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Does an Eagles Loss Mean McNabb is a Choker?

There is a lot of chatter that Donovan McNabb–who went 28 of 47 for 375 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception but threw a few poor passes on a critical drive late in the fourth quarter—is a choker.

They point to his record of 1-4 in NFC Championship games. Many also point to the fact that McNabb not only threw interceptions but, literally, threw up in the Superbowl against the Patriots.

McNabb a Choker?

McNabb a Choker?

What’s being forgotten is that, to put it very simply, getting to the Superbowl is hard. Very hard. Go ask Barry Sanders, Dan Fouts, or Chris Carter. Winning it is even more difficult. Go ask Dan Marino or Jim Kelly.

It’s funny—we as fans and the media have the ability to cut down players and coaches if they don’t win it all. What’s forgotten is how difficult it is to consistently get to the playoffs and championship games. Afterall, at the end of every season, only one team is happy.

Does McNabb deserve some blame for last weekend’s loss? Sure. Anytime a team loses in spectacular fashion, scrutiny ensues—and it’s often understandable. It may be very possible that McNabb is a quarterback that folds under pressure—I won’t deny that. Some people have ice water in their veins—some don’t. But don’t forget that McNabb was key to the Eagles being able to reach five Championship games.

Let’s too not forget about McNabb’s supporting cast. McNabb is one of the only quarterbacks in recent memory to almost never, sans Terrell Owens, have a legitimate number one receiver. And when Owens came on board, the Eagles went to the Superbowl. Surprise, surprise?

The Eagles also need a big back for short yardage. The idea that Andy Reid believes that Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter can carry the load on 3rd or 4th and 1 is absurd. The Eagles need what the Panthers or Giants have—a reliable 250 pound workhouse to help shore up their short yardage game.

So don’t put it all on McNabb’s back. It’s true that the quarterback gets the most scrutiny. But let’s remember that football is the ultimate team game. And, though McNabb’s last drive wasn’t stellar, the ball still hit Kevin Curtis in the hands of that pivotal fourth down play.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Time to Change the Overtime Rule?

In the wake of the Colts/Chargers game–a game that went into overtime and was won by the Chargers’ Darren Sproles scampering into the endzone–many critics are suggesting that the rule (which states that the first team to score wins) should be changed.

Should Overtime Be Changed?

Should Overtime Be Changed?

While everyone would certainly have loved to see what the Colts could’ve done had they won the coin toss, the rule is fair.  Simply because a team wins the coin toss does not mean that the opposing defense will roll over and die.  If the opposing team wants to win, have the defense step up and make a play.  Remember, the Eagles and Bengals played all the way to the end of overtime without anyone scoring a point this season.

While the college rule is exciting, it’s almost too fair.  The ball is placed on the 25 yard line with a first and ten without the help of special teams.  The offense is almost guaranteed to score at least a fieldgoal.  If anything, it gives the offense too much of an advantage.

The mantra in this country is that soceity is going too soft.  Kids complain that they lost in a Championship game and feel sad, so parents petition the school to hand out “runner up” trophies.  Hell, they have even banned dodge ball and tag in some schools.  And we wonder why there’s a child obesity problem? 

Yet at the same token, we want our kids at the college level to have an “equal chance to score?”  We need to realize that the concept of overtime is implemented because both teams couldn’t seal the deal in four straight quarters.  Overtime should indeed be a “sudden death” approach–if you couldn’t win the game over the course of regulation, you have one last, limited chance to do so in overtime.  Regardless of whether or not it’s fair.

If the overtime rule was indeed altered, I wouldn’t mind seeing the NFL ban field goals.  While it’s perfectly acceptable to kick a field goal to win a game, I think if you eliminated the ability for a team to make this attempt, it would allow both the offenses and defenses to truly go toe to toe.  And more than likely, I would imagine that the team that wins the coin toss won’t immediately score on their first drive, thus allowing more of an opportunity for both opposing teams offenses to get a chance on the field.  It would also allow for a bit more of an exciting finish, without feeling as though the ball needs to be placed on an arbitrary yardline without the use of a kickoff.

January 9, 2009 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Straight Cash’s Wild Card Weekend Picks

This NFL Wild Card weekend will have dirty birds, rookie QBs, MVPs, All-Days, Burners, Bolts and Colts. It also features all 4 home teams as underdogs — first time I’ve ever seen that. Let’s get to the picks. Short and sweet.

Dreaming of days with Martz and Faulk

Dreaming of days with Martz and Faulk

Atlanta Falcons at Arizona Cardinals, 4:30pm EST, NBC
Line/Total: ATL -2, o/u 51

The pick: Over 51

It’ll be a shootout in the desert. The Falcons will score points because the Cardinals are 0-6 against teams who were in the top 10 in rushing (the Falcons are ranked #2 behind the Giants). Then, after a steady diet of Mike Turner and Jerious Norwood, Matt Ryan will open up the field against Arizona’s 22nd ranked pass D. On the other side, Arizona will take to the air because they are dead last in rushing, and so we’ll see the Kurt Warner show against Atlanta’s very shaky secondary. This game may also get messy with the presence of John Abraham and his 16.5 sacks. Though a lot of things point to an Atlanta win, you cannot count out Captain Kurt at home. He will go down chucking the ball to his talented trio of receivers, and if he misses, well that’s just better field position for the dirty birds. One big stat: the over is 9-1 in Arizona’s last 10 home games.

Will Peyton take it lying down?

Will Peyton take it lying down?

Indianapolis Colts at San Diego Chargers, 8:00pm EST, NBC
Line/Total: IND -1, o/u 50

The pick: IND -1

The Chargers may be on a roll with 4 wins in a row to close the season, but if you look closely they were against the doormat Chiefs, lowly Raiders, and self-destructing Broncos and Bucs teams. The Colts are riding a 9-win wave themselves with quality victories over the Steelers, Patriots and a 23-20 Week 12 win over the Chargers at Qualcomm. In this matchup of two premier QBs, I’ll take Indy’s 6th ranked pass D over the 31st ranked San Diego pass D (only the Seahawks were worse). It will be close throughout, but look for the Colts to slow this game down, and finish with a vintage Peyton Manning, long, drawn-out, antsy, multi-audible, drive.

Will Ed Reed touch the ball more than Ricky Williams?

Will Ed Reed touch the ball more than Ricky Williams?

Baltimore Orioles at Miami Dolphins, 1:00pm EST, CBS
Line/Total: BAL -3, o/u 38

The pick: BAL -3

Baltimore’s D will be too much for Pennington and Miami. In their 27-13 Week 7 win over the Dolphins, the Ravens stopped the vaunted Wildcat offense allowing only 71 rush yards and forcing a pick 6 courtesy of Terrell Suggs. Look for Baltimore to bring the same defensive gameplan and challenge Pennington to go deep (not his strength) where my pick for Defensive Player of the Year, Mr. Ed Reed (and his 9 INTs), will be waiting. All rookie QB Joe Flacco has to do is his best Kerry Collins imitation and take care of the ball and make simple, low risk plays, and leave the rest to Ray Lewis, Bart Scott, Suggs and company. The Dolphins’ and Pennington’s comeback story has been inspiring this year, but it ends this weekend.

A little help on "O" please

A little help on "O" please

Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings, 4:30pm EST, FOX
Line/Total: PHI -2, o/u 41

The pick: PHI -2

If the Eagles were facing any other NFC playoff team, I might think twice about picking them because of their inconsistency and much too frequent brain farts. But against the one-dimensional Vikes, it makes it easy for D-guru Jim Johnson to scheme up ways to stop Adrian Peterson and expose the Vikings passing game. Yes, Minnesota has the top-ranked rush defense, but Philadelphia isn’t too shabby at #5. The difference is that Philly has a very efficient McNabb, who’s making the right reads of late. Also, the Eagles 3rd ranked pass defense will feast on Minny’s 25th ranked pass offense. Nothing else here other than the Eagles secondary has been swarming, and if any bit of the intensity brought against Dallas shows up, it’ll be a long day for Tavaris Jackson. Hopefully, we don’t get any of this on the sidelines.

