How Am I Better Than Anyone?

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I go to this photo yet again.  Fitting, my buddy Brian is getting ready to say a tearful goodbye for a year in about a week.  He was the architect behind this amazing photo of me in my prime…

 

I think anyone who reads my stuff knows that I’m a pretty self deprecating.  I find that people like it.  People aren’t threatened by someone who talks down about themselves.  Sometimes this gets confused for a lack of confidence, and I wouldn’t classify myself as a highly confident guy.  But I don’t lack it either.  I’m just very self aware.  I know what my strengths are, and I know what my weaknesses are.  But I’m going to talk down about someone today.  Not because I think I’m good, but because of how embarrassingly bad this guy is.

 

This is brought up because of a writer named Joshua Cooper.  I actually brought him up a few weeks ago in a piece I did talking about the David Perron deal.

 

He did a piece on it too, or so he said anyway.  What he ACTUALLY did was use it as an opportunity to bash the Oilers.  Hey, I’m not going to be a hypocrite.  The best week I’ve ever had on here was on the back of 2 Oiler pieces where I crushed management and urged fans to boycott the team.  But, time and place.  He took the David Perron trade to try and mock the Oilers further.  He was only late on the trend by about a month.  Better than me at trends I guess.  I just got my very first pair of cords this week.  Yep, never got on the “cords train” back in 97/98, but I’m all in on cords now.

 

I had been following Cooper on twitter up until last week.  Even though the Perron trade piece he did was terrible, I assumed it was a 1 off and people are going to mock the Oilers (deservedly so) until they finally turn a corner.  But I stopped following Cooper last week and I had to go back on his twitter account to see why I unfollowed him.  I couldn’t find anything specific so I came to the conclusion that because he was no longer the Preds beat writer (he was fired), that I just thought the guy brings zero to the table.

 

I never would have seen his garbage blog that got me writing this had it not been sent to me.  I guess on one hand, awesome for him because I’m sure it’s gotten a lot of attention.  But call me crazy….I would like to be known as being good at something rather than being a joke among fans and peers.

 

I’m not going to post a link to the blog I’m referencing, bad enough that he’ll get more clicks because of this (8, assuming everyone who reads this clicks it twice).  But it was about how he is hoping that Jack Eichel and Connor McDavid go to Carolina and Arizona.

 

Thing is, had he talked about how it would be best for the league that those 2 go to struggling markets, I would have had ZERO issue with it.  Wouldn’t agree with it, but I totally get that point of view despite being an Oiler fan my entire life and living in Northern Alberta.  That would be the intelligent road to take.

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I don’t know if it’s fair that I say Cooper is ONLY keyboard tough, looks like a guy can hold his own…

 

But no, my man “Coop” instead tries to bash Edmonton and Buffalo.  Calls Edmonton “Hoth”.  I had to look up what the f*** Hoth was, I don’t speak geek.  Apparently it’s from Star Wars (and that’s no lie, the only Star Wars I’ve ever watched are the Family Guy episodes), and what he’s getting at is Edmonton is unbearably cold.  The forecast for Edmonton today?  High of +7.  The forecast for Nashville today where Cooper is from?  High +7.  But hey, it’s fashionable to bash Edmonton and “Coop” has to jump on these opportunities!

 

He later goes on to attempt to claim that the Oilers have ruined all their top picks.  Yakupov is the only one you can make that claim about, and he was the product of an awful draft and even then he likely should have been the Calder winner in 2013 after leading the league in rookie scoring.  He struggled under Dallas Eakins, we’ll see how he does under Todd Nelson.

 

Apparently according to “JC” they’ve ruined Draisaitl too because they sent him back to the WHL.  Ok…call me crazy but it might be a TAD BIT early to say they ruined a 19 year old, just thinking out loud.  But what do I know?  I’m just a lowly bottom of the barrel blogger.  I don’t have a gig with a great hockey writing organization like “Puck Daddy”.  Pretty bad these days when the Hockey News has a better reputation than you do, but “Puck Daddy” somehow willed their way to it.

 

Later on, he goes to the sources.  Bob McKenzie?  Elliotte Friedman?  John Shannon?  Darren Dreger?  GLENN HEALY!?  Nope.  “Cardiac Cane”.  This is like me writing a piece on how I believe the Oilers are going to win the Cup in 3 years and a blogger named “Lowe on Oil” agreeing with me.  Seriously!?  THAT guy thinks the Oilers are going to bust out of their 9 years of awfulness?  What are the odds!!?

 

He goes on to say that “Everyone wants it (except for Edmonton or Buffalo fanbases).”  Yeah, no doubt.  Us Canadians…you know, the country where 7 teams generate 2/3 of the league’s revenue…are always just craving the best players to be in the sun belt to boost those attendance numbers from 4 all the way up to 9 per game.  I’m also certain that fans of teams in the Pacific division would be all about McDavid coming to the division no matter which team it is.  So yeah, other than about 90% of fans, EVERYONE wants this, totally agree.

 

I also found this tweet from “the Coopster” later in the day:

@JoshuaCooper By virtue of being in warm weather, Arizona fans clearly are horrible and don’t deserve anything good in hockey life per my comments …

 

What fans??  Look, I get it.  American hockey writers have a chip on their shoulders when it comes to Canadians.  They feel like they’re looked down upon by Canadian fans and media, especially the ones that are amongst the sun belt teams.  “Fans here are more intelligent than you think, they love hockey here, yada, yada, yada”.  Well, “J”, my man, this is why we all think that.

