Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Big Uglies

I spent a little time in the last few days pondering the strength of the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive line, and the size and health of this unit that put 3 of the 5 guys in the Pro Bowl last year. First, the size.

LT – Flozell Adams 6-7, 340
LG – Kyle Kosier 6-5, 305
C – Andre Gurode 6-4, 316
RG – Leonard Davis 6-6, 353
RT – Marc Colombo 6-8, 318

Shocking. How humans are routinely this size in the NFL is a demonstration of how this is not your father’s pro football.

Now, to the health.

2007 starts by position:

LT Adams (16)
LG Kosier (16)
C Gurode (14), Proctor (2 – Wk 16, Wk 17)
RG Davis (16)
RT Colombo (16)


LT Adams (16)
LG Kosier (16)
C Gurode (16)
RG Rivera (16)
RT Colombo (16)

I could not believe this when I found these numbers. So, in a possible 160 starts by Cowboys offensive linemen in the last 2 seasons, they only had to start a reserve twice? That’s it?

When someone suggests that the Cowboys have had a certain amount of good fortune with regards to injuries the last few years, that may qualify as to why. In fact, 2 years ago this month I wrote about the biggest weakness on this team was the OL . They have really turned this around.

Anyway, what got me onto this was a conversation about the quality of Flozell Adams with a colleague. My position on Flozell has always been that his annoying false start penalties are easily counterbalanced by the idea that Flo rarely allows Tony Romo to get sacked. In the DMN story about his signing below, they show how he stacks up against his NFC East counterparts


How Flozell Adams' statistics compared to his NFC East peers last season:

Player, Team G-GS Pen-Yds / F Start / Holding /Sacks allowed
Flozell Adams, Dallas 16-16 / 14-95 / 9 / 5 / 3 ½
Chris Samuels, Washington 16-16 / 5-24 / 5 / 0 / 5
David Diehl, NY Giants 16-16 / 6-40 / 4 / 2 / 13 ½
William Thomas, Philadelphia 15-15 / 3-15 / 3 / 0 / 7

14 penalties is too many, and the 5 holds in particular are not something to be proud of, but look at those sacks allowed. David Diehl almost got Eli Manning killed last year, and William Thomas was allowing McNabb to taste the pain. Meanwhile, less than once a month, Flo would allow Romo to get sacked.

This is why I defend the guy. In fact, in 10 years as the Cowboys tackle, he has allowed about 45 sacks…or less than 5 a year. That is quality from your left tackle, who routinely is matched up against the premier pass rushers of the league every single week.

Is he the best LT in the division? I think I would take Chris Samuel first, but he sure deserves his pro bowls and his insane money. In February, he signed his 2nd monster contract extension with the Cowboys…

The Cowboys have made sure to secure the blind side of quarterback Tony Romo.
Starting left tackle Flozell Adams signed a six-year deal worth more than $43 million – $15 million guaranteed – on Thursday, hours before he could have hit the free agent market.

The length of the contract coincides with Romo's deal, which ends in 2013.

And when Adams put his signature to paper at Valley Ranch, he received a phone call from the quarterback.

"Flo's happy and the team is happy to cut that off at the pass before it got into a free-agent scramble," said Jordan Woy, Adams' agent. "I know he didn't want to go into it and really travel around and do that whole deal."

With NFL free agency starting at 11:01 p.m. Thursday, the Cowboys also tendered one-year offers to running back Marion Barber and defensive end Chris Canty.

Adams' deal puts him financially with some of the league's top left tackles. In 2005, Seattle signed Walter Jones to a seven-year, $52.5 million contract with a $16 million signing bonus, and St. Louis signed Orlando Pace to a seven-year, $52.8 million deal with a $15 million signing bonus.

Recently, starting right tackle Marc Colombo said he was hopeful the team would keep Adams, who has started 146 games, to build consistency with the offensive line.

Starting outside linebacker Greg Ellis said toward the end of the 2007 season that Adams' leadership was valuable to the club. Adams, who is normally soft-spoken and rarely talks to reporters, told his teammates how important it was to win a playoff game and to keep sharp in the latter half of the regular season.