USC’s KO of Penn State started the year off right. Straight Cash record for 2009: 1-0

Good Luck everyone.

January 3, 2009 Posted by | General, NFL, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NFL 2008: Crazy

As 2008 draws to a close and 2009 brings us the beginning of the playoff season, we should look back on what makes us love football so much.

The great thing about the NFL season is that, no matter what you think you know, you really know nothing.  When the NFL schedule was released in spring 2007, everyone thought the Cowboys would be Superbowl champs.

Crazy.

Everyone thought the Dolphins and Falcons would be battling for the number one pick.

Crazy.

Many thought that Tom Brady would help lead the Patriots deep into the playoffs and that the Eagles were getting ready to say goodbye to the Donnovan McNabb era.

Brady Goes Down

Brady Goes Down

Crazy.

Early in the season, many thought that the Redskins were a great team and that Jason Campbell was emerging as an elite quarterback.  Many thought that the Buffalo Bills had finally become contenders in the AFC East.

Crazy.

Who would’ve thought that the hard-nosed Tampa Bay Buccaneers would lose all of their games in December, including a match-up against the lowly Raiders, thus ending their playoff hopes?  Who would’ve thought that in the same game–in the fourth quarter no less–that running back Carnell Williams would tear up his knee yet again after a year long rehab?

Crazy.

Who would’ve thought that we would’ve seen a team like the Patriots come so close to immortality in February and just ten months later, see the Detroit Lions get inducted into the Hall of Shame?

Lions go 0-16

Lions go 0-16

Crazy.

Who could have forseen that this time a year ago, Michael Vick began his prison sentence.  Just one year later, his Falcons have a franchise quarterback, a coach of the year candidate, and a playoff birth?

Crazy.

Who would’ve thought that Drew Brees could throw for over 5,000 yards (coming 16 yards shy of the passing record) and 34 touchdowns and not even be in serious contention for the MVP award?

Crazy.

Who would’ve thought than the Patriots could go 11-5 and miss the playoffs, while the 8-8 Chargers host the 12-4 Colts and the 9-7 Cardinals host the 11-5 Falcons this weekend?

Crazy.

This has been a season of surprises and jaw dropping moments.  As Don Cheadle (below) once said, the “crazy” is why we love it.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Don’t Understand…

I don’t understand how the Broncos can have the AFC West in the palm of their hands for weeks, only to crash and burn down the stretch.

I don’t understand how the mediocre Broncos now have to play the mediocre Chargers for the right to be called the AFC division champions.

I don’t understand how an 8-8 team (Broncos, Chargers, Cardinals) can conceivably win their division.

I don’t understand how Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan can play lights out as rookies, but Derek Anderson looked lost all season.

I don’t understand how the Pittsburgh Steelers won their game against Baltimore with a suspect catch, but a similar ending involving the Eagles on Sunday resulted in a completely different call.

I don’t understand how a reporter can get away with asking Lions head coach Rod Marinelli if he wished his daughter married a better defensive coordinator.

I don’t understand how the Patriots can actually finish the season with an 11-5 record, but still miss the playoffs.

Cowboys Disappoint on Sunday

Cowboys Disappoint on Sunday

I don’t understand why the Cowboys get so much of the spotlight for such an inconsistent, overrated squad.

I don’t understand how the Cardinals even deserve to watch the playoffs, let alone play in them, after their disgraceful performance in New England.

I don’t understand how Matt Cassell went from the verge of being cut in the pre-season to playing such inspired football.

I don’t understand how the Saints have squandered such an incredible season by Drew Brees.

I don’t understand how the Jets could blow such a big opportunity for the playoffs by losing to the lowly Seahawks.

I don’t understand how the Eagles couldn’t manage to beat the “worst coach in America.”

I don’t understand how both Jerry Porter and Donte Stallworth can feel good about collecting their paycheck every week.

