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Archive for January, 2013

And Then There Were 4…

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20101123_zygi-wilf-leslie-frazier_33MarvinLewis

ron-rivera

January 29, 2013

@nick_speed

Since the Rooney Rule was implemented in 2003, 12 African Americans and 1 Hispanic American have been hired as a head coach in either a full time or interim role. This rule has given many minorities coaching opportunities, that previously wouldn’t have had a chance pre-Rooney Rule. This offseason however, the rule has come under scrutiny because a bigger issue has emerged. No minorities have been offered  coaches positions, and after Lovie Smith and Romeo Crennel were fired, only 4 minority head coaches remain. One of the reasons I’ve heard that no minority head coaches were hired was because there weren’t any qualified candidates. Really now?

Jim Caldwell ring a bell? How about Charlie Strong? Ray Horton? Sylvester Croom?  Lovie Smith? to name a few…

When Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator for the Ravens in December, the offense improved significantly.  Ray Rice and the running game saw a boost in production. In the playoffs the Ravens have averaged 138.7 rushing yards pg. Caldwell also has head coaching experience. When Tony Dungy retired, Caldwell took over for the Colts, led them to a 14-2 regular season and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Charlie Strong just inked an 8 year extension with Louisville that will pay him approximately 3.7 million a year. His raise is well deserved after his Cardinal’s finished 11-2 with an upset bowl win over #3 Florida 33-23.

Ray Horton, now the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, was the DC for the Arizona Cardinals this past year. The Cardinals defense was a solid, scrappy bunch under Horton’s leadership. They ranked #5 in the league against the pass, giving up only 200.5 yards pg.

Sylvester Croom is currently the running back coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was a former head coach for Mississippi State. Despite having a overall lack of talent, he managed to beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide back-to-back seasons and was named the SEC Coach of the Year in 2007. If you ever get a chance, watch ESPNU’s film “Croom”. During an interview for this film, Croom gave a powerful quote that gives insight on the type of person that he is…

“When I went into a player’s home and told Mom and Daddy that I was going to treat their son like he was mine, that was the truth. If you send your boy to me, if you send him to our program, four years from now you’ll get a grown man back. He’ll be prepared to provide for himself and his family. He will have his degree. Because if he comes here, I will not play him if he won’t go to class. I’m not going to exploit his athletic talents and he leave here with nothing. That was a promise I made to every one of their parents.”

Lovie Smith lead the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at QB. Enough said.

Now let’s look at some of the head coaches that were hired…

Andy Reid, New Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs: Reid is coming off of a 2-14 season, 8-8 the year before, with a talented roster. Many considered the Eagles to be Super Bowl contenders the past 2 years. Instead we saw and undisciplined team that was a turnover machine on offense, and couldn’t stop anyone on defense. Andy Reid was unemployed for 6 six days! Not only did he become a HC, he also was given input on General Manager decisions as well.

Rod Chudzinski, New Head Coach of the Cleveland Browns: Chudzinski worked as an assistant HC for Norv Turner from 2009-2010. The past 2 years he was the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers went 7-9 this year. Cam Newton and the offense took a step back from his rookie campaign, and was inconsistent to say the least. Many times during the year Newton looked lost in an offense that wasn’t catered to his style of play. The offense started to pick it up towards the end of a year, but was Chudzinski really the Browns best option going forward?

Marc Trestman, New Head Coach of the Chicago Bears: Trestman has spent some time in CFL as HC for the Montreal Alouettes. His teams were outstanding on the offensive end. In 2011 the Alouettes lead the CFL in scoring (28.6 points per game), total offence (403.8 yards per game), and passing (309 yards per game). Despite his success in the CFL, I wouldn’t say that Trestman will be a sure thing in the NFL.

Obviously there needs to be an adjustment to the Rooney Rule. As of 2011 there are 1,773 minorities playing in the NFL, which makes up 70%. Despite making up 70% of the players, only 4 minorities are qualified to be a HC in the National Football League? As Chad Johnson would say, “Chile please.” So now what? The NFL can’t force owners to hire minority coaches, so the next best thing is to tweak the Rooney Rule. Instead of just being used for a head coaching search, this rule should apply for every level of coaching. Minorities need more opportunities to coach at the professional level so they can perfect their craft while establishing a network with other coaches.  This will in turn increase their changes of landing head coaching positions. More importantly, there needs to be a change in mindset among the NFL owners. Teams are taking chances on coaches like Rod Chudzinski and Marc Trestman, but shy away from the Sylvester Croom’s, and Ray Horton’s of the world. From that standpoint, there is huge disparity in the perception of minority coaches and their white counterparts. Once the state of mind of NFL owners change and a tweek of the Rooney Rule is implemented, we will truly begin to see diversity in NFL leadership positions.

