Where Does Cutler Go?

There have been very few players as polarizing as Jay Cutler in recent professional sports.  I wrote an article almost exactly two years ago “The Perception of Jay Cutler,” in which a defense of his character was made.  And quite well, may I add.

Jay Cutler’s run with the Chicago Bears looks like it may very well be at it’s end.  After eight years with the Bears, Cutler has cemented himself as the franchises most storied quarterback, holding fourteen team records (including passing yards, passing touchdowns and quarterback rating).  Even with that, Bears fans (and for some strange reason even non-Bears fans) have an issue with Cutler.  The whole “he” hasn’t won anything conversation is laughable for all those Millennials and lazy sports writers, have made “wins” an actual stat for quarterbacks – no matter what kind of condition a franchise is in.  Cutler played for a Bears team that actually had guys like Johnny Knox and Devin Hester running routes for him at one point.  Yikes.

But this isn’t a piece to further defend a guy who has been incorrectly vilified in his career, this is to predict possible landing spots for the 33 year old gunslinger.  Keeping in mind that the Bears will most likely cut him before finding a trading partner for him.

1- New York Jets – This is almost too obvious.  If the Jets decide to not part ways with wide receiver Brandon Marshall, reuniting these “bickering brothers” may be something to look into.  Marshall has referred to Cutler as his brother numerous times and even when they blow up at each publicly it’s really not a big deal.  With that being said, the Jets are usually in the business of lying to themselves and believing they have a chance to get into the playoffs.  Teams that believe that, bring in veterans who are looking for one more run, at a good price.  Cutler would get killed by the New York media, but it’s a good thing that he really doesn’t care what you say about him. . . like, ever.

2- Miami Dolphins – Yeah, Ryan Tannehill is still there.  So what?  Reports had come in Miami last season that head coach Adam Gase was growing increasingly frustrated with Tannehill as the season progressed.  Tannehill’s numbers are smoke in mirrors and he still looks like a guy learning how to play the position.  Gase is a “Cutler guy” and they worked great together in Chicago but this would be a touchy situation to get into and would involve the Dolphins giving up on the young guy to roll with the injury prone older guy. . .

3- Denver Broncos – This would be a best case scenario for Cutler.  He would go back to where his career started and would have a playoff contender right off the bat.  With the receiving talents there just being left out to dry, they would welcome a guy like Cutler who can sling the rock.  Cutler wouldn’t have to try to hard to beat out Trevor Siemian for the starting job but Elway definitely wouldn’t look to break the bank for Cutler either.

4- Retirement – Jay Cutler has taken a beating over his career.  Physically and mentally.  He has made a lot of money, has three kids and a beautiful wife and usually makes his way doing charity work (especially with youth diabetes).  Cutler has made it known that  he wanted to end his career as a Bear, which you’ve got to believe was his goal since getting traded to Chicago but money and opportunity can still be offered for this veteran.  Aside from personal opinions – Cutler is still a starting quarterback in this league – but at a certain point, a man has to consider his options and his health.  If he is satisfied with it all, nobody can judge him for that.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Give Terrell Owens Some Respect

It’s amazing what perception can do.  And what is perception, really?  One definition you can find with a quick Google search is: “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.”  With that being said, the “mental impression” Terrell Owens has left on many sports writers and fans alike is the term “locker room cancer.”

This is another case of people taking sports a little too serious – even in terms of sports-writers.  Those who are selected to the Hall of Fame are supposed to be there because of the numbers they have garnered in their careers.  Those who try to convince you otherwise, are just making excuses in such a fashion that is to strictly benefit their agenda.

Make an argument for Lawrence Taylor.  OJ Simpson.  Even Darren Sharper who was actually on a list of nominees for the hall – like really? A serial rapist?

What is T.O.’s crime?  Holding out for more money and calling guys out on his team because he wanted to win games.  That’s what he did, that has “enraged” sports fans and sports writers alike.

Looking at the numbers, Terrell Owens is eigth all time in receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934), third in touchdown receptions (153) and is currently the only player in NFL history to score not only once but twice against all thirty-two teams in the NFL.

