Building blocks …………
The New York Giants’ disappointment of last season can be best summed up, by the erratic play and suggestion that the team’s quarterback, Eli Manning played for much of the year injured , thereby hampering any progress that Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff hoped for. Manning for his part, the two-time winning Superbowl winner and Superbowl MVP , simply suggested that his play was simply no worse than his detractors would imply. Apart from the player’s injury , the offense was under par , with a running game, that was woefully inept, with the underlying current being an average passing attack. The Giants’ front office during this off-season, sought to rebuild the roster , after the loss of a number of players to free agency . With attrition came the addition of new faces as the franchise now seeks resurrect their fortunes after a nonplussed 2013 , during which the fans witnessed the team’s malaise and the Philadelphia Eagles capturing the NFC East division.
Often described as the best division in the NFL , the NFC East, if anything, it was one of erratic plays from the quartet of teams, albeit , that the Eagles took the division. The trio of the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants were not much of a challenge within the NFC and even less so within the rest of the NFL. Criticism of Tom Coughlin in some circles was without merit , even if the common belief, is that when team fails, the blame should rest squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. Coughlin led the franchise to their two most recent triumphs in the Superbowl, each time getting the better of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots . For the Patriots, the Giants have become their Achilles’ Heel in recent postseason contests and number of their regular season meetings.
New York’s preseason schedule , will be one, where Tom Coughlin can assess his roster and specifically the draftees from this year’s 2014 NFL Draft class. If the Giants are to have any chance of competing within the NFC, then they will have to play at a high level. Eli Manning also will have to recapture the form, that placed him among the elite quarterbacks within the NFL, having surpassed elder sibling Peyton Manning , in terms of Superbowl victories. While the elder Manning’s most recent appearance ended disastrously , with the Denver Broncos having succumbed to the Seattle Seahawks in what some have described as one of the most lopsided contests in Superbowl history , that ended with the Seahawks pummeling the Broncos into submission, 43-8 . While, it would be idiotic to suggest, that the two best teams in the NFL, meeting in the league’s showcase postseason event , ought to provide the fans with the best contest possible. That match-up, was a rather innocuous affair, with Pete Carroll’s Seahawks not being challenged at any point during the game.
The departures of Osi Umenyiora and Ahmad Bradshaw in recent years , along with a slew of players who were part of the pair of Superbowl triumphs , I believe have played a part in the Giants’ demise, with their replacements being unable to fill the gaps left in various areas of the team’s defense and offense !
If there was said to be any area that the New York failed , it might well have been that beyond Eli Manning’s lack of athleticism and quickness, it was the failure of the offensive line protecting their quarterback in several of their games last season. Manning’s statistics, do not, belie that fact, nor was the propensity, for the number of false starts , fumbles and interceptions witnessed .
In terms of the New York Giants’ draft class , was somewhat, a mixed blessing , with not necessarily rave reviews , but in some circles there is a the belief that players such as Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg , Jay Bromley and Andre Williams, will provide that needed lift for the franchise, as they head into the regular season . New York, will open their season, with an away game , at Ford Field in Detroit , Michigan, when they face Matt Stafford and the Detroit Lions. Jim Schwartz and his team, are coming off another disappointing season , when many felt that the Lions could be looked at as a serious contender within the NFC. Unfortunately, several of the players on the roster did not read the script and their efforts effort over the course of the season were extremely poor by anyone’s standards. If recent encounters between the two teams are encounters are anything to go by, then this contest should be extremely entertaining , or it could very well end up being, a monotonous bore .
Where, to begin, the continued woes of the Dallas Cowboys have been well chronicled, so much so , that the news’ items and stories could be turned into plausible Hollywood script, that in some circles might have the making of a blockbuster movie. Alas, there has not anything blockbuster-like, in the repeated pratfalls of Jerry Jones’ franchise over the past eight years. If Tony Romo were the lead character in this piece of movie magic , the critics would be giving his performances during that time-span “the thumbs down “ , along with his supporting cast of characters. And if that were not enough, Jones would not be even nominated in his role , as the producer of this ongoing mess and the continued incompetence shown by head coach Jason Garrett . Off putting as this might be, it is now becoming increasingly comedic to comprehend how the general manager could in all good conscience, sign Romo to the deal that made the player among the highest paid quarterbacks within the NFL , when the quarterback’s postseason career can be best described as being mediocre.
