The bargaining positions of NBA owners reported by Henry Abbott from ESPN last week differ from those reported by Mark Heislerfor the LA Times at the all-star break.The question is, “How much have the owners changed?”
For an answer, we can turn to this post at the Miami Heat Index (which compares the reporting of NBA owners’ bargaining positions by Abbott and Heisler) and this slideshow at Bleacher Report (which analyzes the impact the biggest changes could have on the NBA lockout). Or you can just keep reading.
In February, Heisler reported that nine of 12 members on the NBA’s labor relations committee wanted to drive a hard bargain with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), but only one member wanted to cancel games. Last week, Abbott reported only seven of 12 owners on the committee wanted to take a “hard line” with the players, but two of them wanted to cancel games. Voting on the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) isn’t limited to the committee, however. According to Abbott, it requires a majority vote of 16 owners to ratify a new CBA.
Heisler reported at the all-star break that 24 of 30 NBA owners wanted to drive a hard bargain with the players, and at least four of them would be willing to cancel games to get the collective bargaining agreement they wanted. Last week, Abbott reported that 17 of 30 NBA owners wanted to drive a hard bargain with the players and at least three to six owners would be willing to cancel games.
The following paragraphs summarize the key differences in Abbott and Heisler’s reporting on the positions of owners from the NBA labor relations committee.
Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers
In February, Heisler reported that Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert wouldn’t be willing to cancel games because he could make over $20 million dollars operating his team (since they cut payroll after trading LeBron James). Abbott reported that Gilbert would be willing to miss the season because 1) the Cavs stink, 2) it’s one less year Baron Davis gets paid and 3) it’s one less title for LeBron to win.
Miami Heat Index’s HEAT Check: Abbott’s justifications for Gilbert to cancel games and forgo a profitable season don’t pass muster. It seems more credible that the profit motive would supersede spite when it came down to the “Comic Sans Man” voting to cancel a season.
Herb Simon, Indiana Pacers
Heisler reported that Simon was a hawk in the CBA negotiations since he’s lost eight figures owning the team, but he did not want to cancel games or the season. Abbott reported the Pacers’ owner should not be considered a hawk because he does not want a long lockout, just a “reasonable” CBA with a decent portion of revenue sharing on the side.
HEAT Check: It seems reasonable that Simon’s position could change after seeing the Pacers make the playoffs and push the Bulls in four close games before being eliminated in five.
Glen Taylor, Minnesota Timberwolves
Heisler reported that Taylor would go with whatever commissioner David Stern wanted in February. Abbott reported a slight shift in Taylor’s position that has the Timberwolves’ owner driving a harder bargain for incremental improvement but not a completely new system.
HEAT Check: The difference in Heisler and Abbott’s reporting of Taylor’s position shouldn’t make a big difference when it comes down to canceling games. Either way, he’s voting with Stern. If Stern plays hardball, then Taylor probably will, too, and vice versa.
Clay Bennett, Oklahoma City Thunder
Heisler reported Bennett’s small market and expiring rookie contracts for star players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made him a hawk in CBA negotiations, but he also noted the Thunder owner may owe Stern allegiance for backing their move from Seattle. Abbott reported Bennett was a dove, not a hawk, because the Thunder wouldn’t want to miss a season coming off their playoff run to the Western Conference Finals.
HEAT Check: The most important reporting on Bennett was his relationship with Stern. The documentary Sonicsgate also reported the longstanding connection between the Thunder owner and NBA commissioner. Like Taylor, it’s very believable that Bennett will go whichever way Stern wants.
Rich DeVos/Bob Vander Weide, Orlando Magic
Heisler reported the Magic’s representative on the labor relations committee was a hawk in CBA negotiations with a focus on adding rules that would facilitate re-signing Dwight Howard. Abbott reported the same concern over Howard but said Magic ownership was a dove in CBA negotiations because they were more concerned about having the best center in the NBA on the court for one last run in their brand new arena.
HEAT Check: It doesn’t really make sense for the Magic to be soft in CBA negotiations because that would be incredibly short-sighted. Why settle for one year of Howard in an expensive, new arena when they could potentially have Howard for multiple years in an expensive, new arena if they just drive a harder bargain with the NBPA?
The labor relations committee is scheduled to meet with the NBPA on Tuesday. The subsequent paragraphs summarize key differences in Heisler and Abbott’s reporting on the collective bargaining positions of owners that aren’t on the labor relations committee but could cost the fans games this season if their influence spreads to other owners when the NBA Board of Governors meets on Thursday.
Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers
Heisler reported that Sterling was a CBA hawk “sharpening talons” at the all-star break, but Abbott reported the Clippers owner was a dove who wanted to “let the Blake Griffin money machine keep rolling.”
HEAT Check: It’s good news for fans if Sterling’s position has changed, but Heisler’s reporting in February may have been more accurate since he worked for the LA Times while Abbott lives in New Jersey. TrueHoop’s Kevin Arnovitz ran a blog about the Clippers but it’s a good bet he didn’t have Heisler’s sources. Additionally, Abbott admitted that Sterling thought the last CBA was a horrible deal for the owners so it’s unlikely that he would completely reverse his position. Bad news for fans is that Sterling would likely vote to cancel games and perhaps the season.
Herb Kohl, Milwaukee Bucks
Heisler reported that Kohl absorbed big losses owning the Bucks, but did not report that he would support canceling the season. Abbott reported those losses resulted in Kohl being ‘as hardcore as anyone’ looking to overhaul the system.
HEAT Check: It’s bad news for fans if the Bucks owner would vote to cancel the season. While the number of owners willing to go that far still constitute a minority, it decreases the pool of owners that would potentially ratify a new CBA that didn’t meet all of the owners demands and thus extend the lockout.
Joe and Gavin Maloofs, Sacramento Kings
Heisler reported the Maloofs were not the “burn-the-village-to-save-it types” and thus not likely to support cancellation of games but Abbott reported the Kings owners could potentially profit from the lockout.
HEAT Check: If the Maloofs’ willingness to work with the city of Sacramento is altruistic, then perhaps they’re not the scorched earth types. If they’re as phony as Clay Bennett and Abbott’s reporting is accurate, then it’s more potential bad news that NBA fans could face an even longer lockout.
Larry Tanenbaum, Toronto Raptors
Heisler reported the Raptors were relatively secure financially with fans buying NBA tickets to ensure good seats for hockey games. Abbott implied Tanenbaum’s experience with the NHL lockout and the love of hockey in Canada could result in the Raptors ownership supporting a move to cancel the NBA season.
HEAT Check: With the NHL potentially staring another lockout in the face, Tanenbaum should know that canceling a season isn’t all it’s cracked up to be if a team makes money. Heisler may be closer to the mark on this one but it’s impossible to get a good read on this one.
