Monday, September 26, 2011

Redskins vs Cowboys: Best Rivalry in the NFL?

Big Time game on Monday Night Football tonight. How big? You might ask.

Well first some fun facts.

The first game between these two teams was played was on October 9th, 1960 which ended in a 26-14 Redskin win.

The all time series lead is held by the cowboys by a wide margin. 60-38-2. However, in the postseason the Redskins lead 2-0.

Between these two teams are 27 Division Titles, 13 Superbowl Appearances, and 8 Superbowl titles.

Sports Illustrated has deemed it the top NFL rivalry of all time, and that could indeed be the case.

Todays game pits two teams that are fighting for power in the relentless NFC East. The Redskins (2-0) are coming off a surprising start and looking to make a big splash by going 3-0. The Cowboys (1-1) are looking to stay above water after big injuries to three key players on offense. The keys to the game include Romo's ability to fight through a broken rib, LaRon Landry's effectiveness in his first game back from a hamstring injury, and Dez Bryant's ability to get open in the absence of Miles Austin.

Despite all the hype, this one may turn out to be a low-scoring, defensive battle that doesn't feature any outstanding offensive play. Look for Special Teams to play an important role.
Prediction: 20-13 Redskins.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tom Brady: Best Ever?

          As most of us know, Tom Brady had a historic night on Monday Night Football this past week: 517 passing yards and 4 touchdowns, including one TD that went 99 yards. His career resume is astounding: 3 super bowls, 2 time league MVP, and a Comeback Player of the Year Award to top it all off. Without question, I think he has proved he is the best quarterback in the NFL today. But could he possibly be the best of All time?
         Joe Montana. John Elway. Dan Marino. Peyton Manning. Brett Favre. Terry Bradshaw. Steve Young. All of these players are among the best all-time. All of them have done things that most players never do, whether it be winning MVP Awards, Super bowls, or Superbowl MVP Awards. For most, these are the guys they will argue are better than Tom Brady. For me, there is a simple metric. MVP awards and Super bowls are nearly equal on my scale, but winning multiple of both trumps anything else.
First up: Dan Marino. He had an amazing career in Miami with a lot of individual success. Unfortunately, he played in a league ruled by other people. Despite all the statistics he racked up, he only won one MVP and never did win a super bowl. His polar opposite was Terry Bradshaw. A mediocre quarterback at times, Bradshaw managed to slip in a league MVP during his 4 super bowls in 6 years because his supporting cast made amazing plays. His career 212:210 TD:Int ratio explains his worth better than his record.
          Next: Brett Favre, the most statistically decorated player of all-time. Passing Yard and Passing Touchdown record. (As well as the Interception record) 3 time MVP, won a super bowl, but no MVP there. His 297 game iron man streak is his most impressive of all, but his postseason flubs undermine his greatness.
Peyton Manning: Same old story, just a different name. His career has followed a path very similar to Brett Favre's, with the only difference being a 4th MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. Those years of postseason mishaps hurt his resume' tremendously.
         John Elway has been to more Super bowls than any QB ever. However, his record was 2-3. He makes a strong case for the Top 3, but those super bowl losses tell me he can't be the best. Steve Young went to three super bowls and was 3-0, but he was the backup in the first two. His versatility was great, but concussions prevented his longevity, and he just didn't start in the league long enough to be at the top of the top. For these two, its just another Loss in a big moment.
          Now the one we have all been waiting for: Joe Montana. 4 time super bowl champion, 2-Time NFL MVP. The only player on this list (Besides Brady) with multiple Super bowls and Multiple MVP Awards. He always came up big in the clutch, and "Big Sky" Montana could really air it out with accuracy, unlike your average gunslinger. The only difference between Montana and Brady: Supporting cast. While Montana was winning super bowls, he had Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver of All-Time, catching his passes. Tom Brady, on the other hand, had no pro bowlers in the receiving core for any of his 3 super bowl wins. This is what separates him from the others. For Brady, receivers brought stats. The wins were coming before the receivers ever showed up. You know what I think, so now I ask you: Is Tom Brady the best ever?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Fall of the Miami Hurricanes

         From the 1980s to the early 2000s, it was all about "The U". In recent years however, since the National Championship loss in 2002, the Miami Hurricane football program has been steadily spiraling down. Rock bottom has occurred during the past year, where Miami not only lost to the historically inferior USF, but also had 6 starters convicted of illegally accepting money from a booster, which could lead to harsh penalties for the University's football program.
          It all started in 1978. The front office held a vote to consider dropping Miami football down to 1-AA or get rid of it completely after a controversy involving some players tossing a man into a lake, just the start of a "bad-boy" persona in Miami.In '79, they hired Howard Schnellenberger and everything changed. By '83, the Hurricanes were National Champions. He bolted for the NFL immediately after, and Jimmie Johnson took over. In '87 the U won the National Championship again, and this time went undefeated in the process. Johnson left in 1989, and Dennis Erickson replaced him. He proceeded to win the national title in his first year with the school. The U continued to build their reputation for bad sportsmanship, evident by the '01 Cotton Bowl Classic in which they received 9 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Following theis season, the NCAA  passed "The Miami Rule" which gives a 15 yard penalty for excessive celebration and taunting. The Canes won their fourth national championship in 1991, a season remembered by the infamous "Wide Right" game, and another undefeated season. Another coaching change followed shortly after, with Butch Davis taking the helm. NCAA sanctions led to down seasons from '95-97, but a return to prominence was near in sight. Davis left after 2000, the first Miami coach in 20 years to leave without a national championship. Larry Coker took over in '01 with one of the greatest college football teams ever assembled. This team included future NFL pro bowlers such as Ed Reed, Clinton Portis, Frank Gore, Andre Johnson, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma and the late Sean Taylor. They won the national championship in a 37-14 blowout over Nebraska, but this would mark the pinnacle of the Canes success. The heartbreaking loss in the 2002 National Championship marks the last time they reached the big game as of yet. 
          The bad got worse. Back in the '80s and '90s, the bad boy attitude was accepted, because Miami was the best team on the field nearly every game they played. But in the 2000s, however, that was no longer the case. '06 saw the U pitted against Florida International (FIU) in the most infamous brawl in NCAA history. The administration proceeded to take action: they fired the coach and engineered a program initiative to stay away from recruits with bad attitudes. Apparently, that was the wrong decision from a wins perspective. During Randy Shannon's tenure from '07-10, the Canes went 28-22 with a 0-3 bowl record.
          Al Golden is the current coach, and is off to a bad start with a tough loss at Maryland that I attended. (Which featured some very noteworthy jerseys) The question is: How did a University with 5 national titles in 20 years fall so far so fast? The only answer is recruiting. Other schools are getting those players that Miami used to find in local places. Different strategies and schemes have led to a move away from that, but getting back to their roots is the only way that Miami will get back to their winning ways.