 

Canadian hockey fans see pieces like this, and pieces like your boss Wyshynski does (and in fairness I can honestly say I’ve never read a word the guy has wrote but from hearing the podcast a few times I don’t have any respect for his hockey knowledge), and seeing a guy like Adrian Dater completely implode on twitter, do you REALLY wonder why we think this?!

 

But going back to him believing that it’s “best for all” that McDavid and Eichel end up in these markets, does he actually think it’ll fix them?

 

It won’t.  The Yotes had a winner.  3 straight years in the playoffs.  2012 they had home ice all the way through, went to the WCF.  This isn’t Pittsburgh and Washington, markets who had been proven to be great markets in the past.  In Raleigh, they won the freaking Cup!  They’ve had a guy who if he wasn’t at one time a superstar was definitely a huge draw in Eric Staal, and they STILL didn’t draw.  Short of the 80’s Oilers being reincarnated in either market, they aren’t drawing fans.

 

As for him taking runs at Buffalo, he’s already taken a massive beating for that from Sabres fans.  And a lot of Sabres fans made the same point I’m about to, which is why are you lumping the Sabres in with the Oilers!?  Buffalo hasn’t been awful forever!  This is their 2nd season of being at the bottom.  You can’t take every team which is bad and just start claiming their fans don’t deserve success because they’ve had a couple of brutal seasons.  The sad thing is that I don’t think Marissa Cooper realizes that.  I just think he honestly believes it’s fashionable to rip on the bottom end teams, so he blindly does it thinking it’s cheeky.  If it was well thought out, then maybe.

 

But that’s my biggest issue, is NONE of this is well thought out.  And yet this guy is somehow got a gig.  WOW.  I’m more stunned than pissed off about all this.  Just simply stunned that I’m actually better than someone who does this for a living and not in his spare time.

 

I’m not looking to get attention for any of this.  I’m not going to call the guy out on twitter or tweet this at him, he comes off as a guy who is keyboard tough anyway.  And I’m definitely not saying you should read my stuff because I do this more for fun than anything and I’m far from a pro at it.  But the problem is that he’s far from the only one in that position.  Keyboard tough, would run if anyone ever called him out in person, keeps trying to be the Spike Lee to your Reggie Miller, it’s disgusting.  How about looking to be good at your job?  It’s just this crazy theory I’ve always had.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Intimidation Factor

lat-sp-farmer-kam-chancellor-photo-20140107“They found a way to win the game” or “they find ways to win”.  Whichever way you say it doesn’t matter, but man alive this might be the most ridiculous cliche in sports.  Because what you’re essentially saying is that “I don’t know how they won, but it must have been because they’re better because the winning team is always better”.  Are there not people in life who are ahead of you despite not working as hard and having less talent?  Guaranteed there are.  So why is it that this is impossible to happen in sports?

 

It’s not.  The fact is that the better team doesn’t ALWAYS win.  But when that happens, people who don’t want to admit that roll with “they found a way to win”.  Story of the Calgary Flames season really.

 

But I don’t know if that’s what we saw in Seattle yesterday.  I do think the Packers gave the Seahawks the game.  But the Seahawks incredible D kept giving them hope.  The Packers couldn’t finish drives, couldn’t deliver the knock out blow.  And if you give Russell Wilson enough chances, he’s going to figure it out no matter how great your D is playing.

 

No doubt, they literally needed a bounce on the onside kick, and people can point the finger and Brandon Bostick all they want.  But it isn’t as if onside kicks don’t ever work and the Seahawks had one work for them at the right time.

 

What I really believe happened above all else is that the Seahawks right now have going for them right now is the intimidation factor.  They are in teams heads because they have been so good for 3 seasons now that even if they play poorly like they were on offense yesterday, teams have that fear.  “Don’t f*** up, don’t f*** up, don’t f*** up”, and what do you do?  You f*** up.

 

I wrote about this after the 2014 World Juniors.  That’s what was going on with the Canadian World Junior teams after they collapsed in the 2011 Gold medal game.  They were choking in all the big moments, and frankly nearly did it again this year!  Nobody feared them, like they did from 2005-2009.  In those years, they were getting all the breaks in the big moments.  They had composure from having won so much, and their opponents were telling themselves “don’t f*** up” or “He испортить” in Russian, “Jävlas inte upp” in Swedish, “Älä sotkea” in Finnish, and “Neser se” in Czech.

 

This is where it is at with the Seahawks right now, and it quite honestly makes for incredibly compelling football.  And now we get the big matchup.  The last guy to knock off so to speak.  Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots who really won’t be intimidated at all by the Seahawks D.  This will be the ultimate test for Seattle, and it comes on the biggest stage.

 

Are they one of the all time best teams and in line to be a dynasty?  We are going to find out.  From a betting standpoint I’m going to assume the Pats open as 1.5-2 point favorites.  As I’m typing this it’s Sunday night, 7:19 and the Pats have just gone up 38-7 so coming off a blowout win and the Seahawks coming off a game where people will debate whether or not they were the better team, the Pats will open as the favorites.  All I know is you couldn’t get a closer matchup.  Pretty damn sexy Super Bowl, excuse me if I overlook the NHL all-star and Pro Bowl games next weekend getting hyped for this.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Super Bowl XLIX

tempKDN_4851--nfl_mezz_1280_1024Well this is it!  The biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl.  And what a matchup this will be featuring the clear cut best teams from the AFC and NFC going at it.

 

Yes, New England vs Seattle is the contest most desired to see when the season began.  Can Tom Brady, maybe the best post season QB of all time be the one who finally figures out the vaunted Legion of Boom and the rest of the Seattle D?  We are now just 2 weeks from finding out!

