The seventh episode of the Strained Hammy Podcast is here!
Rangers: Are they the best team in baseball? Mavs: What’s your dream scenario this offseason. Love Story: How did you fall in love with your favorite team?
The seventh episode of the Strained Hammy Podcast is here!
Rangers: Are they the best team in baseball? Mavs: What’s your dream scenario this offseason. Love Story: How did you fall in love with your favorite team?
The Dallas Mavericks found new life in some old legs to pull away from the Utah Jazz to win 113-108. While the younger players on the Mavs found the game to be tough sledding, Elton Brand and Mike James found new life and lead the Mavericks to a much needed victory.
I made the point that a few games ago Mike James was taking shots like it was 2005, well tonight he was making shots like it was 2005. James scored a team high 19 points on just 10 shots and handed out 5 assists. It was by far the most efficient game of James’ Mavericks career.
Dirk added 17 points and 6 rebounds, but his most important stat, he did it in 26 minutes. Nowitzki should benefit from the rest he was able to take tonight.
Elton Brand certainly benefited from the rest Rick Carlisle gave him in the last contest, and was the biggest reason for this win. The game was tied at 69 all midway through the 3rd quarter, when Brand made a couple big stops spurring the Mavs to start a 20 to 2 run and take control. Brand played possibly the most impressive 18 minutes of basketball we have seen this season.
Shawn Marion put a big shift in as well. 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals is the type of all around effort that Mavs fans have come to expect. When the defense tightened up for Dallas in the middle of the 3rd, it was Marion and Brand doing the heavy lifting.
Vince Carter, not to be outdone by the other past their prime Mavericks, had a couple of show stopping buckets during the run. With both a hanging tough lay in and a double clutch pausing in air floater, Carter showed he is still at least half-amazing.
My favorite Mavericks off-season target – Al Jefferson- struggled against the Mavs tonight, but his play this season has been out standing. Hopefully this is the game the Jazz use if they have to decide between Jefferson and Paul Millsap.
This was a great win for Dallas. They are running out of rope but they have gotten into a tie for 9th with the victory. Mike James may have put it best when interviewed on the Mavs Fox Sports network post game show, “we have a small heartbeat, but we still have a heartbeat.”
The second episode of the Strained Hammy Podcast is here! This week, Travis, Rex and Mark talk about D/FW athletes they wouldn’t want to see in another uniform, how they’d set up the Rangers’ pitching rotation and bullpen, and they play some audio of a hilariously annoying fan at a recent Stars game.
00:30 - 18:27: Top ten list of D/FW athletes, past and present, you don’t want to see leave the area, and top five current players
18:35 - 37:27: The ideal pitching rotation and bullpen for the Rangers
35:06 – 50:25: The hilariously annoying fan at the Stars game, and a conversation on annoying fans.
For the last several years, people have claimed that the Dunk Contest is dead. For many of those years, the point has been hard to argue. From Nate Robinson’s kryptonite ball, to Paul George turning out the lights last year, the contest has become more about bits and shoe sales than dunking. So why is this year’s contest different?
Two words: James White:
A player, in the prime of a Hall of Fame career, gets tired of being overshadowed by lesser players. He seeks out the advice of a personal trainer from outside his sport, then personally hires him without the consent of his team. The player adds 21 pounds by lifting heavier weights more often than any of his competitors. Who is this athlete? Barry Bonds? No, Michael Jordan.
By now, we all know the rumor of Barry Bonds eating with Ken Griffey Jr. and exclaiming that because of the public ignoring his fantastic season (which included joining the 400 home run/400 stolen base club) due to Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, he was going to start using steroids. But in truth, the above story is the story of Michael Jordan, after being defeated in the 1991 season by the “Bad Boy” Pistons. Tired of being pushed around, he made small mention in the paper about needing to add strength. Tim Grover went to the Bulls’ office to answer the call.
