Three weeks into the season, and the Dallas Cowboys sit alone atop the NFC East.

Let me repeat that: The Dallas Cowboys, at 2-1, are in first place in the division.

Have I died and gone to heaven?

Perhaps I have, because not only are the Cowboys leading the NFC East, but they actually earned it. For once it is not a fluke! The Redskins and Giants are both looking rusty and in a huge hole at 0-3, while the Eagles, who looked hard to beat with their fast-paced offense Week 1, also have a losing record at 1-2.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, looked DOMINANT this Sunday in their 31-7 victory over the Rams. Not a single part of the game went wrong for Dallas, while St. Louis couldn’t do a single thing right. The Cowboys looked like a well oiled machine, one ready for the playoffs after less than a month of the regular season. Now there’s a surprise for Cowboys fans!

The offense was firing on all cylinders — from the pass game to the run game, Dallas was efficient moving the ball down the field and putting points on the board. A week after concerns arose about the lack of a run game, the Cowboys put fans’ fears and analysts’ qualms at ease with a 175 yard rushing game by DeMarco Murray, the best performance by a running back in Week 3. The offensive line provided the holes for Murray, who broke tackles left and right and had two runs of over 35 yards as well as a touchdown to compliment his big day on the ground. Meanwhile, Tony Romo matched Murray’s effort with an efficient passing attack, throwing for 217 yards and 3 TDs to three different receivers. Limiting their turnovers and capitalizing on their attack both in the air and on the ground, the Cowboys offense picked apart the Rams defense for a touchdown in every quarter and 31 points by the time the final buzzer sounded. If Romo and Murray can keep the troops rolling like this, the Cowboys should be a hard matchup for any defense in the league.

DeMarco Murray led the Cowboys offensive attack with 175 yards rushing against the Rams.

DeMarco Murray led the Cowboys offensive attack with 175 yards rushing against the Rams.

Not to be outdone, the Cowboys defense was outstanding as well, limiting the Rams to a single first down and only 18 yards in the first half. St. Louis scored only one touchdown all game, and their offense was frustrated to say the least. An offensive line that had not allowed a single sack in the first two weeks of the season allowed SIX sacks on Sunday, leaving Sam Bradford with nothing to do but shake his head in awe at the Cowboys defense. DeMarcus Ware had two of those sacks for the Cowboys, and became Dallas’ all-time franchise leader in sacks with 115. Other players got in on the action as well: Defensive End Kyle Wilber got his first career sack, George Selvie and Orlando Scandrick each had a sack, and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher continues to impress this season with another sack of his own. Linebacker Sean Lee may have been beaten for the touchdown, but he made his presence on the field felt by recovering a St. Louis fumble, while cornerback Morris Claiborne saved a touchdown by batting down a ball in the endzone. This unit played tough and played well together, making things difficult on the St. Louis offense. If they continue to play this well, quarterbacks and offensive coordinators around the league have their work cut out for them… and Monte Kiffin will have earned himself a raise!

DeMarcus Ware became the Dallas Cowboys franchise leader in sacks Sunday afternoon against the Rams with his 115th sack of his career.

DeMarcus Ware became the Dallas Cowboys franchise leader in sacks Sunday afternoon against the Rams with his 115th sack of his career.

 

All in all, the Cowboys game on Sunday was fun to watch because the Cowboys finally looked like a solid team, one that was prepared to battle on both sides of the ball. No more missed opportunities, blown assignments, or careless turnovers — this looked like a new Dallas team, one that is deserving of the title “America’s Team.” Although the season is far from over and there will likely be some hiccups as the season continues, the Cowboys have a great foundation to build upon after this game — in fact, watching the tape should be fun! With the Texas Rangers poised to miss the postseason for the first time in years and the Mavericks in a bit of a rebuilding stage, dare I say the Cowboys are looking like the best team in Dallas these days?

ESPN Off Their Game

Posted: September 13, 2013 in NCAAF, Sports
Tags: ,

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A friend of mine passed this along and I thought it was too funny not to share. As most of you know, Alabama is playing Texas A&M this weekend in College Station. The Longhorns, the team shown on the ESPN graphic across from Alabama, belong to the University of Texas, a completely different school.

ESPN has been off their game lately. Perhaps it is the pressure from the new Fox Sports 1 or the never ending hype of college football season… Either way they need to get it together!

Not to mention, for those who don’t know, the rivalry between A&M and UT here in Texas is pretty bitter… Aggie fans will certainly be a tad irritated by this one!

