Friday, April 30, 2010

Game 6: Spurs 97, Mavs 87 (Spurs 4-2)

It's Over.

Yes, the 2010 Opening Round Series with the San Antonio Spurs is Over. That much was made very clear last night as Game 6 ended the same way that Games 3 and 4 in San Antonio did also. With too many plays made by the Spurs, and not enough big moments late in the 4th Quarter by Dallas, the outcome of this series took absolutely no observers by surprise.

But, perhaps I am also talking about the Jason Terry Era being over. A man who has hit so many big shots in his seasons here in Dallas made a significant contribution to the cause. But, I have reason to believe it is over after the last 2 playoffs have seen him score a mere 13.6 ppg. And in 16 playoff games, just 2 20-point performances. 12.7 in this series, and 2 last night. For the "1a" option in the offense to put that game up in an elimination game, well, you can understand if the Mavs are bothered by a guy who averaged 19.6 ppg in the regular season last year dropping that far; and his shooting percentage falling from 04-05's 50.1% to this year's 43.8%. He may be done as a big time 4th Quarter scoring option.

Or, maybe I was talking about Jason Kidd Era being over. The 37-year old point guard has been so good in so many ways since his return to Dallas, but we are all wondering when he will start to look his age. Well, we may have found it. In the 3 crucial playoff losses in San Antonio in this series, Jason Kidd looked absolutely shocking. The often dependable outside shooter was challenged by the Spurs, and he failed said challenge miserably. 5 for 22 is 22.7% from the field in those 3 games, and he hardly hit a shot in that arena in 3 complete games. It is unfair that 27 year olds can have bad games and we leave it at that, but 37 year olds play the same way and we surmise they are old as dirt. But, that is how the game works.

Or, perhaps I was saying that the Rick Carlisle era is over. Or maybe I just wish that this was the case. I am not sure I have seen a coach mis-manage his roster and substitution quite like Rick Carlisle did this series. He got the switches in Game 3 amazingly wrong by benching Caron Butler the entire 2nd half - for a tired JJ Barea. He took 30 regular season games and 4 playoff games before it occured to him that Brendan Haywood might be a better idea than Erick Dampier in the post. How about sitting Shawn Marion when you needed someone to guard Manu Ginobili in crunch time? And then, of course, perhaps the inscription on his tombstone - the man who could shut down Roddy Beaubois. Despite the Spurs having no ability to stay in front of his quickness and penetration, the Mavs coach did everything he could to make sure that Beaubois doesn't have a chance to put his stamp on the game. You would almost think he was trying to get himself fired. Occasionally, you can find a decision to debate with a coach, but seldom does he give you this many different decisions that appear to be dead wrong. It is a coach's job to know his roster and utilize it properly. I swear, Rick Carlisle got it all wrong.

And, finally, perhaps I was talking about the Dirk Nowitzki Era. I think anyone reading this knows that he is my favorite basketball player and I want this story to have a happy ending so badly. But, Dirk has been the constant as we have seen the Mavericks 4th Quarter offense and defense fall short in these brutal playoff battles time and time again. The coaches changed, the players changed, but Dirk has still been the cornerstone of a great regular season team that seems to come unraveled when the playoffs arrive. I will defend him to the end, but I will also concede that jump shots are not as dependable as lay-ups. And because of Dirk, the Mavs take a lot of perimeter shots in the 4th Quarter. And, partly because of Dirk, the Mavs have trouble shutting down opponents in the 4th Quarter on the other end of the floor. He has faught valiantly and with amazing heart. But, at what point to we admit that we have tried it from every angle with Dirk? And, sadly, he lost his poise badly last night. His foul decisions in the 1st half were amazingly poor. If he was a rookie, we might suggest he will learn from that. But, at his age, 32 this summer, we must assume he may never learn to always keep his head. I don't want to admit he is the problem, but I think it is foolish to suggest that he has nothing to do with the problem.

I just don't know where to turn now. If Mark Cuban would ask me what to do next, I would have a million ideas, but none that I really like. You are married to many of these players and you just cannot keep flipping the entire roster every season and expect to get anywhere. At the same time, we see how well keeping Dirk, Jet, and Dampier together has worked as well.

Full marks to the San Antonio Spurs. They cranked their defense up to a level the Mavs could not deal with. They made plays down the stretch with relentless guard play, led by, of all people, George Hill. His performance in this series did take me by surprise, but there is no doubt that his plays made a ton of difference.

They are a team that has won many trophies and has earned them all. And now, when they pulled the Mavs into the uncomfortable deeper waters of the playoffs, the game was won. They pushed the Mavs around, and proved that they understand what works in April and May.

I have a number of other opinions that I may in fact add to this post a bit later in the morning, but that is all for now.

Comment below to make yourself feel better:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

San Antonio Spurs Tattoo Report

Here is a belated tattoo report on our dear friends, the San Antonio Spurs. A very under-rated ink team, as their key players either have no ink, or very little. But, some sneaky recent acquisitions has made this a very impressive roster of tats.

Surely, the most interesting tattoo tale of the Spurs must be how Tony Parker and his celebrity wife made their marriage official with a trip to the tattoo artist...

As usual, my findings are done in a hasty search through google, so if I have something wrong, help me get it right.

Enjoy. And click on any "Y" to see a picture of their tattoos.

San Antonio Spurs Tattoo Roster
DeJuan BlairY
Keith BogansY
Matt BonnerN
Tim Duncan Y
Alonzo GeeY
Manu GinobiliN
Malik HairstonN
George HillY
Richard JeffersonY
Curtis JerrellsY
Ian MahinmiN
Roger MasonY
Antonio McDyessN
Tony ParkerY
Garrett TempleN

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Game 5: Mavs 103, Spurs 81 (Spurs, 3-2)

Still Alive for 2 more days. Still a chance to save your reputation. Still a chance to make right what has gone so wrong.

Because of the great work that they did Tuesday night in a game that was over very, very early, the Mavericks now have a chance to go down to San Antonio in Game 6 and not only keep their season alive, but also to actually have a chance to take the odds of the series and put them back in their pocket.

I have said this a number of times, but it remains appropriate to say again this morning: When the Mavs play basketball the right way - attack the basket, play with urgency, and do not settle for less-than-ideal shots - it is so much easier to conceive that this team has a championship caliber team. The problem is that they do not often play like this. It is not their default setting. They have to be threatened or scared into playing that style. The other thing that remains annoying about the Mavs is that when they do something so right, it actually frustrates those of us obsessed with this team more, as it shows that when they do things the proper, high-percentage way they become a much more able squad.

Like the kid who brings home a report card full of "A's", he now demonstrates what he is capable of all of the time. Same with the Mavs. They demonstrate that they are capable of so much more - not settling on offense, not indifferent in the paint on defense - so when they do show this ability, some of us cannot enjoy it as much because we wonder where this has been hidden for so long.

Regardless, they did win a Game 5 without any shred of resistance from a San Antonio team that has very little reason to panic at this juncture. The Spurs will be favored to win Game 6 in front of their home crazies and then we will know what to believe about a potential Mavericks resurgence. Was this just a typical desperation effort with one final defense of their home floor before starting their summer? Or, are the Mavericks mad-as-Hades-and-they-aren't-going-to-take-it-anymore?

They showed plenty of resolve. They needed to get to the rim and they got there. They needed to compete for every loose ball. They needed to contest shots and show some physical strength. They had to show that they weren't willing to go quietly into the night.

But, is it just a mirage? Can they be counted on to field an effort like that 3 games in a row? Forgive the suspicious amongst us.

The Truth shall be told on Thursday. Because I don't see the Mavericks losing on Saturday if it gets there.

Notes and Observations from a Game that was over early in Dallas:

* Caron Butler's 35 points and 11 rebounds represent the finest performance of his NBA career. He was the obvious leader last night who set the tone by taking the ball hard at the rim on a regular basis and showing the Spurs a relentless attitude. So, can we count on that in Game 6? Are we seeing him grab part of the steering wheel from Dirk at this most crucial moment in the franchise's journey? I cannot imagine it is easy to come to an established team and feel comfortable about knowing your place. Especially if your team needs your place to be right near the front of the line. But, hopefully he now understands that if he constantly defers to Dirk and Jet then this team's personality is pretty much the same as it ever was. For this team to be a "new and improved" Mavs team with an attack the rack mentality then it must be a result of guys who can do that forcing their way into the offense. By hanging out on the perimeter, they simply join the launch party. And, Caron surely can do that, too. But, hopefully, Rick Carlisle understands that so many good things happen when Caron, Barea, even Marion (occasionally), and, of course, Dirk himself do not settle. Well done. So, will the history books suggest that Caron Butler's performance was because he was benched in Game 3, or that his benching in Game 3 proves that Rick Carlisle was badly outcoached in San Antonio? I suppose that will be determined by the remainder of the series.

* Manu Ginobili is not right at the present. Of course, I would caution anyone to assume that he can't snap out of this in the post-broken-nose era, but, wow, his handle is gone. I have never seen him just hand the ball to the opponent over and over like he did last night, and I am not sure why a broken nose affects your ball handling skills. He is almost to a point where Popovich looks like he is yanking him out of the game. We know the Mavs do not fear a Manu-less Spurs team, so this is a very vital detail in this series. Shocking to see him playing so poorly.

