Thursday, October 6, 2016
By USS Blogger Ray Rogers
When thinking of athletes whose careers have been cut short as result of serious physical or medical conditions, many names come to mind including former Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson, Portland Trail Blazers Shooting Guard Brandon Roy, Cincinnati Bengals linebacker David Pollack, and the late great Boston Celtics small forward Reggie Lewis.
When considering just these four names, Reggie Lewis appears distinctively the most comparable to NBA power forward Chris Bosh. As is the current case with Bosh, Reggie Lewis sought opinions from multiple doctors after learning of a heart problem that caused him to collapse during a 1993 playoff game vs. the Charlotte Hornets. It was reported that Lewis received conflicting diagnosis, but was ultimately told not to engage in any strenuous physical activity. The rest is history as Lewis later on died while reportedly shooting around at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. As former Boston Globe sportswriter Jackie MacMullan put it “his shocking death triggered an unprecedented spasm of grief”. In diverting focus back to Bosh who is battling blood clots, I am in no way implying that the former all star and two time NBA champs’ health is fragile to the degree of imminent risk for death. However, by all indications, a return to the basketball court places him at a serious risk for potential life threatening emergencies such as heart attack and stroke—which are most commonly associated with blood clots. I think it’s also relevant for Bosh to factor in the impact of the recent death of Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez that greatly affected the whole community in the Miami area.
Unlike Fernandez, Lewis, Roy, and even Bo Jackson, Bosh is no longer in the prime of his career although his love for the game of basketball appears to remain strong and be the undeniable force behind his ongoing efforts to return. It is understood that prior to money and fame there was the love for the game. And while that shouldn’t necessarily change, maybe this residual love can manifest in a different way such as in coaching or front office work. It essentially boils down to the age old question: “Is it worth it?” A career that already includes nearly 900 regular season games, over 17,000 points scored in the regular season, 11 all-star appearances, Olympic Gold medals, and two NBA championships leads me to ask, why risk it?
My advice to Chris Bosh is to reflect on the past, which includes his accomplishments and achievements. Focus on the present which should largely revolve around family and consider the possibilities of the future. It would be tragic to watch yet another athlete, potentially suffer as result of a stubbornness that often drives these competitors beyond their physical capabilities, ala Muhammad Ali. In my opinion, Chris Bosh will go out on his terms no matter if he is medically cleared to return or not. With this mindset, “Decision 2016” will be the decision to retire.
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Monday, September 26, 2016
On Sunday, September 25, 2016, the Washington Redskins did what many people thought couldn’t be done. They defeated the then undefeated New York Giants 29-27 in New York. Many people, like me, couldn’t think of a possible scenario for the Redskins to win. You could throw out statements like: if the defense stepped up, if quarterback Kirk Cousins plays with heart, and or if special teams steps up. The Redskins got a little of everything.
Defense stepping up
In the first half of the game, the Redskins defense struggled—giving up 21 points. You could see the fire defensive coordinator Joe Barry post all over social media. They couldn’t stop Giants running backs Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa, both combined for 97 yards with two touchdowns in the first half. Also, Giants rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard was embarrassing nickel cornerback Dashaun Phillips, especially on a 23 yard TD reception in the 1st quarter to make it 14-3 Giants. Even with all that the defense made plays. For instance, early in the 2nd quarter, defensive end Chris Baker popped and sacked Eli Manning for a big loss that gave the Redskins some momentum. The sack helped lead to a Giants’ punt. At that time the Redskins were down 14-6 and the Giants were moving and looking to end this game early. One of the biggest plays came from safety/cornerback Will Blackmon. The Giants were up 21-16 and looking to score towards the end of 1st half. Blackmon strips Vereen, leading to a Redskins fumble recovery. This ended the Giants drive and kept the Redskins in striking range.
The Redskins defense stepped up in the second half. They held the Giants offense to six points. The Redskins were up 26-24 late in the 4th quarter and the Giants were driving for a potential score. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar made a nice one handed interception in the red-zone to keep the Redskins up 26-24. Dunbar got the chance to play because of an injury to cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who was hurt early in the 1st quarter (high ankle sprain). The Redskins offense went 0 for 4 in the red zone and the defense couldn’t afford to give up touchdowns, which they did not. They created turnovers, gave up fields goals and ended drives. No play was as big in this game as was the play by rookie hybrid linebacker Su’a Cravens. With a 1:06 left in the game and the Redskins offense failing to close this game out, Redskins defense had to step up. Manning threw a pass intended for Vereen and Cravens lounged across for the game ending interception to seal the deal. This was Cravens first interception of his career. Cravens may have saved the Redskins season with a superhero effort on that play. The defense though maligned, made winning plays. They deserve a lot of credit for the victory.
