So What Am I Missing Here ?

 

 

So What Am I Missing Here ?

Here we are once again and with a new Superbowl champion, with the Denver Broncos having triumphed over an under-achieving Carolina Panthers’ team. During this off-season teams with their front office executives and coaching staffs are seeking to make roster, cuts with the cutting of players, impending free agents as they seek to pare down cap commitments with a view to preparing themselves for not only the upcoming NFL Draft but also, what has become the usual free-agency free-for-all and all too ridiculous off-season drama repeatedly seen at this time of the year.

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Already, a number of high-profiled players have been let go by their teams with the recent announcement by the Chicago Bears that their veteran running back Matt Forte will not be returning to the franchise in 2016. Which begs the question , where will Forte now end up and is he willing to take pay cut in order to fulfill his ambition of winning a Superbowl title ? If that were not enough, the ongoing drama which still surrounds the future of Johnny Manziel , still looms large for the Cleveland Browns even in the aftermath of the idiotic claims now being made by Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam , that he and the coaching staff were lied to by the Texas & AM Athletics Department and coaching staff about the conduct and demeanor of Manziel , while he attended the school as a player. I am sorry, but given the repeated media coverage of quarterback’s conduct both on and off the field, it has me wondering if the Browns’ Scouting Staff and coaches actually used diligence before coming to the decision to draft Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft as the twenty-second overall pick in the first round of the Draft that year ? Since then, the alleged flashes of brilliance shown by the player have been about as illuminating as damp squib on the 4th July. Now with a giant shadow being cast over Johnny Manziel’s future in the NFL , his issues with sobriety and allegations of domestic violence, his unwillingness to check himself into rehab , event at the request of his own father.

One no longer needs to question the fact, the Cleveland Browns should cut ties with the player and now seek to rebound from the farce of making the former Heisman Trophy winner the focal point of their future. At no point during Manziel’s tenure was there ever a glimpse of the acclaimed brilliance he was said to possess at the collegiate level ever bearing fruit for the Browns. Bear in mind also , the team struggled throughout much of the season , where they would finish up with a 3-13 record for a last place finish in the AFC North and one the worst records in the entire AFC, not to mention the league itself. Cleveland’s offense was as bad as their record suggests and the team’s defense was equally inept . With teams having to declare their pare down of payroll in order to free up cap-room availability , it will be interesting to see what now takes place between now and the 1st March.

Calvin Johnson , wide receiver with the Detroit Lions is now said to be mulling retirement after another disappointing year by the team. It has to be said the blame must lie with the fact the player has been let down once again by an inept coaching staff and front office . I believe a great deal of the blame must also rests with team quarterback Matt Stafford who continues to be a conundrum and enigma all rolled into one. From my own perspective, I believe Stafford along with Matt Ryan , Jay Cutler , Ryan Tannehill , Sam Bradford and Tony Romo are the most overrated quarterbacks now playing in the NFL. Now there are those who will point to the fact , Romo remains consistent during the regular season, but the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback is now softer than a roll of Charmin’ tissue paper and unlikely to be healthy enough to play a sixteen-game schedule. And it will always come down to the fact repeatedly. Romo in the postseason, is as poor as his record suggest without his being the constant butt of so many jokes , his continually seeking to blame others for his own poor play and his lack of leadership.

 

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Jim Caldwell , head coach of the Detroit Lions is seen here speaking with team quarterback Matt Stafford (9) . Caldwell’s position with the team could be in jeopardy  there appears to be mounting speculation he could be relieved of his coaching duties during this off-season. GM Bob Quinn is undecided and has met with Martha Firestone Ford , owner of the franchise and members of the Ford family, as well as other senior executives to discuss the head coach’s future . The possibility of Jim Caldwell being fired seems likely , but it would only add to the increased turmoil and lack of stability for the Lions who have gone through several head coaching changes over the past ten years . AP Photo / Sarah Carson …

If Calvin Johnson does make the formal announcement to walk away from the game then the fans of the NFL can feel privileged enough to have seen one of the best wide receivers of this generation . Certainly , Johnson when judged against his peers , has shown the consistency not often seen and while there are those chomping at the bit concerning the exploits of Odell Beckham , other than the hype there has been little of note achieve by Beckham or the New York Giants since he was drafted by franchise. Granted , the same can be said concerning Calvin Johnson , but bear in mind the Detroit Lions , have only made the postseason on two occasions since 2009, first in 2011 and then again in 2014 , where their forays were short-lived and nothing of note was achieved.

Lions’ head coach Jim Caldwell will be hard-pressed to get this team back on track this upcoming season and with improvement seen with the Minnesota Vikings along with the ever-present, Aaron Rodgers guiding the Green Bay Packers , I do believe Detroit will be playing catch-up once again this upcoming season ,while the Packers and the Vikings remain the dominant forces within the division (NFC North) for this year !

For their own part, Detroit will almost certainly be looking to make some changes to last season’s lineup and the likelihood of several of their free agents not returning after an unproductive season is seen as inevitable. Lions’ GM Bob Quinn will be under a great deal of pressure to make the changes necessary , as he seeks to improve the roster in the run-up to the NFL Draft and preseason.With the free agency market being what it is, I also believe he will be seeking to make some rather fascinating moves , delving into the alternatives available to him there , seeking one or two options as he surveys that particular landscape. For the moment, Matt Stafford’s appears to be safe, but I can’t help feel , if the opportunity arose for him to trade the quarterback , it would be taken at the drop of a hat and close out what has been a rather disappointing tenure by Stafford, whose seven years in the NFL have proven to be underwhelming .