* If Spurs fans are shocked to see Eddie Najera acting like a goon, allow me to admit that I am just as surprised as they must be. This is new to all of us, San Antonio, and I don't really know what to make out of it. It appears that Carlisle has asked Najera to go out there and start something. His routine in Game 4 was absurd, and honestly, if you keep a camera on Eddie in Game 5, you will see that he was surely trying to get Tim Duncan to punch him. On a few occasions, he came in after the play and just plowed Duncan from behind. And of course, we haven't even mentioned the rake to the eyes on Tony Parker. I don't think he has been a dirty player much in his career, but I guess someone decided they needed that element to keep DeJuan Blair from upsetting the whole contest. It seems so out of left field that I am still not sure what I think about it. But, it is sure odd to see the Mavs with someone capable of annoying the other team for once. I would imagine he will need a police escort in and out of the arena on Thursday.

* DeShawn Stevenson looked very odd without his beard.

* By the way, back to Najera's night. His nonsense surely killed all momentum in the late 2nd Quarter as he helped the Spurs get the lead down to 7 at the break after his flagrant foul. Hi-jinx are funny until it cost you the flow of the game, son.

* I enjoy a fine Dirk finger-roll like we saw midway through the 2nd Quarter far more than a beautiful fadeaway. His offensive game as been flawless in most of this series, and I thought last night demonstrates that 100% blame falling on his shoulders is silly in a series like this. The Mavs won last night, but it wasn't because Dirk "refused to be denied". It was because he had plenty of help. 5 men on the floor at the same time, folks. This isn't a 1-on-1 contest.

* Is it just me or has Tim Duncan had his shot blocked more in this series alone than the rest of his entire career? It sure seems like it is happening twice a game.

* Speaking of Duncan, you may have missed Erick Dampier last night. By that, I don't mean you missed him, but rather that he did not play. No offense, Erick, but I think most of us have known for a while that Brendan Haywood brings more to the dance than old, docile Damp. Actually, I had enough of him last year in the playoffs when he stood by and let Parker run by him over and over (while talking about getting physical) and then turned the other cheek when Kenyon Martin buried Dirk. I am not saying that "DNP-CD" is the best way to deal with him (although I might argue with it), but the fact that Haywood and Butler sit so Dampier and Barea and Jet can keep playing over the weekend is enough to get a coach fired. Haywood was awesome, and Dampier played less than Matt Carroll. Expect more of the same on Thursday, right?

* For the Mavs to win down there, they must not forget why they were successful. They pushed the tempo, ran the court, and did not fall into a half-court execution contest with the Spurs. 17 point quarters will not get it done. High pick-and-rolls will not survive. And surely the Mavs half-court defense cannot hold off the relentless dribble penetration of the Spurs down there. You must make it a track meet. You must! But can they dictate the speed of the game? There is the true test, and the winner of that battle likely wins the series.

C'mon, do you believe a little more today?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cowboys Final Draft Board

I will readily admit that this post may be interesting to only me. Then again, that may apply to 95% of the stuff on this blog anyway.

What you have here is the fabulous work of some hardcore Cowboys fans, who like me, read the guys at on a regular basis.

Because the Cowboys are pretty free and easy about access to their "War Room" with live cams and mics and all manner of other ways to "look in", it is only obvious that the classified information that they have around the room would be interesting to those of us who want to know what the scouting department has been up to for the past year.

So, people with great computers use pictures like the one above, and begin to decode the Cowboys information with pictures that the Cowboys themselves have taken and released. Isn't this awesome?

I have people I talk to who are inside the organization, and I only put this post up because everything that the readers of have figured out does in fact jive with my information prior to the draft. In other words, I believe their findings to be spot on.

Here is what a reader named JBell posted here :

From this pic, it looks as if the column on the left were our 1st round grades.. column next to it was our 2nd round grades, and so on.

Right under Jerry's arm it says "Dallas 2-55" and that's where we took Lee.

A couple of interesting tidbits:

-We had a 1st round grade on Navorro Bowman, who went in the 3rd to the Niners. He would have been our pick at 59 had we not traded up for Lee.

-We had the 2nd tier safeties ranked in this order: 1. Allen 2. Burnett 3. Mays.

-We had a 3rd round grade on Wooten... He went a few picks before us in the 4th, and that's when we traded down and took AOA. I think we take him if Chi-town doesn't.

-We had a 3rd round grade on 49ers 1st rounder Anthony Davis.

-Jerry's arm seems to be covering three names: Bryan Bulaga (judging from the 1-23), and probably Dez Bryant and Earl Thomas.

This is all speculation but I think it's a pretty educated guess based on the fact that Jerry said we had a first round grade on Lee, which matches up with the column in the picture.

Isn't this great fun?

Again, I don't know what to do with all of this info, but now you see why they traded up for Sean Lee rather than Safety Morgan Burnett. They were following their board. Lee was a 1st round grade, Burnett was not.

And now, thanks to many Cowboys fans who are both bored and awesome, here is what we think the Cowboys draft board read:

Round 1
1. Sam Bradford
2. Gerald McCoy
3. Ndamakong Suh
4. Russell Okung
5. Trent Williams
6. Eric Berry
7. Rolando McClain
8. Joe Haden
9. CJ Spiller
10. Mike Iupati
11. Dez Bryant
12. Earl Thomas
13. Bryan Bulaga
14. Sean Lee
15. Jared Odrick
16. Jason Pierre-Paul
17. Derrick Morgan
18. Kyle Wilson
19. MaurkicePouncey
20. Navorro Bowman
21. Jahvid Best
22. Tyson Alualu
23. Jermaine Gresham

Round 2
1. Devin McCourty
2. Demaryius Thomas
3. Koa Misi
4. Jerry Hughes
5. Brandon Graham
6. Nate Allen
7. Morgan Burnett
8. Taylor Mays
9. Dan Williams
10. (covered name)
11. Kareem Jackson
12. Ryan Matthews
13. Brian Price
14. Rob Gronkowski
15. Brandon Ghee
16. Jimmy Clausen

Round 3
1. Sergio Kindle
2. Anthony Davis
3. Corey Wooton
4. Patrick Robinson
5. Dexter McCluster
6. Joe McKnight
7. (covered name)
8. -
9. -
10. Colt McCoy
11. Taylor Price
12. Lamarr Houston
13. D’Anthony Smith
14. Damian Williams
15. Eric Decker
16. Thaddeus Gibson
17. Corey Peters
18. Rodger Saffold
19. Toby Gerhardt
20. Golden Tate
21. Brandon LeFell
22. Amari Spievey
23. Mike Neal

Round 4
1. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
2. Javier Arenas
3. Vladimir Ducasse
4. Ed Dickson
6. Clay Harbor
7. Perry Riley
8. (plate removed)
9. Torell Troup
10. Carlton Mitchell
11. Mike Johnson
12. John Jerry
13. Linval Joseph
14. Major Wright
15. Dominique Franks
16. Larry Asante
17. Tony Moeaki
19. Ben Tate
20. Kam Chancellor
21. Andre Roberts
22. Myron Lewis

Round 5
1. Shawn Lauvao
2. Jacoby Ford
3. Danny Batten
5. Daniel Teo-Nesheim
6. Kevin Thomas
7. Clifton Geathers
8. Dennis Pitta
9. Darrell Stucky
10. Alterraun Verner
11. Alric Arnett?
13. Garrett Graham
15. Jamar Wall?

Round 6
1. Jared Veldheer
3. M. Hoomanawanui

Round 7
3. Mike Kafka

Again, you may not find this interesting, but I do very, very much. It explains so much about their thought process, and also helps you feel good about the strategy of not picking strictly for need. Take the best player on your board.

Now, the great question: Was your board right?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vela Chat

Game 4: Spurs 92, Mavs 89 (Spurs 3-1)

Well, this is bad. If you had plans of seeing the Mavericks navigate this battleship into the waters of May, you better hope for something special to happen really quick. Because otherwise, we are about to be left with a pile of rubble yet again in the 1st round as the Spurs take a commanding 3-1 lead in this series on Sunday night with another gutty victory at the AT&T Center.

It is getting to the point where you are almost ready to wash your hands with this squad. Perhaps to a point where we start to wonder if 2006 was just a fluke-ish aberration in a sea of many other playoff disappointments. Many of the faces have changed on the Mavericks, but many of the key attributes remain the same. Very little movement on offense. Too much dependence on perimeter basketball. And no ability whatsoever in the 4th Quarter of both games in San Antonio for the Mavs to keep the Spurs guards from getting to the basket. When Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (and heck, even George Hill) want to dribble into the paint and either score or dump it off to someone who will, the Jason Terry school of defense is just not getting it done.

Meanwhile, your key acquisitions over the summer - you know, the ones that were to change the personality of this team in crunch time of playoff games - sit and watch the key moments of the game yet again. Shawn Marion, who seems like your best option to cover Ginobili is sitting on the bench.

But, let's not lose focus again. The focus must be on the players who are on the court. Dirk Nowitzki, who has played well enough in this series to be above criticism, was not active enough through most of the game, and then down the stretch, it was tough for him to get back involved. Also, Jason Kidd has had a very difficult time putting his stamp all over the Spurs like he has many Mavericks opponents. Jason Terry got hot last night in the 4th Quarter with his shooting, but otherwise is such a liability at crunch time defensively that it is often times a wash.

We have seen this time and time again. When the Mavericks are on the road since the 2006 Western Conference Finals, they are a stunning 2-15 in the playoffs. Did you know that? 2-15. And do you know why? Because in the 4th Quarter, they do not have the necessary attributes on either end of the court to consistently compete at a top level. And if you win about 13% of your road games, then you will find it very difficult to win a series. And that might explain why since the 2006 Western Finals, the Mavs are 1-4 in series, and about to be 1-5 unless something magical occurs very quickly.

The high pick and roll with Terry and Dirk has not been money often enough. Oh sure, it may be the best option the Mavericks have, but it cannot out-execute what the opponent is trying to do (in this case, the Spurs at crunch time are intent to have their guards attack the paint off the dribble). You must be able to employ your strategy and be better at it than your opponent in those same crucial moments of the 4th Quarter - which is even more impossible and unlikely when the Spurs are up 13 (84-71) with 5 minutes to play.

And why were the Spurs so far in front? Because in the 3rd Quarter, the Spurs scored on 9 of their first 12 possessions. Apparently, the Mavs were pretty sure that up 14 at the Half, the Spurs were going to pack it in. But, with George Hill, Antonio McDyess, and Richard Jefferson hitting shots - the Mavs let that entire lead slip away in merely 9 minutes. Then, DeJuan Blair entered the game and things really went south.

The Spurs are the Spurs. And shame on any of us for underestimating them. The Mavs, and their precious #2 seed, are now up against the wall. This is bad, and the whole thing looks like a mess. The coach looks clueless, the players look lost, and honestly, this whole thing looks like a new version of the same frustrating spring tradition around here - save 2006, which might have been a simple aberration.

Notes on Game 4 and beyond:

* I think the Mavs are a meaner team than they used to be, but still, you can see when the temperature is turned up that it does not always suit the team. For instance, I thought there were numerous examples on both ends of the court that they were "letting them play" last night. Both teams had cause to suggest that their man had been assaulted on his way to the basket. But, in a street fight, you need everyone up for the battle. I think the 2010 Mavs team is more physical and up for it than most of its predecessors, but still, against some of the harder teams in the league, I still don't think it is enough. It looked like Blair and McDyess were up for a battle and the Mavs were still not quite sure if they enjoyed that at all. Then came Eddie Najera's famous 47 seconds of playing time. I loved how he at least acted shocked that he was being ejected.

* If you read my blog, you know how passionate I am about certain truths in the game of basketball. Such as, closer shots are easier shots; and, if you are taking 20 footers and your opponent is taking 2 footers, you will usually lose. These theories are not based on 1 game or 1 quarter. They are based on NBA basketball for my entire life. But, boy, do the Mavs demonstrate why they exist. During the Mavs 3 game losing streak, they have shot 36%, 44%, and 41%. The Spurs, during the same stretch have shot: 48%, 49%, and 45% - or basically, substantially better in each game. Don't misunderstand what I am saying: The Spurs shoot tons of jumpers, too. Every team in the league uses outside shooting and 3-pointers as PART of their arsenal. But, it isn't the whole thing. The Mavs, specifically in the half-court offense in the key moments of the game, rely on the outside shot more than their opponents do in the playoffs. Time and time again. Until that changes - and maybe it never will in the Dirk era - the Mavs will always have a shooter's chance, but consistent, dominant basketball can never happen on the hopes that 21 footers fall all of the time. Even at the highest level of basketball, outside shooters get cold.

* George Hill really proved something in these last 2 games. He has been a killer in the corner for the 3, but he has also played a solid point and not allowed much to beat him on defense. It looks like they have a suitable PG situation with Parker still in his prime and Hill just a pup. I wonder if they deal one to address their age elsewhere at some point.

* I do not like small ball. I do not like 3 guys who are short and are not able to handle their defense well. Kidd is fine on d, but Barea and Terry are not capable of guarding very well. So, this forces the Mavs into a zone, which seems to be fine in small doses but over the long-term it is not worthy of consistent display. Meanwhile, on offense, it just doesn't seem to result in enough easy shots to be worth it. It seems to me that when Marion is playing well, the idea of taking him off the court is silly. He can defend Manu, and yet he sits and watches late. Meanwhile, Kidd is trying to block out DeJaun Blair. Nice idea.

* On Tim Duncan's 34th birthday, he chips in 1 basket and 4 points. Manu shoots 4-16. Parker just 4-9. And they win with some level of comfort although it got hairy late. I must think these realities are very frustrating to the Mavs and their coaching staff. The idea that they are running out of answers seems very reasonable.

* 8 of 189 teams have come back from 3-1 down. It starts with belief. Anybody know where you can find any?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Game 3: Spurs 94, Mavs 90 (Spurs 2-1)

There are certainly many great things about the NBA Playoffs. It is such a glorious roller coaster ride of elation, depression, and everything in between. But, there is no doubt that one of the dynamics that you sometimes forget about until the spring reminds you is that soul searching and feelings of despair the morning after a seemingly devastating loss.

There is no way to recover.

This thing is over.

This team is about to be destroyed.

This coach needs to be fired.

And sometimes, it is spot on (especially in elimination games). The trouble - unless it is the death game - is, you never know when the loss is as bad as it seems or just a momentary bump in the road that will be made all better the next time your team takes the court.

This morning, the Mavs' fandom is in total freak-out mode. This is bad. These last two games have doubt creeping in all over the place. The ship feels like it is sinking. Losing one game is to be expected. Losing 2 in a row - especially one in which you feel like you fought your tails off - is very disheartening.

The Mavs lost last night to fall behind 2 games to 1 in this best of seven series against the franchise that they are obsessed with. San Antonio has the jewelry, and it always seems like they have one more play when the chips are down.

So, is it the beginning of the end already? Or, is this one of those character-building, soul-searching, lesson-learning bumps in the road that every playoff has?

I don't know. Game 4 feels like a must win. Game 3 feels like a game where the Spurs confidence expands and the Mavericks begin to blame each-other.

Personally, I thought that Rick Carlisle was easily out-coached. I am normally indifferent about his job performance as I do think it is a player's league and the coaches do not affect the outcome of the game nearly as much. But, wow. Last night, I might check and make sure that Rick wasn't trying to throw that game.

Yes, small ball worked like a charm in the 3rd Quarter (although you could argue that Dirk went off - and most of the rest of the players on the floor had a good view), but to never deviate from that path - if only to allow them to catch their breath is junior league.

Take JJ Barea. Barea is great in doses some nights. And unless I am high, those doses are seldom 32 consecutive minutes. But, last night, he checked in with 8 minutes to play in the 2nd Quarter...and then never left the game. You know, JJ played very well. I liked a huge part of his game and they are not in a position to win without his contribution, but 32 minutes in a row for a guy who seldom plays 8 consecutive minutes? Talk about running a guy right into the ground. This is like having your closer throw 75 pitches. Use him how he is normally used, and get good results. Take a high energy guy and play him 32 straight minutes and you get a wild drive in the lane in the final moments.

Same thing with Dampier. And Terry. Same thing with the whole stinking line-up.

So, what did you have in the 4th Quarter? The small line-up looking tired, unable to stop the relentless dribble penetration of the Spurs that happened over and over and the inability to get good looks at the basket on many possessions. Instead, taking contested 21 foot launches as the shot clock is expiring when the game was on the line.

Where was Caron Butler? Where was Shawn Marion? Heck, where was DeShawn Stevenson? I am not saying any of them are the answer. I am saying that if Barea and Terry are your best options on Friday, get the dudes a 4 minute break at some point so they still have something in their legs at the most important point of the game.

And yes, I believe that Butler can help you get to the rim when your team desperately needs to stop trading a Spurs lay-up for a contested 22 footer with the shot clock expiring.

So, yes, I believe coaching was a big reason the Mavs disintegrated in the most important moments of Game 3.

And, no, I am not going to take part in the "Danny Crawford is out to get us" narrative that is poisoning the city.

Anyway, these are the days that test your resolve. And make no mistake; the Mavs are already up against that wall.

Other notes and observations from Game 3:

* Mavs entered the 4th Quarter up 4. Let's look at the results of each team's next seven possessions: Mavs: Marion missed jumper, Terry missed jumper, Barea offensive foul, Terry made 3-pt, Barea missed 3, Dirk offensive foul, Terry missed 3, Terry turnover. Now, the Spurs: Manu layup, Hill layup, Manu layup + foul, Manu missed jumper, Bonner missed 3, Manu layup + foul, Hill fouled on lay-up 2 free throws. Which team is playing playoff basketball? Which team is determined to get to the rim and force contact? And which team needs to stop kidding itself about small ball? Oh, and by the way, it went from Mavs up, 70-66 to Spurs up 78-73.

* Just to make sure you got my point, let's continue to look at the Mavs 4th Quarter possessions. I will pick it up where I left off: Dirk makes jumper, Dirk misses jumper, Terry misses 3, Kidd misses 3, Barea misses jumper, Terry misses jumper, Terry misses jumper, Kidd 2 free throws, Dirk 2 free throws, Dirk makes jumper, Kidd misses 3 pt... All along, no Butler, no Haywood, no taking it into the paint with any conviction or energy. And another launch party loses a tough playoff game where one team is taking 2 footers and the other team is taking 21 footers.

* Now, to this Danny Crawford thing. Yes, the Mavs are something like 1-17 now in playoff games in which he works. But, if this organization doesn't get over this persecution complex, they have no chance of ever taking the next step. Everyone on that team has Danny Crawford in their kitchen. They all enter the game completely sure that he is about to screw them. And you know what? That mental distraction changes their mentality. It changes their approach. It makes them look like babies. And it makes the Spurs an after-thought. Stop whining and play through it. I don't like him either. He seems to not like the Mavs, but you know something? Mark Cuban made this bed by publicly taking on the refs at every opportunity. Now, that bed must be slept in. And the Mavs will never totally make the leap to that championship level until the refs of the game don't matter. It just strengthens their resolve. Rise above.

