Let’s take a walk on the wild side
The fallout of the NFL season has begun with the firing of three NFL head coaches in the past ten days. There will likely be more to follow at the end of the regular season as the teams now will play their final games of the seventeen-week sixteen-game schedule. Jeff Fisher was given his marching orders by the front office of the Los Angeles Rams . Fisher for his part , stated he was proud of the accomplishments achieved , most notably the wins attained. Unfortunately, for the Rams , his record with the franchise was deplorable and overall it was sub. 500 . Buffalo Bills’ head coach Rex Ryan was ousted after GM Doug Whaley made the decision the vociferous head coach had to go. Two seasons of absolute failure with his teams failing to perform was far too much for team owner Terry Pegula to bear. It should be noted , Pegula purchased the Bills for a reputed $1.6 billion with the understanding he wanted a competitive product on the field of play , alongside a world-class organization within the front office . Clearly , the Buffalo Bills have fallen way short of the target sought by their billionaire owner .
Another NFL owner, whose fortunes have failed to meet his own lofty expectations , are those of Jacksonville Jaguar’ owner Shahid Khan . Since his acquiring the franchise, the Jaguars have yet to post a winning season or have a top-two placement finish within the AFC South . Jacksonville , also seem to be waiting on the maturity level of their top pick from the 2014 NFL Draft . Quarterback Blake Bortles continues to struggle and much of this stems from the fact there front office has never placed around him, a team capable enough to win consistently . Gus Bradley was made the sacrificial lamb and with good reason, as he was never able to get the best out his players during any part of his tenure with the Jaguars. His firing was not a complete surprise to most NFL fans or analysts around the league.
Several of the divisions within the NFL have a reached a conclusion concerning their winners , but there are one or two which have yet to be decided. Likewise , within the AFC and NFC , there are postseason berths which are still up for grabs and many of the teams on the outside looking in , will be hoping to make one last attempt to make it in. Not to be left out of the equation are the teams capable of playing spoiler for the aspirants with an eye on a postseason position. Needless to say, all of the outcomes will become known to the fans as the week seventeen schedule comes to a close on Sunday evening (1st January). The Los Angeles Rams are set to face the Arizona Cardinals , while the Buffalo Bills will have a divisional match-up against the New York Jets and the Jacksonville Jaguars will find themselves at the mercy of the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.
Hue Jackson and the Cleveland Browns (1-15) managed what a number of fans did not think would be possible for the team this season. The Browns actually won their first game of the year , having defeated the San Diego Chargers in week sixteen . Prior to the victory , the Browns managed to lose fifteen consecutive games , one shy of the regular season record achieved by the Detroit Lions in 2008 . It is a record which remains intact , but there were several people who believed the Browns were capable of matching the feat this season. Certainly, the odds-makers in Las Vegas may well have hedged their bets, but I get the feeling they favored the Chargers to pull off the victory !
I am of the opinion, you never mess with a good thing , when things are going good, why seek change ? Jerry Jones and the coaching staff are said to be ‘toying’ with the idea of inserting Tony Romo back into the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys for their final game of the season. Now consider the fact, while Romo was sidelined due to injury, the Cowboys were led by a rookie quarterback , Dak Prescott , who has since broken rookie franchise records for Dallas and actually making believers out of the detractors, who felt the Dallas Cowboys were past their prime. Not only have they been the best team in the NFC throughout the season , but also the best team in the NFL over much of the season.
Tony Romo will likely get some playing time in this game against the Philadelphia Eagles , but I do not feel it would be in the bests interests of the Dallas Cowboys were he to play the entire game ! The veteran quarterback remains susceptible to innocuous injuries and clearly as his career is in its twilight , he is no longer the passer everyone believed him to be , much less a player capable of leading this franchise to a Superbowl victory. His postseason record simply speaks for itself , in spite of the continuous excuses being made for one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the NFL over the past twelve seasons.
The Dallas Cowboys might well have been the surprise of the season , but I feel the most disappointing teams in the NFL were the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints . Both teams have very good coaches , with Chuck Pagano leading the Colts , while Sean Payton has led the Saints as their head coach for over eight years , along the way winning the Saints ‘ first Superbowl in the franchise’s history , during the 2009 NFL season . Defense and a lack of it has been one of the many issues which explains many of the woes faced by both the Colts and Saints this season. Quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Drew Brees of the Saints have been productive , but it could also be said, they are having down years by way of their own lofty expectations. Brees and his Saints’ teammates will lock horns in a season divisional rematch when they meet the Atlanta Falcons , while as I alluded to earlier the Colts will be facing the Jaguars. This season continues to be one filled with surprises and they will continue once the postseason begins .
So let me get this straight , fans are acting all surprised as the Philadelphia 76ers currently have the worst record in the NBA ? It’s not as if this wasn’t to be expected , considering the Sixers at its core remains the same team seen , as last season . The coaching staff has remained in place, with Brett Brown still serving as the Sixers’ head coach. The only real change other than another mediocre draft has been the insertion of Jerry Colangelo and his son, Bryan Colangelo into the franchise’s front office to head their Basketball Operations . Team owner Joshua Harris remains bereft of ideas and it would seem this franchise is more interested in off the court activities , having purchased several non-core basketball interests . One would have thought there would be an urgency to not only invest in the on-court product but also make sure this is a team built to be competitive and to win ?