NBA fans should get an idea this week whether the owners have truly softened their bargaining position since the lockout started, as Abbott reported, or if the owners remain the same hawks that Heisler reported them to be seven months ago. What we will probably see is that it doesn’t matter what owners — and the people around them — say to reporters. What matters in the end is what they do. And to see that, we just have to wait.
Mosi Platt (@MIA_Heat_Index) is the Miami Heat writer for the Wages of Wins Network. You can normally find him at the Miami Heat Index. In addition to making sure the world knows the greatness of Dwyane Wade, Mosi also helps keep haters in line. Mosi makes his own lists of people who spread false information and he checks them twice thanks to his trusty Blackberry.
In 2004, President George W. Bush appeared on the Jumbotron at Arizona’s Sun Devil stadium to address the combat death of former NFL player turned Army Ranger, Pat Tillman. Bush said: “Pat Tillman loved the game of football. Yet, as much as Pat Tillman loved competing on the football field, he loved America even more… Courageous and humble, a loving husband and son, a devoted brother and a fierce defender of liberty. Pat Tillman will always be remembered.”
But Sunday--- while NFL teams around the country commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks---Pat’s name was only mentioned before the game in Arizona. In stadium after stadium, in pregame show after pregame show, as the NFL’s 9/11 commemoration strategy was rolled out with lockstep discipline, Tillman’s name was conspicuously absent.
George W. Bush certainly got his moment in the spotlight, receiving a standing ovation by 70,000 fans at the Meadowlands. On other football fields, massive flags were unfurled, “official NFL/9/11 logos” were unveiled, soldiers were cheered, Reebok’s “We Will Never Forget” 9/11 gear was worn, and yet it was as if Pat Tillman had never existed.
The NFL’s media man, Brian McCarthy, vigorously contested this when we called for comment. “Yesterday was a day to remember to those who lost lives on 9/11...We did not single out any NFL player that had been in the military. We saluted all military members around the country and the world. Pat means so much to the NFL. We have funded the “Pat Tillman USO Center,” a USO center in his name in Afghanistan at Bagram [Airfield]. We also worked with his wife Marie on the creation of the NFL scholarship. The first thing you see in the NFL [New York] building is Pat’s jersey. He is very dear to the. NFL family. We salute him every day. If [you are] trying to create controversy there is none.”
I respectfully disagree. I don’t contest that Tillman’s jersey is in the NFL office, or that “he is honored every day.” But I think it’s worth asking why the NFL paid so little attention to Pat. It’s worth asking because the answer says a great deal.
Pat Tillman is the only NFL player – or professional athlete – to die in the theater of war since September 11th, 2001. He walked away from millions of dollars to join the U.S. Army because of the way 9/11 shook his system. On 9/12/01, Tillman gave an interview where he said, “My great-grandfather was at Pearl Harbor and a lot of my family has gone and fought in wars, and I really haven’t done a damn thing.”
Twenty-two months after enlisting, Pat Tillman was dead. His memorial service was aired on national television. The Army awarded him a Silver Star for his “gallantry in action against an armed enemy.” They said Tillmanʼs convoy had been ambushed in Afghanistan. They said Tillman charged up a hill to protect his men but was shot down by the Taliban. Responding to this heroic story, the NFL, as they are quick to mention, created statues and memorials in his honor.
Why didn’t we hear Tillman’s name on Sunday? It’s because the Pentagon’s official story, the very story the NFL initially embraced, is an awful lie. Tillman actually died in friendly fire, a fact that was criminally hidden from his family, his fans, and to the greater public. Tillman also began to turn against the war before his death, telling friends in the Rangers that he believed the war in Iraq was “illegal.” A voracious reader, he started reading anti-war authors in an attempt to wrap his head around how he had become the most famous solider in an endless conflict.
After the Bush administration finally revealed the truth, Tillman’s shocked family and friends did the only thing they could do: fight to find out the real facts of his death. They went public with the narrative of a Pat Tillman that was inconsistent with the Bush administration and NFL’s. They put forth a Pat Tillman that was an intensely iconoclastic atheist, turning against war.
The misrepresentation of Pat Tillman’s death speaks to the lies used to sell war, and to the way people’s rage and grief was exploited in the wake of 9/11. But thanks to the tireless work of his family, and the creators of the documentary The Tillman Story, his true story is now public knowledge. As Pat’s mother Mary said in The Tillman Story, “I think they just thought, if they spun the story and we found out ... we'd just keep it quiet because we wouldn't want to diminish ...
his heroism or anything like that ... but, you know, nobody questions Pat's heroics. He was always heroic. What they said happened, didn't happen. They made up a story, and so you have to set the record straight.”
In one respect their effort saved Pat Tillman’s name this past Sunday. In the least it saved his family and friends the pain of knowing that Pat was being displayed in a way he would have found, in the words of fellow Ranger Jade Lane, as “criminal.” But the NFL’s exclusion of Tillman in their commemoration is a statement of its own. They could have discussed Tillman’s service in all its complicated, messy glory. They could have respected his sacrifice as well as his inner conflicts. They could have interviewed the eloquent and elegant Mary Tillman on all the pregame shows.
The country could have learned not just about Pat Tillman, but that the former Commander in Chief being cheered at the Meadowlands had committed a felony in falsifying the facts of Tillman’s death. It’s an awful story, but it’s real. It's also far from finished. As The Tillman Story director Amir Bar-Lev said: “This is an unsolved mystery; nobody has ever really paid a price for what was done to the Tillmans. No one has taken accountability or made an admission for a deliberate attempt to conceal the truth. This story is not over yet.”
[Dave Zirin is the author of “The John Carlos Story” (Haymarket) and just made the new documentary “Not Just a Game.” Receive his column every week by emailing [email protected]. Contact him at [email protected].]
I’m sure you’ve heard by now so this isn’t breaking news, but if you’re living under a rock (i.e. not on social media sites) I’ll let you in on a little secret: Jay Cutler threw an interception. I know, it’s a big deal. Forget that he completed 22 of 32 passes for 312 yards. Forget the two touchdowns and the passer rating of 107.8. Forget that he led the Bears to a 30-12 victory over the Super Bowl favorites, Matty Ice and the Atlanta Dirty Birds. He threw an interception. There’s no possible way the Bears will amount to anything this year, right? The win was a fluke, right? Cutler had nothing to do with the win, it was all defense, right? Sure. Keep telling yourselves that.
