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2014 NFL Powre Rankings – Training Camp Edition

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2014 NFL Powre Rankings – Training Camp Edition
M.D. Wright
7.25.2014

Every summer, fans of each team engage in virtually useless conjecture about their team, and the fans and players on other teams, suppositions about where each team will go (in relation to the playoffs), and talking up fantasy football. No one can predict injuries and outlier career seasons from individual players and teams, however. That is what makes the beauty of viewing the NFL so palpable. And with that, the 2014 Inaugural Powre Rankings for the upcoming NFL season kick off today.

  • Note: The 2014 Hall of Fame game, featuring the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills will be played next Sunday, August 3, 2014, 8:00 PM; Fawcett Stadium, Canton, Ohio.

As always, where a team is ranked in July has no real portend of their success, just merely a barometer based upon free agency signings, outstanding injuries from 2013, draft selections and other personnel movement.

1. Seattle Seahawks.
The Seabags won their first Super Bowl in February 2014, and look to repeat. However, this will not be easy with RB Marshawn Lynch already holding out of camp, and with the entire league gunning for them with their best game.

2. Denver Broncos.
Denver continues to address its relative defensive woes (some would argue that there is more stress placed upon the defense because of the efficiency and prolific nature of the offense) by acquiring players such as DE/LB DeMarcus Ware, S TJ Ward and CB Aqib Talib. However, it will be interesting to see whether those players are able to integrate with the remaining pieces on defense, and whether Denver can have a consistent running game with RB Knowshon Moreno now in Miami.

3. New England Patriots.
One would think that with all the injuries the Patriots sustained (and still made the AFC Championship Game) that they would be favored to be right back in that game (barring major injuries) once again in 2014, or nah?

4. San Francisco 49ers.
San Francisco won’t be as good as they were in 2013, regardless of the health of NoVarro Bowman. They still do not have a legitimate #1 WR, and now TE Vernon Davis is engaged in contract squabbles. This is their last year to try and win a Super Bowl with the current core of players, before major changes will be made (starting with RB Frank Gore).

5. Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay will be right there this year. Aaron Rodgers’ injury likely cost the Packers three wins and valuable advantages over a team such as Carolina, who it would have likely faced had the season continued on the plane in which it was heading prior to Rodgers’ injury.

6. Cincinnati Bengals.
It’s put up or shut up time for Andy Dalton. The Bengals have surrounded him with talent and a great defense.

7. New Orleans Saints.
It will be worth noticing how the Saints continue to mutate offensively, as they have continually shuffled several of their RBs out of town in the past three years. Their defense was much better in 2013, but the offense was not nearly as efficient (particularly away from the Superdome.)

8. Kansas City Chiefs.
Andy Reid-led teams are almost always in the hunt, but they always seem to come up short because of some coaching detail that costs them in close games. In 2013, it was the complete sieve that the defense became following their midseason BYE Week, and the misuse of RB Jamaal Charles (while relying far too much on QB Alex Smith) that did them in.

9. San Diego Chargers.
The Bolts benefit from playing in the far extreme southwest, out of the minds of many. However, they will be sneaky good with several key offensive players returning, and continuing to reload with younger players on defense.

10. Indianapolis Colts.
Andrew Luck continues to get a pass for his performance in his three career playoff games, but the Colts do need to bolster the offense and prepare for life after Reggie Wayne, while the defense is still missing a stalwart LB and defensive line pressure.

11. New York Football Giants.
The Giants made more moves in free agency in 2014 than they have in many years; mostly out of necessity. With a complete overhaul of an offensive system under which even casual fans could predict 80% of the plays correctly, and further bolstering the depth on a defense that was 8th in the NFL in 2014, the Giants are in position to prove that 2013 was the nastiest of aberrations, rather than an actual barometer of the team’s fortunes heading forward.

12. Arizona Cardinals.
The Cards will be every bit as good as they were in 2012, especially defensively, but they are indeed heading in a different direction offensively, as curiously pointed out by QB Carson Palmer, who would be looking for work right now if not for a strong finish to 2013. They had zero run game for long stretches last season until RB Andre Ellington emerged. They lost WR Andre Roberts and are entering what is likely their last year with WR Larry Fitzgerald.

13. New York Jets.
The Jets had one of the best drafts in the NFL in May, and also added several complementary pieces such as WR Eric Decker and LB Jason Babin. Jokes about their irrelevance and being a circus atmosphere had best be put to rest, even with Loudmouth Rex forever lurking.

14. Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers are going to take somewhat of a step back, but not too far, because they run the ball especially well. They won’t really lose much defensively, with the departure of non-key members of what was the weak link of a great defense in the first place (the secondary, and FS Mike Mitchell). WR Kelvin Benjamin appears to be starting out in a Cris Carter-in-Philadelphia package, but the player who inhaled the game-winning touchdown pass in the 2014 BCS National Championship for Florida State has Calvin Johnson build and Calvin Johnson ability.

Eventually.

15. Detroit Lions.
The Lions have to put it all together eventually, don’t they? QB Matthew Stafford has to cease and desist with the National Stone Skipping Association sidearm throws, which seemed to doom the Lions whenever they lost games. They don’t quite have a good enough defense to overcome the massive errors of the offense. But when this offense is on, it is extremely difficult to slow down.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers.
If the Steelers go anywhere in 2014, it will be because their defense made plays. QB Ben Roethlisberger carried a very lacking WR/TE corps in 2013, and they lost a key cog from that WR corps to Denver, without adequately replacing him. That is asking a lot from #7.

17. Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens had arguably the best draft along with the Jets and Rams, but most of those players are on defense.

18. St. Louis Rams.
Same thing goes for the Rams, who will almost certainly have a Top 5 defense this year, and the absolute best pass rush (with or without LB Michael Sam), but unless WR Tavon Austin has a breakout season, where is the explosiveness going to come on offense? This is make or break time for QB Sam Bradford.

19. Chicago Bears.
The Bears have done little to improve their defense, outside of plugging a couple of holes. The problem is, nearly the entire defense WAS a hole in 2013. Jared Allen alone will not cut it.

20. Minnesota Vikings.
Offensively, you’d think the Vikes would be set with RB Adrian Peterson, and all-world playmaker-in-the-making WR Cordarrelle Patterson, with others in tow. But once again, questions about their defense will continue to linger.

21. Cleveland Browns.
Whether it is Brian Hoyer or John Pigskin, the Browns will be better than they finished in 2013. Their defense is plenty good enough, and they played well under Hoyer before his unfortunate injury 1/3 of the way through last season. Manziel brings a different dynamic, but is an unproven commodity at this point.

22. Philadelphia Eagles.
Most rational minds viewed 2013 as an extreme aberration for the Eagles; particularly the performance of QB Nick Foles. With a still-bad defense, and teams having a year of tape to adjust to Chip Kelly’s offense, the Eagles will take a step back. It remains to be seen how big of a step back that will be, but it would be logical to assume that it will be somewhere in the middle of their 2012 and 2013 results.

23. Miami Dolphins.
Lots of bloviation coming out of Miami regarding the tempo of the new offense. Practice is one thing. During a live game is another. The Fins haven’t done all that much to improve their offense, so not many teams have reason to be concerned. Yet.

24. Atlanta Falcons.
Obviously getting Julio Jones back (sooner than later) will help, but the Falcons are awful defensively, and have not done much to shore up that glaring weakness. Matt Ryan got exposed in 2013.

25. Washington Redskins.
Much talk out of Landover about Griffin being relieved that Shanahan is out of town, but having a coach who will go to the other extreme and cater to his every demand isn’t necessarily a good thing. DeSean Jackson does not scare any defense in the NFC East, so looking at the reality that Washington has done nothing to improve one of the worst defenses in the NFL, it is hard to see how the Skins (and no, I will not stop calling them by that name, much like I still use “Bullets” for that other Washington team) will be drastically better. It is possible, but as a starting point (which these rankings are, heading into camp), it is not evident as yet.

26. Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders have a long way to go. But drafting future all-world/son of mine Khalil Mack is one step in the right direction.

27. Tennessee Titans.
No idea what their plan is.

28. Jacksonville Jaguars.
Do they have any receivers? Counting on a rookie does not count.

29. Buffalo Bills.
The Bills are the Bills. Their offseason moves were decent, albeit the trade to swap spots with Cleveland to draft Sammy Watkins was baffling. The Bills always seem to be missing a very important piece that causes them to lose 5 or 6 games in the final minute every season.

30. Houston Texans.
Defense wasn’t the issue in Houston. It’s all about the lacking offense. Booting Matt Schaub out of town did not change that fact. Who is their quarterback? RB Arian Foster is about to further show why he wasn’t drafted in the first place (and largely a product of the zone blocking system when he was successful), and you have a WR in Andre Johnson who no longer wants to be there. This is not to be glazed over.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There are too many questions surrounding this team, even if they had a decent draft. On paper, they should be a playoff team. That was the case in 2013, though.

