see you guys in May. Get ready for an all new look and whole new level of Dallas dedication!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Happy New Year, friends. And what a year it has been. But before we go back and give out our First Annual Dallas Awards (later this week), let's look ahead to what Dallas area fans can expect in 2009.
The Dallas Mavericks
I don't want to admit it, but unlike my co-blogger Nate, I was not too happy with the Jason Kidd trade last season. But, after watching the games this season, I believe it is pretty clear that Kidd benefits the team in so many ways--many of which the box score doesn't show. Many people point to his leadership qualities, which is a valid point. Beyond this, however, lies his defense, his court vision, and his superb decision making that younger point guards don't have. In fact, props to the Dallas Morning News for saying that Dallas should have, in a perfect world, three All-Stars: Dirk, Terry, and Kidd. His stats aren't comparable to Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but his value surely is.
Don't look now, but the Mavs have climbed to 5th in the Western Conference. This comes only a few weeks after many analysts predicted Dallas to be the one "good" team that will be left out of the playoffs. Now Dallas is winning games against quality opponents, and is able to pull out games that cover up their off night--the true sign of a good team (see: last night vs. the Clippers). Dallas has the potential to go deep into the playoffs this season. When hitting on all cylinders, one could argue they are still an elite team.
2009 Prediction: Look for Dallas to win in the first round this year. It seems like so long ago that we were used to that feeling. Expect in the neighborhood of 50 wins, and a team Carlisle can keep a contender with.
The Dallas Stars
A month ago, the Stars were on the road to becoming the laughing stock of the league. Now, Dallas has climbed 3 spots in the Conference, from 15 to 12. Even better, the Stars have won 6 of their last 10. Now, this is a long way from the Western Conference Finals appearance of last year, but still dramatic improvement nevertheless. Turco has regained his form in goal, and Loui Ericksson is 6th in the league in goals (20). However, the team leader in points, Brian Richards, is a mere tie for 37th in the league in points. This lack of a true star can hamper the team in close games.
2009 Prediction: Though they are improving, don't count on the Stars to slide into a playoff spot this season. Some retooling will need to be done in the offseason, and more young talent needs to be brought in.
The Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboy's offseason has already been well publicized, so not much needs to be said here. Jones appears that he is going to hold firm on his word and keep Wade "No Control" Phillips. Though this keeps the "continuity" he so badly wants, it really is a bummer for the fans. Essentially, all hope for a Super Bowl is lost, knowing that the fate of our ultra-talented team rests in the hands of Phillips and Jason "Everyone Knows My Schemes" Garrett.
In fact, many players have already expressed interest in leaving: Greg Ellis, Zach Thomas, and Tank Johnson, to name a few. Don't expect too many personnel changes, either. The only feasible trade option they have in Valley Ranch is to unload Tashard Choice (since they have 2 great backs already) for an offensive linemen, which is a definite need. If Garrett does in fact leave to guide the Broncos (wish them luck), a new offensive coordinator could be exactly what is needed to give this offense new legs. With a great starting receiver corps and a Pro Bowl running back, there should be no stopping the Cowboys...unless the coaching staff stops its team, again.
Jerry Jones finally made a team chemistry decision and cut Pacman Jones today. Maybe he is beginning to understand a bunch of talent randomly thrown together can't win games. Or maybe I'm way too optimistic. And if this story in this link is true, Pacman is Done. Done.
2009 Prediction: These are never easy to call so soon (look at the Dolphins change from last year to this year), but with relatively no changes being made in the coaching staff, expect the same mediocrity of this season. To compound matters, the 2009 schedule is anything from easy. However, Tony Romo will be on a mission of all missions to defy his poor December lore that is mounting sky high.
The Texas Rangers
The Rangers have a 2009 season ahead that should be full of optimism. Last season, for a month or two at least, the city began to recognize that a playoff birth was possible. Not surprisingly, though, that quickly faded and ended in mediocrity. The pitching staff is said to be "improving", so that will be an unknown until the season begins. Without the funds of the Yankees or other richer teams, the Rangers have shied away from big purchases, taking the "Devil Rays Strategy" of building the team from within. The Rangers savior, Josh Hamilton, provides hope. Just hope the pitching staff can provide wins.