For many years the Redskins special teams has been the downfall of the team. Yesterday, it may have been the best unit for Redskins. After Chris Baker’s big sack, as mentioned previously, the Giants decided to punt the ball to wide receiver and punt returner Jamison Crowder. Big mistake! Crowder nearly returned it to the house. He was stopped at the Giants’ 37 yard-line for a return of 52 yards. That play led to a Redskins’ field goal—cutting the Giants to 14-9. Later on in the game there was gusty key play. The Redskins were down 24-23 with 3:15 left in the 3rd quarter and were set to punt. The team did the unexpected in that situation and had punter Tress Way throw a 31 yard pass to Quinton Dunbar to put the Redskins in good scoring position. That fake punt was a great call by Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and his staff. The Redskins ended up kicking a field goal on that drive, putting them up 26-24. Although the team would rather have touchdowns compared field goals, field goal kicker Dustin Hopkins kicks were essential. Hopkins went 5 for 5 kicking field goals including a 37 yard go ahead field goal with 1:55 left in game (29-27). Hopkins was clutch and arguably the MVP of the game. Well it’s between him and Su’a Cravens.
Cousins had an effective game. He could improve on his accuracy at times but he did enough for his team to win. Cousins went 21-35, threw for 296 yards and two touchdowns, including a 44 yard TD pass to Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson in the 2nd quarter to get the Redskins back in the game. The quarterback didn’t do anything major to hurt the team. He played within himself and led the team to seven scoring drives. This was an improvement compared to the two prior games where he turned the ball over and missed many open receivers. The point that Cousins can’t beat a good team shouldn’t be used for now. The Giants were 2-0 and looked like favorites to take the NFC East. Cousins is a big part of them being 2-1. You that?!
Check out the Soul N Sports on Fox Sports Radio 1340 AM Hopewell, Virginia. Also check out the Urban Sports Scene podcast show every Tuesday at 8:00 pm ET. To listen in live visit, www.waleo.podbean.com/live-stream
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
By the USS Blogger Ray Rogers
While many maybe unfamiliar with the wildly popular faith based flick titled “Facing the Giants”, it has been said to have inspired millions since the film’s release in 2006. The film’s plot is centered around a struggling high school football program, that by faith in God turns a horrendous season that began with a 0 – 3 record into an unexpected title run which ends in a championship game versus a football powerhouse “the Giants”. In the film’s conclusion, the mighty Giants fall in defeat on a 51 yard game winning field goal. I highly recommend this film by the way. That brings us to the Washington Redskins. How fitting that the 0 -2 Redskins head to New York this coming week to face the NFL’s version of the Giants? The Giants are presently undefeated and the Redskins are in need of some miraculous changes.
Reports are already surfacing that the locker room is becoming disgruntle in regards to starting quarterback Kirk Cousin’s ability to lead this football team following Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Adding to concerns is Cousins’ performance in games played last season on the road against each New York based franchise. In week three of last season versus the Giants, Cousins was 30/49 on pass attempts netting 316 yards along with one touchdown and two interceptions. His performance three weeks later versus the New York Jets was even more dreadful with Cousins going 25/43 for 196 yards, and again one TD and two INT’s. Following that loss Cousins stated “If I start to doubt, I’m not going to ever get to the level I want to go”. What’s most concerning about this statement is the time of his comment being nearly one year ago because unfortunately to start this season we can quote DMV’s (DC, Maryland and Virginia) own Ginuwine in stating that it’s been the “same ol’ G” or shall I say same ol’ Kirk. Even more chilling was Redskins head coach Jay Gruden’s comments following the Jets loss which he alluded to Cousins not being at a stage in his career to carry a team with his arm.
Well coming into this season didn’t we all think he was closer to being that guy. It’s clear that the Redskins issues are wide spread. However, the quarterback is the main focal point just as he was during the team’s miraculous run to the NFC East title last season. There’s that word again, miraculous. Which presents the next set of questions: Can the Redskins upset the Giants on Sunday? The answer is simple. Of course they can. The next question is this, is Cousins capable of leading this team to a road victory in New York? The answer again is yes. The final question is can this franchise overcome past demons that frequently entails a media circus around non-football related issues? New York Giants linebacker and former Redskins Keenan Robinson recently stated “it’s the same old story” in reference to the reported state of the Redskins locker room. In my opinion, this is the biggest “Giant” of all that the Redskins will have to overcome. Why? Because the non-football related distractions surface all too frequently, but a team led by Redskins general manager Scot Mcloughan, Jay Gruden, and Cousins proved last season that they’re able to overcome all of that.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
by Waleo (@UrbanSportScene)
In the third preseason game, The Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills 21-16. Every team’s goal is to win the game but the Redskins first team looked shaky against the first team of the Bills.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins started to the game looking rusty. Cousins, prior to the Bills game, threw the ball five times in the first preseason game, and didn’t play in second game. On Friday, Cousins completed 3 of 9 passes with an interception in the first quarter. When asked if Cousins was rusty Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden said, “I don’t know if it’s rust, it could be rust. Got some pressure in the pocket at his feet and didn’t get enough on it. But we have to check out the film and find out why and coach him up.” Cousins did receive pressure in the pocket but he didn’t look poised in the 1st quarter. However, Cousins wasn’t the only offensive player who struggled.
Redskins’ pass catchers let Cousins and the team down as well. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon dropped a key 3rd and 7 pass in the 1st quarter that would have given the Redskins the first down. Also, star tight end Jordan Reed dropped a 3rd and 1 pass early in the 2nd quarter that could have been a big play first down. These two are two of the Redskins more sure handed pass catchers. The offense struggled but eventually the offensive play improved.
Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense got into a rhythm in the 2nd quarter. Cousins end up throwing for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the 2nd quarter alone. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis both made plays in the 2nd quarter. Davis had three catches for 42 yards including a 22 yard reception. Reed had two catches for 28 yards including a 20 yard TD reception. The Redskins even featured a three tight end set with Reed, Davis and Niles Paul. This package should give opposing defenses something to worry about during the season. There were some consistent players from the start.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson looked electric and unstoppable. He had four catches for 56 yards including a short reception that he turned into a 39 yard catch and run. Arguably you could say that Jackson looked like the best player on the field between the two teams. Also, rookie running back Robert Kelley emerged as the guy who will likely replace projected starter Matt Jones if Jones isn’t healthy for week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kelley ended the game with 12 carries for 51 yards. He ran hard and showed good vision.
Defensively the Redskins as a whole were sharp. Cornerbacks Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland looked like shut down corners. Both cornerbacks locked down the Bills wide receivers. Bills starting wide receivers Sammy Watkins Jr. and Robert Woods both had zero catches in the first half. Defensive end Ziggy Hood emerged as a force on the Redskins defensive line. Hood had a sack and also a tackle of Boom Herron for a 4 yard loss in the 2nd quarter. Hood and Chris Baker at the defense end position could be instant magic if Hood continues to play this way. Outside linebacker Preston Smith stood out as well. He cracked quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the 1st quarter on a 2nd and 12 passing play. Smith seems to be getting better with every play. The pass rush and pass coverage was great but the Redskins still have an issue with stopping the run.
The first team defense still seems a little light when stopping the run. There were big running lanes towards the beginning of the game. In the first half, Bills starting running back Reggie Bush averaged 5.7 yards per carry. Bush is not the Bills starting running back. That title goes to LeSean McCoy—who did not play. This is an issue. At the moment, the Redskins’ defense is better suited against the pass but stopping the run wins championships. In the first half alone, the Redskins gave up 113 yards on 21 carries.
There were positive takeaways from this game. Cousins bouncing back, Robert Kelley emerging as a respectable running back, DeSean Jackson looking like a stud, and Breeland and Norman being shutdown corners. However, fans should be concerned a little. In the dress rehearsal game, this team didn’t look sharp and there are some weaknesses on this team that could be taken advantage of. The coaching staff has some work to do, to get this team ready for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night.
Check out Soul N Sports on Fox Sports Radio 1340 AMHopewell, Virginia Monday-Friday from 5-7 pm ET. Also check out the Urban Sports Scene podcast every Tuesday at 8 pm ET live here at www.waleo.podbean.com/live-stream.