Category Archives: Superbowl

Murray, Misleading, Money, Mistake

For the longest amount of time the Dallas Cowboys had been a mediocre team that showcased a multitude of deficiencies, year in and year out.

For a couple of years the problems came on the defensive side of the ball. While other years, it was poor O-line play, and lack of experience coaching wise. But even with those problems being at the forefront, there was still a problem that lingered and hindered them for a long period of time. That problem happened to be the lack of a run game.

During the 6-10 and countless 8-8 seasons, the ‘Boys went through a plethora of runningbacks. Guys like Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Phillip Tanner, Felix Jones and Sammy Morris had opportunities to shoulder the load, but none of them seized control of the moment like DeMarco Murray did in 2011.

Drafted in the 3rd round with the 71st pick he wasn’t sought out to be the #1 back. He was looked at as guy, for some, who would be a decent backup to Felix Jones. Meant to ease his load as he was often injured. Little did we know Murray was going to end up being a capable back.

DeMarco Murray’s Career Stats (Rushing)

Year  Games  Attempts  Yards   Y.P.C    Fum   TDs

2011:   13          164         897         5.5        1          2

2012:   10          161         663        4.1          2         4

2013:   14          217        1,121       5.2         2          9

2014:   16          392        1,845     4.7           3         13

When Murray was coming onto the scene and taking over for Felix Jones, he started to generate some buzz and make a name for himself. He was a hard runner who had pretty good vision, but would leave yards on the field as he tended to follow his blockers. And was deemed as a guy prone to injury. Solid, but not a stud. (AP, Charles, McCoy, Forte, Foster, Lynch, Rice, Turner).

As the years went by and he progressed, there started to be talk in regards to feeding him more and let Romo take a backseat. That argument really didn’t have much spring to it until after 2013 when he played in 14 games. His most to that date.

With Jason Garrett’s coaching job on the line, Romo’s back issues, and Murray’s contract being up; the Boys decided to run Murray, much to his liking this past season to see what he could do and also because it was the smart thing to do. Murray responded by breaking Smith’s franchise record yard count with 1,845 yards, and helped Romo have a career year and led the Cowboys to a 12-4 record.

Good things happened when he was fed the ball. They maintained drives. Opened up opportunities for Dez and Witten. Kept the defense off the field. Controlled time of possession. Spectacular.

From the outside looking in Murray seemed/seems to be the sole reason for the Cowboys success when that isn’t the case at all.

Did he help? Sure, but it’s deeper than him.

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From 2011-13 the Boy’s finished 8-8.

In 2011: the O-line wasn’t that good and ended up being the start of the rebuilding process as the Cowboys drafted left tackle Tyron Smith in the first round. (Murray also drafted). Injuries came all across the line plus Murray didn’t play in three of those games. This team was also one of the most heavily penalized teams. Garrett was the play caller.

In 2012: the defense ended up being historically bad. (3rd worst all time.) Rob Ryan was the defensive-coordinator, and despite his progression as a player, Murray showed a knack for getting injured. Star linebacker Sean Lee missed 10 games gutting the defense. Jason Garrett was the play caller. They were still heavily penalized. Rarely forced turnovers. However, Dez was officially established. And Murray missed 6 games.

In 2013: the Cowboys drafted center Travis Frederick in the first round aiding the line. Monte Kiffin became defensive coordinator changing the scheme of the defense. Sean Lee missed 5 games. Murray missed 2 games. And Tony Romo missed the final game of the season. The defense was a record setting defense and the worst in NFL history, ever. Bill Callahan was play caller. (Offensive coordinator as well.) Heavily penalized still.

In 2014: the Cowboys drafted guard Zack Martin. (All-Pro as a rookie). Murray played in all 16 games despite getting injured. Romo played in all 16 games. Rod Marinelli became defensive coordinator. Scott Linehan became the offensive coordinator as well as play caller. Callahan was moved to offensive line coach. The defense was slightly on par with being average. Sean Lee missed the full season. This team wasn’t penalized as much as previous years, and the defense forced the 2nd most turnovers in the league.

As I stated before, Murray was a key cog in the Cowboys success but he wasn’t the main reason.

Guys like Witten, Romo, and Dez made the game easier for him as he did for them. All of those guys were already proven stars while Murray was still on the cusp.

Having Murray did hide the defense some; but how much of it was really him when the defense was second behind Houston in forcing turnovers?

