Tag Archives: Dez Bryant

The Redskins vs. The Cowboys preview: Another win changes things.

Almost every Sunday, I try and meet up with my parents to have dinner with them, especially since I have the good fortune of living close by to them. I’m an only child, and even tough I’m married and have enough things going on to keep me plenty busy, spending a few hours on a Sunday evening hanging out and catching up with my family is the absolute least thing I can do.

After all, the person I am today is almost entirely a reflection of the way I was brought up by parents. And that fact absolutely extends to Football, or more specifically, my/our love for the Redskins. Again, the fact that the blood coursing through my veins runs distinctly runs burgundy and gold is due, in large part, to my parents sharing that same passion and loyalty towards the Redskins, and teaching me those same virtues about being a fan.

My mom always felt that fans of the Dallas Cowboys are less welcome in her home than even door-to-door salesmen, uninvited houseguests, or termites. My dad always believed that the pulse of Washington DC ebbed and flowed with the success of the Redskins. He always joked how people just naturally seemed to be happier, friendlier, and in a better mood overall the Monday morning after a Redskins win.

So over dinner last night, we joked that, with the Redskins being 2-0, and the level of optimism and excitement surrounding this team, if Washington beats Dallas tonight, Redskins fans are going to start figuring out how much Super Bowl tickets will cost, and whether they’ll able to take off a few days from work sometime around the first weekend of February, 2012

As a fan – and as a passionate one, no less – it happens. You start thinking ahead. You start looking at the schedule, and start seeing W’s where you may orginally have seen L’s.Even though the leaves haven’t even started changing colors yet, you start predicting playoff matchups and figuring out the ramifications of home field advantages.

Especially when it’s coming up on four years since your team has been to the postseason.

Yes, the Redskins are 2-0. Yes, they’re the only team in the NFC East with an undefeated record. Yes, they’re one of only four teams in the NFL that are undefeated, period. But the somewhat pessimistic, but masquerading as realistic, part of me realizes that, after all, the season is only two games old. As good as we feel about the two wins this team has racked up, we have to remind ourselves, constantly, that it’s still only two games. There’s 14 games, 10 teams, and three months that this team still has to get through.

And yet, going 3-0 – even if it’s just another early season in in September – feels like it changes everything.

Whether or not we’re still giddy from the euphoria of these first two wins, things just feel different, in a special way, with this team. It’s only September, yet they’ve already beaten the Giants by two touchdowns, something they haven’t done in six years. They’ve already showed you how they’ll play with their backs against the wall, having erased an eight-point fourth quarter deficit to came back to win the game, something they haven’t done in I can’t tell you how long.

The last time we felt this way about the Redskins was probably 2005, the second year of the Gibbs II regime. The team started the first half of the season 5-3 (including 3-0 through their first three games), lost three heartbreakers, and then ran the table to get to their only double-digit win season that decade. Like that team, if the Redskins can start 3-0, we could very well be looking at a team with a 6-2 or even a 7-1 record come midseason

There’s plenty of reasons to believe the Redskins should win tonight, without being biased. They’re playing a Dallas team tonight that’s both struggling and wounded. Four of the Cowboys five best players on offense are either not playing tonight (Miles Austin) or are still struggling with injuries (Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Dez Bryant). Their offensive line has been crap, getting almost no movement along the line of scrimmage. Their defense is giving up over 25 points per game, with a secondary that’s been busy covering no one.

You just know that the Redskins will happily tell the Cowboys: “Make Tony Romo – the guy with cracked ribs and a punctured lung that we’re not really sure has completed healed yet – beat us. We dare you to.” You know Jim Haslett will bring the heat, and tell anyone who hits Romo to make sure Romo felt it. The Cowboys refuse to run the ball anyway (30th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, 32nd in yards per attempt), so there’s little reason to believe the the Redskins defense won’t spend the evening teeing off on Romo’s midsection, hoping he coughs up the football (he’s turned it over three times in two games already).

So, what if the Redskins win tonight? You never want to think ahead, but as a fan, you’re lying to yourself if you say you aren’t.

