Entries by: Patrick Harrell

Johnny Manziel: The Perfect Scapegoat for a Bad Coach

Written by :
Published on : November 29, 2015

 

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is like a miniature version of New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. A free spirit who isn’t known to turn down a good time. Their adventures are well documented and both have been criticized for their social activity. However, whereas Gronkowski is looked at as a meathead that just loves to have fun, Manziel is characterized as a delinquent that can’t stay out of trouble. I believe the biggest issue for Manziel is that he plays for the Cleveland Browns.

 

This is the real bad guy.

 

Browns head coach Mike Pettine benched Manziel this week for partying during the team’s bye week. Let me repeat the latter part of that sentence. Manziel has been demoted to 3rd string for partying during the team’s BYE WEEK. There’s a few things that seem amiss with Pettine’s decision. Unless, before the bye week, Pettine and Manziel mutually agreed that Manziel would not “party” or that Manziel had to stay at the team’s facilities, then the demotion was made in haste. During the bye week most players take the time to unwind, recuperate, and spend time doing things they otherwise enjoy during the offseason. Expecting a 21 year old with no family to sit around Cleveland, Ohio where paparazzi would be following his every move does not seem smart. Traveling home to Texas and spending time with friends while not running afoul of the law does not merit a demotion.

 

Johnny has been battered on the field and off.

 

Manziel is a victim of his own success and probably even juvenile arrogance. He can’t go out in public without a casual fan or ESPN keeping tabs on his movement. Does anyone know what Teddy Bridgewater or Marcus Mariota did on their bye week? Both players are more talented than Manziel but are not ‘click worthy.’ Should we assume since there is no video of them partying that they were both at home studying the playbook for an entire week? If the media was not so obsessed with Manziel’s movement, we probably would have never known he went to a club. Furthermore, if not for over zealous fans looking for quick fame (and money), footage of Manziel rapping over a Future song would never see the light of day.

 

Manziel is clearly in a lose-lose situation. Although I do agree he should be smarter about his whereabouts, I feel that the Browns handling of his situation is indicative of why they’re a moribund franchise. No matter what Manziel does off the field it will be used against him to dictate his status on the team.

 

The underlying issue with this saga is with Mike Pettine and his staff’s effort to cover their asses. Manziel is the perfect scapegoat to mask poor draft decisions and horrible coaching. Since 2007 Manziel is the third first round quarterback drafted by the Browns (Brady Quinn, Branden Weeden) and almost two full years in the league he looks to be on his way out of Cleveland. How can you build a team with that kind of turnover at the most important position? Pettine is attempting to make a case for his next job as he is clearly over his head with the Browns.

 

Pettine playing musical chairs with his quarterbacks is his way of letting other league GMs know that he did not have the talent on his roster to be successful. Cornerback Justin Gilbert was drafted thirteen picks before Manziel and has been a bust thus far. Former Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was supposed to be the cornerstone of the offense before he was exiled from the league. Pettine has had a hand these personnel moves. It is often said that the quarterback is the CEO of an offense. What does that make the head coach? An intern? Thus far Pettine has been a below average coach and to me he is throwing Manziel under the bus to save his rear end. To those that study the game, Manziel has improved with his on the field decision making. Isn’t that what truly matters in the end?

 

Manziel needs to scramble right out of Cleveland.

 

There will be people that will harp on the incident with his girlfriend in the car. The gravediggers will go back to when he was filmed rolling up a dollar bill as if he would use it for an illegal substance. While all these things may be a sign of Manziel’s lack of maturity, it is not is a distraction to the Cleveland Browns. Successful franchises overshadow the misdeeds of individuals. The New England Patriots had a murderer on their roster and were able to successfully disassociate themselves from him. The Indianapolis Colts had a player allegedly shoot someone outside of his business, and now it seem more like an urban legend than it was a distraction at the time.

 

Johnny Manziel definitely needs a change of scenery. The Browns have botched this situation. They did not make an attempt to trade Manziel. They could have deactivated him (a la Terrell Owens with the Philadelphia Eagles) to distance themselves from him and keep him away from the team. Now they have to wait until the offseason (which looks to have started already for them) to move on from Johnny Football. Manziel is still a kid at heart and hopefully will garner attention from the Toys-R-Us of the NFL.

 

Johnny, make sure you answer all calls from the Dallas/Ft Worth area code. Jerry Jones may be on the other line.

 

 

 


ScoreBoredSports NFL Staff Picks: Week 10

Written by :
Published on : November 12, 2015

 

 

Looking at my record, one could ask “Why is this guy qualified to even talk football?” My record with the staff picks is over .500 and if I had not been loyal to the Detroit Lions for several weeks, I could easily add 7 wins to my total. So please blame my unwavering loyalty to the worst team in football for my current standing.

 

THE GREAT NEWS is that we have half a season yet to play. I anticipate scoring an easy 8 wins by picking against the Detroit Lions. Such a move will leapfrog me over a few of my avid Lion fan staff mates. We need Ryan to have a personal bye for 6 weeks for any of us to truly catch up. In the meantime, I’ll play it week by week. As Ricky Bobby’s dad ‘Reece’ said in the movie Talledega Nights “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” Then after getting kicked out of Applebees, he reminded us that you can indeed be second, third, heck you can even be fourth. I just want a chance at second place. That’s not too much to ask, right?

 

I hope you all are ready for this PERFECT week I’m about to lay down. Here are the staff picks for week 10 and I’ll see you all at the finish line.

 

Week 10

 

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

 

 


NFL MIDSEASON QUICK HITS

Written by :
Published on : November 3, 2015

 

 

Before this NFL season, I asked some questions and made some proclamations and predictions. The season has been filled with surprises, as well as injuries that have changed the fortunes of some prominent franchises. In this edition of Quick Hits, we’ll look at what I talked about before the season, and let you know if I was right or wrong.

 

I Said:

Adrian Peterson could POSSIBLY rush for 2,500 yards. He stated that he felt it was possible and I hopped one leg into the bandwagon. However…

What Happened:

I’m not a “rocket doctor” but 633 yards rushing midway through the season is not indicative of a running back heading for a 2,500 season. True, he has not shown much rust from taking a year off. He is on pace for, at best, a 1,400 yard season. That would be commendable considering his age and the normal attrition for running backs over a long career. His new goal should be to play until 34 and eclipse Emmitt Smith’s career rushing yardage record. My half-ass prediction was wrong but he will still be a top-5 back for a few more years. Or at least until Leonard Fournette comes into the league.

 

He may not gain 2,500 yards but he’s still got it.

 

I Asked:

Could this crop of rookie wide receivers be as good as last years? The first round featured 6 wide receivers taken. There were two 1,000 yard receivers from last year’s draft. Could this year’s crop compete with that?

What Happened:

Injuries and inconsistency have hampered this year’s draft class. Oakland Raider, Amari Cooper, has lived up to his potential. He has nearly 600 yards receiving thus far for an overachieving Raiders ball club. But the Indianapolis Colts’ Phillip Dorsett, Baltimore Ravens’ Breshad Perriman, and Chicago Bears’ Kevin White all sustained season ending injuries, the latter two before the season even began. We will be forced to wait until next year to watch most of this year’s receiver class, and they will not outshine last year’s class.

