Monthly Archives: January 2017

the Cardinals have been excellent these past two seasons

Rookie Martavis Bryant jumped onto the scene late last year for Pittsburgh, and the speedy outside threat racked up eight touchdowns in only 10 games of action. Considering Megatron caught eight touchdowns last year as well, that’s pretty good production for a guy that played 306 snaps (Johnson played 705).

Likewise, Matthews’ production for Philly was a huge factor last year, and the rookie out of Vanderbilt scored eight touchdowns for himself while catching 67 passes for 872 yards. Both Bryant and Matthews feel destined for stardom, but at the moment, both are more of role players for their respective offenses.

The fourth-year pro splits reps with fellow tight end Coby Fleener (he played 633 snaps to Fleener’s 812) and is more of an in-line player than his counterpart, but has shed about 13 pounds this offseason to help him become more explosive. In the target-happy environment that is Indianapolis’ offense, Allen is just one cog in the machine, but he’s a versatile player that should continue to play an important role.

Player you’ll be buzzing about: RB Carlos Hyde — The 49ers let Frank Gore walk during free agency and Hyde, who looked solid as a rookie, will take over as the feature back in what should be a run-first offense.

What to watch: Despite serious issues at the quarterback position and the fact that everyone doubted them, the Cardinals have been excellent these past two seasons. Now that Carson Palmer is healthy, everything the Cardinals do will be focused on making sure it stays that way. They had one of the worst offensive lines in the league not so long ago, but now it’s looking much improved with new addition Mike Iupati and a competition at the right tackle spot.

Most important position battle: Right tackle — As mentioned above, the Cardinals need to keep Palmer healthy, and that starts with keeping him upright in the games. Bobby Massie and first-round pick D.J. Humphries will likely battle for the spot.

Everyone except his brother, Rees, and sister-in-law, Brittany

Just about everyone in Mason Crosby’s family was there Sunday at AT&T Stadium. His parents, his sister, two nephews and a niece. Everyone watched — and celebrated — as he kicked two field goals in the final 93 seconds to send the Green Bay Packers to this weekend’s NFC Championship Game.

Everyone except his brother, Rees, and sister-in-law, Brittany.

Rees and his wife were back in the Crosby clan’s hometown of Georgetown, Texas, where Brittany just started chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer. At age 27, she was diagnosed less than a month ago.

Yet Rees and Brittany were with Crosby more than anyone could have known as he celebrated the 51-yard game winner against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

Mason Crosby reacts after kicking the field goal that lifted the Packers past the Cowboys and into the NFC Championship Game.

“They weren’t able to be there, but I know they were there in spirit,” Crosby said Monday. “So it was awesome.”

It’s been a wild ride for the 32-year-old Crosby since then. He struggled through a career-worst season in 2012, when he made just 63.6 percent of his kicks. More recently, he has been on a remarkable run, making 87.5 percent of his field goals, including playoffs, dating to the start of the 2013 season.

Against the Cowboys, he became the first kicker to make two field goals of 50-plus yards — he had a 56-yarder with 1:33 to play to go along with the winner — in the final two minutes of a playoff game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

In the aftermath of that Finals series, James again solidified himself as the unequivocal best player in the game. All of a sudden, he’s comfortable taking subtle jabs at his West Coast counterpart, which brings us to that legendary Halloween party he hosted in October.

The answer to the Dallas Cowboys’ pass-rush problem plays for the Dallas Stars

If you’re like me (or most of North America), you watched the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Green Bay Packers in one heck of a football game on Sunday.

And you probably thought the same thing I did by halftime: “Boy, does the Dallas defensive line need some playmakers!”

Oh, sure, they chased Aaron Rodgers around a bit in the second half. Forget about that. Forget about that because I started writing this before any of that happened. Just don’t worry about it.

The truth is that the Cowboys’ pass rush has been pretty mediocre all season. From Blogging The Boys:

Smith had another opportunity to hit Hill for a touchdown, and it went about as well as the first.

