Who Am I?

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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

2012 NFL SEASON: WEEK 5






Before I review the games from last week, let’s get this out of the way: the Cowboys were flat out dominated by the Bears.

Tony Romo was intercepted 5 times, two of which were returned for touchdowns. I listened to The Ticket post-game show and the critique was not on Romo, but the offensive line. Man, that was terrible blocking. How many times did Romo roll out of the pocket? The host, Norm Hitzges, said that at least three of those offensive linemen should be unemployed.

Over the last couple of seasons I’ve noticed that there has been one glaring hole that cripples the Cowboys season. Last season it was the secondary; this season, it appears that it is the offensive line like it was in 2010. Remember, 2010 was when Tony Romo was lost for the half of the season due to separated shoulder.

Another glaring issue was the skill position players. This is Dez Bryant’s third season as a wide receiver in the NFL, and he can’t seem to run the right routes. Where was Miles Austin? Tight end Jason Witten, who has gotten off to a rough start this season in part due to a spleen injury suffered in the pre-season, played his best game of the night.

Romo is asked to do a lot to keep this team competitive and cover up the glaring holes that hurt this team. I have heard the calls of people saying that we should get rid of Tony Romo… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Kyle Orton was replaced by Tim Tebow in Denver. Remember, a couple of weeks ago Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw three interceptions against the Falcons. There were no talks of benching Manning for the rest of the season. The six quarterbacks that currently have Super Bowl rings in the NFL (Brady, both Mannings, Brees, Rodgers, Roethlisberger), how many of them had their fair share of AWFUL games?

I also noticed that for a home game, this was a very pro-Bears crowd. I had to make sure that this game was being played in Cowboys Stadium and not Soldier Field.

Though I swore I heard “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” after every time Chicago scored…

I didn’t watch the game to completion. I had enough masochistic behavior with 7 minutes left in the game. I changed it over to the Rangers game. And now the Rangers… (sigh) Save for another post.

The Cowboys might be finally be paying for the poor drafts that have plagued this team over the past few seasons and it’s something that Cowboys fans have realized since February 1994. The offensive line, the secondary, the head coaches, we critique them but in the end it comes down to one person: Jerry Jones.

Since Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones split due to “irreconcilable differences” in 1994, the Cowboys have won only one Super Bowl. Even though Jimmy Johnson was not the coach of the Super Bowl XXX championship team, it is widely held belief among Cowboys fans that Barry Switzer, the coach hired after Johnson, won with Jimmy’s Players. Before the Cowboys won their playoff game against the Eagles in the 2009 playoffs, the last time Dallas won a playoff game was when I was in seventh grade at Smithfield Middle School in North Richland Hills, TX (GO RAIDERS!!).

Believe me, a lot has happened in 13 years…

Jerry Jones is not just the owner, but he is also the general manager. As much as I want to think that Coach Jason Garrett has a say in personnel decisions, this has Jerry Jones’s fingerprints all over this.

The Cowboys play in, from an engineering and architectural point of view, one of the most impressive stadiums in the NFL. But the Cowboys almost have no home field advantage. When the third quarter started, the Bears marched down the field to score a touchdown and take a 10 point lead. That may be due to Dallas’s secondary that night made Jason Culter and Brandon Marshall look like the second coming of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. However, home field advantage does play a role in the NFL.

You have the largest television screen in the world, you have the Cowboys Cheerleaders, a Victoria’s Secret store in the stadium… oh and there is a football game going on. It’s not a football stadium; it’s a carnival.


The Cowboys are one of the more popular teams in the NFL and they will be showcased in the NFL’s top broadcast spots (3PM game in a doubleheader, Sunday Night, and Monday Night). It doesn’t matter because win or lose, people will be talking about them.

Fortunately the Cowboys have a bye this week, but the schedule does not get any easier. Four of their next five games are on the road: at Baltimore, at Carolina, home against the Giants, at Atlanta, and at Philadelphia.

So, the rest of the NFL in Week 4….

I was impressed with Browns quarterback Jason Weeden’s performance against the Ravens. He played well, but the Browns are flawed at other offensive positions. Again, wide receiver Torrey Smith is becoming a playmaker in the emerging Ravens offense. I’ve said it once and I’ve said it again: The Ravens might not have to rely so much on their defense to win them games. This was a division game, so a tough go for both sides. Coach John Harbaugh said that despite the record, he said the Browns are a good football team. The Ravens avoided the trap 23-16.