 

Only Amari Cooper has lived up to the hype this season.

 

I Said:

Peyton Manning should hang em up after this year. Manning showed last season that his arm strength had fallen below even his standards. His appearances on Papa John commercials would become more frequent once he decided to retire.

What Happened:

I WAS RIGHT! By far the worst start to a season for Manning. He has only 7 touchdowns to pair with 11 interceptions. It looks as though he can’t throw accurately beyond 15 yards, which has stagnated the offense. Despite his shortcomings, the Denver Broncos are undefeated after beating the Green Bay Packers. In comparison, New Orleans Saints’ Drew Brees just threw for 7 touchdowns this past Sunday and the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady has 20 touchdowns with only 1 interception this season. Manning is not even close to his counterparts in terms of production. The Indianapolis Colts’ Matt Hasselbeck played relatively better than Manning in a short stint as a starter despite being a few years older.

 

The Broncos are undefeated but they mostly have the defense to thank for that.

 

I Said:

I wanted to see NFL defenses step up after a lackluster 2014 season. Even though the NFL is now a passing league, we have yet to see teams catch up on the defensive side of the ball. Wide receivers are being drafted taller, at an average height of 6’1″, while defensive backs, at their peak height, are 5’11”. It makes for a game with more offensive possessions than we have been accustomed to.

What Happened:

This past Sunday the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints combined for over 100 points, 13 passing touchdowns, and 36 first downs. The league has to better officiate the games and hold offenses accountable instead of always focusing on the defense. In comparison, Oklahoma State University and Texas Tech University combined for a 123 point game. Few players are drafted from the Big 12 Conference. The NFL should not have games that are similar to high scoring college shootouts and it appears that defenses have not heeded my call to step their game up.

 

There was zero defense between the Saints and Giants on Sunday.

 

I Said:

Some teams came into the season prepared to make a Super Bowl run. There have been additions to some that make them more attractive than others. The usual suspects (Patriots, Packers, and Broncos) are doing very well but…

What Happened:

The San Francisco 49ers are one of the worst teams in football. I felt that even though they had a coaching change that they would be at least competitive. The team has now traded 10 year vet Vernon Davis to the Broncos and are fielding trade offers for the entire roster. The Arizona Cardinals are doing well this season with a healthy Carson Palmer under center, but it remains to be seen if running back Chris Johnson can keep up his amazing production.

 

With a healthy Carson Palmer, the Cardinals have been better than I thought they would be.

 

Clearly I missed the mark on a few teams and players. However, this season has been worth the price of admission and more.

 

 


Fishing for Trouble: The Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes Drama

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Published on : October 29, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Buddy!

 

I have enjoyed meeting your family and being allowed in your home over the years. Remember when we played ball together? That was pretty cool. We’ve have been spotted out on double dates with our wives. It’s the kind of camaraderie that brings a locker room together.

 

It’s unfortunate that you and your wife have hit a rough patch. I know filing for divorce is hard and the most difficult part is shielding your children from the controversy. It’s not like your wife is a stranger to social media or reality television so clearly this is a private matter that is in clear view of the public. Having just concluded a divorce proceeding myself, I can empathize with your trouble and as a brother, I will be here if you need someone to talk to.

 

If you need me, I’ll be at your house with Gloria. I’ll make sure that our private parties are away from your boys and that they are in their rooms during the festivities. The best way to get over a divorce is to par-tay! So I’ll make sure she’s doing right by you in your house. I got you Matt! You’re my boy Blue! Did I forget to mention she makes a bomb Margarita!?

-Big Fish


 

 

I’m sure if New York Knicks head coach, Derek Fisher, had at least written the preceding (satirical) letter to former teammate, Memphis Grizzles SF Matt Barnes, that Barnes would have been more understanding of Fisher’s relationship with his estranged wife and reality tv star, Gloria Govan. The former couple have been married since 2012. Multiple media reports state that they separated last October and that Govan and Fisher have been dating for months.

 

It all came to an abrupt halt in early October when (depending on whom you believe) Barnes drove to his home after FaceTimeing his kids and finding out the Fisher was there with his wife. His sons said their mom was with her “friend Derek”. Some reports have Barnes driving 95 miles to his home. Allegedly, Barnes entered, found the party, and physically confronted Fisher. He is also said to have spit in Govan’s face.

 

Matt-Barnes-Derek-Fisher-fight-details-sports-1008-1
The cast of the NBA’s newest soap opera.

 

Regardless of who you believe, the damage has been done. Barnes described Fisher to ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne as a “good friend”. As long as I can remember, my friends and I operated by one unbreakable rule when it comes to women; Bros before (females). In high school this was the mantra as we navigated the hallways and girlfriends parent’s homes. If I liked a girl and my friend liked the same girl, she chose her suitor and then the odd man out had to move on. If one of us would develop feelings for a girl after a friend had dated her then it was understood that you kept those feelings bottled up. It was a considered a “No Fly Zone”.

 

Even as an adult, I know there are things you don’t do and places you don’t go. If a woman considers herself separated, estranged, married, or if her significant other is in the military and deployed; under no circumstance would I allow myself to get involved with her. Maybe my upbringing is different than Fishers’.

 

There is no excuse for him to be in the home of a NBA player, let alone date the wife of one of his ex-teammates and friends. As a professional athlete and coach, Fisher could garner the attention of a totally different class of female than I’ve ever had access to. He doesn’t have to make an account on Tinder. He doesn’t have to hit the club every weekend. He doesn’t have to try speed dating.

 

Derek-Fisher-Matt-Barnes-1
You were supposed to be boys.

 

There are plenty of women that are just as beautiful Govan. Maybe there is an intellectual or spiritual attraction that Fisher and Govan share. However, when a man considers you his friend you have no business “house sitting” for him when he is going through a divorce. If anything, as a friend, I am trying to to help you move on. I’m going to try as much as I can to help you get through it. We are going to be campaigning and champagning until you find another muse.

 

Then again, I am not Derek Fisher. The way he chose to recover from his own divorce was to further complicate his friend’s ongoing divorce. There are a lot of women out there, Fisher. A lot of fish in the sea.

 

 

 

 

 


2015 NBA Western Conference Preview

Written by :
Published on : October 19, 2015

 

For my second installment of the 2015 NBA Season Preview, I’ll be going through the Western Conference. As with the Eastern Conference, several stars will be making their return from season ending injuries. The most anticipated return is Oklahoma City small forward, Kevin Durant. There is concern that Durant’s foot injury will be a chronic ailment for the rest of his career. Nonetheless, with free agency looming and a new coaching regime intact this will be a season where he must stake his claim as the best player in the world. The Los Angeles Lakers are in transition mode as they prepare to enter life without shooting guard, Kobe Bryant. Bryant is in the final year of his contract and he is also returning from a torn rotator cuff injury. With a few coaching changes and notable key additions to rosters, the West looks to continue its championship dominance. Seven of the last ten NBA Championship teams have come from the Western Conference. Six of those ten years the Eastern Conference team has been led by current Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James. Without James, it is safe to surmise that the Western Conference would have more teams hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

 

15. Utah Jazz

Can the Jazz get the band playing in tune?