This time, there are at least defenders trying to cover Hill, but thanks to his speed, he has them beat. Smith’s pocket is pretty clean again, although he’s reacting like it isn’t. The offensive line can only hold off the Steelers for so long, and Smith holds on to this ball far too long considering that Hill is, for much of this time, definitely open.

At least the Chiefs did still score on this drive, although it took about five more minutes off the clock.

The Chiefs defense held the Steelers to zero touchdowns on Sunday, forcing Pittsburgh to settle for six field goals. Still, Kansas City lost by two points, and just one more touchdown would have changed the course of the game.

The ensuing penalty gave the Chiefs a first-and-10 situation at the Pittsburgh 12. Kansas City trailed Pittsburgh 18-10 with under five minutes to play in their Divisional playoff clash.

‘Hard Knocks’ episode 2 recap: The Life of Brian Cushing

It’s hard for TV shows to immediately sustain the momentum of a promising premiere, so second episodes tend to disappoint. The Houston Texans’ first episode of Hard Knocks was a tough act to follow. It gave us a breakout performance from head coach Bill O’Brien and plenty of J.J. Watt, aka the Jennifer Lawrence of the NFL.

We also witnessed Vince Wilfork compare himself to the second-greatest basketball player of our time, though he modestly refrained from calling himself LeBron.

For episode No. 2, the main characters took more of a backseat role, appropriately enough, right as the team was readying for its first preseason game. Just as many starters and veterans are making cameo appearances in the run-up to the regular season, it was time for the rookies and players trying to make the 53-man roster to shine.

For being a professional athlete, Cushing has a pretty lazy way of taking his two sons out in a stroller:

Was it as enjoyable as the premiere? Simply put: no, and that’s OK. Not every episode that focuses on secondary characters can be as compelling as Better Call Saul’s Mike Ehrmantraut-centric showcase or when we peeked into the mind of Brian Krakow on My So-Called Life.

But this episode still had its watercooler moments, many coming from — for better or for worse — another Brian: Texans linebacker Brian Cushing.

It’s also #PeakBro, as was his response to running back Alfred Blue after the two went head-to-head in a pass-rushing drill: “First of all, you’re not going to block me. Second of all, you don’t want to fight me. Third of all, I’m the man.”

The Oakland Coliseum has a seating capacity of roughly 56,000 for Oakland Raiders games

Then, it was time to get drunk. There are only a couple options on where you should get drunk in Bristol, CT. One is in a bar who’s sign is written in Comic Sans that says something like FIFTY BEERS ON TAP coming soon. Hard pass. I dont want 50 beers on tap- I want a bar that has ice cold budweiser, or miller lite for specal occasions. I like to mix the two sometimes if Im on a date and ask the bartender to make me a 50/50 combo Bud Lite- very cosmopolitan. So we chose to go to a bar called “Bleachers” (get it? (sports.))

I loaded up on some chicken wings, nachos with chili (this would come into play later) and slammed down a few brews. I was on my way out the door at about 9 PM when my pregnant coworker that had been put in charge of making sure I didnt do anything stupid stopped me and by misstake mentioned that they were donig a beer pong tournament that night.

The Oakland Coliseum has a seating capacity of roughly 56,000 for Oakland Raiders games. All of the other NFL stadiums can hold at least 60,000 fans. For a comparison, the StubHub center would hold at least 6,000 fewer fans than the smallest Pac-12 stadium.

When the Rams moved to Los Angeles last year, they spent the season playing in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Capacity is no issue there, with the stadium big enough to accommodate more than 90,000 fans.

According to Florio, the Chargers will play in the StubHub Center in 2017 and 2018 before moving into a new stadium they will share with the Rams for the 2019 season.

Every time I turned away to catch up with the rest of my tourgroup he would pull me back in with another thoughtfull, genuine question, until he literaly asked me what I thought about RG3. Then it was on. I knew I had to debate him. Stephan A Smith saw two bighorns sizing each other up and decided it was time to amscray and I cant say I blame him.