Sheridan Davis:

I’d like to share this amazing article by my blogger friend Sean Breslin. I found the piece to be especially moving and touching in light of the anniversary of September 11th. It is nothing if not thought provoking! If your time was up before you knew it, what would your dying thoughts be?

Originally posted on Breslanta.com:

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan


I hope I’m not the only one who isn’t finding these September 11 anniversaries any easier to stomach as the years pass.

Maybe it’s because we see the long-term effects of the terrorist attacks on the families and survivors.

It’s not just the sicknesses that have come after. It’s the divorces, the children who have grown up with a different life and the survivors who have become victims trapped in their own mind.

I wonder if the terrorists thought about the damage they’d cause, beyond the immediate explosions and death. I hope they didn’t.

We all remember the horrible events in our own way, but I’d like to share my thoughts that went through my head when I watched a tribute show on the History Channel this afternoon. One particular story on that show grabbed me like no other.

Charlie Caraher was one of the last people…

View original 233 more words

Fingers drumming in anticipation, legs jittering in anxiety, hearts pounding in suspense…

No, I’m not describing a ride on the Texas Giant these days (ok, cheap shot).  Rather, it’s another Arlington attraction that is giving Texans more apprehension than normal — our beloved Texas Rangers.

The Rangers have suddenly entered their seemingly unavoidable September slump for the second straight year.  Since the month started less than two weeks ago, the Rangers have gone 2-8, including a series loss to the A’s and the Angels and a sweep by the Pirates.  More importantly, the bats seem to have disappeared once again, with the Rangers averaging only 3 runs per game in their losses as opposed to nearly 5 runs per game in their wins.  Many of the most hyped hitters are performing well below expectations, with Mitch Moreland and Jurickson Profar batting a mere .236 on the season, not to mention David Murphy’s .221 batting average for the year.  Even Adrian Beltre, the team’s workhorse and most reliable batter, is in the middle of an 8 for 39 batting slump this month.  If he can’t produce, who will??

Pitching has also been mediocre of late, with all of the Rangers’ so-called “aces” performing below average.  Darvish, Holland, Garza, and Perez have all added losses to their resume recently, and have been throwing much shorter outings as well — only 4-5 innings as opposed to the 7+ the team is looking for.  Even when they do go deep into the ball game, they seem to lose control of the strike zone at the most inopportune times, such as August 30th when Yu Darvish pitched a no-hitter into the 7th only to give up 3 runs that inning.  The Rangers need their pitchers to maintain focus throughout the game and prolong their starts so they do not rely so heavily on the relievers.  Although the Rangers have one of the best bullpens in Major League Baseball, it does not do the team any good if the starters cannot pull their weight.  Bringing in a superb reliever when the team is already down by 3 runs is not worth much; on the other hand, bringing in Joe Nathan with a 1 run lead is about as good as a team can ask for.  The bullpen is rock solid, but the starters need to do their job to help this team start winning again.

Last year, the Rangers held a 5 game lead over the A’s with 10 games to play and somehow lost it, dropping to the Wild Card spot and then out of the playoffs in the first week.  It was inexplicable, especially after such a great season.  For Rangers fans, it seemed like the apocalypse.  And that was with a 5 game lead entering the last 10 games.  What can Rangers fans expect this year, when it appears the team will be behind in the AL West pennant race?  Not only will they be fighting to win the division, at this rate they will be fighting for a Wild Card spot just to make the playoffs.  And if they miraculously do get a Wild Card berth, things certainly aren’t looking good for a single play-in game…

This team needs to turn things around QUICKLY.  With a VERY important series starting tomorrow night against the Oakland Athletics, the Rangers have a chance to make up some ground in the AL West — a 3 game swing would be just the right cure for this team’s woes.  Looking ahead to the playoffs, the Rangers should get a boost with players getting healthy and being removed from the disabled list, not to mention the return of Nelson Cruz from suspension.  Hopefully the Rangers can snap out of their slump soon and make this a September to Remember… for the right reasons.

A “Must-Win” in Week 1?

Posted: September 5, 2013 in NFL, Sports
Tags: ,

Can the first game of the NFL regular season be a “must-win”?

For the Dallas Cowboys and their fans, it not only can be, but is.

A team that has finished the past two seasons at 8-8 NEEDS to pick up a win this Sunday in the season opener, for more reasons than one.

First and foremost, starting on a positive note would give the team momentum for the early part of the season. The Cowboys have been so mediocre over the past few years that anything remotely positive can help their mindset and hopefully, their play on the field. With the season opener at home, the Cowboys will not be in a hostile environment, and must use the energy of the crowd to propel them to a win. They simply cannot afford a loss in the home opener, especially to the Giants. Every game between the two teams that has been played at Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) has been won by the visiting New York Giants — a stat the Cowboys need to change.

