Wilson reflects on path to Bona soccer program

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Dreams.

Every kid has them. They will change, cause stress and lead them down a life-changing path.

In the world of sports, one of the most common dreams is to play collegiately on an NCAA Division I team. For most, this is the culmination of four years of hard work on and off your high school team.

However, that was not the case for St. Bonaventure men’s soccer goalkeeper Trevor Wilson.

“I only played one year of high school soccer,” Wilson said.

Before taking off for a development program with the Portland Timbers, which did not allow him to play high school contests, Wilson earned first-team all-league as a sophomore in high school.

His experience continued by playing on an Olympic development team, where he represented the state of Oregon.

“I played on a regional team that consisted of players from 13 states on the West Coast,” Wilson said. “The idea of it is to get to train in as professional of an environment as you can every day.”

Wilson said spots on the team are very limited, which means there are no guarantees. Players develop at a higher and faster rates due to the environment.

It goes beyond the physical training and stretches into the mental aspects of competitiveness and edge. Ultimately, these aspects are what led the senior marketing major to four years of collegiate soccer.

Wilson spent his first two campaigns at DePaul before transferring to SBU for his junior season in 2019.

Wilson wasted no time impressing the Bona faithful, or the SBU coaching staff, in his first season at SBU. He started 10 contests for the Bonnies, including a game at Dayton, in which he had a career-high of eight saves.

Wilson averaged 2.31 goals allowed a year ago, and had saved 69% of the shots that he faced.

Like most college athletes across the nation, Wilson was affected by the COVID-19 cancelation of the 2020 fall sports season, and had to grapple with the decision of how he wanted to pursue his future.

As of now, he plans to return to SBU for a fifth year.

NFL WEEK 6: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Joe Sargent/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss

With several close games this weekend, the two-point conversion attempt became a major point of discussion for several teams. 

The Houston Texans went for an aggressive two-point attempt, which cost them a victory. Philadelphia was close to completing a comeback against the Batltimore Ravens, but a failed attempt sealed their defeat. Such a seemingly easy setup, it is surprising that it has such a low success rate.

When teams convert, it is a stroke of genius, but failed attempts are hailed as unnecessary or aggressive. With that said, I enjoy watching a team play to win. It is certainly a gamble (maybe not even a smart one), but Washington head coach Ron Rivera put it best this weekend after his questionable two-point try against the Giants. 

“The only way you learn to win is to play to win,” Rivera said.  

Three Good Things 

Steelers and Titans Race Out to 5-0 

Sunday afternoon, the two undefeated teams left in the AFC won big divisional matchups. The Steelers absolutely throttled the Cleveland Browns in a 38-7 rout. 

LB Bud Dupree and the Pittsburgh defense looked like a hungry pack of wolves going against a banged-up Browns offense that was not prepared for the pressure and physicality of Pittsburgh. Having QB Ben Roethlisberger back in the lineup has made a huge difference, and this offense has not reached its full potential yet.

Tennessee survived a furious upset attempt by QB Deshaun Watson and the Texans. The Titans sent the game to overtime after a 7-yard touchdown catch by WR AJ Brown from QB Ryan Tannehill. RB Derrick Henry finished off the Texans with a 5-yard run to cap off a stellar performance with 212 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which was a 94-yard run.

Tennessee has one of the most efficient offenses in the league, and while most will think of the monster in the backfield, Tannehill has been outstanding this season and his play has elevated the Titans passing attack. Off to historical starts, these two teams will meet next week for a must-see matchup on Sunday afternoon.  

Chicago finishes strong against Carolina 

It is time to give Chicago its due respect.

After a surprising win against the Buccaneers last week, the Bears pulled out a close win in an ugly game at Carolina.

“We’d rather win ugly than lose pretty,” said QB Nick Foles. The Bears defense was great in this game, totaling four sacks, and picked off QB Teddy Bridgewater twice, the second of which sealed the game. Sitting at 5-1, the Bears have picked up wins against some of the lesser teams in the league, but as the saying goes, “you play who is on your schedule.” 