 

There’s not much to like about this team. A young coach with a young team and no sense of direction for the future. The team has not been successful since parting with former head coach Jerry Sloan. Also, the team is frugal in terms of spending money on free agents, not to mention Salt Lake City is not an ideal free agent destination. Former first round pick, point guard Dante Exum was hurt late last season and must take a leap in production for this team to be competitive. Power forward Rudy Gobert is a fascinating player but must put all his athletic gifts together with improved shooting and shot selection. It is an ideal situation for 2015 NBA Draft pick PF Trey Lyles to get significant minutes as a rookie. Head coach Quin Snyder has to teach this team fundamentals before they can contend for a playoff berth.

 

 

14. Phoenix Suns

Here’s another team with a plethora of young talent, especially at the prized point guard position. Head coach Jeff Hornacek employed a three guard set last season, with mixed results. PG Eric Bledsoe was given a hefty contract after playing sparingly with Los Angeles Clippers. He is now the leader of a young team and must co-exist with PG Brandon Knight, who is also a ball dominant guard. The addition of Center Tyson Chandler is a great pick up for the defense as well as the locker room. I’m interested to watch the maturation of SF T.J. Warren. Warren has a good inside-outside game and can complement the two PG backcourt of the Suns.

 

 

13. Portland Trailblazers

It’ll be the Damian Lillard show in Portland this year.

 

The Trailblazers 2015-16 season will be an individual showcase of PG Damian Lillard. The team lacks a secondary scoring option and depth. PF Noah Vonleh is a player that could benefit from a change of scenery after playing little minutes with the Charlotte Hornets. PG C.J. McCollum can score in bunches, but will he get lost in the shuffle while Lillard is forced to play hero ball? Lillard is one of the leagues best fourth quarter scorers, and with his team set to be behind in many games, that will have his teammates missing valuable touches. Lillard will have MVP numbers but this team will take a giant step back in the Western Conference hierarchy.

 

 

12. Los Angeles Lakers

For one of the storied franchises in the world, this will be another year of rebuilding. The return of Bryant will make them a tough team to beat but they will also feature several rookie players at key positions. PG D’Angelo Russell is being groomed to become the face of the franchise. However, he is in a conference with some of the elite point guards and will struggle mightily in his first season. The return of PF Julius Randle will bolster a suspect front line but he is undersized compared to his positional peers. C Roy Hibbert has the opportunity to resurrect his career after two subpar seasons with the Indiana Pacers. Overall, head coach Byron Scott has to manage Bryant’s minutes and ego, Metta World Peace, and a roster full of young talent. Can he survive the season unscathed?

 

 

11. Denver Nuggets

This is Faried’s team.

 

The Nuggets would be near the bottom of my list if not for the return of SF Danilo Gallinari. He’s a great shooter and a willing slasher. He was missed last year as the team floundered under former head coach Brian Shaw. The team drafted PG Emmanuel Mudiay and he has the physical makeup of a NBA all star. His ability to get to the rim as well as his length will allow him to have a better transition to the pros than most guards. PF Kenneth Faried is the unquestioned leader and will benefit from having more structure under new head coach Michael Malone. This team is a SG and a capable C away from sneaking into the playoffs.

 

 

10. Sacramento Kings

I think most NBA fans are looking for drama more than basketball with this team. With new head coach George Karl, C Demarcus Cousins, PG Rajon Rondo and SF Rudy Gay, this team has too many egos to co-exist for an entire season. There are already reports of a rift between Cousins and Karl. Rondo’s game has deteriorated over the past few seasons, yet he is a good fit as a guard that’s not ball dominant. His ability to get the ball to open players such as Gay and SG Ben McLemore will lead to more wins than projected for this team. The team drafted C Willie Cauley-Stein and I believe that moving Cousins to the PF position could elevate this team to a playoff berth. If the Kings can come together and co-exist this could be the surprise team of the NBA, especially playing Karl’s style of offense.

 

 

9. Dallas Mavericks

Can Carlisle shout his team into the playoffs?

 

The victims of Deandre-gate will miss the playoffs this season after making a great effort to improve their roster in free agency. SF Chandler Parsons will become the number one option after PF Dirk Nowitzki. Parsons is an all around polished offensive player and will be able to provide balance for the offense. The acquisition of PG Deron Williams adds a veteran presence as the floor general but his contribution will depend on what type of player he will be. Will he be the Williams that was once in discussion as the best PG in the league or the injury riddled player that toiled away on the Brooklyn Nets? With the healthy return of SG Wesley Matthews, head coach Rick Carlisle has a team that could sneak into the playoffs but does not have the depth to escape the first round.

 

 

8. Minnesota Timberwolves

I really like this team. It has depth at every position. It also has a great mix of both young talent and proven veterans. Being in a stacked western conference is the lone factor placing this team at #8 in my rankings. Not long ago, the team started rebuilding after they gifted the Boston Celtics a championship hungry PF Kevin Garnett. Soon after, they took PG Ricky Rubio and also drafted Jonny Flynn and Ty Lawson. It is still remembered as one of the bizarre draft nights in NBA history. Should I mention that they passed on PG Stephen Curry, twice in the same night? Nonetheless, this year’s Timberwolves team may sneak into the playoffs and give a top seed some problems. Second year SF Andrew Wiggins will look to improve on a stellar second half of the season last year when he averaged 20 PPG. Combo guard Zach LaVine became an overnight celebrity after a sensational performance at the 2015 NBA Dunk Contest. If he can provide relief for SG Kevin Martin, I believe they have enough scoring to match their opposition. Garnett will be an on court mentor for #1 draft pick C Karl Anthony-Towns. He is a gifted defender and his rim protection will help this team begin its rise in the tough Western conference.

 

 

7. New Orlean Pelicans

Will Anthony Davis continue his meteoric rise through the ranks of the NBA’s best?

 

Despite a horrible name change, the Pelicans have arguably one of the best players in the league in PF Anthony Davis. In new head coach Alvin Gentry’s system, Davis will be able to roam near the 3-point line more and he will be the focal point of the offense. Combo guard Tyreke Evans will be asked to facilitate the offense which suits his skill set best and will hopefully bring him near the production from when he was named Rookie of the year. PF Ryan Anderson will get plenty of opportunity to shoot in this offense as ball movement and spacing is paramount to the success of Gentry’s scheme. With PG Jrue Holiday and C Omer Asik the team has enough tools to compete in the West.

 

 

6. Memphis Grizzlies

As much as head coach, David Joerger tried to get away from the “Grit and Grind” mentality the team has adopted over the years, it’s what allowed them to remain in the hunt in the West last year. The team acquired SF Jeff Green last season to help incorporate some offensive firepower. The team is constructed to wear teams down in the paint with C Marc Gasol and PF Zach Randolph, and they didn’t make any significant changes this offseason. In a league where every team is trying to win the possession and pace war, the Grizzlies look set to slow the game down and chip away at teams. This approach will keep them in the championship hunt at least one more season but it would be wise to address the lack of depth and offensive talent.

 

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Will the return of Durant be enough for a team with other holes?