The Texans made quick work of the Titans. Up next for Houston is a trip to the Jets who were throttled by the 49ers, 34-0. San Francisco chose to stay in the eastern half of the country after their game at Minnesota instead of going back and flying cross country. The Jets have now lost wide receiver Santonio Holmes for the rest of the season due to a foot injury and the New York media is sounding the “Start Tebow” alarms.

Detroit’s special teams unit is awful. For the second week in a row, the Lions give up a kick return for a touchdown as the Vikings won 20-13 to move to 3-1 and join the ranks of the surprise teams in 2012. Looking at the rest of Minnesota’s schedule their only tough games remaining are an upcoming matchup with the Cardinals in Week 7, at Houston in Week 16, and they play the Bears and Packers in 4 of the last 6 weeks of the regular season. Their bye week is in Week 11 and if the Vikings are say 7-3 at that point, they could make a playoff run. That upcoming Cardinals game in two weeks will be important to the playoff race and could determine if whether the NFC North or the NFC West will send one more team to the playoffs. I am not discounting their late season divisional games; they’re going to have to win one of them so that at worst they get a season split.

Carolina expected jump to the playoffs might be delayed if they keep giving away games like these. Quarterback Cam Newton has to learn how to control the ball better in key situations. Late in the fourth quarter and needing a first down to gain to ice the game, Newton snuck forward, but fumbled the ball. Even though a Panther’s team mate recovered the fumble, the fumble occurred inside two minutes left in the game. If a player fumbles the ball inside the two minute warning, he has to be one who recovers it for his team. If one of his team mates recovers the fumble, the ball goes back to where it was fumbled.

Carolina did punt the ball down inside Atlanta’s 5 yard line, but Matt Ryan led last second drive that put the Falcons in field goal range to win 30-28. That drive was similar to what happened four years ago in his rookie season where Matt Ryan led the Falcons to a game winning field goal with no timeouts left against the Bears.

San Diego… last week they score 3. The next week, they score 37. I hate Jekyll and Hyde teams… That’s what the Chargers are in 2012.

New England looked flat in the first half against the Bills, but scored 45 points in the second half to put Buffalo away 52-28.

The Rams got their second win of the season with a win over the Seahawks while the Bengals defeated the Jaguars 27-10. Denver looked like the team we expected them to be when Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos in the off-season in their win over the Raiders.

Despite Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s 431 yard passing game, 253 of those yards went to receiver Brian Hartline, the Cardinals moved on to 4-0 for the first time since 1974 when they were in St. Louis and won the NFC East Title that season. The coach of that 1974 Cardinals team was Don Coryell. Give credit to the Dolphins though, the last two weeks they have lost games in overtime to field goals.

Robert Griffin III, what a game winning drive he led. Tampa’s defense could not stop him from walking the Redskins into field goal range. Billy Cundif, who last season was the goat in the AFC Championship game for missing a last second Ravens’ field goal, redeemed himself with a 41 yard field goal to push Washington to 2-2.

History was made in Green Bay as Saints quarterback Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass in his 47th consecutive game. The previous record holder was Johnny Unitas. Many thought that Unitas’s record was unreachable, but in this day of this being a passing league we can expect more passing records to fall. Not only did Drew Brees set the single-season record with 5,476 passing yards last season, but he was one of three quarterbacks to cross 5,000 passing yards in a single season (the others: Brady and Stafford).

Brees threw for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns, but again the Saints fell short 28-27 to the Packers who are starting to look more like the Packers team that started hot last season instead of the one we saw in the Monday Night game in Seattle.

The Saints problem is that Drew Brees is trying to carry this team with all the stuff that is going on. He doesn’t play defense, which they are terrible at. They only had 45 yards rushing. Kicker Garrett Hartley sent a 48-yard field goal wide left with three minutes left that would have given the Saints a lead. The best outcome for New Orleans is to finish .500. Up next… it’s not pretty… they play San Diego at home, two weeks later at Tampa, then the Week 8 Sunday Night Game at Denver, Election Day Eve at home against the Eagles, and in Week 10 they host the Falcons.

Time to break out the paper bags again Saints fans…

In the Sunday Night contest, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy rushed for 123 yards as Philadelphia improved to 3-1 with a win over the Giants. Philadelphia’s 3 wins have been decided by a total of 4 points. They have a flair for the dramatic this season. I would be cautious about the Eagles; yeah they are 3-1, but they could easily be 0-4. They may win a lot of close games now, but in previous seasons where teams lived dangerously on the edge of defeat eventually that luck ran out.

