In this week’s Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Matt Bowker, asks our panel of experts three questions: Have the Patriots or Seahawks been more impressive this seasoon, who should be the starting quarterback for Ohio State next season and can the Cavaliers turn around their season in time for the playoffs?
1. Both the Patriots and Seahawks were counted out early in the season. Which team has had a more impressive turnaround and why?
Michael: To be honest, neither team really showed a lot of weaknesses all year. The Patriots started the season off with a loss to Miami, a team that has fluctuated from a joke to a contender in recent years. Minus the week four trainwreck that was the Chiefs game, New England’s special teams and offense were performing at a solid pace and didn’t have any apparent weakness. That being said, the Seahawks have had the biggest turnaround this season because of the pressure a defending world champion has to contend with. The Legion of Boom continued to cut off their opponent’s passes, and while Russell Wilson isn’t the best quarterback in the league, he’s been put with a team that allows him to succeed.
Otto: No doubt that the Patriots have had the biggest turnaround in the season. The 41-14 loss that they suffered in the beginning of the season to the Kansas City Chiefs was devastating, and it was a primetime game that everyone saw. The Seahawks, on the other hand, while losing more games in the early part of the season, were only defeated by a small margin each time, and the struggles could have been attributed to the pressures of repeating after a Super Bowl title and just some early season nerves. The Patriots were completely dominated by the Chiefs and had no real excuse to fall back upon. They looked slow and old, hence making their turnaround a lot more impressive. Once they got Gronkowski back, the team looked fresh and started to play quality football. Many figured Seattle would figure it out, but no one expected the Patriots to shift the way they did and as quickly as they did.
Chris: While both of this year’s Super Bowl teams had tough starts to the season, I consider the New England Patriots’ turnaround to be more impressive. After the Patriots lost in a blowout game to the Kansas City Chiefs in week four to even their record at 2-2, New England was considered down and out, and the Belichick-Brady era was all but over. All the Patriots did next was close out the season winning 11 of 13 to clinch the AFC East and the No. 1 overall seed in the conference. While the Seahawks started out 3-3 on the year, the NFC West title pretty much fell into their lap after the Arizona Cardinals sunk like a stone when they were forced to start third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley after their first two options went down with injuries, all after a 10-1 start to the season. New England both faced, and answered, more critics with their early season turnaround.
Chris gets 3 points for mentioning the Cardinals’ collapse. Otto gets 2 points for citing Gronk, and Michael gets 1 point for pointing out the added pressure facing the champions.
2. With Cardale Jones returning to school and Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett coming back from injury, who should be the starting quarterback for Ohio State next season?
Michael : Ohio State’s natiomnal title is thanks to Cardale Jones, and his amazing games against Alabama. However, with his 28-8 record between 2011 and 2013, I would have to bring back Miller as the starting quarterback through his senior year. He made a strong case in 2013, showing improvements in his passing game, and had continued to show he was solid at rushing. The saying goes, “if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but I would have to stay with the guy who has been putting up solid numbers for the team over multiple years rather than two players who may be “flashes in the pan.”
Otto: The Buckeyes probably can’t mess this decision up if they tried. Either way they are going to have a fantastic season trying to repeat as national champions, and I think Cardale Jones will be the quarterback leading the squad. Coach Urban Meyer recognizes that he should ride the hot hand and give him as much playing experience as possible. Meyer understands that senior Braxton Miller can be a Heisman-worthy player in any program and should not be shocked if he decides to transfer. J.T. Barrett, on the other hand, will be a redshirt sophomore in the upcoming year, and so he still has two years of eligibility left if he backs up Jones. Jones will surely declare for the draft after the season, but the Buckeyes will still have Barrett ready to go after a season of gaining experience as a backup.
Chris: I am not just going to tell you who the starting quarterback should be, but who the starting quarterback WILL be for Ohio State next season: Cardale Jones. Jones, at least for next year, is the answer at quarterback. A big reason why this will hold true is because of the future of Braxton Miller. Miller, who has already graduated and is eligible to transfer without sitting out a season, is being recruited by big name school like Florida State and Oregon to come play for them. I predict that Urban Meyer uses that speed and transforms Miller into a dangerous wide receiver for the Buckeyes. In the Jones vs. Barrett debate, I think Cardale Jones walks into spring practice and wins the job.
Otto gets 3 points for his plan for the future. Michael gets 2 points for his loyalty to Miller, and Chris gets 1 point for being a Michigan fan.
3. With the season at its midpoint, can the Cavaliers turn it around in time for the playoffs?
Michael:This needs to be prefaced by saying the East is terrible. Two of the top eight teams are under .500. Cleveland has been dealing with a lot this season, from the homecoming of Lebron James and his injury, and the inept defense that had been displayed for the last month. However, the recent win against the Bulls and the addition of Iman Shumpert, shows the team is starting to get back on track. The biggest help, though, may come in the form of recent acquisition Timofey Mozgov. The seven-foot tall Russian showed just how effective he could be on defense against the Bulls, blocking multiple shots from 2011 MVP Derrick Rose. If Cleveland can keep this up, they have a great chance of pulling ahead in the East.
Otto: Without a doubt. I’ll go as far as to say that they will be very dangerous in the playoffs. They have made great acquisitions, particularly Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. The short break that LeBron James took to rest from injuries has seemed to do wonders for him. The offense will continue to improve as the season goes on, allowing the chemistry to continue to build and the defense to improve. Mozgov serves as a great rim protector, and Iman Shumpert, an excellent perimeter defender, will be a great addition coming off the bench. LeBron will serve as an experienced leader for the rest of the season, and along with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the team at its best is very scary.
Chris: About a quarter of the way into this NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have really struggled to mesh as a team so far. Luckily for them, they play in the extremely weak Eastern Conference and also have the best player on the planet, LeBron James. A huge move that was made was bringing in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Shumpert is the perimeter defender that Cleveland desperately needed, while I think Smith will be a dangerous scoring option off the bench who is able to generate his own shots. It is only a matter of time before the Cleveland Cavaliers pass the likes of the Bulls, Raptors and Wizards to compete for the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 1 seed in the East.
Everyone gets 3 points for mentioning the Cavs’ recent acquisitions of Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
Otto wins Around the Dorm 8-7-6.