32. Dallas Cowboys.
Tony Romo is coming off major back surgery and is now 34 years of age. Dallas may score relatively well, but they had the worst defense in the NFL (and the second worst of all-time) last season, and lost their top three defensive players to free agency (LB DeMarcus Ware, LB Jason Hatcher) and season-ending injury before the season began (MLB Sean Lee), while not adding anyone of any consequence to the defense. That pretty much dooms them to being the worst defense of all-time, particularly given Dallas’ aversion to running the football and managing the clock; further putting their defense in peril. They won’t go 8-8 again for the fourth straight year, but what they will actually be will have their fans begging for 8-8.

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Today’s Passing Thoughts


Today’s Passing Thoughts
M.D. Wright
7.18.2014

People love talking about what they would do in a given situation that they have never found themselves. Even better, they love to talk about how they would never find themselves in certain situations (in trouble with the law, jobless, homeless, without money), because they are “too smart” to find themselves there.

Those are like the holy rollers who love to tell you about exhibiting faith, when they have never had to use faith themselves.

I pray that some of these moral superstars never find themselves on the wrong side of the law, or end up in a situation where they become the “minority” and get redlined for jobs, housing, insurance and business loans, because I know for a fact those of that ilk wouldn’t last TWO DAYS in those scenarios.

The common denominator? They’re all gutless, spineless gashes who wax superiority until the shoe is on the other foot. Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth.

 

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Passing Thoughts About Gossips

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Passing Thoughts About Gossips
M.D. Wright
7.16.2014

I love whenever people pop up to tell me what others say behind my back. “See, that’s why cats can’t stand you blah blah blah.”

Son, I don’t even care what is said to my FACE, much less what is said behind my back. Nothing gets real until you violate the physical, then there will be problems.

Words are a weak man’s weapons, and you aren’t going to ever affect someone whose mastery of vernacular laps yours. You’ll just get beat at your own game (as many have tried and found out the hard way when dealing with me).

I stopped caring what people said behind my back before I even left high school. In fact, I have become proficient at knowing not only WHO was talking about me behind my back, but what they said, and playing dumb as if I don’t already know. I have confronted people who swear they are slick and told them that I know what they say and who they say it to. You would have thought they saw Jason Voorhees.

Talk away, just don’t get yourself in something you can’t get out of by putting your hands on me, is all.

In Response to the Poorly Written Tripe by Matt Walsh…

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In Response to the Poorly Written Tripe by Matt Walsh…
M.D. Wright
7.3.2014

* – For those who haven’t had the (mis)fortune of reading this drivel, the URL is here: http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/06/19/dear-single-men-time-man-figure/

I have several problems with this article. For one, it is short-sighted. Secondly, one action begets another. Women dictate what men can do (or “get away with”, if you will) when it comes to the dating scene. Every action elicits an equal and/or opposite reaction. Yin and yang. Hand in glove. Cart before the horse. ToMAYto/toMAHto. You cannot exhort men to “man up” when it isn’t nearly the issue that the aforementioned article’s writer makes it out to be.

I have serious problems with this line of thinking from two standpoints:

I’ve been broke and no income/employment. I’ve had money and business flowing, and in both situations, I was waiting to meet just ONE woman who was looking to build and take it from there. Not ONCE have I met one, regardless of what financial state (or geographical, as I was in NC for a while before coming back to NY), and it is like the perception exists like there is this smorgasbord… a bevy… a plethora of available women who don’t have slide buddies and are completely detached… that you can accomplish this feat with. There are plenty of men who want to build a legacy of marriage and family and simply have no suitable mate with which to do so.

I took my mind completely off even trying for over two years now. And at age 35, I am virtually checking out of wanting to get married at all.

A lot of this is useless conjecture. There is a direct parallel and sliding scale between men’s actions and what women allow.

If 60 out of 100 women acted like sluts and slides, guys will govern themselves accordingly, while the other 40 sit back and wonder why they can’t find a respectable man.

If 100 out of 100 women (hypothetically and actually) were to align their actions with the WORDS that we always seem to hear from so many of them, no man would be able to get away with any of this.

In short, men do what women allow them to get away with, and if that means just being F buddies, FWB, casual/serial daters, hook up partners and noncommittal cowards (just as so many women are nowadays), then that’s how they will govern themselves.

The onus is first on women, despite men’s inclination to hunt, pursue, lead and set the tone for any relationship, should it get to that point.

All this internalization and personal story sharing is irrelevant if we don’t FIRST acknowledge this FACT — not opinion — about how women are the ones who hold the cards in how men act in accordance and respect towards women.

