“This new rule will improve the safety of the players”
Roger Goodell has implemented a new rule into the NFL in an effort to make the game of football safer and reduce the chance of long term injury effects. The Defense Linemen must now count seven Alligators before attempting to rush the opposing team’s QB. “Too many QBs are getting hurt” says Goodell. “It’s not fair for a guy like JJ Watt to go up against a guy like Nate Potter, he doesn’t give the QB enough time to throw the ball, it’s unfair.” Dallas Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo was quite fond of the move. “Finally, I actually have time to throw the ball, this way I have more time to read the defense and find out where to place the ball for that pick six, also now Brian Orakpo can stop being a meanie”. His teammate DeMarcus Ware, was not as thrilled. “This is so unfair” says Ware, “back in my day, we only had to count 7 allies, alligators takes too long”! Goodell stated the refs will make sure that all of the DL/Pass Rushers count out each alligator out loud, if they skip one or just say allie, a 15 yard penalty and automatic first down is enforced. Tommy Kelly of the Patriots seemed happy about it, “Whenever I line up before the snap I always have a hard time remembering where the QB is, when they snap the ball I get confused and the big guy pushes me tot he ground”. “Now I have time to look around, also I have a hard time remembering the order of the numbers so I’ll make sure to bring a snack while I wait for the refs to help me out”. Goodell is still deciding on whether the QB is allowed to run the ball. Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers states, “I’m fine with the rule as ling as it applies for when I run the ball too, otherwise that’s cheating”. Aldon Smith claims once the QB takes off with the ball, the defense should be allowed to pass rush him. Perhaps most happy about this new rule was Niners GM Trent Baalke, “Everyone keeps asking me why I built the slowest WR corps in the NFL, I knew Rodger would pull something like this off, now Kaep has seven key seconds to wait for this guys to separate so he can get it too them”. Roger Goodell made a key follow statement shortly afterwards. “The defense is allowed one blitz per drive”. This makes the game fair for everyone and most importantly reduces the risk of injury and embarrassment.
Decided to try out my first humor article, thoughts?
Here it is, my first NFL article. Due to it being in the middle of training camp, why not take a look at some of the most intriguing and over looked camp battles. When people think of the Buffalo Bills, they think sheer mediocrity and most notably a poor passing game. Sure the team has had Stevie Johnson, who despite being a head case has been a reliable receiver. But for years, Buffalo has had question at the WR positon and at QB. This season the team went all out, to briefly explain what they did about the QB position, they drafted QB EJ Manuel in the first round with the 16th pick and signed QB Kevin Kolb to a two year $6M deal worth a max of $13M through incentives. Kolb is actually coming off a decent year, Arizona had terrible QB play throughout the season, but Kolb had a passer rating of 86.1 with an 8 TD to 3 int ratio. He played in six games and was responsible for four of the team’s five wins (including a miracle win over New England). He led the team in passing yards but noting his competition that doesn’t tell us much. For Kolb’s career he’s been a mediocre QB who was vastly overrated while in Philly. Manuel on the other hand, was considered a reach at 16 but he is very athletic and strong with good touch on his throws and an NFL arm with a quick release. His biggest knock is consistency and poor ball security. So far in camp, Kolb has been taking more first team reps due to experience but he has been terrible via reports (nothing new here). Manuel on the other hand has been impressive, Peter King of Sports Illustrated said he looked “comfortable, confident, strong-armed and accurate.” Trust me, I’d be the last person to say Manuel should start out of the books, I think he’s raw but I really like his potential and I think if he was in a situation where he could learn and develop he could turn out to be a great QB, but if Kolb is that bad (which he is) the Bills have no choice. Luckily, Manuel is looking good and HC Doug Marrone said he wants the offense to be “fun and fast”. Manuel certainly fits that category. Now too look at the WRs. The incumbent starters are Stevie Johnson, coming off three straight 1000 yard seasons (keep in mind Ryan Fitzpatrick was hoisting him the ball), and TJ Graham, who was the teams third round pick last year and has been a standout thus far in the offeseason. Stevie’s job seems safe, but as good as Graham has been doing (he has also bulked up this offseason) he has some serious competition. The Bills drafted two wide receivers in the draft. Robert Woods in the second round (41st overall) and Marquise Goodwin in the third (78th overall). Both are nice prospects. Woods was a great WR in college who was overshadowed by Marquise Lee his senior year. In fact, some say Woods may very well be the best WR out of this years class when it’s all said and done. Yes, Robert Woods has injury issues, but he also is a good route runner with great hands, decent speed, and the ability to separate. Not to mention he has a high football IQ. There aren’t many things Woods does wrong. He has great burst, big play ability, and is a good down field blocker. His only weakness is strength, something that can easily be fixed. Marquise