 

Oh.  I forgot, each of these teams have games today.  Meh, I don’t care.  I’m calling the shot right now.

 

Andrew Luck is awesome, but he has no chance at all going to Foxboro.  The Pats humiliated the Colts earlier in the year with a running back who I’m not even sure is still with them!  Even in winning last week, you could tell the Colts are going to have absolutely no chance in this game.  Better D?  Pats.  Better run game?  Pats.  Better coach?  Pats.  Better QB?  Probably Colts, but it’s a tiny gap at best that doesn’t make up for all the short comings.

 

Up in Seattle, it’s just a horrible matchup for the Packers.  The Cowboys would have had a shot, as we seen earlier in the year when they went to Seattle and won.  We also saw the Packers go there and get embarrassed.  Sure, that was week 1 and the guy who caused the Green Bay D such problems is no longer with the Seahawks, but it doesn’t matter.  Russell Wilson is SO good, I don’t care what the hell his numbers are.  All the guy does is keep drives alive, and does so with basically no weapons.  So the Packers D won’t be able to get off the field as Lynch beats them up and Wilson converts 3rd down after 3rd down.

 

This will be the same story it always is when the Seahawks are on.  The game will be tight at the half, Pete Carroll will make his adjustments and the Seahawks will dominate the 2nd half.  Rodgers being hurt will not help matters, but even at 100% as good as Rodgers is I just don’t see it.

 

Unlike the Colts/Pats game, I do see at least a possibility of the Packers winning.  They need to give Eddie Lacy the ball 30-40 times which is easier said than done, and I believe they need to utilize Randall Cobb.  Trey Wingo of ESPN said Friday that he thinks the Packers will win and they’ll do so going to Cobb in the slot.  I personally believe they could do so running Cobb on a lot of screen plays and utilizing him the same way the Seahawks did Percy Harvin in week 1.

 

But in saying all that, it’s just not going to happen.  I’ll look like a total moron if I’m wrong, but you all know I’m a moron already so what do I have to lose?  Pats and Seahawks, both in routes, see you in Glendale boys.

 

Oh yeah, my picks.  4-0 last week.  8-0 in the playoffs IF I had not played the opposite game wildcard weekend.  So technically I’m 4-4 in the playoffs, but go back and read it and you’ll see I had all 4 of those games….not that I’m now extremely bitter about it or anything….

 

Green Bay at Seattle

Seahawks -7.5

As much as I just got through gushing over the Seahawks, I was tempted to take the Packers just because it’s a pretty big number.  But the Seahawks blow teams out and will again this week.

 

Indianapolis at New England

Patriots -6.5

Read the blog if you really want to know why.  I would take the Pats if the Colts were getting 20.5.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Burke v Tippett, For Some Reason, The Debate Rages On

Tippett_Burke_325This former Coyote is about to get ugly!  Get it?!  That was a popular popcorn movie from the year 2000 that teenage males such as myself flocked to the theatre to see expecting something that was borderline porn only to see a damn chick flick!!  I vowed that night Piper Perabo would never star in a movie again, so I did get some measure of revenge for spending 6.50 (back in my day, 10 bucks would get you into a movie and a 590 ml pepsi…)

 

So the Minnesota Wild decided that to fix their goaltending they would go out and get a guy they could have had for free just 11 months ago.  They get a guy they could have got as a UFA just 7 months ago.  No.  The way they see it, if they think he’ll be the answer in net, is they just got a guy who has been touched by the hand of god A.K.A. the goaltender “whisperer”, Sean Burke.

 

Ask anyone around the NHL, and I’m talking some of the most respected people, and they seem to all say the same thing and that is everything Sean Burke touches turns to gold and he is the greatest goaltending coach that hockey has ever seen.  Ok….

 

Some of you may recall one of my first blogs.  Ok, so none of you will remember this.  Either way, I did a piece on how I found it pretty laughable that Ilya Bryzgalov was supposed to be the answer to Philly’s problems in net and nobody seemed to notice that this is what happens to goaltenders while playing for Dave Tippett.  3 years later, and a few more goaltenders to prove my point, these people STILL DON’T NOTICE!

 

How can nobody figure this out?  Sean Burke is not some amazing revelation!  If Burke is so incredible, then why is it that Marty Turco and Mike Smith looked amazing playing for Tippett while he was the head coach in Dallas, then once they were with new teams there numbers fell way off?  Smith in 4 years in Tampa only once had comparable numbers.  Above .900 save percentage once out of 4 years in Tampa, his lowest playing for Tippett was .906.  That was his worst year under Tippett.  .910 or above every other season for Tippett until of course this season which we will see how it plays out.

 

Bryzgalov looked amazing playing behind Tippett’s teams, leaves, and he’s a career journeyman since.  Why wouldn’t what Sean Burke taught him have kept working?  Why did this amazing knowledge take only 50 games to be forgotten by Bryz?  It’s almost as if it’s not the goaltending wizard, but the coaches system?

 

So now here comes the latest guy, Devan Dubnyk.  Obviously I, like many Oiler viewers over the years know him well.  I had said in the past that he needed to go to Phoenix (at the time) and that he would thrive, not because of the “magic” of Burke, but because of the “magic” of playing for a coach who is all about limiting quality scoring chances which in turn will boost a goaltenders confidence.  I for once got it right, that’s exactly what happened with Dubnyk.

 

But now we will see.  Again, like Bryz I would think that if it’s all Sean Burke, then obviously what he learned from master Yoda (never watched a Star Wars in my life, unless the Family Guy ones count) will always be remembered and he will go on to thrive in the NHL from here on out….right?!