His leadership on the field was nice too, but does that out do Rolondo McClain’s and Justin Durant’s leadership on the other side of the ball? Oh wait, what about Dez being vocal and rallying guys hyping them up? Was that just Murray too?

I’m guessing Marinelli making the most of what little talent he had defensively was more about Murray too.

Football is the greatest team sport there is. Each man HAS to do their job for the other to succeed. Collective effort bottom line.

With all of that being said DeMarco Murray did deserve to be paid. Just not by the Cowboys.

Dallas couldn’t have afforded him and still have money to make some moves on the defensive side of the ball. Throw in the facts that the o-line is elite, Murray is prone to injury and that he started to slow down at the end of the season and the decision is a no brainier.

Running-backs can easily be replaced. You can have a two back tandem, a three headed monster, or just one stud and have a nice amount of production. Especially with a good offensive line.

With this upcoming draft being RB heavy, the Dallas Cowboys can easily find a replacement for DeMarco at a CHEAPER cost for four more years. Simple and smart. There will be money to add new players as well as feed your own.

The Bengals have a two headed monster. The Bills had a two headed monster. The Ravens found a quick Ray Rice replacement in Forsett….

The Boys are playing it smart right now, which is good. They know what they are doing.

Recent history shows they have a plan…

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Food For Thought:

Backup RB Joesph Randle

2013: 13 Games 54 Attempts 164 yards 3 YPC 2TD

2014: 16 Games 51 Attempts 343 yards 6.7 YPC 3TDs

Was it really Murray making the o-line or did the o-line make RBs in general better?

Only time will tell.

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Tom Brady: The Modern Day GOAT

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This past Super Bowl game highlighted the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady versus “The Legion of Boom”. This game was a legacy game for Brady; for all of those that doubted him and for all of those who believed him to be a cheater after the recent AFC Championship Game.

With the entire nation watching, Brady struggled early on in the first half but by the 4th quarter he had turned it on by picking apart the #1 defense of the past 3 years. With an amazing drive down the field that ended with a touchdown to Julian Edleman; the Patriots had taken a 4 point lead. The Seahawks had the ball with roughly two minutes remaining.

I honestly can’t remember that much of the drive as I try to recollect what happened. I know I see Russell Wilson chunk the ball down the right sideline, trying to test Malcolm Butler down the field and make something happen. Then with Malcolm Butler playing tremendous defense, somehow someway Jermaine Kearse hits the ground, kicks the ball to himself, then it bounces off of both hands and then makes the catch. I officially believed the game was over and that the football gods would never allow Brady that final ring.

The next play Marshawn Lynch gets an easy run all the way to the goal line and it seemed to all be over. Then some kid named Malcolm Butler, who just let potentially the game winning catch happen on his watch, jumps the slant route at the goal line and the rest is history.

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The question now is, who is the greatest quarterback to ever play?

In most NFL fans’ eyes the top two are Joe Montana and Tom Brady. If you’ve read my article ranking the top 15 QBs of all time, I had Joe Montana at #1. I also claimed that if Brady could get the 4th ring that had eluded him for so long, that the debate for greatest of all time could become legitimate.

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I would like to start off saying I do not care about somebody being undefeated in any championship format. Montana being 4 for 4 or Brady being 4 for 6 does not matter to me at all. If anything, I find it more impressive that Brady was able to make many deep playoff runs. Actually lets start off with this.

Montana played 15 years and Brady up to this point has played in the NFL also for 15 years. (Even though technically Brady wasn’t given a chance as a starter until his second season.) Montana has 4 one and done’s. Which means he went to the playoffs four times without winning a single game.

In those 4 games, Montana had 817 yards (roughly 204 yards a game), 2 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions. The reason I bring up these stats is to show that these games lost can be put on Montana’s shoulders by not throwing a single touchdown in 3 of the 4 games.

Brady has 2 one and done’s. In those two games he threw for 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Again blame can be put on the shoulders of the quarterback in this situation because you’re not helping your team if your TD:INT is 1:1.

Joe Montana in 1989 cultivated the greatest post season run that has only been matched by one player since. In that ’89 run, Montana threw 78% for 11 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. The most touchdowns in a post season for Brady happen in this past playoffs in which he threw 10 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. Montana is 16-7 in the playoffs compared to Brady’s 21-8.