* The real shame last night is that the Mavs wasted a singular Dirk performance. He was a warrior in full "Terminator" mode. I loved his game and it seemed like he was determined to play physically and punish the Spurs in the paint. He was just hung out to dry in my estimation.

* Jason Kidd has resembled a 37-year old point guard with high miles in the last 2 games. I trust that will change quickly.

Game 4. Go get it. Or this thing may really be in shambles.

Friday, April 23, 2010

DMN Chat from Friday

All about Dez Bryant and the Cowboys:

Dez Bryant is a Cowboy; We Happy?

First, a disclaimer: I have never met Dez Bryant, and I don't know that he is a high maintenance player. I remember hearing that Nick Van Exel was a bad guy before he was brought here and then when he was here he was nothing but a great mate and a competitor who would not lose without a fight.

If there is one thing I have learned in 12 years in Dallas it is to be careful not to judge a book by its cover. Some guys are not problems like they are advertised as, and others are said to be good dudes who turn out to be very poor in Dallas.

You just never know. Every situation is different.

But, when people want to know what I think about the Dez Bryant pick last night, here is my take.

A) - It is so Jerry. Fall in love with a talent. Sometimes this guy is a regional talent. Maybe one who has ties to former Cowboys. Maybe one who has some warts that other teams won't touch. Talk himself into the idea of the talent being too good to pass up. Waiting and then pouncing. Sometimes it works (Felix Jones), and sometimes it is Terrell Owens or Roy Williams or Quincy Carter or Alonzo Spellman or Antonio Bryant or Mario Edwards.

B) - Beyond that, Dez is an amazing talent. Whether he is coachable remains to be seen - is he already convinced he is the greatest talent since sliced bread? Or is he ready to be taught? But, there is no denying his electricity. There is no way to make a case that this doesn't make the Cowboys way more difficult to defend. Remember the theory that with Owens, Roy Williams, and Jason Witten in 2008 that you cannot double team everyone? Well, with Miles Austin, Bryant, Witten, and anyone, that should really be true.

C) - This is not pick #6 or Pick #11. At that point, the money is very high and the risk is great. But at #24, you can make the case that there is really too much upside to pass. #24 is far south of where the Cowboys took Bobby Carpenter and Marcus Spears. #24 is a safe place to take a chance. I assume that unlike Michael Crabtree of Deion and Eugene Parker fame, Dez is cool with the money that #24 is to get - not some delusional idea that since he is a "Top 10 talent" he should get a "Top 10 deal". That may be a poor assumption, but let's see if he can get to camp on time.

D) - But, here is my real issue. And it has very little to do with Dez Bryant and cleats and NCAA suspensions. The Cowboys are not a great place for divas. Allow me to take you back to the final game of the 2008 season and what I wrote the next morning after a 44-6 embarrassment in Philadelphia :

I certainly don’t want to be the old man here, especially if the “young man” needing the lecture is Jerry Jones, but what kind of team has been built? What kind of selfish, narcissistic, ego maniacs have you assembled here? This season has revealed so much. It has shown that when adversity hits, this team reveals its character. And while a large portion of the team may have the “good” kind of character, there is a faction that certainly seems to lack it. That faction affects everything. It undermines leadership, it teaches the kids how to conduct themselves, and when things go poorly, they are the first to turn knives on the team. As they say, this team is not a team of character. It is a team of characters.

So, now you combine a team of characters – many who have already been promised their money - with a coaching staff that seems to command almost no respect from those that would undermine them, and you have what you have right now…a pile of rubble.

After that game and season, Jerry found his brain and dismissed many of the knuckleheads (Tank, PacMan, and Terrell) who refused to get in line and respect their superiors. By the way, it is worth noting that 2 of those 3 are known friends of "Deion/Michael Incorporated".

I preferred that Jerry just hired a coach who demanded respect and didn't take any garbage, but he decided to not change the power structure, but be mindful of the type of player that operates well in a place where you do not have a coach in your face yelling at you.

So, forgive those of us who remember 44-6, and recoil when the Cowboys forget their past and hop back in bed with those who are said to be high maintenance and require babysitters. Bryant may in fact be misunderstood. He may be no trouble ever. But, you must forgive me if I am suspicious about whether Jerry just let another clown back into this circus.

So, what do I think about the pick?

I think I like it. I preferred Devin McCourty, but honestly, there is no denying that this is the best football player that you can get at that spot. Jerry loves to gamble, and he has won his share of hands.

Let's hope this is another one for the win column.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Game 2: Spurs 102, Mavs 88 (1-1)

"When they are hitting shots and you are not your hitting shots, then you fall behind by 14" - Bob Ortegal, during 2nd Quarter of Game 2.

And once again we find out that in this city, during this decade, there is nothing worse for a team than to hear how great it is for a couple of days. Running from the front of the pack is dangerous territory for the Cowboys and Mavericks, we have found. When they have doubters and are being challenged, they are pretty salty. But, when everyone agrees after Game 1 that the Spurs are just the same old Spurs who we kicked around last time - Beware!

I know the stories will all read about some obvious themes of Game 2; Richard Jefferson actually doing something, the Big 3 for the Spurs being so money, and the Mavs not shooting well - but to me, this seemed more about the Mavs thinking rather early that they could do this the easy way. Give the ball to Dirk and watch him go. Then when he picked up rather quick foul trouble, it was "make it up as we go" basketball with a big dose of Eduardo Najera and almost no sequence in the 1st Half where Jason Kidd and Dirk were on the floor at the same time. It seemed the easy way consisted of almost no movement on offense and settling for bad shots out of rhythm. But, more disconcerting to me was the lack of resolve on defense for a good portion of the game. Especially in the 1st Half, where - let's face it - the game was won.

For instance, the Mavs got right back into things in the 1st Quarter after falling behind 16-5 right away. They start making plays and digging their way out of a hole, but then in the final 30 seconds of the 1Q, they allow Tony Parker 2 extremely easy trips to the rim. Then, in the furious rally of the 2nd Half, how many times did they have to gamble so much to get back that they left the Spurs with a wide open look? In this league, if you give a guy a chance to set his feet and lock in, it usually ends with a swish. And Manu Ginobili is a lethal sniper with open looks. He is clinical in his finishing, 23 points on 13 shots with 4 shots from behind the 3-point stripe.

Take just about any measureable for Game 2, and the final summary must simply be that the Spurs were the clear deserving winner of the contest. The Mavs were out-shot substantially (48% to 36%), out-rebounded (51-42), and just overall out-played.

Sometimes, in these games, it is best to ask "Who needs this game and who just wants it?". It was clear that the Spurs understood that Game 1 was not good enough and had their manhood challenged to a point where they were going to bring more muscle and resolve on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the extra day of rest perhaps was just 24more hours for the Mavs to hear how this trade has made them a clear title contender.

Not so fast, Mavs. If you thought it was going to be easy, then shame on you. But, closer to the truth, probably, is that the Spurs may be the 2nd best team in this series, but it isn't by too much of a margin. If you thought the Mavs would ultimately advance in Round 1, but that it will likely require a big Game 7 performance, then you were conceding that the Spurs were going to win 3.

Now, as usual, the Mavs did not choose the easy path. They must feel it is mandatory to get one back in San Antonio. This is a task that they have clearly demonstrated they are capable of doing, but nevertheless, they must do it again either Friday or Sunday. If not, their season shall be hanging be a thread by Sunday evening. And that would be a feeling that would be most unpleasant.

Let's visit a number of random topics in our Game 2 summary:

* When Dirk is making every shot he takes and when Caron Butler is there to offer big offensive support and when Jason Kidd is hitting every open 3 he sees, then the Mavs look dangerous on offense. But, when Dirk is on the bench, and Shawn Marion is an offensive-end passenger, and Kidd is missing shots, and Dampier is just standing there, then the Mavs look like they are working for every last point. Those 1st Quarter possessions will not be rushed to the Basketball Hall of Fame anytime soon. Yuck.

* I said before the series that the days of the Tim Duncan 35 and 20 performances in the playoffs are dead and gone. I may have been right, but let's not underestimate how awesome 25 and 17 can be. Duncan still, at this advanced age with thousands of miles on his tires, is still at worst, one of the very best low post threats in the league. In fact, as I write this, I am trying to come up with a post presence that I would rather have in 2010. And, honestly? I think you must still go with "high miles Timmy" over anything else out there. He is truly one of a kind.

* The Mavs got back into the game with the 3 Guard lineup of JJ Barea, Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry. It seemed to stretch the Spurs a bit when it was used. The zone defense was also tried. Let's put it this way: Rick Carlisle just about played every trick he had and they all failed when you can't put the ball in the basket. I say he played just about every trick, because there is a certain Guadalupe-born product who had a wonderful seat last night for the game.

* From the be careful what you wish for category: I wanted Skin in a collared shirt for Game 2. I am not sure I am responsible for his wardrobe adjustment (doubtful, at best) but if the Mavs are going to roll that out for the collared shirt, then let's get back to the designer "cool guy" t-shirts, eh?

* You know you are a great coach when everyone knows you are just trying to motivate your players and even though everyone knows you are just using the oldest coaching trick in the book - it still works like a charm and Richard Jefferson plays all night like he gives a rip. Well done, Coach Popovich. If there was one guy I could have coaching my team, he is on the very short list. I know he does things that drive Spurs' fans crazy, but the good so outweighs the bad.

* This just in: Manu goes to his left! Perhaps you could shade him in that direction on the ball.

* I think Brendan Haywood is up for rough play. I greatly enjoyed his heavy screen on George Hill followed by jawing with the Spurs bench when they had something to say. Caron and Haywood quickly get people to recalculate their "Mavs are soft" readings after a few minutes of game play. I still think I need more Brendan (+6) and less Dampier (-20).

* In the 2 games, we saw the various results that the Matrix can give you at this point of his career. Game 1, he got out and ran, he played some decent defense, and he looked like a real factor. In Game 2, he looked like a guy who has nothing left in his legs and a general passenger. So much so that his minutes were fewer than Dampier and Haywood. It is clear that Carlisle chooses either Marion or Terry and seldom both. So, when Jet is shooting well and you need points so badly, there is no place on the floor for the Matrix.

* Speaking of "Manu is lefthanded", here is another one: Matt Bonner can hit those 3's if you leave him wide open. He has one trick. But, it is fairly lethal if he starts hitting them. Geez, do I watch more Spurs games than the Mavs do?

* Tony Parker controlled the game last night for big chunks (as great point guards can do). Nobody is suggesting JJ Barea isn't worth a look, but when you are down 20, and you have one of the great change-ups in the league at the end of your bench, when do you unleash Beaubois? I know he is prone to a turnover and a blown pick-and-roll, but you are down 20, right? That would seem to indicate some of your trusty veterans may not be playing perfectly, Coach.

* Dirk was taken right out of his flow with the early foul trouble. I still need him to not allow himself to float when he is back in the game. Eye of the Tiger, big fella. He played far more passively with the ball in Game 2. In Game 1, he was determined to get his. More of that, please.

* I don't know what to make of the furious rally in the 3rd and 4th. It was nice to see plenty of fight and urgency, but never for a second did I think they were going to win that game. They just could not get stops at cruical times all night long. The Spurs dribble drives were killing Dallas, and then they would find Duncan down low for an easy 2. Tons of energy was expended, and let's not forget that the Mavs are actually older than the Spurs. It does show the Mavs what they must do to be successful: compete, push the tempo, and get the Spurs out of their comfortable pace. But, I would have hoped the Mavs were already aware of all of that before Game 2. Guess they needed a bit of a reminder.

* From here on in, a game hits every 48 hours. No long rest the remainder of the series. The war of attrition, words, sweat, and nerves is under way. The real ice-cream headaches are yet to come.

Down I-35 we go.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Whole Ben Roethlisberger Thing

These are the two emails that I sent to Bob:

There are five written witness statements, counting the two statements by the victim. From the looks of it, the victim made one statement immediately after the event, then fleshed out the details a little once she was sobered up. All five say pretty much the same thing, so I'll just re-word that version of events here:

Sometime between 11:15 and midnight, four girls (Nicole Biancofiore, Ann Marie Lubatti, Victoria Garofolo, the victim and another girl whose name was redacted from her statement for unknown reasons) first went to the Velvet Elvis, a bar across from Georgia State College and University in Milledgeville, Georgia. It was there that they first ran into Roethlisberger, Willie Colon and Roethlisberger's body guards. The group of girls had "casual conversation" with Ben and his group, took some photos together, then moved on to the other various attractions of the Velvet Elvis. Roethlisberger's group left the Velvet Elvis.

About an hour after they arrived, the girls moved bars from the Velvet Elvis to the Brick and discovered that Roethlisberger was in that bar as well. The victim sat down at the bar next to Colon and a few seats down from Roethlisberger. The victim and Garofolo had a conversation, mostly with Colon but with Roethlisberger leaning over and offering comment from time to time. As this was going on, Roethlisberger's body guards formed a perimeter and didn't let any males near the group (which strikes me as a good way of doing business. We should consider instituting this sort of thing at the next Guy's Night Out). The victim had on a nametag she had received earlier in the evening when attending a friend's birthday party that read "D.T.F." Roethlisberger confessed that he did not know what that meant (this, then, is one area where I know more about the college coed than Ben Roethlisberger. It just feels good to know I have something, you know?). They explained that it means "Down To F---." He responded by saying, "I'm not down to f--- (clearly a lie), but I like to f--- girls." After conversing a little more, Ben and his group decided the Brick was too crowded and left.

Cross Referencing

One thing we do know about the Cowboys is that they often show their hands with the visits to Valley Ranch. This is not necessarily a cinch, but the names I am hearing off the record are not that useful this year because they seem to match-up with many of the visit guys that are on the record.

On Sunday, I wrote about the quandry at #27 for the Cowboys. Their biggest needs will not likely be there when they pick. The best tackles and safeties will fall into 2 categories:

Tackles/OL: Okung, Williams, Bulaga, Davis, Iupati, Pouncey
Safeties: Eric Berry, Earl Thomas

Not Worthy of 1st Round Money:
Tackles/OL: Campbell, Brown, Saffold, Ducasse
Safeties: Taylor Mays, Nate Allen, Morgan Burnett

It seems that this isn't stopping the mocks from assigning the Cowboys the highest available at those 2 spots (and the pipe dreams of Bulaga or Earl Thomas still be there):

The DMN did a nice mock compilation to show what many of the national scribes are saying about #27 :

Chad Reuter (CBS Sports) -- OT Bruce Campbell, Maryland -- The Cowboys find a tackle of the future in Combine freak Campbell, who could play either side of the line.

Rob Rang (CBS Sports) -- OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana -- The Cowboys haven't spent a first-round pick on the offensive line since 1989. This might be the time -- valued backups Montrae Holland and Cory Procter potentially enter free agency after this season and Flozell Adams has been a bit of a turnstile at left tackle. Saffold can start inside as a rookie and eventually replace Adams.

Don Banks (Sports Illustrated) -- OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers -- Davis has slipped due to character issues that have surfaced in the scouting season, but since when has Dallas been wary of taking a chance on a player with a red flag or two? The Cowboys need to find a replacement for the aging Flozell Adams at some point early in this draft.

Mel Kiper (ESPN) -- S Earl Thomas, Texas -- At the combine, Thomas answered questions I had raised about his size. Although the Boys could use a tackle, if a top one isn't available here, the Texas product is a great fit for the Cowboys as a playmaker with cover skills at the safety position.

Todd McShay (Scouts Inc./ESPN) -- OT Charles Brown, USC -- Brown is a bit of a reach here, but his size and athletic ability give him the potential to develop into starting left tackle. With Flozell Adams on the downside of his career, Brown gives the Cowboys an insurance policy at the position. OT Charles Brown, USC -- Need a replacement for Flozell Adams; could groom Brown for a year.

Doug Farrar (Yahoo! Sports) -- OT Rodger Saffold, Indiana -- An underrated player who could help Dallas' obvious need for edge protection, Saffold stood out at the East-West Shrine Game, but didn't make the Senior Bowl list. No matter - at the combine, he put up the best times at his position in the vertical jump, the broad jump, three-cone drill and short shuttle. Saffold is another player whose stock could rise over the next month.

Bucky Brooks ( -- OT Bryan Bulaga, Iowa -- Flozell Adams' declining skills make it necessary for Jerry Jones to find a replacement at left tackle.

National Football Post (via FoxSports) -- S Taylor Mays, USC -- It doesn't matter what Mays has done up to this point; the size/speed ratio he displayed at the combine will get him drafted in round one.

The Football Expert -- OT Charles Brown, USC -- Left tackle Flozell Adams is near a great career at 34 years old, while Marc Colombo isn't much younger at 31 years old. With a run at tackle, the Cowboys take Brown, hoping to groom him into their left tackle of the future. Wide receiver Golden Tate is tempting, but I still think Jerry Jones has some faith in Roy Williams; just some faith.

So, today, I wanted to give you some names that play neither OL or S and might be the choice at #27. These guys are on the "visited the ranch" list and are generating a bit of buzz below the surface. Keep in mind, the Cowboys also have picks #59 and #90 in the first 100 picks, so you don't have to get everything at #27.

Also, I am leaving guys like WR Dez Bryant, DE Jared Odrick, and CB Kyle Wilson off this list. If they are there, the Cowboys want them. I just don't see them being there.

I know we say it every year, but follow your board. You have no idea what is around the next corner, so get good football players and don't reach higher than you should. These picks are gold. You control their rights for many years. You can always fill a gap with the Keith Brooking-types, but for long term anchors, you have to get them on draft day.

So, Picks at #27 that should not shock you:

Devin McCourty - CB - Rutgers

Tyson Alualu - DE - California

Arrelious Benn - WR - Illinois

Navarro Bowman - LB - Penn State

One other player to visit about is Nate Allen, South Florida. He is a safety that seems to have his act together and plenty of ability. He has a 2nd round grade, but if you want him - the Cowboys must grab him at #27. I have been told that is "too high", but if you want your safety, there he is. I have no idea why youtube has nothing since 2007.


Here is the full list (thanks to my main man, Todd Archer) of visitors to Valley Ranch this spring:

LSU safety Chad Jones

South Florida safety Nate Allen

Florida center Maurkice Pouncey

Ole Miss offensive lineman John Jerry

Missouri State tight end Clay Harbor.

