Posts Tagged ‘playoffs’

RGIII must play better for Redskins to beat Seahawks in playoffs

January 6, 2013

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will try to lead Washington to its first playoff win in seven seasons when the Redskins (10-6) host the Seattle Seahawks (11-5) Sunday at FedEx Field.

The game features Rookie of the Year candidates Griffin and Russell Wilson. Both quarterbacks are excellent passers and can run the ball exceptionally well.

More importantly, Griffin led the Redskins from a 3-6 start to a 10-6 finish, while Wilson led Seattle to a four-game improvement from 2011.

Griffin is getting a lot of publicity from the media and love from fans, and rightfully so. Griffin has led the Redskins to five more wins than they had last year, with help from rookie running back Alfred Morris, receiver Pierre Garçon and a host of veterans.  Morris rushed for a Redskins record 1,613 yards in his rookie campaign. Morris also ran for 13 touchdowns, a Redskins rookie record.

But lost in the excitement of the Redskins making the playoffs for just the fourth time in the last two decades is the fact that Griffin didn’t have a great game in the Redskins’ 28-18 win against Dallas last week. Griffin was less accurate than usual, finishing just 9 of 18 for 100 yards and no touchdown passes, though he did run one in for a score in the huge win that got the Redskins into the playoffs.

To read the rest of my article, click here for Examiner.com and here for Bleacher Report.

Washington Nationals fans should not root for Baltimore Orioles

October 8, 2012

Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Nationals are in the MLB playoffs for the first time in 79 years; the Baltimore Orioles are in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Read why I think D.C. fans should not root for the O’s, despite the great times they’ve given us in the past when we didn’t have a team. http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/10/08/washington-nationals-fans-should-never-root-for-baltimore-orioles-period/.

Washington Capitals: The most futile playoff team in the history of American sports?

May 9, 2012

The Washington Capitals have made the playoffs 23 times in 29 seasons. That’s the good news. Now here’s the bad news:

The Caps are the most underachieving, unlucky team in the history of North American sports. Name a team that has failed to live up to its seeding in the playoffs more often than the Caps. You can’t.

The Caps are like Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology, according to Wikipedia, was a “king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever.”

Caps fans are like Charlie Brown, about to kick the football, when Lucy pulls it away — time and time again. (Will Charlie Brown ever get the little red haired girl)?

If you arrived in town yesterday, you can say that the Caps aren’t the Chicago Cubs (no titles in more than 100 years) or the New York Rangers (no championships for the half century before 1994), but that misses the point. First, the Rangers did win a Stanley Cup before their drought. Second, no sports franchise has failed more often in relation to how long the team has been around. No team has more often lost as the higher seed (at least 10 times), lost more two-game series leads (seven), lost more three or four overtime playoff games (four) or lost more Game 7s (seven) than the Caps.

Now Washington is finding new ways to lose. With 6.6 seconds left in Monday’s Game 5 against the New York Rangers in the second round of the NHL playoffs, the Caps allowed the Rangers to tie the game and send it into overtime. Then just a minute-and-a-half into the extra period, Marc Staal got one past the Caps’ Braden Holtby.

The steady Joel Ward for some reason decided to hit a home run with Carl Hagelin’s head with 21.3 seconds left, earning a high-sticking penalty. Then the normally reliable Holtby did an “I’m rubber, you’re glue, everything bounces off of me, and then you score” routine.

Two games earlier, Washington fell in triple overtime to the Rangers, the fourth time in their history that the Caps have lost a three or four-overtime game.

Looking back at their history, the Caps have won a lot of regular season games, but only twice in 37 seasons have they clearly overachieved during the playoffs, in 1990 when they made it to the conference finals, and in 1998, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Montreal Canadiens edge top-seeded Washington Capitals 3-2 in OT in playoff opener

April 17, 2010

The Montreal Canadiens surprised the Washington Capitals with a 3-2 overtime win in Game 1 of their best-of-seven playoff series Thursday night at Verizon Center.

Tomas Plekanec beat Jose Theodore 13:19 into overtime during a three-on-two break for the game-winner.

Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak made 45 saves to lead the Habs past the league’s highest scoring team in just his second playoff start and, incredibly, Montreal held MVP candidate Alexander Ovechkin without a shot.

Click here to see the rest of my article on examiner.com.

Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?? Don’t talk about PLAYOFFS!!

January 10, 2010

As a Redskins fan, you end up adopting other teams during the playoffs. I’m rooting for the Colts in the AFC and the Saints and Packers in the NFC. I was also rooting for the Bengals.  I was rooting against the Jets because of their arrogance, and against the Cowboys because they’re the Cowboys. So I’m 0-2 so far.  I’m also rooting against the Chargers because of Never Nervous Norvus. One other thing – it’d be nice to see Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay eventually beat Brett Favre and Minnesota.

