Archive for July, 2004

Team Preview: Will Cardinals Surprise?

Thursday, 29 July, 2004

By Zack Cimini

Out of all the action that has happened in the NFL this off season, the Arizona Cardinals could possibly be the biggest surprise. Not only have they added Dennis Green as their new head coach, but they will have one of the best young offensive groups in the league. That could play into the hands of the opposing team, or it could ignite a fire into some of the older veterans like Emmitt Smith. We?re not saying that the Cardinals are going to make the playoffs, but there is no reason to not think that they can?t finish around .500.

They should be able to attack any secondary in football with their explosive group of receivers. Larry Fitzgerald, Bryant Johnson, and Anquan Boldin will all have great statistical years, especially if Dennis Green brings out the offense like he did in Minnesota. That is expected as Green has already stated that McCown will be a great quarterback and lead this team. Everybody doesn?t agree with that, but he is the one that drafted Randy Moss and revitalized Randall Cunningham?s career after he was out of football. He has a track record that expands back to his days at Northwestern in the 80?s, where he brought Northwestern from the bottom of the Big Ten.

The Cardinals didn?t shake up their team that much, and could have added a little more depth on defense. They lost David Barrett (Jets) and signed David Macklin, which is a trade off as both players are solid man to man cover corners. The Cardinals are hoping that they can count on cornerback Duane Starks to be fully recovered from last year?s injuries, and return to his form that he had with the Ravens.

One key player the Cardinals did sign is a backup quarterback in Shaun King. He was an after thought cast off from the old Tony Dungy Buccaneers team, and just like John Lynch he found a new home. He really hasn?t done much since the year 2000, but let?s not forget he almost got the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl. He has learned a lot on the bench from Brad Johnson, and if Josh McCown doesn?t pay off than be on the look out.

You have to like Green?s smart philosophy. Almost all coaches main priorities are to go out and get the big name quarterback. Instead of panicking though he looked at McCown and brought in Shaun King for one million a year. Other teams are panicking by trading away draft picks to sign a quarterback that has had few starts in the NFL. It makes no sense to throw down money on a potential great quarterback. This isn?t the NBA, where teams can draft for the future. One costly mistake in free agency can set back a team for a couple of seasons. That?s when the coach is fired, and the team is in the rebuilding process again.

Let?s face it besides Manning, Favre, McNabb and a few other quarterbacks there is a big fall off, and the majority of the quarterbacks are average. So Green figures he can land an average quarterback and build him into a great one. If the quarterback makes it to a high level, than the team can fork out the money to pay off the quarterback. But until then he will only keep hungry young humble quarterbacks on his roster.

Let?s think who tried this same philosophy last season and had it pay off? Yes, that?s right it was Bill Parcell?s. Everyone thought that Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson battling in preseason was just a joke, and even more of a joke when Carter was named the starter. Parcell?s boosted Carter?s confidence though and turned them into a playoff team.

The bottom line is that there are a lot of player?s that you can?t trust in sports anymore. Money is becoming more and more of a factor and it?s showing more and more. More coaches will start going for hungry young player?s instead of going for the middle aged veteran that just wants money off of his success as a young player. Which formula will pay off in the long run, we?ll find out soon.

So Gone

Tuesday, 27 July, 2004

By Zack Cimini

Ricky Williams made an abrupt exit from football, and who can be shocked from it? The Miami Dolphins and the football world, but in all reality why shouldn?t he retire? Football is a very rough contact sport and when you think about it the average running back lasts five years in the league. He played at a high level for five years, and definitely took a beating as he was always at the top of the league in carries.

Why play football and continue to take a beating for another six to eight years? Eventually all your hard work is going to be thrown down the drain? As your body breaks down so will your fans and your job security. Just like what happened with Emmitt Smith, Jerome Bettis, Thurman Thomas, Terrell Davis, etc will continue to happen to running backs.

After five years in the league Williams has more than enough money to live on. People want to blame it on his use of marijuana and what not, but if you had more than enough money financially why not enjoy it? He has left the game with nothing a short career and little notoriety, and in two or three years no one will even be mentioning his name. You can only have so much money in life, and Williams is choosing to enjoy it right now. At almost 28 years old, he has left the game on two feet in great health.

Tacklers in the NFL are getting bigger and stronger, and that is evident on the field on any given Sunday. Ricky Williams is not the only running back to mention retiring from the game early. Edgerrin James has also expressed interest in retiring, as he said last summer that he might only play another few years.

What Williams did is only going to become more of a trend that was originally started by Barry Sanders. The same bog that Miami is in now is the same problem Detroit had. Can you think of a running back that has been successful in Detroit since Sanders left? It?ll be hard for Miami to do much this year without Ricky, but you never know who could emerge with the opportunity. It is better that Williams made the decision to retire than to go out on the field just to earn a check. All player?s care about is CTC and the love of the game is becoming less and less.