Monthly Archive: September 2017

As a former GM, I understand how injuries to star players can derail a team.

In Minnesota, we lost top running back Robert Smith to season-ending knee injuries in 1993 and 1995. Scottie Graham filled in effectively, but he was not the big-play threat Smith was. We were a playoff team but not a Super Bowl threat in ’93, and we missed the playoffs for the first time in several years in ’95.

I also know how tough it can be to overcome injuries Cheap Qld School Basketball Jerseys to several players at the same position, as is the case for the Patriots at wide receiver. In 2001, our Titans were coming off a 13-3 season when our secondary was ravaged by a succession of injuries to starters. The result was a disappointing 7-9 season.

The good news for the Patriots is it’s early in the season. Gronkowski will be a bigger force in the weeks ahead than he was in a two-catch, 33 yard performance in his first game since the back surgery that cost him the last six games of the 2016 regular season and playoffs.

One of the touchdowns came on blown coverage that left Tyreek Hill wide open. But the second was a dart that traveled about 40 yards in the air and hit Kareem Hunt perfectly in stride for a 78-yard touchdown.

It’s the kind of play that Smith has a reputation for not making and the kind of play that the Chiefs have severely lacked. It’s part of the reason why 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes looks like such a promising next step for the team.

But Smith made the plays Thursday night, finishing with 368 passing yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was only the third time in his 142-game career he eclipsed 320 Cheap Quality Baseball Jerseys yards and the second time he threw more than three touchdowns.

Attempting just four passes of 20 or more yards — compared to the nine attempts by the Patriots — is indicative of the offensive scheme of the Chiefs, though. Smith capitalizing on his chances downfield is important, but the Kansas City offense will stall if the team can’t open up those shots with success underneath.

Smith’s approach stands in stark contrast to how some other lame-duck quarterbacks handled themselves once a successor was tabbed.

“You get to know each other on a real level,” Smith told co-host Gil Brandt and me Tuesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio before the Chiefs broke camp. “Through OTAs and stuff, you’re still kind of working through it. You don’t really know each other that well.

“It’s been nice to come to camp and just (having) no B.S. He and I can get to know the real one another. That’s been good. You kind of get back to football and being players. You get through all that — any awkwardness or anything else that might be there — and you just have fun.”

For example, Green Bay’s Brett Favre had an instant dislike for Aaron Rodgers after the latter was drafted in 2005. Sam Bradford also asked Philadelphia management for a trade — which was ultimately granted (to Minnesota) even after the request was rescinded — once it was clear the Eagles were selecting Carson Wentz in last year’s draft.

And, as the 2016 NFL season revealed, the pieces may finally be in place for that mission to be achieved.

Indeed, for much of last season, the Cowboys were perhaps the best team in the NFL, though for some their success was bittersweet. Tony Romo, the man who consistently had put his body on the line and performed only for Dallas to either disappoint or come up short, was struck down by Cheap NFL Jerseys Paypal a Cheap Official Jerseys preseason injury and then forced to watch on as rookie Dak Prescott led them back to the postseason.

The playoffs ended in familiar fashion for the Cowboys, who went one-and-done with a failed comeback in the divisional round against the Packers.

Since winning their last Super Bowl in January 1996, the Cowboys have made the playoffs nine times but have been immediately eliminated on six of those occasions.

But last year, despite the heartbreak that came with being on the wrong side of a 34-31 thriller with the Packers, Dallas ended the season with plenty of reason for optimism.

The biggest surprise for the Seahawks in their season-opening loss to the Packers was the performance of their offensive line.

Sure, that group has been below average over the last few seasons, but the team’s expectation was that it would be better in 2017 with its young players having another year of experience under their belts.

That group struggled against Green Bay, particularly in pass protection, as Russell Wilson faced pressure on 44 percent of his dropbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That pressure kept Seattle’s passing game from ever finding its rhythm. “We have a really good line up front. Next week we’ll come out better, we’ll come out more prepared,” said center Justin Britt, who added: “Today was not our best.”