Speaking of schedules, the Bears have two huge NFC matchups coming up, including a Monday night tilt in Inglewood against the Rams next week. Winning those games could give this gritty Bears team an inside track to a playoff berth.  

Chiefs Dominate on the Ground 

Kansas City is famous for its barbecue, and the Chiefs absolutely smoked the Bills run defense on Monday afternoon. In another installment of rescheduled football due to COVID-19, the Chiefs controlled the Bills on their way to a 26-17 win. 

Both teams struggled to throw the ball early in the game in ugly weather, but rookie RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire carried the Kansas City offense with 161 rushing yards, running for 6.2 yards per carry. The Chiefs ran for 245 yards as a team, but this explosive run game is nothing new. The Chiefs have focused on improving their run-game this season and they have done so, ranking sixth in the league in rushing yards per game which is up sixteen spots from where they finished last season. 

Head coach Andy Reid has added another explosive dimension to an offense that is already so lethal with QB Patrick Mahomes II at the helm. This goes without the fact that Kansas City just added RB Le’Veon Bell, who can provide some added production in a great system. Despite the loss last week, I find it hard to believe there is another team better than the Chiefs at this point in the season.  

Three Bad Things 

Packers Poor Effort 

Coming out of a bye week, the Packers put up a very poor effort in Tampa Bay. This game was supposed to be a battle of all-time great quarterbacks, but a strong defensive performance by Tampa Bay made the difference on Sunday afternoon. 

The Buccaneers defense bullied QB Aaron Rodgers, who threw two interceptions, including a pick-six that flipped the momentum of the game. Green Bay gave up 28 points in the second quarter and the game was basically over at halftime. In the second half, Rodgers looked completely disinterested at times, and this trickled down to the defense as well. 

This was a surprising result from the Packers, who had looked outstanding in the games prior to Week 6. This should be only a minor setback for one of the NFL’s top teams, and they should regain momentum in the coming weeks with matchups against the struggling Texans and Vikings.   

Vikings Disappoint Once Again 

It has been a rough year for Minnesota and it only got worse after losing to the previously 0-5 Falcons at home. This Falcons team — infamous for blown leads this season, who just fired their head coach, and having one of the worst pass defenses in the league — shut out the Vikings in the first half. 

Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins was nothing short of atrocious in the first two quarters with three interceptions, but connected with rookie WR Justin Jefferson for two scores in the second half.

WR Julio Jones had his best game of the season against the Vikings defense, putting up 8 receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back from a hamstring injury. The absence of RB Dalvin Cook was noticed as well, shown by the frail 32-yard performance put up by his replacements. Cook should return after the bye week, but with the Vikings already in a 1-5 hole, it may not matter. 

Another Bad Week in the NFC East 

In case you forgot, one of the Cowboys, Eagles, Football Team, or Giants will be hosting a playoff game this season. The only win this division got this weekend was the Giants, grabbing a 20-19 win against Washington after an aggressive two-point conversion attempt by the Football Team failed.

Previously, I have held confidence in Dallas crawling to the finish line in first place, but after an embarrassing performance against Arizona on Monday Night Football, I now give the slight nod to the Eagles, who boast a record of 1-4-1. 

The Eagles have been extremely unlucky with injuries this season, but QB Carson Wentz’s turnover bug has kept them from winning games. By no means are the Eagles true contenders, but with the state of the division right now, it is hard to imagine another team taking the NFC East crown besides them when they get some key pieces back from injury. The Eagles can start to right the ship with a win against the Giants on Thursday, and the following week they host the Cowboys on Sunday night.  

Keep an Eye on…. 

Steelers vs. Titans Matchup 

While COVID-19 has put a strange wrinkle in the 2020-21 season, most fans are probably happy that this game was moved to Week 7. After an arguably lackluster slate of games in Week 6, Week 7 presents a matchup of heavyweights in the AFC.