Jordy Nelson knocked out of Giants-Packers playoff game after big sideline hit

Jordy Nelson will not return to Sunday’s Wild Card game against the Giants after absorbing a massive shot from Giants safety Leon Hall in the second quarter. The pass-separating tackle left Nelson crumpled on the Green Bay sideline, where he was later carted off the field and into the locker room.

Though his return was initially listed as questionable, the team later reported he would not return.

Nelson took the clean hit to his ribs and hip, and lay prone on the sideline while team trainers attended to him. The incomplete pass was endemic of the Packers’ early struggles Sunday. Through 20 minutes of game time, Green Bay had gained only 7 total yards. They shook off that bad start to take a 14-6 lead into halftime.

So a school got tired of its average coach who was constantly interviewing for other jobs and decided to fire him. That’s a potentially defensible position.

But the timing, as well as the state of Cal’s athletic department, could make this a very expensive mistake.
For one, it’s not like the fact that Dykes was looking elsewhere was a big secret. He was tied to Houston in 2014 and Missouri last season. If Cal wanted to pull the plug then, it certainly could’ve. Instead, the school gave Dykes an extension last season, making a decision to let him go later even more expensive.

And Cal might be the Power 5 school least equipped to make things more expensive. Recently, Bloomberg singled out Cal as the P5 program carrying the most athletic debt in the country, and it isn’t even close. Per Bloomberg, Cal’s athletic department was $22 million in the red and owes over $440 million in debt.

Coyotes claim Jets forward Alexander Burmistrov off waivers

Alexander Burmistrov’s reunion with the franchise that drafted him ended on Monday.

The Arizona Coyotes picked up the Jets winger on Monday off waivers, less than a day after Winnipeg dropped their former first-round pick onto the wire. Burmistrov joins a growing list of discarded players the Coyotes have snatched up over the last few months.

Burmistrov’s salary cap hit of $1.5 million comes off the table for Winnipeg. The Jets now have north of $12 million in cap room to work with this season. The Coyotes are now kind of over the salary cap limit, but that shouldn’t be an issue going forward due to long-term injured reserve exceptions. It’s complicated.

It’s 2017, but it’s the same offseason we were dealing with when the calendar said differently. There are still plenty of free agents worth talking about who are waiting by the phone, hoping to sign well before spring training kicks off in February. There are the obvious ones, like Jose Bautista, who is still a free agent at this point due to a down 2016.

There’s Mark Trumbo, who led the league in homers last summer, but was also traded for a backup catcher prior to the year — no one wants to get caught paying big dollars for that version of Trumbo. There’s Mike Napoli, who isn’t quite the offensive force he used to be but still hit 34 homers for the Indians.

Carter is a fascinating free agent. He went deep 41 times in 2016, and it wasn’t an anomaly: his previous career-high was 37 back in 2014, and he’s now averaged 33 homers per season since becoming a full-time player in 2013.

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters climb rafters of U.S. Bank Stadium during Vikings vs. Bears

At the Vikings’ final home game against the Bears, two protesters climbed the rafters of US Bank Stadium and unfurled a sign that read “Divest #NoDAPL.” Then they rappelled down from the ceiling.

According to a press release, US Bank has $175 million in credit lines to one of the parent companies of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline would run from North Dakota to Illinois, carrying crude oil. A lot of people aren’t happy about it, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose land is located nearby.

One of them, the male, wearing a Brett Favre jersey, has been identified. According to St. Paul Pioneer Press reporter Brian Murphy, his name is Karl Zimmerman, and he’s from South Minneapolis.

Kubiak had to take a week off from the Broncos, and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis served as the team’s interim head coach for a Thursday Night Football loss to the San Diego Chargers in Week 6.

It was not Kubiak’s first health scare. In 2013, during his time as the Houston Texans’ head coach, Kubiak collapsed on his way off the field at halftime of a matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. He was taken to the hospital, and doctors determined he had suffered a transient ischemic attack, which is commonly described as a ministroke.

Over the past two seasons with the Broncos, Kubiak is 21-11 in the regular season and 3-0 in the playoffs, including last year’s Super Bowl victory.

The Broncos knocked off the Raiders 24-7 in Week 17.