The Giants are coming off a playoff appearance that was the epilogue to the boat trip and the Instagram post. That the Giants lost fueled the engine for that boat to remain afloat in sports talk-radio and above the fold. But make no mistake: Had the Giants won, and the boat wouldn’t have sunk, only lost steam.

Because such is life for Beckham, and will continue to be for the soon-to-be 25 year-old receiver. Next to second-year talent Sterling Sheppard, and veteran Brandon Marshall, it will be difficult for secondary’s to apply the same level of attention to Beckham as previous years; for everyone else, it will be quite easy. In a perfect, equitable, measured, and fair universe, Beckham would Cheap Los Angeles Dodgers Jerseys be judged by in large for what he did starting in the first and ending in the fourth quarter.

Remember this though, with the Giants getting set for a Sunday opener in Dallas where, whether he plays or not, Beckham’s quality of character and merits as a teammate will be Cheap NFL Jerseys debated. Which should tell you all you need to know about the weight those non-football critiques carry.

That pick was a game-changing play considering the final score.

Kizer underthrew a corner route, and Watt — airborne and arms fully extended — made the catch before hauling off in the other direction. He laughed while recounting the play.

“I kept sinking back in coverage, and the ball just kind of came right to me,” Watt said. “I caught it. I tried not to fumble the ball or anything. I was tired.”

Watt’s other highlight was his first career sack; a spin move on Browns tackle Joe Thomas that helped collapse the pocket on a second-and-9. Watt nearly had a third sack on a third-and-11 play in the second quarter. He just missed Kizer, who sidestepped the rush.

The New York Giants had better hope that Odell Beckham Jr. gets healthy soon, because their offense looked dreadful without him. Eli Manning threw mostly short passes (29-of-38, 220 yards, 1 INT) and New York was held to 35 yards on 12 rushes. The Cowboys led 16-0 at half, and the spread was never really threatened in a 19-3 victory. Ezekiel Elliott had 104 yards on 24 carries, while Dak Prescott played mistake-free football.

The Vikings dominated throughout the first Monday Night Football contest, as Sam Bradford threw for 346 yards and three TDs. Minnesota defense held the Saints to 60 yards rushing on 21 carries and out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. The Vikings led 16-6 at half and 19-9 after three quarters.

This seemed like a surefire Denver cover. The Broncos dominated the Chargers for three quarters and stopped San Diego near midfield on a fourth-and-1 with a little more than 12 minutes left and holding a 24-7 lead. Unfortunately for Denver bettors, a Trevor Siemian interception and Jamaal Charles fumble both led to San Diego TDs, along with a missed 50-yard field goal Cheap Jerseys Authentic attempt from Brandon McManus. A blocked 44-yard FG attempt with 3 second left got Broncos bettors a push but also eliminated the chance Cheap Jackie Robinson Jerseys of covering in overtime.

Quinn shook his head when asked about the Michael Bennett situation earlier this week.

Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Robert Quinn raised his right fist in the air during the national anthem, maintaining his custom since the start of last season.

“It just goes to show you what’s happening in America,” he said. “It’s crazy, you know. You can’t keep making excuses.”

Impact rookie: Reuben Foster, LB, 49ers — The 49ers collected two defensive studs in the first round of the draft in Solomon Thomas and Foster, with the latter a strong candidate to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Some questioned the decision to trade back into the first round for Foster Cheap Girls Softball Jerseys because of concerns over a shoulder injury and a lack of takeaways in college. But Cheap High Quality Jerseys he has been a turnover machine in camp and has looked excellent in the preseason. Expect him to make a substantial impact against the run and the pass.

Coach on the hot seat: Bruce Arians, Cardinals — There has been talk of 2017 being Arians’ last season in charge following health concerns, and another season of mediocrity may be enough for the Cardinals to decide to change tack and find a successor to the most successful coach in the history of the franchise’s time in Arizona.

Rising: 49ers — Either the 49ers or the Rams can be seen as teams heading in the right direction in the NFC West. Both have highly rated young offensive minds at head coach and both have talent on defense, though it is the Rams who have the more established stars on that side of the ball. But on the back of criticism for his part in the Falcons’ Super Bowl meltdown against the Patriots, Shanahan will have plenty of motivation to prove a point. The 49ers’ schedule looks slightly softer and Shanahan may be able to get more out of his group earlier than McVay.