Jordan started his weight-lifting plan by putting a time limit of thirty days on it, but he never stopped for the rest of his career. Grover was hired exclusively by Jordan, and refused to work for players Jordan didn’t approve of. Workouts with Grover led to Jordan being able to shoulder press more than his body weight overhead six times. Greg Anderson would be proud.
I am not claiming that Michael Jordan was a steroid user. I think he was the greatest athlete of all time and completely clean. I believe that all his gains were natural. What I am saying, on the heels of Lance Armstrong’s admission and the baseball writers’ refusal to vote for Bonds and Roger Clemens, is that he would have.
Imagine if in 1993 Jordan was defeated in the Finals by Charles Barkley, who then admitted to Jordan that he was juicing. Or imagine if Patrick Ewing talked the Knicks into widespread use to defeat the Bulls in the conference finals. Better still, imagine if after Jordan’s comeback, Gary Peyton and Shawn Kemp defeated the Bulls with the help of a needle.
Would the greatest competitor of all time take the high road and allow himself to be beaten year after year? This is a guy whose owner, while trying to talk him into sitting out the end of a season after rehabbing a broken ankle, asked Michael, “would you take aspirin to cure a headache if you knew 1 of the 10 aspirin was poisoned?” Jordan’s response?
“How bad is the headache?”
Logically, he would have found the best drugs, worked twice as hard, incorporated the use of PEDs into the famed breakfast club and got back on top.
In the end, we won’t ever know if Michael Jordan would have used steroids. His sport was not infested with them in the 90′s when other sports were. That might be the only thing separating him from the terrible fate now suffered by Bonds, Clemens and Armstrong.
I’ll leave with a couple quotes, the first two from Tim Grover in a Stack.com interview about Jordan, and the last three from Jordan himself.
“He always felt someone else was going to outwork him, so he wanted to outwork them first.”
“He is the most competitive individual I’ve ever met. His competitive nature is the same, whether he was playing in the NBA Finals or in a pick-up game… He took no prisoners. He wanted to win every single thing. It didn’t matter who he was going against. He went out there to win and destroy.”
“If you are trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks, everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.”
“But my drive to win is so great…I just step over that line. It’s very embarrassing.. one of the things you totally regret. So you look at yourself in the mirror and say “that was stupid.”
If you take an unbiased look at Michael, you’ll find the attitude, the will to win, his relentless drive for perfection. The foregoing responsibilities to wives and children. The dogged pushing of teammates, sometimes past their breaking points. Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, and Michael Jordan are similar animals. Lucky for Michael, steroids never took hold in basketball. And lucky for us, we have one hero left.
Tim Grover quotes from Stack.com “Michael Jordan:Mind of a Champion”
Michael Jordan quotes from www.michaeljordanquotes.org
The inspirational story of the college football season was a fraud. Manti Te’o didn’t have a girlfriend who died just before the Michigan State game. He didn’t have a girlfriend at all. Lennay Kekua didn’t exist, she didn’t have cancer, she didn’t like roses, she didn’t whisper “I love you” as her final words to Manti. Strangely though, the other half of the story, the death of his grandmother on the same day, was true. Lennay Kekua was a fake internet personality, and like a bad MTV show convinced Te’o that she was real, that she loved him, and that he should love her back. She then convinced Te’o that she was cancer ridden, and then that she had died. All of this while being the male cousin of a former NFL player, named Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who apparently is a friend of Te’o. Once they received the tip, Deadspin did a great job of uncovering the lies behind the story that several more reputable news organizations had simply taken as fact, but they left the most important question unanswered.
Is Manti Te’o a victim of internet fraud, a poor romantic that fell for a story and didn’t question enough failed meetings and strange behavior? Or, what might be more likely, did Te’o dupe the nation into thinking he had a girlfriend that died of cancer? Would heroic efforts after the death of your grandmother for a guy who was inordinately close to his family not resonate as well with Heisman voters? Why throw the girlfriend on top of that? Why lie to your parents, to your teammates and coach? Why then call Notre Dame on December 26th, before the story came out, and admit you got fooled and the girlfriend is a fake?