Postseason Edge: Very slightly Brady

Now to the regular season comparisons. Montana has six 10+ win seasons. Brady has double the amount with twelve 10+ win seasons. The one year Brady didn’t have 10 wins, he went 9-7. Brady brought together one of the greatest offenses of all time in 2007 when he threw for 50 touchdowns with 8 interceptions, doing so with Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

Montana had one season with 30+ touchdowns compared to Brady’s five 30+ touchdown seasons. It’s good to note that in Montana’s sole 30+ touchdown season with 31 total TD’s; Jerry Rice had 22 touchdowns that season making up for 70% of Montana’s touchdowns that season, and Rice consistently made up for about 50% of Montana’s touchdowns every year he was there.

Brady’s best year with 50 touchdowns, Randy Moss accumulated 23 touchdowns making up only 46% of his touchdowns. Brady led a team to only the 2nd ever perfect record in a regular season going 16-0.

Regular Season Edge:Brady

Another thing to note about each quarterback. Brady’s team went 11-5 with him out for an entire season when Brady went out in the very first game of the season. Montana went down and was replaced with young prospect Steve Young who went on to win a Super Bowl without Montana being in the picture. In this argument though I have to give it to Montana because the 49ers got really lucky finding Steve Young who could be argued as the most efficient quarterback ever.

Now the surrounding cast. Montana had Jerry Rice, who by many is seen as the greatest football player to ever play, John Taylor who was a legitimate threat opposite of Rice, and Roger Craig who was a threat from running and receiving recording over 1,100 yards from scrimmage in 7 straight seasons. Brady has had Julian Edleman, who was huge in this past Super Bowl and was named to the all pro team, Randy Moss who I believe and many others believe to be the second greatest receiver ever, Wes Welker who I do believe was good but I can’t help the fact that he became a 3rd or 4th option when he went to Denver, and Gronkowski who I believe if he can stay away from injuries, will go down as the greatest tight end of all time.

All of the weapons I named for Brady came after his initial 3 rings. Montana didn’t have most of the weapons I listed for his first 2 rings but also had arguably the greatest defensive player to fall back on with Ronnie Lott and an overall loaded defense. Not to say that Brady didn’t have his own defense to fall back on, as they were the firepower of those first 3 championships. Both quarterbacks had great coaches and are even in that aspect.

One of the biggest arguments to look at when comparing the two is the fact that there was no salary cap back then. The San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, and a few others were loaded with money to pay guys.

Throughout Brady’s whole career a salary cap has been put in place. Brady makes it easier on himself a bit by constantly taking pay cuts to sign other guys, but the Patriots are not able to go out and get the top free agent every off-season. All around Montana just had a lot more help. Brady hasn’t had any of his weapons besides Gronk who has been riddled with injuries most of his career, and Welker for more than 3 years.
Edge: Brady

In conclusion I see the arguments both ways. If you say anything different than me, I’m not going to say you’re wrong; I’ll just give the facts as I see them, but Brady has a slight edge in every aspect. I can’t shake the fact that the one and only time he had a top 10 receiver he almost went 19-0 and threw for 50 touchdowns.

He could have 6 rings right now if not for Mario Manningham making one crazy catch, and Eli throwing into double coverage after the pocket broke down to some guy named David Tyree who caught the ball on his helmet making arguably the greatest catch of all time.

You can argue that Montana in his Super Bowl appearances never let the game be close enough for that to happen, but he also didn’t face the teams Brady did. Brady beat the “Greatest Show on Turf”; which is still recognized as the BEST offense of all time; the Eagles lead by Donavan McNabb, Terrell Owens, and Andy Reid; plus this last Super Bowl where Brady beat the Legion of Boom who beat down statistically the greatest offense ever two Super Bowls ago 43-8.

Brady has done as much if not more depending on how you look at it, with less than Montana had. The greatest quarterback to ever live is out on the field and is looking to extend that legacy even further. Tom Brady is the greatest of all time.

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Super Bowl XLIX

So here we are, after a long wait Super Bowl Sunday has finally arrived. This game could turn out as one of the best ones yet, as the defending champions Seattle Seahawks look to defend their crown against legend Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The match ups within this game are so compelling, that it is literally the closest thing to a toss up you can get in a Super Bowl. On one side you have 2 of the best players at their positions in Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski going up against one of the most fearsome defenses in NFL history, the Legion of Boom.

The Gronk vs Kam Chancellor matchup is the one that has everyone salivating at the mouth as it could very well be the one that decides the game.

The Patriots have been the most creative team in football on offense by constantly moving receivers and tight ends and it really gives defenses fits. Even though we did see the Legion of Boom dominate a record breaking offense last year against the Peyton Manning led Denver Broncos, it’s a tough call on which group will get the best of each other. However, it will surely be the hottest sight of the game.