It still does not negate the fact that so many women nowadays cheat (often more than men) are commitment-phobes, and don’t want any part of a relationship where they aren’t merely f*ck buddies. That is today’s landscape for the most part. Not all. But many. Many of those who claim they want to get married are either older and can’t get by on their looks anymore, or are ugly and/or insane. Not all, but many.

Bottom line, you cannot write a column telling men to man up without factoring in the newfangled BS that men have to deal with nowadays with “today’s woman.” They are mutually exclusive. What is perceived as men not “manning up” has a great deal to do with this.

This is fact. Not opinion.

When you want a relationship and marriage for the right reasons, simplicity and effective communication are atop the list. Yet by asking for so little, you get accused of asking for “too much.” When you make your intentions known within the first few months, you get the cold shoulder, yet this hack “writer” thinks that by not playing yourself in that manner, that you are not “manning up” while women nowadays play the games even more than men?

There isn’t so much a fear or unwillingness among men (not nearly as prevalent as some like to think, anyway) as the FACT that the following things are occurring more than previous generations:

– Women cheat more than ever.
– Women are less willing to settle down and marry before 30 now more than ever.
– Women can play the string along, noncommittal game and get away with it with even more ease than men ever did, now more than they (n)ever (did before.)

There is nothing to STEP UP to, when your options for doing so with a woman of that same cloth are just as scarce as their options are among men, and vice versa.

I am not one to go anti-feminism, because there were (as incidental as many were, IMO) benefits to that movement, but the downsides are manifold; three of which were highlighted in my bullet points earlier.

Cannot address men in the manner of this column without first acknowledging those three bullet points (and several other pivotal factors that contribute to it all) and assessing how much of an influence THOSE are to how men act towards women when it comes to defining relationship titles and all that other shit.

In fact, men are very simple. If they want to build towards marriage beyond dating, they will do so. If they don’t want a commitment and choose to live that other lifestyle, then they will. Women are very discerning creatures as it is, so even if he doesn’t come out and articulate that he wants to sow his oats, or if he’s truly into you and wants to settle down and marry, then you will know even before he voices such.

However, since he’s telling men to “step up” (flawed logic, and as a man, he KNOWS this is off base) as it were was a surefire way to get women who want any and every platform to voice their qualms with men in their past (or current) to click here.

I’m the first to take men to task when they are out of line, and it appears to be a growing epidemic, but this particular article is hogwash. He’s had a long track record of good work, so I will write it off as a throwaway piece. But the notion that men are somehow abdicating their roles and subjugating themselves to something less than what they are, while women are left to “pick up the slack” and “have become more masculine as a result” is ludicrous.

I tend to understand the gist of what he meant, and took it as such, but if there are just as many (and ever-increasing in number) women who are noncommittal and want no parts of settling down, there is much more to the issue than men “stepping up.”

In fact, that onus on men is a good number of pegs down on the totem pole from what the PARAMOUNT issues are when it comes to the decline in fruitful relationships and marriage.

My point is that none of this has anything to do with “stepping up.” Guys who want commitment/marriage either make it stately clear, or at least demonstrate that they are seriously into the woman, and either experience reciprocity, or get put on the back burner while she goes and explores other options. Her right, for sure, but the whole stringing along phenomenon and needing to “step up” is not the issue so much as the lack of transparency and simple honesty is absent in growing numbers amongst both men AND women when it comes to dating and beyond.

The problem with basing this phenomenon on how quickly and often women “give it up” is the thinking that by making him wait that anything will be any different. If anything, that 90 Day Rule trash only stirs up feelings of spite and resentment even AFTER he waited and “got it.”

Giving it up early on does not necessarily make a woman a slut, and waiting weeks, months or even YEARS (as if?!?!) does not necessarily mean you are this virtuous flower, nor does it necessarily portend good things.

Some of my worst experiences in relationships were when I was made to wait for months. I respected the women who I was in relationships with who were HONEST (oops there’s that word) with their desires and acted upon them ingenuously, rather than using sex as if it were a carrot dangled in front of a rabbit, constantly at arm’s reach.

Then again, I was always in it for more than just sex.

That’s where women’s discernment has to factor in, and that is one of the things that isn’t being used when they deal with these men who supposedly aren’t “stepping up,” as Matt so stated. A man can state his intentions, whether it is to simply fool around or build towards relationship, courtship and marriage, and, in many cases, by stating either one, he will be written off as “desperate” or “moving too fast” in either scenario.

That leads to the dreaded grey area where noncommittal people often find themselves nowadays. It isn’t about “blame” as much as it is merely stating why things are the way they are nowadays.

 

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