 

On paper having two top ten NBA players at their disposal would leave most fans scratching their head at why I have this team ranked so low. PG Russell Westbrook and SF Kevin Durant have become the top duo in the league. The problem with this team is the transition from former head coach Scott Brooks to new coach Billy Donovan. Donovan is coming straight from the college ranks. It will be interesting to see how quickly he acclimates to the pro game with numerous egos and contract disputes (see David Blatt). C Enes Kanter gave the team an another offensive option when Durant was injured. How will all these pieces mesh now that Durant is back in the fold? Defensively, I believe this team will struggle to stop some of the top teams in the West. PF Serge Ibaka is a help defender but was exposed last year by several opponents for suspect individual defense. Overall, this team will be in transition and with Durant’s free agency looming, there are changes on the horizon before this team can stake a claim as championship caliber.

 

 

4. Houston Rockets

The Rockets are a good team but they fade in clutch moments. SG James Harden was sensational last season, narrowly missing his first MVP title. C Dwight Howard recently admitted he played last postseason with a torn MCL. The team also lost starting PG Patrick Beverly to a hand injury which placed too much ball handling responsibility on Harden. Head coach Kevin McHale has the players at his disposal to challenge for the right to represent the Western conference in the NBA Finals. His star players must be available and able to deliver in key moments. The team drafted SF Sam Dekker and he will provide a similar game to former Rocket, Chandler Parsons. This team will go as far Howard and Harden will take them.

 

 

3. Golden State Warriors

It’s going to take a lot to repeat but the Warriors have the talent.

 

The 2015 NBA Champions will have a target on their back as they didn’t make many friends on their journey to the championship. The team boasted the best record in the NBA last year with 67 wins. The team also benefited from an odd season in which some of the top stars on rival teams were injured. The Warriors coaching staff did a phenomenal job in managing minutes and constructing a roster with players that complemented each other. 2015 NBA MVP PG Stephen Curry had a healthy season and averaged only 33 minutes a game. Curry is considered one of the most humble players in the league but his contract may become an issue as he is the 5th highest paid player on his team. The obstacle this team must overcome is staying motivated after a great season last year. SG Klay Thompson had a pedestrian performance in the final two rounds of last year’s playoffs. He is one of the best two way players in the league and if he can continue to thrive next to Curry this team will make another run at a championship. It will be interesting to see how much last year’s success was due to the the tutelage of former associate head coach Alvin Gentry or the innovative style of head coach Steve Kerr.

 

 

2. Los Angeles Clippers

On paper this team is loaded at every position and it has one of the best head coaches in the league. This team pulled an O.J. Simpson on Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Cuban appeared to have stolen C Deandre Jordan from the Clippers. Then out of nowhere Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Paul Pierce alongside head coach Doc Rivers “broke” into Jordan’s home. From there they held Jordan hostage until he agreed to sign a contract with the team, leaving the Mavericks in crisis mode and Cuban allegedly driving around Houston looking for Jordan’s house. After retaining Jordan’s services, the team acquired combo guard Lance Stevenson in a trade, signed PF Josh Smith to a one year deal, and signed Paul Pierce. With this collection of talent to pair alongside Paul, Griffin, and J.J. Redick the question now becomes is it too many good players? Although he is terribly erratic, Stevenson plays better with the ball in his hands as a facilitator. Smith has an awful penchant for shooting 3’s even if his low 30 shooting percentage suggests he should play near the paint. Pierce has never been a quick player but he is extremely crafty. Will he slow down Lob City? This is why Rivers is the President of Basketball Operations. If he can get players to buy in to less minutes and more importantly less points (see Golden State Warriors) he has the artillery to win the championship.

 

1. San Antonio Spurs

It’s all about Tim and Gregg.

 

Tim Duncan. Gregg Popovich. The narrative of why this team is number one in my preseason power ranking could end here but they’ve added some great pieces to an already formidable group. PF Lamarcus Aldridge is the bridge between the past decade of Spurs dominance and life post-Duncan/Popovich. Aldridge will benefit being in a system that will allow him to stretch the floor and let other bigs do the dirty work in the paint. Playing with Lillard must have pushed him closer out the door as there is no guarantee on how long Popovich will remain head coach. The opportunity to be in championship contention the next few years landed Aldridge in San Antonio. PF David West gives the Spurs depth at both front court positions in a league where quality big men are scarce. PG Tony Parker and SG Danny Green will benefit from pick and rolls leaving them open for 3’s or a clear lane for layups. SF Kawhi Leonard will continue his charge up the NBA superstar hierarchy as the clear defensive ace of the Spurs. The Spurs are flawed in terms of depth at the PG and SG positions but as a whole this team will be tough to beat in June.

 

 

 


2015 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

Written by :
Published on : October 13, 2015

 

Fall is by far my favorite time of the year. We get football, the October Classic in baseball, and now NBA Basketball. What’s more is that we’re only about 2 weeks from Opening Tip Off! Last season was great in terms of team play and the evolving spread-the-floor/”3 and D” tactics. Although there was no major shifting of power between the two conferences, the Eastern conference hierarchy changed with the relocation of LeBron James from South Beach to Cleveland. The conference was also hit hard with injuries to their stars in comparison to the West. Assuming everyone is coming back at full health, here are my preseason Power Ranking for the Eastern Conference.

 

*Note: This is not an indication of playoff seeding

 

15. Philadelphia 76ers

Coach Brett Brown has his work cut out for him but will be given time to make it work.

 

“Trust The Process” is the slogan in the City of Brotherly Love. The team began that process roughly three seasons ago, trading away All-Star PG Jrue Holiday. Since then the team has drafted big men in three consecutive drafts, while acquiring draft picks to build their team cheap, while staying away from free agency. With Joel Embiid on the mend, the team drafted Jahlil Okafor 3rd overall in the 2015 Draft. Paired with Center Nerlens Noel, Okafor stands to see significant time at the power forward position. With a “replacements” cast around him and Noel, they will be a sub-20 win team for yet another season. Coach Brett Brown has a long leash that many coaches don’t get due to the rebuilding process. Hopefully, the process ends sooner than later for all parties involved.

 

14. Orlando Magic

A lot of young talent on this team with no coaching to spearhead their development. Shooting guard Victor Oladipo came out of college with Dwayne Wade comparisons. He is a good player but has to take his game to the next level for the team to crack the top 8. Elfrid Peyton meanwhile has the make up of a young Rajon Rondo, sans the attitude. This team will be competitive in many games and may even win 30. However, coach Scott Skiles must take advantage on his 3rd opportunity to lead a team. With no veteran presence I think this is a bad fit.

 

13. Brooklyn Nets

Will the Nets continue to squander Joe Johnson’s talent?

 

The fire sale is just getting started. With PG Deron Williams gone, the team must decide what to do with SG Joe Johnson. He has thrived in great offensive systems in Atlanta and Phoenix but has struggled in Brooklyn. He is not a clutch player and is too mild mannered to lead a team. Center Brook Lopez has struggled to stay healthy and most of his work comes underneath the basket. Coach Lionel Hollins of Isley Brothers fame (ok, I couldn’t resist! He does look like he will do a spin and sing ‘For the loveee of you!’) is a good coach but he needs his own players. When in doubt pass the ball to Andrea Bargnani, said no one ever.