 

Here is what I bet actually happens.  He comes in with some confidence so maybe he helps the Wild get out of this horrific slide they’re currently in (and by the way, I had that right too while every media guy in Canada was slurping them as this “emerging power” before the season).  But before long, Dubnyk is going to fall back into bad habits, lose his confidence and he’ll be out of a job again.  Can his confidence hold up long enough to get this team back into the playoffs?  I don’t know, but I give it no more than until seasons end for it to last.

 

This guy isn’t a starting NHL goaltender, it’s that simple.  And the Wild don’t play the Jacques Lemaire style they used to.  Part of the reason their goaltending is so bad is they play very loose defensively.  But that’s not very fair of me to give Jacques Lemaire all the credit for how they used to play, it must have been their goaltending coach…

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

 

Nothing Sexy About Rexy

imageNo matter how much we improve, and how much more intelligent we all get as the years go on, there just never seems to be a shortage of things that leave people with any kind of common sense scratching their heads.  Take me for example.  Anyone who knows me would tell you “he’s PRETTY stupid”.  Guilty.  But even I’m smrt (wink) enough to know that if you have a football team that is outstanding defensively and really needs an offensive mind running the show that you don’t bring in Rex Ryan.  Yet, that’s just what the Buffalo Bills did.

 

Rex is a lot of things.  He’s colorful, he’s abrasive, he’s loveable, and he’s one of the best defensive co-ordinators in the NFL.  But he isn’t a great head coach and more so than that, he has no clue how to get anything out of his offense.

 

This is one reason I so often defend Mark Sanchez.  I remember 2009 and the build up to the 09 draft.  Heading into that draft, Sanchez was the hot name.  Matt Stafford was going 1st to the Lions, but Sanchez rocketed up everyone’s draft boards, it wasn’t just the Jets who were in love with the guy.  GM’s and scouts not only loved his talent but found him to be an engaging guy and a great leader.  He had the “it” factor that everyone is always searching for in their QB’s.

 

In his first 2 seasons in the league, it was people were right about him and it looked as though he was on his way to a Tom Brady like career in leading the Jets to the AFC title game in back to back seasons.  In the second of those two seasons (2010) he defeated Manning and Brady, both on the road, to get there.

 

But what happened with Mark?  He eroded under Rex Ryan.  The entire offense did.  The Jets rarely spent high draft picks on offensive talent and when they did they took raw guys who didn’t have the ability to step right in (Stephen Hill).  The offensive line started to deteriorate, the running game became below average, and soon the Jets were a laughing stock again.

 

This all happened under Rex’s watch.  So why is a team with no QB and one of the best D’s in football hiring THIS guy?!

 

My guess is that everyone loved him.  Again I go back to all the things that Rex is.  I would guess that if I were to meet Rex sometime I would find him to be one of the coolest guys I would ever meet.  I would be raving about having met Rex Ryan, much the same way people rave about meeting Brian Burke in the hockey community.  Tells it like it is and has that bar stool/common man quality.  He’ll win the press conference as he did yesterday when he was introduced by the Bills.  But that doesn’t win football games.

 

So who was better?  Mike Shanahan comes to mind.  Marc Trestman also comes to mind.  And people would likely say “those guys both were train wrecks in the end as well!”  Yes, but they fit the need for the Bills better.  And in the case of Shanahan I would suggest that franchise has always been a train wreck with or without him.  In the case of Trestman, I believe the organization totally ignored the defensive side of the ball for far too long and this season it caught up with them.

 

Now the Jets aren’t the most functional organization in sports, but I don’t think they’re the shit show they get made out to be either.  Under Eric Mangini they weren’t, nor were they under Herman Edwards.  They had not been since 1996 in Rich Kotite’s final season as head coach.  That is until things started to deteriorate under Ryan.

 

Maybe Rex will learn.  Maybe he’ll bring in a Marc Trestman to be his offensive co-ordinator and let it be Marc’s show.  For the sake of Bills fans I sure hope that’s the case.  But I doubt it.  More likely than not, the Bills made a hire based on PR rather than football and this organization will continue to spin it’s tires for another 2-3 years until they figure out that the hire didn’t work.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Who’s the Greatest? Who Cares

16753996-mmmainIf a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?  Everyone at some point in their life has debated this question, but we all come to eventually realize that it is pointless because there is no right or wrong answer and there never will be.  So for all these people who want to talk about who the greatest QB in NFL history is, may I ask why?

 

This gets brought up of course because Peyton Manning lost on Sunday afternoon which moved his record in the playoffs to 11-13 all time.  Doesn’t matter that he was hurt, doesn’t matter that the Broncos D couldn’t shut down a 1 dimensional Colts offense, all that matters is he lost apparently.  People who want to bash Peyton Manning’s career because of what he’s done in the playoffs are just ridiculous to me.

 

Is he the best ever?  In my opinion no.  And I’m not criticizing anyone who has an opinion whether you agree or disagree with mine.  The people I’m taking aim at here today namely are the ones who can’t WAIT to tell you their opinion.  And most of these people seem to hate Peyton Manning.  So any time Manning loses a big game they can’t WAIT to jump on twitter and say “seeeeeeeeeee!”  Please shut the f*** up.