The fact that he doesn’t even crack the top-10 in Hall of Fame votes is just ridiculous.  The often injured Terrell Davis made it.  Four of the seven years he played were stellar – but injury or not – it was four seasons of excellence – compared to Owens’ fifteen year career, where you can make an argument that he had at least 11 very productive seasons.  Kurt Warner’s career numbers are they type that if he was just about anybody else people would question how he had a five year gap in which he was just pitiful and looked pretty  much done – then suddenly he woke up from 2007-2009 to put up above average numbers at the quarterback position.  Let’s also not forget that two of those three seasons in his Rams’ prime – he posted interception numbers of 18 and 22. . . LaDainian Tomlinson, without a doubt deserves the honor – and although Morten Anderson was a great kicker. . . bottom line is, he’s a kicker. . .

Terrell Owens’ career is a lot better told than those previous names (excluding Tomlinson’s) but because he called out Donovan McNabb for being out of shape during a Super Bowl, or because he told folks to “Get your popcorn ready,” he is vilified for no real reason.

With that being said, wide-receivers seemingly must wait an eon to get into the hall of fame – this is understood.  But to downplay this man’s career and make excuses as to why he shouldn’t be in the hall, is straight up buffoonery.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

James “Do’h” Lan

One must give the New York Knicks credit.  For a team whose record is 23-33, which makes them the fourth worse team in the Eastern Conference; for a team that has a team president who looks uninterested in the job and  a star player who’s future with the team is in limbo – they keep themselves as popular as the Warriors and the Cavs.

How do they achieve this?  The answer my friends is one word: Chaos.

The owner of the Knicks, James Dolan is worth somewhere near the $1.5 billion dollar mark.   Too bad the dollars don’t add up to wins for the Knicks though. This franchise has been a comedy of errors since the turn of the century.  There is a healthy-chuckle of names that have been tied to the Knicks and massive amounts of dollars wasted: Allan Houston, Isiah Thomas, Larry Brown, Jerome James, Eddy Curry and most currently Joakim Noah.

Let’s not ignore the presence of the Zen-Master, Phil Jackson though.  In 2014, Dolan gave Phil Jackson a five-year, $60 million dollar contract to become president of the New York Knicks (this is an executive position Phil Jackson has never held in his lifetime).  It is now early 2017 and it’s safe to say this Phil Jackson experiment is a disaster.  Phil Jackson lives in a past where he believes his fabled “triangle-offense” is the only way this Knicks team can succeed.  He goes on twitter to childishly “sub” players and fans alike.  And his huge ego has made him now, cower away from the podium where he used to be at his most comfortable.

Jackson has an on-going beef with star Carmelo Anthony (who Jackson re-signed to the team in 2014 to a five-year deal).   Although Dolan said he would let Phil Jackson run this team and he (Dolan) would not interfere at all – rumor has it that Dolan’s one request to Phil Jackson was to re-sign Carmelo Anthony.  Jackson has never hid his criticisms of Anthony, and this year with talks of trying to trade Carmelo, while pretty much throwing him under the bus for this season – Knicks fans and players are now tired of the Jackson-routine and have favored with Anthony (even if trading him actually makes more sense than holding onto him.)

As if this wasn’t enough – oh yeah, remember they are 23-33, Derrick Rose “no-showed” for a game,  Joakim Noah is awful and their young star Kristaps Porziņģis is out there trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents – here comes the Charles Oakley thing.

As we all know, on February 8th, Charles Oakley got into a scuffle of sorts with security at Madison Square Garden, was escorted out and arrested the same night. Of course there are conflicting sides to this story.  The Knicks released a statement saying  Oakley “came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner,” while Oakley said he “was minding his own business when he was confronted by Madison Square Garden Security, who asked why he was sitting so close to Dolan.”

Charles Oakley is a legend in New York.  And although Oakley admitted he was wrong for putting his hands on someone else (because he was wrong about that, lets not lose sight of that) – isn’t it strange that he had to buy his own ticket to watch a Knicks game.  Oakley is revered in New York as a player who gave 100% every night.  A player that would thrown his body on the line for a teammate, loose ball or anything that would benefit his team.  Seeing their “hero” getting thrown out of MSG, while watching their beloved Knicks during another struggling season became a boiling point for fans.

Dolan did not help matters, after it was confirmed that Oakley had been banned from MSG by accusing Oakley of being an alcoholic and an overly aggressive person: “He may have a problem with alcohol, we don’t know,” said Dolan, a recovering addict. “Behaviors of being physically and verbally abusive, those are personality problems (New York Post).” 

This statement coming from a guy who went to a drug rehabilitation center to take care of his demons in 1993.  And this, coming from a man who in 2015, responded to an angry fan who wrote a letter about his frustration with the Knicks with statements like “root for the Nets because the Knicks don’t want you” and even said in his letter that the man was probably an “alcoholic.”