$20 million a year can get you a great deal in the NFL , but there are too few quarterbacks in this league actually worth the sum , who are capable of winning consistently in today’s NFL. Now consider the fact Sam Bradford of the Philadelphia Eagles , who becomes a free agent during this off-season , is now seeking such a deal , it begs the question will the front office staff continue with their idiocy after the hire and then firing of Chip Kelly and the ignominy of his tenure with the franchise ? Bradford at best , is no more than a backup quarterback for any franchise in the league, but given the Eagles’ poor pass offense , among the coaching staff of new head coach Doug Pederson. Bradford is thought to be the best of an awful bunch.

The Philadelphia Eagles had a litany of issues all over their roster and much of it stemmed from the fact during Kelly’s tenure , the franchise never had a propensity for playing defense and this run-gun- mentality of the team’s offense barely served them any purpose or brought about any tangible success. Yet somehow , purely upon his accomplishments with Oregon , Kelly was thought to be a football genius.

Having been hired by the San Francisco Forty Niners to succeed Jim Tomsula , Chip Kelly will be allowed a “second bite of the apple” , on a team with issues both on and off the field , and where there is said to be little faith in the acumen of GM Trent Baalke or team Chairman & owner Jed York . If the rumors are to be believed , with Chip Kelly longing to reunite with Sam Bradford and bring him to San Francisco , then one has to ask, what does the future hold for Colin Kaepernick and his remaining with the team ?

We are all aware of the decline in Kaerpernick’s play since 2014 and his being more concerned with his high-profile image , contract-value , than actually leading his team . Which all stems from the quarterback’s lack of maturity , leadership ability and being caught up in his own world. Back to back postseason appearances and there were comparisons being made with Niners’ legends Joe Montana and Steve Young in some circles . Pump the brakes and take a step back for a minute or two and then start to look at when and where the decline began for not only Kaepernick , but also for the Forty Niners where they now find themselves in their present predicament. The team in its present guise might not even be the best in their division and I certainly believe the Seattle Seahawks will remain the “ cream of the crop” within the NFC West . Seahawks ‘ quarterback Russell Wilson has to now be considered an elite quarterback in this league and as a Superbowl winning quarterback , I believe that he is only going to get better . He has shown the temperament , has the backing of his teammates , but also , he has shown himself to be a leader, leading by example and his teammates seem to be more than willing to follow his lead. I doubt the same can be said of Colin Kaepernick at this moment in time !

Jim Harbaugh’s wish to part ways with the San Francisco 49ers , were two-fold in the premise leading to his departure . Harbaugh’s relationship with Trent Baalke and Jed York had soured , his failure to hold his players accountable for their conduct off the field as well as on it was there for all to witness ( Aldon Smith and Ray McDonald ) , but idiot fans of the franchise seemed to be more concerned with the malaise and folly of the two front office executives. During the off-season Chip Kelly and his coaching staff will seek to assess the merits of the current roster while also assessing the potential free agents heading to the market , as Trent Baalke and coaches seek to bolster the roster. This upcoming season will be make or break for Colin Kaepernick, while Chip Kelly’s first season with the San Francisco 49ers will also come under a great deal of close scrutiny. Abject failure is not something likely to be tolerated by the fans of the franchise and many of their former players still closely associated with the organization.

Four Superbowl victories for New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick has pretty much sealed his legacy as perhaps the best NFL coach of his generation, as well as perhaps being one of the most despised individuals in NFL history. There is no denying the franchise has now become the most hated in the league ,along with the never ending controversies which have dragged down the image of the Patriots’ organization. Team owner Robert ‘ Bob’ Kraft remains all powerful, though his relationship with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has soured in aftermath of the ‘ Deflate-Gate’ . Though the allegations against Tom Brady were not necessarily groundless, but the league hierarchy’s presentation of their case in front of an arbitrator in a US Federal Court smacked of incompetence and showed that Goodell and his minions are in fact imbeciles . It should tell you a great deal about the case when the league’s own Chief Legal Counsel Jeff Pash refused to testify on behalf of the NFL in the presentation of their case against Brady. The decision by Pash , pretty much handed the victory to Brady and his legal representatives and guaranteed his four-game suspension being lifted.

New England’s loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game led to their falling short of making a successful defense of the title won last season. For Tom Brady and his teammates , this is not an off-season for them to ponder what went wrong, but for the coaching staff and front office to assess how the team can actually get better. The Patriots struggled on offense when it mattered the most in their encounter against the Broncos and for Brady this was not one of his better encounters against Peyton Manning during the postseason .

Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia will likely seek to strengthen the team’s defense , while also looking add to the team’s offensive corps of players. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has to be aware the team’s rush offense was something of a letdown , while offensive line is in need of a major upgrade to protect Tom Brady and allow the quarterback more time in the ‘pocket’ . There is the feeling Belichick working in conjunction with GM Nick Caserio , will add Matt Forte to the team’s roster , while releasing one of the Patriots’ quantity of running backs among the lineup from this past season. We know the league to be a ‘cut-throat’ business at this time of the season and I expect New England to be no different from any of the other franchises around the league as they make the cuts they believe necessary in preparing for the NFL Draft and free agency.

With the NFL cap figure expected to be $155 million for 2016, the New England Patriots find themselves in a favorable position should they make place themselves in a position, to make a big splash for marquee free agent as mentioned earlier (Matt Forte) . Things worked out well for several teams at this point last season , as they sought to bolster their rosters through free agency and in some respects it played a part in the success of the Denver Broncos during the postseason.

Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins may well have won the NFC East , a division I believe to be one of the worst in the entire NFL , but the thought of Cousins now on the cusp of seeking and being signed to a multi-year deal does seem daunting. The Redskins’ front office could seek to ‘franchise tag’ the quarterback and then simply offer him a one-year deal equivalent to the average earnings for a top-five paid passer in the league. Whether not Cousins is said to be worth such a deal , is dependent upon what you might believe are his attributes as a passer ? Jay Gruden witnessed his team grind out a rather mediocre 9-7 record to secure the divisional title before being upended in the wildcard round of the postseason in a rather embarrassing loss to the Green Bay Packers. Cousins and the Redskins were simply out of their depth against a superior team, with a far better coaching staff than those at the disposal of Jay Gruden.