 

They somehow believe that this justify’s their position.  You can literally poke holes in any QB’s resume.  Joe Montana?  He was surrounded by amazing talent, especially for his last 2 Super Bowls having Jerry Rice to throw to.  He also had one of the best coaches of all time coaching him for 3 of his 4 Super Bowls in Bill Walsh.  Montana even lost his job to Steve Young, and this was prior to being out for most of the 91 and 92 seasons.  In 88 Young and Montana were neck and neck in the race to be the Niners starter.  In the 1987 playoffs, Young came in for Montana vs the Vikings and nearly led the Niners to a comeback win.  THIS is the best QB of all time?

 

Tom Brady?  Well, he won 3 Super Bowls early.  But he won them being a game manager.  His 3 Super Bowls were the equivalent of Kobe Bryant winning 3 rings when Shaq was so dominant.  The success of the Pats was because of Bill Belicheck and putting together an elite D.  Belicheck was ahead of the curve in managing the game and getting his guys to buy into the concept of turnovers.  Force them and don’t give them up.  It might seem really simple, but at that time there were far too many teams who were sloppy with the ball.  Brady obviously deserves credit, but he wasn’t carrying those teams all by himself, not even close.  Since Brady had the reigns loosened so to speak and started putting up similar numbers to Manning…Brady is 0-2 in Super Bowls, 10-8 post season record heading into this weekend since 2004.  Oh, and 0-2 vs Peyton Manning in the playoffs in that time.  That doesn’t seem so amazing.

 

How about John Elway?  Well, he only went 2-3 in Super Bowls, and didn’t win until Mike Shanahan showed up, Terrell Davis showed up, Neil Smith showed up, Gary Kubiak’s zone blocking scheme showed up, etc.  Wait a minute here…I’m starting to see a theme with the 3 guys I’ve brought up!  They have other area’s of the game where there teams were elite when they won!  Shocking, I know.

 

Look at Tony Romo this season.  It is so fashionable to rip on Tony Romo and talk about how Romo is going to lose it for Dallas and on and on and on.  What happened this season?  Dallas built an elite running game, Dallas had a defense that all of a sudden wasn’t a nightmare, and Romo looked amazing all season with the exception of maybe 2 games where his back was giving him issues.  12-2 in games he played start to finish, 1-1 in the playoffs and maybe should be 2-0 heading into Seattle this weekend.

 

Why do so many intelligent people try and make it black and white when it comes to QB’s?  There is so much to football, not to mention in single elimination the best team isn’t always going to win.

 

Is Manning the best ever?  Again, not in my opinion but I could absolutely make a case for him.  Is there 1 guy who you could point to that is without question?  HELLLLLLL NO!  “Playoff record.  Playoff record.  Playoff record.”  Right, he is under .500 in the playoffs.  He also won a Super Bowl with basically nothing around him when compared to other Super Bowl winners.

 

If I could make one argument in favor of Manning it would be that both Bill Polian and John Elway, as great of football men as they are, both used far too much of their cap space and draft picks over the years on getting Peyton weapons.  He doesn’t need to have 2 stud WR’s and a stud TE.  He makes guys great.  What he needed was a great running game and a great defense.

 

Not to say that he didn’t have that this season, but he was hurt the last month of the season and couldn’t throw.  But hey, if you’re the greatest of all time then you shouldn’t get hurt, right?  I’m sure some moron somewhere has actually made that argument.

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

They’ll Do It, But Probably Shouldn’t

523f30ba9db2d.preview-620The Dallas Cowboys have had what can only be described as a shocking season.  Not shocking because they didn’t have talent.  Shocking because they finally figured out how to use their talent.

 

But this offseason, whether that starts on Monday, or the 19th, or February 2nd, the Cowboys have to prove how smart they’ve gotten as a franchise.  It started when they passed on Johnny Manziel at the draft in favor of Zach Martin which solidified their offensive line.

 

Then they came into this season with the realization that should have happened about 3 or 4 years ago, that they have a really good running back and should be establishing a run instead of putting it all on their elite (yes, he’s elite) QB’s shoulders.  I’ll NEVER get the Tony Romo hate.  The Cowboys hate, sure.  But what in the freaking HELL has Romo ever done to be hated?  He’s failed in a lot of big spots, but that was more about trying to make him do it all than it was on Romo not being great.  I’ll never get the hate for Romo, and I’m sure it won’t go away any time soon.

 

Anyway, the formula has worked amazingly.  12-4 regular season, now with a playoff win under their belts.  And think about this….when Romo played full games, they were 12-2.  PROBABLY would have been 13-3 had he not got hurt, maybe 14-2.

 

But I’m going off about Romo, this isn’t about him.  Well, maybe a bit.  This is about re-signing Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murray.  Both free agents this offseason.  Any fan who is all about fantasy football and doesn’t want to learn the game will call them morons if they let both players walk.  They should let both go.

 

The fact of the matter is that while so many fans love the playmakers in the game, the playmakers aren’t the guys with real value.  The Cowboys don’t NEED an elite WR like Bryant, they have a great QB who makes WR’s look great.  They don’t NEED an elite RB like Murray, they have an elite O-line that makes RB’s look great.

 

I would use the franchise tag on Bryant, then look to move him for a 1st round pick.  I would simply let Murray walk.

 

How could you possibly allow 2 of your best players to walk for only a 1st round pick?  Well I’m not saying you don’t replace them, you do.  But you can find cheap replacements for those 2, and THEN use the cap space you save to upgrade the defensive line and if this team gets a real pass rush, they’ll be the Super Bowl favorites.

 

Let’s hypothetically say they use the cap space to sign Denver DT Terrance Knighton.  You could also use some of that money to take a chance on Panthers problem child Greg Hardy.  Seemingly a total creep off the field, but he’s a stud on the field who you might be able to land for cheap.  All of a sudden, your D-line is much improved with two 1st rounders still to spend.

 

As for WR, how about Michael Crabtree to replace Bryant?  Texas kid, doesn’t have Bryant’s freakish ability but isn’t too far off.  He could be a perfect compliment to Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, and Crabtree has never played with a high end QB like Romo.

 

And then of course RB.  You could draft a Todd Gurly or Melvin Gordon.  But I would sign Adrian Peterson.  Again like Hardy, a problem child.  But you’ll likely be able to get him on the cheap, and I would be more than willing to bet that Peterson has one more great season in him, especially running behind that O-line.

 

But enough about the Cowboys.  They intrigue me so I talk about them too often.  How about some picks for this weekend?!  TECHNICALLY I was 0-4 last weekend, but in reality I was spot on about all 4 games.  So no going with the opposite this weekend, these are picks I’ll stand by!

 

Baltimore at New England

Ravens +7

They’re getting 7?!  Simply put, they shouldn’t be getting 7 points.  Maybe the Pats blow them out, but smart money is on the Ravens keeping this one tight, especially when Joe Flacco is a Lee Evans drop away from being 3-0 at Gillette stadium in the playoffs.

 

Carolina at Seattle

Seahawks -11

What a gift for the Seahawks that the Cowboys won.  Had this been Detroit going to Seattle I would honestly be thinking the Lions pull off the upset, just because they would have been such a bad matchup for Seattle.  But it’s the Panthers, who I expect the Seahawks to destroy.  Honestly, I don’t see how the Seahawks don’t cruise to the Super Bowl.

 

Dallas at Green Bay

Cowboys +6

Rodgers is still questionable.  Now he’ll obviously play, but that calf isn’t going to be healed.  That will give the Cowboys weak pass rush a chance to get to him.  And if they can get pressure on him, I like the Cowboys to pull off the upset here.  8-0 on the road this season, and a team suited for the elements.  The Pack should only be favored by 3.5 here.  Maybe Vegas is baiting me, but I don’t believe so in this case.

 

Indianapolis at Denver

Colts +7

Underdog heavy this week, but it should be.  The bye week seems to hurt more teams than it helps in the last 10 years.  Add to this, Peyton Manning can’t throw.  So if I’m Chuck Pagano, I’m making Manning beat my D by going over the top.  Can he do that?  It sure didn’t look like he could at the end of the season.  Denver does have a much improved and much healthier D than they did a year ago, but Andrew Luck is lethal when he is on.  I don’t know who wins, but I’m thinking it’ll be a close one.

 

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Only Toronto, Nobody Else

Mike Babcock“What would you rather have, fame or fortune?”  If you take the former, my friend, you are a f***ing moron.  This opening has basically ZERO to do with what I’m about to write about, but it was on my mind.  I want anyone who is reading this to understand that if you answer that question “fame”, then I never want to be associated with you in anyway ever again you attention whore.

 

Ok, so Mike Babcock….

 

As I should damn well hope you already know, he is a free agent after this season.  You probably have heard this a lot in the last 48 hours specifically as Randy Carlyle was fired in Toronto and now they’ll be all in to get him.  And if you ask the Toronto media, if he leaves Detroit then OF COURSE he’s going to the Leafs.

 

I’ll tell you, the reputation the Toronto media has is totally justified and this is exhibit A.  Most of these guys would pick fame over fortune I’m certain (hey it actually did factor in!)  Do these guys not realize that there are 28 other teams in the NHL, and likely 20 that would kill to get Mike Babcock behind their bench?!

 

Of course they don’t.  They’re in their little Toronto bubble and can’t see outside of it.  I’m not here to say that Babcock wouldn’t go to Toronto.  If they make a killer offer and he wants the challenge of winning in Toronto then he will go to Toronto.  But if he is to leave Detroit for a new gig, there are PLENTY of other spots that are or could be much better fits.  A lot of pro sports and where guys land is basically about a buddy system, the only guy in Toronto who has ties to Babcock is Shanahan.  He played for Babcock for 1 season.  I wouldn’t say they’re tight with one and other.

 

The Leafs are a mess right now.  Brian Burke rebuilt this team into exactly what they were when Leaf fans were begging for him to go there in 2008.  Sundin, Kaberle, McCabe, Tucker and Kubina have now been replaced by Kessel, Phaneuf, Lupul, and Clarkson (can’t pin him on Burke, that was Nonis).  So I guess it’s progress to have this narrowed down to 4 guys weighing you down rather than 5, but it’s really no better.

 

The Leafs don’t have much on the come either.  Willie Nylander?  Great, a small winger.  Let me tell you something that as an Oiler fan I can say without question, those are the guys you want to build around…

 

So this team is really in no man’s land, and everyone who goes to Toronto fails miserably likely because of how MLSE is a corporation and have far too many cooks in the kitchen so to speak, yet Babcock is just going to be all over Toronto hey?  Ok…

 

So he would pick Toronto over Edmonton right?  Edmonton who are a year away from moving into a state of the art facility after this season, who have tons of assets, tons of young talent to work with, Bob Nicholson in charge who worked with Babcock for both the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, and possibly about to land a once in a generation talent with the top pick in the 2015 draft (and if not him, then a kid damn close to him with the 2nd pick).  So THAT spot isn’t as good as Toronto?

 

Not to mention you’ll still have all the glory of taking a team in a hockey mad city from the bottom to the top.  A city that is the closest in proximity to Babcock’s home town in the NHL.  Oh, and did I mention the Oilers can match anything the Leafs offer him in terms of money?