And not for nothing, maybe someone should check the temperature on Dolan’s sobriety after offering Phil Jackson that team-president job. . .

According to ESPN, forces are trying to reconcile this beef between Dolan and Oakley.  Dolan has made a very obvious attempt at being a “good guy” with former players by having former Knick Lattrell Sprewell sit next to him court side for the Spurs-Knicks game last Sunday at the Garden.  Sprewell spoke with the media after in what seemed like a very “prepared” speech which spoke highly about how he’s been treated as a former player.

Knicks fans aren’t dumb enough to fall for such a transparent ploy.

According to ESPN’s Ian Begley  there is “some momentum toward a resolution” between Oakley and Dolan, thanks to recent conversation between both sides.”  This would be good, if it’s resolved quickly, but even then – we all saw the true nature of James Dolan.  And what the world has witness in the last week about Dolan is what New Yorkers have known for far too long.


twitter @GeeSteelio

Super Bowl Aftermath

During the pre-game of this year’s Super Bowl match up between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots, Troy Aikman made sure to make mention of the Falcons’ “inexperience.”

Was Aikman totally off-base?  No, but still – the Falcons were bringing to the table the league’s number one offense and the league’s current MVP, quarterback Matt Ryan.  The Falcons were also bringing to the table, a head coach in Dan Quinn who has played a part in three of the last four Super Bowls.  The same man, Quinn, who has implemented a defense, concentrated on speed and athleticism that had gotten increasingly better as the season progressed.

And “defense” was all the start of this game was about.  The first quarter ended in a tie as both defenses seemed to be up to the challenge.

Then came the second quarter. . .

The Atlanta Falcons showed the world what the youth can do.  After the defense stripped Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount of the football, the Falcons responded with two passes to Julio Jones and then they had Davonta Freeman handle the rest as the Falcons took the first lead of the game.

Late in the second quarter, the Patriots found themselves down 14-0 but putting a drive together, mostly due to three third-down holding calls against the Falcons defense.  But even when things seemed to be going their way, things went terribly awry for Tom Brady and the boys and Brady tossed an interception into the hands of Falcons corner back Robert Alford, who returned it 82 yards for a touchdown.

But something happened at halftime.  Maybe it was Bill Belichick changing up the game plan, Tom Brady remembering he was Tom Brady or maybe it was Lady Gaga’s halftime performace (I give it a 8.5 out of 10 – solid performance.)  Whatever it was, things had to change for the Patriots.

Instead of change though, it appeared to be more of the same as Matt Ryan threw his second touchdown pass and the Falcons went up 28-3.  The Patriots finally put up a touchdown before the end of the third quarter, but their kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point.  After three quarters of play the Patriots weren’t even in double-digt-points.  Total disaster for the proud Patriots franchise. . .

Let’s go back to Lady Gaga for a second.

During her stellar halftime performance she performed a medley of her songs.  Two of those songs stood out “Edge of Glory” and “Born This Way.”   Those two song titles must’ve been the reason the Patriots decided to wake up in the fourth quarter to play some football.  There is no closer “edge” to glory than being down 19 points in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl.  And the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is just cut from a different mold of legendary quarterbacks.  It’s something that can’t be coached up, or even explained.  He was simply “born this way.”

Tom Brady, along with running back James White, must’ve saw either fatigue or inexperience settling into this Falcons defense, because they looked flawless in execution against them.  Meanwhile, Falcons offensive coordinator must’ve had his head and heart already in San Francisco (where he accepted the head coaching position) because the play calling, which has been nearly perfect all year – became highly questionable.  The Falcons were averaging just about five yards a carry against this Patriots defense and he seemingly abandoned it.  Most questionably when it was 3rd and 1 and they decided to throw a pass from shotgun and when they could’ve controlled/killed more of the clock –  they kept on throwing it. . .

The Patriots redefined the term “stealing the momentum,” as the Falcons looked completely shell-shocked. They not only gave up 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter – they gave up 25 unanswered points to close the game as the Patriots put up a touchdown in overtime, courtesy of James White to win the Super Bowl.

Keep this in mind.

Matt Ryan threw for 284 yards, 2 touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of 144.1.  The Falcons as a team were averaging 5.8 yards a rush and 7.5 yards a play. They even won the turnover battle (2-1).  The Falcons also had history on their side.  In the history of the NFL Playoffs, teams that lead by 19 or more points going into the fourth quarter were 93-0.   Now because of the Falcons, that record is 93-1.