More importantly, a win over division rivals the New York Giants bears a lot of weight as the season heads down the stretch. The NFC East is a tough division that is only getting tougher, and an 8-8 record will not lead to the postseason these days. With foes in the re-imagined Eagles, the always surprising New York Giants, and QB sensation RGIII and the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys have some stiff competition in the NFC East. They must play every game as though it were a playoff game, because in the end, it very well could be — among these teams, every single division game counts. Although in the season opener neither team will look like a well-oiled machine, the Cowboys need to be the better of the two teams come Sunday night.

For the Cowboys to win they need to limit their turnovers in this game. Sure, that is the recipe for any NFL game, but it especially rings true for the Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo. Romo needs to play like it is December, when he consistently has one of the best passer ratings among NFL QBs. That means leading the team on multiple drives down the field, throwing for big numbers and a few TDs, and limiting his interceptions. Cowboys fans live and die by Tony Romo, as he has the potential to make the big play, but is more often remembered for his untimely turnovers. Perhaps (as many Cowboys fans are hoping) 2013 can be the year he turns it around, capitalizing on his growth, maturity, and experience in the pocket. With Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Miles Austin flanking him, Tony Romo has options, he just needs to successfully employ them. If he can do so, the Cowboys offense will be hard to stop.

Although many will argue that Week 1 of the regular season in the NFL cannot be a “must-win,” I disagree. The mediocrity of the Cowboys over the past few seasons has been extremely frustrating to say the least, so starting the season with a win is imperative — and getting that win over a division rival is all the more important. When December rolls around and the Cowboys are once again on the playoff bubble, they will look back to Week 1 at home and realize what a big game it truly was. Sure, there are a lot of games left to be played in the season, but don’t take anything away from Week 1. If it is a loss, it could mean another winter of watching games on the couch; if it is a win, it could mean the playoffs. As a Cowboys fan, I sure hope it’s the latter.

Man Up, Manziel

Posted: August 29, 2013 in NCAAF, Sports
Tags: , , ,
As this TMZ photo shows, Johnny Manziel is enjoying his newfound fame.

As this TMZ photo shows, Johnny Manziel is enjoying his newfound fame.

Note from the Author: This WILL offend many of my readers, who, being from Dallas, TX, are inevitably Texas A&M fans.  My sincerest apologies, but this is an opinion piece and personal blog.  My writing is about expressing my views on the world of sports, good or bad.  So buckle up Aggies… you aren’t gonna like this.

Johnny Manziel needs to grow up.  Quickly.

The starting quarterback for the Fightin’ Aggies of Texas A&M may be “only a sophomore” and the first freshman Heisman trophy winner, but his outstanding play on the field does not justify his less-than-acceptable actions off of it.

As this Outside the Lines article details, Johnny Manziel is by no means a man.  He is still a boy.  And a very immature one at that.

The details of Johnny’s temper and bad-boy antics caught me by surprise as I read this article.  Not because I am naive enough to think this kind of behavior doesn’t happen, but because I would think the glorified Johnny Football would know better than to behave like a child.  His supporters and defenders may argue that he is only 20, but that is no excuse — 20 is old enough to “know better” as my mom would say.

At age 20, a young man should know not to fling a golf club across the course in frustration.  Or curse under his breath in front of reporters.  Or, perhaps most importantly, tweet a negative statement about the college that took a chance on you — a freshman — at quarterback and helped you win the Heisman trophy.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the fun Johnny Football had in the offseason and over the summer.  I went to Cabo San Lucas and had a great time when I was in college too.  I would kill to sit court-side at an NBA Finals game, and even as a mediocre golfer, playing at Pebble Beach would be a dream come true.  None of these actions warrant any criticism for Johnny Manziel — he is just a wealthy (by family fortune) college kid enjoying his life.  However, it is his attitude that I have a problem with.

Johnny needs to learn to live in the spotlight or stop playing football altogether if he cannot handle the pressure that comes with his position.  A person as highly regarded as he is needs to maintain a sense of humility and gratitude for what he has and what he has been given.  Sure, Johnny has worked hard to accomplish all that he has, but he certainly didn’t do it alone.  He has friends, family, teammates, and coaches who helped him along the way, not to mention all of Aggie nation rooting for him.  In return, he needs to support them.  Unendingly.