I spent quite a number of days (more than the average fan) at Bears Training Camp this past summer, and I knew almost instantly this was a new improved J6. The most notable improvement was his obvious physicality. Cutler slimmed down and tightened up. Maybe this transformation was due to a change in his diet/lifestyle considering he has Type II Diabetes. No? Oh, you’re right; it must be because of his ex-fiancée Kristin Cavallari and the Hollywood lifestyle. Not ex? Geez, I forgot. He was seen tooling around downtown Chicago with her during the exact time the Bears were at training camp in Bourbonnais, IL. See? And y’all don’t think he’s great? I wish I could be two places at once, would save me a ton of time. But I digress….
On the other side of the spectrum you have the all-of-a-sudden apologists. You know, the ones who now are saying the injury he sustained that took him off the field in last year’s NFC Championship game is legit. Interesting. I wasn’t aware it took eight months for armchair physicians to decide if a Grade II MCL tear is enough of a legitimate injury to come out of a football game for, but thankfully, Bob Costas let us know it was.
I really don’t understand the “Jay-ters”. Maybe it’s just the mentality of the national media outlets’ criticism: build you up to tear you down (Umm, no pun intended in this case). But for the nay-sayers who cry every week for Caleb Hanie to be the starter (Yes. People actually do this.) or that Mike Martz is an idiot, I’d just like to point out that the Chicago Bears, one of two remaining founding NFL franchises, has one quarterback that has thrown over 3,000 yards in back-to-back seasons: Jay Cutler. He is also the first to throw 20 or more touchdowns in consecutive years.
57 sacks last season? Yeah, that happened. Offensive line coach Mike Tice has been working overtime to make sure that doesn’t happen again. It seems the whole organization has made protecting Cutler their top priority since they drafted OT Gabe Carimi with the 29th pick overall in the 2011 draft, and opted to let popular receiving tight end Greg Olsen go and sign blocking tight end Matt Spaeth instead.
As far as his attitude? I don’t know the guy, so I can say if he’s a horrible person or not. He is committed to his charity, and although a lot of athletes are, there’s a genuine, heartfelt quality about his commitment. He seems introverted and almost shy, with a hint of I’m-smarter-than-you-think-snark, and his leadership style reflects his quiet demeanor.
Look, you don’t have to like Jay Cutler, hell, don’t even like the Bears for all I care, but be honest before you start shredding him. Are you doing it to be a cool kid like Trent Dilfer, or because you really don’t know anything about him? Watching a 60 second highlight on Sports Center doesn’t count either. There’s a reason Bears fan loves J6; we see his value, we appreciate his toughness, and we believe in him. We don’t care about TMZ reports , paparazzi photographs, or how many points he did/didn’t get your fantasy team. We care because we have a football team to root for every Sunday and that includes our quarterback, despite him throwing an interception.
Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc
So Cam Newton had a 422-yard record setting performance in his rookie debut on Sunday. Newton jerseys will now be flying off the shelves, and people will be flocking to get him or start him on their Fantasy Football teams. Here’s the problem. The Carolina Panthers lost! Hello! You play to win the game! And for those of you who can’t wait to get Netwon into your starting Fantasy lineup, be careful what you wish for as the Panthers play the reigning World Champion Green Bay Packers next week who know a thing or two about playing defense.
Breaking…This just in… It’s being reported that the entire Pittsburgh Steelers roster was kidnapped at the team hotel before Sunday’s game with the Baltimore Ravens. Information is sketchy and still flowing in but supposedly the kidnappers replaced the entire roster with clones that had no idea how to play football. I feel compelled to tell you that there are conflicting reports on this matter as other reports are now surfacing that a number of Pittsburgh players have been showing up in Pittsburgh hospitals today for surgery on their asses as they imply got their butts kicked.
The Indianapolis Colts might as well just pack it in. For those of you who previously questioned Peyton Manning’s greatness and his impact on the entire team; did you see how feeble the Colts were without him? After the game Colts head coach Jim Caldwell said, “It’s a marathon not a sprint.” Unfortunately for Caldwell and the Colts, without Manning they have to run twice as far as everyone else.
The San Diego Chargers struggled to pull out a 24-17 against the lowly Minnesota Vikings? That wasn’t exactly a blowout. Their score with 5:01 left in the game was the first time they took the lead. And what the hell was with the opening kickoff letting Percy Harvin take it to the house? San Diego had both the best offense and the best defense in football last year and they were done in by special teams causing them to miss the playoffs. Were they trying to remind everyone that this year was no fluke? As for the Vikings, Donovan McNabb was 7/15 for 39-yards. Donovan, really? I’m thinking trade Adrian Peterson from your Fantasy team now. Teams are simply going to stack the box until McNabb prove that he can at least throw for 40-yards. DOH!
For anyone who thought the Tennessee Titans gigundo extension of Chris Johnson was a worthwhile investment for anyone other than Chris Johnson, what do you think now? CJ27 had 9-rushes for 27-yards! 27! Here’s a tip if you were thinking of trading Adrian Peterson because you thought the defenses would simply be focusing on him and making certain that he didn’t beat them, don’t trade him for Chris Johnson. At least Johnson did get hurt. Yet.
Buffalo Bills (41) – Kansas City Chiefs (7), in Kansas City. One Buffalo beat writer reported this week that even the parents of the Bills players were betting on the Chiefs! After the game, Kansas City head coach Todd Haley said that coming into the game, the Chiefs were unprepared. Todd, ya think? Haley went on to say that he took full responsibility for the poor performance. I’m glad he cleared that up, because at first I was just going to chalk it up to the bad economy.
In the third quarter of the Steelers vs. Ravens game, up 27-7 the Ravens added a 2-point conversion when holder Sam Koch ran the ball in on a fake kick. Wouldn’t this have been a good play to keep in their back pocket to use at a time when the game was on the line? This rivalry is starting to remind me of the old Sam Wyche – Jerry Glanville matchups where winning the game wasn’t good enough, embarrassing the opponent or pouring salt in the other teams wound was as important as winning the game.
Also, I thought the Atlanta Falcons were one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl? After watching them play a real game, are they still the darlings of the NFC?
The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at TheXLog.com. You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.
There were no major moves in this week’s Top 10, just some jockeying for position towards the bottom.