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Miami exposes Duke in blowout win

Coach K

January 23, 2013

Who would have thought that in the middle of January Miami would have been 5-0 in conference play, and sitting atop the ACC standings? The Hurricanes have been better than advertised this year. After back to back losses to Arizona and Indiana State, Miami has won 6 straight including today’s 27 blowout over the #1 ranked Blue Devils. This game was over at tip off as the Canes jumped out to a insurmountable 42-19 1st half lead. During the 1st half, Duke went through an 8 minute scoring drought. That continued throughout the game as Duke couldn’t buy a bucket, they shot 29.7% from the field and even worse from 3 (17.4%).

This defeat was the 3rd largest deficit ever by a #1 team. In fact, the Blue Devils hadn’t suffered a regular season loss this lopsided since 1984. This tough loss has left Coach K and Duke searching for answers. After starting the year on fire, the Blue Devils have come back to reality the pass few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, Duke is a solid team, with veteran leadership. However, this team lacks the athleticism and rebounding necessary to become national title contenders. This team is also very dependent on the 3 ball. When shots are falling, Duke can be tough to beat. But on nights like tonight, when the shots just aren’t falling this team looks mortal. Defense is also a concern going forward for Duke, Miami got to the rim with ease all night. Layup after layup, dunk after dunk, as the Blue Devils helplessly watched the lead balloon to as many as 35 points.

The road for Duke doesn’t get any easier going forward. Up next is a feisty Maryland squad, and in a few weeks they face NC State once again, in hopes of avenging their 1st loss of the season. Duke must find a way to shore up their defense and offense down the stretch or this team won’t be going very far come tournament time…


Quick Preview of Conference Championship Games

January 20, 2013

@nick_speed

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Falcons 30 49ers 20: I feel like this game is the perfect setup for Atlanta. After the 49ers’ dominance against the Packers, it seems like everyone is looking over the Falcons. Though I am a little hesitant picking Atlanta, I like this team in this game for a few reasons. One, they’re at home, the Georgia Dome will be electric, much like the Mike Vick days of several years ago. Two, I like Atlanta’s secondary. Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel, and William Moore are some wily veterans that will play a few mind games with young Kaepernick and cause some turnovers. Three, it just seems like this Falcons team has finally gotten it. For the past 3 years, Atlanta has cruised through the regular season, only to get bounced in the 1st round of the playoffs. This time I think this team has matured and learned their lessons. They are 1 of the most disciplined teams in the NFL (lead the league with the fewest penalties) and it will show in this NFC Championship battle.

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Ravens 28 Patriots 24: In what will be his final season, Ray Lewis leads the Ravens to Foxboro once again looking to advance to the Super Bowl. The Ravens have enough motivation for this game to fill up Gillette Stadium. Last year’s AFC Championship game was filled with coulda, woulda, shoulda’s for Baltimore. Lee Evan’s coulda caught that touchdown pass. The Ravens shoulda gave Ray Rice the ball on the goal line. They woulda went to overtime if Cundiff hadn’t missed that field goal.  This year seems different though, this team feels they are better than the Patriots and have proven they can beat them this year in a Week 3 31-30 victory. I love the Ravens offense under Jim Caldwell, they are paying more attention to the run and have been more productive on the ground. They are  averaging over 60 more yards rushing per game since Cam Cameron was fired. Controlling the clock will be essential for the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense has had  success against Tom Brady, but he’s still Tom Brady so they still will need to limit his opportunities as mush as possible. This game will surely be must see TV, but I think the road team will come out on top this time. They will rally around their general Ray Lewis, sending him to his 2nd Super Bowl appearance.


Young St. Louis Sports Talk Interview with Rayon Simmons Jr

January 12, 2013


NFL Playoff Predictions

January 04, 2013

@nick_speed

#PlayoffsBack

Here are my predictions for Wild Card weekend

Bengals 23 Texans 17: I believe the Texans have a roster capable of winning Super Bowl. However, the tape don’t lie! After starting the year 11-1, Houston has looked terrible their last 4 games (1-3). Matt Schaub has looked lost as of late, managing only 1 TD the Texans last 4 games. Their defense hasn’t been much much better either giving up over 27 ppg during this 1-3 slump. Cincinnati has been playing some of their best football of late. If it wasn’t for a 1 pt loss to the Cowboys, the Bengals would be heading into Saturday on an 8 game winning streak. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ ailing hamstring will be a concern but I have faith that QB Andy Dalton can win on the road. It also helps AJ Green is a monster, and the Bengals have the best defensive line in the AFC.  Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson have combined for 24 sacks this season and have terrorized opposing QBs all year. The window of oppourtunity for a Super Bowl title for these Texans squad is getting smaller. HC Gary Kubiak will definately be on the hot seat, after the Texans have slowly unraveled down the stretch this season.