On the other side of the ball we have a Seattle Seahawk offense fresh off a incredible comeback vs the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game. It will be very interesting to see how Russell Wilson rebounds from his worst statistical performance of his career, but he seems to be very confident going into this game. The catalyst of that offense though, is Marshawn Lynch as he is coming off an offensively explosive second half vs the Packers.

This will surely be the Seahawk offense’s biggest challenge of the year as they play the red hot Patriot defense led by arguably the best corner in the game; Darrelle Revis. Revis is joined by former pro bowl receiver Brandon Browner, who played with the Seahawks last year, and who has brought that LOB swagger to New England.

The Patriots front seven is no slouch either as they possess a multitude of athletic linebackers such as Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. If they can find a way to slow down Beast Mode and keep Wilson in the pocket and force him to beat them with his arm, Seattle will be in for a long day. Clearly there are a good amount of different matchups that we just can’t wait to see; so much so that it’s hard to tell which one will be the most impactful.

After 2 weeks of being under a microscope because of the deflategate scandal, the Patriots can finally play football, but their are concerns whether all the speculation has slowed their preparation for the defending champs.

There is also a lot of legacy riding on this game as well as Tom Brady tries to inch closer to Joe Montana with 4 Super Bowl rings. On the other hand Russell Wilson will try to become the youngest player in NFL history to get 2 Super Bowls.

Then, we have the Legion of Boom who will try to cement their legacy as one of the best defenses of all time with wins over both Manning and Brady; something no other defense can ever say they’ve accomplished.

This is the most hyped up Super Bowl in recent memory, and it surely does have the star power and story lines to back up that hype. Also, if there is one thing that is going to be certain about this game, it’s that Seattle will not run over New England like they did Denver last year. This will be a good old fashion thriller.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 26-23

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2015 Wildcard Preview and Prediction

After months and weeks of anticipation we’ve finally arrived to the playoffs where we have a clear cut view on who the 12 teams competing for the Superbowl are.

Within those 12 teams you have the:

(1) 12-4 NE Patriots

(2) 12-4 DEN Broncos

(3) 11-5 PIT Steelers

(4) 11-5 IND Colts

(5) 10-5-1 CIN Bengals

(6) 10-6 BAL Ravens representing the AFC

and the

(1) 12-4 SEA Seahawks

(2) 12-4 GB Packers

(3) 12-4 DAL Cowboys

(4) 7-8-1 CAR Panthers

(5) 11-5 ARI Cardinals

(6) 11-5 DET Lions representing the NFC.

Seattle, New England, Denver and Green Bay all get the week off (Top 2 teams in each conference) so that leaves us with eight teams playing this weekend.

Saturday 4:20 PM ET

Cards  cam

(5) Arizona Cardinals vs (4) Carolina Panthers 

Throughout the season both teams suffered a ton of injuries. Carolina’s injury woe wasn’t as severe as the Cardinals though. Arizona lost key players on the defensive line, in the secondary and in the line-backing core. On the offensive side of the ball the Cards lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and starting running-back Andre Ellington. Hall of Fame bound receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t been as productive either because of the injuries he’s been battling. Because of the offensive injuries Arizona has been having a tough time generating points.

This season Carolina has been in a funk just like it’s fellow NFC South counterparts. After having a stellar year last season Cam Newton has failed to deliver the same type of success due to the lack of weapons he has in his current arsenal. Despite injuries (distractions Hardy) to the defense and Cam having a somewhat down year the Panthers still managed to win their awful division. Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he can be a solid weapon and running back Johnathan Stewart has returned to a solid form, for now. They also have tight-end Greg Olsen playing at a high level.

Coming into this game the Cards have lost 4 of their last 6 games and managed to score over 17pts one time. They are on their 3rd-string quarterback and rank 13th in stopping the run and 29th in defending the pass. The Panthers are rolling right now having gone 4-0 in December. They rank 7th in rushing the football and 12th in passing. With Arizona pretty much being a team that relies on the defense to score Carolina should be able to dictate the flow of the game as long as Cam and co. don’t turn it over. The Panthers should win 16-9 with Cam getting playoff win #1.