A great deal of the deliberations this off-season will not only surround the status of Kirk Cousins but also , his teammate and fellow draftee from 2012, Robert Griffin III . Griffin was the second overall pick taken in the draft behind quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts . In what would appear to be all of the alleged warning signs, the feeling seems to be the coaching staff and front office no longer have any implicit faith in Robert Griffin’s abilities , while also, his being a malcontent and a major distraction. Injuries have played a part Griffin’s fall from grace, beyond the erratic play and willingness to sacrifice himself needlessly to make a ‘big play’. Gruden’s predecessor Mike Shanahan was never really able to get the best out of Griffin , even after his leading the Redskins to a postseason appearance in 2012, his rookie season. From thereon-in , his demise has been swift and somewhat demoralizing. If Robert Griffin is cut, then he could very well be signed by a team in need of a player with regular season experience , primarily in a backup role to a starter. Griffin still believes himself to be a front-line starting quarterback and more than capable of leading a team. With his career now at a crossroads , it is extremely difficult to suggest where Robert Griffin now goes from here. At the start of 2012 , so much was expected of the player after a stellar career at Baylor (Bears) , which now seems to be stuck in a morass.

Redskins’ team President Bruce Allen and team owner Dan Snyder have yet to make a public decision concerning the beleaguered quarterback and even GM Scott McGloughlan seems reluctant to discuss the matter in public , but there are swirling rumors now being floated, a decision has been made , Robert Griffin III , will be be released by the franchise. The release of Griffin would save the Washington Redskins $16.2 million against the team’s cap for 2016 and will go a long way in creating cap space and their pursuit of several highly-prized free agents as well as possibly ‘ tagging’ Kirk Cousins, rather than signing him to a multi-year deal .

Basking in their return to the greater Los Angeles area , the St Louis Rams will return to the roots and become associated with the city where they first garnered fame . For Jeff Fisher and Stanley Kroenke , this becomes the chance to perhaps see an appreciation in the Rams’ value and profitability as well as the notable rise in attendance likely to be seen in 2016. For the fans of the Rams within the community this brings about their long wait for the return of a franchise to the city of Los Angeles . OK, one can choose to ignore the era of the Oakland Raiders when they were known as the Los Angeles Raiders and given the abysmal record of the Raiders since 2004 , I think just about anyone who has a vested interest in the NFL will simply ignore the AFC West based franchise and the systematic incompetence seen with Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie . The less said about Raiders’ season of ignominy the better off the whole would appear to be.

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Kurt Warner , left , is seen here being hugged by Dick Vermeil after the St Louis Rams’ victory over the Tennessee Titans in the Superbowl . Neither Vermeil or Warner are currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame , in spite of both having been retired for several years and having met the eligibility requirements .

For Jeff Fisher and this current crop of players , several of whom are unlikely to be on the roster for this upcoming season. I believe a fresh start with new faces might provide the franchise with something it has long sought and that is a chance to return to competitiveness seen when Kurt Warner was ruling the roost with the ” Greatest Show on Turf”” . Those days are long gone and the Rams haven’t come close to achieving the sort of notoriety seen when they won the Superbowl.

Last season for the St Louis Rams was a year when nothing seemed to go right for the team, from week two right to week six . A 7-9 record was just an indication of where the Rams stood at the end of the regular season and in reality it told us a great deal about the team in general . Nick Foles is being asked to place a great deal of the burden upon his shoulders and to lead the St Louis (Los Angeles) Rams this season and I believe it will be far too tough a task for him , even if surrounded by complementary players suitable to his skill-set . Foles is a creature of habit and his not being able to think outside the box , is not something we have not seen from the player at this point of his career . This will have to be the year, where Nick Foles convinces us all , how great he can be under the guidance of Jeff Fisher’s coaching staff and his sortie of teammates. While I believe Foles to be a good quarterback, I am yet to be convinced he is the kind of player capable of leading the Rams a Superbowl victory !

Three things will unfold this season for the Dallas Cowboys . One , Jerry Jones will finally get another chance to see the good and the bad side of the Dallas Cowboys and two , he will have to make a decision as to whether not he can still stand by Tony Romo as the starting quarterback of the team. Finally, he has to come to his senses as to the merits of Jason Garrett’s tenure as the head coach of the franchise. Romo’s postseason record notwithstanding , but Garrett’s own achievements have been equally abysmal , in spite of his being given the keys to the “Kingdom” , an alleged Ferrari , which he hasn’t been able to get out of first gear. The Dallas Cowboys might well be worth an estimated $4 billion and have the luxury of playing in cavernous and ostentatious Texas (AT&T ) Stadium , built at the reputed cost of $1.4 billion ,but the Cowboys in their present guise will never make an appearance at their home venue as a participant in the Superbowl and I am prepared to go on record and state Tony Romo will not be leading the franchise to a Superbowl victory ! He may well say all of the right things , but his window of opportunity has now firmly closed and he can simply dream of what might have been. Romo can continue to dream , where in his world and fantasies of make he belief he raises the Lombardi Trophy in victory around, with the team owner and teammates.

In recent years injuries have plagued Tony Romo and we are no longer guaranteed the fact , he can play a full sixteen-game regular season schedule and if that were not enough, is not enough , the depth on the roster at the quarterback position is very weak . Anyone under the misconception , Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden were the answers to Jason Garrett’s and Jerry Jones’ prayers, are completely delusional . This off-season , a decision has to be made concerning the Cowboys acquiring a decent backup starter for Romo, as well as the drafting of a very good college quarterback who will be groomed for the future. As to whether or not Wade Wilson , quarterbacks’ coach for the Cowboys , can make that all a reality remains to be seen, dependent upon the decisions made by the Cowboys during the upcoming NFL Draft. Dallas has not drafted a quarterback since taking Stephen McGee in the 2009 NFL Draft . McGee’s career statistics if nothing else , simply makes for a good way to pass the time or for a piece of Cowboys’ trivia of not so fun-filled facts. Either way, it sums up the Dallas Cowboys’ continually abysmal record in the NFL since 2008. All of the excuses in the world , cannot hide the fact, you cannot dress up a pig and call it a sow . Oink, oink , oink !