 

But some of you reading this likely think I’m being an Oilers homer right now, pointing out all their positives and none of their flaws.

 

No doubt, the Oilers to make it happen in my mind would have to clean house in the front office, would have to give Babcock some say over player personnel moves, and would have to bring in a GM who would be on board with hiring Mike.  If the Oilers don’t do this, I doubt Bob Nicholson’s influence and Connor McDavid would be enough to make Edmonton attractive.  But IF they cleaned house (big if considering the owner fetishizes over the men he has in charge) it would be tough to compete with what they could offer.

 

But other teams can…if they have a spot available.  You don’t think Philly would go hard after him?!  And again, the Flyers have a fan base hungry for their 1st Cup in what next year will be 41 years.  And the Flyers have a lot more young assets to play with than the Leafs.  And again, they can match any money offer.

 

What about the Habs?  Babcock went to college at McGill, Michel Therrien has done a good job there but you would be nuts to think Marc Bergevin wouldn’t can him if he knew he could get Babcock in there.  The top team in the East, all world goaltender that Babcock had at the Olympics, all world D-man, a good young group of forwards including Alex Galchenyuk and a real good farm system that is pumping out kids left and right.  Oh yeah, and again, they can match any money offer.

 

But no, don’t tell the Toronto media that.  It’s between the Leafs and Wings, that’s it.  Because you know, Toronto is the end all be all.  Holy hell this media contingent is something else.  Is it just for clicks?  Probably.  The war between TSN and Sportsnet right now might be at an all time high.  TSN is desperate to hold on to viewers, and Sportsnet hired guys more about shock value than actual insight when they were desperate to get viewers.  But can anyone have ACTUAL insight here?  Just a BIT?!

 

Babcock I doubt leaves Detroit.  I think he’s going to wait until after the season, there is zero reason for him to rush signing an extension.  Their superstars are fading and guys like Nyqvist and Tartar get vastly overrated in terms of being franchise players down the road.  But Mike Ilitch is more than willing to spend what he has to, he might have the best GM in hockey running the show, and they are also on the verge of moving into a state of the art facility in down town Detroit.

 

But should he leave all that, there will be no shortage of opportunity for him, not just Toronto, much to the Toronto media’s dismay.

 

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3rd Best Ever?

2015 team canadaNobody will believe it now, but I was thinking this heading into last night’s game.  IF Canada wins, this will possibly be the 3rd best Canadian World Junior team of all time.  Then Bob MacKenzie had to come out and say it during the post game discussion.  Curse that handsome devil!

 

But I really do think this was the case.  Going into the Gold medal game nobody wanted to say it.  Nobody wanted to jinx them.  We haven’t won gold in 5 years and so nobody in this country was feeling too cocky about things like we may have been in early January of 2010 for example.

 

But I’m pretty good at looking back on teams and recalling how they were.  A few come to mind who would be in this category, at least in the TSN era (1991-present).  1996 and 2007.

 

The trickiest thing to do in all this is to not look at how the players panned out in the NHL.  If you go off that, then the 04 and 08 teams are the top of the list.  But the 04 team collapsed and took silver (not to mention had 11 guys from that team on the 05 team), and while the 08 team had Stamkos, Tavares, Giroux, Doughty, Subban, Alzner, Bernier, etc, they were so young at the time and just barely escaped with gold.

 

We don’t know how these kids are going to pan out.  We THINK guys like Domi, Reinhart, Nurse, Morrissey, Duclair, Fucale, etc. are going to be good-great NHL players.  And maybe this will turn out to be a team loaded with NHLers.  Or maybe history will show that this was a down year for a lot of countries other than Canada.

 

The 96 team doesn’t get much love.  I know that Boston didn’t do a good job of hosting that season which makes it a forgettable tournament, and there was no drama.  But there was no drama because Canada steam rolled everyone.  That was the tournament that Jarome Iginla really put his name on the map.

 

If someone would have told you at that time that Nolan Baumgartner would never stick in the NHL and basically be a career AHLer, you would be laughed out of the room.  Baumgartner was CAN’T MISS at that time.  Add to him Wade Redden, Rhett Warrener, Chad Allen (who was also on the 95 team and has since been forgotten), Denis Gauthier and a soon to be 1st overall pick Chris Phillips.  The D was really good.

 

Of course at that time we didn’t have any worries about our goaltending, and for good reason.  I can’t find it anywhere but I BELIEVE the starter in the gold medal game that year (the first gold medal game ever played) was Marc Denis.  Jose Theodore was his backup and named the top goaltender in the tournament.  Yeah, not bad between the pipes.

 

This team didn’t have a lot of guys pan out up front, but Iginla, Daymond Langkow and if memory serves me right Hnat Domenichelli really drove the bus.  Jason Botterill had injuries really derail his career, Alyn McCauley and Curtis Brown both had really solid NHL careers, but weren’t big names.  Christan Dube was another guy like Baumgartner where you just wouldn’t have believed at the time he would have a strictly minor league career.  Dube was a superstar in junior.

 

But the point of all this is that it was a great team as well and deserves to be in the conversation with the 2015 squad.  As does the 07 team.

 

While the 96 is barely remembered, the 07 team is fondly remembered.  Well, at least a certain shootout was.  I remember very well waking up that morning in early 2007 (and at that time I’ll be honest, it might have been early afternoon) and not being sure if what I was seeing was actually happening.  Not because a shootout was so far fetched, but that team had been CRUISING and I had zero doubt they were winning a 3rd straight gold.

 

11 returning kids from a team in 06 that destroyed 19 year old Evgeni Malkin and a high powered Russian team 6-1 in the gold medal game.  Also the 07 had a 19 year old Carey Price in net, so they were LOADED.  That’s as loaded as you can get for a non lockout year.  The stars really have to align, much like they did this year.

 

Marc Staal, Kris Letang, Kris Russell, the late Luc Bourdon, and Ryan Parent.  Five 19 year old D-men who already had gold medals.  Not too bad I would suggest….

 

6 more returning up front but of course 1 superstar and that was Toews.  Other than the close call in the semi’s that year they really had no threat (of course that’s like saying “other than the shooting, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”), but the U.S. had a good team too despite spinning their wheels in the round robin.  Erik and Jack Johnson were studs at the time, Peter Mueller, Kyle Okposo and Patrick Kane gave them a lot of punch up front.

 

Of course any time I have a chance to talk about the 07 team, I also take advantage of the fact I can include this memorable interview…

Just because Canada needed a shootout that year to get past a team doesn’t mean the team was just good enough, it means another team was really good.  Nobody will ever admit it, but in 05 as great as our team was….no other country had a good team.  Even the Russians with Ovechkin and Malkin had no depth.  The 07 team was damn good!

 

So is it dumb to give the 2015 team the moniker as the 3rd best Canadian junior team of all time?  Probably, at least so soon after it is.  And I’m just going off what I know.  I never saw the 82, 85, or 1990 teams.

 

But there is no doubt that this team is deserving of being in that conversation.  An awesome performance, an all time great gold medal game, and the fact that they won it in Toronto will definitely give them a leg up in the argument.  At the end of the day though, who cares?  They won.

 

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Worst Playoff Game Ever

comic-book-guy-laptopIt is beyond stupid of me to make this declaration prior to a game, and it might turn out to be fun to watch, but man does this one have DOG written all over it!!

 

Of course I’m talking about the Panthers vs the Cardinals playoff game today.  2 teams with zero tradition, 2 teams that are boring to watch, 2 teams that everyone outside of the Carolina’s and Arizona wish weren’t in the playoffs.

 

The Cardinals at least deserve to be in.  It isn’t as if it is their fault that Carson Palmer got hurt, and had he not then we would have the Cards in the discussion for the Super Bowl.  Seattle would likely be the 5th seed because the Cards would have finished at least 13-3 even had they still lost twice to the Seahawks.

 

But the PANTHERS….man that is just disgusting.  I have a simple rule change that the NFL can and should make to correct this problem.  A team that wins it’s division is automatically in the playoffs and host a playoff game AS LONG as they finish above .500.  If they finish 8-8, then they cannot host a playoff game and will be seeded behind any wildcard team with a better record.  If they fail to finish .500, then they lose their playoff spot (unless of course for some unimaginable reason they are still the 5th or 6th best team in the conference).

 

Is that so difficult to implement?!  And I think it’s very fair because most would argue that 9-7 shouldn’t even get you home field.  I’m ok with 9-7 because if you end up in a meat grinder of a division then it’s possible that everyone finishes either 9-7 or 8-8 and they’re all good teams who have cancelled each other out.

 

Anyway, that’s a separate blog.  The Panthers are awful to watch, but they’re in, they’re hosting, and they’re likely going to win this game.  They’re a hot team right now, have the better QB, and again they’re hosting this playoff game.

 

But who in the hell is going to watch this game?!  These 2 absolute dogs are playing each other, while 2 really good teams are going at it Sunday afternoon in Dallas as the so called 3rd and 6th seeds, and the 10-6 Eagles sit at home.  Again, this isn’t the Cards fault that Carson Palmer got hurt, and it’s not their fault that Drew Stanton got hurt, but it still makes for an average at best football team playing in a playoff game.

 

Not fun, so you better put some money on it!!  Now, in the last 3 playoffs I am a PATHETIC 1-11 picking games on wildcard weekend.  So here is what we are going to do, and that is pick the opposite.

 

If I were you, I wouldn’t use these picks.  I’m me, and I’m not using these picks.  It is just for fun people!  Use my picks for the divisional round when things get back to normal.  But it is fun to make the picks and see how they go, so here we go.

 

Arizona at Carolina

I’m going to give my reasoning, and THEN give the pick for this week.  Panthers are favored by 6.5.  The thinking here on my part is that the Cards have no QB and the Panthers being hot and at home are going to blow them out, without a doubt in my mind.  So…

Cardinals +6.5

 

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

While the Cards/Panthers game is horrific, I can’t wait for this dog fight Saturday night!  Steelers are 3 point favorites right now, with it looking like it’ll move all the way to 4.  So we’ll assume it does, and in that case there is simply no way I would pick against the Ravens.  I know Baltimore has been inconsistent all season, but they’ll be up for this one seeing as it’s the Steelers and it’ll be tight all the way.  So that means…

Steelers -4

 

Cincinnati at Indianapolis

You getting how I’m playing this?  Of course you do, I don’t think the people who read these are THAT stupid.  So Andy Dalton in a playoff game.  Andrew Luck at home.  No A.J. Green.  You’re an IDIOT if you are thinking that the Colts won’t cover 3.5.  An IDIOT…

Bengals +3.5

 

Detroit at Dallas

The Cowboys are 7 point favorites in this one.  That line seems completely ridiculous to me.  MAYBE if Suh had in fact been suspended for this game, but he’s not, he is playing.  That Lions D-line is maybe the one D-line in the league that could give the incredible Cowboys O-line problems.  So 7 feels like an insanely high number to me…

Cowboys -7

 

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