BY THOMAS DRANCE
Tuesday marked the start of the New Year. Across the globe millions of folks awoke hungover and bleery eyed, but resolved nonetheless to improve their lives in the new year. Whether or not you want to get to the gym a couple of extra times per week in 2013, or settle down and find the right girl (or guy) to snuggle up to on cold winter nights; the New Year is a time for optimism and resolutions. For professional athlete’s it’s no different. With that let’s go around the horn and take a look at some New Year’s resolutions that a few high-profile millionaire professional athletes have made this week. Can they keep them?
New Year’s Resolution: Protect the football better in crunch time, but also, to play on a legitimately good team.
As a lifelong Canucks fan, I have a soft spot for perpetual chokers in sports (this sentiment is elevated further by my hatred of “clutch” as a concept). In the NFL at the moment there is no more celebrated “choker” than Tony “flubbed the hold on a field goal kick” Romo, who cemented his reputation further with an untimely interception in a “winner takes all” week 17 game against the playoff bound Washington Redskins. On the one hand, Romo made a bad read at a critical moment and it cost his team. On the other hand, the fact that Dallas had a hope in hell of making the playoffs in the first place is largely a credit to his play because realistically: the 2012 Dallas Cowboys weren’t a very good team.
By the advanced metrics at Football Outsiders, Dallas had a bottom-10 defense this season, a bottom-10 offensive line and were middle of the pack on special teams. The Cowboys’ top-rusher Demarco Murray only came into the picture in week 7, and while his emergence gave Dallas’ ground game some teeth; for the first part of the season it was the Tony Romo show on offense. Remarkably, despite one of the league’s worst offensive lines (Tony Romo’s QBR rating suffered the fifth most from sacks this past season), and a ground game that was only remotely good for half the season, Dallas finished in the top-half of the league offensively. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin deserve a lot of the credit for this as well, but let’s just all agree that Dallas wouldn’t have even managed to make it to a “play in” game if they had a quarterback like, say, Joe Flacco under center.
Tony Romo needs to protect the ball better in critical situations, and I’m sure he’s vowed to do so in the new year, but a little help from his offensive line and his defense would do wonders as well.
New Year’s Resolution: Find the Fountain of Youth.
Following Tuesday night’s narrow loss to the Seventy Sixers (who helped facilitate the Dwight Howard trade in the offseason, but still aren’t very good), Kobe Bryant called out his teammates for their lack of efforts… er… their age. Weird. Here’s the full quote (expletives deleted):
“Cause we’re old as s—,” said the 34-year-old Bryant when asked why a lack of energy has been a problem for the Lakers all season. “What do you want? We just got to figure out how to play when we don’t have that energy. We got to change things up a little bit defensively. We got to figure out what we want to do offensively, figure out what we want to do on nights when we don’t have those legs or have that energy.”"
Here’s what’s funny to me about Kobe’s tirade. First of all, he’s the third oldest Laker himself and the second oldest Lakers among those players who get regular burn. The only Laker older than Kobe who played minutes last night was Steve Nash, and he was easily the Lakers best starter on the evening – dishing out 10 assists, while playing to an even rating (even as the Lakers top-5 was man-handled by the Sixers). Beyond that irony, is the fact that the Lakers were largely burned by Jrue Holiday, who Kobe spent a lot of the night guarding (and cheating off of in order to chase steals) but who was also guarded by a young Darius Morris, who couldn’t do much to stop Holliday’s dribble penetration game.
I’m convinced that the advanced age of the Lakers isn’t the primary cause of their struggles so far this season (I’d point instead to the constant coaching changes and Dwight Howard’s inability to jump, which has made them a significantly less frightening defensive team). But Kobe’s resolved to get younger this year, and if I’ve learned anything from gambling on NBA games the past several years: never bet against Kobe.
New Year’s Resolution: Pitch a perfect game, while wearing a Star Wars onesie under his uniform.
New Year’s Resolution: Learn to manage the clock, and sustain success for a decade without ever getting over the top in a new football market.
New Year’s Resolution: The next time Patrick Kane comes in slow on a shootout attempt, dive for his knees.
New Year’s Resolution: Be better at Twitter.
Roberto Luongo’s confirmed unconfirmed Twitter account @strombone1 has been heavily criticized recently for being unfunny. What is clear is that Luongo has no idea how to interact with fans on Twitter, and his efforts to do so have been consistently ham-fisted and awkward. It’s time for Luongo to figure it out, and he’s resolved to do so in the New Year.
And for one of my own…
New Year’s Resolution: Stop being sarcastic when talking about Luongo’s awesome Twitter account.