As much as I hate Dallas – and it would be terrible if they were to win the Super Bowl – the silver lining in their win over Philly is that Wade Phillips got his first playoff win.  I think Phillips has been unfairly criticized. Phillips has been much maligned, and there’s only one reason:  he doesn’t fit the mold of a typical coach.  He’s not a strict disciplinarian.  He’s not pompous during his press conferences.  He tells it like it is.  He wears sweatshirts.

People want someone to act like a Brian Billick or a Marty Schottenheimer — someone who speaks in platitudes (I just had to look that one up).  We love the way Herman Edwards said, “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME” even though he was 6-26 in his final two seasons as coach of the Chiefs.  These days, NFL head coaches are mostly public relations people who deal with the media.  The people who really affect teams are the assistant coaches.

I believe that most people are awed by someone with an authoritarian voice.  It matters less the content of what is said than how it is said.

Likewise, people want athletes to fit a certain mold.  Doug Flutie could have been a great NFL quarterback but was rarely given a chance because of his height.  People would rather have a taller quarterback even if he can’t play. Too much emphasis is placed on style rather than effectiveness.

Anyway, back to the NFL playoffs. (I know, I’m really getting off topic). Before the season I predicted that the Saints, Eagles, Colts or Patriots would win the Super Bowl.  I’m going to stick with the Saints and Colts, but I think just about anyone left can win it all except for the Jets and the Ravens.  The Jets are just too one dimensional to win even one more game, and I can’t see the Ravens beating the Colts or Chargers.

Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Chris Webber: the Three Blind Mice

May 6, 2009

I’ve been watching the NBA on TNT for many years now and the crew of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson are usually entertaining, and sometimes even correct about what they say.  Last night, Barkley, Smith, and Chris Webber made fools of themselves.  They took what Dirk Nowitzki said totally out of context and criticized him mercilessly for no reason.  

In Game 1 of the Denver Nuggets-Dallas Mavericks series, Kenyon Martin shoved Dirk Nowitzki to the ground hard and got a flagrant foul.  Then Barkley, Smith, and Webber – the Three Blind Mice – criticized Nowitzki for not doing anything.  However, if Dirk had punched Martin he would have been thrown out of the game and they would have criticized him for that. 

Less skilled players have always tried to provoke stars in hockey to get them to retaliate but thankfully the NHL has cracked down on that.  It doesn’t happen as much in the NBA but there is still a big danger that retaliating will get you thrown out.  During Game 4 of a playoff series in 2007, Robert Horry of the Spurs made a flagrant foul on Steve Nash of the Suns, which got Horry ejected from games 5 and 6, but the Suns’ Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw got ejected for Game 5 for leaving the bench, and the Spurs won the final two games of the series.  So it would have been stupid for Dirk to react to the incident.  Just last week the Magic’s Dwight Howard got ejected for a game for throwing an elbow.

Then they showed a clip of Nowitzki talking about three of the Nuggets defenders.  “I think Birdman does a good job because he’s so long.  He contests my shot.  Martin and Nene are stronger and they try to body me more and Birdman’s just long and when I shoot he can still jump up there and contest the shot.  So, yeah, they’ve got three very good defenders.” 

The Three Blind Mice went off about how terrible it was for Nowitzki to say that, misquoting him and implying that the quote meant that they could stop him, and criticizing him for not trash talking.  

First of all, what Dirk said was no different than what any player on any team in any sport says all the time.  He is complementing the other team because to do the opposite would result in bulletin board material that could potentially fire up the opponents.  If he had done what the Three Blind Mice wanted him to do, he would have been criticized for saying something stupid. 

Second, Nene, Kenyon Martin, and Chris Andersen are a very good trio of big men.  The Three Blind Mice are right that they can’t guard Dirk but Nowitzki was just factually describing that they are good players.  Take a look at Dirk’s quote again and now look at how the three former players interpreted it.  

Chris Webber:  “Dirk is scared of a defender.  I’ll tell you why I could stop him.  I can stop him because he got that push.”  Really?  Because someone pushed Nowitzki and got a flagrant foul that means that you could stop him, Chris?  CWebb, there is no way you could stop Dirk.  If he reacted then he would have risked being kicked out of the game.  “I’ve never heard a scorer, I’ve never heard a true warrior, a dog, say ‘this guy can check me.’  First of all, Nowitzki didn’t say, ‘this guy can check me.’  He said they were good defenders.  This quote is no different than any other quote ever.  “I’m saying that he doesn’t want to get pushed anymore so he’s conceding and being very nice and saying they are the best ever.  I’m just shocked.”  The best ever?  Look at Nowitzki’s quote again.  What you say is a crock.  Get rid of your alligator shoes and practice your commentary.