2009 Prediction: Expect for the Rangers to continue to build their roster, but don't expect playoffs in 2009. The team will show improvement, so look for 2010 to be "the season" where the Rangers return to postseason play.
The Dallas Desperados
Aren't we funny...get it? Because the season got canceled? How rich. Er, poor.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Where to start? With so many problems in Valley Ranch, that is a very tough question. Like very, very tough. The players lack heart, the coach lacks assertiveness, the team lacks chemistry, and the owner lacks decision making skills. Thus, it is hard to place the blame on one person or on one aspect of this team. All they way around--every angle--the 2008 Dallas Cowboys are a failure of a team. And that may be an understatement. Sp, instead of harping on everything that went wrong and will continue to go wrong, we at DallasDedicated want to look at the glass being half full. If that's possible. Let's look at how the 'Boys can get out of this rut:
1) Let's assume that Wade Phillips remains the coach as Jerry Jones says he will. This leaves us with a few options:
a) Get new Coordinators
Worst case, get rid of Jason Garrett, who has gone from coaching phenom to the coordinator every defense can't wait to face. His schemes are too simple (says Tony Romo, "his schemes are too simple") and he has no variation in his play calling. Wade Phillips, so long as he can get the defense to play in crunch time, can handle the D. In fact, he is a great defensive coach. Since taking over the play calling duties from Brian Stewart, the defense improved dramatically. The offense, however, Romo-less or not, has not been up to par. Or even up to bogey...if that's a phrase. It's definitely not a talent problem, we know that. But Garrett had 10 games to get stand out Roy Williams involved, and never did. How do you get a complimentary threat opposite Terrell Owens and not even utilize him at all? On top of that, you could argue--very convincingly--that Terrell Owens wasn't even used near his potential. Both receivers deserve to be very frustrated. Let Garrett take the Detroit job and look elsewhere for a coordinator that can properly use his weapons.
b) Let Phillips "change" as he says he will.
I don't know how a grown, 62 year old man can change the way he is. The mild manners of Phillips couldn't have been more exemplified than when he sent out the punt team on Sunday against Philly and Romo--by himself--sent them back off. I don't see how Wade can instill discipline in this team after all the breaks and excuses he has made for them. The players WANT discipline, just ask Bradie James, he's been open about this. James, Zach Thomas, and others have been critical of the squad's chemistry. But, when asked about this problem Wade brushed it off as "not a problem". Great. More Confusion. But change is still an option, supposedly.
2) Let's assume Jones goes back on his word and decides to relieve Phillips of his duties (which isn't looking likely)
a) Hire Mike Shanahan. He is a proven winner, and an offensive specialist. He has a great record of keeping his players under control as well. Lastly, and most certainly, he really had no cause for his firing this week. He will assuredly be one of the hottest coaches on the market. Though not likely, don't put it past Jones to go back on his word and pursue this vacancy no one foresaw. However, what an option this would be--definitely one to brighten the spirits of Dallas fans. Update: ESPN News is reporting that Dallas is a possible destination for the ex-Denver coach. Impossible, you say? We will see.
b) Hire someone else. Before Shanahan went on the market, the only real option was Bill Cowher, who wants too much control for Jones' taste. I believe this is one of the reasons Jones decided to keep Wade on staff--the lack of options had he decided to fire him. So consider this option hopeless.
Only a few options for Cowboys fans this offseason--few of which seem to satisfy the fans after another disappointing season. Jerry Jones can whip out the pocket book as often and as heavily as he wants, but we've come to learn that doesn't build chemistry...or a Super Bowl win...better yet, a playoff win. Or a playoff appearance, for that matter. Something has to be shaken up in order to avoid a repeat of this season. So far, though, nothing seems to be in the works. If the only change we can count on is "change" from Wade Phillips, don't have any expectations for the 2009 season, even if it is in a billion dollar stadium.
Coming this week: The First Annual Dallas Sports Awards 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It's Christmas eve, and DallasDedicated is here to stuff your stocking with a few links from around the Dallas sports area...
