Thursday, December 29, 2016

Surging Wizards Continue to Climb Standings with Win Over Indiana















By

Ray Rogers (@UrbanSports_Ray)

Prior to Wednesday night’s home matchup versus the Indiana Pacers, the Washington Wizards last saw this Pacers team in DC on March 5th dating back to last season. In that game, the Wizards played well, built a double digit lead, lost shooting guard Bradley Beal to injury, had no answer for Pacers SF Paul George, saw their lead dwindle and ultimately lost a close game.  Wednesday night’s game at Verizon center was eerily similar in a game where Beal was again lost to injury, Paul George poured in 34 points, and the Wizards led by as many as 13 points and were ahead 85-74 heading into the fourth quarter.  The Wizards saw their lead shrink to 2 points, however this time the Wizards closed the game strong and were victorious 111-105. What made the difference in the outcome of this game? In my opinion it was largely due to the excellent play of small forward Otto Porter Jr.

Porter netted 22 points on sixty percent shooting that comprised of 50% from three-point range including a huge three pointer that put the Wizards up 99 - 94 with 1:40 to play in the fourth quarter. Porter’s play was so significant in large part due to the loss of Beal as well as the Wizards needing someone to step up late in games. As a reminder, it was Beal who missed a three-point shot that would have resulted in a Wizards victory over these Pacers on 12/19 at Indiana which in ways left this team looking for second option for late game scoring behind all star guard John Wall. Wall was sensational as always scoring a game high 36 points  to go along with 11 rebounds and nine assists. As great as this performance was, help was needed and help was received by way of Porter.

Having a reliable and most importantly a consistent second scoring option will be critical moving forward as result of Beal being injured with such regularity. With this victory, the Wizards moved ahead of Indiana in the standings and hope to be a mainstay in the top eight of the eastern conference.  The league is taking notice of the Wizards improved play following their eighth win in their last eleven games and when talking with Pacers starting PG Jeff Teague after his team’s loss he acknowledged that these games are vital in terms of seeding and playoff implications.  My brief interview with Teague here:  Jeff Teague

Maintaining a focus on moving up the standings and returning to the post season will need to entail the Wizards striving to continue growing in all phases especially team defense and free throw shooting (27/37 on FT’s tonight). Otto Porter, who was 7/7 from the free throw line and arguably the team’s best defender may be the right guy to lead this surge.

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

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

For Kirk Cousins a Payday will be the Perfect Dessert on Thanksgiving

















By Ray Rogers (USS Blogger)
@UrbanSports_Ray

Desserts on Thanksgiving typically consist of some form of pie such as sweet potato, pumpkin, apple, and or my personal favorite pecan pie. However, for Washington Redskins starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, a good ole fashion payday will do the trick and not the delicious candy bar; I’m talking “straight cash homie” to quote NFL great Randy Moss.

Coming into the season Kirk Cousins had a list of goals and while I’ve never personally seen this list, it is assumed to have included the following:  

  1. Improve his play on the road 
  2. Win against teams with plus .500 records 
  3. Score a victory in primetime 
  4. Get paid


As things currently stand, all of the aforementioned goals have been achieved with the exception of the big pay check. So the question that arises in my mind is this: What were the franchise’s goals and/or set of expectations for Cousins heading into this season? During a Sirius XM radio interview this summer Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan stated “the position Kirk plays, it’s pricey, but you pay for production. You get paid to win.” In my opinion, Cousins has exceeded expectations, which currently includes over 3,000 yards passing, 98.8 quarterback rating, and only seven interceptions so far this season. It seems that Cousins has one last task to complete to land his big payday and that’s to defeat the hated rival Dallas Cowboys.  Right now, the Cowboys are arguably the best team in professional football.  A Thanksgiving primetime win on the road against the Cowboys will be a team effort.  But if this task is complete, what else will Cousins need to do in order to get paid? Win a playoff game? In that same radio interview McCloughan did reference that Cousins’ possible career legacy would factor into decision making while stating “When his career’s over, it’s going to be, ‘Okay, did you win any division championships? Did you win any Super Bowls? What’s your win-loss record? No one’s gonna think 10 years from now, ‘Okay, well he made $50 million, he made $60 million.’ They’re gonna be like ‘Okay, did he win or not?” 

For this organization however, just the real thought and/or likelihood of consecutive trips to the postseason should be good enough as the franchise looks to cross off their own list of goals. If you ask me, simply a second consecutive winning season is something to be thankful for during this holiday season. And for Kirk Cousins a rewarding payday is what he will be extremely thankful for. 
 

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

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Decision 2016 Takes on a Totally Different Meaning for Chris Bosh





















By USS Blogger Ray Rogers
(@UrbanSports_Ray)

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. 

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.  You can listen live by visiting this site, www.waleo.podbean.com/live-stream

Monday, September 26, 2016

Completing a Giant Task

















By Waleo
(@UrbanSportScene)

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. 

Special Teams
 
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.


Kirk Cousins


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

Facing the Giants













 



By the USS Blogger Ray Rogers

@UrbanSports_Ray


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. 

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.  You can listen live by visiting this site, www.waleo.podbean.com/live-stream