The Steelers and Titans are off to historic starts at 5-0, and Sunday’s game will pin strength against strength in Nashville, Tennessee. The vaunted Steeler defense, coming off a game where they shut down the league’s best rushing attack, will now be tasked with stopping a Titans offense coming off back-to-back 40-point performances.

This game has added importance because of the expanded playoff format instituted this season. There is only one first-round bye to play for, and with the Chiefs lurking at 5-1, staying undefeated and grabbing a head-to-head advantage could pay major dividends down the road.  

Staff picks: World Series

photo: Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

By The Intrepid Staff

ARLINGTON, TX — The 116th World Series in Major League Baseball’s history will begin on Tuesday evening, with the American League’s Tampa Bay Rays pitted against the National League’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

Despite these franchises being built in very different ways (LAD payroll is nearly four times higher than TB), each team entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in their respective leagues. Here’s who our staff predicts will be crowned as baseball’s next champion.

Sean Casey, staff writer: Dodgers in 5

Series MVP: Cody Bellinger

As amazing as the Rays’ pitching has been, the Dodgers’ bats are going to be too much for them to handle.

LA also has a lot more experienced veterans that have been on this stage before, and I believe that the Dodgers are hungrier for this ring than the Rays are and will not be take their foot off the gas. TB will steal one game, but that’s all. The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, and they deserve this championship.

Jeff Uveino, editor-in-chief: Dodgers in 7

Series MVP: Cody Bellinger

It’s tempting to pick the darling Rays, but in the COVID-19 year of sports that has seemed to favor the top teams (Tampa Bay Lightning won Stanley Cup, LA Lakers won NBA Finals), the Dodgers get it done.

Too much depth and star power on the perennial contender.

Anthony Goss, staff writer: Dodgers in 7

Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Dustyn Green, staff writer: Dodgers in 4

Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Ryan Surmay, staff writer: Dodgers in 6

Series MVP: Cody Bellinger

Connor Raine, staff writer/photographer: Rays in 6

Series MVP: Randy Arozarena

Peter Byrne, staff writer: Rays in 7

Series MVP: Ji-Man Choi

Tom Doyle, staff writer: Dodgers in 7

Series MVP: Mookie Betts

Nic Gelyon, staff writer: Rays in 7

Series MVP: Ji-Man Choi

Schmidt talks preseason, new challenges as Bona men begin practice

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Despite having zero seniors on his roster, Mark Schmidt views this year’s Bonnies as a “veteran team.”

Schmidt, who is in his 14th season as head coach of the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, found himself in a familiar situation in an unfamiliar year on Thursday: The day before the team’s first official practice of the season.

“Nothing has changed in our minds,” Schmidt said. “We’re going about (the first day of practice) just like we would last year. Build the fundamentals.”

NCAA rules allow SBU, like every other Division I basketball program, to hold 30 practices over 42 days leading up to Nov. 25, when teams can begin playing games.

Schmidt said that while he’d like the preseason to feel as normal as possible, he has concerns about getting his players ready.

“I tell the guys when they leave practice, there’s a sense of urgency,” Schmidt said. “The other thing is, there’s no scrimmages this year. There’s no exhibition games. It’s scary that the first game we play counts.”

Normally, Bona plays a “secret scrimmage” in a closed setting before playing an exhibition game at the Reilly Center. SBU has played Alfred University in that game each of the past four years.

SBU enters the season with seven returning players and seven new players. The roster is made up of nine juniors (including transfers), two sophomores and three freshmen. And, what the Bonnies lack in seniority, many of them make up for in big-game experience.

“When you have a young team, I don’t think they know how hard you have to work or what shape you need to be in,” Schmidt said. “Having a veteran team, these guys know. They understand how difficult being successful in the Atlantic 10 is. Any program that has had some success, it makes it easier for the coach because the veterans can say to the young guys, ‘Here’s what you need to do’.”

Kyle Lofton, Osun Osunniyi and Dominick Welch each played big roles in SBU’s trip to the Atlantic 10 championship game two seasons ago, in which the Bonnies lost to Saint Louis. Schmidt will count on the trio, who are now all juniors, to show younger players what it takes to win in the A10.

With the lack of game time against other teams leading up to the start of the regular season, it may be difficult for new players to make enough of an impression to get consistent minutes. Schmidt acknowledged that it may be hard for some of his younger guys to crack the starting lineup, as Bona returns almost all of its scoring from a year ago after only losing one senior to graduation.

“We always talk about having tests,” Schmidt said. “You practice for two or three weeks, and your first test is the scrimmage. That really determines who’s playing well, who’s going to have a spot. Then you have the exhibition game. That’s when the coaches decide, these are going to be the eight or nine guys (who will play).”

This year, players will have to earn their minutes in practice.

“We have a feel of the veteran guys, it’s more the younger guys,” Schmidt said. “It’s been a little more difficult for them because they didn’t have the summer to really learn the culture of St. Bonaventure basketball. Those intrasquad scrimmages are going to be very important.”

Schmidt said that the Bonnies would be scrimmaging in practice much more than normal, and that he wanted to create more opportunities for practices to feel like games. That will involve a plethora of 5-on-5 basketball, he said, as well as the possibility of bringing referees to officiate intrasquad scrimmages.

Another one of Schmidt’s concerns that comes with the lack of games, he said, is the lack of having things to look forward to.

“We’d look forward to the Kent State scrimmage, and look forward to the exhibition game,” Schmidt said. “Right now, it’s just 30 days of practice. It’s a concern that we don’t have those rehearsals to find out what we’re good at and what we need to improve upon.”

As far as when the Bonnies will actually play games? Schmidt said he has “no idea.”

“We think that we’re going to start Nov. 25 in one of these bubbles, but we don’t know,” Schmidt said. “We haven’t really gotten any direction or final say from the Atlantic 10 on whether they’re going to play a couple of their non-conference games in December. There haven’t been any contracts signed. It’s just a fluid situation, and we’re working on it every day.”

The Bonnies will hold a three-hour practice on Friday afternoon, which will become the standard length of their practices going forward. 

“Oct. 15 was highlighted on our family calendar. I tell my wife, the marriage has stopped for six months,” Schmidt said with a grin. “The basketball season has started.”

Previewing SBU’s women’s basketball roster

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Tom Doyle

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure women’s basketball team is looking to bounce back from a down year.

Head coach Jesse Fleming enters his fifth season as head coach for the Bonnies, coming off of a 7-23 record (including 4-12 in the Atlantic 10) last year.

The Bonnies have four new players this year and eight returning players, including two seniors. They lost three seniors last year.

SBU added a graduate transfer, Star Fitzgerald-Greer, a 6-3 forward from Howard University.

The Bonnies, like every other NCAA program, were allowed to begin practicing on Wednesday, with the possibility of games beginning no earlier than Nov. 25. As the Bonnies take the court for the first time together this season, here’s a brief overview of what their roster will look like.

RETURNING PLAYERS

Asianae Johnson | G | Junior | Brooklyn, NY
Johnson emerged as the leading scorer for the Bonnies last year averaging 12.7 points per game. She was also second in rebounding at 5.5 per game showing she can do it all. She scored in double figures 21 times for the Bonnies last year. Look for her to continue to score at will and help on the glass again this season.

Deja Francis| G | Junior | Queens, NY
Francis led the team in assists with 74, and was second in scoring last year. She averaged 9.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Her freshman year, she totaled 104 assists, which is the most in 20 seasons for SBU and was fourth among A-10 players. Look for her to continue to get teammates involved this year and keep improving her game as a junior.