49ers rookie Reuben Foster to be out longer than he hoped with high ankle sprain

After Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, San Francisco 49ers rookie linebacker Reuben Foster vowed to return from a right ankle injury “very, very, very soon.”

Coach on the hot seat: Jim Caldwell, Lions — The Lions went 9-7 and sneaked into the playoffs last season, but it wasn’t exactly an impressive playoff year. The Lions needed eight come-from-behind victories and change could be in store if they fail to reach the postseason in Caldwell’s fourth season.

Falling: Lions — The Lions are still heavily reliant on Matthew Stafford’s right arm and didn’t do much to upgrade a defense that ranked 18th overall last season.

Rising: Jordan Howard, RB, Bears — Chicago’s pass offense still has plenty of question marks and the Bears might still finish last in the division, but they are not far from being a playoff contender. Howard was a surprise, finishing second in the NFL with 1,313 yards as a rookie. Another 2016 rookie, pass rusher Leonard Floyd, built on his solid first season with an excellent summer.

Circle this game on the schedule: Vikings at Packers, Dec. 23 — The Saturday night game on Christmas weekend could be huge if the Vikings are in a position to challenge the Packers for Cheap Elite NFL Jerseys the division title.

The campaign that helped his breakthrough to the mainstream came courtesy of Cheap Jerseys America Fathead, which Matthews laughingly says marketed him as a “meathead.” The most memorable spot featured Matthews surrounded by wall-sized posters of himself while giving a house tour.

the Dolphins enter the regular season relatively healthy.

Center Mike Pouncey remains on a careful practice schedule after hip surgery but will play when the Dolphins return to the field in Week 2. The bigger question is whether he will stay healthy for all 16 games. — James Walker

Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t practice Wednesday, but as for playing Sunday night when the New York Giants open the season against the Dallas Cowboys, he said he “wouldn’t count it out.”

First, I’m going to look to save money at quarterback. The difference between the QB1 on a week and the QB10 that same week is a much smaller difference than the scoring gap between the top scoring guy at the other skill positions. Basically, your quarterback isn’t going to win you a week, so look to a cheaper option that has a positive matchup. The strategy here in daily fantasy is akin to the strategy of streaming quarterbacks from the waiver wire in season-long leagues. If a quarterback is a potential streamer in your friends and family league, he is probably someone I’m going to be considering using in my DraftKings head-to-head lineup that week.

Running back is definitely a spot where I want to spend, but it’s not blind spending; there’s a method to the madness. I’m looking for volume, and there are three boxes I want to check off Cheap Authentic Soccer Jerseys on my list before picking a cash game running back.

First, I want someone I can project to eclipse 20 touches, with the possibility for Cheap Football Jerseys From China more. This is pretty straightforward, but an important consideration if you are spending big and might be enticed by big-play backs who simply don’t get the right amount of volume.

The Lakers aren’t tanking any longer

The Lakers made a second big move in NBA free agency on Tuesday, reaching a one-year deal with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for $18 million. KCP had struck out as a restricted free agent and been renounced by the Pistons; with no one willing to beat the five-year, $80 million deal he’d turned down from Detroit over the long term, the two-way guard decided to re-earn that money on an annual basis. The idea for KCP is that he’ll have a strong 2017-18 and be well-positioned as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 to sign a long-term deal.

What’s the idea for the Lakers? They are done tanking, and not a moment too soon. L.A. doesn’t own its own 2018 first-round draft pick — that’s going to the Sixers or Celtics — and the Lakers have a new regime that wants to wash the bad taste of the past several years out of fans’ mouths. KCP is a better two-guard than Jordan Clarkson or any other option the Lakers have, so this should help them actually be better.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is now trying to convince John Wall to sign the $170 million extension offer on the table through the media. (This is light cajoling at best. It’s not untoward by any standard.) It might work. But NBA players — stars especially — like betting on themselves, and if Wall bets on himself to make All-NBA again next season, the new max extension would be worth $220 million. Also, D.C. sports fans can’t have nice things so Wall definitely isn’t signing that extension.

Inside the NBA’s training program for assistant coaches.

The WNBA’s Seattle Storm had a pre-game rally for Planned Parenthood.

Best wishes and best of luck to Tim Kawakami and Marcus Thompson, who are decamping from their Bay Area newspapers to start up a franchise of The Athletic. Those Cheap Nike Jerseys dudes are the absolute best sportswriters in the Bay Area, which is saying something.

A sweet story from Justin Tinsley on the impact the late Stu Scott Cheap Packer Jerseys had on him.

The Wizards are going to make the Nets pay with their time for signing Porter to that deal

This has been one internet fever theory: that Kyrie saw the writing on the wall and tried to get out before LeBron bolts. To be honest, that makes no sense given the stated rationale for Irving’s trade request. Kyrie is going to be criticized for requesting a trade to escape LeBron’s shadow. If he were truly requesting a trade to be the first man off a sinking ship, his camp would have leaked that instead. It would sound better to the masses and create a distraction.

Unless the Cavaliers completely botch this thing, it’s unlikely Irving’s request will affect LeBron’s decision one way or the other. Some people think LeBron is totally bailing. Some people (including myself) think he’s finishing his career in Cleveland.

The Wizards are going to make the Nets pay with their time for signing Porter to that deal, according to Bontemps.

And the Wizards intend to take their time doing so, forcing the Nets Cheap NFL Jerseys Free Shipping to sit around for four extra days with their cap space tied up because Cheap NFL Jerseys From China of the offer. In addition to Cheap NBA Basketball Jerseys the two days the Wizards have to match Porter’s offer initially, there also is a two-day window in which Porter will need to report to the team and be given a physical and another two-day window after that for the team to announce he has passed the physical.
Live look at the Washington Wizards:

The Wizards have maintained they’d match any offer sheet Porter signs in restricted free agency and they probably will. But now, because they didn’t sign him the first opportunity they could, they’ll end up with less security with Porter having a fourth-year option on his deal.

As we just saw with Gordon Hayward, having extra years of security on players is important. If Porter breaks out at any point, the leverage the Wizards have to retain him is gone. They could’ve offered him a max deal with a fifth year and no option, but they didn’t. In three years, they could pay for it.

Boston may have been holding that offer until Gordon Hayward made his free-agent decision

When Nichols came to Carroll’s defense and said he wasn’t a bad player, Jackson said: “He’s not good enough to have an opinion. He’s not. Everyone has a voice in the NBA now. He’s not gonna take no team to the playoffs. He’s not a guy that shouldn’t even start, actually.”
In the end, the Raptors may have done Carroll a favor
Toronto traded Carroll to the Nets this summer for Justin Hamilton, a move that saved Toronto $30 million over the next two years. The rugged, 3-and-D forward reunites with Kenny Atkinson, now Brooklyn’s head coach who was an assistant in Atlanta during Carroll’s tenure.

“My biggest thing with Kenny is, he gets it,” Carroll said, according to the New York Post. “He played overseas for years, and his communication skills are one of the best in the league. He gets the most out of players as a coach. That’s what you have to have, that level of communication; and he has it.”

Likewise, if the Pacers had held out, they could have made a deal with the Celtics. Boston had the most assets on the market by a long shot, reportedly even offering the 2017 Nets pick that turned into the No. 1 selection at last season’s trade deadline that Indiana turned down. In retrospect, that was an enormous mistake by outgoing president Larry Bird.

But new Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard seemingly doubled down on Friday, not waiting on an offer that the Boston Herald, Boston Globe and ESPN all reported was something like Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and three lower first-round picks.

Boston may have been holding that offer until Gordon Hayward made his free-agent Cheap Michael Jordan Jerseys decision, but again, it’s not like Oklahoma City’s trade would have gone anywhere. Worse, we think we know the reasoning for why the Pacers were nervous to wait on the Celtics: he was worried Cheap Lacrosse Jerseys about sending him to an Eastern Conference opponent.