Chris, you say some intelligent things, but this time you sounded idiotic.  Dirk’s quote was probably a reply to a question like this: “Can you talk about the big men that are defending you – Birdman, Nene, and Martin?  What makes them hard to play against?” 

Kenny Smith:  “It feeds the stereotype that this guy is playing a little soft.”  On what Dirk said:  “I’ve never heard that before.  So then Charles chimed in and he’s never heard that from a great MVP.  I’ve never heard a great scorer say that guys can guard me.  This is the most I’ve ever heard.  I’ve heard a guy go, ‘they do a great job of trying to guard me but I can hit the shot that I want every time.’  Look at the quote again, Kenny.  

Charles Barkley:  “That pisses me off every time I hear that.  If a guy even thought he could guard me I’d tell him, ‘I’m going to kick your ass tonight.’  Grandma Barkley would say, ‘You can’t let people tell you they can stop you.’  Then he started to bring up “Grandma Nowitzki” before E.J. stopped him.  First of all, the Nuggets defenders never said they could stop Dirk and Dirk never said they could stop him.  Barkley went on:  “One of the keys to being a great player is having so much confidence in yourself…for Dirk to say that guys can stop him, that’s just not cool…There might be one guy who can stop you or slow you down, but three can’t.”  Nowitzki never said guys could stop him.  Look at the quote again.    

Webber went on, “You can’t guard me!”  Smith replied, “And that’s what you’re supposed to say.”  Webber said he’s played with a lot of great players and “never heard one of them say you can check me.”  Wrong, Webber.  This quote is no different than millions that have been said throughout the years.  Dirk did NOT say, “you can check me.”  He said Birdman’s length poses a problem while the other two are more power players.  They are good defenders.  That’s it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

Shame on Ernie Johnson for not offering up a different opinion until much later in the show.  

Part of the problem with sports as entertainment is that productivity, or winning doesn’t matter.  It just matters how you do something – what kind of style you have.  It’s why Shaquille O’Neil is considered a better player than Hakeem Olajuwon, when Hakeem was much better.  Shaq never won a title without all-time greats alongside him.  Does Shaq have ANY offensive moves?  He loves to talk, though.  It’s why Dwight Howard is considered a better player than Yao Ming when Ming is a much better center.  Howard is more gregarious and Yao is more humble.  Respect other cultures and understand that players from Europe and Asia can still be great players without shouting it from the mountaintop.  

David Robinson was called “soft” because he didn’t trash talk and didn’t have tons of tattoos. How could one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in NBA history be soft?  All Robinson did was win the Rookie of the Year, win a gold medal as part of the Dream Team, win two NBA titles, win the NBA MVP, was named Defensive Player of the Year and in 1994 scored 71 points in the final game to win the scoring title.  Robinson was named one of the top 50 players in NBA history. 

It’s why Art Monk, one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, took 8 years to make it to the NFL Hall of Fame (see http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php and www.myredskinsblog.com).  He was modest and didn’t trash talk, and for that reason, many didn’t like him.  

Webber:  You helped dismantle the Washington Bullets franchise and your antics were part of the reason they changed their name to the Wizards.  Abe traded you away, young for old, big for small, just to get rid of you to have solid citizens.  Who are you to criticize Dirk?  At least he made it to the finals.  You were known as a talented player who was afraid to take big shots during crunch time and when you did take those shots they were jumpers.  You pretend that you are tough but you grew up privileged, going to a cushy private school in a nice area. 

Smith:  You were an NBA bust until you got on the Rockets, and then it was Hakeem’s team.  You were a 3-point shooter, not a point guard.  Rookie Sam Cassell was brought in during crunch time during the NBA finals in ’94 and then again in ’95 while you were on the bench.  You’re a good commentator now but for many years you were painful to listen to on TNT and the way you talk doesn’t seem 100% real or authentic. 

Barkley:  You recently said that your DWI last year was the best thing that could have happened to you because you did it countless times and would have kept doing it until you got caught.  Really?  You’re almost 50 and you didn’t realize you should be drinking and driving? You admit that you would have continued to do it if you hadn’t gotten caught?  Maybe if you had played more defense you would have won an NBA title.  Late in your career you relied on the 3-point shot too much.  Yes, you’re entertaining but half the stuff you say is wrong.  But you say it with authority and that’s enough for most people.  

For the record, Dirk had 28 points and 10 rebounds against Denver in Game 1 and 35 points in Game 2.   The Mavs will probably lose the series to the Nuggets after being down 2-0 but not because of Dirk.  The Nuggets have the better team.  