I don’t understand how the NFL refuses to compensate the old timers who built this league into what it is, but they’ll fine Wes Welker for making a snow angel.

I don’t understand how Tony Siragusa is at all necessary on Fox Broadcasts.

I don’t understand why Ed Hochuli is just now considered to be “off the hook” for his blown call in week two when the Chargers have been a sub-par team all season long.

What are your thoughts on the biggest surprises of the NFL season?

December 23, 2008 Posted by | NFL | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Braylon Edwards Needs to Shut Up

By now, you’ve heard about the infamous comments made by disgruntled wide receiver Braylon Edwards.  Following a loss to the Eagles on Monday Night Football, Edwards had some choice words for his city and fan base.  According to Cleveland.com, Edwards made the following comments:

“I’m not Paul Warfield, Webster Slaughter or Jim Brown. I’ve given my all to this city for four years, and I realize it will never be enough. I went to the Pro Bowl last year and resurrected this team from the darkness, and nobody cared.”

“People in this town believe they are entitled to too much. They have been disrespectful to me and my family. I’ve gone out in public with my family and have had to deal with being called foul names. My parents have been called vulgar things at restaurants.”

“My biggest problem is that I actually give a damn. I’m always rushing back from surgeries and injuries, never missing games or practices. But through this, I’ve learned how to overcome adversity. I’m also proud of how my foundation has taken off. I’ve been doing all this community service in Cleveland … my charity efforts will only be in Detroit from now on.”

While it’s completely out of bounds for fans to attack a player’s family, it’s insane how Edwards feels the way he does. Is Braylon a Paul Warfield or Jim Brown? No. But who is? Those guys are hall of famers.

Edwards Drops Another Pass

Edwards Drops Another Pass

The issue with fans being upset that Edwards went to college at Michigan is equally absurd. Fans don’t care where you came from as long as your work your butt off for the team on the field. If you play well, they love you. If you play poorly, you will certainly hear the boo-birds. If Browns fans can accept Jamal Lewis–a player who not only played for the city that stole their football team in 1996 but who also gashed them for 500 rushing yards in just two games in 2003 (Lewis also went to prison in early 2005)—then Cleveland can certainly accept a Michigan Wolverine onto the Browns squad.

Edwards is always rushing back from injuries? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? You get paid for playing on Sundays. If an injury forces you out of the lineup, it’s your duty to commit yourself to rehab and return to the field as soon as possible. That’s life in the NFL.

As for taking money out of charities in Cleveland—that’s simply a revolting comment, especially since the charities Edwards refers to revolve around child education in Cleveland. Here’s the truth, Braylon. In 2005, you were drafted with the third overall pick in the draft and given a fat contract. Your first season was decent enough and it unfortunately ended prematurely with an ACL tear. You bounced back a bit in your second year, but you showed that you lacked concentration on the field (dropped passes), and poise off it (attempting to fight Charlie Frye on the sideline).

Last season, you exploded. You set a franchise record for single season reception yardage (1,289), as well as the mark for touchdowns (16). You helped the team win ten games for the first time since 1994. You were voted into the Pro Bowl. Oh, and you were adored by the fans. No one cared what school you went to or what college colors you wore. What mattered is what you did on the field while wearing that burnt orange helmet.

The cure for Edwards is simple—catch the football. Braylon leads the entire league in dropped passes. Fans of Cleveland have been through a lot—no Championships since 1964, no Superbowl appearances, heartbreaking playoff losses, a move to Baltimore, a putrid resurrected franchise—all they want is their star player to display his talent on Sundays. You’re a wide receiver, Braylon. When the ball is sent your way, receive it!

Sigh…if only this was the real Braylon Edwards that consistently showed up every week.

Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius—who hasn’t played a down this season due to injury—put it best:

The way I see it, these fans would party on Saturday if Ohio State won the national championship, but the city would burn down if we won the Super Bowl.”

Hopefully Edwards receives this advice with open hands arms.

December 21, 2008 Posted by | Features & Opinions, NFL, Talkin Trash | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment