A Review Of The 2011 NFL Season – Part 1 of 2

Posted: January 3, 2012 in NFL

Well first off, Happy New Years to all of you! I pray that it’ll be a year of continued success and great achievement in your personal lives and that you will continue to make this blog a part of your weekly read.  Thank you for the continued support and encouragement throughout this past year as it can be time consuming at times to research all this information and not make a dime out of it, but as long as the passion to analyze sports – a metaphor of life as I like to think, continues to burn, I shall continue devoting my time towards it and hopefully broadening your perspective.

So yesterday morning I wake up to ESPN Boston on my dial and they’re talking about the Patriots – banging on them as per usual, and I felt like calling in and bashing them too. But then I started looking around and I’ve got Brady, Bellicheck, they’re at home against Andy Dalton, and then asked myself “are we over-thinking the room on New England?” Quite frankly I think we definitely are!

Like I remember watching Brady against the Chiefs on the Monday Night Football game and I remember thinking “wow, nothing is overly impressive with this Patriots team” Obviously they have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. I remember Brady starting that game and he started poorly. He is surely not playing at the level that Brees, Rodgers or even Matthew Stafford have been playing at times this season. This is one of the reasons why they are always behind so fast in games. We just assume that Tom is getting ready to go on this stretch of perfection – especially now come playoff time, because he’s done it before and has carried the burden of this team.

I personally think it’s way too much to ask because I think they are too thin defensively, they really can’t stop anybody at all on defense.  You don’t have to look very far, just look at what the Broncos did to them and then look at how bad the Broncos have been in other games with Tim Tebow. So the Patriots can’t stop anybody, Tom has got to be nearly perfect and I think that they have to trick you to a certain degree. If you go look back at the highlights of Sunday’s second half points being scored in the Pats’ game, those are all passes to wide open receivers. It’s not like Tom is slotting in the passes to tight windows, they are scheming people. They are getting match ups and are getting receivers open – Tom does a great job finding them and getting them the ball and letting them run after the catch. So I’m not taking anything away, but I believe that a lot of that also goes away in the playoffs. Your getting teams’ fastball and defense and they take a closer look at you and instead of breaking down a 3 or a 4 game sequence of your game, they go  8, 9 or 10 games in and try to get a real feel for your tendencies.

Now, because the AFC isn’t really strong, I believe that New England can get to the championship game, but I just can’t see them as a real threat to winning the Superbowl – and I’m not like everyone else when we get to this point of the season, where most people are looking for a team that can win a game. I’m looking for a team that can win the Superbowl because if you have come this far and you’ve invested this much and you’re in this tournament called the Playoffs, you should be trying to win it and analysts such as myself should be trying to see who has the best chance of winning it.

If there is a trend in sports – out of all the sports that I like to cover on this blog, I like finding them and when it comes to the sport of football, I have certain theories and like testing them – some are right, some not. I started thinking this morning that the Dallas Cowboys – and I researched it this morning, but I find that their December downfalls are hard to explain. You could say “well, culturally they’re not well built and tend to erode” yet you’ve got other teams such as San Diego who are the opposite and are absolutely great in December. I generally find that well run teams tend to get better as the season progresses because they tend to ratchet down and they get rid of the bad stuff and retain more of the good stuff. So now you might start asking yourself, “So what to make of the Cowboys’ December downfalls? Who is to blame and why?”

I think the answer lies – first off, this year’s performances have nothing to do with previous years’ as most analyst like to quickly point out and cite. But with that said, looking at this year I just don’t think they’re any good, talent-wise. They have some marquee names and some very good players. I truly believe that Tony Romo can be one of the best quarterbacks in the league one day; I think he’s just right below that elite group of quarterbacks at the present moment. He truly has greatness in him every time he plays and they have nice receivers that compliment him well. Dez Bryant needs to become more versatile as a receiver because he’s still very limited in what he can do. As a result, that reduces their defense to a certain degree. The tight end is getting old, he’s been one of the best tight ends the league has ever seen but he’s on the wrong side of 30 and they certainly don’t have another tight end that they can trust.

So you look at all these great offenses that they have – multiple tight end packaging, you can get defined looks on the defenses  when you throw a lot of tight ends out there. On their offensive line, they have a really good tackle, but outside of that, I think they are very average at best. Their defensive line is very good – they’ve got a couple of marquee guys like DeMarcus Ware, Ratlif and other guys that can really play, Shaun Lee has become a really good linebacker, but after that I think you judge talent based on – takeaway those marquee names, and how good are your other 45 players. I’d say I would put those other 45 players in the bottom half of the league. They just don’t have great depth, they don’t have great skill and they do a very poor job of playing in big moments. They are young players that panic! That is the way I would describe them –and that’s just a fact of life, it’s happened to me, it’s probably happened to you. Where the moment gets too big – when you’re young, and what’s the first thing you do? You press and you panic. I unfortunately see a lot of that in the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s funny about talent because much like the Lakers and the Yankees, we tend to overvalue the players on the popular teams – Duke Basketball is another one. But I’m watching Sunday night and outside of Shaun Lee – who I wouldn’t call a premier linebacker just yet, he’s more of a playmaker…the Cowboys’ back 7 is bad, there spots are like Terrance Newman, nothing against him personally, but bigger name than game. What’s unfortunate is that it’s every single week you’re seeing this with the Dallas Cowboys. When they win, they overcome those players and that’s why I’ve always thought – and have been perfectly clearly about it via my rants this season, that Tony Romo is highly underrated because when they win, he overcomes a lot of deficiencies on that team. Sunday Night the Cowboys had so many opportunities to change the game early on. Falling on two fumbles, Romo hit’s the fade to Dez Bryant in the first series; Newman makes the tackle on Pascal on the third and one and the touchdown to Cruz never happens…that’s third and 9 backed up! You’re going to get the ball around midfield after the punt. Number twenty six Eilen missing the tackle on Bradshaw, which should be a three yard loss and you should be at 3rd and goal from the 9 yard line. There are countless of other opportunities that they had, where poised good football players would be able to make those plays. Yet under-talented, mentally fragile players that the Cowboys have a lot of are not able to make those plays because they panic.

  1. Mike Crack says:

    I agree that NE’s defense is worrisome. Fitzpatrick had been struggling prior to that game, and then he came out throwing and making plays. The Pats tightened their D in the second half though, and that occurred for the second straight week. But we’ll have to see if they can continue to do that. I don’t think they will. They may go one and done for the third straight week.

    As for Dallas, I feel the defensive scheme does not fit with their personnel. Rob Ryan’s scheme is too exotic for the subpar talent Dallas has in the back end. Rex Ryan is able to do what he does in NY because he has pretty good talent in the secondary, and he has invested in his secondary. His players in the secondary also seem to be more disciplined than the ones in Dallas. Maybe it’s because they didn’t have a training camp to get things ironed out, but the secondary has seemed lost in many key spots and situations.

    You’re right though, Dallas’ talent is overrated. I guess the national media just thinks America’s Team is better than they really are. I think I do at times, also.

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