Tori Harris| F | R-Junior | Dix Hills, NY
Harris had to sit last year out after transferring from James Madison. During her first two collegiate seasons, Harris played in 47 games for the Dukes and had a career-high 15 points against Delaware State her sophomore season. In high school, she was named the 2017 Long Island Player of the Year. Her brother, Tobias, plays forward for the Philadelphia 76ers.

I’yanna Lops | F | Soph. | Stamford, CT
Olivia Brown| G | Soph. | East Grand Rapids, MI 
Carrie Jornlin| F | R-Sophomore | Hagerstown, MD 
Emily Calabrese| F/C | Senior | Wyckoff, NJ
Kaitlyn Parker| G | Sophomore | Suitland, MD
Jurnee President| G | Senior | Fort Worth, TX 
Claire Cody| F | R-Freshman | Carmel, NY

New Players

Star Fitzgerald-Greer| F | Senior | Bronk, NY
Fitzgerald- Greer, Goddaughter of Bonnies men’s basketball legend Fred Crawford, is looking to help the Bonnies this year. She is a 6-3 transfer from Howard, where she averaged 3.6 points and 3.3 rebounds as a junior. She can stretch the floor with her shooting after sinking 21 threes her junior season.

Maddie Dziezgowski| G/F | Freshman | Bethel Park, PA
Dziezgowski averaged 14.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game as a junior in high school. She was selected to the All-WPIAL First Team and lead her team to a 22-4 record in 2018-2019.

Morgan Gentile| G | Freshman | Elmira, NY
Gentile averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, four steals and three assists per game at Elmira High School. 

Mia Kulenovic| F | Freshman | Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Previewing SBU’s men’s basketball roster

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Get used to these names. You’re going to be seeing them for awhile.

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team enters the 2020-21 season with seven new players to go with seven returners. The thing that stands out the most about this year’s Bona roster?

Zero seniors.

SBU only lost one player to graduation last year (Amadi Ikpeze), while three players transferred out of the program (Robert Carpenter, Matt Johnson and Bobby Planutis). And, except for potential transfers, they won’t lose any pieces of this team in the spring.

The Bonnies, like every other NCAA program, were allowed to begin practicing on Wednesday, with the possibility of games beginning no earlier than Nov. 25. As the Bonnies take the court for the first time together this season, here’s a brief overview of what their roster will look like.

RETURNING PLAYERS

Kyle Lofton | G | Junior | Hillside, NJ
Perhaps the most familiar face on the roster, Lofton will find himself in a familiar position to begin his junior season: The catalyst of Bona’s offense. A two-year starter at point guard, Lofton virtually never left the floor last year for head coach Mark Schmidt. He averaged 14.1 points per game and 6.0 assists per game last year, after averaging 14.4 and 3.7 per game his freshman year.

Jaren Holmes | G | Junior | Romulus, MI
Holmes became a regular presence in SBU’s starting lineup a year ago after transferring in from junior college. He averaged 11.9 points per game a season ago, and is an underrated part of Bona’s core of juniors, alongside Lofton and forward Osun Osunniyi.

Dominick Welch | G | Junior | Buffalo, NY
Alpha Okoli | G | Junior | Los Angeles, CA
Alejandro Vasquez | G | Sophomore | Queens, NY
Osun Osunniyi | F/C | Junior | Pleasantville, NJ
Justin Winston | F | Sophomore | West Orange, NJ

NEW PLAYERS

Anthony Roberts | G | Junior | Detroit, MI
Roberts joins the Bonnies after two years at Kent State, where he averaged 12.7 points per game last season. Roberts will be available to play immediately after being granted a transfer waiver by the NCAA. He provides more depth to an already deep group of Bona guards.

Quintin Metcalf | F | Freshman | Seoul, South Korea
Metcalf was raised on a United States military base in Seoul, where he played high school basketball. He spent a post-grad year at Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania, where he averaged 12.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. The 6’8, 200-pound newcomer is one of the highlights of a new group of Bona forwards behind Osunniyi.