This season could very well be the last year we all get to see Tony Romo is a Cowboys’ uniform as his best years are now behind him and not ahead. His career plateau has been reached , Pro Bowl appearances and personal achievements , but an elusive Superbowl ring and victory will not be on his career resume’ upon his retirement , not unless it is in some other capacity , either as a backup starter or in some coaching capacity of the future.

What moves do you believe will take place during this off-season in the NFL ? Which teams are likely to benefit from this free agency period in the run-up to the NFL Draft ?

 

 

Tophatal  … 2016/02/24   By clicking on an image seen below you can view the picture in a reformatted size alongside the accompanying narrative.

 

NFL news and NFL  transactions  (February 2016)

2016  NFL  Draft & NFL  Combine  news

NFL free agents

Projected team salary caps

Top-capped players in 2016

NFL transactions (March 2015)
NFL archived news

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Don’t sell yourself short, as the media and sports in general has a way of doing that

Don’t sell yourself short, as the media and sports in general has a way of doing that

Well, with the NFL season now in our rear-view mirrors , even with the media extolling the virtues of the Superbowl L (SB 50) , it showed be noted what should have been an exciting game, turned out to be a nondescript error prone event . The Denver Broncos came way with a 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers , as Peyton Manning won the second Superbowl title of his career. Now we will all wait and ponder whether or not the four-time winning League MVP will ride off into the sunset by formally announcing his retirement from the league.

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Manning for his part has not revealed what his intentions are likely to be , but we should bear in mind the player has to notify the Broncos’ front office of his intent by no later than midnight Wednesday, February 29th in order to not obligate the Denver Broncos having to pay him for the upcoming regular season. Elsewhere around the NFL , the stories remain the same, as teams now begin their off-season deliberations as to which players they will keep and which they will let go. Personally, this is the one time of the year which I completely become disinterested in concerning the NFL ! Likewise for the NFL Draft and all of the prognosticators and prognostication as to which rookies are likely to end up where.

The Air Canada Centre in Toronto , Canada , will be venue where the 2016 NBA All Star Weekend scheduled events will take place . For the fans in attendance at the league’s mid-season showcase event , there will be a cavalcade of staged shows of which the main events will cover this entire weekend beginning on 12 February, 2016 . Their (NBA) schedule resumes on 18th of this month with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs riding high atop of the Western Conference as well as the two having the best record in the NBA . Looming ominously close to the two Western Conference based teams are the Oklahoma City Thunder , led by the explosive duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook , it is easy to understand why this Billy Donovan coached team has cast a giant shadow over the entire league as of late . While the big news’ stories in the NBA in recent weeks, have been the summary dismissals of David Blatt from the Cleveland Cavaliers and Derek Fisher by the New York Knicks from their respective coaching positions. Blatt has been replaced by his one-time assistant Tyronn Lue , while Fisher’s successor just happens to be , Phil Jackson’s former assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers , former player Kurt Rambis . GM’s David Griffin of the Cavaliers and Steve Mills in conjunction with Jackson made the decisions to dismiss the their hand-picked candidates.

From my own perspective , these choices were simply ridiculous on the face of it . with neither David Blatt or Derek Fisher having any NBA coaching experience at all, much less dealing with megalomaniac characters of today’s NBA players ! If a coach is unable to deal with today’s stars within the league, then there is absolutely no chance of success whatsoever.

In the Eastern Conference , the Miami Heat are having issues with regard to their consistency as well as player behavioral issues. Hassan Whiteside , considered to be a player likely to be one of the future faces of the franchise , might just have to be the straw that broke the camel’s back with his petulant behavior when the Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs . In an act filled with histrionics , Whiteside felt it necessary to elbow the Spurs’ Boban Marjanovic , drawing a flagrant foul and ensuring Miami would be at a disadvantage in the game. It would be a contest where the Miami Heat would end up losing , further endangering their position within their division and conference .

Brett Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers continue struggle and as the team with the worst record in the NBA , their season has become one of dire absurdity and incompetence on so many levels. Brown’s coaching staff is bereft of coaching acumen and the players are not particularly good . While Sixers’ owner Joshua Harris has suggested it has always been his wish to see the Sixers become a competitive franchise , but everything the front office has sought to do over the last five seasons by way of the NBA Draft has been an unmitigated disaster. Former Sixers’ GM Sam Hinkie was ousted and former USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo has been brought in to become Head of Basketball Operations for the franchise , overseeing all of the player personnel decisions . Over their last ten games Philadelphia has struggled against all competition , much to the dismay of their long-suffering fans. In their last game the Philadelphia 76ers fell to the Sacramento Kings , while putting up anemic effort against their Western Conference opponent .

George Karl might well feel embattled, given the poor record of the Sacramento Kings as of late. Karl met Kings’ GM Vlade Divac to discuss the merits of the team and I am likely to believe his own long-term future. Calmer heads prevailed , with Divac placing his faith in the veteran head coach. DeMarcus Cousins , Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay are considered the three best players on the Kings’ roster , which is centered around youth with some veteran experience. Cousins might well be the best big man in the game far outstripping the talents of centers and forwards such as Dwight Howard , Dirk Nowitzki , Paul Millsap , Greg Monroe , Kenneth Faried , LaMarcus Aldridge , Marc Gasol , Andre Drummond , Nikola Vucevic , Pau Gasol and Kevin Love . What definitely hasn’t been a boon for the Sacramento Kings has been the fact, the team has one of the smallest margin ratios (+/-) determining victories , while also having the propensity on defense for allowing triple-digits in defeat. Something which doesn’t bode well for the Kings over the remainder of the season .

After the All Star Break , George Karl will have the Sacramento Kings prepare for their next game , where their scheduled opponent will be the Denver Nuggets , as the two Western Conference teams seek to make their regular season series a competitive one ,as evidenced by last season’s contests between the pairing.

If the rumors are to be believed , which in part I do doubt , then the thought of GM Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets now seeking to trade Dwight Howard , seems to make about as much sense as their acquiring the center to begin with. Howard’s game has been on the decline and the last three years have proven to be the case. He is no longer a dominant defensive player and if nothing else he is not even capable of being a facilitator much less a great defensive presence. Long gone are the days where Dwight Howard was a force to be reckoned with. He cannot be considered one of the best centers in the NBA and he has offered very little to the Houston Rockets since being acquired by the franchise. The Rockets remain James Harden’s at will and it is his team , but unfortunately, the role players around him as a supporting cast are nowhere to be seen.

If there are parties with a vested interest in acquiring Dwight Howard and taking on the remainder of his salary for this season, then those might be the teams who are now sitting on the cusp of a playoff berth or seeking to add some offense to their respective lineups. Far be it for me to suggest, but I believe the window of opportunity for Houston to win an NBA title are very remote. Against their conference opponents this season the Houston Rocket are barely an afterthought . A mere half-game behind the eighth placed Utah Jazz , if James Harden is able to lead this team into the NBA Playoffs , there is no denying they will make a quick first round exit either at the hands of the Golden State Warriors or the San Antonio Spurs.

Steve Kerr has returned to take command of the team his lead assistant Luke Walton coached so admirably during his absence. It would be remiss to suggest the Golden State Warriors haven’t torched their opponents all season long , on their way to the best record in the league . Questions are now being asked is this team better than the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls which went on to win the NBA title that season in astounding fashion? Seventy-two wins and only ten losses provided the NBA with the best regular season record in league history. Kerr was a part of the team in question and now he’s seeking to have this current Warriors’ team look to obliterate that mark.

The scary thought concerning the Golden State Warriors, is how good they are, but also the fact, they now seem to be a much better team than they were last season . There can be no denying, they swept through their conference with ease during the postseason and during the NBA Finals of last season, they completely outplayed the Cleveland Cavaliers and defeated them with utmost ease. The one-two-three combination punch of Step Curry , Klay Thompson and Draymond Green make the Warriors a formidable opponent for any team in the NBA . This is borne out by the fact they enter into the Pre-All Star Break with the best record in the league.

The NBA continues to be concerned with image, yet their main priority , remains profits above all other issues , but yet when the players’ behavior drags that image down its hierarchy , owners and union appears to be bereft of intelligence and a sense moral outrage or for that matter, duty. It took years of self-indulgent and totally abhorrent behavior before David Stern actually got off his fat ass to do anything about Donald Sterling and his racially inflammatory remarks and if that were not enough , we still have an aging homophobic octogenarian , Rich DeVos showing totally indignance towards the LGBT demographic , while idiot fans try and point to his philanthropic efforts within the greater Orlando area. Perception can create a myth about an individual, but nothing explains a person more than their words or deeds.

In the case of Rich DeVos , it has been more about his words and then those around jumping to his support by suggesting his statements are misconstrued. Pretty much sums up the whole political arena as well and the shit-loads of buffoonery , one tends to see when they talk about political correctness. but never seem to throw in terms such as common decency or etiquette . Then again, this is the country where idiot politicians are not exactly held to a high standard to begin with and both sides of the political continue with their buffoonery . Caught in the middle of it all , are the hierarchies within professional sports and collegiate athletics and their self-absorbed stupidity and lack of indignation.

David Stern has been nothing more than a bloviate ass , while Commissioner and his hand-picked successor Adam Silver has shown no sign in changing course. Silver has sat back , said and done nothing concerning the recent tactless behavior of Blake Griffin , the Los Angeles Clippers’ forward when it is within his power to do so. Granted, it has also taken a while for the Clippers’ organization itself to even issue a statement concerning the player’s altercation with another employee in a public place. While Blake Griffin’s apologetic tweet on social media might have showed contrition , in reality was a well-managed and orchestrated response in part thought up by his agent and done in conjunction with the Clippers. It has not lessen the blow and it certainly has not lessened the continued low image the league now has with the fans when it comes to the conduct of the players. It would not be so bad were it not for the fact the NBPA (union) remains in denial and where its leadership has done little to suggest they are dealing with such issues.

The only issue where all parties now and will forever agree upon , is seeking to increase the profits of the league at the expense of actual decency. Their rather hypocritical and self-indulgent PSA ( public service announcement) take on gun violence was insulting , as it was mismanaged and about as thought-provoking as watching paint dry . The NBA hierarchy , players and owners are completely out of touch with reality , as are many of the fans , when it comes to social issues. In part this is due to their ambivalence , stupidity , lack of intelligence and their willingness to be led by taking in the information provided them by the media (print, radio and television) .

What do you expect to see during the All Star Game weekend break ? Do you also believe the Golden State Warriors have a very good chance of breaking the regular season record of 72-10 achieved by the Chicago Bulls ?

Tophatal …. 02/12/2016

By clicking  on  an  image  seen below   you can view the  picture  in a  reformatted  size  along   with   accompanying   narrative.

NFL news

NFL transactions

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NBA news

NBA transactions

NBA results 11th February

NBA standings (divisional)

NBA standings conference

NBA schedule to date

NBA teams’ stats offense and defense

NBA players’ stats

 

NBA players’ stats (rookies)

 

2016 NBA All Star Weekend

NBA All Star history

 

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Too late the hero …

They came they saw and thought they would conquer , instead the heavily favored Carolina Panthers laid a monumental goose-egg as they were outplayed , outcoached and made to look ordinary in their loss to the Denver Broncos. For their part, the Broncos avenged their horrendous loss of two years ago, when they fell asleep at the wheel in their embarrassingly lopsided defeat to the Seattle Seahawks. Panthers’ quarterback , Cam Newton the presumptive League MVP was harassed all game-long by the Broncos’ defense, with Vonn Miller having an exceptional game , while being named Superbowl MVP.

Too late the hero

They came they saw and thought they would conquer , instead the heavily favored Carolina Panthers laid a monumental goose-egg as they were outplayed , out-coached and made to look ordinary in their loss to the Denver Broncos . For their part, the Broncos avenged their horrendous loss of two years ago, when they fell asleep at the wheel in their embarrassingly lopsided defeat to the Seattle Seahawks . Panthers’ quarterback , Cam Newton the presumptive League MVP was harassed all game-long by the Broncos’ defense, with Vonn Miller having an exceptional game , while being named Superbowl MVP. The resulting 24-10 win by the Denver Broncos, brings to an end one of the best seasons seen from an NFL franchise in terms of their defensive capabilities seen during the regular and postseason . Denver’s defense was exceptional and their play-making ability exhibited in the Superbowl was nothing short of spectacular.

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For Peyton Manning , the question remains, does he now bow out on a career-high , having won his second Superbowl or does he return for one more year with the Denver Broncos ? Certainly, he will be getting advice from his family and closest friends but I believe Manning also seek advice from Broncos’ Head of Operations and former quarterback John Elway , whose career with the franchise have been etched in Denver Broncos’ folklore. Denver came into this game as the overwhelming underdogs , but when it mattered the most, it was the defense who stepped up to the plate to make this victory all the more satisfying for their fans and the organization.

This off-season , I have no doubt John Elway , the front office and the coaching staff of Gary Kubiak will go about assessing the team’s needs in the run-up to the 2016 NFL Draft . With notable free agents on the roster who will undoubtedly be looking to get paid , one could reason , Elway will not be rushed into things concerning the Broncos’ roster and their off-season dealings. Having been the architect of this team , drafting and acquiring free agents to bolster the roster , adding depth to the team overall. It could be said , Elway should be taking as much credit for this success , as the players on the team.

There was a solemn note to this Superbowl with John Elway acknowledging words of appreciation for team owner Pat Bowlen who was unable to attend Sunday’s event. Bowlen has been the ever-present figure presiding over the franchise almost from its very start. Ill-health has taken its toll on this much revered owner and it seems only fitting that the Denver Broncos’ greatest player was the person offering Bowlen , his best wishes.

Carolina Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera , obviously disappointed with his team’s loss , was the first to acknowledge this was a learning experience for his players . In his post-game interview the coach praised his opponents while stating his team will get better and they have learned something from this loss. The disappointment on the faces of the Panthers’ players was there for every one to see and the gut-wrenching way with which they discombobulated, was all the more unbelievable. Mistimed efforts by the receivers , Cam Newton being harassed and pressured played a part in the Carolina Panthers’ downfall. Furthermore, with Ron Rivera’s coaching staff not adapting the to Wade Phillips’ defensive strategies have me wondering , did this have more to do with Panthers not figuring out they were going up against the NFL’s best defensive team during the postseason ? As good as the Denver Broncos were said to be defensively, Carolina through their sheer desperation simply had no real answer , their world came crashing down because they lacked composure and an unwillingness to change or battle their opponent head on.

With the result of the Superbowl now known , we will see how the NFL Draft pans out as the teams make their choices on Draft Day. The Tennessee Titans will have the privilege of making the first pick in the upcoming draft and it will be interesting to see the decision made by the Titans’ front office as they seek to fortify a roster around the skill-set of Marcus Mariota . The only way is up for the Titans after another disastrous season in the NFL and while Mariota was able to show signs of leadership and composure , when the surrounding cast appears to be nothing more than mediocre , then there is not a great which can be done and that was clearly the case for Mike Mularkey and his coaching staff . Mularkey replaced Ken Whisenhunt who had been fired earlier in the season after the Titans’ inauspicious start to their schedule . There are a litany of issues which needed to be addressed by the Tennessee Titans during the off-season and while one can only hope to see some signs of improvement from the AFC South based franchise, I am of the opinion they are likely to struggle again this upcoming season !

Over the last ten years the Dallas Cowboys have sought ride into the postseason on the shoulder of Tony Romo . Suffice to say, I believe Cowboys’ owner and GM Jerry Jones has spent way too much time hyping up the franchise while making a great deal of money over-charging fans for a rather mediocre product ! Romo’s postseason malaise have been well-chronicled along with his continuous excuses and the very fact he is no longer able to play a regular sixteen-game schedule . During this off-season the quarterback will once again be undergoing surgery, having re-injured his shoulder. Can we just say , if Romo were a race horse who repeatedly suffered the same injury , he would have been euthanized ? Head coach Jason Garrett , continually the ‘pet poodle’ of Jerry Jones , is simply proving whether or not he has on-field talent, slight or genuinely very good , he cannot get the best out of those players , much less truly indicate he has a modicum of coaching acumen. The losses suffered by the Cowboys this past season were as just as much the players’ fault as it was Garrett’s and his ill-prepared coaching staff’s .

I have never really been enamored with the Dallas Cowboys and this constant belief they are ‘ America’s Team’ . It is said , if you tend to spread the message long and loud enough , then people are likely to believe it. Well, I do believe the Cowboys alongside the New England Patriots are the most despised teams in the NFL , while also being the most hated in North American professional sports !

It would be a safe bet to suggest , when Tony Romo was lost the Dallas Cowboys during the season, their year was essentially over. Neither Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden as Romo’s under-studies were able to get the job done as the team’s starting quarterback, replacing the Pro Bowl player . Cassel was never consistent enough and Weeden was simply out of his depth.

The losses suffered by the Cowboys this past season were as just as much the players’ fault as it was Garrett’s and his ill-prepared coaching staff’s. Dallas having finished their season with a 4-12 record will have the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. If their first round draft based on the team’s needs are anything to go by, then there is a very distinct possibility Jerry Jones will likely take a quarterback , but this purely based on speculation from my own perspective ! The Cowboys’ needs are vast and varied and given Jones’ inclinations , just about anything is possible. One can only hope this upcoming season the Dallas Cowboys will have their game faces on , rather than being dressed in clown costumes and performing like the NFL’s answer for ‘comedic relief’.

Not one to pour salt into the wounds ,but in the aftermath of another deplorable season if all the fans of the St Louis Rams can feel excited about is their imminent return to the greater Los Angeles area , then it is to their shame. Rams’ owner and eponymous billionaire and husband of Ann Walton-Kroenke , of the Walton family fortune . Stanley Kroenke , as the owner of the NFL franchise has presided over a disaster since he acquired the team and this move can and should be seen as nothing more than to take away your attention away from what has been another year of just incompetence from the top on down . Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff appeared lost and the players seemed to be lost all season long. There was but one bright spot to this team and it was the play of their rookie running back Todd Gurley . While others might be calling for the names of Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston for the NFL Offensive Rookie of The Year . To my mind , Gurley made enough of an impact to have outshone his contemporaries from the 2015 NFL Draft class ! Whether or not the Rams’ running back wins the award remains to be seen.

Jeff Fisher and the St Louis Rams never seemed to be in control of their own destiny from the start of the season , right until its very end and their 7-9 record was reflective of that very fact . Poorly led on the field of play, their quarterback play it has to be said , neither Nick Foles and Case Keenum were up to the task of leading this team.

Stanley Kroenke having bought a large parcel of land outside the town of Industry , California will now seek to build a stadium which will in all likelihood will be publicly financed, while the surrounding area for the stadium will be for commercial and residential use , all under the umbrella of one of Kroenke’s commercial enterprises. While the Rams’ fans in Los Angeles might not seem perturbed with the use of public funds to aid one of the richest men in the country with one of his whims, it plainly speaks to the ignorance of the fans of the NFL in general and their lack of economics. As to the NFL hierarchy , well with the move having been approved, this is one more feather in the cap for Roger Goodell , whose own image is in need of something positive . His leadership of the NFL has been one of the poorest in living memory and perhaps among those of his contemporaries within MLB (Bud Selig and Rob Manfred) , NHL (Gary Bettman), NBA (David Stern) and NASCAR (Mike Helton).

If the St Louis Rams’ season was said so monstrous , then for the Oakland Raiders theirs was simply dire and one where there was little of note to take seriously. Jack Del-Rio did all he could without their being anything to show for it at the end of the day. Now with team owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie having met with casino mogul Sheldon Adelson , CEO of Sands Corporation the entertainment and gaming conglomerate with a major presence in Las Vegas , Nevada as well as throughout much of the Far East . Adelson proposes the building of a vast stadium for the Raiders , along with a mix of commercial and residential real estate . As to what the NFL will make of this all , given their given wish not to be closely involved with the gaming industry , is somewhat hypocritical , when one considers professional football is a major source of revenue for the industry. Something the league hierarchy is well aware of and lately, several influential owners have been pressing Roger Goodell to loosen his stance with regard to their being no association.

Personally, I believe the league and the gaming industry to be hypocritical , as are the laws which prohibit wagering on sports’ events around the country ! The US Justice System and the States Attorneys’ General have bigger fish to fry , than seeking to punish with impunity , the gaming industry and those who make a living from it.

Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie’s meeting with Sheldon Adelson also took in the local political dignitaries, along with senior members of the Las Vegas City Council . If their weight is thrown behind such a proposal , it will be interesting to witness how the NFL will seek to dissuade its members from allowing the relocation of the Oakland Raiders. While I have no problem with NFL franchises seeking to move , I do have a problem with team owners believing it best for municipalities , county or state governments to be at the beck and call when it comes to the financing of stadiums ! Less we forget , the NFL remains a tax-exempt organization , where only the teams , and the league’s employees are taxed. Bear in mind also, in 2014 , Roger Goodell’s salary exceeded $25 million dollars , and were he a player in the league that year, he would have been among the highest paid in the NFL . I am sure when the next CBA (collective bargaining agreement) meeting is due to take place between the union (NLFPA) and league hierarchy , the issue is likely to be raised by its leadership and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith . I mean is there any way Goodell can truly try and justify his salary ?

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Tophatal …….. 02/08/2016

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Cleveland You Have A Problem …

Cleveland You Have A Problem ….

Expectations were high in 2014, when the Cleveland Browns drafted Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel . After a successful college career with the Aggies, within many circles it was felt if Manziel could reproduce the form seen with Texas & AM and then the Browns’ future would be secured with a franchise quarterback. In the ensuing years Johnny Manziel’s notoriety around the NFL has more to do with his off-the field antics than anything achieved on the field for the franchise. Granted, Cleveland Browns are now on their second head coach during Manziel’s short career with the Browns , but the players lack of maturity , sobriety issues and his having been dropped by his agent the LeBron James’ owned sports management company , should indicate the ongoing problems of the player and the fact he hasn’t shown the propensity to change his behavior.

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Even in light of the front office upheaval, with the firing of former GM Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine , it became abundantly clear, the Browns’ issues stemmed beyond Johnny Manziel’s inconsistency and the incompetence shown by Mike Pettine and his coaching staff. During the 2015 season, at no point was Johnny Manziel able to lead the Browns with any degree of success , where the team’s best player either on defense and offense, were Karlos Dansby and Gary Barnidge being the team’s best option on offense. Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel shared the quarterback duties for much of last season , but neither player truly proved to be productive when called upon to lead the team.

The Cleveland Brown’s financial commitment thankfully, has been nothing more than Johnny Manziel’s rookie contract and their likely releasing the player as of the 1st March , provides them with the chance to move forward without the troubled quarterback. Seeking to resurrect the fortunes of the Cleveland Browns will be the team’s new head coach Hue Jackson and his coaching staff . Jackson’s tenure with the Oakland Raiders was well-chronicled and the sheer ineptitude shown by the front office of the AFC West based franchise led to his being blamed for the Raiders’ misfortunes and subsequent firing . From my own perspective , I believe the Cleveland Browns wasted a draft pick on Johnny Manziel when they were far better options for the Browns at the time of making their choice. Such was the hyperbole over Manziel , that forgotten in this all, was the player’s lack of maturity , intelligence and temperament. I certainly don’t believe it would be in a team’s best interest to acquire Johnny Manziel as a backup or a as a third string starter on the roster of any NFL franchise. There are far too many distractions which come along with the player as well as his lack of command and skill-set as a player in the league.

LeBron James is not a coach-killer ? Well it remains to be seen , but with the firing of David Blatt , and the subsequent promotion of Tyronn Lue , leads me to believe things were not smooth as first thought. Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner , Dan Gilbert and GM David Griffin made the decision to fire the embattled head coach. What may well have brought about Blatt’s demise were the recent performances and the Cavalier’s embarrassing loss to the Golden State Warriors . During a brief spell in mid-January , the Cleveland Cavaliers struggled as they lost to Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs , the top-two teams in the NBA. The real issue for the Cavaliers I believe , is the very fact they are not getting any real productivity from their bench and we have also seen a real lack of productivity from Kevin Love throughout much of this regular season.

If the Cavaliers are to have any chance of making a successful return to the NBA Finals , then their record against their conference rivals as well as the Western Conference will have to be considerably better than their current record indicates. The return of Kyrie Irving to the Cavaliers’ lineup should help the team a great deal and add to what Tyronn Lue will be seeking from his players in the lead-up to the All Star Break . Cleveland will be back on-court tonight when they face the Charlotte Hornets on the road in an Eastern Conference clash .

David Griffin may well seek to keep the Cavalier’s roster intact rather than perhaps move an impending free agents or make an ill-advised salary dump , or simply look to bolster the lineup , but the one thing I believe which cannot be denied, will the LeBron James’ ‘ factor ‘ as to his wants and needs for this team. f the Cavaliers do take the plunge and make a play for a marquee free agent , then we could see Cleveland make a big play for one of the presumed elite players likely to be on the open market. With a payroll currently set at $109.2 million the highest in the NBA , the Cavaliers also find themselves $39 million over the NBA salary cap and they are likely to be taxed at the league mandated $1-50 for every dollar the franchise remains over the cap . A luxury tax bill of $53 million could make a serious dent in the operational costs and profits of the Cleveland Cavaliers. It is something I am sure Dan Gilbert and the members of the front office are keenly aware of.

Terry Francona seems to have settled in nicely as the manager of the Cleveland Indians , but last season had to be seen as a tremendous disappointment for a team with postseason ambitions . The Indians came up short , playing ‘second fiddle’ to the likes of the Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins within the AL Central this past season. Fortune favors the bold and the Indians have not waded into the water to make any major moves , but the front office know the fans of the Cleveland Indians will be expecting more from their team this season. It will be interesting to see if team owner , Lawrence J Dolan seeks to fulfill their wishes of bringing a World Series title to the city of Cleveland and this respected franchise . Postseason appearances for the Indians have been rare in recent seasons and their last appearance in the Fall Classic was in the 1997 World Series which ended in a 4-3 series’ loss to the Florida Marlins, later to become the Miami Marlins .

Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff has expectations too and he expects Terry Francona and his managerial staff have this team ready and prepared for the onslaught of a rigorous regular season schedule . Granted, before entering the fray , the Cleveland Indians’ coaching staff will be assessing the team’s strengths and weaknesses during their Spring Training schedule , as they pour over their forty-man squad as well as their non-roster invitees. The team additions which have come by way of free agent signings and waivers will be seen as beneficial for the ball-club.

The Cleveland Indians ended last season on a losing streak , but had won six of their last ten games to close out the regular season. Cleveland’s final game of the season would result in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox , with the Indian’s record for the year being 80-81 , with one game being postponed due to bad weather and never fulfilled as part of their regular season schedule. The players on the Indians’ roster who Terry Francona believes can lead the team to success will be seasoned veterans , Mike Napoli , Carlos Santana , Rajai Davis, Josh Tomlin and Corey Kluber. This roster is very young at its core , but great things are expected from this team over the course of the season. Whether or not the Cleveland Indians can contend against their divisional rivals will be based on the mindset of the players and the coaching acumen shown by the managerial staff.

Over the past two seasons the Kansas City Royals have proven to be the cream of the crop and I believe they are the team to beat within the AL Central this year ! As the defending World Series’ champions the title remains theirs to lose and while I believe there will be a spirited challenge from the Cleveland Indians , I do not believe it will be enough to derail Royals divisional or postseason aspirations ! The Indians will begin their regular season schedule with a game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park , Arlington , Texas on 1st April , but their home opener for the regular season will be on the 4th April against the Boston Red Sox at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio,. Both games should prove to be interesting contests for the Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Browns have not been able to bring a Superbowl title to the city of Cleveland , the NBA franchise within the city in spite of the superstar status of LeBron James , as the Cleveland Cavaliers remain nothing more than an alluring attraction, while the presence of the Cleveland Indians within MLB , seems to be that of a franchise longing to belong , but repeatedly failing to meet expectations. Suffice to say, Cleveland , “ you have a problem “ , because other than the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame there is absolutely nothing on show to offer the visiting sports’ fan by way of real entertainment.

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