Illinois wide receiver Arrelious Benn

UMass offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse

Indiana (Pa.) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah

Cal DE Tyson Alualu

Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant,

Penn State linebacker Sean Lee

Penn State linebacker Navarro Bowman

LSU wide receiver Brandon LaFell

Kentucky fullback John Conner

Idaho guard Mike Iupati

Penn State defensive end Jared Odrick

Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee

Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett

Ohio wide receiver Taylor Price

USC safety Taylor Mays

Maryland OT Bruce Campbell

Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty

Arizona State linebacker Travis Goethel

Dallas Day guys I know about

SMU WR Emmanuel Sanders, SMU RB Shawnbrey McNeal, SMU LB Chase Kennemer, SMU DB Bryan McCann, Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe (Cedar Hill), UCLA linebackers Kyle and Korey Bosworth (Plano West), Texas A&M safety Jordan Pugh (Plano West), Baylor center J.D. Walton (Allen), Oklahoma cornerback Brian Jackson (DeSoto), Oklahoma defensive tackle DeMarcus Granger (Kimball), Oklahoma Adron Tennell (Irving), Arizona safety Corey Hall (DeSoto), Iowa State center/guard Reggie Stephens (Rowlett), TCU OT Nic Richmond, TCU CB Rafael Priest, TCU LS Clint Gresham, TCU DE Jerry Hughes visited but didn’t work out, Miami Ohio QB Daniel Raudabaugh (Coppell), Texas OT Adam Ulatoski (Southlake Caroll)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hey, how did they get that pick?

Thanks to Wikipedia, here is a brief look at how everyone got those picks that did not belong to them....

Round one

^ #11: Chicago → Denver (PD). Chicago traded this selection, its 2009 first- (18th overall; Denver selected Robert Ayers) and third-round selections (84th overall; traded to Pittsburgh, who selected Mike Wallace), and quarterback Kyle Orton to Denver for quarterback Jay Cutler and a 2009 fifth-round selection (140th overall, Chicago selected Johnny Knox).[source 1]
^ #14: Denver → Seattle (PD). Denver traded this selection to Seattle for a 2009 second-round selection (37th overall; Denver selected Alphonso Smith).[source 2]
^ #17: Carolina → San Francisco (PD). Carolina traded this selection to San Francisco for 2009 second- (43rd overall; Carolina selected Everette Brown) and fourth-round selections (111th overall; Carolina selected Mike Goodson).[source 3]

Round two

^ #37: Washington → Philadelphia (PD). Washington traded this selection and a conditional 2011 fourth-round selection to Philadelphia for quarterback Donovan McNabb.[source 4]
^ #40: Seattle → San Diego (PD). Seattle traded this selection and its 2011 third-round selection to San Diego for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and the Chargers' 2010 second-round selection (60th overall).[source 5]
^ #42: Chicago → Tampa Bay (PD). Chicago traded this selection to Tampa Bay for defensive end Gaines Adams.[source 6]
^ #43: Miami → Denver (PD). Miami traded this selection and its 2011 second-round selection to Denver for wide receiver Brandon Marshall.[source 7]
^ #44: Jacksonville → New England (PD). Jacksonville traded this selection and its 2009 seventh-round selection (232nd overall; New England selected Julian Edelman) to New England for the first of New England's 2009 third-round selections (73rd overall; Jacksonville selected Derek Cox).[source 8]
^ #47: Tennessee → New England (PD). Tennessee traded this selection to New England for the third of New England's 2009 third-round selections (89th overall; Tennessee selected Jared Cook).[source 9]
^ #50: Atlanta → Kansas City (PD). Atlanta traded this selection to Kansas City for tight end Tony Gonzalez.[source 10]
^ #60: San Diego → Seattle (PD). See #40: Seattle → San Diego above.

Round three

^ #70: Seattle → Philadelphia (PD). Seattle traded this selection and its 2009 fifth- (137th overall; after other trades, Baltimore selected Jason Phillips) and seventh-round selections (213th overall; Philadelphia selected Paul Fanaika) to Philadelphia for a 2009 third-round selection (91st overall; Seattle selected Deon Butler).[source 11]
^ #85: New England → Oakland (PD). New England traded this selection and its fourth-round selection (119th overall; because New England did not have a fifth-round selection at the time, when they acquired one, this fourth-round selection was traded back to New England) to Oakland for defensive end Derrick Burgess.[source 12]
^ #85: Oakland → Cleveland (PD). Oakland traded this selection it acquired from New England to Cleveland for defensive end Kamerion Wimbley.[source 13]
^ #88: Baltimore → Arizona (PD). Baltimore traded this selection and its fourth-round selection (123rd overall) to Arizona for wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Arizona's fifth-round selection (157th overall).[source 14]
^ #92: New York Jets → Cleveland (PD). The New York Jets traded this selection, its fifth-round selection (160th overall), linebacker Jason Trusnik, and safety Chansi Stuckey to Cleveland for wide receiver Braylon Edwards.[source 15]

Bob McGinn's Draft Goodies

As I prepare for the draft, I thought I would show you some of the stuff I am reading that you likely missed. Namely, my scribe hero, Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal - kind of the Goose of his office.

Here are some of the gold pieces he wrote in the last little bit...

Dan Cody is big and fat ...

Savage, who coached for the Browns in the early 1990s when Alabama coach Nick Saban was defensive coordinator, said Cody drew little interest from major schools. So his coach, former Browns safety Stevon Moore, called Saban and told him that he had a good nose tackle who weighed more than 400 pounds.

"Saban told him that if he could get down to 390 before the visit they'd bring him in," said Savage. "Then he told him he had to be 370 by the time he reported. He cleared both hurdles."

Clemson and running back C.J. Spiller didn't know a thing about Cody when they lined up to play the Tide in the 2008 opener. Word spread like wildfire after the Tigers posted their worst rushing day since 1947 (14 carries, no yards).

Last spring, Cody scaled 373 pounds. He still was too big (370) at the Senior Bowl in late January. But he was down to 354 at the combine a month later, then to 349 on March 10 at pro day.

"He's a big, fat blob," an NFC personnel man said. "He's a big media creation. If you want a guy to play 10 plays a game and make maybe one play in those 10, then that's your guy. He can't move. He just stands there. He cannot move at all."

Just how slow is Cody's 5.66-second clocking in the 40-yard dash? You can't find a slower drafted defensive tackle in the last 20 years. The closest were Corey Swinson (seventh round, 1995) at 5.62, and Tim Roberts (fifth round, 1992) and Ron Brace (second round, 2009) at 5.51.

"This guy doesn't have any first-step quickness," one scout said.

Assuming Cody still is 349, he would be heavier than any defensive tackle in the last 20 drafts with the exception of 365-pound Jon Kirksey, an eighth-round choice in 1993 who ran 5.29 and played two seasons for St. Louis. Nobody else weighed more than 341.

There are fears that once Cody cashes a signing bonus, his best incentive to watch his weight will be gone. Still, there are 14 teams using the 3-4 defense, and for them he can provide a valuable service.

Almost Every RB in this draft has injury history

The fact so many runners will enter the league as damaged goods has left few options for clubs looking for a back.

"None of them will be O.J. Simpson," an NFC personnel executive said. "It's a marginal group of running backs."

The Journal Sentinel asked personnel men with national orientation to rank their favorite backs on a 1-to-5 basis. C.J. Spiller collected 16 of the first-place votes while Ryan Mathews gained the other three.

Spiller's total of 92 points led, followed by Mathews (72), Jahvid Best (51), Toby Gerhart (32), Montario Hardesty (18), Jonathan Dwyer (11), Joe McKnight (six), Dexter McCluster (two) and Anthony Dixon (one).

It's a blend of elusive small backs (Spiller, Best, McCluster, McKnight) and workhorse big backs (Gerhart, Hardesty, Dwyer, Dixon, Charles Scott, LeGarrette Blount). The medium-sized Mathews might have the best shot to emerge as a featured ball carrier.

"There's a solid group of bigger type backs who can crank out the yards and wear down defenses," Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "That's an important type of back in a two-back system."

But first the players have to reach opening day in order to contribute, and given their long medical charts it could be a tall order.


• Spiller missed just one game in four years but played through turf toe most of 2009. Some teams say it's not a factor; others say it is.

"That can be a career-killer for a running back," an AFC personnel man said. "Eddie George had that and it ended his career."

• Mathews appears to be the "cleanest" physically of the top backs but still had to sit out eight games in his three seasons due to injury.

• Best also missed eight games, including four to close last season with concussions suffered in back-to-back games. A year ago, he had elbow and foot operations.

"Yeah, he's worried about it," said one scout who has talked to Best about the concussions. "Plus, he has a muscle going down from his neck to his leg that bothers him. That's my reservation on Best. He's coming in all beat up."

• Gerhart suffered a torn posterior cruciate knee ligament and missed 10 games in 2007 but sat out just one game (concussion) since.

"He's been hurt and he will continue to be hurt . . . I don't think he has that quick twitch to get away from the big hits," an NFC scout said. "I feel bad for the kid. He plays the game the way you like it played but, gosh, it will take its toll on him."

• Hardesty blew out his knee in 2005, has undergone additional knee procedures and missed 11 games in all, including four with foot and ankle woes.

"He's injury prone," an NFC personnel man said.

• Dwyer didn't miss any time in his three seasons but the doctors for one team didn't like one of his feet.

• McCluster, a 170-pounder, sat out six games in 2006 with a concussion-stinger and four games in '07 with a broken shoulder.

"The realism is 155-to-170-pound running backs don't exist in the National Football League very long," an AFC personnel man said.

• McKnight "has been hurt most of the time," according to an AFC scout. Most of his problems occurred in spring and summer so he missed only two games.

• Anthony Dixon has had collarbone, ankle and finger problems but played every game.

• Ben Tate also played every game in his four-year career but, like Hardesty, has a style that doesn't portend longevity.

"He runs too hard," one scout said. "He will play until he gets hurt. He ain't going to last."

• Charles Scott was clean until a broken collarbone shelved him for the final four games of 2009.

Summing up the grim picture, DeCosta said, "You talk about medicals . . . this is the walking wounded. It really is remarkable that Emmitt Smith was able to play all those years the way that he played."


Who would take Dez Bryant ...

Based on ability, Bryant probably should be a top-five pick. But his uneven individual workout March 30 in Lufkin, Texas, only exacerbated reservations about his work habits, ability to learn and level of maturity.

"I don't know if he's a mess," Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said. "I don't think he's a bad kid. He's just got some difficulty."

Before the 1998 draft, 10 of 14 personnel men told the Journal Sentinel that they wouldn't touch Marshall's Moss and three said they might but only late in the first round. Just one said he'd take him high.

Moss fell to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 21, quickly took the league by storm and has amassed Hall of Fame numbers.

This spring, 16 personnel men were asked by the Journal Sentinel what number pick, if any, they would be comfortable selecting Bryant.

Five said that their answer was none.

"Even if he was the only receiver in the draft I would never bring him into the building," a personnel director for a playoff team said. "Our locker room is pretty good right now. He's going to be hard to sign and he's going to be hard to deal with when he gets there. He is what he is, a tremendous player, but I wouldn’t have him on a bet."

Two hypothetically listed picks No. 36 and No. 40 in the second round.

"The top receivers aren't inconsistent guys who do bonehead things," another personnel director said. "His play is like his personality - flashes of brilliance and flashes of awfulness. Bad routes, dropped passes, headache both on and off the field."

Five others said Bryant would be worth it later in the first round, choosing fictitious picks 20, 20, 25, 25 and 26.


What about Tim Tebow?

In the last few weeks, the Journal Sentinel asked a broad cross-section of personnel men with national orientation this simple question: Will Tim Tebow be a solid starting quarterback in the National Football League?

Five scouts answered yes.

Sixteen scouts answered no.

"I honestly don't know," replied Indianapolis President Bill Polian. "There's such a long way to go. Would I stake my job on it? The answer is no. I don't know that he would become a quarterback."

Not only did Tebow finish first, third and fifth in balloting for the Heisman Trophy during a celebrated career at Florida, he split time as a freshman on the Gators' national championship team in 2006 and then led them to another title in '08.

He passed for 88 touchdowns while running for another 57 scores. Based on the NFL system, his career passer rating was an astounding 119.1.

"I think he's a first-rounder," an AFC personnel man insisted. "Everyone wants the Peyton Manning, guys that actually carry teams. Well, there's maybe three of those in the league.

"Ask Tebow to get on a team with talent around him, he's going to win ball games. People want to dismiss him so easily. Well, he's big, he's strong, he's fast, he's very powerful and he's got a strong arm. He puts the ball in a position to make people successful. That's what you want in a quarterback."

The results of our second survey question - "If you needed a quarterback, what round, if any, would you feel comfortable taking Tim Tebow?" - indicates little regard for him as a conventional quarterback.

The aforementioned AFC man was one of two personnel people who said first round. Six replied second round, seven said third round, four went with fourth round, one said fifth round and a final scout said he wouldn't draft him at all.

"The greatest thing that's ever happened to football. . .. you take away the leadership and all that manufactured (expletive), I don't think he has any quarterback skills and he's not a good enough athlete to play another position," an NFC executive said. "They've made this kid out to be perfect. I just don't buy it."

Game 1: Mavs 100, Spurs 94 (1-0, Mavs)

No Answer. For once, it is so glorious to have those words describe someone in a Mavericks jersey as opposed to someone in the enemy colors. It is often thrown around easily in NBA circles, but the theme going into the Mavericks match-up with the San Antonio Spurs was that the Spurs would have absolutely "no answer" for the Mavericks' talisman, Dirk Nowitzki.

And through Game 1, it is clear that sort of rhetoric was on the money. Dirk was the centerpiece of the opening contest, and 36 points later, he turned out to be the clear player of the game.

Only 2 teams in the last decade have eliminated the San Antonio Spurs from the playoffs. One of those teams has won 4 Titles in the decade and will be thought of as the dynasty of the decade (the Lakers). The other team to take down the Spurs has been led by the tall German who seems to always have their number, Big Dirk.

For all of his moments where the league has seemed to find a formula for slowing Dirk down, the one organization that has never had someone who can mess with him seems to be the San Antonio Spurs. Oh sure, they won their share - especially early in this decade (thanks alot, Steve Kerr) - but even back in the early days of the Mavericks run, Dirk always seemed to get his. Well, as age and maturity have played their roles, it appears now that the Mavericks are now the favorites in these match-ups, and that is almost entirely because of the simple defensive match-up that Greg Popovich has to consider - and then lose - to Dirk.

Last Night, Dirk scored from all sorts of angles and strategies. Then, late, when the Spurs were reduced to Hack-a-Damp and triple teams to slow down the German, he passed beautifully to set up wide open daggers from his mates. He gets everyone easier shots when he is feeling it, and if they knock them down, the Mavs will be in for a long march this spring.

Meanwhile, both teams were offering plenty of new blood to attempt to tip the scales in their direction after the 2009 match-up between these same two teams in Round 1. The Spurs returned Manu Ginobili - who was awesome - and debuted newcomers Richard Jefferson (awful), DeJuan Blair (barely played - who does he guard?), and the type of long-armed defender that should slow Dirk down, Antonio McDyess. The trouble is, at the age of 35, McDyess looks like he has about 10 minutes per half to try and bother Dirk, and even so, the challenge for Nowitzki seems exciting as he takes turns abusing McDyess and then his trusty side-kick, Matt Bonner.

For much of the night, it appeared that the Spurs were attempting to be stubborn and were going to let one of those two try to slow Nowitzki all by themselves. I believe over the next 2 weeks we are going to see that Popovich and the Spurs are going to try to "Make someone else beat us". And that is when we will truly see the value of the acquisitions of the last 12 months.

Anyway, a very satisfying Game 1 victory for the Mavs, and now the subplots begin:

* Lost in all of this Dirk talk, of course, is the stellar showing from the core of the Spurs. We all know that they did not win titles because of Matt Bonner. They have rings because Tim Duncan is Tim Duncan, and Ginobili and Tony Parker have been proper helpers in that quest. The three of them all look up for a long series as Duncan scored 27 in a very efficient evening, Ginobili did whatever he wanted at points for 26, and Parker looks like he is returning to form with 18. Clearly, that has never been the problem, and last season, with Ginobili out, you will recall that Parker and Duncan were flat-out awesome. But, it was the Spurs supporting cast that got them beat last year, and although many of the faces have changed, you still have to wonder how hard it is for new players to figure out a comfortable role for themselves in that Big 3 culture. It seems like every time they try to add a wing player who can cause the opponent trouble (Mason, Jefferson), they always fade into the background because their are only so many balls to go around. The one exception to this rule is the guy who hangs at the 3-point line and waits for his chance to bang home an open look (Bowen, Bonner, Horry). Otherwise, for all of Pop's genius, in the back end of this decade, it always seems that the supporting cast is a bunch of spares - and maybe they are. But, maybe, it is because the Big 3 have not figured out how to integrate the whole thing together. We will continue to follow this story line closely. With the miles on all 3 of those spectacular players, they need help now more than ever before.

* I thought Caron Butler was awesome in Game 1. Just what the doctor ordered. I know the trade was far more complex than Josh Howard for Caron, but when you watch the Mavs like we do, you cannot help but remember Josh and compare the two constantly. It appears at this particular moment, that Caron's strengths are things that Josh possess. He loves collisions. He loves to go strong to the rack. He has swagger. He wants a rumble. He drinks Tough Juice. In one sequence early in the 4th Quarter, he hit a 2 from 18, took a charge, caused a steal, and then had that crazy step-back 3 in Keith Bogans' face. Now, hopefully, he will not allow hitting jumpers affect his decision making on offense (a huge Josh Howard flaw - hit one jumper and suddenly there were no more drives). But overall, I have been wondering what sort of element will Caron bring to this things, and through 1 game of the playoffs, I love it. And see, this is what makes that trade so genius. Butler and Haywood are not only solid NBA players who can make a difference in any game they play, but they also somehow possess the perfect make-up of skills to compliment the Dirk, Terry, Kidd launch attack from the perimeter. These new guys take the ball at the rim. They are physical and will cause problems in the paint for the opponent. This will be tested, especially on the road, but I do think that Mark Cuban/Donnie Nelson were able to acquire players who do what you couldn't.

* Matt Bonner is 6'10. He has an offensive arsenal that includes a very impressive ability to knock down any open 3-pointer he is given. That is worth something. But otherwise, you might rather have me out there. His running tear drop attempt in the lane is just sad for a big man. Nick Van Exel did that because he had no choice. You know, because he was the shortest man on the floor. Bonner plays in the paint like his is 6'1, and that is something that must make Spurs fans crazy.

* The playoffs are no place for rookies if they play for veteran coaches. Roddy Beaubois and DeJaun Blair are both rare finds for their teams and had wonderful freshman years. But, in the playoffs, they likely won't play too much in the early going. Beaubois is 3rd choice at the point, and when Kidd pays 41 minutes, that doesn't leave much. Blair is just in a spot where he has nobody to guard. If he plays with Duncan, then who guards Dirk? If he plays with Bonner or McDyess when Duncan is watching, then who guards Damp or Haywood and who gets rebounds? Blair is very interesting, but he is always going to have a very odd role because for all of his talents, he is still a 6'7 player with a 7-footer's mobility.

* Erick Dampier, I must admit, does match-up well with the Spurs. We saw this last year and we saw it again in Game 1. He gets in Duncan's way, despite not being able to justify minutes against many other opponents. The Hack-A-Damp was amusing, and when he knocked down 4 of 6, Pop was off looking for another plan. In Game 1, Dampier played 30 minutes and Brendan Haywood played 18. It seems that this split should be 24/24 or even 30/18 for Haywood, but I guess they really like Damp vs Dunc. 12 rebounds were nice, and so was the defense. But, his hands still make him an annoyance on offense. And, he was 5 for 12 from the line overall, so fouling him does make some sense.

* Seriously, is Roger Mason that useless? I remember hearing some of my Spurs friends tell me that he is the answer for what they have needed. I think they have backed way off that claim and are now wondering when he expires (this year). They just can't find a worthy weapon that can help them the way Jason Terry can help the Mavs off the bench.

* That random guy on the bench who looks like he won the "win a chance to sit on the Mavs bench in full uniform" contest is Matt Carroll. He signed a 6-year, $27 million dollar deal in 2007.

* I cannot believe how great Jason Kidd is playing. His performance last night was brilliant on many levels. The open 3's that he seems to make with greater regularity when the shot means more, the passes that result in 11 assists, the defense on Manu where he tips passes that other guys don't tip, and just the overall way he makes basketball look so easy. He is the type of athlete that the more you watch, the more fun he makes the sport. Like Messi on the soccer field, reading the game story the next day is not enough. You have to watch him, and notice what he does and what he sees that nobody else does. Oh yeah, and at 37 years old, he is the oldest guy out there.

* And lest I forget, it is certainly worth noting how valuable Shawn Marion can be if only because he is extremely long and disruptive on defense. He runs the floor, he guards your best player, and he doesn't need too many shots to be happy. I cannot believe this team was giving huge minutes to Antoine Wright last season and now have Caron Butler and Shawn Marion on the wings. Count me amongst those who appreciate the roster turnover of the last 12 months.

It is only 1 game. 14% of a 7-game series. But, the Mavericks are off to a very fine start. If they get a 2-0 lead heading through (edit fixed!) Texas, I am pretty sure the Spurs will have a new member in their huddle back in San Antonio, Mr. Doubt.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Draft Thoughts

Before I launch into all Spurs-Mavs, let's focus a bit on pick #27 for the Cowboys, and the various choices they have when considering that spot.

I think we all know that the Cowboys have two needs that jump off the page at us.

According to their own team website depth chart , we see this:

LT Pat McQuistan

FS Alan Ball Michael Hamlin

First, Left Tackle:

I know that McQuistan is not their plan to start. He is what he is, and that seems to be a marginal reserve who will be replaced when he is no longer reasonably priced (sooner rather than later). They believe that Doug Free is ready to play left tackle on week 1, 2010. Whether he is ready to quiet his critics and skeptics (I am a skeptic about his strength to drop anchor and seal the edge at LT which is a very difficult and vital responsibility) remains to be seen, but they felt strong enough to risk a 2nd guess all season long on the Flozell Adams decision and therefore that should speak some volumes.

Obviously, #27 is no place to find a tackle in the NFL Draft. Like QB, any LT worth a darn is usually gone before we are all exhausted from the draft coverage.

Using Today's Rick Gosselin mock , here are the tackles and OL types off the board by #27:

#5 - Russell Okung - OT - Oklahoma State
#6 - Trent Williams - OT - Oklahoma
#13 - Anthony Davis - OT - Rutgers
#19 - Bryan Bulaga - OT - Iowa
#21 - Maurkice Pouncey - C - Florida

Interestingly, the player I really love for Cowboys purposes, Mike Iupati, G, Idaho, is still on Goose's board at #27. If he is there, I am not sure how you pass on a guy who nearly every observer indicates is ready to "start for you for 10 years". If he is that guy, then even Dez Bryant (who Goose has sliding to Dallas) might be worth passing. For crying out loud, some people have Iupati as a guy who can play any of the 5 Offensive Line positions. That gets me excited just thinking about it.

Also, lest we forget, the Cowboys took a tackle last year in the 3rd Round, Robert Brewster, the rather portly project from Ball State who injured himself rather soon after he joined the Cowboys last summer.

Todd Archer spoke about Brewster :

On whether or not Robert Brewster can ever be a starter for the Cowboys, and what that position might be...

TA: I think they're keeping him at tackle although I know there was some talk of him at guard. We only saw him for a brief second in the off-season before he tore his pec muscle. I sort of liked him. He didn't always look the prettiest but he kept himself between the QB and the defender.

Now, on to Safety:

Goose has the following safeties off the board at #27 -

#7 - Eric Berry - S - Tennessee
#20 - Earl Thomas - S - Texas

It does leave Taylor Mays, but I personally believe from what I have heard that the Cowboys do not see him worthy of a 1st round grade. To take a safety that high who has some serious coverage deficiencies is just not a prudent thing to do.

If you watch Mays enough, you will likely arrive at the same destination so many others have; He is Roy Williams 2.

Watch this video and tell me his strengths and weaknesses do not perfectly match those of our beloved Roy:

Against the run, he is a devastating destroyer he runs downfield and is looking for a body count. Also, he has that same Roy attribute of thinking all of his hits are kill shots and therefore never wraps his arms up and often looks foolish as the RB bounces off of him and keeps running downfield. But, in space, against players with quickness (not speed, quickness) he is too stiff and often lost - in the college game.

Could you figure out a way to use him? Maybe, but he is not what you need to step in and take over safety. They appear to be caught in no man's land at safety. Nothing good enough to slide to them, and nothing worth taking at #27.

So, what do you do? Take Dez Bryant? Trade up to get Earl Thomas? Stay put and take the best available player at a number of spots? OL, DL, LB, CB, WR and just improve the talent level on the team?

I think the last scenario is likely what we should anticipate. The draft will unfold as it will. It is highly possible at #27, with so many 3-4 teams picking in front of you, that the board will look rather uninspiring when the Cowboys are on the clock.

But, it is much cheaper there than it would be to jump up to #19. I think the Cowboys may end up with 8 or 10 different guys who are not OT or S, and we shall visit about them on Tuesday...


Some additional reading:

Pat Kirwan's latest mock draft shows the Cowboys on Indiana LT Rodger Saffold.

26. Arizona Cardinals
Brandon Graham, LB, Michigan
The Cardinals took some hits during free agency -- especially on defense -- and signing Joey Porter isn't much more than a stop-gap move. Graham can play linebacker or defensive end. In the Cardinals' 3-4 package Graham could line up at strong-side outside linebacker, just like Lamarr Woodley does in Pittsburgh.

27. Dallas Cowboys
Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
Saffold has been moving up draft boards for weeks since the offensive line coaches started their private workouts. The Cowboys released Flozell Adams and need line help. This kid can play guard or tackle, and don't let the quiet, passive demeanor fool you, he is a solid player.

Ironically, those two players are captured going head-to-head below:

Ross Tucker's mailbag reminds us that it is not always connect the dots with obvious needs and obvious picks.

Needs. Every NFL team seemingly has them, although some are certainly more pronounced than others. All fans want to know is how their team is going to go about filling their needs in next week's draft. But in recently compiling the biggest needs for each NFL team heading into next week's draft, I discovered there are some serious limitations in this logic.

Most of the team needs are based upon the media and fans' perspective of what a team is lacking. That doesn't necessarily mean team executives feel the same way. Most of the time the two do in fact mesh, but that is not always the case.

Most needs are based upon either a relative lack of experience at a certain position or the public's perception of a given player, which may be altogether different from the team's. Just because a player hasn't yet gained meaningful NFL experience doesn't mean he can't get the job done or the team doesn't have the confidence he can step in and do the job.

Take the Dallas Cowboys, for example. Their recent decision to release offensive tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin would appear to make those two positions of need even more pronounced. But we don't necessarily know that.

For all we know, the Cowboys may be extremely high on likely starter at left tackle Doug Free and inexperienced players like veteran Pat McQuistan and last year's third-rounder, Robert Brewster. Maybe they are capable of being solid starters but weren't able to get on the field because of the presence of Adams and right tackle Marc Colombo.

The same holds true at safety. Based on what he did in training camp and last year in practice, the Cowboys may be convinced that youngster Michael Hamlin not only will fill the void left by Ken Hamlin but also be a superior player due to his range and athleticism.

Also, the perceived need is not necessarily filled just because a team signs a free agent or drafts a player at that position. Sometimes fans and media members appear to have a checklist in place and as long as the team gets a player who fills that need, they are happy. They can cross that position off their list because the team has taken care of it.

If only it were that easy. The truth is signing or drafting a player at that position doesn't guarantee anything. In fact, draft or sign the wrong player at a position and the team has simply compounded the problem and that spot will be an even greater need the following year.

In the Cowboys example, even if they draft a player with the 27th overall pick at one of those positions, the results are far from certain. No matter who they take at offensive tackle, for example, the chances that player is as consistent as Adams is remote. Yeah, Flozell was known for jumping offsides once or twice a game. But he also did a better-than-average job of protecting Cowboys franchise quarterback Tony Romo week in and week out. We'll see if Free or someone else can fill that need.