What cost the Giant a win was their final offensive drive of the game. Two pass interference penalties put the Giants in field goal range. Eli Manning tossed another long pass, this time along the near sideline, and another interference penalty.

Except it wasn't on the Eagles; it was on receiver Ramses Barden. It was the third time that Eli Manning threw a pass to Barden on the drive. Take a guess who the receiver Manning targeted on the two defensive pass interference penalties… yup, it was Barden.

The offensive pass interference pushed the Giants 10 yards back to the Eagles 36 yard line where Lawrence Tynes attempted a 54 yard field goal. The kick was short.

Coach Tom Coughlin is a very detailed oriented coach and I bet that he is stressing to his team about how much that penalties hurt the team.

Oh, and the Cowboys lost to Bears 34-18 on Monday Night… but we already talked about that.

One thing that I noticed during this week was the return of the regular officials. It seemed like during the first three weeks of the replacement officials there was an irregular flow to the game and they were finishing later than normal. Last week it seemed like that flow was back.

As for my picks, better than that disaster of 5-11 in Week 3. I was 9-6, but Ms. Roberts was 11-4 widening her lead to 6 games on me. I think that Week 3 is going to cost me, but it’s a long season; anything can happen. I am back above .500 so that’s good.


WEEK 4:       9-6
TOTAL:    32-31

BREAKDOWN OF RECORD
MONICA
NOON
3PM
NIGHT
HOME
AWAY
TV
≤ 8 PTS
OT
WK 4
11-4
4-3
4-1
1-2
6-4
3-2
4-2
4-4
1-0
TOTAL
38-25
20-14
6-10
6-7
21-13
11-18
12-12
14-22
3-2


Week 5 starts off with Cardinals going to St. Louis and in search for their fifth consecutive win of the 2012 season.

Quarterback duels litter the Sunday early games, a mix between experienced players and rookies: Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger hosting the Eagles and Michael Vick; the Bengals Andy Dalton and the Dolphins Ryan Tannehill; the Atlanta Falcons led by Matt Ryan will be Washington to take on Robert Griffin III; and the Packers are in Indianapolis to play the Colts.

The Ravens are in Kansas City while the Browns return to the east coast to play the Giants.

The afternoon games has the Bills travel to San Francisco, the Titans are in Minneapolis, the Bears play in Jacksonville, and the Carolina Panthers host the Seahawks.

Oh… and the game that MOST of the country will see… The Denver Broncos travel to New England. I do not expect this game to be like the playoff game. For starters, the Broncos quarterback is Peyton Manning so there is a high probability that he will complete more passes than Tebow did. Even though Peyton Manning changed teams, it should be another Brady-Peyton Manning quarterback matchup classic.

Sunday Night Football has Saints quarterback Drew Brees going for setting the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass against the team that originally drafted him in 2001, the San Diego Chargers. Records are nice, but I think it would be more important if the Saints got their first win though.

Monday Night is the first of four prime time games the Texans will have in 2012; 3 of them are on the road. I think the NFL could have split it up so that the city of Houston would get some national exposure. But anyways, the Texans earned it with the season they had last season and if the Texans continue to play well, they might earn another prime time game per the NFL’s TV rules (money says it’s their Week 16 matchup at home against the Vikings that gets flexed into the Sunday Night slot).

Even though I have an anti-Houston sports slant, it’s all in good fun. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

The Texans play the Jets which means ESPN’s Monday Night pre-game show will be saturated with Tebow… sigh.

Right now Mark Sanchez is the incumbent quarterback for the Jets. I say that the Tebow chants will start sometime in the second quarter as the Texans defense is burying them.

The picks for Week 5 are below.

Kickoff Times are Central Time
Picks Indicated in BOLD
Sunday Day Games for the Dallas-Fort Worth Area are indicated with (DFW)


BYE WEEK
Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions
Oakland Raiders
Tampa Bay Buccaneers


THURSDAY NIGHT (10/4)
Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams, 7:20 PM NFL


SUNDAY (10/7) CBS DOUBLEHEADER

NOON FOX
Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (DFW)
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts
Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins

NOON CBS
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs (DFW)
Cleveland Browns at New York Giants
Miami Dolphins at Cincinnati Bengals


3PM CBS
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (DFW)
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings
Buffalo Bills at San Francisco 49ers

3PM FOX
Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears at Jacksonville Jaguars


SUNDAY NIGHT
San Diego Chargers at New Orleans Saints, NBC 7:20 PM


MONDAY NIGHT (10/8)
Houston Texans at New York Jets, 7:30 PM ESPN

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