The more I think about it, the more I think that perhaps Te’o is telling the truth. Maybe this guy is a Peyton Manning-like figure. A football genius without the simplest of social skills. Maybe Tuiasosopo, disappointed by his own football career, took joy in tricking Te’o, taking his jealousy out on the gullible star? Perhaps several other people were involved, a woman who spoke to Te’o over the phone at nights, and another man who called to inform Te’o of the death? Or Te’o is one of the most despicable people on the planet. But I just can’t answer one question. What was in it for him? Draft status is based on play, not emotional stories. Notre Dame made money off this story, not Manti.
Either way, this story has to hurt Te’o in the draft. If he is blameless, he has proven to be the perfect target for exactly the type of conmen who prey on young, wealthy NFL players. If he is guilty, he is borderline evil, and has to have more than one screw loose. If Te’o did think he was going to make a lot of money with this story, Deadspin made sure he wouldn’t. And once again, we were all shown why, perhaps, you can’t trust anyone.
Are the Dallas Cowboys really about to hire a 72-year-old defensive coordinator? It would certainly seem so as Monte Kiffin has been at Valley Ranch all day meeting with Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett. To be honest, it’s not as big a surprise as I thought because a lot of Jason Garrett’s coaching philosophies seem to stem from his time in the Jimmy Johnson regime. With that in mind, it makes sense that he would want a 4-3 defense with a primary emphasis on speed. So while many will question who is making this decision, I think a change like this could be pointed more at Garrett, as Jones seemed very reluctant to give up on Parcells’ favored 3-4 once the switch was made in 2003.
However, the real question is this: Will this move have any impact? Will Kiffin be able to bring his defense’s propensity for turning the ball over to Dallas, or – like the classic card hustle that shares his name – is this an unsophisticated shell game that is simply trying to distract us from another failed season?
It is unfair, though, to boil Kiffin’s time in Tampa down to just having good players. Is Derrick Brooks walking through that door? No, but most NFL teams would love to have Sean Lee. Is 1999 Warren Sapp going to come wear a star on his helmet? No, but you would be hard-pressed to find any personnel department with negative things to say about DeMarcus Ware. Is Ronde Barber interested in a Tiki-like comeback? I doubt it, but Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are pretty solid in their own right. Also, a lot of people are questioning if Ware can be as effective in Kiffin’s 4-3 alignment. To them I ask, did weighing less than 285 have any effect on Simion Rice in this scheme? Kiffin simply makes the most of the players he is given. Ware will be as successful as ever if Kiffin is hired and the defense scheme is changed.
Hiring 72 year-old Monte Kiffin does smack of desperation, and it may be an attempt at sleight of hand in order to take some heat off of the head coach and ever-present general manager, but it isn’t unwise. This man has a proven track record of multiple stops in which he was successful. Kiffin should improve this defense if given the opportunity, and unless one of his disciples, Lovie Smith, decides he just can’t go on not having been the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, he just might be the best man for the job.
***Disclaimer: This is a very early preview of the draft. Views will change after the combine and when Free agency begins. This preview will be updated after each of these events as well as just prior to the draft***
With the regular season coming to a close and twelve representatives entering the playoffs, those teams who did not make the tournament can focus on the offseason. The Cowboys will be selecting 18th in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft on April 25th (due to same record as the Steelers they will rotate between the 17th and 18th picks in each round; 18th first due to head-to-head tiebreaker). This is the first look at the Cowboys needs, players that fit those needs, and likely selections.
Their biggest needs are on defense. They have huge need along the defensive front (DT and DE) and Safety (no new story here) as well as depth at LB. On offense they will likely focus along the line again, specifically interior (C and RG) and perhaps look at replacing Doug Free. In my opinion I think they should consider backups for some of their aging players (that can develop and eventually start) namely Jason Witten and Tony Romo (not to say these guys aren’t starter for 3 or 4 years but someone to develop behind them).