Goodwin on the other hand is a vertical threat on any play. He ran an official 4.27 40 at the combine and an unofficial of 4.17! Those numbers are crazy, if I had to compare Marquise Goodwin to any NFL player, it would be Mike Wallace. Although he’s not perfect and overrated players like him are good weapons to have. He’s an Olympic track athlete as well. Goodwin relies on pure speed to get open and he can create nightmare matchups in the slot. He’s not afraid to go over the middle and his quick agility makes him a threat to take it to the house on any play, which makes him a great return man. His only concerns are lack of size and route running. Already you see the competition. Woods and Graham are currently battling it out for the spot opposite of Stevie Johnson. Both are doing good, Woods has been labeled a “stud”by Kevin Kolb and others. I see Woods ultimately taking this one. Now, TJ Graham has to win the slot job against Marquise Goodwin. Graham’s game is similar to Goodwin’s, he is an all out speedster with raw skills. He’s put a lot of work into his game however this off season. All three of these guys have been getting first team reps. My favorite WR prospect on their team is UDFA Da’Rick Rogers. Rogers was one of my favorite heading into the draft and he went undrafted due to attitude problems and other off field. Still, he was a beast at Texas and was considered one of the top WR prospects. After failing three drug test, he was kicked off the team and went to Tennessee Tech, where he was a man among boys and completely dominated. Rogers is a physical specimen, he had arguably the best combine performances finishing in the top five in several categories, including the 3 cone drill, the 20-yard shuttle, the 60-yard shuttle, the vertical jump, and the broad jump. Both Rogers and I agree he was the steal of the draft. Even with his maturity issues and question marks, he was still considered a 3rd-5th round prospect at worst. This is a low risk high reward move by Buffalo and it’s already paying off. Rogers has taken snaps with the first team and is generating buzz, as I expected. Couch Doug Marrone isn’t cutting Rogers any slack. He knows he needs to be up in his grill constantly, or Rogers can fall apart. The last thing they want is Titus Young 2. Rogers has been a standout all off season, similar to Graham and Woods. Marrone recently stated Rogers has “stepped it up”, he needs to stay motivated too stay out of trouble and improve upon his game. The only notable WR on the Bills not making noise is Brad Smith, and that’s for obvious reasons. Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, TJ Graham, Marquise Goodwin, and Da’Rick Rogers is definitely a solid core. There is a lot of talent within these guys and their athleticism can create mismatches down the stretch. EJ Manuel will most likely take the starting job, and he has some nice young pieces to work with
Hello all, I am back. I’ve been trying to post more articles but every time I’m in the middle of one my computer crashes. Let’s hope this one works. Earlier today, the Pistons completed a sign and trade to acquire Brandon Jennings. They gave him a three year deal worth $24M which is great value. The trade details were:
I’m not going to go too far into this trade because I will do one of these for the Bucks as they are looking to get into the playoffs. But I’d like to say I think Brandon Jennings is an upgrade over Knight. I also don’t view Knight as a true point guard and if I were a HC I would even be uncomfortable putting him there. This draws concern because he is too undersized to play SG at 6’3 and 189 pounds. Knight has shown nice flashes and is a good scorer, I’m actually a fan of his and I think he can be a high quality scorer later on, but I don’t think he is a long term answer due to his small frame and the fact that he lacks PG skills, he’s also shown an incositent jump shot. Jennings on the other hand has more polished skill and has had more success playing the PG position. Jennings has had a history of jacking shots in Milwaukee, but he never had talent around him. In Detroit, they have some nice young players allowing him to facilitate the game better and due to the fact he has nice passing skills I expect a nice bump in his assist. Jennings also has a nicer jumper. Yes, he is a career 39.4% shooter, but he forced to take a lot of difficult shots in efforts to keep his team competitive. In Detroit he has options to move the ball around and hit an open shot which he has proved he can do on several occasions most notably here:
Jennings worked with that screen and knocked down the open jumpers consistently. It’s also important to note Jennings is only 23 years old and already has 4 years of NBA experience (2 years of playoff experience). Jennings can improve a lot has a higher ceiling than Knight. Let’s see how Jenning will mesh with his teammates. Here is the projected starting lineup:
PG: Brandon Jennings
SG: Rodney Stuckey
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe
C: Andre Drummond
Already you can see a great inside out game forming between Jennings and the three frontcourt players. My only area of concern is how Stuckey and Jennings will cope. Stuckey plays a game similar to Monta Ellis’ and as excited as that was, and it did lead to a playoff berth, Jennings looked like he could have played much better in a different environment. Luckily, new pistons signee Chauncy Billups says he thinks Stuckey can become “a great player” and that he will guide him throughout the season. This is great news because Billups is one of the smartest players in the NBA and he can teach both young guards how to play with each other in the best way possible. Inside you have two young bigs in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Monroe has looked really good so far, especially the past two seasons. Just 23 years old, he’s coming into his fourth NBA season after averaging 16 points and 9.6 rebounds. He has been getting better year by year and showed great progress last year. He can be one of the best bigs in the NBA moving forward. Next to him is Andre Drummond, coming off his rookie season he averaged 7.9 points and 7.6 rebounds in just 20 minutes a game. These are great numbers in that time span and he got better each game. He was one of the team’s most efficient players, he and Monroe could be a dominant force inside for years, as both have a nice complete game. The team’s biggest acquisition was Josh Smith. Smith is super athletic and talented who plays well on both sides of the court. He’s been labeled an all star snub in recent years. On defense, he’s a terrific shot blocker and uses his athleticism to stick with opponents and give them headaches. On offense, he has a nice mid range jumper and is nearly unstoppable when he gets into the paint. Plus he is a great dunker. He needs to limit the amount of three point shots and improve his shot selection however. With Jennings working with him, they could create a nice one two punch. He is also versatile, able to play both Small Forward and Power Forward effectively and he’s a solid rebounder. These starting group looks like they can easily play together and I expect a lot of inside and outside scoring. Now Jennings can work that screen with the bigs he has, as he did in his 55 point game. The team’s first round pick (8th overall), is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope, the SEC player of the year and is a great athlete like Josh Smith, which he uses to play good defense, an area where he has potential to improve upon. He has a great shot but he needs to use his athletic ability to get to the rim. He’s good at getting skills and uses his speed to finish in transition. He’s athletic but he has great instincts as a shooter. His only glaring weakness is ball handling, if he figures out how to get to the rim with he could be a valuable piece for years. Another move I really liked was bringing in Italian League MVP Luigi Datome. He is 25 years old and a great shooter. He is 6’9 and he averaged 16.4 PPG in 33 minutes while shooting 46.7% from the field, 39.4% from three, and 92.6% from the stripe. He plays small forward with all the tools to be successful. This was a low risk high reward move as he’s just making $3.5M over two years. From what I’ve seen of him, he seems like a smart player who is a good scorer. Here are some highlights:
Still my favorite signing was Chauncey Billups. At this point in his career he’s not a game changer but he’s a hell of a mentor and with all the young guys, especially at guard positions he will serve a great purpose. In Detroit, he’ll play for two years at $5M and retire a piston, where he won an NBA title and was named finals MVP. He’ll be moved back to his natural PG position (he was played as an off guard in LAC). He’s still a good player, while he averaged only 8.4 PPG last year as a starter, he had injury problems and he averaged 15 the year prior, although he only played 20 games until injury. In Detroit, his minutes will be reduced, so he most likely will stay healthy. It helps that Mr. Big Shot comes through in the clutch. The Pistons have some other valuable pieces, such as Kyle Singler who showed promise last year and was named to the All Rookie second team, Jonas Jerebeko is solid guy off the bench and is a hard worker that makes hustle plays. Charlie Villanueva is still somewhat serviceable, and though he may be over looked Peyton Siva is a favorite of mine as I liked him when he played at Louisville. Finally, they have Will Bynum, who has been a solid player. He’s a been a good sixth man for them, averaging 10 PPG in 18.8 MPG is impressive. Many people don’t know he once had 20 assist in one game. Concluding, I think Jennings really takes the team to a new level. They are in serious playoff contention. This team is young and talented, Joe Dumars has done a nice job.
In a move that was highly anticipated since the New Orleans Hornets changed to the Pelicans, the NBA has made it official. The Hornets will officially be back in Charlotte. Their teal jerseys and team colors were among the post popular in the 90s and some of the best players to ever play in Charlotte played under that moniker. This will take effect after next season, meaning the 2014-15 NBA season. The fans were excited. The team was a lot more successful under this name than the Bobcats. The team had the nickname “Buzz City” as in the buzz from Hornets. Before this move was made official, the team made a website titled: backbuzzcity.com
This move was made official yesterday and all sorts of festivals were going on in Charlotte. MJ stated before he wanted to “bring the buzz back” and it has happened. To see what Jordan had to say now: “We’re thrilled to bring back the Hornets to Charlotte and the Carolinas,” Jordan said. “The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched. They overwhelmingly told us what they wanted, we listened and we couldn’t be happier with the Board of Governors’ approval of the name change. With the young team we are developing on the court, the direction of our business and the return of the Hornets name, we are extremely excited about our future. The buzz is back!”
