Tag Archives: Eric Berry

ACC Links: The Weakest Link Edition

Boston College’s ACC Struggles

The Boston College Eagles have had a history of success in their athletic program, especially in football. This past season they managed to lose every single conference game they played. To make matters worse, the Boston College basketball team also lost every single one of its conference games. The Eagles have seemed to slowly decline since they joined the ACC in 2005. As in previous years, the ACC was clearly trying to become more of a “football conference.” And, as in previous years, the program that they chose to add only became worse after becoming a part of the conference. This raises all sorts of questions about what happens to a team when they start playing ACC football, or any ACC sport, for that matter. So is it time to vote Boston College off the ACC Island? Well, I’m just going to go ahead and vote for everybody and say yes. Boston College, you are the weakest link. Goodbye.

Heisman Potential in ACC Football

The ACC had outstanding offensive talent scattered throughout the conference last season. Much of that talent is returning this year, leaving a pretty decent list of the conference’s top five Heisman Trophy candidates. This list obviously includes Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, who I discussed in last week’s ACC football links. Florida State running back Dalvin Cook was also clearly included in the list after being an integral part of the Seminole offensive attack last season. Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was also included, as he had a solid season last year and is expected to grow even more under Mark Richt. Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is on this list despite having a quiet season last year since he shared reps. Finishing out the list is North Carolina running back Elijah Hood, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. With players like these playing huge roles in each team’s offensive attack, I would not be surprised to see a Heisman winner from an ACC football program this year. I guess you could say that these guys are definitely not the weakest links.

Jimbo Fisher’s Toughest Schedule

Much has been said about Florida State’s strength of schedule in previous seasons. This year, the Seminoles are playing what is arguably their most difficult schedule since Jimbo Fisher took over the team in 2010. Florida State opens the season against Ole Miss and also plays Louisville, North Carolina, Miami, Clemson, and Florida. The teams on their schedule actually posted a combined record of 96-61 during last season, which puts them at a win percentage of over 61 percent. If Florida State can navigate their way through this schedule and win the ACC, there should be no argument about whether or not they deserve to be included in this year’s College Football Playoff. To continue with the theme of weakest links, clearly Florida State’s competition does not fit that bill.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner is Cancer-Free

Last December, Pittsburgh running back James Conner announced that he had been diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma. Conner was nursing a knee injury last year after having a great sophomore season in 2014. During that season alone, he ran for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns. His fighting spirit has been an inspiration to Pittsburgh fans as well as many others throughout the country. Conner recently made an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show, only to be surprised by another football player who fought Hodgkin lymphoma, Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry. Just a few days ago, he announced that his body is clean of cancer. Here’s to hoping he pulls an Eric Berry, coming back even stronger than he was before his battle with cancer. That would be scary for the rest of the ACC football teams. And James Conner, you are ACC football’s strongest link.

Image courtesy of wikimedia user Ayzmo.

I’m Sorry Chiefs

After being married to my gorgeous wife for going on four years now I’ve learned two valuable lessons; when to know you’re wrong and then apologize for it. Thanks to this lesson, I have no problem admitting that I was dead wrong about the Kansas City Chiefs after their week six loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

At 1-5 on the season the Chiefs playoff hopes where down to less than 5% and showed no signs of a potential turn around in the future. In the Super Bowl Era only one NFL team has made the playoffs after starting 1-5 or worse and that was the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals. Before the season I had predicted the Chiefs to go 11-5 and get their first playoff win since 1993. After the Vikings loss the record prediction looked impossible and the chance of even making the playoffs had dropped to less than 5%.

It was out of frustration and anger for the Chiefs playing so far below my expectations that I was ready to blow up the 2015 season. I saw no reason to hope they could recover this season to do anything but hurt their draft position. With that in mind I was ready to phone it in the rest of the year. I called for Aaron Murray to be the Chiefs starting quarterback for the rest of the season. I wanted any veteran not likely to return next year to get benched for young players who needed a long look to see if they could be building blocks for 2016.

I had decided that I wanted Andy Reid fired at the end of the season. After week six it was clear to me that the league had passed him by with his offense averaging less than fifteen points a game. Even if Reid was allowed to keep his job I was sure he at least needed to hand the play calling duties over to offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. The other glaring hole on the coaching staff had come on the defensive side as most of Kansas City was calling for defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to get fired after his defense had been torched all year. I don’t want to say it was as bad as the 2012 season where banners were being flown over the stadium before games calling for major changes. That team went 4-12 and saw the general manager and coaching staff being fired. Even at 1-5 this season wasn’t as bad as that year, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if banner flying companies hadn’t been at least contacted about prices.

Something happened after that week six loss to the Vikings, as since that defeat the Chiefs have won six games in a row. During their six game winning streak the Chiefs offense is averaging over thirty points per game while the defense is only giving up an average of less than fourteen points a game. The Chiefs offense has not only been putting up points but it has been fun to watch for the first time in years. Despite losing Jamaal Charles for the season to a torn ACL, backups Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware have combined for over a 100 yards a game since he went down. Alex Smith has not only stopped turning the ball over (305 pass attempts in a row without an INT) but he’s done it while throwing the ball down field more than he has in the previous three seasons combined.

The defense has become the shutdown defense most fans expected before the season started. Derrick Johnson has gotten in his groove and is back to blowing up running backs in the backfield. The Chiefs pass rush has been found and is applying pressure to quarterbacks on almost every play. Eric Berry seems to have fully recovered from cancer and currently ranked as the number one safety in the league according to the Pro Football Focus ranking system. First round draft choice Marcus Peters is making a strong case to be the defensive rookie of the year while playing opposite the Chiefs other shutdown corner Sean Smith.

As week fourteen kicks off, the Chiefs have to be considered one of the best teams in football. This is a far cry from their 1-5 start in which I was calling for a house cleaning at the end of the season. As I’ve had to say many times to my wife, I would like to tell the Chiefs that I was wrong and I apologize for my lack of faith. As a Kansas City fan I should have known better. I just watched the Kansas City Royals win the World Series for the first time in 30 years. The Royals won the title by having many come from behind wins in the playoffs as well as being overlooked for most of the season as a fluke team. The Chiefs are now doing the same thing and I should have never doubted them. So I am sorry Andy, Alex and the rest of the Chiefs. This season has been a roller coaster and with the playoffs in sight it should only get better. So I’m strapping myself in and ready to go on this ride no matter where it takes me.