For much of 2012, Washington Redskins fans probably figured things were finally headed in the right direction, after rookie QB Robert Griffin III had a tremendous season in leading the team to a playoff berth for the first time since 2007. But a torn up knee suffered in Washington’s wild card loss meant rehab took up an offseason that otherwise could have been spent building further wrinkles into the team’s offense.
As the 2013 season got underway, several things became clear. Griffin was not the same player he was as a rookie. And his relationship with coach Mike Shanahan was not progressing either. The team got off to a rough start and never fully recovered, ending the season dead last in a weak NFC East.
After the season, Shanahan was fired, replaced by Jay Gruden. Griffin is clearly “the guy,” but the team needs to put some pieces in place around him – and must do so without its first round pick, having sent it to St. Louis as part of the trade that allowed Washington to acquire its franchise QB.
So where does Washington go from here? Kevin Ewoldt, managing editor of Hogs Haven, shared his reflections on 2013 and hopes for the year ahead.
Zoneblitz: After a positive 2012 season that ended with a playoff berth, 2013 went in the other direction. What happened? Continue reading
The Houston Texans entered the 2013 season riding high hopes off of two postseason appearances. Some called them one of the top contenders to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. They looked the part for two weeks, with wins over San Diego and Tennessee. Then QB play went south and the wheels fell off, resulting in a 14 game losing streak to end the season.
So, change is rampant. Gary Kubiak is out, Gary O’Brien heads south from Penn State to replace him. The QB position is in flux and aging superstars Arian Foster and Andre Johnson are enduring more upheaval as they head into the twilights of their respective careers.
So what do the Texans have to do to get back on track? Patrick Starr, owner and editor of the blog State of the Texans, joined us and shared his thoughts.
Zoneblitz: Houston went from 12-4 to 2-14. What happened? Continue reading
As a matter of course, I like to provide a year-end wrap-up of our picks and bets. It’s a good reference for the future and it provides a level of accountability.
So … after a pretty decent regular season of straight up picks, things were less stellar in the playoffs. I guess that makes sense, as most of the teams that make the postseason are pretty good (for now – but just wait until the playoff field inevitably expands).
You can check out our regular season wrap-up by clicking here.
As for the Super Bowl, coin flip my backside. A game that on paper looked like one of the more intriguing match-ups in quite awhile turned out to be a snoozer.
The Seattle Seahawks made all of us at Zoneblitz look like fools by getting a quick lead on the Broncos and then teeing off on Peyton Manning, making the future Hall of Famer look downright ordinary in the first blowout Super Bowl in awhile. I was not at all surprised Seattle won. I was stunned at the ease with which the Seahawks dispatched Denver.
Each of us picked the Broncos in a close game. Each of us was wrong. That gave Tony the postseason win for correctly predicting seven of the 11 outcomes straight up. Anthony Maggio and I both hit six.
Throughout the entire regular season and into the playoffs I was abysmal against the spread this season. I’m going to have to do some reading during the offseason in order to improve on that in 2014. What an embarrassment. After a 27-38-3 debacle during the regular season, I nailed the line just 3 of 11 times during the playoffs, including botching the Super Bowl — switching to Denver after entering the season having picked Seattle to take home the Lombardi Trophy. Disappointing choice.
I saved face a bit going 6-5 in over/under picks during the postseason, but I’d still be getting killed in Vegas if this were anything more than hypothetical.
And so, with that, we’re heading into the post-season. We’ll have some more thoughts on the Hall of Fame class in the days ahead. We’ll also start looking ahead at fantasy football in 2014 and at the draft. Stay tuned.
In November 2013, The Guardian in the United Kingdom carried a story discussing the 30-year anniversary of a soccer game during which 150 England fans were arrested for vandalism, fighting and theft in Luxembourg.
The incident resulted in sports ministers from the Council of Europe convening to stop what they called “soccer terrorism.”
Nearly three decades later, the English football season of 2011-12 had the lowest arrest count on record.
In 2012-13, the count increased 4 percent, to 2,456 football-related arrests, according to the paper, but that was still a small number compared with the old days.
Now this isn’t to say jackassery isn’t still taking place at soccer games. There are still plenty of reports of issues, both in Europe and across the world, in which fans of their teams take things way too seriously and end up injured or dead from incidents.
But it does seem clear after a season’s worth of media reports that some of the “football hooliganism” has migrated to the United States. Continue reading
Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager/president/player personnel (snicker) guru Jerry Jones Friday, on 105.3 The Fan ESPN radio in Dallas/Fort Worth, revived one of my least favorite ideas regarding the NFL: Expanding the playoffs.
Jones argues that giving teams that were .500 an opportunity to reach the postseason and, possibly, the Super Bowl creates excitement.
“From the standpoint of looking at how exciting it is for a city or a community to be involved in the playoffs and the fact that you can have a team that might have literally operated at .500 or in that area … you can have that team win the Super Bowl,” Jones said. “That makes a big case for adding a couple of more cities or communities that have NFL teams to make the playoffs.”
This argument may be a bit self-serving from Jones. I was in attendance at the last playoff game the Dallas Cowboys actually participated in, a 34-3 whipping at the Metrodome at the hands of Minnesota in 2009. Under Jones’ lead as, cough, cough, general manager of the Cowboys, an expanded playoff may be the only way his team qualifies in the near future (though a two team expansion would not have helped him in any of the last four seasons).
But as Jones was finishing his speech on the radio, Vince Lombardi, who actually stood for excellence, just rolled over in his grave. Back in his day, the championship was decided by pitting the best team in the Western Conference against the best team in the Eastern Conference. Don’t win your conference? Don’t play for the championship.
That is pushing for greatness. That is requiring a team to accomplish something before they get to play for the big prize. Continue reading