***

Now that I’ve had a day to think about it, I stand by everything I wrote. What Barkley, Smith, and Webber said was much worse than ridiculous and inaccurate.  

However, overall these guys are usually good commentators and entertaining.  Also, I feel sorry for anyone under 25 because they didn’t get to see Barkley in his prime and he was unbelievable the way he ran the floor, coast to coast, dribbling the ball for dunks. Smith was a good player and a great three-point shooter.  Webber was a great player though he could have been better.  He should have had an NBA title but didn’t get one through no fault of his own.  The refs robbed the Kings of that series vs. the Lakers in 2002 and the Kings would have beaten the Nets in the finals.

As for Dirk, he has won 9 playoff series.  Compare the number of playoff series Nowitzki has won compared with other superstars:

Nowitzki  - 9

Yao Ming – 1

Carmelo Anthony – 1

Tracy McGrady – 0

Brett Favre – Greatest Player in the History of the World?

December 15, 2008

Note – I originally wrote this in July so it’s a little outdated, but I stand by it.  I’m glad Favre is doing well now though so I won’t get accused of posting this after Favre played badly.  Because, trust me, he will play badly at times later this season, most likely in the playoffs.  Actually, the Jets at 9-5 already have doubled their win total from last year, but they made a bunch of great offseason acquisitions – offensive linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, fullback Tony Richardson, and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, who has been the best defensive player in the NFL, to name a few.  Meanwhile Green Bay has lost more games than they lost all of last year, but I still think they made the right decision by starting Aaron Rogers.  I have to admit, I am a little surprised and impressed by what Favre has done this year, and if he leads the Jets to the Super Bowl, maybe I’ll change my tune.  But I still think he’s one of the most overrated players of all-time.  Just a few weeks ago, he threw a ball away in the end zone.  The commentator said, “That was a smart play.  The old Brett Favre would’ve tried to force it.”  By “old Brett Favre,” do you mean the one from the previous 17 seasons?  Now, they have him “managing the game.”

 

This Brett Favre thing is getting pretty old.  Every year he says he’s going to retire only to come back.  For someone considered such a tough guy, he sure acts like a diva.  Actually he is tough – he never misses a game.   But he has to be one of the most overrated players ever.  He’s had a great career, but it gets a little tiring to hear the John Maddens, Tony Kornheisers, and other members of the media constantly fawn over him.  Actually, if any other quarterback did the things Favre regularly does – throw off his back foot, throw into triple coverage – basically make a lot of dumb plays – He would be considered much less of a player. 

 

Favre has won slightly more playoff games than he’s lost (12-10) but he’s choked big time in several playoff games.  He threw 6 interceptions in a loss to the Rams in 2002.  The next year, Favre’s Green Bay Packers lost at home to Michael Vick’s Atlanta Falcons after being undefeated at home.  I don’t think Favre belongs in the same sentence as all-time greats Joe Montana and John Elway, and I’ll only put him on the same level as Dan Marino because Favre won a Super Bowl and Marino didn’t.  But I still think Marino was better.  I strongly believe that Steve Young was better than Favre, and it wasn’t even a contest.  Young did everything Favre did but was a much better scrambler and decision maker. 

 

Also, the idea that Favre never had great receivers is ridiculous.  Just because he didn’t have a Hall of Famer who played 10 years doesn’t mean he didn’t have a lot of talent.  Sterling Sharpe was one of the best of his era, and Antonio Freeman was very good too.  So were Robert Brooks, Andre Rison, Javon Walker, Donald Driver, and Greg Jennings.  Plus he had two great tight ends, Bubba Franks and Mark Chmura.  Finally, Favre had a great head coach in Mike Holmgren, and more offensive coaches who went on to become head coaches in the league than just about anyone else, including Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, and John Gruden. 

 

By the way, when quarterbacks such as Favre, Manning and Brady, as well as receivers such as Randy Moss and Terrell Owens put up numbers that are out of this world, let’s remember that passing statistics have exploded in recent years.   I originally published the table below at http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php last January in my article advocating Art Monk to get into the NFL Hall of Fame.  Even football fans often don’t realize that not only was there a huge increase in passing stats during the second 14 years of the Super Bowl era, but that there was an even greater increase in these numbers during the past 14 years. 

                                         

NFL

1966-1979

1980-1993

1994-2007

Number of individual 4,000 – yard passing seasons

2

19

46

Number of individual 100 – catch seasons

0

3

50

Number of 1500 – yard receiving seasons

0

5

15

 

Favre will be in the Hall of Fame.  You can’t argue with his numbers.  Most TDs, most yards, most consecutive games, 7-1 record in overtime games, etc.  But he also holds the NFL record for the most interceptions at 305.  And counting.


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