Here is an interesting nugget on how the team got it’s name in the first place:
“The Hornets nickname in Charlotte dates back to the Revolutionary War, when British General Charles Cornwallis compared the resistance in Charlotte to a hornet’s nest. It has been used in sports by a minor league baseball team (1901-73), an upstart football league team (1974-75) and the city’s first NBA franchise.” -The Charlotte Observer
What do you think of the name change? Will it effect their performance on the court? It certainly will bring in more fans to the stadium.
The Toronto Raptors are coming off a disappointing season, however the team is hoping to have all of their new acquisitions from both this and last year meshed in order to be a competitive team. The team is filled with young talent as well as a skilled player in Rudy Gay whom they acquired during the trade deadline of last year. The biggest move the Raptors did was this offseason in which they named Masai Ujiri as GM, formerly of the Denver Nuggets and the reigning NBA Executive of the Year. Ujiri has stated he did not want the team to tank, interestingly enough NBA prospect Andrew Wiggins who is projected to go first overall in next years draft stated he’d like to play for the Raptors. The first major move he made was trading Andrea Bargnani to the New York Knicks for Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, and three draft picks (2016 first, 2014 second, 2017 first). Camby has been bought out and Quentin Richardson is next in line. Essentially, the only player they receive is Novak, who is one of the NBA’s best three point shooters and just what the Raptors need. Toronto was downright terrible shooting the three ball at just 34.3%. In Toronto, Novak will be asked to stretch the floor and knock down threes. It was time for Bargnani and Toronto to part ways anyway. This also allows for promising big man and 2011 5th overall pick Jonas Valanciunas to play more and develop. The team also amnestied Linas Kleiza which was a wise move as he’s coming off an injury and it saves them from a luxury tax hit. He then signed Tyler Hansbrough to a multi year deal (2 years $7.2M) another young big man looking for a fresh start. Hansbrough is one of the toughest players in the league. He brings physicality to the team and while he may not be a game changer he’s the kind of gritty player you’d love to have on your side. To quote Hansbrough: “I felt like they could use a guy like me,” Hansbrough said. “I can bring a lot of toughness to the team, a lot of hard work and effort and bring some leadership just the way I approach the game and hopefully it will rub off.” A good signing for the Raptors as they’ve lacked a presence similar to Hansbrough since Reggie Evans left. To explain the fresh start part, Hansbrough recently stated he’s more than just the role player he’s been for the Pacers. He feels he could use his skills effectively and improved to take his game to the next level. Defense is undoubtedly his strong suit but he feels he can improve his offense to be a more complete player. Moving on, the Raptors have a skilled point guard by the name of Kyle Lowry. Now that Jose Calderon is out of town, Lowry has a bigger role and he has more freedom to gel with fellow wing players Rudy Gay and Demar Derozan whom I will speak more of later. Lowry proved himself a capable starter in his last two years in Houston where he posted averages of 14 points and 6.65 assist in 122 games (109 starts) in that time span. He is a tough defender who is quick and can get to the rim. Another interesting thin about Lowry is his ability to rebound where he averaged 4.3 a game in that time span as well as 4.7 a game last year. At just 6 feet that is impressive. Now with a full season under his belt in Toronto expect more out of him this year. Backing him up are newly signed FAs DJ Augustin and Dwight Buycks. Augustin was another capable starting PG in Charlotte where he averaged 14.4 ppg and 6.1 assist in his last full season there but he struggled last year in Indiana backing up George Hill. Now, DJ is looking to put that season behind him and prove himself worthy again. Augustin provides energy and play making off the bench and he was signed to a one year contract worth just $1.2M. Dwight Buycks on the other hand is an unproven yet promising player who flashed a ton of potential in the summer league. He averaged 15.1 points for the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA D-League in 2011-12 and he averaged 18 points a game last year in France. Moving to shooting guard, the Raptors have Demar Derozan another young promising player. He is one of the most electrifying players who is able to score but needs to work on his jump shot. He is a player I have been a big fan of since he entered the NBA and he gets better every year including last year which he posted career highs in points per game (18.1), rebounds per game (3.9), assist per game (2.5), free throw percentage (83.1%), three point percentage (28.3%), and minutes per game (36.7). Behind him is Terrence Ross from Washington and the 2012 8th overall pick. Ross is another electrifying player and the reigning dunk contest champion. His rookie year was somewhat of a let down as he averaged just 6.4 points a game on 40.7% shooting. Both Raptors fans and I expected more. Although he did show flashes last year in a 29 point outing vs the Blazers in which he sunk six threes. This next year is huge for him. Ross is very talented and athletic which makes him a solid defender with potential and he’s already a solid ball handler with good vision. What he needs to do is improve his offense game and mechanics to become a game changer. Fellow sophomore Jonas V who was introduced earlier has bulked up this off season is ready to be a solid contributor. The fate of the Raptors season and future may very well depend on the development of this two players. Filling out the starting lineup is star Rudy Gay and solid PF Amir Johnson. Gay was brought in via trade by the Grizzlies and is a solid all around player who can do it all. Gay averaged 19.