Year G-GS Pen-Yds False Holding Sacks allowed
1998 16-12 4-33 2 1 1 ½
1999 16-16 9-60 6 3 5
2000 16-16 6-45 3 0 5
2001 16-16 5-25 5 0 2 ½
2002 16-16 5-50 1 2 7 ½
2003 16-16 8-50 6 1 4 ½
2004 16-16 12-75 9 3 7 ½
2005 6-6 3-25 1 2 2
2006 16-16 6-35 5 1 7 ½
2007 16-16 14-95 9 5 3 ½

Matt Mosely with good stuff with Donovan McNabb ….

McNabb caused a mild stir early in camp when he basically suggested that the Eagles shouldn't have lost a game to any of their NFC East opponents last season. In his mind, they were just a few plays away from being a playoff team. He doesn't feel like an 8-8 quarterback heading into 2008.

"I still put us at the top of the NFC," he said. "I feel confident in saying that because all the best teams are pretty much in our division. The Giants and Cowboys are coming off great seasons and the Redskins had a decent year."

McNabb went through last year's NFC East games one-by-one and explained where all of them went wrong. How does he justify the Giants' dominating 16-3 victory in September?
"We were missing our starting tackle," he quickly said. "If we eliminate the mistakes in the red zone and do some better things on defense, it's a different story."

With a healthy L.J. Smith and the addition of rookie DeSean Jackson, McNabb thinks he'll have more players he "can call on" at key moments in the game. He talked about how Dallas can plan around getting the ball to Terrell Owens, and he wants to do that with some of his teammates -- other than running back Brian Westbrook, who's a constant threat.

Since he brought up T.O., I felt like a follow-up question was necessary. Does he ever sit around and think about what the two of them could have accomplished together?

"You mean if he'd realized the situation he was in?" McNabb shot back. "In his situation, he's finally maturing at age 35 [actually 34]. Sometimes it's you, sometimes it's me. [T.O.] thought for so long it was someone else, but at some point, maybe it dawns on you that it's not everyone else's fault. I think once Bill [Parcells] left, T.O. realized that Jerry [Jones] truly loved him. And now he has a quarterback that he feels comfortable with. He's listening. Sometimes you have to understand the reality of the whole situation, and I think he did that."

McNabb stopped to think about it for a moment longer, not wanting to change a subject that will always follow him.

"It could've been great," he said. "What did we have, 30 TDs? You don't see that type of combination very often. That's like Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. We would have been up there."

Does all that sound patronizing? Absolutely. But there's probably some truth to what McNabb's saying. What amazes me is that T.O. has been gone since midway through the 2005 season and his former teammates still bring him up on a regular basis. Tight end L.J. Smith called him a "different kind of guy," but he said he never thought he was a poor teammate.

"If you think about it, that locker room fight he got into here was with a non-player," Smith said Sunday.

In other news, McNabb said he no longer worries about the fact that quarterback Kevin Kolb is waiting in the wings. He let it bother him when the team first selected Kolb in the second round, but it's not something he thinks about anymore.

"We needed to draft another quarterback," he said with no trace of sarcasm. "That's the way the organization's going. I understand that."

As he climbed into his black Escalade truck, McNabb said he wanted to finish his career in Philadelphia. But he said the Favre story reminded him that the Eagles might be ready to move on at any minute.

"I might end up somewhere else," McNabb said. "And I'm prepared for that."

Jayson Stark looks at J-Ham as a MVP

"With seven weeks left in the regular season, who's your pick to win the American League MVP award?''

Well, it's getting to be that time, all right -- that time to start debating which players should be clearing space on their shelves to fit a very large, very prestigious trophy in a few weeks. And of all of baseball's major awards, American League MVP might be tougher to decipher than any of them. So let's examine the main contenders:


Hamilton has been leading the planet in RBIs for so long, it's easy to lose track of just how many he's piled up. He's on pace to drive in 153 runs -- a number topped by only four players in the division-play era: Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa (twice), Juan Gonzalez and A-Rod. And Chipper Jones (among others) has never knocked in more runs in any full season than Josh Hamilton has driven in already this year (111) -- by Aug. 11. Oh, and Hamilton also ranks in the top eight in the league in homers (second), runs scored (77), extra-base hits (fourth), slugging (sixth), on-base percentage (eighth) and runs created per 27 outs (fifth).


What a year this guy is having. Quentin ranks first in the league in homers (32), second in runs scored (82), third in RBIs (90) and third in OPS (.952). He's also having a gigantic second half, with 10 homers (most in the big leagues), 20 RBIs and a 1.164 OPS. If you toss the RBI column out of this argument (which, granted is tough to do), Quentin leads Hamilton in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging, OPS and runs. And let's note one other fascinating number on the old stat sheet. The batting averages of these two men with runners in scoring position (.324 for Quentin, .326 for Hamilton) are nearly indistinguishable.


If we were all voting for Best Story of the Year, Josh Hamilton might win that award unanimously. But Hamilton's cinematic back-story isn't the kind of criterion we're supposed to use when we choose our MVPs. So as we sit here right now, with seven weeks left, I'd cast my vote for Carlos Quentin.

Not that Hamilton is his only competition, by the way. You can make excellent cases for Justin Morneau, Milton Bradley, Ian Kinsler, Jermaine Dye, Francisco Rodriguez and that Kevin Youkilis-J.D. Drew tag team in Boston. But if Quentin and Hamilton are the top two contenders, and we stack up one against the other, what do we find?
We find that Carlos Quentin's team is in first place, despite pesky, season-long offensive issues -- while Hamilton's team is 14 games out of first place.

We find that, in the second half, as the games have gotten bigger, Quentin has out-hit Hamilton by 54 points, has out-OPS'd him by 232 points and, in fact, has topped him in every significant offensive catetory.

And we find that, aside from RBIs (and cinematic back-stories), Hamilton really hasn't greatly outshone Quentin in any major offensive department over the first four months of the season.

So for me, this is now Carlos Quentin's award to lose. But I'm betting some of you might beg to differ. And of course, that's what we're here for.

He doesn't have a single RBI since the all-star break that didn't come via a home run. (You can find that one in today's Elias Says column.) And he has come to bat with 51 more runners on base than Quentin (261-210). So in this day and age, with all the great numbers and info available to us, we shouldn't be using RBIs as our No. 1 offensive criterion anymore, should we?

Were the opening ceremonies somewhat staged?

Part of the elaborate Olympics fireworks show broadcast to the world in the opening ceremony was altered, done digitally in 3-D computer graphics, according to several news reports.

While the dramatic display actually happened as portrayed on television, members of the Beijing Olympic Committee said it was necessary to replace live video with computer-generated imagery because the city’s hazy, smoggy skies made it too difficult to see, according to The Beijing Times, which first reported the story.

Committee members also said they were concerned that the helicopter pilot who would have flown overhead to film the fireworks would have been “at risk by making him try to follow the firework route,” according to a quote from a committee member reported in a Daily Telegraph story.

And now, in the interest of equal time….


As a native Houstonian and unabashed Astros/Rockets/Texans/Oilers apologist, there is no faster way to draw me offside than to denigrate the Rockets' '94-'95 titles. Though your comment in today's blog was not quite as backhanded as Hunter Mahan's before the British Open - Hunter Mahan is now my arch-nemesis for life and the 81 he shot to miss the cut this week brought me great joy - I felt a call to action anyway.

I don't have my head completely buried in the sand here...believe me. I am more than happy to recognize the patently obvious: that Michael Jordan played basketball better than any man ever has and that his hiatus came during his prime. What annoys me to no end is that the sports world, by and large, seems to consider it a foregone conclusion that the Bulls' 6 titles would have been 8 had Jordan not taken the time off. I present the following tidbits for why the chances of the Bulls winning both titles were something less than 100% and the Rockets' chances of claiming at least one of the two better than 0%:

- In '91-'93, the Bulls' first run, the Rockets and Bulls met 6 times. The Rockets took those games 5-1, sweeping in '91 and '93 with both teams taking their own home game in '92. Both teams were at full strength for all 6 games. Regular season. I know.

- Jordan's would-be adversary at the 2 spot in '94 was Vernon Maxwell who, though remembered only as a psychopath now, actually was one of the better perimeter defenders in the game in the early and mid-'90s. Locking Jordan down was obviously impossible, but against Maxwell and the Rockets, Michael averaged 29.1 ppg on .480 shooting over the 6 games. Those numbers are below his career figures of 30.1/.497, but more pertinently are below his scoring/FG% numbers for each of the years in question: 31.5/.539 in 1991, 30.1/.519 in 1992, and 32.6/.495 in 1993. Again, regular season. I know. But when doing East/West analysis, it is the best we can do for direct comparison without stepping into dangerously shaky hypotheticals.

- Jordan's would-be adversary at the 2 spot in '95 was Clyde Drexler, a 32 year-old in the twilight of his prime, but prime nonetheless during the Rockets' late run that season. Clyde, as we all know, was a HoFer and one of the NBA's Top 50 at 50. Jordan had already bested Clyde in the Finals by this time so alpha dog status had been established clearly. But Clyde was still what he was, and that was an historically significant off-guard in his prime hungering for that first title and doing it alongside his old college buddy and in his hometown. And it is worth noting that he was no spare defender himself, averaging better than two steals a game for his career and nearly a block per game as a perimeter player.

- Most importantly, and probably what people fail to consider most often, is that Hakeem Olajuwan ascended to the throne as the NBA's best player in '94 and '95. Hakeem's ascendency, though the ceiling would have been #2 league-wide were Jordan still around, still would have happened. Hakeem was not only the best post man in the game, but one of the best ever when he peaked those two years. A Rockets/Bulls Finals in '94 and/or '95 would have pitted a team anchored by the world's best player against a team anchored by the world's best post man. Jordan's killer instinct was obviously the stuff of legend, but ask Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal, and especially David Robinson - the three who presented Hakeem's best challenges in those days and three who had careers that were historically significant, to say the least - about Hakeem's ability to step up in the playoff cauldron. Bill Cartwright would not, I dare say, have presented a comparable challenge.

I hesitate to try to put a number on it because that gets way more subjective, but I think it is not unfair to put the chances of the Rockets winning at least one of those titles anyway somewhere in the neighborhood of 3:1 or 4:1, i.e. a 20%-25% chance that the Bulls still would have had less than 8 titles from '91 to '98.

Proud Houstonian but even prouder P-1,

Jason Reed

Hey Bob,

Long time P1 and avid Bad Radio listener here. I thought I would let you know that The Wire seasons 1-4 is today’s Amazon gold box deal today. $95.00 seems a pretty good price.

Since you like pimping The Wire to us P1s maybe you should let them all know about this deal.

There’s the link.

P1 in Greenville, TX

DeMarcus Ware is a bad man – and if you don’t like the highlights, just look for all of the spelling errors…

And now, I leave you with our moment on Hard Knocks, episode 1 (courtesy Jennifer):


paulwhar said...

C - Adams?

Brian said...

I think we're a day late on that $100 Wire special. It's back up to $150.

Bill Mullen said...

Hey Bob,

I know you copied those stats from some no name writer, and I can't yell at him. But it is called insert table. Not that hard. Reading those numbers without it is. And Chris Samuals owns. Hail to the Redskins.

mrowlou said...

Bob, it was stated clearly, during the opening ceremony that those fireworks were CGI. No big deal.

fickle said...

Rockets suck. Let's reiterate: the ONLY reason they won two titles is because Jordan was out of the league.

Let's go one step further. The ONLY reason the Spurs won their first title is that they were younger and had more endurance during the shortened season that saw a lot of back to back games.

The only reason the Mavs won. . . their. . . first. . . title. . . is. . . that. . . uhhhhh. . . crap.

Big Anthony said...