1 – Oklahoma Sooners: Oklahoma was off this week, but still sits upon the list of the ten best teams in college football after their week one performance against Tulsa. The Sooners have a potent offense that features Heisman candidate QB Landry Jones who had a stellar week one, completing 35 of 47 passes for 375 yards and one touchdown and RB Dominique Whaley who ran for 131 yards and four TDs. The defense forced Tulsa’s Heisman hopeful GJ Kinnie to throw for 18 of 33, keeping constant pressure on the Golden Hurricane. The week off will give Bob Stoops’ Sooners extra time to prepare for a road trip to Tallahassee to take on a top ten Florida State team in a definite must-see matchup. – Dory LeBlanc
AP Rank: 1; Next Game: 9/17 @ Florida State
2 – Alabama Crimson Tide: The Crimson Tide handed Penn State a 27-11 loss in front of 107,846 in Happy Valley in a battle of two teams with quarterback uncertainty. Alabama’s AJ McCarron seemed to have won the job outright, although Nick Saban claims there is still competition for the position. McCarron appeared to be much more poised and confident under center than he was last week against Kent State; although his stats aren’t Heisman contender caliber, he threw for 163 yards completing 19 for 31 passes and one touchdown without an interception or fumble. Penn State’s quarterback woes continue as Robert Bolden and Matt McGloin threw for 12 for 39 and 144 yards combined as the Alabama defense held the Nittany Lions to 251 yards of total offense. At one point, Alabama nearly intercepted five straight passes, the first two by Bolden, and the last three by McGloin. The ‘Bama defense was led by defensive backs Dre Richardson and Robert Lester, and Mark Barron, who intercepted a Bolden pass in the 3rd quarter. Although Alabama’s offense is still suspect and unstable at times, Trent Richardson continues to collect touchdowns as he rushed for 111 yards on 26 carries for two scores. The defense is still the star of the show, and the Tide should easily roll over North Texas at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. – Dory LeBlanc
AP Rank: 3; Next Game: 9/17 vs. North Texas
3 – Boise State Broncos: The Broncos had the week off following their big win over Georgia at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. If Kellen Moore and the offense continue to play at the high level at which they opened the season, they’ll be hard for anybody to stop. The defense, meanwhile, looked spectacular, too. They’ll get Toledo on Friday night. – Danny Hobrock
AP Rank: 4; Next Game: 9/16 vs. Toledo
4 – LSU Tigers: LSU was off this week, too, as three of the top five teams in the country rested following their openers. There’s some uncertainty in Baton Rouge stemming from the offseason fight that led to quarterback Jordan Jefferson‘s suspension, but the Tigers successfully put that behind them in the opener against Oregon. The trick will be to continue to do that week-in and week-out without letting it catch up to them. – Danny Hobrock
AP Rank: 3; Next Game: 9/15 @ Mississippi State
5 – Stanford Cardinal: Duke kept it a game in the first half, but Andrew Luck and the Cardinal pulled ahead big time in the third and fourth to go up 44-7. Duke scored once more with less than a minute left to bring it to 44-14 at the final. Most of the national attention is going to Oklahoma and a couple of SEC West teams, but don’t sleep on Stanford and Wisconsin (and Boise State if they’d let them play). – Danny Hobrock
AP Rank: 6; Next Game: 9/17 @ Arizona
6 – Wisconsin Badgers: Oregon State’s game plan to shut down the Badgers’ potent ground attack was successful in the first half, forcing the Badgers to rely on their newly acquired quarterback from NC State, Russell Wilson, and a defense that was completely unprepared for UNLV in week one. However, Wilson stepped up to the plate, with all three of the Badger’s first half scores, one touchdown pass to Nick Toon, and two to Jacob Pederson. The running game finally wore down the Beaver’s defense as RB Montee Ball ended the day with 118 yards on 18 carries and scored both his touchdowns in the second half for a 35-0 victory. Wisconsin’s special teams capitalized on several mistakes by the Beavers, and the defense kept Oregon State out of the end zone for the first Badger shut-out since defeating Purdue 37-0 in October 2009. Wisconsin will play the Northern Illinois Huskies Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago, and then host the South Dakota Coyotes, before their highly anticipated Big Ten opener against Nebraska on October 1st. – Dory LeBlanc
AP Rank: 7; Next Game: 9/17 @ Northern Illinois
7 – Texas A&M Aggies: The Aggies are another top ten team to take the weekend off after their opening week win over SMU. They were clicking on all cylinders in the win and appear ready for back-to-back big time games in a couple of weeks when they take on Oklahoma State and Arkansas. We’ll learn a lot about this team at that time. – Danny Hobrock
AP Rank: 9; Next Game: 9/17 vs. Idaho
8.5 – Oklahoma State Cowboys: The Cowboys were their typical selves in the Thursday night win over Arizona. The offense got off to a quick start and never relinquished the lead, while the defense did a good job of keeping an explosive Wildcats offense in check all night long. Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden may get most of the attention, but Joseph Randle looks like he’s more than capable of taking the torch from Kendall Hunter in the backfield. – Danny Hobrock
AP Rank: 8; Next Game: 9/17 @ Tulsa
8.5 – Nebraska Cornhuskers: Fresno State entered the game with a cloud of turmoil hanging over them, stemming from a welfare fraud investigation involving as many as two dozen players, and played through it leading 17-14 at halftime and extended the lead to 20-14 in the third quarter before Nebraska turned things around in the second half, scoring 28 points for the 42-29 win. Husker QB Taylor Martinez had 385 yards of total offense (219 passing and 166 rushing), the second most in his career, but also fumbled twice and threw two interceptions. After a Bulldog touchdown to bring the score within two points, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah ran back the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a score. With two minutes left in the contest, Martinez capped off the game with a 46-yard touchdown run. The Cornhuskers still have some kinks that head coach Bo Pelini needs to work out and will next play Washington and Wyoming respectively, before heading to Madison to meet the Wisconsin Badgers on October 1st. –Dory LeBlanc
AP Rank: 10; Next Game: vs. Washington
10 – Florida State Seminoles: Florida State Seminoles: We’ve had Florida State in our Top 10 since preseason, but I admit, this is the first time I’ve put them in it. It honestly has nothing to do with the fact I’m a die-hard Gator fan, and everything to do with the fact I felt that they were overrated. Even after the season opener shut-out against UL-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference I couldn’t find it in me to put them in my top ten. This week, after the 62-10 blowout of Charleston Southern (Big South Conference, FCS) I decided to move them into my list of the best teams in college football. Starting QB EJ Manuel threw for 329 yards on 24 of 35 passes for four touchdowns and one interception while back up Clint Trickett completed 6 of 7 passes for two touchdowns. Combined, the two quarterbacks threw to 12 different receivers for a total of 477 yards. The Seminole defense held the Buccaneers to three first downs and 84 yards of total offense. Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State squad will have their work cut out for them as they host top-ranked Oklahoma next Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. – Dory LeBlanc
AP Rank: 5; Next Game: 9/17 vs. Oklahoma
* Oklahoma State & Nebraska tied[email protected] or follow him on Twitter @DannyHobrock
NFL teams handled the new rule that allows special teams units to kickoff from the 35-yard line in a variety of different ways. The squib kick, kick it through the end zone, kick it deep into the end zone and bloop kick it (hopefully for the kicker’s sake) close to the end zone or into the front of the end zone were all used to combat this rule change.