If Tony Romo hasn’t the skill-set to lead the team during the postseason , albeit , that during the regular season , the praises heaped upon the ten-year veteran seem to be justified . I truly believe, that he is over-rated, lacking the leadership skills sought to win a Superbowl and that is with due respect to the franchise’s Hall of Fame and Superbowl winning quarterback Roger Staubach . The elder statesman of the Cowboys’ history, has described Tony Romo, as the player who gives this franchise the best opportunity to win a Superbowl. Age is a wonderful thing , but I cannot help wonder, if Staubach has not suffered one hit too many, during his playing career, to come up with that ridiculous assessment of Romo’s talent !
A season, where 8-8 , just about summed up what the Dallas Cowboys were all about in 2013, with the excuses simply pouring in, once the quarterback suffered a season-ending injury, missing the final game at the end of Dallas’ schedule. Kyle Orton was given the privilege of starting that contest as Tony Romo’s backup in the home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Orton remains on the Cowboys’ roster , providing some semblance of experience , to a position, where I now believe there remains a great deal of uncertainty . Tony Romo may well have undergone off-season back surgery, to repair a bulging disk in his lower back, but Jerry Jones , in his infinite wisdom, felt it prudent to acquire free agent quarterback Brandon Weeden . That player’s, NFL career, while with the Cleveland Browns was simply lackluster and foreshadowed exactly why, that particular franchise, was destined to go absolutely nowhere, during his tenure .
The Cowboys’ preseason schedule , will give Jason Garrett the opportunity to assess his revamped roster , of which the changes have been considerable . The decision to let go of All Pro Defensive player DeMarcus Ware might well have come as a shock to many outside the Cowboys’ franchise, as Ware was one the most productive players for the Dallas Cowboys over the past eight years, along with tight-end Jason Witten . However, his banishment from the organization was short-lived, with his finding a new home with the Denver Broncos. That decision alone, has me questioning Jerry Jones’ reasoning , albeit, that he stated that his choice to let go of Ware had nothing to with the player’s cap value to the team last season or for the upcoming year . It might well have been that Jones’ decision had more to do with the wish to go with younger players and in needing to look long-term, in the direction, that he felt his franchise was heading .
The draft class for the Dallas Cowboys provides the team, with a chance to rebuild in several areas, especially where, last season the NFC East based franchise had one of the poorest performing secondary’s in the entire league. Defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin will have a great deal to prove this season , as he seeks to improve the Cowboys’ ranking defensively, from a last place finish in 2013 into a top-five defense for 2014. If the team is unable to improve , in that one category , then there is no way that the Dallas Cowboys could be seen as a legitimate contender for the Superbowl (SB49) , much less , even be considered good enough to challenge for the NFC East divisional title. Too early, to be thinking that far ahead for an event that will be staged at the University of Phoenix Stadium, in Phoenix , Arizona ? Well, all thirty-two teams, have that as a target, but, there are only two berths up for grabs, in the NFL postseason showcase event. The Seattle Seahawks had their eyes on the prize and never seemed to falter, at any point during their postseason schedule in 2013.
Dallas will play host to the San Francisco 49ers at Cowboys Stadium (AT&T Stadium) , in Arlington, Texas , in a game that is likely to tell us a great deal about both teams and their aspirations for the upcoming season . Tony Romo, as he takes that first snap will be looking to have an injury-free season , while trying add to his menial postseason career . Personally, in spite of the weapons placed around the player, I still do not believe that he has the tenacity or the mindset to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a Superbowl victory ! Am I likely, to be proven wrong, with my summation on the team’s ambitions and their likelihood of achieving that goal? Well, given their recent record in the postseason, of which their last appearance came in 2009 , ending in a lopsided 34-3 defeat against their conference rivals the Minnesota Vikings . Tony Romo’s performance, in that contest, was not a memorable one and was among the worst of his NFL postseason career.
With the first pick, in the 2014 NFL Draft , the Houston Texans began the rebuilding process for this forlorn franchise. Fourteen successive defeats, in 2013 and one could well understand the reason , why there was a great deal of ridicule surrounding the Texans and the inability of Gary Kubiak and his coaching staff to get the best out of this team . Jadeveon Clowney was seen as an impact player , game changer and how he acts in tandem with JJ Watt may well mean success for the franchise or failure over the course of this season. Whether or not, he can be viewed as the best defensive player drafted, will be dependent upon his play, but also, the level of maturity shown by Clowney and whether or not he follows the example of his more seasoned teammates . The hyperbole and superlatives that surrounded the player during his collegiate career , might well have been justified, but what he was capable of doing for South Carolina under the tutelage of Steve Spurrier , will be uniquely different once he steps unto an NFL field for the very first professional game of his NFL career. There have been many great defensive players that have preceded Clowney in the past and his wish to be seen as a natural successor to the likes of Bruce Smith , Ray Lewis , Jevon Kearse and Rod Woodson , could very well lead to the rookie succeeding or failing by his own merits.