Vikings 13 Packers 35: As much as I’m rooting for Adrian Peterson run all over the Packers in Lambeau Field, I can’t see him having another 200 yard game like he did last week in a 37-34 victory over Green Bay. Despite losing to the Vikings last week, the Packers have too much firepower. Aaron Rodgers has played like a man possessed against Minnesota lately. In his last 5 games against the Vikings Rodgers has 16 TDs, 1 interception, and completed 74.7% of passes with a 132.5 passer rating. While Green Bay’s defense has been suspect ever since they won the Super Bowl in 2010, I think they will show up tomorrow on their home turf. At the end of the day, the Vikings are too dependent on AP and don’t have enough on offense to keep up with Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

Colts 21 Ravens 24: Baltimore came into these season with high expectations. This year however, the team has been plagued with injuries and inconsistency on both sides of the ball. The Ravens have lost 4 of their last 5, and just haven’t been playing football. The Colts on the other hand are surging. Rookie phenom Andrew Luck as been great this year, breaking Cam Newton’s record for rookie passing yards with 4,374. A few days ago, 17 year vet Ray Lewis announced he is retiring after this year. I can’t fathom the Ravens laying an egg at home in what would be Lewis’ final playoff game. Ray Rice will have a big game and the defense will cause some turnovers (Luck is one of the league leaders in turnovers) to squeak out a win.

Seahawks 21 Redskins 28: Standout rookies Russell Wilson and RGIII will square off in a battle between 2 Rookie of the Year candidates. This will mark the 2nd time in NFL playoff history that 2 Rookie QB’s will start. Both teams have been playing well as of late. Seattle has won their last 5 and Washington has won their last 7. This game will surely be must see TV, as both teams have explosive offenses and hard hitting defenses. This game was by far the hardest one to decide on because these teams are so evenly matched. I will give RGIII and the Redskins the nod because it will be at home, and the Seahawks have only won 3 games on the road this year.


The Almighty SEC shows signs of vulnerability.

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January 2, 2013

@nick_speed

After winning 6 straight national championships, the SEC has become widely regarded as the best conference in college football. 4 out of the past 6 Heisman trophy winners have come from the conference. They have a track record of recruiting some of college football’s brightest stars as well as massive, athletic lineman that dominate the competition. When the SEC lines up against out of conference opponents 9 times out of 10 their talent is superior.

Despite over a half decade of dominance, the SEC has looked mortal during this season’s bowl games. The SEC is 3-3 so far.

Here are their 3 wins:  Georgia v. Nebraska 45-31, Vanderbilt v. NC State 38-24, and South Carolina v. Michigan 33-28

Honestly none of these wins impressed me. Nebraska was one of the better team in the Big Ten, but they also gave up 60+ plus in big losses against Ohio State and Wisconsin. NC State in is the ACC, enough said. Michigan also was not impressive this year, and lost to all 4 of the ranked teams they played this year.

SEC bowl game losses: LSU v. Clemson 24-25, Louisville v. Florida 33-23 , Miss State v. Northwestern 20-34

LSU lost to a Clemson team who was minus their player, Sammy Watkins for most of the game. The Tigers squandered a 24-13 lead going into the 4th quarter, and lost on a last second field goal. LSU’s D was getting tourched by dynamic wideout DeAndre Hopkins who really stepped up in Watkins absence. Florida had the worse possible start a team could have to start a game, and was never able to recover. Florida opened up the game with a pick 6 and it was downhill for the rest of the ballgame. Louisville’s QB Teddy Bridgewater looked like a future 1st round draft pick as he shredded the Gators vaunted defense for 266 yards and 2 TDs. Mississippi State is lucky they only lost by 14, their QB Tyler Russell was horrible. He tossed a pick 6 and had 4 total interceptions on the day. The defense didn’t play much better either, giving up 350+ total yards to Northwestern.

Now with all that been said…

I still think Alabama is going to win the National Championship, and beat Notre Dame by double digits. Bama’s line resembles a group of wooly mammoths, and their 2 freshman backs look like Adrian Peterson’s older brothers. They are simply bigger, stronger, and faster than the Irish. My prediction, 28-13 Bama, as they continue the SEC’s national title reign. #RollTide