This draft class is especially deep along the defensive line so that should be promising. I could give you 10 names of guys they could take in the first round and not be upset with any of them. But I would like to go a different route. There is a TE from Notre Dame, Tyler Eifert (6’6” 251) who is easily the top TE and projects as a late first rounder. John Phillips is a Free Agent and could be let go with Eifert as the first selection. That gives the Cowboys a legitimate replacement for Witten and a strong #2 until the time comes. It is hard to pass up on a talent like his, but if they do not select him then I completely expect a DE/DT here.
Even if they select a DE in the first round there are some very talented players in the second that could be big contributors at NT. Someone that I particularly like here is Jesse Williams NT from Alabama. He is a big body (6’4” 320lbs) and was a stud player on one of the nation’s top defenses. There are similar players that would be available but not who have contributed as much as Williams on a defense as good as Alabama’s.
I still think they could address interior offensive line, but they will stick with Costa, and Livings got a 4 year deal (Bernadeau got 2 years so he may be on the outs but I think they keep him around and then address it the following year when his contract is up)…either way a Guard would be a solid addition if it is someone that projects as an immediate starter, a la David DeCastro, is available. I wouldn’t mind seeing them take a RT in the second; I think there will be some value guys in the second round that can replace Doug Free.
There are some very intriguing WRs that would be available then but I really hope they don’t waste a pick that high on a WR, Bryant And Austin are good if not inconsistent (when healthy), Duane Harris really showed that he can be the answer as the #3 WR/PR/KR, I like Beasley in a developmental role and 4th WR and I am still holding hope that Holmes can develop. They still have Danny Coale who they like on the practice squad, consider this a redshirt year. I think they have potential at WR with the current roster, so I hope they stay away from that unless there is a value pick in the 3rd or 4th.
I think they should really start looking for a developmental QB. In the 2012 draft, I was high on taking Nick Foles in the 3rd (I might have taken him in the late 2nd) and you could see his potential against the Cowboys and at the end of the season, he could have used more development time but the Eagles were so terrible they had no choice. Unfortunately for the 2013 draft I am not seeing anyone jump out at me like that kid. There are some guys with intrigue but I think they will all be valued way too high and not worth it. I have seen a pretty solid mock that has them taking Landry Jones in the 3rd round I would be okay with that but not excited (6’4” 220, completes over 63% of his passes; 4 year starter; solid TD/INT ratio; underperformed for the talented OU team around him). There is a kid at NC State that looks promising Mike Glennon, but his stock is rising and may be valued too high (although his less than stellar bowl performance could bring him down a bit). Something I look at is a QB with size (Glennon is 6’6” 230) accuracy (two yr starter completing over 62% of his passes; for comparison Eli Manning completes 61.5% of his passes for his NFL career which is higher than his college = 60.5%; over 60% is solid and generally accuracy improves in the NFL), and intelligence (on an average team he had 31 TDs and 12 INTs last year and he has 22 TDs and 13 INTs on a worse team this year, good ratios when he doesn’t play on an elite team; better ratio than Jones who plays on a great OU team). Another player I have seen them linked with is Zac Dysert. 6’4” 228 from Miami (OH), 4 year starter completed 64% of his passes for a bad team 2:1 TD to INT ratio over final two seasons. Progressing QB could be a guy to sit and learn for two years. I think they could get Jones or Dysert in the 3rd or Glennon (but he may be a 2nd rounder), I would be okay with any of these.
They still need a safety but there is no one who jumps out at me. There is a safety from Alabama (Robert Lester 6’2” 210, 4.49) that projects more of a FS in the NFL (compared to Mark Barron who was SS only) and might be a value pick in middle rounds. Otherwise I am not big on anyone right now. Still waiting on Matt Johnson but I think he has something, would like to see Johnson and the Bama kid as starters next year, big, fast, ball-hawking and good run defenders. Of course Barry Church will be back and he is promising, but I have never been high on Sensabaugh as a coverage safety. In Rob Ryan’s defense having two guys on both sides that are interchangeable is important.