*Dirk tells the Dallas Morning News that he wouldn't think twice about taking a pay cut in 2010 if it meant that the Mavs could use the money to make the team reach his goal of a championship. This really shows just how true of a team player Dirk is. While LeBron is talking about where he may end up come 2010 and that he would go to Europe for $50 million, Dirk acts like he always has...selfless.
*Speaking of the 2010 free agency, Mark Cuban has some plans of his own.
*What drives Cowboys third-string turned starter Tashard Choice? The fact that 10 running backs were selected over him.
*Proof that Santa is real: Last night, the Dallas Stars not only held their opponent to 2, but scored 8 (!) of their own!
*T.O. is talking again, but this time it is that Roy Williams needs the ball more. Welcome to the club Owens!
*We all take for granted the fact that professional athletes have familes and personal lives of their own. The Mavs play on Christmas night tomorrow, which has got to be distracting to have to "work" on a holiday. The Mavs, however, consider it a mixed blessing.
*Marc Colombo got an early Christmas present of his own, a four-year deal.
*Gerald Green sighting! He talks to the FW Star-Telegram about his lack of playing time as of late.
*Stars may be last in the Western Conference, but their play has picked up and winger Loui Eriksson is last week's First Star for the NHL.
*Is Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett in a hot seat of his own?
*While the main page of DallasDesperados.com says that 2009 Season Tickets are cheaper than ever, you should know that the AFL has suspended the upcoming season. So if you bought your friend some AFL tickets for Christmas, you might wanna reconsider putting that under the tree.
*Not only is Jason Terry playing out of his mind this season, he also was given the NBA Community Assist Award for the month of November. Nice goin, Jet!
*Sergei Zubov is out for the season, so is Morrow, yet DM News writer Mike Heika argues that the Stars could climb the standings pretty easily if they get a hot streak going, because no other team has had a hot streak? Ummm, works for me
Merry Christmas to you all, enjoy yourselves. Mavs tip-off at 9:30!
Coming this week: Who is the Most Valuable Player out of all Dallas sports? We will analyze it all.
Monday, December 22, 2008
With a win last night in the Nation's capital, the Mavericks are back on track, sitting at 15-11 and only a half game behind both Phoenix and Utah. After the game, we caught up with Truth About It, a Washington Wizards blog, and exchanged some questions. You can view our interview with them here. Below is the Q&A session we had with him:
1) What has been the biggest problem with the Wizards this season?
To start the season, it was the defense and the absence of Brendan Haywood. The Wizards gave up a ton of threes last year (led the league in most allowed, 683, and tied the best opponent 3P%, .386), and that trend continues this year. But without Haywood patrolling the paint, the Wizards have had to pack their match-up zone closer to the hoop, allowing for copious amounts of free ball movement around the perimeter.
Lately, the Wizards have struggled mightily on offense in crunch time. There is no one like a Gilbert Arenas to take the focus off Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison, and when teams concentrate their defense on those two, no one else has been stepping up to put points on the board.
Combine those two factors and you easily arrive at the conclusion of a 4-21 record.
2) I noticed that the Wizards are 0-8 in games decided by 7 or less points this season, is this a coaching problem or a personnel problem?
See above, or this post: Wizards-Sixers Game 24 Recap: Losing A Clutch Mentality, for more on the Wizards and close game failure.
As far as the coaching thing, the firing of Eddie Jordan is looking more and more like a bad idea. His replacement, Ed Tapscott, previously director of player development, and whose only prior head coaching experience includes an 8-year stint at American University in the 80s, is not really an Xs and Os guy. Heck, he's been having the 31-year old Wes Unseld, Jr. draw up crunch time plays in the huddle.....call me unimpressed.
3) How much is Gilbert Arenas missed? With him being gone so long, is he still considered the building block of the franchise or do you think the front office has moved on?
Gilbert Arenas is missed a ton, and some may make the case that considering the results from last season to this season, both sans Agent Zero for the most part, the Wizards miss Brendan Haywood even more....but that's neither here nor there.
