ESPN MONDAY NIGHT RAW in Dallas: Five Reasons Why Romo Should Have Just Tapped Out

Monday Night Football in Dallas gave us the kind of entertainment that usually would take place at a pro wrestling event on prime time TV. It was to be Jerry’s big night as the owner of the surprising 6-1 Cowboys as they took on a struggling Redskin team who were down to a 3rd string QB. A big stage to show case his team and what a great GM he had been in the off season.

ESPN even provided viewers the “Jerry Cam” a live feed of Jerry watching his Cowboys and fielding questions about the team. More attention for an owner than is typically provided and when it comes to Jerry who loves him some publicity, it was like pouring gasoline on the fire.

Then suddenly their Cowboy quarterback Romo went down with an injury to his back which had attempted to be repaired in the off season. Romo was clearly in a great deal of pain as he headed to the locker room where ESPN followed creating a frenzy by providing live updates on Romo and his back. Camera shots of Romo in the locker room were also provided as ESPN attempted to milk as much drama of this situation as possible. It was like “hey ESPN, WWE just texted and said you guys are going over the top on this one.”

Then Romo slowly begins the walk back to the sideline. Will he come back to lead his team to victory with a back that barely even lets him throw a pass? Will the doctors even allow him to return? Jerry was on this moment like an engrossed wrestling manager who is trying to boost the ratings. No surprise that Jerry, like a pro wrestling manager attempting to impact the outcome of a contest, is the one who made it known to the coach that Romo could play, as Garrett explained.  STORY

While Romo’s return made for compelling television, I was convinced Weeden offered the best chance to win and Romo was too injured to take that risk. This wasn’t scripted as Romo was not able to successfully return and miraculously lead them to a thrilling come from behind victory.

Five reasons why Romo should not have been allowed to return:

1. Romo was clearly not able to play any where near 100% after the injury. That made him unable to really help his team.

2. Even prior to his injury, Romo was playing poorly and having a bad game. Why would a hurt back improve any of that?

3. Weeden (the backup) had just led the offense to a TD on a scoring pass to TE Jason Witten. The offense had some momentum with Weeden as their QB at the time, as he led two scoring drives. I think he gave them the best chance to win at that moment considering all the circumstances.

4. Even if X-rays cleared Romo to return, it doesn’t make it the right decision for his long term health. By returning, Romo risked even more serious injury to his back. Romo is going to want to be able to get out in his yard and pass a football with his young son Hawkins, one day. There is a bigger picture than just considering if he is able to return to the game.

5.  Romo had been sacked five times in the game. Why put him out there to get number six when he clearly couldn’t scramble well at all?

We don’t know if the game would have had a different ending had Weeden been left to play QB. But I didn’t need to know that to know putting Romo in at the time with an injured back, was the wrong move for more reasons than just trying to get to a 7-1 record.

It appears the Cowboys maniacal owner/GM Jerry Jones was the one behind getting Romo to return as it made for “must see TV.” And it was Jones who once said, “We have not gone (playoffs), yet we’re the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings. We lead, 24 of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play they’re up there at the top and leading.”

Sometimes it shouldn’t just be about the ratings. It should be about trying to win the game and most importantly, doing what is in the best interest of the player’s health long term.

2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 9: Broncos Maintain top spot

NFLTeamsA power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week eight play.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. Reflecting the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

The Top 12 Teams:

The Bengals have now gone 2-0 against their main division rival the Ravens which puts the Bengals back into the top 12. Consequently the Ravens fall to number 13 and are looking at fighting their way through the wildcard pool.  Clearly the NFC South is the weakest division in the NFL as all teams are below .500 after week 8. The Panthers hold on to the number 12 spot as the team that would most likely to back their way into the playoffs by representing the South. An important game with the Saints on Thursday night will determine who takes the lead in the worst division.

big-ben-steelers-bee-jersey-ap-eeec-1783488544

 

 

 

“Queen Bee” Ben Roethlisberger is on fire moving the Steelers up in the top 10 and in contention for a wildcard spot at 5-3, after defeating the Colts.

 

Week 9               Change
1. Broncos     (6-1)   0
2. Cardinals  (6-1)   0
3. Patriots    (6-2)  +6
4. Lions         (6-2)  +6
5. Eagles        (5-2)  -1
6. Cowboys    (6-2)  -3
7. Chargers    (5-3)   0
8. Bengals    (4-2-1) +6
9. Steelers    (5-3)  +3
10. Packers   (5-3)  -2
11. Colts        (5-3)  -6
12. Panthers  (3-4-1) -1
13. Ravens    (5-3)  -7
14. 49ers        (4-3)  -1
15. Seahawks  (4-3)   0
16  Chiefs    (4-3)   0
17. Bills         (5-3)   0
18. Dolphins  (4-3)   0
19. Browns    (4-3)   0
20. Texans   (4-4)  +1
21. Giants    (3-4)  -1
22. Saints     (3-4)  +4
23. Bears      (3-5)  -1
24. Redskins  (3-5)  +3
25. Vikings    (3-5)  -1
26. Falcons   (2-6)  -1
27. Rams       (2-5)  -4
28. Titans      (2-6)   0
29. Jaguars    (1-7)   0
30. Bucs         (1-6)   0
31. Jets           (1-7)   0
32. Raiders   (0-7)   0

2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS Week 8: Bengals and Panthers Losing Their Roar

NFLTeamsA power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week seven play.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. Reflecting the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

Changes In TOP 12:

After another poor performance in a 27-0 shutout to the hands of the Colts, the 3-2-1 Bengals fall out of the top 12 teams. With a rather lopsided loss to the Broncos Sunday night, the 49ers fall out of the top 12 teams and are replaced by the surging Packers and Aaron Rodgers who blew up the once highly regarded Panthers defense. Speaking of Panthers, they remain in the top 12 simply because all the other teams in the NFC South are awful. All lost Sunday (Bucs bye week)

TEAMS ON FIRE:

Cowboys- 6 wins in a row. Murray with an unbelievable 7 games over 100 yards.

Colts- 5 wins in a row. After a 0-2 start, this team is on fire.

Ravens- Offense starting to really find their groove. Only trail the Colts in total points scored in the AFC.

Packers- 4 straight wins and the Rodgers led offense is starting to do what they do. Defense looking much better.

TEAMS STRUGGLING:

Bengals- After a great start, this team is having problems on both sides of the ball.

Falcons- 4 straight losses and their inability to win outdoors continues.

Seahawks- Lose their 2nd straight game to the lowly Rams who completely punked Seattle on that punt returned for a TD and then rubbed it in with a fake punt late to burn out the clock.

Panthers- Are not the defensive team they were a year ago but still lead a very soft NFC South.

Jets and Raiders- Both teams with 6 straight losses.

Week 8               Change
1. Broncos    (5-1)   0
2. Cardinals  (5-1)   0
3. Cowboys    (6-1)  +3
4. Eagles     (5-1)  +1
5. Colts      (5-2)  +2
6. Ravens     (5-2)  +3
7. Chargers   (5-2)  -4
8. Packers    (5-2)  +6
9. Patriots   (5-2)  -1
10. Lions     (5-2)  +2
11. Panthers (3-3-1)  0
12. Steelers  (4-3)  +8
13. 49ers     (4-3)  -9
14. Bengals  (3-2-1) -4
15. Seahawks  (3-3)  -2
16  Chiefs    (3-3)  +6
17. Bills     (4-3)  +1
18. Dolphins  (3-3)  +5
19. Browns    (3-3)  -4
20. Giants    (3-4)  -4
21. Texans    (3-4)  -4
22. Bears     (3-4)  -3
23. Rams      (2-4)  +6
24. Vikings   (2-5)  -1
25. Falcons   (2-5)  -4
26. Saints    (2-4)  -2
27. Redskins  (2-5)   0
28. Titans    (2-5)  -2
29. Jaguars   (1-6)  +2
30. Bucs      (1-5)   0
31. Jets      (1-6)  -3
32. Raiders   (0-6)   0

Giants at Cowboys Preview

After a HUGE win at Seattle, the Cowboys are clearly off to a great start with an impressive 5-1 record. Dallas was the more physical team in that game and have established an identity in 2014 as a running team with a dominant offensive line.