I give NFL coaches credit for being creative with the way they deal with the new spot for kickoffs but this doesn’t change the fact that the rule is stupid. Football is violent and injuries will happen. Changing the rules for every possibility of violence doesn’t make the game safer. It simply makes it less exciting and more frustrating to watch. If you want to the sport to be safer make the players weaker and smaller, which may be impossible or entirely realistic if you believe that the quiet but persistent rumors of performance enhancing drugs are being largely ignored and overlooked.
Don’t make any assumptions from the Steelers/Ravens game as to how these two teams will fare this season. Sure the Ravens looked great and the Steelers were awful but Week One of the NFL is full of examples of a team playing a little too well and a team looking surprisingly bad. You only have to go back to Week One of last season to see the latest example. The Texans beat the AFC champion Colts at home 34-24 in a game they lead start to finish. The Colts ended up winning the AFC South at 10-6 while the Texans posted a disappointing 6-10.
Speaking of the Colts and Texans, they opened the season in Houston again yesterday. Houston beat Indianapolis 34-7. I think this convincing Texans victory against the Colts in Week One could be a sign of things to come. I would be shocked if the Texans don’t win the AFC South and, on the flip side, if the Colts win more than five games.
The boom or bust talk surrounding Matthew Stafford will only increase after his impressive 2011 debut. A 72.7 completion percentage, over 300 yards and three touchdowns usually increases expectations and simultaneously instills fear for a talented yet injury prone quarterback. All I will say is enjoy the ride. It may end next week or it could last the entire season. Either way you’ll be holding your breath the whole way, whether you own Stafford in Fantasy Football or you’re a long suffering Lions fan.
I have not been a believer that the Eagles are a Super Bowl contender since early August. I will admit, however, that they did look impressive in Week One but the concerns I had at the beginning of training camp still remain. There offensive line stinks and I don’t see it getting any better as the season goes on. Also a poor rushing defense, which is a problem I did not foresee, will also hinder them in 2011 due to a rookie linebacking corps. I stand firm that they will make the playoffs but are not ready to knock off the defending champion Packers.
Outside of the Colts, the Giants are another team that has been a consistent winner in recent years who are in for a long season. Their only chance for success this year was taking advantage of a seemingly easy first half schedule before the onset a brutal second half slate. The loss yesterday to the Redskins proves that nothing will be easy for this mediocre team. They will end up with a better record than the Colts but eight wins will be a feat for the G-Men.
Finally, I cannot close without a word on 9/11. Yesterday was both joyous and bittersweet day as we welcomed NFL Sundays back after seven long months but also remembered the tragic events of a decade ago. What I saw in each and every person I encountered yesterday and throughout this entire somber weekend is what makes this country great; namely the ability to recognize and remember but also the resolve to forge ahead and enjoy the opportunities this country provides us. My thoughts go out to all the victims of that horrific day.
A Staff Writer for RotoExperts, Tamer Chamma is a two time top 50 Finalist in the WFAN Fantasy Phenom contest as well as a weekly guest on the SiriusXM "RotoExperts" morning show. Tamer is also a fill-in co-host for the show. You may contact Tamer @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RotoExperts_TC
Week two is in the books.
We have already shared what we learned from the SEC last week here. Now it's time to pose some questions as we come out of week two and head into week three. There were some wild games, South Carolina survived Georgia, Michigan rallied to upend Notre Dame, Louisville got surprised by FIU, Ohio State held off a surprise by Toledo, Auburn rubbed it's rabbits foot as they beat Mississippi State, Oklahoma State blew doors, and UCF manhandled Boston College. And that's just the cliff notes version.
For some it was a fun week, for others it was Maalox inducing. We are two weeks deep into the season and it's just beginning. This one is going to be a roller-coaster ride of a season. Here's five questions to think about and we would love to hear your response.
Is the Big 12 the best Conference top to bottom so far this season?
Yep, you read that question right. On the brink of extinction the Big 12 really looks solid top to bottom. In Week One the Big 12 went 10-0. Baylor had a signature win over TCU on that Friday night and despite a couple of nail-biters from Iowa State and Kansas State the conference held serve. Last week, they went 4-1 losing only the Missouri/Arizona State game and who knows what would have happened if Gary Pinkel didn't try to ice his own kicker, TWICE! In Week two Oklahoma State put the bully beatdown on Arizona, Texas somehow came up a winner against BYU, Iowa State (behind everyone's new favorite QB STEELE JANTZ) shocked Iowa and Kansas somehow scored 45 points to beat a good Northern Illinois team. So I ask you, is the Big 12 the best conference in the land right now (even though they might not even exist next year)?
Can Florida or Tennessee make a run at the SEC East title?
This is my big game this week. Both teams have somewhat surprised early even though they haven't exactly played a "who's who" of college football. Florida has knocked off FAU and UAB by a combined score of 80-3 and Tennessee has put up 97 points of their own in their first two games. So far this year Tyler Bray is 51 of 65 for 698 yards and 7 TD with 0 INT. I can't wait to see how he does against a Florida defense that has allowed just 3 points so far this year. The Vols sophomore tandem of WRs Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers look they've turned the corner (combined 31 receptions for 502 yards and 5 TD) but what will they look like against Florida? This game is going to decide a lot in the SEC East. Will one of these two teams make a run at the SEC East Title?
Can FSU match-up with Oklahoma this year?
Last year FSU got taken to the woodshed on their trip to Norman by the tune of 47-17. And it didn't really feel that close. That was year one under Jimbo Fisher as the Noles finished a respectable 10-4. This year they have a ton of talent back and they have been dubbed by everyone as the heir apparent to win the ACC. Oklahoma will be their first test and what a test it will be. Can FSU stand up to Oklahoma this year in Tallahassee or will it be more of the same that we saw last year?
Which team is in more trouble, Georgia or Notre Dame?
These are the best two 0-2 teams in the country. Georgia has played a brutal schedule starting against a top 5 team in Boise State and then playing a team that is now ranked #11 in South Carolina. Notre Dame on the other hand has lost to two teams that were not ranked in the Top 25 at the time of the Irish's defeat. Georgia got manhandled by Boise but had a much better showing against South Carolina in week two. The Irish let two games slip away from them that they should have won. Georgia's two upcoming games are against Coastal Carolina and the fighting Nutt's of Ole Miss (although Georgia will most likely play both of those games without both of their starting ILBs- Christian Robinson, the QB of their defense, and Alec Ogletree, the best player on their defense). Notre Dame on the other hand has Michigan State next week and then goes on the road to play Pitt. Which one of these teams is in more trouble?