Saturday 8:15 PM ET

ravens steelas

(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (3) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens and Steelers both faced questions going into the season. The Steelers dealt with questions surrounding the defense as well as their running game. The Ravens had to deal with the never ending, traumatizing Ray Rice debacle. With Rice gone there was a void that needed to be filled in order for Baltimore to take the next step. Journeyman running-back, Justin Forsett, stepped into the starting role and complemented Joe Flacco to near perfection. With the addition of Steve Smith SR. and the arrival of Justin Forsett the Ravens offensive dynamic changed.

The Steelers at the beginning of the season were a model of inconsistency. Midway through the season that started to change. Led by the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown and the 2nd best running-back in Le’Veon Bell along with Ben Rothlisberger the Pittsburgh Steelers became a fun, yet rather scary team to watch. They would dominate on the ground as well as kill teams in the air. They went undefeated in December and are on a roll.

Heading into this match-up these division rivals split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Steelers are 4-1 since their Bye while the Ravens are 4-2. In this specific game the Steelers will be without Bell who was the 2nd leading rusher and will also have a limited Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Baltimore on the other hand is healthier and they’ll be getting star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back to help man the middle. With Bell being out the onus falls on the shoulders of Big Ben. The Steerlers are 2nd in passing while the Ravens are 23rd in passing yards allowed. Big Ben could very well win this game but being one-dimensional could end up costing them. The Steelers will hand Joe Flacco his 1st Wilcard loss. Big Ben is is rolling right now and has more than enough offensive weapons in the passing game to beat Baltimore. Steelers win 34-27

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

Bengals colts trip

(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs (4) Indianapolis Colts

These were two teams that people thought would take the next step, especially the Colts. Andrew Luck was basically enshrined into the Hall Of The Fame without doing anything. Nevertheless the Colts won their porous division with little to no competition. En route to going 11-5 they got dominated by the likes of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver and New England. They went 4-5 against teams that are .500 and 2-4 against playoff teams. No resemblance of a running game and having only one stud receiver (TY Hilton) hurts them.

The Bengals started off the season on FIRE. After a few weeks they resembled a Superbowl team but quickly faltered after their Bye week. As of late they’ve been battling injuries that have plagued A.J. Green making the offense somewhat stagnant. Depending on the day Cincy can kill you with an aerial attack led by the likes Andy Dalton with Mouhammed Sanu and Green at his helm. Or they could gash you up on the ground with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. You just never know with them.

Going into Sunday’s game the Colts have won 5 of their last 6. They are the best passing team in football but are top 3 when it comes to turning the football over (Andrew Luck). The Bengals have been solid as of late but got shut out earlier in the year by the Colts, losing 27-0. This game will more than likely not feature AJ Green. Dalton doesn’t have a playoff win nor does head coach Marvin Lewis. Unless Cincy runs the ball over 40 times, AJ Green suits up or TY Hilton isn’t 100% I don’t see the Bengals misfortunes coming to an end. Colts win 45-13

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

lions Triplets

(6) Detroit Lions vs (3) Dallas Cowboys

Often sought out as the most talented teams in the NFC, the Lions and Cowboys always seemed to disappoint until this year. Going into the season many predicted this would be Lion’s quarterback Mathew Stafford’s break out year. They changed coaches and gave Stafford more help by bringing in Ex-Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, to complement Megatron. The Lion’s exceeded a few expectations because of how they managed to win games without Megatron. Golden Tate had a career year and the Lion’s defense was arguably the best in the league.

The Cowboys have exceeded everyone’s expectations excluding their own. They’ve discovered a new identity as I stated here (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-new-dallas-cowboys/) and have improved defensively. They boast arguably the best quarterback of the season in one Tony Romo, the leading rusher in football, Demarco Murray and wide-receiver touchdown leader Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also own the best offensive line in football. The game is won in the trenches and the Cowboys dominate in that aspect.

Ever since the home loss to Philly, the Cowboys have been dominant. They’ve scored 40+ points in 3 of their last 4 games (38 in one game) and are rolling on all cylinders. Dallas also went 4-0 in December. Detroit won 4 of their last 5 and have been very stout defensively. Defensive tackles N.Suh (monster) and Nick Fairley should be good to go giving the defense a boost. The Boys are the 2nd best team running the ball while Detroit is #1 in stopping it. Flipping the script, the Lions are 6th when it comes to turning over the ball and the Cowboys are 2nd in forcing turnovers. The Cowboys will win 27-14.  Stafford just isn’t efficient enough to win and is prone to turn it over multiple times resulting in Dallas getting easy scoring opportunities.

Each game this weekend is compelling and should be competitive.

Comment below with who you think will win each game.

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