Sunday will be their first division game this season as the Giants come to AT&T where they have had plenty of success in the past.

So far it has been an up and down kind of season for the Giants who have played well at times (a 30-17 victory over the Texans) but were completely shut down and shut out by the Eagles 27-0 last Sunday night. It may be a mistake to assume they will play that poorly again this week. A look at what went wrong in that game for the Giants and how Dallas may try to capitalize on some of the same weaknesses exposed by the Eagles.

Giants Defense: Giants Look for the Big Play
Romo beware because the Giants lead the entire NFL with 10 interceptions this season. They also have 11 sacks which is certainly more than Dallas has so far this season. Against the Eagles, the Giants intercepted Foles two times.

On defense the Giants like to get after the QB and play the short passes tight looking for a pick when the QB is pressured. However it also means they are some what vulnerable to the deep pass as they have allowed a significant amount of passing yards. The Giants rank 24th in the NFL in passing yards allowed.

But when they get a sack they make it tough on the offense as they have been impressive on 3rd down only allowing a 32% conversion rate.

Dallas Strategy:
Against the Eagles McCoy had a HUGE game rushing for 149 yards. Clearly Murray can put up those kind of numbers too and is looking for a sick 7th game with over 100 yards. The Cowboys are going to continue to ride that horse and why shouldn’t they? Establish the run and pound Murray at them.

If the offensive line can allow Romo time, he should have some opportunities to throw deep to Terrance Williams a proven deep threat with a spectacular catch last week in their win. Was that pass actually intended for Witten? We give Romo the benefit of the doubt on that one.

The Giants are kind of the opposite of the Seahawks in their approach to defense. They pressure the QB, jump the short passes, and dare you to throw it deep.

It will be important to establish the run and take a few deep shots off play action. Romo needs to be careful with the ball when pressured, as the Giants secondary has been quite opportunistic. They are aggressive and looking for the pick.

Giants Offense: O-Line Struggles to keep Manning up right:
Against the Eagles, Manning was sacked 8 times! Interesting that six of those sacks were Eagle linebackers blitzing. LB Connor Barwin had three sacks in the game.

When Manning is getting bounced around like that, he not only makes that notorious pouting face but he becomes frustrated which can make things go down hill quickly for the offense. As a defense, you want to see that face.

Eli Pout

Eli Pout

This season the Giants have had more success running than passing the ball as they average over 100 yards rushing per game.

Dallas Strategy:
Get after Manning with blitzing LBs! Among the LBs, Durant has probably been the most effective at blitzing for Dallas so it makes sense to fire him on passing downs to exploit a not so great Giants offensive line. Also Dallas has DE Anthony Spencer back and in the Seahawks game he really got off the ball quickly and applied pressure regularly. He could potentially have a big game against Giants tackle Justin Pugh who struggled a great deal in the Eagles game. Coming out of college, it was noted by scouts that Pugh possesses short arms which don’t serve a tackle well in the NFL.

The Cowboys defense must make stopping the run a priority as it is what the Giants do best. In the Giants win over the Texans, RB Rashad Jennings had a career high 176 yards rushing for the game. In that game the Giants special teams blocked a punt so the Cowboys, who had one blocked Sunday, need to tighten up punt protection.