Who is your surprise team of the year so far?
Is it the Auburn Tigers, who are two plays from being 0-2 but instead are 2-0? Is it the Baylor Bears with the way they dismantled the TCU defense in week one? Is it Florida with the start they've had against inferior opponents? Maybe it's a Top 10 team like Stanford or Wisconsin who has exceeded your expectations. Maybe you cheer for the little guy and like FIU, Toledo or Richmond. Could it be STEELE JANTZ and Iowa State? Could it be Northwestern, who's off to a 2-0 start without Dan Persa? Let us know, which team has surprised you the most (in a good way) so far this year.
Two words this week: ‘coaches’ and ‘running game’…okay, so that’s three.
I really love some of these coaching match-ups: Mullen vs. Chizik, Saban vs. Paterno (or whoever’s really coaching these kids), Spurrier vs. Richt, and Kelly vs. Hoke. In every one of the games below, there is a ground attack storyline whether it’s a certain player (Marcus Lattimore should put up monster numbers, Trent Richardson may not get the yards, but he’ll get scores) or as a team (Mississippi State gained 309 yards rushing on 38 attempts by nine different ball carriers last week). Then there’s Wisconsin, whose offense looks pretty legit on every front (other than 3rd down efficiency which was 2-for-5 last week) thanks in large part to their quarterback, running backs, and offensive line.
Here’s a look at TheXLog.com’s Top 10 Teams in the country after Week 1. We’ll have this published for you each week.
Also, take a look at College Football Editor Danny Hobrock‘s 2011 Dark Horse Heisman, Conference Title and Championship Contenders, with some definite names and teams to watch. Now it’s on to Week Two in major College Football and enjoying your football-filled weekend!
Oregon State Beavers @ #8 Wisconsin Badgers
September 10th 12:00 pm ET – Camp Randall Stadium, Madison WI
In all honesty, I don’t think Oregon State has a chance against Wisconsin. Last Saturday, the Beavers lost in an overtime upset to the Sacramento State Hornets from the Big Sky Conference; a game in which Jacquizz Rodgers’ replacement, freshman Malcolm Agnew, ran for 223 yards and three touchdowns, while Oregon State had 496 yards of total offense. If Wisconsin’s defense looked completely unprepared against UNLV, there was a reason – they admittedly were. Co-defensive coordinators Chris Ash and Charlie Partridge said they had prepared for the pro-style offense the Rebels head coach Bobby Hauck is supposedly bringing back, as well as some spread looks. What they were not prepared for was the unbalanced pistol offense UNLV actually used. Sacramento State ran the ball 32 times on the Beavers, and was held to 71 yards; however, not one of those carries was by a guy named James White, Montee Ball, or Russell Wilson. The Badger offensive line will continue to make holes for the rushing attack and protect their quarterback, as the #AllRussellWilsonEverything show continues.
Player to watch: Russell Wilson
#16 Mississippi State Bulldogs @ Auburn Tigers
September 10th 12:20 pm ET – Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn AL
Against Utah State last week, Auburn looked unimpressive (to put it mildly) until the last 3:38 of the game when they were down by 10 and mounted a 14 point comeback, defeating the Aggies 42-38. The Tigers are clearly feeling the effects of losing their Heisman Trophy winning QB and DT Nick Fairley from the BCS National Championship team last year. They struggled on both sides of the run game; rushing for 78 yards themselves and allowing Utah State to rack up 227 yards on the ground.
Mississippi State easily handled Memphis, cruising to a 59-14 victory, while setting a school record with 645 yards of total offense (309 yards rushing, 336 yards passing). This is a big game for Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen, who has two victories against SEC West opponents since taking the position. The two victories have come against Ole Miss, while he has lost twice to each Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, and LSU. If Mississippi State can continue to run the ball as well as they did last week, it will allow QB Chris Relf the opportunity to take some shots down field to freshman wideout Jameon Lewis. This is a test for Mississippi State’s skipper as the Bulldogs could help their identity as legitimate SEC West contenders with a victory.
Key Match-up: Dan Mullen vs. SEC West Demons
#3 Alabama Crimson Tide @ #23 Penn State Nittany Lions
September 10th 3:30 pm ET – Beaver Stadium, University Park PA
As I said in The XLog’s Top 10 this week, I’m not really sure how Alabama racked up 48 points on Kent State Saturday. Not because the Golden Flashes’ defense is very flashy, but because the Tide’s offense didn’t perform well. RB Trent Richardson ran for three scores, but had only 37 yards rushing. Not only did Alabama struggle with the ground game, but both quarterbacks made more mistakes than a Nick Saban-coached team typically would. AJ McCarron went 14 for 23, 226 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs and was replaced by Phillip Sims who didn’t do any better completing 7 for 14 passes for 73 yards and 2 INTs. However, the defense is the best I saw all weekend and will not allow the Nittany Lions to amass 245 yards rushing as they did in their win over Indiana State.
Penn State’s passing game was very unbalanced as starter Rob Bolden (6 for 12 for 37 yards) seemed out of sync with his receivers, while Matt McGloin seemed to have more command over the offense going 6 of 8 for 77 yards. Penn State’s defense had 2 INTs, a fumbled recovery, and held the Sycamores to 65 yards rushing. As disappointing as Alabama’s offense was against Kent State, I can’t envision Saban not making adjustments to work out the kinks.
Players to watch: Alabama’s defensive front seven
#12 South Carolina Gamecocks @ Georgia Bulldogs
September 10th 4:30 pm ET – Sanford Stadium, Athens GA
Before the season started, this game was touted as being a matchup between two SEC East favorites. After Saturday, Tennessee and Florida might be breathing a slight sigh of relief. South Carolina fumbled the ball four times from four different players and was down by 10 at halftime to the Eastern Carolina Pirates. Stephen Garcia came off the bench and threw for 110 yards (7 for 15) and a touchdown, and added 56 yards rushing and 2 TDs to rally the Gamecocks to a 56-37 victory. After the game, the QB controversy went away (for the time being) and head coach Steve Spurrier named Garcia the starter this week.
Georgia’s 2010 Freshman All-American QB Aaron Murray went 16 of 29 for 236 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT and TE Orson Charles had six receptions for 109 yards and a score. Georgia came into the game with an offensive line said to be among the best in the SEC, but allowed Murray to be sacked six times and didn’t help out their run game that only had four first downs. Georgia converted only 2 of 13 third downs and 1 of 4 on fourth down attempts. The Bulldogs rushed for a total of 137 yards; five-star freshman running back, Isaiah Crowell, rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries, and CB/return specialist Brandon Boykin checked in to the offense, rushing 80 yards for a touchdown on an end-around. Although the defense did record an interception, they couldn’t get through the Boise State line and generally didn’t look spectacular. Look for South Carolina’s offense to look sharper against Georgia than it did against ECU.
Player to watch: Marcus Lattimore, something tells me he is going to have a big game against the Dawgs D.
Key Match-up: Jadeveon Clowney vs. Aaron Murray
Brigham Young Cougars @ #24 Texas Longhorns
Sept. 10th 7:00 pm ET – Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin TX
Texas has an all-time record of 71-21-1, and has won 40 of the last 41 games against the Rice Owls, so a final score of 34-9 in favor of Texas isn’t alarming. What is alarming is the way the Longhorns played against them in the first half. Texas had a slow start, allowing Rice to creep to within four (13-9) in the third until freshman WR Jaxon Shipley caught a touchdown pass from WR Josh Harris on a trick play. QB Garrett Gilbert, who had 17 interceptions in 2010, did not have a turnover completing 13 of 23 passes for 239 yards and 1 TD. WR Mike Davis was the recipient of three of those passes, including one pass for 56 yards, and another for 53 to end with a team-high 115 yards. The ground attack was effective as seven Texas players carried the ball for a combine 48 attempts for 229 yards; freshman Malcolm Brown came on late and led all rushers with 86 yards on 16 carries. The defense, under new coordinator Manny Diaz, held Rice to 224 total yards and kept them out of the end zone.
The first half of last week’s BYU-Ole Miss matchup was filled with three-and-outs and missed opportunities, and would have been scoreless if not for a Rebel field goal with 49 seconds left. Cougar QB Jake Heaps went 24 for 38 for 225 yards, a touchdown, and an interception that was returned for an Ole Miss score in the third. BYU wouldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter when Heaps connected with Ross Apo on a 19 yarder to cap off a 72 yard drive, and a fumble recovery by Kyle Van Noy was returned for a touchdown to put the Cougars up by one and give them the win. Neither Texas nor BYU looked good in the first half, but the new Longhorn coordinators under head coach Mack Brown should be able to iron out some of the wrinkles on both sides of the ball before Saturday night.
Key Match-up: Diaz’ blitz packages vs. BYU’s offensive front
Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Michigan Wolverines
Sept. 10th 8:00 pm ET – Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor MI
Nobody does tradition and history in college football like Notre Dame and Michigan. Michigan began its program in 1879 and sent players to South Bend in 1887 to teach Notre Dame the game of football, as it began its program under the guidance of Michigan. Michigan won every game beginning in 1887 until 1909 when Notre Dame clinched their first victory against the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The nickname “Fighting Irish” is said to have many origins, the most popular that after Notre Dame defeated Michigan, Detroit Free Press reporter Edward A. Batchelor wrote:
“Eleven fighting Irishmen wrecked the Yost machine this afternoon. These sons of Erin, individually and collectively representing the University of Notre Dame, not only beat the Michigan team, but they dashed some of Michigan’s fondest hopes …”
The rivalry began afterwards, and they have played each other a total of 38 times (there were two hiatuses, the longest starting after the 1943 game and lasting until 1978) with Michigan leading the all-time series 22-15-1.
Last week, both teams were the victims of mother nature. For Michigan, it didn’t affect them much as they were handily beating Western Michigan 34-10 before the game was called with 1:27 in the third during a second delay that included evacuating 110,056 fans from The Big House. The Michigan running attack racked up 190 yards, including 46 by QB Denard Robinson who went 9 for 13 for 98 yards in the air, and the rush defense held the Broncos’ to less than a hundred yards on the ground. LB Brandon Herron became the first defensive player in Michigan’s storied history to score twice in a single game; he returned an interception for 94 yards and also scored on a fumble return.
Notre Dame also had two delays against South Florida; the first one lasting over two hours at halftime with the Irish down 16-0. Tommy Rees emerged as the Notre Dame quarterback after the half, and began to stage a comeback when the game was halted in the 4th quarter for 43 minutes. Shortly after the game resumed, Rees threw an interception, the fifth Notre Dame turnover of the game. The Fighting Irish closed the gap to 23-20 after a 99 yard drive was capped by a 8 yd touchdown pass to WR Michael Floyd with 21 seconds remaining, but USF recovered an onside kick and ran the clock out.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly named Rees the starter against the Wolverines earlier in the week, but unless the poor execution and red zone turnovers are addressed, an energized Michigan squad led by first year head coach Brady Hoke will hand the Irish their second loss in as many weeks.
Key Match-up: Brian Kelly vs. Brady Hoke
Other notable games this week:
#21 Missouri @ Arizona State – Sept 9th, 10:30 pm ET
Utah @ USC – Sept. 10th, 7:30 pm ET
Boston College @ UCF – Sept. 10th, 8:00 pm ETGators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc
Opening night in the NFL is in the books. Man-o-man what an opening night it was. Just to think, for the last few months we didn’t even know if there would even be a season. Well, the season is definitely happening and it’s happening in a huge way.
Thirty one NFL fan bases are ecstatic after watching opening night. That’s the reason why the NFL schedules two contenders to kick off the season. That was the equivalent of Floyd Mayweather finally fighting Manny Pacquiano. Green Bay came out with some hay makers that landed but a dazed Saints team never hit the canvass until the final seconds. It wasn’t the fighters that decided this loss, it was the ring man.
There was a lot of talk about NFL teams showing rust when the season finally got started due to an abbreviated offseason. That question was answered quite quickly. Both offenses showed great chemistry, which could be mostly attributed to premier veteran quarterbacks. The Saints defense struggled with tackling but that’s nothing new…just ask anybody who has two pair of eyes and viewed Marshawn Lynch treating that defense like a Pimp Named Slickback back handing his hoes. While 76 combined points were scored in this game (you took the over right?) I don’t contribute that to defensive rust. These were two high power offenses that were unstoppable Thursday night, or unstoppable by the opposing team would be a better statement. So, who could stop these offenses?
If the lockout caused rust on any position in this game, it was the coaches. Sean Payton definitely wasn’t on his game. Drew Brees did everything in his power to keep his team in the game. As the Saints mounted a comeback, they cut the Packers lead to 35-27. New Orleans then drove down the field to the Packers 7 yard line. On 3rd and 1 Mark Ingram was stopped short of the first down. Then with a little over 3 minutes left to go in the 3 quarter, in a one score game Payton decided to go for it. On 4th and inches from the 6 yard line he called a play action that didn’t have a chance. I don’t have a problem with him going for it. But why not trust the power back that you used a 1st round pick on to get you a couple inches or trust your QB on a sneak?