 

12. Charlotte Hornets

When an injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist during the preseason is breaking news it says a lot about the lack of talent on your roster. Think about this; the Hornets acquired Jeremy Lin this summer. I could end my analysis there but I digress. Center Al Jefferson has been a solid player in the league since coming out of high school. He is an offensive force and I would argue that if he had not gotten hurt last season, the Hornets would have made the playoffs. I do like the addition of Nicholas Batum and the draft pick of Frank Kaminsky. It does not help to have Kemba Walker as your starting point guard and I think that will keep them out the postseason.

 

11. New York Knicks

With Carmelo at the helm, this ship will continue to sink.

 

I’ll make this one brief. Unless Phil Jackson can turn water into wine, make that roster into the 12 Disciples, and make Carmelo Anthony into a person slightly interested in defense, this team will be taking trade inquiries for Anthony by Christmas. There’s no way this team, as currently constructed, will make the playoffs with Anthony as the primary player.

 

10. Detroit Pistons

Coach Stan Van Gundy is making this Pistons team in the image of the Orlando Magic team that he led to the NBA Finals with a young Dwight Howard at center. Andre Drummond has unlimited potential as a defensive force in this league. Whereas Howard had limitations offensively that were masked by putback dunks, Drummond will have time to develop as Van Gundy places offensive weapons around him. Van Gundy still has to acquire more 3-point players to create the spacing needed to have the team where he would like it. PF Marcus Morris is capable of shooting mid range shots but Van Gundy must get a true stretch 4 in the mold of a Ryan Anderson. This team is on the cusp of being in the playoffs this season with some more roster movement.

 

9. Indiana Pacers

Can Paul George coexist with Monta Ellis?

 

There’s a lot to like about this team. Small forward Paul George will come back a more efficient player after that devastating leg injury. Although there’s speculation that he will play more 4 this year, he is best suited to defend the 3 position, as well as facilitate the offense from the perimeter. The team drafted Myles Turner but it will take time for him to develop into a solid center. I have never liked George Hill as the primary ball handler and point guard. He is not remotely close to a competent point guard and the team has failed to address that position. The addition of SG Monta Ellis will give the team another scoring option but how will that mesh with George’s touches? This team can be supplanted by The Pistons or Hornets if it fails to address the point guard and power forward positions.

 

8. Toronto Raptors

Despite having one of the best fan bases in the league this team will take a fall in the hierarchy of the East, but I still feel it’s a good team. The problem is that all their star players have reached their ceiling. PG Kyle Lowry is what he is now, a pitbull defender and an emotional leader. There is no improvement on the offensive end of the floor and I think the ball is glued to his hands at times. SG Demar Derozan is another player that has reached his peak far too early in his career. He is a solid 20 point per game player but does not offer much more than that. Outside of a 51 point game last season, SF Terrence Ross is merely a slasher. Collectively, this team has had chances the past two seasons with injuries on opposing teams to make a charge for the Finals and failed to do so. Coach Dwane Casey has to be exasperated with the lack of talent he has to work with. Anytime you trade one number 1 bust pick (Bargnani) with another (PF Anthony Bennett) you are in a world of hurt.

 

7. Milwaukee Bucks

Jason Kidd has a very young and talented team. Now he just has to lead them.

 

Coach Jason Kidd has to be the luckiest son of a gun ever. He walked in to an abundance of riches in talent and potential. His starting lineup last season had an average height of 6’6″, best in the league. The average age of his team is 25. This is without having arguably his best player in SF Jabari Parker. With his team intact, I think they can land from 3 to 8 in playoff seeding. They’re scary good. In a league where offense is the focus, his team was near the top in several defensive rankings. The length of his team starting with PG Michael Carter-Williams, SG Giannis Antetokounmpo (6’11”), and the addition of C Greg Monroe will make this team a tough matchup. Monroe is an underrated low post passer who will create more opportunities for the offense. Overall, if not for inexperience I’d have them in my top 4. They’ll be that good this year.

 

6. Boston Celtics

This team’s ranking is because of one man, Brad Stevens. Making the playoffs last year, albeit with a losing record, says a lot about the coaching of this young team. Whereas the Bucks have a talented roster and sufficient coaching, the Celtics have great coaching and decent talent. Acquiring PG Isaiah Thomas was a good pick up and the ongoing development of PG Marcus Smart will make for an interesting pairing in the back court. I am curious how Stevens will foster a good front court between PF Jared Sullinger and C Kelly Olynyk. SG R.J. Hunter is an intriguing draft choice and he fits Stevens profile for a scorer. If this team makes the playoffs it will be a credit to the coaching staff as there is no Alpha Dog on the team speak of. Maybe Evan Turner can truly blossom this year and live up to his 2010 2nd overall draft pick status.

 

5. Chicago Bulls

Jimmy Butler is making the Bulls his team.

 

I prefaced this article by stating my rankings depended on players remaining healthy. At time of publishing, former league MVP PG Derrick Rose will be on the mend from an orbital fracture injury. SG Jimmy Butler benefited most from former head coach Tom Thibodeau’s tutelage and he’s a hard nosed two way player. There’s reports that Butler is not enthralled with Rose’s work ethic. Butler is primed to become the unquestioned leader of new head coach Fred Hoiberg’s team. Center Joakim Noah is the same kind of grit and grind player and will eventually become his counterpart over Rose. Hoiberg will allow young players to do what they do best. SF Doug McDermott and PF Bobby Portis will get enhanced roles on the team and will likely lead to the departure of fan favorite PF Taj Gibson. This team will go as far as Butler will take it. Hopefully, Rose will follow.

 

4. Atlanta Hawks

Owners of the conference’s best record last year, the Hawks will take a step back to familiar territory this season. The Hawks have been a perennial playoff team but not contenders. Coach Mike Budenholzer impact has San Antonio Spurs written all over it. The team spreads the floor and plays unselfish ball. They were the first team to lead the conference in wins without a 20 PPG scorer. Absolutely amazing results last year. This year they’ve added some role players to a team of role players. PG Jeff Teague and C Al Horford will lead this team to playoffs again but there’s no player that can match wits with the top three teams of the conference. Coach Bud caught a lot of teams by surprise last year sadly by just playing team ball. This year with several roster changes and players coming back from injury the Hawks will go back to what they know best, a team that’s good but not good enough to win it all.

 

3. Washington Wizards

John Wall and the Wizards will pick up where they left off last season.

 

The back court of this team can rival any in the league. PG John Wall and SG Bradley Beal are growing together and I think will come to fruition this season. Beal was hurt for an extended time last year which led to some losses that otherwise would have propelled them to a better seeding in the playoffs. SF Otto Porter is turning the corner from being a potential bust to a solid contributor on this team. Having former teammate Paul Pierce for a year seems to have stoked his competitive fire and may lead him to a better role on this year’s team. Coach Randy Wittman has to demand more front court depth. The East isn’t deep with prominent front court players but having the depth may put the Wizards over the hump. Definitely keep an eye out for SF Kelly Oubre Jr as he gets minutes behind Beal and Porter.