My Cowboys hopeful draft:
1st round-Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame
2nd round-Jesse Williams NT Alabama
3rd round-Robert Lester S Alabama
4th round-Landry Jones/Zac Dysert QB. Glennon will be taken too high. Jones may not make it to the 4th but I suspect Dysert will.
Day 3: best available/position fills (I expect LBs and O-line)
Cowboys Likely Draft:
Day 3: more depth guys, I don’t expect them to make any reaches here. RKGs (Right Kind of Guy)
He can’t not throw it.
Romos’ Achilles’ heel since the beginning is that he can’t not try to make a play. First down with the game on the line, he trusts his touch on a screen that 25 other quarterbacks just throw out of bounds. And the Cowboys can’t overcome that bad decision in a 28-18 loss in what was a NFC East Championship game. Is Romo the problem, no, but he certainly is a problem. The defense couldn’t stop Alfred Morris, the offensive line couldn’t stop a pack of angry school girls, but the story is Romo.
Cowboy fans should be dejected. They caught lightning in a bottle this year, they played so far above their paper that they had a chance to win the NFC East and none of the multiple injuries or bad bounces mattered. And they ended up right where we thought they would; 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
Alfred Morris is a problem; between him and RG3 the Cowboys will need a lot of Advil for the next couple years. They will not have an easy game defensively against the Skins for years to come.
A lot of the issues in this game have a chance to be fixed with players getting healthy. The massive speed issue at the linebacker level to give the Redskins whatever they wanted in the running game would probably be solved with the return of Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. That should go a long way in solving RG# advantage in the zone read. Orlando Scandrick is also a better player against the run than is Mike Jenkins. I feel like Barry Church has a chance to be the piece that makes this defense elite by being a ball hawking free safety.
Some of the Cowboys problems have been solved internally. Sean Lissemore is a starting caliber player, and Tyrone Crawford has a chance to be a really solid defensive tackle. The emergence of these players makes either Kenyon Coleman or Marcus Spears, who has also picked up his game, an easy cut next year.
Doug Free has been spelled and maybe passed by Jeremy Parnell; does anyone have a solid idea about his capability as a starter? Nate Livings was better than advertised, which means he is incredibly average, but serviceable. Phil Costa was improved, but played a game and a half as he still seems to be made of glass. Mackenzy Bernadeau was bad, possibly serviceable if you upgrade the center and right tackle positions, but not someone I would endorse going forward. Tyron Smith is a good player.
This loss hurts, and it would be easy just to blame Romo alone, and go forward. But if you look at it in the scope of reality, if they win this game, they get blown out in a week against Seattle. This team had too many holes to start the season, and with the amount of injuries they suffered during the season no amount of spackle and duct tape could keep up. They were a doomed team, with too much heart to realize they were doomed. This is a team with real problems, with real needs; this is the best job I can do of pointing those out.
In order of need
2. Right tackle
3. Anthony Spencer
4. ILB depth
5. Nose tackle
6. Defensive end
7. Right guard
8. Saftey depth (Matt Jones?)
9. 4th corner ( Jenkins gone)
10. Quarterback to compete with Romo
Of those needs 6 are absolutely essential, and it must be noted that these are bodies needed, but starters of a caliber better than the players you have now. We won’t be able to do anything above signing Anthony Spencer in free agency, so that leaves one of the worst front offices in football with the task of finding 5 starters in 5 specific positions in 7 picks in the upcoming draft.
A tall task.
As much as I would love to over react and say our 1st round pick must be a quarterback, we simply can’t afford it. I would say extending Romo seems like a mistake at the moment, even though it’s probably inevitable as our cap situation is so dire if we don’t.
In short, barring a minor miracle, this Cowboys team will be at least 2 players away from good next year. 3 if Miles Austin is cut for cap reasons and not resigned or replaced, that means spending a 1st rounder on a Wideout, which would be absolutely maddening. And still both propped up by a Hero of a quarterback and hamstrung by his fatal flaw.
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