The game went on and Payton had an opportunity to redeem himself. Brees led a magnificent 79 yard drive down to the Packers 1 yard line for the last play of the game. It was a miraculous task just to get to that point. The punt that started this drive was downed on the one yard line but was ruled that Jarrett Bush’s ankle briefly touched in the endzone for the touch back. With the ball placed at the 20 Drew began his final drive in extraordinary fashion. On what seemed to be the last play of the game, Packers linebacker, AJ Hawk mades a great play on the ball to break up the Brees pass…but the officials ruled pass interference. Since the penalty was in the endzone, the ball was placed at the one yard line for one final play. What is the play call Mr. Payton?
As I watched Mark Ingram come back into the game, I was thinking to myself, “what the hell is Payton thinking?” I scream to the TV that he’s trying to be over dramatic. He’s getting caught up in the storyline…rookie running back scores on final play to set up two point conversion opportunity to force overtime in NFL season kickoff. This isn’t a fairy tale and nobody cares how you win, as long as you win. As mentioned earlier, Ingram was drafted to be the short yardage / goal line back but Mr. Onside didn’t trust him on 4th and inches in the 3rd quarter, why would he trust him after banishing him to the bench for the entire 4th quarter and needing a full yard on the goal line with all of the Packers defense jammed in the box? Lockout Rust? No Juicy Fruit? Whatever caused the “DOH” moment, should have never happened. Drew Brees is the veteran, he led the whole drive without batting an eye and is getting ready to be one of the game’s highest paid players. The ball should have been in his hands at that moment. You win and die with a guy that’s been in the situation before. How did John Elway’s ”The Drive” end? Montana is known for throwing the ball that led to “The Catch”! You don’t give the damn ball to a rookie that you punished by sitting on the bench for the whole 4th quarter in his first NFL game.
Payton tried to be too creative and he got his Hollywood ending, unfortunately for Saints fans it’s the Packers fans that got the goose bumps and sleep well. If Sean Payton doesn’t knock off the rust soon, Saints fans will be sounding like the guy in Packers / Saints commercial again saying “Hey that’s our Super Bowl trophy’ as another team celebrates in February.
Quarterbacks – John Elway said something once that has stuck with me my whole NFL life. “Quarterbacks get paid on what they do on 3rd downs.” What did he mean by this? He meant exactly what Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees did. These two stellar quarterbacks were flawless on third down in this game. That’s what makes these teams Super Bowl champs. If you don’t have a QB that can perform on third down like these guys did, then you don’t have a Super Bowl contender.
John Kuhn - Everyone noticed the touchdown by the fullback but no one is talking about the heads up play by Kuhn. Watch the 108 yard kickoff return of Randall Cobb again. It’s Kuhn that turns around and makes sure Cobb doesn’t hit the ground. Would Cobb have kept his balance if Kuhn didn’t assist? Possibly. But I know for a fact that he kept his balance with Kuhn making sure to hold him up. Amazing teamwork from a guy that’s job is to help make other players shine. Hat’s off to you Mr. Kooooooouhn!
Packers WRs - If Aaron Rodgers is your quarterback then you have great value as a receiver. Greg Jennings has excellent chemistry with Rodgers. Donald Driver is still reliable. Jordy Nelson is great in this offense but the Packers see now that Randall Cobb is a playmaker. Nelson will lose touches so that Cobb may have more opportunities.
Jermichael Finley - He’s everything that we’ve been saying that he would be this year. He’s a huge matchup problem for any team. Great size, speed, hands, etc. etc. You don’t want to face him.
James Starks / Ryan Grant – I was asked on NFL RedZone Report with Dr Roto before the game, who will win the starting position in this backfield between Starks or Grant. I said without question it would be Starks. He makes quicker decisions, runs more physical, and has a burst to his style. Grant is very vanilla to me and doesn’t have an explosion. He also hesitates, which you can’t afford to do in this rushing attack.
Charles “UpperCut” Woodson – I don’t understand how players can get fined, suspended and whatever else for helmet to helmet hits but when Woodson throws a blatant upper cut to the stomach of David Thomas, he’s allowed to stay in the game. Hopefully this one gets reviewed by the league.
Jimmy Graham – You can easily see why the Saints were comfortable in turning over the tight end position to Graham. Drew threw for over 400 yards but I feel like Graham should of become a bigger part of the offense earlier in the game.
Darren Sproles - I must have seen 100 tweets already saying, “Reggie Who?” So, I won’t stab your eyes by repeating that here. I will say that Sproles was great. But why are we surprised? This is what he does. He’s a third back that causes matchup problems out of the backfield in the receiving game and can get around the tackles with ease. He also has exceptional return ability. He’s not a rookie, he’s been doing this for years. Darren will continue to do this throughout the year.
Tramon Williams - Picked up where he left off last season. He’s an amazing open field tackler. He reminds me of Champ Bailey in that regard. He did get beat on a touchdown throw to Robert Meachem, but that didn’t bother me too much. Receivers will get their catches on occasions and it wasn’t like Tramon was beat badly. The biggest concern with Williams now is his arm. Late in the game, teammate Charles Woodson dived in as Williams was reaching out for the receiver. Williams arm was trapped behind the shoulder pad as Woodson knocked the arm forward in a manner it was not suppose to bend. He left the game and it’s something worth keeping an eye on.
All in all it was a great night. The NFL is back and we’re able to second guess every decision, live and die with each play, and mock opposing fans for their short comings. If you enjoyed opening night, then Sunday will be an emotional overload. A full slate of games tied in with the emotions of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Enjoy your NFL season and thanks to the Packers and Saints for an Instant Classic!iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock
It’s been a whirlwind week of news emanating from the Las Vegas offices of the UFC filled with big name signings and fights being changed around. Of course, no news seemed more perplexing than former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz’s erratic behavior that led to his UFC welterweight title shot against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 137 be yanked out from under his feet.
Obviously, Diaz’s lack of professionalism regarding the media demands such a high profile bout requires contributed to a justifiably miffed Dana White giving Diaz’s title shot to Carlos Condit. With Diaz in the UFC’s proverbial doghouse many felt that his days fighting under the Zuffa banner were numbered.
Apparently Dana White is a forgiving fellow.
This afternoon Dana White showed that he was not quite through with the marketable Diaz when he tweeted that the Stockton, CA badboy will now face former champion BJ Penn in the co-main event of UFC 137. Penn was originally slated to fight Condit before his opponent was promoted to the main event title fight.
Granted, Penn-Diaz fight offers up tremendous intrigue as you have two fighters who are basically cut from the same cloth. Both fighters are prolific jiu-jitsu experts with a knack for high-level boxing. If anything, it may be the fight that steals the show.
Still, it seems unfair that Diaz’s unprofessional behavior still enables him to engage in high-profile, high-paying fight.