Jalen Adaway | G | R-Junior | Logansport, IN
Adaway, a big guard at 6’5, sat out last season after transferring from Miami (Ohio). He averaged 7.5 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game with the RedHawks during his sophomore season.

Eddie Creal | G | Junior | Joliet, IL
Josh Bell | G | Freshman | Frederick, MD
Jermaine Taggart | G | Freshman | Rochester, NY
Jalen Shaw | F/C | Junior | Elgin, IL

————————————————————————————————

Check back on The Intrepid in the coming weeks for player features, preseason stories and more.

NFL WEEK 5: Bills hit speed bump in Nashville; Jets release Bell; Falcons fire Quinn

photo: George Walker IV/The Tennesseean

By Nic Gelyon

The Buffalo Bills missed an opportunity on Tuesday night. 

It was difficult to watch a team like the Bills get bulldozed. They suffered a 42-16 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

The Bills seemed defeated as they trailed 28-16 in the third quarter, even with more than enough time to come back.  

However you want to spin it, the Bills, while missing Tre’Davious White, John Brown, Quinton Spain and others, were beat by a team that couldn’t even practice for the better part of two weeks. 

After the game, head coach Sean McDermott said that his team played unusually bad football, with “Uncharacteristically poor fundamentals, poor pre-snap discipline, turning the ball over.”

So, while doubt begins to seep into the mind of Bills fans, and the inferiority complex ignites, it’s fair to question who the Buffalo Bills really are, and who Josh Allen really is. 

I’m not sure the Bills know the answer yet. 

First of all: the Bills lost to a team that was simply healthier. I could rant for a long time on how much better it would’ve been for the Bills had this game been forfeited by the Titans. They lost one of their better linebackers and arguably the best cornerback in the league. So, as I digress, I give the Bills an automatic pass for a lot of what happened last night.  

Other than the injuries, there are a couple things the Bills and their coaching staff need to address to build their team identity: things that will be necessary to make a deep playoff run. 

First? The Buffalo defensive line is not physical enough. 

We know that the Bills’ front four doesn’t play with the physicality needed to contain a ground-and-pound running back. Darrell Henderson is an example. The Bills gave up 114 yards to Henderson against the Rams. 

And while the Bills were able to contain Derrick Henry yards-wise last night, he still managed to rush for two touchdowns. 

And although many of the breakdowns that happened last night can be attributed to misfortune rather than scheme – the Bills appeared to have solved something last week, holding Josh Jacobs to 48 yards. It’s still an issue that needs to improve if the Bills want to take themselves to the next level. 

Second? The Bills’ offense had issues last night that they don’t normally have. 

The Buffalo offense couldn’t take advantage of a Titans secondary that hadn’t had its share of luck against COVID-19 and the injury bug, missing LB Kamalei Correia and CB Kristian Fulton.  

And while Allen didn’t play a terrible game (263 yards, 2 TD’s and 2 unfortunate INT’s), his receivers didn’t help him in the first half. A significant number of Allen’s 16 incompletions were dropped passes.  

So, what does this loss ultimately come down to? The answer may fall on the back of McDermott and his staff.  

This is still a team in development. That includes each player and coach. Allen’s two interceptions, the dropped passes, the goal line defense that gave up six touchdowns … It comes down to not being prepared for the monster of the Titans. Not to mention, the Bills’ body language didn’t scream comeback, even when the game was still in reach. 

The Titans said they were angry at the world. They showed it last night, and the Bills didn’t. 

So, I think that everything that happened last night makes sense. I think it’s a loss the Bills probably needed early in the season, and it exposed some of the weaknesses Josh Allen has been able to mask the past few weeks.  

Last night was a missed opportunity to take advantage of a COVID-19 weakened team, but it may end up being a blessing in disguise. The Bills now have a better foundation to figure out who they truly are. 

I THINK WE ALL MISUNDERSTOOD – just a bit – exactly what Le’Veon Bell is capable of.  

Bell, known as the shifty running back who can do almost anything, was released by the Jets yesterday after they couldn’t find someone willing to trade for him.  