Thing is, with signing Arenas to a 6-year, $111 million contract over the summer, he is kinda stuck in the "franchise player" role. And...I'm fine with that. I have hope that he can come back as the old Gilbert, but if not.....well, that's what we call the 'Curse O' Les Boulez' in DC.
4) What improvements do Washington need to make to get back into playoff contention?
Pray to the gods of health from every religion in the world.
And the children, somebody has to think about the children.....the Wiz have a ton of promising youth: Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire. These guys really need to develop. Blatche a versatile 6'11" big (think poor man's Garnett/Webber...no wait, change 'poor man' to 'junkie') and is in his 4th year. He was horrendously disappointing in the early going, but has come along lately. Young and McGuire, both sophomores, have the potential to be an elite scorer and glue guy/perfect role player respectively. And McGee: 7'1" with no shoes, 7'6" wing span, sick hops, some 3-point range on his jumper, mom was a WNBA player.....the kid just needs to get some strength and more instinct and he will be more that alright.
5) _______ is the best player five years from now.
Thanks again to Truth About it, and good luck to the Wizards.
Friday, December 19, 2008
In an attempt to keep things fresh, we here at DallasDedicated are introducing a new column style that we will use from time to time, dubbed "Sleeping with the enemy." As the title entails, we will give a pretty in depth scouting report of the opposition, in hopes to educate you, the fan, a little more than the regular game preview would allow. Since this Saturday's game against Baltimore is still a necessary victory, we figured it was a perfect time to unveil our new idea. We're geniuses, we know.
The Ravens have never lost against the Cowboys. This is being technical, and only counting the "new" Baltimore team. Nevertheless, they are 2-0 all time, outscoring Dallas 57-10. Right now, the Ravens are in a similar position as your home team: 9-5 and in second in their division. They are 16th in scoring offense, but 3rd in team defense. Their defense is what has helped an average offense become a solid playoff threat.
The bruising running backs that Dallas stopped last week--the New York Giants--ran over the Ravens in week 11 for 207 yards. But...yes, there is always a but...the Giants are the only team to gain over 100 yards on the ground against them this season. Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs lead this run stop; the team allows a paltry 3.4 yards per carry by opponents.
The good news for Dallas fans is that the Ravens rush defense has seemed much more effective against speedier backs than against the bruiser-types. RBs like Ronnie Brown and Brian Westbrook particularly struggled--neither averaged over 3 yards per carry. However, more contact-oriented backs (Read: Barber, Choice) have performed better: Ahmad Bradshaw ran up 96 yards on only 9 carries and Jamal Lewis ran 12 times for 56 yards. This could give a (hopefully) healthy Barber a nice opportunity to close in on the 1,000 yard mark.
The Rest of the "D":
The Ravens pass rush is nothing special... Or should we say nothing to worry about. The sack leader is Terrell Suggs with 7.5 and the Ravens have 30 overall, which is minuscule compared to the 52.5 of Dallas. The Secondary, though, is very solid. The squad has posted 22 interceptions (compare that to the 8 of Dallas), with veteran safety Ed Reed leading the way with 5. Reed is someone Romo will want to avoid at all costs, especially given his knack for returning INTs for TDs. An interesting side note: released DB Evan Oglesby signed with the Ravens and has played in 5 games thus far, recording only 6 tackles and recovering a fumble.
Rookie Joe Flacco guides an average offense that hasn't helped him too much by way of the running game. Flacco hasn't been poor or strong this season, just, said as best we know how: rookie. With 2500 yards, 13 TDs and 12 INTs, he will finish his first season respectably. His favorite target is WR Derrick Mason. He has caught 68 balls and is really the only real threat at WR. Mark Clayton is the second wideout, and only has 33 catches. Watch for Tight End Todd Heap, as he has been a perennial standout. The Ravens only throw about 185 yards a game, so don't expect much explosion.
When running the football, Baltimore has a three-pronged attack. The bulk is handled by Le'Ron McClain, a fullback who has 7 touchdowns on the year. Willis McGahee and Ray Rice also will get substantial carries, but McClain has handled most of the work in the past few weeks. Do not expect any big plays from the running game; rather, a solid, pounding-away-styled attack.
Ravens Run Defense= 4.5/5
Ravens Pass Defense= 4/5
Ravens Rush Offense= 3.5/5
Ravens Pass Offense= 2/5
Total Team Rating (TTR): 14/20
Cowboys Rush Defense= 3.5/5
Cowboys Pass Defense= 4/5
Cowboys Rush Offense= 4/5
Cowboys Pass Offense= 4.5/5
Total Team Rating (TTR): 16/20
Prediction: Cowboys Win 27-13
Monday, December 15, 2008
The Dallas Mavericks couldn't overcome a slow first quarter and fell to the Denver Nuggets tonight, 98-88. Shooting only 35%, the Mavs couldn't capitalize on a third quarter comeback in which they came back from 14 to tie the game. Credit must be given to the Nugs--namely J.R. Smith-- and their ability to turn on the after burners and pull away. But, Dallas had chances in the 4th quarter to cut the lead from 10 to single digits, but had some costly turnovers.
The return of Josh Howard wasn't much more than a rust-removal for #5. He logged 14 minutes and shot 1-5 from the field, racking up 7 points. He looked out of place and shape, but who can blame him? Carlisle did a good job of getting him enough minutes to acclimate J-Ho back to the NBA game yet not put him in a situation that would highlight his rust. His return is greeted with happiness by fans, but some players (Barea, George, Wright, Green, etc.) will be relegated back to the end of the rotation, despite some heavy signs of improvement. Barea will likely continue to get more minutes, but look for Gerald Green to be marginalized. A thought that has been somewhat overlooked: over these last 12 games without Howard, Dallas has gone 9-3. Adding him back to the mix will only help.
Tonight, though, the bright spots were few and far between. Courtesy of back to back three pointers by Jason Terry, the Mavs cut the deficit back to 10 points. Jason Kidd, however, had a swing pass intercepted by Billups, killing the momentum and allowing J.R. Smith to score another basket. After the lead was cut to 9 a couple minutes later, Dirk got a rebound and tried a quick down court outlet to Devean George, which was intercepted by Melo. On the next senquence, still budding with hope, Barea tried to push the ball up and overthrew an open Dirk and the ball went out of bounds. These costly turnovers shot down any chance of a comeback, and the Nuggets were too much to handle.
On the positive side, give credit to Devean George. He played stellar defense, had two steals (caused many more, that was not a generous stat) and hit two key three pointers in the third quarter comeback. Dirk overcame an slow first quarter and exploded for 16 in the third and finished with yet another double double.
Dallas almost pulled off a win on the off night of all off nights, which is the sign of a good team. Next up the Mavs have Toronto on Wednesday night, New Jersey on Friday and Washington on Sunday. Three winnable games that can move Dallas up in the Southwest Division standings. Looking at the rest of the West, the Jazz lost tonight, leaving them only a half game ahead of the Mavs. The Phoenix Suns were victorious, creating a bottleneck in the Western Conference playoff race. The standings as of tonight:
3) San Antonio.....15-8---5 GB
4) New Orleans.....13-7---5.5 GB
5) Houston.........15-9---5.5 GB
6) Phoenix.........15-10--6 GB
7) Portland........15-10--6 GB
8) Utah............15-11--6.5 GB
9) Dallas..........13-10--7 GB
I know, I know, it's only 25 or so games into the season. But how exciting is this season's playoff fight going to be? This could shape up to be one of the best finished in years. So, even if the Mavs aren't meeting your expectations, you can count on some great basketball games to be played night in and night out for the rest of the season. This is one year in which every game truly counts, and the competition for those 8 spots is going to be fierce. Sasha Fierce. (My excuse to put a Beyonce pic in here)
Coming Tomorrow: The Arena Football League has called off its 2009 Season. We will give you the information and tell you how this effects Dallas sports and the Desperado players.
Coming Soon: Ever wondered who the most Valuable Dallas Player is? Dirk? Tony Romo? Josh Hamilton? We will break down who deserves the crown of Mr. Dallas.