 

2. Miami Heat

The Heat are by far the deepest team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve kept most of their team intact from their championship run. This year PF Chris Bosh will be healthy after a life-threatening blood clot ailment. PF Josh McRoberts is coming off a season ending injury. C Hassan Whiteside has gained nearly 15 pounds of muscle over the summer. PG Goran Dragic signed a new contract over the summer and the team still has SF Luol Deng, C Chris Anderson, and PG Mario Chalmers. Add the addition of draft pick SF Justice Winslow and you have a very deep roster. The success hinges on the health of SG Dwayne Wade. He showed flashes of “Flash” last year while playing a good number of games. If he can remain healthy and if there is any slippage of the #1 team in my ranking, the Heat will advance to the NBA Finals. They have one of the most underrated coaches in the league in Erik Spoelstra. He has done a phenomenal job of working with the talent he has regardless of the circumstances. If he has a healthy team come June then he has the tools to shock the world.

 

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

It’ll be Lebron’s conference to lose once again.

 

The Cavaliers returning to the Finals has everything to do with one thing, chemistry. The same core players are set to return. The competition shouldn’t differ much from last year. The underlying issue at hand is the chemistry and cohesiveness of it’s Big Three. LeBron James, PG Kyrie Irving, and PF Kevin Love have been great when on the floor together. Although Love has griped about his role in the offense, he can contribute in other ways than he’s accustomed to. Love is an excellent spot up shooter. When LeBron played with Bosh, Bosh was better when he expanded his game outside the paint. It provided LeBron more opportunities near the basket and allowed Bosh to pick and pop for easy 18 footers. It would behoove Love to follow that model. Irving simply has to remain healthy. Many people are quick to write him off as injury prone. Those detractors said the same about PG Stephen Curry when he battled ankle ailments early in his career. Irving must also facilitate the offense and not hog the ball. LeBron is better as a primary decision maker but Irving is a better ball handler. Add in PF Tristan Thompson, SG J.R. Smith, and PG Mo Williams and you have a championship quality team. They have a championship caliber coach in David Blatt (albeit with only international experience) and would be wise to trust in his in-game strategy. If James and Blatt can marry their philosophies they will win the championship this season.

The Eastern Conference will go through Cleveland, Ohio again. Maybe some Heat and Wizard-ry can derail a James 7th Finals appearance.

 

 


I’m just no good at Fantasy Football.

Written by :
Published on : September 29, 2015

 

As a Blogger, Security Guard, and Restaurant Server, I’m somewhat of a triple threat. Last week, I was serving a couple at the restaurant. They were very pleasant from the moment they sat at my table; full of glee and clearly enjoying each other’s company. Then, I heard a familiar chime from the boyfriend’s phone. It is the kind of chime that will put an end to any conversation or social interaction. It was the notification that his fantasy football draft was set to begin.

 

Now, outside of the fact he picked the absolute worse time to participate in a draft, he completely tuned out his rather sexy girlfriend for an entire hour. It was quite uncomfortable to resist her occasional glances at me and her menacing stare toward her lover. She ate her entire meal, and being in close vicinity to the table, I heard them speak only once the whole time. After he paid and they left, I really made up my mind about fantasy football. My draft was rescheduled and I had until that same evening to set up a draft board, coerce my boss to let me off early, dodge my family for a few hours, and plan to win the tournament against my friends.

 

 

I feel like I’m the Andre of my league.

 

Then it dawned on me, I suck at fantasy football.

 

Maybe it’s all in the name of your team. I am forewarning you to hold your laughter. I am the guy that thought it was cool to name his two teams “Passionate Puppies” and “KillaTomatoes”. The record of those two teams last year was 5-9 and 3-11 respectively. Everyone else had cool team names like “IllKillYou” and “ManningisLord”. How can a man compete with awesome team names like that?

 

 

Megatron had monster yards in 2012 but only 5 touchdowns.

 

Looking back, we can see why my teams sucked last year. When playing fantasy football you must take emotion and allegiances out of the equation. I learned this rule the hard way. Remember two years ago when Calvin Johnson was near the top of his game? I picked him first despite having several options at quarterback and running back with the second overall pick. I may go to jail again but I want to personally deliver a heartfelt letter to Johnson for his 5 touchdown season. Maybe last year was my breaking point. I didn’t play into my fandom but I picked Cam Newton when Peyton Manning was still on the board. My reward for such stupid decision making you may ask? Facing the guy that picked Manning and being embarrassed by his 7 touchdown passes. My season was over the first f#cking game.

 

By week 5 of my season, the vultures or friends as defined by Merrian-Webster dictionary, swarmed above my head picking me apart for every player (which wasn’t that many) that could be of use to them. I would get messages at work telling me how bad my team sucked and that they would continue to suck. However, there were players that they deemed good enough to take from me. From there I’d look at the waiver wire or stay up late watching the NFL Network looking for the next Jonas Gray or Allen Hurns.

 

Everyone wishes they could stumble on the next Jonas Gray.

 

I did learn some valuable lessons from the previous two seasons playing fantasy football. I’ll ask my 8 year old daughter for a clever team name next season. Despite the many requests to join leagues (so I can be the free agent pool liaison) I’ll only join one. I’ll devote all my free time to scouting players, looking at game tape, and for damn sure resist the temptation to draft two kickers.

 

This season I will do what I love to do most, just watch the damn games.

 

 


Kobe vs T-Mac: Was McGrady the Better Player?

Written by :
Published on : September 25, 2015

 

 

Recently I brainstormed looking for a topic for a new article. I put up a “status” on FaceBook asking my friends what should my next article be about. Someone mentioned that I should do a piece comparing the careers of Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, and Vince Carter. One person went a step further and stated that if McGrady had not been injured so early and often in the prime of his career that he would have been the best player of the three.

 

It led to this reaction; “What the #%$#? It ain’t no way in hell T-Mac, or Vince Carter, was better than Kobe! F#$% outta here!” I was completely beside myself in disbelief that someone I have respect for would utter such a blasphemous statement about THE Black Mamba. As the days passed I had to consider my fandom a hindrance to me being unbiased and objective. I have to preface my piece by being forthright with you all. I am a Kobe Bryant Fan Boy.

 

Now that we have that out the way let’s get into some facts. After really digging into this topic I came away rather astonished at how close T-Mac was to Kobe, in terms of per game production. Kobe clearly benefited from sticking with a world class organization like the Lakers for his entire career. McGrady, on the other hand, toiled between several teams, which could be a valid reason why he never advanced to a Finals appearance. Also worth noting, McGrady never had a healthy co-star on his team to help with the work load. Kobe enjoyed great coaching and a franchise big man to elevate his team to seven Finals appearances. Here is a summarized breakdown of T-Mac’s career.

 

The Rise

McGrady was selected as the Toronto Raptors 9th overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. He was part of the high school to pros boom of the late 90s. After Kevin Garnett and Kobe headlined the previous draft classes, T-Mac followed with a different athletic profile. Whereas Kobe was viewed as a project player, T-Mac was viewed as more polished at the time of his draft. McGrady was also more gifted physically as he was listed at 6’8″ and sometimes at 6’9″. Kobe on his best day is 6’7″. It may not make much of a difference to some, but a few more inches of height and overall body mass goes a long way in pro sports.

 

carter_mcgrady-640x360
How good could these two have been together?