Gary Kubiak’s firing, led to the hiring of Bill O’Brien to succeed the beleaguered former head coach . O’Brien brings a keen footballing mind, along with a no-nonsense approach. Yet, his greatest obstacle, might well be finding a quarterback capable of leading this Texans’ team with the sureness he seeks and where that player , is not likely to be a liability for his teammates. With four quarterbacks now on the roster, ally vying for that starter’s job , it will be interesting to see which of the quartet, is likely to be given that role for their regular season opener , against the Washington Redskins at the Texans’ Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas on the 7th September , 2014. Tom Savage , Case Keenum , T J Yates and ten-year veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick will be given every opportunity during Houston’s preseason schedule to prove to Bill O’Brien, that they are worthy of consideration, for that starting role. Yet, there remains continued speculation, that the head coach will seek to acquire the Patriots’ backup to Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett , a player well-known to Texans’ head coach. Fitzpatrick, given his experience, is likely to be viewed as the favorite to win that position outright , having been a starting quarterback in the NFL , but his record has not been overly impressive over the course his career. The quartet of games, that make up the preseason schedule for the NFL’s teams, will be seen as something of precursor for the regular season . Bill O’Brien will lead his Texans in the first of their preseason contests against the Arizona Cardinals , looking to gauge as a starting point, how his team might well fare and then look to make any changes needed, as he may believe necessary.
The NFL Draft might well have given us a great deal of melodrama , with it being the most watched draft televised event in recent NFL history . Johnny Manziel’s over-hyped presence, among the quarterbacks available, ignited and then subsided , when we realized, that he was not about to become a top-five or top ten pick of draftees taken in the first round . Now comes the unfortunate side, to Manziel’s future, he was drafted , by the Cleveland Browns . We have seen from this particular franchise over the past six seasons, their issues, are so widespread, that “Johnny Football” , will not be able to resurrect the fortunes of the Browns, working miracles , in terms of his now well-chronicled displays for the Texas A&M (Aggies) .
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Teams are now holding their OTA’s (organized training activities) with a view to getting their rookies acclimatized the routines of the NFL, as well as having them within their training camp environment . What player or players, among this year’s draftees are you most looking forward to seeing, during the preseason, as well as the regular season? In addition, which team do you believe might well have been among the lucky, in terms of their draft class ? Chime in, with your thoughts on this and anything else you believe to relevant to this topic .
Picture and slideshow details below .
(1) New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin talks to quarterback Eli Manning before the Giants’ NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, in Chicago. An understated season in 2013, left the Giants and their front office were left searching for answers, with questions being raised concerning the quarterback’s abilities this past season. AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh ….
(2) Osi Umenyiora of the Atlanta Falcons is seen here addressing the convened press , as the player answers questions , having been recently been acquired the Falcons , with head coach Mike Smith believing that the player’s presence will bolster their defense as they seek to overcome a disastrous 2013 season. AP Photo / Paul Wilson ………
(3) Wide receiver Odell Beckham of the New York Giants is seen here with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Draft Day . The player was the twelfth overall pick in the first round when he was taken by the NFC East based Giants . The team hopes that the player will provide a much-needed boost to their receiving game this upcoming NFL season. AP Photo / Bill Benson …..
(4) Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo (9) is seen here with team owner Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones , senior front office executive within the organization . Coming off an injury , the quarterback underwent back surgery in the hope that the procedure will aid the player , who missed the final game of the season in 2013 for the franchise. Getty Images / Ricky Mason …..
(5) Defensive lineman and number one overall draft pick, Jadeveon Clowney , center , is seen here alongside team GM Rick Smith , left and head coach Bill O”Brien , right , as the player gives his first public interview to the convened press at the team’s facility at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas . The Texans are hoping that Clowney provides a solid defensive tandem alongside JJ Watt . Getty Images North America / Tim Abrahams ….
(6) Cleveland Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine, far left, is seen here with two of the team’s draft picks from the 2014 NFL Draft . Second from the left is Justin Gilbert , along with quarterback Johnny Manziel and team General Manager Ray Farmer . AP Photo / Paul Prentice ……
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These are on her rack , but I would prefer, that they rest my block !
A gift , that just keeps on giving !