So don’t tweet about “getting out of College Station” and take a chance on alienating a huge fan base, teammates, friends, and family alike.  That is definitely the worst thing he could have possibly done.  Not only was it thoughtless and hurtful, it also shed him in a negative light as an ungrateful spoiled brat who does not appreciate the school who has given him everything.  Why take a chance on hurting your image — as well as your team’s and your school’s — before the upcoming season?  Especially a season with a good chance at a national title, not to mention a second Heisman trophy?  Pure stupidity.

I understand that USC had the creme-de-la-creme in Matt Barkley, the most humble, giving, and appreciative quarterback a school could have.  He was not only great with the media and a great player on the field (although last season wasn’t his best!), but he was a great person off the field as well.  He was a model citizen and friend to many.  He was a devout Christian and took his teammates on service trips to help others.  Most importantly, he was an ambassador for his school and teammates, always putting their success ahead of his own.  USC could not have asked for a better leader.

So although I hate to compare them, Johnny could take a few lessons from Matt on how to handle the spotlight and the pressure that comes with being quarterback on a nationally ranked team.  Be humble.  Be grateful.  Be kind.  It may be cliche, but actions speak louder than words.  Control your temper.  Stop flinging clubs and parking on the wrong side of the street.  You may be royalty among the Aggies, but that means nothing.  Stop acting like a spoiled brat that A&M should be grateful to have on their team.  Instead, be grateful to be at A&M.  Thank your coaches and your teammates, both publicly and privately.  Support your school the way they have supported you.  And most importantly, be a leader both on and off the field.  You have been given a great gift, so be grateful for what you have, and remember it could be taken away at any moment.  Continue to enjoy your life and “live it up” as they say, but do so with a patient mind, a quiet pride, and a humble spirit.  After all, your football days are finite, but who you are as a man and a person?  That is infinite.  And that is what counts.

Major League Baseball has finally heard the uproar from players, managers, and fans alike: the game would benefit from the use of instant replay.

News broke Thursday that MLB plans to introduce the use of extensive instant replay beginning next season, a groundbreaking move for the sport that has resisted the technical advancements other sports implemented years ago. Commissioner Bud Selig said it simply “struck [him] over the last two to three weeks” that the sport has changed quite a bit over the past 25 years, and this will be a change for the better.  I’m sorry, but WHAT??  While the reasoning behind the decision is sound, the notion that the idea struck him in the last 2-3 weeks is simply absurd.  Those who are invested in the sport have been clamoring for updated instant replay for years, and this decision is BEYOND outdated — it should have happened years ago!

Imagine if instant replay had been in place in 2007, when the Rockies and Padres squared off in a now infamous NL Wild Card tiebreaker.  The Rockies’ Matt Holliday scored the “game winning” run in the 13th inning, but replays showed he never touched home plate.  At the time, the call could not be disputed, and the Rockies went on to win… perhaps with instant replay, the playoffs would have looked much different that year.

Imagine if instant replay had been in place in 2010, when Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game due to a blown call on the last out of the game.  Runner Jason Donald was ruled safe at first when instant replays showed he was obviously out, ruining 8 and 2/3 perfect innings for Galarraga.  Of course, the team presented him with a brand new corvette as a consolation prize, but I’m betting Galarraga would have preferred the perfect game on his record instead…

These examples are just two of many that show the extensive benefits of implementing instant replay in Major League Baseball.  The game will certainly change for the better with this new addition, and many outcomes will change as well.  However, managers and players will have to learn how to manage instant replay challenges, for much like the NFL, managers have a limited number of challenges in a game.  There can be only one appeal during the first 6 innings; if it is won, it is retained to be used again among the first 6 innings, but if the appeal is lost, it is rescinded.  Two more challenges may be initiated from the seventh inning through the rest of the game, but these must be used sparingly in case the game goes to extra innings.  Something for managers to be wary of…

Challenges can be used to determine trap or catch (already in play this season), home run or not, and most importantly, safe or out for base runners.  This last possibility will have the biggest effect on the outcome of a game, series, or season, and will help make baseball a better game overall.  Sure, challenges may add a few minutes of play time to a game on any given night, but if they will help make the game more objective, conclusive, and valid, why the heck not??

Of course, the idea of instant replay is far from a reality.  The addition must be voted on by owners at winter meetings in November, and agreed to by the players union and umpires as well.  However, this is a giant step in the right direction, one that will certainly change the sport for the better.  Now isn’t that a concept Mr. Selig?  Perhaps you shouldn’t have taken those extra “2-3 weeks” to consider the idea…