The Redskins would be 3-0, and would send Dallas to 1-2. The Philadelphia Eagles – the supposed “dream team” – are already at 1-2, with Michael Vick’s body slowly falling apart like it was a piece of IKEA furniture assembled by a bunch of drunken frat boys. The only other team with a winning record in the NFC, the Redskins already beat by two touchdowns.

Next week, the Redskins take on the St. Louis Rams, a team that’s scored a grand total of three offensive touchdowns, and is getting beaten by an average of 20 points per game this season. Steven Jackson is already dealing with a nagging leg injury, Sam Bradford’s receivers can’t catch anything, and their defense is giving up huge plays in the passing game, especially since it’s on the field for most of the game already.

Another win there would put them at 4-0 as they head into the early bye week, with a huge matchup against Philadelphia looming on the other side. The Redskins could very well be getting the Eagles without Michael Vick, who’d be just 22 days removed from an broken right (non-throwing) hand that’s projected to take “three to four weeks” to heal.

And after that? They play at Carolina, a team that’s a lot more dangerous than people gave them credit for – how many people realize Cam Newton ran third in the NFL in passing yardage, as of this morning? – but still very beatable. They’ll then play Buffalo on the road (a game that will take place in Toronto), San Francisco at home (even at 2-1, I still stay they’re one of the five worst teams in the league), and then Miami on the road (another one of the five worst teams in the league; they’re probably in the bottom three, actually).

Even if they somehow lose to a Vick-less Philadelphia, and maybe one more team (odds on favorite, right now, would be Buffalo), that’s still 6-2 by midseason. There can’t be a single fan who wouldn’t gladly take the Redskins having only two losses around the middle of November. How many people around the country believed the Redskins wouldn’t win six games all season?

It starts tonight. Tonight’s game is a fulcrum, a springboard for the rest of the season. Yes, there’s few things better than raining on yet another Cowboys home opener on Monday Night Football (just like in 2005), but it’ll mean more when you look at the bigger picture.

This one can shape the rest of this season. With the entire country watching, let’s see what happens.

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A couple of quick draft notes

Where will Tim Tebow end up?

With less than three weeks away from the beginning of the draft, my thoughts are that Tim Tebow ends up with the Buffalo Bills. The more you think about it (and the more you read), it just makes sense.

To start off with, Buffalo’s #1 area of need is at Offensive Tackle (left and right). It’s far more of an alarming need than quarterback, given the fact that they still have Trent Edwards and the recently-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, and there’s a deep group at quarterback in this year’s draft. So, Buffalo’s hand is not completely forced into taking a quarterback with the #9 overall pick in the first round. With a top heavy group of elite offensive tackles that could all be gone within the first half of the first round, Buffalo could use that pick and select someone like Anthony Davis of Rutgers or Trent Williams of Oklahoma, or maybe even Brian Bulaga of Iowa if he happens to fall that far (which I strongly doubt will happen).

Point being, they can get a potential franchise quarterback sometime later in the draft, but the same can’t be said about a franchise-caliber left tackle.

Which brings us to Tim Tebow. Buffalo has the 41st overall pick (the 9th pick in the 2nd round), right about where Tim Tebow’s name could and should pop up. To me, Buffalo taking him in the 2nd round just works. Sure, they may have to leap up a few spots to do so, but the price (maybe a 4th or 5th round pick) would be worth it.

Bills GM Buddy Nicks is already reported to be a fan of Tebow, and why not? Tebow is the kind of guy that would give Bills fans a new glimmer of hope, giving the franchise enough of a shot in the arm from preseason and season ticket sales to keep them from defecting over the border to Canada. Nicks would kill two birds with one stone by taking him, helping the team on and off the field.

For his first season (at least), the Bills could stash Tebow as their 3rd string quarterback behind incumbent starter Edwards and Fitzpatrick, two very cerebral quarterbacks whom Tebow could learn much from (in the classroom setting, at least). One of the two should emerge as a viable short-term solution while Tebow learns from the sideline, especially considering they will likely be playing in 2010 for their NFL careers anyway.