 

The beginning of both Kobe and T-Mac’s careers started off with them being understudies. Kobe was relegated to the bench to begin his career. He came into his own as the the Lakers began their championship run of the early 2000s. Looking at the first 5 years of their respective careers, they have nearly identical per game averages. In Kobe’s first five seasons he averaged 19 PPG, 4 APG, and 5 RPG. In comparison, T-Mac averaged 17 PPG, 3 APG, and 6 RPG. T-Mac spent the first seasons of his career with newly discovered distant cousin Vince Carter, who was coming into his own fame as a NBA star. The Carter-McGady tandem was more of a partnership that went awry due to self-preservation. Kobe’s rise collided with the dominance of Shaquille O’Neal. It was not a partnership at all. It was a kid that was staking his claim and a man that wanted control over his team. Kobe clearly got more out of his situation as he won 3 NBA Championships within his first 6 years. Meanwhile, T-Mac started his dominance right as Kobe started collecting trophies.

 

The Peak

Both players peaked at precisely the same time. Kobe had to adapt to finally being the alpha male on his team, T-Mac had grown accustomed to it. It was not planned for McGrady to push his Orlando Magic team to the playoffs alone. The Magic also acquired former Detroit Piston Grant Hill to co-anchor the team back to prominence. The pairing proved to foreshadow the premature ending of both McGrady and Hill’s promising careers. During his tenure with the Magic, and the beginning of his time with the Houston Rockets, T-Mac was must see tv. He was putting up LeBron like numbers before LeBron. In his sixth season, T-Mac had 32 PPG, 7 RPG, and 6 APG. If you add in the 2 steals and 1 block per game he contributed defensively, I would say that McGrady had one of the better seasons in NBA history.

 

T-Mac was killin’ the game during his prime.

 

He was fourth in MVP voting that 2002-2003 season. Tim Duncan took home the honors for a second consecutive year. At the time the league was a big man’s league. Kobe finished 3rd  in voting that same season, posting similar overall per game averages but 2 points less per game than McGrady. Over the next five seasons both players would be at the top of their respective individual game. During the 02-03 season and the following four years, T-Mac averaged 27 PPG. At this juncture is when Kobe began to separate himself from his fiercest competitor as he averaged 30 PPG; including a 35 PPG, 5 RPG, and 5 APG season in 2005-2006. Kobe finished fourth that season in the MVP voting to 2x MVP Steve Nash. Tracy McGrady was not in the top ten of voting in a list that included Elton Brand, Chauncey Billups, and Shawn Marion. This is despite of having averages of 25 PPG, 7 RPG, and 5 APG.

 

The Fall

Sadly, McGrady’s career unraveled quickly. He battled and played through various injuries, and played on talent-poor teams. The tandem of McGrady and Rockets center Yao Ming had basketball fans salivating at the prospects of a dynasty but never quite panned out. By the 2007-2008 season McGrady was a shell of his former self. The once high flying offensive assassin began to deteriorate at the age of 28. After posting an eight year low of 21 PPG that season, he went on to decrease his PPG average by 5 points each season. By age 30, he had been traded to the New York Knicks. He floundered around the league for three more seasons before retiring, playing minor league baseball, competing for a championship with the San Antonio Spurs, and retiring again, all by the age of 36.

 

These two never became the unstoppable force that fans imagined they might be.

 

Kobe would never post 35 PPG again but he went on to win two more championships, finally win a MVP award, and would continue to pour in points. Kobe averaged 27 PPG in the same time frame that T-Mac would score a career low 12 PPG, including a 5 PPG average in 2011-2012. Tracy McGrady’s career came to an unceremonious close during a taping of ESPN “First Take”. A year younger than Kobe, he bowed out gracefully, albeit not at his own wishes. Kobe meanwhile is in the final year of his current contract at age 37. He is undecided if he will continue playing after this year. There aren’t many career feats that he can realistically accomplish. Having recently surpassed Michael Jordan for 3rd all time in career points, and he would need several seasons of good health to unseat Karl Malone for 2nd all time. The Lakers franchise is clearly in rebuilding mode and Kobe’s chances of getting a sixth championship are slim. It is not clear if he would play for another team to get that championship but as it currently stands Kobe will finish his career as an all time great.

 

Tracy McGrady’s career was beset by injuries and undermanned rosters. In my opinion, if McGrady had a great team or comparable talent to the Lakers he would have had a longer career. The Sacramento Kings was a team that always seemed on the cusp of going all the way. McGrady was always a player or two short from winning a championship. The two could have been a perfect match. It just never happened.

 

As a six time All Star and a NBA scoring champion, McGrady will one day make it to the Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. During his inception speech he should note the following about himself:

 

  • Top 25 All Time in Single Season Points Per Game Average
  • Tied Top 15 in NBA History in Points Scored in a Game (62 points on 20-37 shooting against Washington Wizards March 10 2004)
  • Scored 13 Points in 33 seconds to beat the Spurs 81-80 on Dec 9, 2004
  • Despite career ending relatively soon he averaged 20 PPG, 6 RPG, and 4 APG for entire career
  • Kobe gave T-Mac the highest honor by stating that McGrady was the toughest person he had to play against

 

 

McGrady should conclude his speech by humbly saying “and I’m still not better than Kobe”.

 

 


NFL QUICK HITS FOR THE UPCOMING 2015 SEASON

Written by :
Published on : September 6, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

We are single digit days away from NFL KICKOFF!!! This season will be phenomenal and it has several storylines worth exploring. Aided by a bevy of issues that have surfaced since the Super Bowl (the spike in retirements due to concussions, off field crimes, the un-ending deflategate saga), the league has been able to once again remain relevant during the offseason. But with the preseason over, it’s time to focus on 2015, and put the offseason drama behind us.

 

-Will this be the end of the Madden curse?

What curse?

 

Second year New York Giants receiver, Odell Beckham Jr, is the latest player to grace the cover of the famous Madden football game. While the notoriety and respect gained is quite an accomplishment for such a young player, the supposed curse that comes with it is worth noting. Former Rookie of the Year, quarterback Vince Young, graced the Madden cover following his Pro Bowl rookie season. The year he was placed on the cover, he injured his quadriceps twice. He became a backup to Kerry Collins and was never the same player that led the Texas Longhorns to a BCS Championship.

 

Let us not forget 2012 cover athlete, running back Peyton Hillis, whose rise to fame with the Cleveland Browns came when he moved from being a blocking fullback to a dual-threat running back. He amassed over 1,000 rushing and 500 receiving yards during the 2010 season and was expected to be the new mold of running back; a hybrid of physical between the tackles bruiser and agile pass catcher. The 2011 season (his season on the cover) was a bust for Hillis, as he only played 10 games and was limited to 500 rushing yards. He floundered around the league after that and now remains unsigned. Add the likes of quarterbacks Michael Vick and Daunte Culpepper, running back Dorsey Levens, and it is a cautionary tale of injuries that derail players post-Madden cover. Beware Beckham Jr, beware!

 

2,500 Rushing Yards for Adrian Peterson? Really?

Keep it… 2,500.

 

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson recently stated that he hopes to rush for over 2,500 yards in 2015. In a league that emphasizes the passing game, Peterson would have to be force-fed the ball at an unimaginable clip to achieve that feat. He has averaged around 24 rushing attempts per game over the course of his career. His career yards per attempt stands at 5 yards a carry. Peterson would have to carry the ball 500 times to amass 2,500 rushing yards. There is no way in hell he gets close to 400 carries, let alone 500! With that being said, he has rushed for 2,000 yards in 2012, when he averaged 6 yards a carry. If he can average 6 yards per carry for an entire season he would reach his goal with 416 carries. Does that still sound far-fetched? The powerful running back carried the ball 348 times just a few years ago. If we consider the fact he only played one game last season, Peterson will be a refreshed 30 year old athlete with a chip on his shoulder. He will be looking for redemption after sanctions stemming from a child abuse case where he brutally “whooped” his 4 year old child.