Recap Main Points:
-Establish the run and take some shots deep against the Giants defense.
-Romo take care of the ball. The Giants will intercept passes.
-Pressure Eli particularly with LB blitzes which the Eagles had a lot of success doing. Manning is no scrambler.
-Defend the run first. The Giants can run it.
-Get ahead early and make the Giants play catch up with a pass game.
-Clean up the special team blunders from last week.

2014 NFL Power Rankings Week 7: Hawks Knocked Off Their Perch.

NFLTeams
A power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week six play.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. Reflecting the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

Hawks Knocked Off:
The Seahawks fall out of first place after the Cowboys came into their stadium and punched them in the mouth. At 4-1 the Broncos move into the top spot.

With their impressive win at Seattle, Dallas swaggers into the top 12 for the first time this season. The Cowboys look like a power running playoff team but have business to tend to in the NFC East.

The Cardinals take the 2nd spot based on a couple impressive wins this season against the highly ranked Chargers and 49ers.

Week 7 – Change
1. Broncos (4-1) +1
2. Cardinals (4-1) +3
3. Chargers (5-1) 0
4. 49ers (4-2) +2
5. Eagles (5-1) +2
6. Cowboys (5-1) +7
7. Colts (4-2) +1
8. Patriots (4-2) +3
9. Ravens (4-2) 0
10. Bengals (3-1-1) -6
11. Panthers (3-2-1) -1
12. Lions (4-2) 0
13. Seahawks (3-2) -12
14. Packers (4-2) 0
15. Browns (3-2) +9
16 Giants (3-3) 0
17. Texans (3-3) -2
18. Bills (3-3) -1
19. Bears (3-3) +1
20. Steelers (3-3) -2
21. Falcons (2-4) -2
22. Chiefs (2-3) 0
23. Dolphins (2-3) 0
24. Saints (2-3) +1
25. Vikings (2-4) -4
26. Titans (2-4) +4
27. Redskins (1-5) -1
28. Jets (1-5) -1
29. Rams (1-4) -1
30. Bucs (1-5) -1
31. Jaguars (0-6) 0
32. Raiders (0-5) 0

Patience Could be Key for Dallas in Seattle

The defending champ Seattle Seahawks provide an effective formula for winning championships. Currently they are first in the NFL in rushing and first in the NFL in defending the run. They also rarely turn the ball over. That along with a very vocal home crowd (unlike in Dallas!) make it very challenging for teams to leave Seattle with a win. Their fans hold Guinness world records for noise at about the 137db level so they don’t mess around when it comes to the 12th man stuff. That’s a little louder than a 747 taking off and nearly as loud as Texan fans in the Cowboys stadium last week.

Remember the last trip out there for Dallas in 2012 where it fell apart quickly for Dallas and Sean Lee got blindsided with a vicious block in the game?

Sean Lee gets jacked

Sean Lee gets jacked

Do the 4-1 Cowboys even have a chance to win this one? Maybe if Dallas plays a nearly perfect game, so to borrow a quote from the movie “Dumb and Dumber”, “So you’re sayin’ there is a chance!”.

Running the Ball:
So far Dallas has run the ball effectively with Murray behind a talented offensive line. In fact, the Cowboys are only second to the Seahawks in rushing yards per game. Dallas will likely want to stick to that winning formula of running Murray however the Seahawks are excellent at shutting down the run. The Seahawk defense only allows about 62 yards rushing a game which is far less than Dallas has been getting on the ground at 160 yards. The Seahawks will make stopping Murray a top priority.

Running the ball is going to be difficult for Dallas especially early in the game, however I think it is going to be important for them to not completely abandon it. But to score in this game, they will rely on Romo passing it.

Turnovers:
As I mentioned earlier, the Seahawks simply take care of the ball better than any team in the NFL. Russell Wilson will not make mistakes that cost his team. Remarkably this season the Seahawks have only one turnover and that was an interception. They have committed 0 fumbles which is in sharp contrast to the Cowboys running back Murray who has four fumbles already this season. In addition Romo has thrown 5 interceptions for a total of 9 turnovers compared to 1 by the Seahawks.