As for Tebow himself, he’s the kind of guy that’d just be thrilled to be taken by any team, the last person you’d probably ever hear trying to pull an Eli Manning. Sure, it would be quite a climate shock, going from St. Augustine and Gainesville to Buffalo, but he’ll probably spend the majority of his time at the team facility and in Bible study anyway, with an occasional evening spent at the renowned Buffalo hotspots such as Applebee’s and Dave & Busters.

By taking an offensive tackle in round one and Tebow in round two, the Bills kill off two of their biggest long-term needs on the first two days of the draft, and makes a franchise that’s becoming less and less relevant in today’s NFL landscape a lot more buzz-worthy.

Thumbs down for Dez Bryant

I just don’t see it happening for him at the next level. He’s already got the deck stacked against him as bad as any player in recent memory, and just doesn’t seem to have his head on straight.

When it comes to upbringings marred by broken families, poverty, and drug abuse, there are two types of people in the world: people who work their ass off to overcome their past and upbringing, and people who, for whatever reason, will never be able to escape their past. I think Bryant is in the latter camp.

Dez Bryant’s story reads almost identical to Michael Oher’s, save for the happy ending of being adopted by a loving family and given a better life (plus a subsequent Oscar-nominated movie). He bounced around from home to home growing up, while his mother (who has 15 when she gave birth to him) spent time in jail for both using and dealing PCP and cocaine. A select handful of local coaches and teachers did everything they can to push Bryant through school – despite ample resistance – because he was just such an incredibly gifted athlete.

Yet, despite a very successful college career, the majority of his national notoriety came because of his NCAA suspension for lying about his relationship with Deion Sanders (although he actually did nothing that violated NCAA rules, except for lying to NCAA investigators about whether he had dinner at Sanders’ house one evening).

To top it all off, he then goes and looks unprepared at this “Pro Day,” arguably the closest thing he’ll ever have to a real job interview he’ll ever have.

Much has been made about Bryant forgetting to bring his pair of running cleats that he’s most comfortable running his routes and the 40 yard dash in.

Is that criticism fair? Um, how about, “yes? The biggest no-brainer for a wide receiver’s a pro day is that you’re going to have to run the 40 yard dash and a myriad of routes, and yet you forget to bring your shoes for that purpose? That’s virtually the equivalent of going to a job interview and wearing sweatpants underneath your jacket and tie (if you remembered to wear/bring any pants at all).

And then, do you blame the employer for not hiring you after coming off as a buffoon in your job interview? Of course not … unless you’re Dez Bryant, who goes out and says that the media is treating him unfairly by reporting that he was unprepared.

Bryant has seen nothing but self-destruction all around him – his life has been marred by it – and it may be too much for him to overcome personally. How do you expect him to be successful at the next level, which is as difficult and cut-throat a profession as there is in the world? From high school through college, Bryant was used to being so much more physically gifted than his peers and competitors. In the NFL, he’ll be playing against the best of the best, and it’s often said that the difference between those who make it and those who don’t are what that player does Monday through Saturday, and not just on Sunday.

To be clear: i’m not lumping the guy in the same category as a Ryan Leaf or Lawrence Phillips, world class douchebags and the very personifications of pond scum. The guy just has a lot of baggage that he needs to overcome, and one of the worst ways you can help address those issues is by handing him millions of dollars when he has absolutely no idea how to handle or manage life already without the type of pressures and temptations associated with being a professional athlete.

Sure, most 22 year olds today don’t have their head on straight – lord knows that I didn’t when I was 22 – but for someone who has been through so much in his life, and had no proper guidance in his life, the very worst thing you can do is exacerbate the problem by giving him millions of dollars and a ridiculous amount of notoriety. It’s exactly why rockstars and strippers live the fast life in their 20’s and end up in rehab (or worse) in their 30’s.

Everyone knows that the other meaning of the term “NFL” is “Not For Long.” If Bryant doesn’t learn to get his act together quickly, and doesn’t receive the help he’ll need, he’s going to be another one of those players who flames out of the league despite his enormous potential.