 

Year of the Rookie Wideouts: Part 2?

Can the rookies top last year’s class?

 

Last season, rookie wide receivers tore the league up. The five receivers selected in the 1st round of the 2014 Draft were led by Buffalo Bills’ Sammy Watkins, selected with the 4th pick. His 977 receiving yards on 65 receptions would make any GM proud. Then you have the special case of New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. Only playing in the final 12 contests, he gained 1,300 receiving yards, to go with 12 touchdowns. Tampa Bay Bucs’ wide receiver Mike Evans and Carolina Panthers’ receiver Kelvin Benjamin both had 1,000 yard seasons. With 5 other rookies gaining over 600 yards receiving, it validated the notion that the NFL is now a passing league. The 2015 Draft saw six receivers selected, headlined by Amari Cooper, formerly of the Alabama Crimson Tide and now with the Oakland Raiders. Can this new class of receivers with the likes of Indianapolis Colts’ Phillip Dorsett and Philadelphia Eagles’ Nelson Agholor maintain the momentum?

 

Peyton Manning will be Available for more Papa Johns Commercials after this Season.

Enjoy it while you can. It’s all pizza from here on out.

 

I think this will be the last season for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. He is still a top level signal caller going into the season but unfortunately, this will be his swan song. Over the past two years he has regressed in arm strength. Manning has never been mistaken for having a rocket arm, but after neck surgery, he is extremely limited in that department. Having already passed Brett Favre for all time passing touchdowns, he will easily eclipse Favre for the all time passing yards record by mid-season. With the NFC stacked with perennial Super Bowl contenders in Green Bay and Seattle, the Broncos Super Bowl prospects are dwindling, even if they do make it through the AFC. The Broncos are no closer to winning the Super Bowl than they were two years ago when the Seattle Seahawks massacred them. Bow out gracefully Mr. Manning, Papa needs you.

 

What “D” word?

How NOT to hit in today’s NFL.

 

Can we please allow some real defense this year? The league has cracked down on helmet to helmet hits and thus has made defenders leery of tackling. Defenders often have to take time to adjust or contort their body so that they do not risk hitting the opposing players above the shoulders. This has caused a lack of excitement in the game. Moreover, the fines that players receive due to illegal hits is preposterous. The NFL is taking unnecessary precautions to ensure player safety. The league may be garnering all time highs in profits and viewership, but that does not negate the fact that a lack of good defense makes for lopsided contests. The referees have been conditioned to throw a flag whenever an offensive skill position player is hit near the chest or above or when a quarterback starts to complain. Maybe I’m old school but just let the men play the game! As evidenced by the rash of retirements this offseason, these players aren’t forced to play and are able to walk away when they want. If they want to risk their health for the love of the game and financial prosperity then let them.

 

Super Bowl or Bust.

Can Matthews and the Packer’s defense get it together?

 

Some teams have been at the poker table far too long. They have been watching other teams collect their money and leave. Instead of folding and just walking away, some teams have held pat, taking loss after loss until they are down to their last few chips. There are a few teams that are all-in for this season and if they do not advance in the playoffs they will retool or implode. The Green Bay Packers are one team I think may do a defensive overhaul if they can’t get over the hump this year. The team has to be pleased with their offensive talent led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers but the defense started the purge a few years ago. They have recently let go of defensive backs Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson, along with linebacker A.J. Hawk. The Julius Peppers Experiment must show promise this season in order for him to stay around, and the resurgence of linebacker Clay Matthews must continue, who just a few years ago had J.J. Watt-esque stock. The aforementioned Broncos have made all the requisite changes on defense to be a contender but may fall short due to the lack of strength in Manning’s arm. If he can’t deliver this season, I think President of Operations John Elway may be forced to let go of the 5 time NFL MVP. Other teams that could make changes are the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Cincinnati Bengals.

 

Another season is about to begin. I know the fans are ready. I hope the NFL is too.

 

 


The Ugly Breakup Between RG III and the Redskins

Written by :
Published on : September 1, 2015

 

 

With Kirk Cousins being named the team’s starting quarterback on Monday, Robert Griffin III’s tenure with the Washington Redskins seems to be coming to an ugly end. I thought about doing a full piece on the subject but decided instead it should reflect what RGIII’s career has been; short and painful. I truly hope that Griffin is able to latch onto another team without the pressure of being the franchise savior. It’s a bit late as I write this, but I can’t recall a player as highly touted as Griffin falling from grace in the way that he has.

 

Sure, there have been players that have come back from injuries to have successful careers. Two that come to mind are Drew Brees and Chad Pennington. Both suffered potential career-ending injuries during the course of their careers. Both overcame the odds. Pennington was a solid starter for both the Dolphins and the Jets, and Brees is a sure-fire Hall of Famer with several passing records and a Super Bowl ring in tote. But it’s not just injuries that are the problem with RG III, and it seems as though sometimes he doesn’t realize just how quickly an NFL career can be taken away.

 

RG III has spent the better part of his career on the trainer’s table.

 

Griffin needed this experience. As the famous “comedian” Bill Belichick once uttered, some players need a taste of ‘humble pie’ from time to time. The way I see it, Griffin’s issues are 80% mental, 15% personality (people skills), and 5% physical limitations. That’s pretty promising for a 24 year old quarterback that was formerly Rookie of the Year. The upside is still there as his arm strength and accuracy remain intact. His mobility has taken a hit to be sure, but he can at least scramble for a first down.

 

There are a couple of teams that I feel should give him a roster spot this season and sit him on the bench until the 2016 season, at best. The New Orleans Saints are one team I’d love to see him have a shot with. Brees has intimated that he may play into his 40’s. That would give Griffin ample time to learn from one of the great offensive minds, in head coach Sean Payton. Another team I think would be a great fit is the megachurch of the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys. I’ve toyed with the thought of owner Jerry Jones going after home state product, Johnny Manziel, but at this point of their respective careers I think RG III yields better upside than Manziel. Considering the chronic back problems that quarterback Tony Romo has had, the team could use some insurance at the position.

 

Or simply flat on his ass.

 

Unlike the Saints and Cowboys, the Houston Texans are in dire need of a quarterback right now. Brian Hoyer is nothing more than a stop-gap until the team finds the quarterback of the future. I do not see the team winning more than 6 games this season, especially with the declining health of running back Arian Foster. They could acquire Griffin, play him at the end of the season (ideally at full health) once things go South with Hoyer, and see what he has.

 

It didn’t work out for Griffin at his first stop. The commercial endorsements will cease. The ad campaigns will fade away. As his star begins to fall, there will be fewer reporters at his locker looking for ‘click bait’ headlines. All that will be left is the remains of what was once a promising NFL career. RG III must now make nice with his peers and earn the respect of a locker room. Better yet, he must be “All in” for the 2016 season, no matter where he ends up.

 

 


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