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assist playing for Raptors last year. Pretty solid all around numbers. There have been trade rumors about Gay in the last few weeks but if the team wants to make the playoffs this year they’d be wise to keep him. The Raptors have a bright future IMO. Just look at the roster:
PG: Kyle Lowry
SG: DeMar Derozan
SF: Rudy Gay
PF: Amir Johnson
C: Jonas Valanciunas
Amir Johnson played well last year averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds (both career best) having Hansbrough behind him is a tough physical tandem. Behind Jonas is Aaron Gray, the team’s former starting center who can rebound and defend but not much more. The last key piece of the roster is Landry Fields. Fields was once a promising rookie. He was named rookie of the month as well as All-Rookie First Team. His rookie year was by far his best where he averaged 10 points and 6.4 dimes starting 81 games. But Landry’s play has dipped every year since including averaging less than 5 ppg last year. He’s talented and hopes for a bounce back year next season. In my opinion, the final three playoff spots in the East are wide open. Possible candidates include Washington, Hawks, Cavs, and others. Even the Bobcats may have a shot. As of now, I don’t have Toronto in the playoffs. However they are certainly there in the race to me. It still remains that other Eastern teams are better and the Raptors may not be able to compete and the mess continues with players not getting along etc. However I don’t see that happening.The Raptors are certainly talented but can they make the playoffs?
John Wall says he needs to be in the playoffs. Can he?
NBA Free Agent Frenzy is slowing down and fans are starting to discuss the upcoming season. The Warriors, Rockets, and Nets seem to be the most improved teams, but many overlook the Washington Wizards. Last season, the Wizards had another poor year, winning less than 30 games. However, John Wall was out for nearly half the season. At the time had Wall came back into the lineup, the team had just 5 wins under their belt. With Wall, the team nearly had a winning record. John Wall wasn’t the only key player who was plagued with injuries. Nene missed 21 games, and Bradley Beal missed 26 (as did Trevor Ariza) . If the team had stayed healthy they could have easily been a playoff team last year. However, not all of last year was bad. Beal showed a ton of promise and Martell Webster developed into a leader for the team. The Wizards acquired some great young talent via draft in Otto Porter this year. Porter, the third overall pick, is a physical specimen at 6’8 he is a versatile defender with a high basketball IQ. The team also acquired Eric Maynor via free agency. Maynor is a very promising point guard who–until injury–looked like he could have been a key part of the Thunder’s success for the future. After battling with injuries, he had a come back season in Portland last year and flashed the same potential. Inside, the Wizards have two solid bigs in Emeka Okafor and Nene. Both are good defenders. Now to discuss the bench: Behind those two they have solid contributors with Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker however they need to add a true center. On the wings, they have Trevor Ariza who is an NBA vet with multiple playoff games under his belt as well as NBA finals experience. He is a solid role player. Chris Singleton is another promising player on the squad. I already talked about Martell Webster and Otto Porter (it will be interesting to see who takes the starting job at the three) but the team also has 2011 sixth overall pick Jan Vesley, who has been a disappointment so far but he has a lot of potential and the team is not giving up on him. Backing up Wall are Eric Maynor (already discussed) and Garrett Temple who was resigned because he did a decent job filling in for Wall last year. The team also drafted Glen Rice Jr from the NBA D League who is an intriguing prospect. Add all that to a starting lineup of:
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Otto Porter
C: Emeka Okafor
and the team looks pretty good
The wizards players are incredibly motivated as well. Several of the players including: Otto Porter, John Wall, and Martell Webster have made recent statements about the team doing well and specifically making the playoffs.
In the end, I believe the Washington Wizards will make the playoffs in 2014. They have the talent, the motivation, and the drive. They have a solid bench to back up their impressive starting five. Most importantly, the future looks bright for this team.