Dallas committed 3 turnovers last week but over came then to defeat the Texans. I can not see them over coming three turnovers in Seattle. Murray must eliminate his weekly first quarter fumble and Romo must take care of the ball too.

Pass with patience and T.O.P.:
The Seahawks were defeated this season in a game at San Diego. Looking back at that loss, the Chargers dominated the time of possession that game. This season Dallas has dominated T.O.P. in all but one of their games.

The Chargers held the ball for a stingy 42:15 compared to just 17:45 for the Seahawks. But it wasn’t because they were running it that well as the Chargers only had 2.7 yards a rush but they kept at it to get 84 yards rushing.

What the Chargers did effectively on defense was hold Lynch to only 36 yards on 6 carries and made Wilson more of a passer than I believe the Seahawks prefer as he passed 25 times.

Offenses have had success passing the ball against the Seahawks particularly the shorter passes that basically substitute for running the ball. It will be critical that Romo and the offense not become impatient and try to get all the yardage in one play. Instead have a move the chains mentality in the passing game and chew the clock with drives. The Seahawk defense ranks only 22nd in passing yards allowed. Clearly they commit to stopping the run but allow underneath passing for short gains. Rivers passed for 284 yards on 28 completions with 3 TDs in their win.

Manning and the Broncos were probably a coin toss in overtime away from coming out of Seattle with a win and they used a similar strategy as the Chargers.

DALLAS GAME PLAN:
DEFENSE:
Stopping the run is priority one. Remember Wilson is an effective runner.
Make Wilson become a passer.
Blitz to pressure the passer.

OFFENSE:
Don’t abandon the run and become impatient when it isn’t working.
Take the short passes and consume the clock with drives.
Taking care of the ball is a top priority. Tuck that ball away Murray!
Expect it to be very loud. Trust your silent count and don’t panic.

I think the Cowboys best hope is to keep the game close and find a way to win at the end with a special teams play or rare turnover from Wilson. Becoming impatient will only lead to trouble. Make the Seahawks become impatient.

2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS Week 6: Patriots Make a Statement

NFLTeams
A power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week five play.

The Twist: Each week my top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. I reflect the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs.

I have one NFC team and one AFC team in the top two to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. I also include at least one team from each division in the top 12 teams.

Patriots Make Statement:
Unlike other NFL rankings, I kept the Patriots in the top 12 teams last week after the Monday night debacle. With all the talk last week of Tom Brady and the Patriots being pretty much finished, had to see that beat down they put on the Bengals coming. They made a statement in that game and remain the team to beat in the AFC East as far as I’m concerned. Brady may have few more good passes left in him.

Chargers on the Move:
After their complete thrashing of the Jets along with a loss by the Bengals, the Chargers move up to number 3 just under the Broncos.

Week 6 And Change
1. Seahawks (3-1) 0
2. Broncos (3-1) 0
3. Chargers (4-1) +3
4. Bengals (3-1) -1
5. Cardinals (3-1) -1
6. 49ers (3-2) +2
7. Eagles (4-1) 0
8. Colts (3-2) +3
9. Ravens (3-2) -4
10. Panthers (3-2) -1
11. Patriots (3-2) +1
12. Lions (3-2) -2
13. Cowboys (4-1) +1
14. Packers (3-2) +1
15. Texans (3-2) -2
16. Giants (3-2) +3
17. Bills (3-2) +1
18. Steelers (3-2) +3
19. Falcons (2-3) -2
20. Bears (2-3) 0
21. Vikings (2-3) -5
22. Chiefs (2-3) 0
23. Dolphins (2-2) 0
24. Browns (2-2) +3
25. Saints (2-3) 0
26. Redskins (1-4) 0
27. Jets (1-4) -3
28. Rams (1-3) 0
29. Bucs (1-4) 0
30. Titans (1-4) 0
31. Jaguars (0-5) 0
32. Raiders (0-4) 0