be looked upon as a traitor.  His mere presence in the locker room is a distraction and a source of irritation.

Personally, I question how long Riley Cooper can last in the NFL.  If the team that knows him the best has chosen not to embrace him why would another team take on that can of worms?  It's unlikely his talent level would push a team over the hump and most likely his presence would rip a team apart.  His affect would make Terrell Owens look like a walk in the park by comparison.  I can't see a team taking the risk of ruining their franchise for a marginal player.  Your thoughts?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Weekend Observations

When I was a kid I always thought Hall of Fame induction speeches were boring.  Now that I'm older I truly appreciate hearing the stories of great athletes and their journey to immortality.  The bumps in the road, the highs and lows, and their perseverance in the face of adversity gives me inspiration.  Football's Hall of Fame is by far the best.  Basketball is too lax and lets everybody in.  Baseball is too judgemental and grudge holding.  Football is the perfect mix.  It evaluates players on a high level, but makes sure the selection process is based primarily on their performance ON THE FIELD!

What I noticed from this year's Hall of Fame induction speeches is how important the wives were in the whole equation.  Give it up for the wives of the class of 2013!  To say they had difficult personalities to deal with would be an understatement.  A 6'3 325 pound giant from Compton (Larry Allen), the definition of a diva #1 receiver (Cris Carter), a beast with no off switch (Warren Sapp), and the ultimate button pusher (Bill Parcells).  If everyone had their patience and even temperament the world would be a better place.  Here are some observations over the weekend.

Tiger Woods won his 8th Bridgestone Invitational by an embarrassing margin of victory.  This will propel him to victory at the PGA championship this upcoming weekend.  Remember you heard it here first.

Riley Cooper has been dismissed from all team activities while he receives treatment and counseling for his insensitive remarks.  The results will not be helpful.  More on this tomorrow.

Former assistant coaches of Bill Parcells have won 6 Super Bowls since 2000.  That number puts the Bill Walsh coaching tree to shame.

A-Rod could potentially be suspended for the entire 2014 baseball season for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.  That won't actually happen, but that's quite a message the commissioner is trying to send.  It is apparent the steroid era still haunts him.

Greg Oden will play for the Miami Heat next season.  Let me re-phrase that.  Greg Oden will suit up for the Miami Heat next season.  Although I'm pulling for the guy 3 micro fracture surgeries is a lot to overcome.  We'll see if he takes the court and contributes to the Heat's three peat. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fantasy Football Wildcard #3: Mike Wallace

Mike Wallace is one of the biggest deep threats in football.  His ability to stretch defenses is a weapon teams would love to have.  He has big play capability is unquestioned and when he's at his best he can find the end zone 10 to 12 times a season.  From a fantasy football perspective you would love to have that kind of production from one of your starting receivers, but can you depend on him to put up big numbers on a consistent basis?

The Miami Dolphins run a basic offense.  They would rather run the ball effectively and throw intermediate routes than take chances down the field.  Of course that was before Wallace came to town and before quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a season under his belt.  Now that Tannehill has matured and has a better understanding of the NFL the level of expectation has increased.  The addition of Wallace should open up the vertical game and give the team scoring opportunities they sorely lacked in years past.

In Pittsburgh Wallace played with other talented receivers so defenses were reluctant to roll double coverage to his side of the field.  The Dolphins receiving core doesn't have that kind of depth so he will receive much more attention.  Some receivers respond to the added attention by elevating their game while others fall off the face of the earth and end up going back to their former teams falling back into their comfort zone (Alvin Harper, Deion Branch).  Only time will tell what the future holds for Wallace.

As a fantasy football owner (many times over) I'm not sure how I feel about Mike Wallace right now.  One one hand I can see him getting 9 catches for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns, but on the other I can see him getting 4 catches for 67 yards.  I'm not sold on him, but I know he can come back to haunt me if I slip on him.  Tannehill is getting better, but he's not elite yet.  If Wallace was in Green Bay, New Orleans, or New England this pick would be a no brainer, but Miami makes me a little hesitant.  For now I think he's a good insurance policy, but I would lose sleep if I had to start him every week.  your thoughts? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

NFC East Preview

Traditionally the NFC East has been the glamour division of the league, but now that the more dominant teams reside out West (Seattle and San Francisco) things have changed.  Still the division includes franchises from the media capital of the world, the nation's capital, and America's team.  For those reasons it will always be popular regardless of their overall performance. Here is how the division will shake out.

Dallas Cowboys:  10-6

The Cowboys window of opportunity will be open for approximately 30 more seconds.  If they don't make the playoffs this season expect an extreme makeover from Jerry Jones.  He has the patience of a Mongolian caveman and with money he's spent he expects results.  Tony Romo and Dez Bryant should have solid seasons, but the key to the Cowboys success is the health of DeMarco Murray.  If he can stay on the field the Cowboys have a chance to do some big things.

New York Giants:  9-7

The New York Giants are a solid team, but not dominant in any particular facet of the game.   Typically the team has a tough defense and a strong running game, but with the departure of Ahmad Bradshaw and Osi Umenyiora it is difficult to tell if that trend will continue.  Eli Manning has some weapons around him (Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks) to keep games close, but the Giants will struggle against the elite teams and barely miss the playoffs.

Washington Redskins:  9-7

RGIII will not be the same quarterback he was last year.  The Redskins will ask him to run less and become more of a pocket passer.  Taking his explosive speed out of the equation makes him an average quarterback with VERY average receivers.  Running back Alfred Morris will take some of the pressure off and the defense is better with a healthy Brian Orakpo, but if RGIII can't be RGIII the team won't reach its goals.

Philadelphia Eagles:  5-11

The Eagles have a new head coach with no NFL experience, a fragile starting quarterback who can't get separation from the back up in training camp, a starting receiver and linebacker lost for the season, and a player that has caused a racial divide within the locker room.   Perhaps I'm being a little generous giving them 5 wins.  The Eagles have more issues than the Kardashians at this point and missing the playoffs is a foregone conclusion.  Owner Jeff Lurie must be sick to his stomach.