Bell can be mischievous in the middle of the field, juking defenders left and right. But that’s once he gets beyond the line of scrimmage. 

I can’t remember a time this season when I actually saw Bell beyond the line of scrimmage. 

That’s where the Jets’ coaching comes into play. Without a half-way decent offensive line, Bell is useless in any kind of play that requires him to run around the backfield and then turn up. 

He is a little bit more of a ground and pound back than we understand him to be. For that reason, I fully believe he will resurrect his career somewhere that knows how to use him. 

THE DALLAS COWBOYS RALLIED around Dak Prescott in their 37-34 comeback win against the New York Giants in Week Four. 

The Cowboys, now 1-4, lost starting QB Prescott to a gruesome ankle injury in the second quarter. As the game progressed from there, and Andy Dalton proceeded to rescue the Cowboys with a couple spectacular passes – and catches – you could see the anger and the hurt on the faces of the Cowboys.  

They weren’t about to get embarrassed by a winless Giants team.  

It speaks volumes to Prescott’s influence on a locker room that, without him, would be without a true and proven leader. It begs the question: Where do the Cowboys look to now for leadership? It might be time for Ezekiel Elliot to grow up. 

THE FALCONS FIRED Dan Quinn.

I never ‘root’, per se, for anybody to get fired. I think it’s wrong do to so. These coaches have families they have to support, families they have to uproot if they move to a different city.  

I also understand, from Quinn’s perspective, that the team’s lack of talent played a major role in the disappointment that has been the Falcons the last couple years. That’s why the Falcons also fired Thomas Dimitroff, their general manager. 

But Quinn’s teams recently have been unfocused, undetermined, and undisciplined. And while they’re young, it is no excuse for Quinn not to have made the best of what he was given to work with.  

A failure on multiple fronts, the Falcons are now forced to go back to the drawing board. 

NFL WEEK 5: Goss’ three good things, three bad things and one thing to watch

photo: Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss

Life as an NFL fan can be very rewarding, and other times hurt like hell.

There are the surprise road victories, enjoyed by Dolphin fans and Raider fans nationwide on Sunday. Contrast to the jubilation, there are tragic injuries that have the power to take the life out of stadiums as big as AT&T Stadium.

This season, these feelings have been given an extra catalyst as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the league’s schedule. Fans now need to prepare for double-headers on Monday nights, or Tuesday night football (maybe not the worst thing in the world). 

Nevertheless, the games are still played, and fans see the success, the failure, and ride the rollercoaster of emotions all the way through Super Bowl Sunday.  

Three Good Things 

Raiders-Chiefs Thriller 

On a Sunday lacking any real heavyweight matchups, the Raiders and Chiefs provided an entertaining battle in Arrowhead Stadium. After the first few weeks of the season, the Chiefs had dismantled the Baltimore Ravens, but struggled a bit against some of their lesser competition. 

QB Patrick Mahomes II made some incredible plays, as per usual, but the Raiders went toe-to-toe with the defending champs, making a statement in a 40-32 victory. QB Derek Carr played one of his best games in the silver and black, throwing for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a pair of lasers to WR Nelson Agholor and WR Henry Ruggs III. 

After an offensive flurry in the first half, the defense stepped up in the second half with crucial stops and an interception by DB Jeff Heath which helped seal the game. The Chiefs should win the AFC West, but with the new expanded playoffs, the Raiders are strong contenders for a playoff spot.  

Battle for the AFC North 

Besides the Cincinatti Bengals, the AFC North has been great through five weeks. In first place, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 4-0 and QB Ben Roethlisberger has found another weapon in a stellar offense with rookie WR Chase Claypool. The Steeler defense is a strong unit once again, although giving up 29 points to the Eagles is surprising.