But was history really on their side?

Tom Brady creates history.  Re-writes history.  Becomes history.  Embodies it.

As shocking as this incredible comeback was – this was the one team, led by this one player and this one coach – who have been incredible their entire careers together.  Achieving the impossible is well within the Patriots’ grasp.  They prove it all the time.

G.W. Gras



How the Falcons Will Beat The Patriots

It’s all come down to this.  Finally.

The Super Bowl is upon us and we have the Atlanta Falcons representing the NFC and the New England Patriots representing the AFC.  At this point, it’s a given that the Patriots have made it this far again.  This dynasty has been one of the most consistent and dominant of any dynasty – in all of sports.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, scoffed at his silly four game suspension and ran through the league on a 12 game revenge tour throwing 28 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions.  We all know the accolades Tom Brady possesses and we know that winning this Super Bowl only adds to his incredible legacy but the truth is – we all already know how great Brady is.  Him and head coach Bill Belichick will be the quarterback/coach combo people will compare future pairings to for years to come.  But all good things must come to an end.  Don’t they?

When Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was a freshman at Boston College, Tom Brady had already won two of his four Super Bowls and was en route to becoming an American sports icon.  Both of them in the state of Massachusetts, separated by a 35 mile drive along Interstate 95.

Fast forward into time and Matt Ryan is now in his ninth season as a pro and Tom Brady is in his fourteenth season – in which seven of those led him to the Super Bowl.

This Super Bowl brings a story line most love to see in the playoffs – NFL’s number one defense verse the NFL’s number one offense.  The Patriots are only allowing 15.6 points per game while the Falcons are averaging 33.8 points per game.  Keep in mind the Patriots played five of six worse teams in the NFL this year, and they played against a plethora of back up quarterbacks this year (or guys who are at least the equivalent to back-up quarterback status).  Without taking anything away from them though, in the AFC Championship game they held a Steelers team that averages 25 points per game to 17, and held Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to average 6.7 yards per attempt.  What helps New England is that they are third in the NFL in points scored at 27.6, but again – the competition wasn’t much and the offense would usually find itself in great field position.

The Falcons are a young defensive team (four rookies starting) and had their struggles in the early going of the season and then it started to look as if it was coming together right when it needed to.   In their playoff games against the Seahawks and the Packers, they won those games at scores of 36-20 and 44-21 respectively.  All season long the Falcons had been giving up 25 points per game and their offense would generally score about ten more points than that to add a check in the win column.  Now, with this defense making life easier for an offense that is 3rd in passing yards, 7th in rushing yards and 2nd in total yards per game – – this team has gotten from “scary-good” to flat out “dangerous.”

The New England defense on average, allows 3.9 yards a rush, while the Atlanta Falcons average 4.6 a carry.  This results in what I have named a “Clash Average” of 4.25 yards a carry – favoring the Atlanta Falcons (don’t ask how I come up with this method – but it’s proven and it works).

New England’s pass defense will come under attack as well. They already allow the opposition to complete 61% of it’s passes and the Falcons are humming at a nearly 70% completion percentage.  While New England’s Malcolm Butler has transformed himself from a Super Bowl hero to a top five corner back in the league – he’ll be matched up against the best wide receiver in the game in Julio Jones.  Butler will probably have safety help (as they did for many plays against Antonio Brown in the AFC Championship) but that leads to a lot of issues going against the Falcons.  Much like Brady, Matt Ryan doesn’t “force” anything – he takes what you give him.  In doing so, the speed they have after-the-catch kills a lot of teams.  Sanu, Robinson and even the running backs Tevon Coleman and Davonta Freeman make things happen after slant, hook and “dump” passes.

Brady loves to do the same with the talent he has – but Atlanta’s defense has something that New England’s lacks — speed and athleticism in the linebacker department.  Head coach Dan Quinn is a defensive minded coach and he has built this defense more on speed than strength.  This means the rushes will be faster and the reaction to receivers who are “sitting in a zone” will be noticed quicker.

Vegas has set this game at -3 favoring the Patriots since last Sunday night and it hasn’t changed one bit.  The over/under is set at 59.  Falcons as a three-point dog and the over would be the way to go but when it’s all said and done we all just want to know who wins the Super Bowl and not just cover the spread. 

Matty Ice and the Falcons win this one 38-24.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio