SportsNet - March 2012
The Houston Texans, who were the 2011 AFC South Division champions, had the vibe throughout the city of Houston and around the league that the Texans are the team to beat in the AFC in 2012.
Since the season has ended, and and the free-agent period has opened, have the Texans gotten better or worse?
Going into the 2012 season the City of Houston had this special feeling that they were on their way to a Super Bowl. With a top three-ranked defense and a running game with Arian Foster that is the league's leading rusher when combining 2010 and 2011 seasons.
With the best running tandem in the league with the emergence of 2010 second round pick Ben Tate. What makes the Texans run game so good is their offensive line which is regarded as the best zone run block line in the NFL and one of the best overall. What makes them so good?
The continuity of the line, having the same linemen play so many consecutive games together. When free agency opened two linemen hit the open market with center Chris Myers who has since been recently resigned by the Texans and guard Mike Brisiel who has been signed by the Oakland Raiders.
The race for Peyton Manning is over.
The Broncos, with the help of John Elway, have won that war to win over Manning, even after everything the 49ers have done to groom the team for Manning by brining in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham.
So now after Elway held a press conference saying that Tim Tebow would go in as the starting quarterback for the Broncos in training camp, Elway is now shopping offers for trades for the same quarterback that beat the defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime.
This past season, and this start of free agency is a story that couldn't be made up. This year is a quarterback hungry league for a couple teams that are struggling to find a franchise quarterback. Since free agency started, 15 quarterbacks have been taken and moved to different teams.
The same teams that lost the Manning race are still looking for a answer at quarterback such as the Arizona Cardinals and the Miami Dolphins. The San Francisco 49ers have still not resigned Alex Smith who is now forced to go around and test the market.
The Knicks are winners of three-straight games since former head coach Mike D'Antoni resigned and New Yorkers are smiling that their boys in blue and orange are back on the playoff hunt.
Most blamed D'Antoni for the Knicks inconsistencies and lamented his inability to mesh his offensive system with the unique one-on-one talents of star forward Carmeo Anthony. As the story goes, Anthony was unhappy, D'Antoni was unhappy, and the Knicks sided with their star player.
So if Carmelo Anthony is happy now, why is he still not performing?
Anthony is averaging fewer points per game this season (20.7) than he ever has in his career and things are happening to him that were unfathomable a year ago. He is getting his shot blocked at the rim. He is missing layups. These are not issues that can be blamed on D'Antoni's system.
New coach Mike Woodson made clear that during his regime, the offense will be about Anthony. More post-ups are coming. The Garden faithful will see far more isolations. His point totals in Woodson's first three games? 16,12,16.
He didn't lead the Knicks in scoring in any of the three.
Put yourself in the place of a coach or a player of a top seeded team in the NCAA tournament.
You are projected to go far and topple almost any team that you come across.
Put yourself in the shoes of a coach or player of the Duke basketball program.
In the case of Duke, you are the No. 2 seed, among the most famed basketball teams in the country, and coached by one of the most legendary coaches in American sports history.
You are playing a 15th seeded team, Lehigh, which has never won an NCAA tournament game in their history. After a tough and grueling 40 minutes, you come out losers. Post-game interviews provide the standard questions and answers. But what I really want to know is what is going through the heads of the coaches and the players on their way home?
I could only imagine what is going through Coach K's head. "What the hell just happened? Is this a dream?" Unfortunately, Coach K, this was not a dream it was a nightmare that just happened to be real. At some point it settles in, and perhaps hurts more than it did when it actually happened.
As for the players, I ask my readers the same question.