Over their last twelve games played , the Philadelphia 76ers have performed with the mediocrity expected of a team with little or nothing to play for . Brett Brown will now prepare the Sixers for their next game when they face the Utah Jazz on the road this Thursday , 29th December . It is becoming abundantly clear the Sixers are playing to be part of the Draft Lottery for the third time in the last three seasons. It is no longer idiotic to suggest the NBA hierarchy led by Commissioner Adam Silver and the team owners are willing to accept continued mediocrity from their franchises , just as long as everyone is making money along the way . In the case of the league . when you have an estimated $7.7 billion a year in gross revenues , there are unlikely to be any complaints from within the NBA fraternity .
It didn’t seem that long ago when Rajon Rondo was on the crest of being seen as one of the elite point guards in the NBA. Having won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics , the player soon began to become a detriment to the team and who was disliked by his teammates and coaching staff . His departure from the Celtics and subsequent travels , has seen a decline in his productivity and to the point where is now being benched by his current head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls . Hoiberg has this team playing some moderate baseball , while holding down the seventh spot within the Eastern Conference and 8 ½ games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (23-7) within the Central Division . If things continue to disintegrate between Rajon Rondo and Fred Hoiberg then the point guard’s days with the Bulls could be numbered. Though he is not due to become a free agent until 2018 , GM Gar Forman and John Paxson might think it feasible to cut their ties with the disgruntled player. Rajon Rondo continues to say all the right things , by vocally cheering on his teammates, but it cannot hide Hoiberg’s dissatisfaction with Rondo , as he is slowly becoming a distraction for the franchise.
The Chicago Bulls have essentially become Jimmy Butler’s team though he will be aided by veteran guard Dwyane Wade , as the players seek to rally behind one the league’s brightest young stars . Butler and his teammates coming off a five-point victory over the Indiana Pacers will be on the court to face the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center in Chicago , Illinois, on Wednesday night. Brooklyn’s head coach Kenny Atkinson and the Nets are in need of a win , given their sorry state of affairs at present . This will be another problem year for the Brooklyn Nets and one in which, I do believe team owner , Mikhail Prokhorov will actively and aggressively seek to sell either a majority stake or the franchise in its entirety to any interested party willing to buy the Nets. He has sunk a considerable sum into the Brooklyn Nets as an investment and it has been to no avail . Prokhorov will perhaps retain ownership of the Barclays Center and the surrounding properties owned by his holding company, but the franchise must go , forfeiture of a sale .
If DeMarcus Cousins continues along his path of self-destruction , then he will have no one else to blame but himself. It is becoming exceedingly difficult to try to justify any reason for the mercurial and talented center to be kept by the Sacramento Kings . Cousins might well be the best player on the team’s roster , but he also has become their problem child , with a combustible temperament , which is also a detriment to the team. Former Kings’ players , Vlade Divac and Peja Stojakovic are senior front office executives for this Kings’ franchise and it does not appear that they carry enough of an influence to change the mindset of Cousins. The coaching staff of Dave Joerger also appears to be dumbfounded and at a loss for words in dealing with their troubled star. Suspensions and monetary fines by the Kings or the NBA hierarchy has done little to sway the behavior of DeMarcus Cousins and it is difficult to see how he has the respect of his teammates at this juncture.
At 14-17 , the Sacramento Kings are third within the Pacific Division of the Western Conference , some 12 ½ games behind division leaders, the Golden State Warriors , who are for all sense and purpose running away with the division and on their way to another divisional title . For the Kings their divisional record is poor and even poorer when facing divisional opponents. The Sacramento Kings have yet to meet the Golden State Warriors this season , but their first meeting of regular season schedule will take place on the 8th January at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, California ,. The two teams will face each other four times over the course of the season and I believe the Warriors will end up being the winners of the regular season series between the two teams ! DeMarcus Cousins and his teammates will have their next game against the Memphis Grizzlies at home this Saturday, 31st December .
The New York Knicks might well be the most valuable NBA franchise , solely based on their location , but when it comes to basketball legacy within the NBA everything starts and ends with the Boston Celtics or the Los Angeles Lakers . For Lakers’ head coach Luke Walton , his rookie season has been a tough baptism of fire , but he is coping well , has the respect of his players , but most noticeably , the front office have continued to back him all the way. However, on the personal side , with the revelation that Jeanie Buss had ended her four-year engagement to former Lakers’ head coach Phil Jackson . Conspiracy theorists have run amok, with the suggestion , because Jeanie couldn’t persuade Phil to return to the franchise , she torpedoed their relationship to devote more time to the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving Jackson to try and reinvigorate the fortunes of the New York Knicks.
The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling , having lost thirteen of their last fifteen games , leaving them battling among the also-rans of the West , as well as within their division . If there has been one thing which Luke Walton has been able to convince his players in doing and that is to play hard for the entire forty-eight minutes of a game. The Lakers’ last victory came in a game played against the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day , but prior to that , you would have to go back as far as the 16th December when they defeated the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania. Luke Walton and his team will be looking to increase their wins’ tally, when they play their last game of 2016 , facing the Dallas Mavericks on the 29th December in a home game. The most consistent player for the Lakers throughout much of the season has been Lou Williams , averaging 18.8 points a game , a far cry from the 31.7 points per game , averaged by the league’s leading scorer and best player this season , Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder . Now one can understand why the Lakers problems have manifested themselves in the way they have done .
The Los Angeles Lakers simply have has no one on the roster who can score or average a double-double per game , much less their being any type of support coming off their bench. Defensively the team is also very anemic , but as long as there remains a commitment from the players in doing things the way Luke Walton believes they should be done, then there will likely be gradual signs of improvement from the team.
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