The Baltimore Ravens, led by QB Lamar Jackson, have bounced back after the loss against the Chiefs with a 27-3 win over division rival Cincinatti. Cleveland is off to its best start since the Bill Belichick and Nick Saban days. Sunday against the Colts, the Browns offense had key contributions from several players and defensively, Myles Garrett is reminding everyone why he was taken first overall in 2017.

Each of these teams have an argument for the best in the division, but Cleveland’s matchup against the Steelers this week will be a chance for each team to make a big statement. 

Panthers Keep Pounding 

Going into the season, analysts and insiders raved about the battle for the division between Brady’s Bucs, Brees’ Saints, and Matt Ryan and the Falcons.

Forgotten were the Carolina Panthers, yet after Week 5 they are sitting at 3-2, tied with the Saints and Buccaneers atop the NFC South without their best player, RB Christian McCaffery. Head coach Matt Rhule deserves a lot of credit for the success in Carolina, but Teddy Bridgewater has been solid and built off his performance last week, throwing for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns.

RB Mike Davis has stepped in and become a fantasy football darling in place of McCafferey. With a game against the Saints looming ahead, as well as a rematch with the Falcons, the Panthers have an opportunity to assert themselves in the NFC South. 

Three Bad Things 

Dak Goes Down 

This was tough to watch.

QB Dak Prescott was off to a record start this season, until he suffered a gruesome injury on Sunday afternoon. Running for a first down, Prescott collided with Giants DB Logan Thomas, and his ankle buckled as he came to the ground. The image of Prescott sitting on the cart with tears cascading down his cheeks left fans of all teams stunned. 

Dallas lost the heart and soul of its franchise on Sunday, but hope is not lost (yet). QB Andy Dalton stepped in and marched the offense down the field, highlighted by two spectacular grabs by WR Michael Gallup, and K Greg Zuerlein buried a game-winning field goal.

Many issues remain with the Dallas Cowboys, but Dalton has proven to be a competent NFL quarterback, and the defense showed slight improvement, albeit against a lackluster Giants offense. In such a weak division, the Cowboys can still contend for a playoff spot, but one must wonder how feasible this is without Prescott.  

Falcons Take Fifth Loss 

After another disappointing loss, the Falcons have fired head coach Dan Quinn. After two consecutive blown leads, followed by losses to Green Bay and division rival Carolina, it was time for Quinn to go. The Falcons 0-5 start should not be all his fault since the defense has been poor, QB Matt Ryan has struggled, and WR Julio Jones has been dealing with a hamstring injury for several weeks. 

The onside hiccup in Dallas seems to have had a lasting impact on the Falcons, because they lack the confidence they should have with the talent on this roster. Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris will take over as interim head coach, but with the way the season has gone already, there is not much left to salvage. 

Vikings Blow a Prime Opportunity 

Very few, including myself, gave the Vikings a chance on Sunday night. Some might have watched the Lose Angeles Lakers win their 17th NBA championship, or tuned in to Game 1 of the ALCS.

While these games were played, the Vikings claimed a 13-3 lead at halftime, and hung with the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. Up 26-21 late in the fourth, the Vikings decided to go for a fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 6-yard line, instead of kicking a field goal to go up by eight. Minnesota failed to convert, and QB Russell Wilson made Vikings Head Coach, Mike Zimmer, pay for the poor decision.

A win against Seattle would have given Minnesota a 2-3 record with a prime opportunity to get back to .500 with a win against Atlanta next week, but instead they sit at 1-4. 

Keep an eye on… 

Justin Herbert’s Development 

It is very frustrating to watch the Chargers try to finish games this season, but very little of the blame can be attributed to rookie QB Justin Herbert.

Despite the 30-27 OT loss to the Saints, Herbert has stormed out of the gates this season and confidently competed against three of the best quarterbacks in the league. Herbert threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns, and three of those came in the first half. It seems like ages ago that head coach Anthony Lynn said he would not be the starter, but now the Chargers have their guy and look ready to move past the Philip Rivers years.

The Chargers will not contend this year, but with Herbert, they are certainly a fun team to watch.